A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Homemade Apple Cider from a DIY Cider Press

I've got some pretty awesome and entertaining co-workers in my job as a Community College Instructor.  Over the last few years we've developed a small circle of folks who swap the results of DIY projects and share the bounty of our various gardens and orchards.  Sauerkraut, home roasted coffee, jam, fruits and veggies of all kinds, baked goods, and numerous recipes have all been shared and swapped over the years.  It's the kind of virtuous circle of sharing and goodwill that keeps me going and energizes my mind toward sharing with others and experimenting with new ideas.

In late September I was talking with my friend Rob about my apple trees that were bearing a huge amount of apples when he mentioned that over the summer he and a friend had built an apple cider press. They built their apple cider press for less than $200.
They took a sturdy old kitchen table and outfitted it with a garbage disposal (purchased new).  All that need to be done is to roughly chop the apples into 8ths and then they get pushed through the garbage disposal slot. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Nose Knows Where the Treat Ball Goes

One of our most reliable training tools is leaving treats for the dogs when we leave the house. Many years ago when it was just Alycia and Tito, she realized that his separation anxiety would be lessened if she left him a small Kong filled with treats when she left the house. This tradition took hold and became our routine.

When we leave the house Shadowfax gets a large Kong filled with treats and capped with peanut butter that has been frozen.  It takes her a little while to get through the frozen peanut butter and get the treats out, and provides her a challenge and a little snack. The dogs have learned to look forward to us leaving because they associate us leaving with tasty treats.  I would highly recommend this approach to anyone with dogs with separation anxiety.
We came home a few weeks ago to find Shaak Ti with the scrape on her nose you see in the pictures above.  We were unable to find her Kong Treat Ball.  These two facts only mean one thing, Shaak Ti has hidden her treat ball somewhere.  I looked all over the house for 15 to 20 minutes, but neglected to look outside.  It was near 0 with snow flurries and a brisk wind, so I figured that there was no way she'd gone outside and buried it.  I was wrong. 
Shaak Ti is good at a lot of things, but digging is not one of them.  She had left her Kong Treat Ball just laying on top of the snow, barely buried.  It's likely that she had it buried or hidden elsewhere, but moved it here when she realized that we were on her trail. 
This Kong has held up for several years (maybe even 5 years), but is starting to show some wear.  And leaving it out in sub-zero temperatures sure doesn't help.   It might be time for a new one. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Another Day of Muddy Splendor

It's a banner stretch for muddy dog time here in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  For the first time in a while, we were able to get outside multiple days in a row and play vigorous games of fetch with Shadowfax.  That's the good news.  The bad news?  That game of fetch had to be played on pretty muddy backyard pitch.  Shadowfax didn't seem to mind at all. 
Shadowfax was pretty pooped from romping around in the mud.  It'll take her a few weeks to work off that winter sluggishness and return to prime outdoor season form. 
Shaak Ti and Tito are in the background, clamoring to get in on the action.  Part of the action means getting your toes cleaned off though, and they want no part of that. 

Shadowfax isn't winking, she had a bit of dirt in her eye, which I promptly helped her remove.  In the upper left hand corner of the photo you can see the old beach towels that we use for for removing the bigger chunks of mud from puppy feet.  Ahh...Springtime!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

North Dakota Polar Bear?

Even though it's pretty far north, there aren't any actual polar bears in North Dakota. But, it's spring melting time right now, which is great even if it is weeks earlier than normal. Shadowfax though is still holding on to winter like a polar bear clinging to a melting iceberg.
The ring of snow was part of a sweet snow volcano that John created as part of his winter "backyard terrain park" for the dogs.  The giant mound of snow made a great ramp for rolling the ball up into the air for Shadowfax to chase, a fun king-of-the-hill mound, and the perfect obstacle to chase around.  We're not sure if her preference for the small patch of snow and ice is a good thing because she's staying out of the mud or if it's ridiculous that she chooses to chance an icy slip.