“Free” Wood Chips

March 29, 2014

So Thursday I get a call from the owner of a local landscape company telling me they have a load of really clean wood chips – would I like them?

This is the same company that dumped a load about 8 months ago.  Now, I haven’t finished moving all those, but who am I to say no to free wood chips?  Besides, we really do need them to finish the yard.

So I said yes.  I tell the owner that my mom will be home and direct the guys where to dump the chips.

Two hours later I get a call from mom – “the men didn’t listen to me when I told them to stop dumping so the chips are in the drive way and I can’t close the gate.  Oh, and they tore part of the gate off the fence”.

I called the owner who didn’t answer the phone and hasn’t responded to my voice message – yes it was polite.

The fence repairman came out and it’s going to cost just under $200 to fix the gate.

So much for free wood chips, eh?

Bread Dough Toxicosis

February 17, 2014

Bread Dough Toxicosis

Did you know that you can kill your dog if you let them eat uncooked bread dough?  I didn’t – and almost learned the hard way.

I’m in my mid-40’s, so sleeping through the night is a thing of the past.  I woke up around 4:30 and headed to the bathroom.  I came out a few minutes later to discover there was something wrong with Grace, my blue-headed white collie.  I don’t function too well at 4:30 in the morning so it took me a few moments to figured out she couldn’t get up.  I picked her up and she had no control over her body – she flopped like a fish.  I laid her out on the bed and started assessing her for an injury – her back had to be broken, right?

There were no injuries – her capillary recovery in her gums was good, but her pupils were blown wide open.  I cried (bawled) – I’m not the richest person in the world, so going to the ER vet is not something I can do lightly.  Then Grace burped.

Oh crap…

Yes, I knew the dogs had eaten a loaf of bread dough, but I thought it had been the puppies – the two 14 month old terrorists that I desperately need to spend some time training.  They’re whom I caught with the bowl as the oven was heating up.  Mavis’ no knead Dutch oven crusty bread dough had been sitting in the microwave doing its thing for the day and I’d pulled it out, formed the dough ball to rise one last time before going into my pre-heated, brand new 5-quart Dutch oven purchased just for this occasion.  But no, Grace is the counter surfer extraordinaire – she ate the dough and I didn’t know about it until her idiot daughters started banging the bowl around.

Double crap…

Okay, now I know what’s wrong – so I googled “raw bread dough dogs”.  Google it if you have dogs.  IT.WILL.SCARE.THE.HELL.OUT.OF.YOU…  I’d texted my veterinarian friend earlier, but she hadn’t responded so I knew she was asleep – it was 5:00 in the bloody morning by then – she should have been asleep.  I called her –  I told her what was going on with Grace. She said take her to the ER Vet now and told me where it was (I’ve never been, I have her!).  I said something else – she said GO NOW.  When your friend who has been a veterinarian for forever and a day says go NOW – you go.

We went – that’s another story, but essentially she had a very expensive blood test which told us her kidneys were normal and liver was slightly elevated (and a bunch of other things were slightly out of whack).  They gave her IV fluids and then she started burping and farting.  I’ve never been happier to have a burping and farting dog.

The vet said bloat was not an issue as the dough had already moved through her stomach into her lower GI tract.  We were allowed to go home and she puked in the car.  I don’t care – My dog didn’t die – thank you, God.

However, at 5:00 in the afternoon she was still drunk as a skunk.  Now, at almost 9:00 PM, she’s still buzzed but able to stumble around like a respectable drunk instead of being unable to move.  I’ll take it.

The moral of the story

If you’re going to make your own bread and you have dogs, ALWAYS put it back into the microwave to rise.  The counter ISN’T safe.  I think the top of the fridge would be, but there’s no room on mine.

Please, save yourself and your beloved doggie the trauma we went through this morning.   I don’t know how long it’s going to take Grace to sober up, but she’s going to have one hell of a hangover…

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A Drunk Grace, BUT An Alive Grace

Butchering Quail

April 21, 2013

In my quest for additional food self-reliance, besides the garden I decided I needed to breed some sort of meat animal. We can’t have chickens here, so I thought quail would be the perfect compromise. I was right. They’re small, but they lay an egg almost every day. The boys aren’t obnoxiously loud – Mom actually likes their little mini crow call. I find it annoying at 3:00 AM – but at least it isn’t loud enough to wake up the neighbors. So, I purchased my first set of quail back at the end of January.

For my first batch, I purchased 8 adult birds. The next weekend, I went back to the farm and purchased 12 two-week old chicks. From those first two batches, I ended up with four quads (1 boy and 3 girls). The “spare” boys were put into a separate cage. I didn’t think there were enough of them to be worthwhile to butcher.

So, I went back to the bird place and purchased 23 day old babies (well, 20, but I got 23). I’m proud to say I didn’t kill a single one of them until today – and it was on purpose! I really didn’t think I’d be able to butcher them myself – I can clean a bird, I’ve done it before, but killing them? I did it once myself when a chicken was dying after a dog attack and once when I was house sitting, but it’s not something that I thought I could do to put meat on the table. I was wrong – I’ve come to the conclusion I can do pretty much anything once I set my mind to it…

What triggered this change? I’m frankly tired of cleaning up after the pooping buggers. I don’t mind taking care of the quads that are providing me eggs, but I was just done with the extra boys. My brother in law was planning to come over to kill them for me next weekend, but I got up this morning and decided I was done. I had watched a few YouTube videos on butchering quail during the week just so I’d know how to dress them – the BIL agreed to kill, not dress 🙂 – so I just did it. Turns out the killing part is actually easier than the dressing part…

As an aside, the one thing I can’t complain about is that their poop makes absolutely incredible compost for the garden…

So, how do you kill a quail? Seriously – you just cut its head off with a really good pair of kitchen shears. That’s it! No muss, no fuss, just hold the bird over a bowl. Voila! I was as surprised as most of my city friends probably are…

I did not sit there and pluck all the feathers – forget it. I skinned them then cut out their back bone and stripped out the guts. Quite easy, and the collies ate everything that had any meat on it – including the wings, skin and heads – feathers and all!!! The puppies turned into little vultures when I walked outside the first time. Grandma Monet wasn’t too sure about it at first, but decided it was pretty yummy by the end of the process. Great Grandma Connie was licking the blood out of the bowl as it was coming out of the bird! Clean up is a breeze when you have dogs around!

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The dressed quail

Ok, so total birds butchered – 19. Total pounds after being dressed – 3.4. Total cost for the 19 birds with feed? Around $50. That’s about $15.00 a pound. Luckily, the rest of the birds (sorta) make up for the cost with their eggs! And it’ll get less expensive when I start hatching my own birds. Eventually, I’d like to get to the point where I can process about 40 to 60 birds at a time – but that’s going to take awhile. Once I’m there, and assuming I’m processing birds I hatched from eggs laid, not chicks bought, I figure I should be able to bring the cost down to $2 to $2.50 a pound. Buying the birds and keeping them for so long really drove the cost up.

I packed 6 birds into two 1 pint freezer baggies and set 7 aside for dinner tomorrow.

0023.4 pounds of quail meat

I’ve been trying to purchase eggs from a quail breeder who advertises jumbo quail, but she’s proving to be a difficult person to deal with. If I ever do get the eggs, I’ll have quail about twice the size of the ones I currently have. Hopefully, it’ll happen! If you know of a reputable breeder of Jumbo Coturnix quail, please let me know.

Hot Spots, Fleas & Ticks

April 18, 2013

Hot Spots, Fleas & Ticks.