October 31, 2014

Friday Follow-Up

This week:

-- On Monday's post "Harvesting the Herb Garden" I wondered if chocolate mint could be used for anything other than sniffing as I walked past the plant. Thanks to reader Bobbi D., who pointed out this post titled Easy Chocolate Mint Extract Recipe from Common Sense Homesteading, I now have a small jar of chocolate mint "extracting" in my kitchen!

-- My huge aloe vera plant broke. It was on the shelf over my kitchen window (you can see it in the picture above, on the far right of the shelf), and when I opened a cupboard door I pushed against it too hard and heard it snap. I repotted what was left since it needed it anyway, there were several "babies" so I just gathered them up a bit and repotted them all in the original pot. I went in search of another pot for the large part that broke off, and ended up repotting my smaller calendula plant since it will die off soon anyway, and potted up the long broken piece. The stem is very curve-y and it was a challenge to replant. We'll see how it does.

-- Wednesday night's forecast was for "patchy light frost", so I harvested all the orange tomatoes, the reddening paprika peppers, the herbs and calendula flowers, and I brought the annual herbs inside for the night. I covered the Arkansas traveler tomato plant which is still covered with green tomatoes, and the paprika plant. I made one last trip to the abandoned garden and picked the sweet and bell peppers that had somehow survived. That joke was on me; it never dipped below 42 degrees and the frost is now forecast for tonight/tomorrow morning instead.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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October 29, 2014

Errands, With a Cat

We have two orange tabby cats in the house. Collins and Colby are brothers, the only two kittens in the litter. They're the same color, but they are very different. Colby is afraid of his own shadow and will hide under the couch for two days when we have company. Collins is king of the house, he's grumpy and he's FAT.


He's significantly bigger than any of my cats, both indoors and outdoors. He rivals Garfield of comic-strip fame. I think he gets fat on air. He, Colby and Tink eat a quality dry cat food. I can't really cut down on Collins' food amounts because Colby and Tink have to eat too.

Over the weekend I realized that Collins was spending a lot of time in the litter box. I cleaned the box and kept an eye on things for the rest of the day. Not much was "happening". Monday morning I found urine tinged with blood in the bathtub.

I've had a lot of cats in my life, and I've done a lot of research on this particular topic over the years for articles for cat magazines; these are classic signs of a cat with a urinary tract infection.

Collins often investigates my projects; you've seen him in many photos.

Monday morning I called my vet and was given an appointment later in the day. I had errands that had to be done. There wouldn't be enough time to do those and come home for the cat before his appointment, so he went with me. We did an abbreviated version of the errands so that he didn't have to stay in the car alone, and arrived at the vet's office during their lunch break. I put the cat's carrier under a tree and sat next to him to wait.

When the vet and his assistants returned from lunch, Collins was diagnosed with a UTI, just as I suspected. I'm supposed to give him half a pill every day. The vet warned me that the drug makes cats drool, and yes, it does. He also warned me that Collins will hate me before it's over, but Collins has never really been fond of me anyway.

This drug comes in both pills and liquid, and the vet said "pills are usually easier". I beg to differ. I wish I'd followed my gut instinct and asked for the liquid. Cats have teeth and don't like it when you try to push a bitter pill down their throats. After Collins spit it out twice the next morning, bloodied my hand with a claw and bit my fingers, I crushed the pill into a powder, added a bit of water, and syringed it into his mouth while containing the sharp parts of him in a bath towel. That's fun.
The original Grumpy Cat.

The vet asked me if we have rural water at home, if it's high in calcium, and if we drink it ourselves. I said I don't know if the calcium level is high, and that we filter the water that we drink. He suggested that we filter the cats' drinking water too. Calcium oxalate is one of the two most common minerals that cause feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

Although some cats show no symptoms, the usual signs of FLUTD are difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency, and blood in the urine. Some cats will urinate outside the litter box and often prefer a cool, smooth surface such as a tile floor or bathtub.

FLUTD occurs most often in middle-aged, overweight cats that get little exercise, use a litter box, have little or no access to the outdoors, and eat a dry diet. That describes Collins to a T.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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October 28, 2014

A Slice of My Life

 The autumn woods are "blooming" with mushrooms right now.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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October 27, 2014

Harvesting the Herb Garden

The season is winding down, and I'm harvesting herbs, flowers and seeds from the herb garden.

Calendula - my plants are still blooming, so I'm harvesting some of the flowers fresh so that I can dry the petals, and others dry so that I can save the seeds. Most of the plants have produced yellow flowers, but one that recently began blooming is producing orange flowers.

Catnip - the flower heads are drying up and the seeds are almost ready to harvest, although I've already cut off a few clusters that are dry enough. I plan to dry the leaves and stems to make cat toys. My inside cats love catnip, the outside cats couldn't care less.
Cayenne pepper - the last little pepper on my cayenne plant has turned red and been harvested, so I've pulled the plant and will plant spinach this week. I'm going to cover the tub with a sheet of hardware cloth to keep my dogs critters from digging in the soil.

Cinnamon basil - the seed pods are drying nicely on my one and only plant. I cut off all the flower spears that were completely dry, and left the ones that are still blooming on top. A few little black seeds are inside each seed pod.

Dark opal basil - this beautiful plant is still growing like crazy, so I'm going to harvest another "crop" of leaves to dry. It's only produced one flower spear so far, which I pruned so the plant would keep growing new leaves.

Lavender - the lavender plant has been happiest on my kitchen windowsill this summer. It bloomed again in September, then kind of dried up, but I'm glad to see that there is some new green growth on it now. I was getting a little worried about it.

Lemon balm - another plant that has thrived on my kitchen windowsill over the summer. I've been harvesting the leaves regularly in order to keep the plant's rounded shape, and have dried the leaves. I use them in some herbal teas and remedies, and add fresh leaves to my morning smoothies and to lemonade.

Marigold - there are still many marigold blooms on the plants, and just as many that are drying out. I've been pulling the seeds out of all the dry flower heads.

Oregano - I'll trim these two little pots of oregano before bringing them inside for the winter, and dry the few leaves from the cuttings.

Paprika - all those fat, round peppers are finally beginning to turn orange. When they're red I'll harvest, dehydrate and powder them. The paprika and cayenne were experiments this year.

Zinnias - the zinnia plants still look great too. I cut off all the dead heads and still have plenty of pretty salmon-colored blooms to look at, although they are inching past their prime. These plants have been blooming fools. I found a YouTube video that shows how to harvest zinnia seeds.

I plan to bring the rosemary, oregano, and chocolate mint inside for the winter. (Is there a use for chocolate mint? I grow it because it smells good when I brush against it, but I don't know if it has a use.) I could bring the catnip inside too, but since space is at a premium and it's super easy to grow from seed, I'll harvest all of the leaves instead.

I'll replant all of the annuals again next spring, and I plan to add a few new herbs as well. I'm particularly looking for comfrey.

What herbs do you grow, and how do you use them?

You might also enjoy:
The New Herb Garden
The Herb Garden in June
The Herb Garden in July
The Herb Garden in August
The Herb Garden in Late September
Ten Ways to Use Basil
How to Dry Homegrown Herbs
DIY Cayenne Pepper Powder
Harvesting the Herb Garden

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

October 26, 2014

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- the birth of our grandson this week
- a family birthday
- leaves changing color
- the earthy smell of autumn
- a late rose
Silver Sunday

In honor of the new baby:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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