Carrot Tops

Bunnies love greens, everyone knows that!  They especially need greens during the dark, cold days of winter.  Munching greens gives rabbits vitamins they need in a natural way.  Plus, they are delicious for bunnies.  Affording greens to feed hungry mouths in winter is another matter.

In the past my grocery store carried dandelion greens and they were right on the edge of what I could pay to keep the livestock satisfied.  This year they have no dandelions.  I’ve been substituting parsley, but that gets expensive.  The idea of growing my own greens became very attractive.  So I started an experiment.

The tops of carrots are generally cut off and tossed when preparing supper.  These are not wasted at our house, they go to the horses.  Sometimes the carrot tops will actually start growing in storage in the fridge.  I thought, why not try sprouting them for the bunnies?

So I cut off the top inch of a dozen carrots.  Roots grow from the eyes on the side of the tap root that is a carrot, so at least an inch is needed to provide enough eyes to support the sprouts.  I stuck the roots in a large pot of soil, put it in the south window and kept watered.  In a few days green began appearing at the tops.  It is slow going at first as the carrots develop roots.  Soon there will be a good feathery growth of sprouts.

The tap root will not regrow.  The pot provides plenty of room for this experiment.  If left to develop, these tops will eventually flower and produce seeds.

I’ll wait until there are lots of stems before cutting a few at a time for my angoras.  Now that I see how easy it is to grow carrots tops, I’m going to start a second pot as well.  These should get the rabbits through until spring arrives with its abundance of green treats.

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Canterbury, UK

On this first day of March, snow over two feet deep, temperatures hovering in the 20s F with a bracing northerly breeze here in Maine, I think back to March a year ago when I was in warm England.  My mum and I spent a delightful couple days in Canterbury.  This town is one of the larger in Kent and the seat of the English church since the 600s.  Although it is a religious center and the destination for thousands of pilgrims over the centuries, Canterbury is much more than its cathedral.

River Stour as it flows through Canterbury

In ancient times the site of Canterbury was a settlement at the mouth of the River Stour.  It was situated on the banks of the river’s large estuary opening into the Wantsum Channel, a wide arm of the sea that once formed an island out of Kent called the Isle of Thanet.  Great storms over the centuries silted in the channel, creating dry land.  The river now runs about twelve more miles to join the sea beyond Sandwich.  The Romans built a town called Durovernum Cantiacorum after their invasion in the year 43.  By the year 200 they had completed a wall around the town.  The wall was rebuilt in the Middle Ages and portions of it still stand for the strolling pleasure of tourists today.

image courtesy L. Winslow

In the late 500s Canterbury was the capitol of the Saxon king of Kent who married a Christian.  Her influence likely brought about the mission of St. Augustine, sent to England by the Pope to convert the inhabitants to Christianity.  Augustine founded the cathedral after he was made Bishop of England in the early 600s.

The current building dates from medieval times.  It has been repaired on several occasions:  after various fires, following periodic neglect, and the depredations of the Puritans during the Civil War when stained glass windows were smashed and horses were stabled in the Nave.  The oldest section is from around 1077 and is called the Martyrdom.  It is a staircase and parts of the north wall, the area reputed to be the site of the murder of the Archbishop Thomas Becket.  After his death on 12/29/1170, rumors of miracles brought a flow of pilgrims to Canterbury that has not fully abated.  The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer tell of life on the pilgrimage and are a popular motif in the town.

image courtesy L. Winslow

 

After the obligatory visit to the cathedral, the remainder of the town beckons.  My mum and I stayed the weekend in one of the oldest buildings in the town, constructed in the 1500s as an inn, and currently the Pilgrims Hotel.  The place is charming and transports one back in time with its large common room, narrow stairways and cozy rooms.  Our room was situated above the taproom and the ambient sound of chatter and music drifting from below was undoubtedly much the same as it would have been in the 1600s.  In the photo below, our room was the one with the double windows overhanging the entry and sign.

The Westgate

After a lovely cuppa tea and some biscuits, we explored the famed high street shopping area of Canterbury.  Extending about one-third mile from the Westgate (the only remaining medieval gate in the city wall) to Whitefriars Shopping Centre, the streets are closed to traffic during the day, creating a bricked pedestrian way often crowded with shoppers. The thoroughfare is lined on both sides (and down side streets) with shops.  It is such a great draw that at times navigating through the crush can be difficult.  Buses disgorge large groups of tourists, often from non-English-speaking places, who traverse in impenetrable packs.
Buskers strum guitars and play other instruments, adding music to the scene. Street vendors sell roasted nuts, hot snacks, nick knacks and trinkets, further narrowing the congested ways with their carts.  Yet, it is a congenial crowd, well fed at the numerous restaurants and sated by endless purchasing opportunities.

So many of the buildings lining the pedestrian way are ancient, dating from the 1600s or earlier.  They jut over the sidewalks, providing a window-shopping experience similar to that of long-ago.  Although, I’m sure the streets are much cleaner and better smelling than they would have been when horses were the mode of transport and chamber pots were emptied from upper windows with a call of “guarde loo!”

After a strenuous day of shopping, I enjoyed a lovely roast of lamb in our hotel’s taproom restaurant.  With a nice glass of rose, it was a scrumptious way to relax.  Canterbury is such a fun town that I hope to return for another stay and to perhaps catch a performance at the Marlowe Theater, a popular playhouse just across the street from our hotel.

Blue Eggs

Just wanted to share the beautiful eggs my Ameraucana pullets are producing.  They started laying in late December and average four to eight eggs per day.  We have twenty hens.  Only the oldest are laying right now.  More will come online by the end of this month and by the end of March they all should be laying.  That will be just in time to start collecting eggs for setting.

I’m really liking some of the egg color.  My ideal is a robin’s egg blue.  I raise Silver Ameraucana, a variety that has had a lot of trouble with egg color.  The shade is often too pale and too green.  I have my fingers crossed that a good number of the younger pullets will lay nice color.  I’d like to have as many hens as possible for breeding.  So far there are four or five of the oldest pullets producing good blue color.

Personally, I like the variety of shades represented above.  They look lovely as Easter eggs, no dyeing required!  My customers who buy eating eggs really enjoy the brightly colored eggs, as do my young granddaughters.  They are fun for everyone!

Crescendoe Gloves

These gloves were found on a recent trip to a local thrift shop.  They carry only an inside tag identifying the lining as 100% silk and giving a WPL number that corresponds to Crescendoe Glove Co.  The gloves appear unused and were in their original plastic sleeve.

They are made of fine, thin, cream colored leather with hand crocheted detail.  The size is not marked but they measure 6.25″ around the palm and would be a size 6 or Small.  They are 10.5″ long.  When worn they would cover about half way up the forearm.  The material is Crescendoe’s special washable leather.  This pair of gloves is as supple and wearable as the day they were made.c4

WPL numbers were changed over to RN numbers starting in 1959.  These gloves can be dated to that year because of the confusing use of an RN number for a WPL number.  The last WPL number issued was 13669 in 1959.  For some reason Crescendoe used this odd label.  I suspect it was a temporary problem, probably fixed within a few months.  Because the gloves appear very clean, unstretched, and still contain this lightly applied label, I believe they are unworn.

Crescendoe Gloves were a division or brand name of Superb Gloves, both companies being located in Johnstown, NY.  Superb registered the Crescendoe name in 1942.  Johnstown and nearby Gloversville once formed a center for glovemaking in the US.  The area had many tanneries.

In the 1800s glovemaking became a cottage industry in this region.  The leather was processed and cut out in factories by men and the gloves were sewn together in homes by women.  By the early 1900s, glove stitching also moved to the factories.  A booming industry grew up in the area and continued into the final quarter of the last century.  As fashion moved away from the daily wearing of ladies gloves, the industry died.  Just a few glove manufacturers remain.

Crescendoe was a very popular brand from the 1940s into the 1970s. The wearing of fine, dressy gloves when going out was de rigueur for a fashion conscious woman. The right glove “made” a lady’s outfit, especially for evening. The use of gloves was also good hygiene and it protected hands from the weathering effects of sun, cold and wind. I bet chapped hands were less of a problem when glove wearing was common place.

Crescendoe ran a very successful advertising campaign in fashion magazines. This illustration from 1954 by Rene Gruau highlights the attractiveness of the gloves. The company touted their product’s ability to slim the hands. Gruau was a famous fashion artist of the time. Use of his artwork represented an impressive investment by the company. Rene Gruau’s work can be found in museums today and he is acknowledged as a major contributor to haute couture.

image by 1950s Unlimited  link to use

The significance of small discoveries in thrift shops, at yard sales, auctions and secondhand shops always amazes me.  This pair of gloves was lost, jumbled amid a motley collection of worn-out hats, gaudy scarves, old hosiery and cheap fake-leather wallets in a bin.  I knew when I saw them that they were something special and I was right.  The gloves are listed in my eBay Phoenix Farm shop.

Sad News About Otto

Our big, beautiful, seven-year-old German Shepherd Otto is dying.  We learned this in November when he went to the vet due to excessive drinking and urinating.  All the tests we ran showed very little was wrong, except his ability to concentrate urine.  Otto’s kidneys are failing.  To look at him then and even now, you would think nothing was wrong.  He seems healthy and active.  He eats well and looks in great condition.  But something is very wrong.

In early December his first morning urine specific gravity was 1.030.  The normal range is 1.050-1.060.  The vet said at that time his kidney function was at about 25%.  Since then we put him on a low protein, low sodium diet.  There is very little else to be done for failing kidneys.  He loves his new diet that includes lots of vegetables and senior moist food mixed with dry senior kibble.  It took some searching to find a diet that didn’t aggravate Otto’s chicken allergy.  After a few weeks he stopped drinking and urinating excessively.  We actually thought the urine test was a fluke and he might be getting better.

I got a veterinary refractometer so I could test his urine specific gravity at home.  Five days ago I checked his first morning urine and the specific gravity reading is down to 1.010.  The only indication of anything being wrong is that he occasionally vomits a little.  Otherwise he seems perfectly healthy.  Kidney failure for Otto is an insidious process.

The vet has no real explanation for the failure.  Otto could have gotten into poison, destroying the nephron cells in his kidneys.  These cells do not grow back once they are killed.  We have no idea where the dog could have gotten poison.  He doesn’t stray far from us.  The other dog, Max, goes everywhere with him.  Max does not have any problem.  There is a condition found in German Shepherds called chronic kidney failure.  It is a genetic issue.  We don’t know if this runs in Otto’s family.  The breeder certainly didn’t mention it when we bought him.  I suspect this may be what is causing Otto’s demise.

I plan to start administering subcutaneous fluids to help keep Otto hydrated in an effort to extend his life.  Once his kidneys reach a critical stage, Otto’s health will rapidly decline and we will be forced to lay him away so he doesn’t suffer.  It would be good if he could make it to spring so we can bury him in our pet cemetery.  It will be a very sad time on the farm.

Feb 2 Update:  Since writing this blog two days ago, I’ve had more discussion with the vet.  He was interested to learn that Otto’s urine dilution had increased while his drinking and urination had decreased to nearly normal.  Although Otto does not show any other real symptoms, the vet wants to check the dog for Addison’s disease.  So in two days Otto will get an ACTH stimulation test.  Fingers crossed that he has Addisons, the first time I’ve wished a disease on a dog.  Because it is treatable with steroids and he could have a long, regular life, instead of succumbing to kidney failure.

Feb 6 Update:  The ACTH Stim test was performed yesterday and the results came back completely normal.  For $300+ we learned Otto does not have Addisons disease.  Still no idea what is wrong.  Today we are performing a urine concentration test.  No water for Otto for most of the day and every few hours I collect urine and test the concentration with my refractometer.  So far his urine continues very dilute.

Why’s My Cat Fat?

Most owners know that their cats are obligate carnivores.  This means feline bodies do not produce all the essential amino acids for survival.  Cats must consume meat to obtain taurine or they will die.  Taurine deficiency can result in various conditions including blindness, tooth decay, enlarged heart and lowered immune response.

For most of their evolutionary past, cats were busy little rodent killers.  They earned a place beside man’s hearth by keeping the mice and rats under control.  Consuming rodents and other small animals provides cats with the taurine they need.  While the modern house kitty may catch and even eat the occasional mouse, most cats subsist on commercial diets.  These are supposed to be balanced foods that meet the nutritional needs of felines.

Unfortunately, far too many house cats are overweight.  I worked for eleven years as a veterinary technician and saw an inordinate number of over-weight kitties.  In the photo above of my own cats, the cat at the bottom, Toby, is quite hefty.  He started out at an optimal weight and body condition and stayed there the first seven years of his life.  His weight gain started when he developed bladder infections and began receiving moist food every evening.  Because I have a multi-cat household, I always have dry food available free-choice and Toby really pigged out.  He is a large-framed cat anyway.  With the extra weight, he topped the scales at nearly 19 pounds.

Over the years I’ve owned many cats.  Most were within fairly normal weight ranges with a few exceptions.  Some just ballooned to overweight as they reached senior age, about 7 years old.  Perhaps the gain was due to lower activity levels.  Or maybe something else is going on?

A review of the guaranteed analysis of the nutritional content of commercial cat food reveals that most dry food provides about 0.1% to 0.2% taurine.  This includes many high end brand names and even prescription diets.  Moist cat food has a taurine content of about 0.05-0.2% with more expensive brands generally having more of the amino acid.  Semi-moist cat foods are in the same boat.  Sometimes the taurine levels in cat food are not even provided on the package.  The consumer must make an effort to find the information.

Taurine is highly water soluble.  It is not possible to over-feed taurine since excess is excreted.  Most cat food is supplemented with taurine due to a significant loss of the amino acid during the cooking process.  Studies indicate the average cat requires 75-100 mg of taurine per day.  Experiences with my own cats leads me to suspect the requirement is actually higher.

For most of Toby’s adult life, he ate only Purina Complete Cat Chow, a dry food.  This was available free choice.  Then at age seven he also started getting 1/2 can of moist Friskies pate per day.  The taurine content of Cat Chow is 0.15% and Friskies canned is 0.05%.  Within a few months the cat’s weight gain was obvious.  It just got worse and worse.  At 16 he was that very heavy cat in the photo.  He also had serious problems with chronic yeast ear infections.

One of my dogs had very itchy skin with chronic yeast in the ears.  After he was switched to a non-chicken diet, his itching and grungy ears all went away.  He had a chicken allergy.  I wondered if my cat had the same problem.  Chicken is a cheap and easily obtained protein that crops up in a majority of commercial pet foods.  During my search for a dry cat food without chicken, I stumbled across Farmina Natural and Delicious.  Beginning in mid-January of 2018 (about one year ago) I changed all my cats to dry Farmina and also cut out as much chicken as possible from the moist food I offer every night.  I also feed about 20% Science Diet Dental Care (a dry food with a large kibble size to encourage chewing) to help keep the cats’ teeth clear of tartar.  This food contains chicken.  We’ve tried to go without Dental Care, but the tartar tends to build up.

Within a few months of the food change, Toby’s ear infections cleared up.  No more scratching at his ears, no more heavy build-up of dark, thick waxy discharge.  He was a happy cat.  The small amount of chicken in the Dental Care didn’t seem to affect him.

Then I began to notice another change.  He was losing some weight.  Another of my cats, Chloe, a female of 5 to 6 years, also had lost some weight.  She had been getting too chunky around the middle.  Now she looked great!  One of my younger cats, Kai, a three-year-old, had been gaining weight and losing the tucked-in waistline of his younger days.  On the new diet he had slimmed down.  All my cats’ coats were looking more sleek and shiny with less shedding and they seemed to have more energy.  What was going on here?

I studied the Farmina label and discovered it contained 0.4% taurine, almost four times the level found in most cat food brands.  The cats were consuming less food, lowering their caloric intake.  My hypothesis is that cats over-consume and gain weight in an effort to ingest sufficient quantities of taurine.  With lowered food intake, all my overweight cats reduced their weight.  Today Toby is about 15 lbs and actually has a waist!

In June of this year we acquired two tiny kittens.  They have grown up eating only free-choice Farmina, moist Friskies pate and Dental Care.  They have the most exquisite, silky, shiny coats and amazing muscle tone.  Their little arm muscles fairly bulge!  These kittens have great body condition, as do all the other cats in the house.  At age 18, even though Toby has arthritic hips, he is active and often playful.  I believe he is feeling much better than before his new diet.  I wonder if other owners of over-weight cats tried increasing taurine levels that they would discover the same results?  It’s worth a try!

Disclaimer:  I do not recommend any particular brand of cat food, do not make endorsements, and have not received benefits or consideration from any cat food manufacturer.

 

 

A Shivery Update

This is an update to the shivery tale I wrote of on the 13th.  For those who prefer not to read about psychic experiences, just skip this entry.  I am merely recording my perceptions, my actions and what occurred as a result.

A week-and-a-half ago, when the family was out of the house, I went to the neighbors to deal with their troublesome entity.  Prior to my visit, I met with a gifted psychic.  I like to get her impression of the entity I will be contacting.  In this case she felt the ghost seen by the neighbor child was a man who was hesitant to pass over due to his misdeeds in this life.  The psychic warned that this ghost was not benign.  He had ill-will toward the child and was oppressing her.  I suspected the oppression extended to the others in the home as well.

After several days of energy building, I entered the house.  As always, the place felt heavy and dark to me.  I frequently get this sensation in areas that have hosted many years, or layers, of lives.  Wearing various crystals that are supposed to improve my vibration, I proceeded to cleanse the house.  Everyone has their own method for smudging.  I light several sticks of incense and carry them with a bowl underneath to catch the ash.

First, every door and drawer is opened so the incense smoke will flow freely.  Beginning on the north wall of the cellar, I blew the smoke toward the corners of all the walls.  It is important to make your intentions clear by chanting (I mostly chant silently) a benediction sanctifying the house to the light, that only good may remain.  Because I suspected the long, dark crawl space in one part of the cellar was a good hiding place, I spent several minutes blowing smoke in the hole.  It was a still day and it took plenty of lung power to move the incense into the space.  Suddenly the smoke was blowing back in my face instead of moving away with my breath.  I felt something flow past me out of the crawl space.

I continued to smudge the cellar, then went upstairs to sweep the main floor.  Smoke had to be sent into every nook and cranny; the tiny attic space, every closet, even into the oven and microwave.  Then I sealed every entryway with finely crushed Himalayan pink salt.  Last, I sat at the table with the incense still smoking, lit a white candle, read aloud the 23 Psalm (my favorite passage) and rang a small, high pitched brass bell.  Then I concentrated on listening to whatever entities were present.

I got the distinct impression of two individuals.  One was an older male named James who was from around the 1840s.  The other was younger, a child.  I’m not sure if it was male or female.  This entity had been there considerably longer than the James person.  I informed both that they were dead, no longer meant to be in this place.  I enjoined them to think of their loved ones and to look toward the light.  I saw them take the hands of those who came with the light for them.

When they had left, the house felt brighter and lighter as though a weight was lifted.  I closed all the doors and windows.  Before I left the property, I buried the remains of the incense in the snow to end the communication.

Then I waited to hear about any changes the neighbors noticed.  A week later I spoke with them.  The shadows seen from the corners of their eyes had disappeared immediately.  Since the day of the cleansing, there had been no more tampering with the controls for the woodstove, something that had been happening every night.  The child no longer heard noises in the closet, saw toys moving or had her hair touched.  She was sleeping all night in her room without nightmares.  The father said the house felt more cheerful to him.

This is all great news!  I am hoping the bad times have ended for this family.  The oppressive, unhealthy influence seems to have left their lives.  Sometimes after a cleansing, all the entities present do not leave.  They find ways to hide and work their way back into the house.  The next few months will show if I have to go back and repeat the process or perform something more aggressive.  So far, so good.  Except, my neighbors told me about someone they know who is being troubled by an entity.  And the work goes on…