My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Follow-up to Man vs. Deer

Here's a follow-up to our man vs. deer story, as reported in the Grand Forks Herald on Friday, Sept. 21.

‘Billy’ the buck had been illegally penned for half a year before attacking Minnesota farmer
By: Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald  

FERTILE, MINN. — “Billy,” the Fertile Journal reports, “was a bad buck.” But he wasn’t born that way. He apparently went bad when he was wrongfully incarcerated. The combative whitetail deer that stalked and brazenly attacked a Fertile area farmer in early August was an “escapee” from a pen on a nearby farm, where it had been held illegally the previous seven months, the Journal reported this week, citing information from another weekly newspaper, the Norman County Index.

Mark Christianson shot the buck after it cornered him near his farm house southeast of Fertile, went on its hind legs and pummeled him, leaving the 66-year-old farmer with black eyes and bruises on his arms and chest. The man-versus-deer boxing and wrestling match drew plenty of media attention, as well as speculation about what caused the deer to act so strangely.

A conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources investigated the incident and filed a report with the county attorney, who declined to charge Christianson with a crime for breaking off the hand-to-hoof combat, grabbing his rifle and shooting the animal. “The deer attacked him,” Norman County Attorney James Brue said last month. “It was a pretty justifiable shooting.”
Christianson earlier had reported the deer’s unusual behavior, hanging around the farm and not running off despite loud noises made by Christianson and his wife, Judy. Laboratory tests on the carcass showed there was nothing physically or neurologically wrong with the eight-point buck.

During the course of its investigation, the DNR received a tip that another area farmer had kept a deer in a pen since January. Selmer Aanenson, 68, Bejou, Minn., pleaded guilty Sept. 5 in Minnesota District Court in Ada to unlawful possession of a wild animal, Brue said. He was fined $185.
Aanenson lives “about a mile as the crow flies” from the Christianson farm, according to the Journal, which also reported that the farmer still feels the effects of the unusual bout in a knee, shoulder and eye. 

“Now I’d just as soon forget about the whole thing,” he told the newspaper.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grand Forks Garden Tour

The Grand Forks Horticulture Society had their Annual Garden tour back in late July and I'm just getting around to posting pictures of it now.   Better late then never?  But there's a slew of good reasons why it took me so long.  One reason is that I just didn't know how to put into words the awesomeness of one garden that we saw, everything I wrote just never seemed to do the place justice. 

Whenever Alycia and I go on garden tours (usually with her parents) we get numerous ideas, plants we "have" to get, and other cool things we'd like to try to investigate and hopefully replicate.  But I typically have reservations about so many of the gardens we visit.  So many gardens on tours the last few years were newly built McMansions with gardens that were wonderfully planned and planted by an expert landscaper, and they looked it.  They had all the elements of a "great" garden, but lacked passion, soul, and a genuine quality that seems so very intangible and difficult to grasp.  The first garden we visited on our tour was great, but it was probably 75% annuals and as I toured around I couldn't help but wonder what it looked like on the years when it wasn't featured on the garden tour when all that effort to plant annuals wasn't expended.  Was this just a show put on for the garden tourers? a decorated outdoor room (which isn't really a garden at all) spiffed up for visitors?
But all of a sudden, BAM!!!  Magic.  The third garden we stopped at was possibly the most amazing one I have ever visited.  These are all pictures from one house and one garden, and only the backyard, I was too flabbergasted with joy to take pictures of the front yard.  The owner not only graciously let us take lots of pictures but chatted with us for quite some time.  The pictures don't do justice to the garden, it was incredible. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Plant Friend

In honor of Deaf Dog Awareness Week (September 16 - 22), we thought we would make you aware of some of our dogs' strange habits...

Shaak Ti (our middle child) is an odd dog with some odd habits. One of the strangest, is her ritual with plants (indoor and outdoor), and especially with our plant we have named appropriately: Plant Friend.
Specifically, Shaak Ti likes to walk very slowly forward and backwards underneath plant leaves as they tickle/rub her back. She will sometimes spend up to 10 minutes "bonding" with Plant Friend, especially in the wintertime, which we have interpreted as her need to interact with green, growing things - a true gardener's dog.
Unfortunately, this summer Plant Friend suffered a fairly large injury. One day I walked by him, only to find that one of his two plant "heads" was decapitated. As always, I didn't witness this atrocity, but I believe that Shadowfax and her vigorous playing was to blame. I put the "head" in water and we're waiting to see if it will sprout roots so that it could be re-potted.
 
In the meantime, Shaak Ti is looking a bit sad - like she lost her best friend. She told me that she was going to stay in bed until Plant Friend was fixed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New kind of foster parents

One of my friends here in town had three very imaginative and creative daughters. Last week the girls found one abandoned squirrel and while their mom told them to leave it alone, they brought it into their garage one night (it was somewhat chilly that night). The next day their mom found the squirrel and told them to take it back to its tree. They did and wouldn't you know it, there were 3 other babies there.

The girls left the squirrels in and around their tree, and their mother encouraged them to leave them alone, but the girls were very diligent in feeding them and giving them water with syringes. Very quickly the squirrels apparently decided that the girls were their "moms". As soon as the girls get close to the tree, they run down and then climb up the girls' legs and arms.
They apparently like to use the girls like mini jungle gyms or trees.
And when the squirrels get to the girls' shoulders, they try to go to sleep.
My friend is torn between being appalled and being somewhat fascinated by this process. She is hoping that the squirrels are almost old enough to be on their own. And for those health-conscious readers, she did do some checking into whether baby squirrels would have some crazy diseases (like rabies) and supposedly the babies are much less likely to have any issues.

School started this past week and so my friend was hoping that school would lessen the girls' interest in their furry friends. No word yet though, on the squirrels' progress.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Puppy's New Pool

Keeping Shadowfax cool this summer has been a fairly intensive process. First we bought her a cheap kiddie pool, and then she destroyed said cheap kiddie pool. But as everyone knows this summer has been a scorcher and the puppy does not do well in the heat, and it's also so downright funny to watch her play in the pool that we couldn't go for too long without a new pool option.

So, John had the idea to go get a livestock feed/water trough. I took a field trip over to the local Tractor Supply Company store and initially wandered around without finding anything much larger than a washtub (not big enough for the puppy). The helpful sales associate asked if I had been outside to their sales yard, and I had not. And sure enough - they had all sorts of options for a much more heavy duty puppy pool. I chose the 4 foot long by 1 foot high pool. They also had a 6 foot long one, as well as both lengths in a 2 foot high version. We felt that this pool was more than adequate for our needs.

I was a bit concerned that the puppy wouldn't be as excited about this pool since it is so different from what she's used to at daycare/puppy camp, but I shouldn't have worried. She hopped right in it while it was still filling up (hence the hose still in it) and splashed around.

I will be honest in that this steel/metal pool is MUCH heavier than the plastic one, especially when filled with water. It's a two handed job, plus remembering to lift with your legs and not your back, when emptying it.  But despite being heavier, this pool should last to close to forever.  Short of going back to school for a welding degree, there's no way that that puppy should be able to destroy this pool...famous last words. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Puppy's blueberry field trip

The end of July is blueberry season in North Dakota. No, blueberries are not a cash crop here, but one of the local Hutterite families takes an air conditioned trailer to Michigan and picks a large number of blueberries to sell back to us here in North Dakota. We had to pre-order so that they knew how many to pick - we opted for 35 pounds. Shadowfax and I took a field trip up to Grafton (about a half hour North) to pick up the berries. We met my mom at the pick-up site, as she was also getting some berries for herself.
We met my mom at the pick-up site, as she was also getting some berries and then we decided to go for walk in the Grafton city park. I wished that I had remembered to take pictures of the city park, as it was quite lovely. I'd say there were 20 different flower beds, each one maintained or sponsored by a separate individual or business in town - what a good way to farm out the work of park beautification!

Anyway, when we got home, I had to get down to the business of packaging them up for freezing for the year. I had lots of freezer bags and the crates to put the berries in so that they wouldn't get squished in the freezer.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What to do with dehydrated zucchini?

Last year we had an abundance of zucchini, so I opted to dehydrate it, with some Mrs. Dash spice flavoring, and then freeze it. Through the year, we have added some of the zucchini to casseroles and soups, which is pretty good. Zucchini time has come around again and we still have some zucchini left, as well as some dried eggplant.
My one issue with the dried zucchini is that when it's in the casserole, it can be a somewhat unmanageable chunk, so I had the idea to try to blend it down into smaller chunks, with the hope that they would be less obtrusive in the dishes. Note: it makes a bit of a dusty mess...
From all of those jars and baggies, I compressed the zucchini and eggplant down into 1.5 jars of zucchini and .5 jars of eggplant. We added all the eggplant to our most recent batch of spaghetti sauce, and bits of zucchini have been put into a corn chowder, with very little visual reminder that it was present. So I think that this experiment was a success!