<![CDATA[City Girl Farming - Journal]]>Sat, 27 Feb 2016 15:06:48 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[12.09.2015 Zu Returns]]>Wed, 09 Dec 2015 20:35:54 GMThttp://citygirlfarming.weebly.com/journal/12092015-zu-returns

All the droning and whining about rehabilitating my Significant Otter’s 2yo untrained hound blend, the untold hours invested, nerves frayed by the near-constant thready little whine outside the range of The Otter’s hearing (but not mine, of course), the repetitious, unceasing, time-consuming, much resented (you picked up on that, yes?) demands of rehabilitating a la Cesar Millan, all that was rewarded in 5 minutes last night. 

Backtracking several weeks, Zu the Plott Walker hybrid (hey, could be the next family dog breed, though this one isn't a breeder) snapped at me when I unexpectedly reached for her belly, and I reflexively popped her atop the head. (My Rule #2 - Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.) Not hard enough to damage anything but firm enough to mean business, and she dropped her head between her shoulders just a bit, and peered up at me with a low slow tail wag. In Cesar’s terms submissive, not in a cringing way but OK-you’re-the-big-dog way. I crossed my fingers. 

In my opinion, coming when called is #1 in any dog training. As a Dog Grumbler and not a Dog Lover, that means on the initial command and not after coaxing, wheedling, begging, treating, etc. The Walk Of Shame involves retrieving said canine and dragging to the tether, or crate, or laundry room for reflection on the dog’s selectively deaf habits, and the dog’s front toes typically barely reach the ground as we retrace the steps back together. In most dogs the improvement in hearing is quick and dramatic. But not all. 

Zu slipped out the laundry room door last night in a downpour, accompanied by Zeva the Boxer, and perhaps 10 minutes lapsed before the quiet was recognized for what it was: a dog-free laundry room. 

Turning off dinner, both The Otter and I dashed around grabbing leashes, flashlights, boots and hooded jackets. He fired up his truck hoping The Girls’ love of a truck ride and fear of being left behind might draw them back to the house, joined with my shrill whistle. And it did. At least, Zeva showed back up, all waggy and sheepish. 

Zu’s two early escapes last summer established that her nose overrode her hearing or caring. One return involved a vacationing couple who phoned the number on the collar, a trip to the vet and stitches. “She’ll be back,” the vet assured us. “She’s a hound. What do you expect?” The last escape found her exhausted in a neighbor’s yard, overheated and willing to consider getting into the nice air-conditioned truck. Since then, she’s been “free” only when we snatched her dropped lead before she noticed. 

Frustrated and losing hope, The Otter declared last night, “I don’t care any more! She can take off and be somebody else’s problem!” Hearing those words, I silently issued my “Please God” prayer. And within moments, Zu tiptoed cautiously back into the light under the carport, head dropped slightly below her shoulders, tail dropped and wagging slowly side to side. 

The Otter turned and thanked me for investing all the Time Energy and Effort into working with Zu, proving that even Dog Grumblers can prove what Cesar advocates every day - that virtually any dog can be rehabilitated. I said my “Thank you God” prayer. 

Suspending our ingrained beliefs in all we thought we knew about dogs and training allowed this story a happy ending. Or more accurately, a happy second chapter. Certainly there’s more progress to be enjoyed.

This principle is not new. Harvey Brooks was a man who worked his way from living under a bridge, homeless and hopeless, to building a last-chance way station for people once considered beyond redemption. In a quote from Herbert Spencer is Alcoholics Anonymous’ open-mindedness tenet: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

As this year draws to its conclusion, may you recognize all the successes chalked up this year, and be rewarded for keeping your mind open to new possibilities.  

<![CDATA[03.06.2014 March: In Like A Lion]]>Fri, 07 Mar 2014 07:09:49 GMThttp://citygirlfarming.weebly.com/journal/03062014-march-in-like-a-lion
Seed catalogs arrive uninvited, garden porn, as my city friend calls them, displaying fantastic oversize produce and blooms in surreal hues. Local flooding continues while the mountains shed their heavy snowmelt under rainstorms, one after another. Frog choruses nearly drown out the rain drumming on the house and outbuildings. Wellies only, please.

Eleven raised beds harbor this year's hope beneath burlap blankets and coffee grounds. Romaine butts from store-bought salad packages will join hardy chives that wintered over in the first bed exposed to the sky and the elements this week. The moon will be at first quarter Saturday, if you plant by the phases. 

Next week: Herb Gardening

<![CDATA[05.11.2013 Two Days into New Moon]]>Sat, 11 May 2013 18:23:59 GMThttp://citygirlfarming.weebly.com/journal/05112013-two-days-into-new-moonThe Salsa Garden occupies one of the raised beds lined up like sarcopagi between the shop and the hay barn. Ted's tomatoes retained only one or two blossoms. Zeva the Boxer ate the garlic starts right out of the plastic cups but the onions and chives are undeterred, cilantro completing the theme.

Radishes wasted no time sending leaves through the peaty mix. Heirloom lettuce with gorgeous pictures on the plastic ID stakes taunt me with their multi-colored splendor and promise of tender leafy heads. Can anyone tell me if non-alcoholic beer works for slug bait? 

Purple potatoes join the Yellow Finns in another bed, homage to the Pink Potato Salad. I wonder if carrots grow in harmony with spuds? Add onions, and I have a Beef Stew Garden. 

Five planted, 3 more beds waiting beneath their burlap shrouds.

Mother's Day is tomorrow.]]>
<![CDATA[05.02.2013 The Ted's Tomato Plants]]>Sun, 05 May 2013 19:43:02 GMThttp://citygirlfarming.weebly.com/journal/05022013-the-teds-tomato-plantsLooking for farm fresh eggs one day, I happened upon The Ted's. More accurately, I found Ted's Place at 4856 Jackson Highway, just outside Toledo. An ancient black cat guards the entryway from his perch near the sliding glass doors. Hummingbirds buzz the hanging feeder while the recumbent kitty watches me through slitted eyes. An ear twitches once. 

Out bounds Ted W. and introduces himself and Ted S., egg gatherers and gardeners, historians and arrowhead collectors, canners and cartoonists, eBay sellers and farmers on a patch of acreage  preceded by a dictatorial seasonal sign on the highway: Water Over Roadway. Their land does not rise above the level of the road.

Laden with fresh eggs, home-canned Swiss Chard and a brief history of the aboriginal trade route including a museum-like tour of arrowheads uncovered nearby, I promised to return for some of the plant starts I admired growing in the greenhouse and atop the kitchen counter under a growlight. 

Yesterday I returned for more eggs and 3 tomato plants (5, actually) already more than 30" tall, which I brought home and installed in the prepared raised beds. (The tomatoes, not the eggs.) Unseasonably warm weather offset by a cooling breeze made for pleasant working conditions, spawning visions of over-productive tomatoes while stakes were installed, twine supports wrapped tenderly around the hothouse plants and wire fencing erected around the beds. Idyllic.

The temperature climbed toward 80 degrees, Wind picked up, the gentle breeze becoming more earnest, tossing in the treetops and creating waves in the adjacent hayfields, buffeting the shocked tomatoes and wilting them as they drooped against their bindings, crucified. 

This morning they look like they may recover, thoroughbreds in a slaughterhouse pen, dispirited, barely alive. I hold my breath and await redemption. 

By contrast, the 2 tiny yellow pear tomatoes from the maiden Thursday Market, veterans of chilly nights and typical NW Spring weather, are still at attention, in flagrant mockery of the fabulous giant starts that inspired my too-early yearning for greenery emerging from the beds. The Acorn squash seeds I cast hurriedly into 12" and 14" PVC recycled planters along the driveway are emerging from poor soil, and the peas are already reaching for the stock fencing. Radishes are poking through, onions and chives braving nighttime chill. 

Warm and clear weather forecast for the next week. See you at the Thursday Market.