Snow, ice, and dog hors d’oeuvres

Back in late January, our temperatures plummeted. At one point, our city was the coldest one in the US at -20F. We beat out Alaska and Minnesota! Just because it gets cold doesn’t mean the dogs get a free pass and don’t have to go outside, though. The more cold-hardy of the two goes out in her own fur coat, but our greyhound mix, Emma, wears a sweater or a doggie coat. She has a metal plate in her leg from a bad break, so she’s especially susceptible to the cold.

Here’s a shot taken of the more robust winter dog after the snowstorm, when we took a frigid walk down the street. Poor Emma only made it a few houses down the street before my husband had to turn back toward home with her. Stella and I soldiered on, because Stella was still playing in the snow and I wanted to get to a better vantage point for the gorgeous sunset.

Photo of my dog walking in the snow

Our rugged individualist.


Just as spiritedly as she played in the snow, she suddenly stopped and looked up at me before starting to limp. Her feet had reached their limit! I thought I was going to have to carry her back home, but right then my sweet husband came driving up in our car, figuring we might need to be rescued. It was below zero out and terribly windy. We gladly got in the car even for that half block drive home!

This is the sunset I wanted to photograph. Aren’t those clouds gorgeous?

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.


More snow fell this past Monday evening through Tuesday morning and, after it, a layer of ice. This has made for some interesting time outside for our two dogs who, at only about 42-45 pounds, alternate between skating atop the ice and breaking through spots. It also serves to make piles left by the dogs and other animals quite prominent in our landscape. While walking one of the dogs today, I noticed this:


Iced deer poop hors d'oeurves

Culinary perfection to my dog: Iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres

 Yes, the deer who frequent our yard at night left their usual calling cards. This presents iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres for Stella, who has a disgusting fondness for these morsels. We have to keep her away from this feast. Dogs!!

My mom’s in surgery

That view is the courtyard by the cafeteria at OSU Medical Center East in Columbus.

My mom is in surgery right now, having a very large hernia in her abdomen repaired. She’s had this thing for about fourteen years! After a colonoscopy proved problematic, a specialist told her she had to get it fixed because, the way things were, a thorough colonoscopy was impossible.

As a cancer survivor, it is important for her to have them. Plus the thing is just plain huge. She’s been very fearful and aggitated about it these weeks leading up to today. I know she’ll feel so much better once she heals up.

Funny story….On the way here, Howie and I smelled this nasty smell in the car. We came to the conclusion that it was dad’s breath. This was confirmed when mom said his dilantin (sp) makes his breath terrible for about an hour after he takes it. The smell was unreal…like poop! I had to crack the windows.

Howie had to go to work, so headed back to town. He called a half hour later and said, “I kept smelling that awful smell all the way home. When I stopped to buy gas and got back in the car, it still stank so I looked in back. Well, you were right. It WAS dog poop!” I knew it…No breath could be that bad! Mom’s shoes were the culprit! Glad they’re Crocs and easy to clean! LOL

She will get a kick out of that. None of us got to go back and wish her well first – kind of odd. So the story will have to wait.

We don’t know how long to count on it taking today . Dr. Juan just told her he wouldn’t know until he got in there. It may be quite involved. I’ll try to update when I know more.

UPDATE at 11:30am – Well, she’s in recovery! The surgeon said there were three hernias that he combined into one. He put a patch over that. Because her abdominal wall was weakened, he put another, larger patch up higher to reinforce it.

She’ll be in recovery a for a couple hours. He said she could go home tomorrow, possibly. It depends on what she wants and how she feels. She wants to go home, he said.

The main concern is the coumadin. The family doctor wants her right back on it because of her propensity to make clots. The hospital would prefer she wait a bit. Aagh. Please pray for all to heal well with her on it. What a pickle!

At any rate, that’s the update!

My worm poop is here!

Worm castings (yeah, poop) are a terrific natural fertilizer. I ordered a 1 gallon bag of them to try in the self-contained grow boxes and some other containers. I can also make a “tea” solution for use as a foliar spray.

I bought mine from BocaBob on Dave’s Garden. They’re shipped from someone in Texas. Here’s the information from Bob’s advertisement:

What Are Worm Castings?
Worm Castings contain a highly active biological mixture of bacteria, enzymes, remnants of plant matter and animal manure, as well as earthworm cocoons (while damp). The castings are rich in water- soluble plant nutrients, and contain more than 50% more humus than what is normally found in topsoil.

Worm Castings are packed with minerals that are essential for plant growth, such as concentrated nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium. It also contains manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon and nitrogen.   However, the best of all is that these minerals are immediately  available to the plant, without the risk of ever burning the plant. Remember that animal manure and  chemical fertilizers have to be broken down in the soil before the plant can absorb them.

As the organic matter moves through the alimentary canal of the earthworm, a thin layer of oil is deposited on the castings. This layer erodes over a period of 2 months. So although the plant nutrients are  immediately available, they are slowly released to last longer. The cocoons in Worm Castings each contain between 2 and 10 eggs that hatch within 2 weeks. This means that the process of  decomposition are continued by the young earthworms in the soil, provided that the soil is loose,  damp and rich enough in organic matter for the worms to stay alive.

The bacteria in the alimentary canal of the earthworm transforms organic waste to natural fertilizer. The chemical changes that the organic wastes undergo include deodorizing and neutralizing. This means that the pH of the castings is 7 (neutral) and the castings are odorless (they smell like a forest after rain). The worm castings also contain the bacteria, so the process is continued in the soil, and microbiological activity promoted.

What can Worm Castings be used for?
Worm Castings can be used as an ingredient of potting soil (as plant nutrients) for plants in and around the house. It can also be used as a planting additive for trees, vegetables, shrubs and flowers. When used as mulching material, Worm Castings will ensure that the minerals are absorbed directly into  the soil when it is watered. Because Worm Castings will never burn plants, you can use as much of it as you like.

Benefits of Worm Castings :

1. The humus in the worm castings extracts toxins and harmful fungi and bacteria from the soil. Worm Castings therefore have the ability to fight off plant diseases.

2. The worm castings have the ability to fix heavy metals in organic waste. This prevents plants from absorbing more of these chemical compounds than they need. These compounds can then be released later when the plants need them.

3. Worm Castings act as a barrier to help plants grow in soil where the pH levels are too high or too low. They prevent extreme pH levels from making it impossible for plants to absorb nutrients from the soil.

4. The humic acid in Worm Castings stimulate plant growth, even in very low concentrations. The humic acid is in an ionically  distributed state in which it can easily be absorbed by the plant, over and above any normal mineral nutrients. Humic acid also stimulates the development of micro flora populations in the soil.

5. Worm Castings increase the ability of soil to retain water. The worm castings form aggregates, which are mineral clusters  that combine in such a way that they can withstand water erosion and compaction, and also increase water retention.

6. Worm Castings reduce the acid-forming carbon in the soil, and increase the nitrogen levels in a state that the plant can  easily use. Organic plant wastes usually have a carbon-nitrogen ratio of more than 20 to 1. Because of this ratio, the nitrogen is unavailable to plants, and the soil around the organic waste becomes acidic.

How to use Worm Castings:
For Germination Use 20 to 30% Worm Castings with coconut coir is an excellent germination mixture. It will also  ensure continuous and lush growth for about two months, without you having to add any other plant food. As a Soil Conditioner If you hoe a layer of barren soil, add a layer of Worm Castings and give it some water, you will be surprised at the growth of your first season’s plants. You can also make a wonderful brewed tea to use as a folior spray.

I also bought coconut coir from Bob. That stuff is really neat! It was shipped as an 11lb brick. By the time I added 9 gallons of water to our utility cart and let it absorb it, there  was a little over 2 cubic feet of planting medium. I mixed in four cups of the worm castings, then used that mixture for my self-contained box garden.  I’ll be posting about those grow boxes in another entry.