Understanding your House Lion

About my cats!

 

Gizmo

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Commonly referred to as Gizmo the House Lion, is the brave adoptive daddy to the chickens and all small animals. He is a nine year old Maine Coon, and weighs a whopping 22lbs. He stands almost 3 feet tall on his hind legs, and thinks he is a dog. I adopted Gizmo at 6 weeks old from an animal shelter in Vermont back in 2008. He was suppose to be a gift for a friend but she was allergic so she sent him back to me, and boy am I glad she did! Gizmo spend most of his kitten months with my elderly black lab named Brandi. So while I trained Brandi he would sit beside her and mimic her every move. He knows simple commands like catch, sit, kisses, down and stay. He loves to explore outside with me, and really likes spending time with his chicken babies. Actually when our first chickens were babies he would climb in to their brooder box and sleep with them. Gizmo loves all animals, and children. He is extremely patient and has been the perfect cat for the past 9 years.

Pickle

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Yes you read it right, the youngest cat’s name is Pickle. She got the name because as a kitten she smelled like pickled eggs, she was a gross little thing. She is a sweet little chartreux which is kind of like the Corgi of the cat world. She has a normal cat size body, but 6 inch legs and a tiny head. Shes a funny thing to look at but is still oh so cute. Pickle was rescued from a busy road where she had been placed in a box and left outside in the cold. I’m not sure how long she was out there but when we found her she was a skinny frozen mess. Pickle has anxiety and cleans herself so much that her fur falls out. She also  goes in to hiding most of the day or when strangers come over. We were able to help her with her anxiety by purchasing a calming collar from the local pet store, and I am happy to say she is so much better. Pickle just turned 9 in September, and is Gizmo’s best friend. She loves to cuddle with her humans, and despite her small size still gives our dog a run for his money.

 

Common Cat Owner Problems

  • Scratching the furniture! There are many ways to fix this kind of behavior. Some people chose to de-claw, which I will never do because the whole practice is just cruel.  A more humane way to fix this behavior is Scratch tape which is sold at Walmart or pet stores or Kitty Caps. We use kitty caps, because #1. I don’t want to put tape on everything and #2 they are SO CUTE. Kitty caps come in multiple colors, and different sizes. They are exactly what the name suggests, a silicone cap that covers the cats nail. They cost 14.99 for a pack of 40 at pet smart.
  • Overweight/ Underweight. Most people leave a steady supply of food out for their cat, which can sometimes cause your feline to put on a few pounds. If your cat is overweight, take away the auto feeder and consider giving him smaller portions a few times a day. Take your overweight cat for a walk, or try to engage him in some exercise fun with feathers and toy mice. If your cat is underweight there could be something missing from their diet. Try giving your cat chicken and boiled rice, or a meat based food like Taste of the Wild. If your cat loses weight too fast, consult your local vet.
  • Aggression. If your cat is un-altered that may cause some aggression, if your cat is fixed and is still aggressive you should consider getting a calming collar from your local store. Your cat may need more space than is being provided or may be getting bore. Consider getting him or her some toys, and make a little area just for him. A cardboard box with a hole in the side is perfect place for kitty to hide
  • Marking/Refusing to use the litter box. I had this issue with all three of my cats. When Gizmo was refusing to use the litter box I had no clue why. He had used it for 5 years and was just fine, but then we figured out he couldn’t fit in the covered litter box. Pickle refused to use the litter box because of her anxiety but the calming collar fixed that. Try moving the litter box to a different location, and make sure they can fit in it. Cats are picky!

Do you have any questions about your Kitty? Leave a question or comment below and I will help as best as I can. Please note I am not a Vet, just a person with a lot of experience and research on animals!

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Really Loving Southern Fall

Here’s a quick post for today for all my nature lovers.

While I was working at my moms house today and putting up the outdoor Halloween decorations I stumbled across a slew of beautiful critters. The first critter we found was this beautiful spotted gecko pictured below. He was in mid shed and he had almost the perfect turtle neck look going on.

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The second critter we found was a beautifully colored salamander. Once I moved the wooden head stone he took off running, but he was no match for 2 adults and a 5 year old.

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Last but not least while my mom was moving a 5 gallon bucket that had been laying on its side behind their storage building she found a wood turtle. The dogs had so much fun barking at him but ran away as soon as he moved.

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There’s so much we miss now a days because of our phones, laptops and computers. There’s a whole world behind the screen. I strongly encourage my readers to put down their phone for 30 minutes a day and just live. Explore. Imagine. Create.

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Don’t Bully My Breed

I am so angry right now, my heart is beating out of my chest. I’m light headed, I’m sweating and my blood is boiling. The ignorance that pit bull owners face every day is outrageous. Incase you haven’t figured it out I’m very, VERY, VERY pissed off!

If you follow my blog regularly then you have read about Coal; my sweet, loyal, brilliant razor edge pit bull. Coal was rescued from a neglectful home in December of 2013, and has been living my my family ever since. He is a very intelligent boy that knows at least 12 commands in English, Portuguese and American Sign Language. He is a ball of energy whos favorite past times include herding chickens, playing fetch, going on walks, stealing the four year old’s toys, and knocking over the trash can. He isn’t a bad dog by any means and just like humans, he makes mistakes.

Although Coal has jumped the 4 foor fence that surrounds the yard(yes i do mean jumped the fence! Completely cleared it!!!) to go explore the neightborhood in the past, he has never got in to a fight or caused any damage to anyones property. When we don’t go out for walks for a few days he can get rebelious and will sometimes jump the fence to go pay visits to the neighbors and their dogs. His first stop is always at the end of the road where Pat, a dog rescuer for the county resided until she recently passed away. From there he travels a few houses up and visits the white American Bulldog, followed by a short stop across the street where a chihuahua lives. Occasionally he will go a little further and visit with the ankle biters at the other end of the road but its not often. He doesn’t jump the fence a lot, maybe a few times in a month if he is feeling really rebelious! All the neighbors know him and really love him, many of them even put out bowls of food or watch for him and give him treats or bones. Well almost all the neighbors. But in every group there is that one person who likes to start trouble.

I don’t approve of Coal running off like he does, however he has a routine and with the neighbors treating him and feeding him it makes it hard to break the habit. One neighbor however is trying to put a stop to it, a permanent and lethal stop. He has been placing rat poison in a dish for my dog. This isn’t one of the houses that Coal usually stops at, but I can see his front porch from my window. I have seen stray dogs arrive at his porch and then find them dead the next day. I have confronted him about it and he doesn’t deny poisoning the dogs, in fact he laughs and tells me I better keep my pit bull locked up. I have contacted local police, they wont do anything about it. Animal welfare laws are very lose down here and pit bulls face so many challenges just because of their breed. So the police really don’t care if there is one less pit on the street.

Not only am I dealing with the dog killing maniac across the road, I am now always on the lookout for the woman in the blue truck that tried to coax Coal over the fence and in to her truck. Recently in my county over a dozen pit bulls have gone missing out of their yards. Police say they suspect dog fighters are picking up these dogs to use as bait dogs or fighters. I caught this young woman trying to coax Coal over the fence by using dog treats. Once he jumped the fence she tried to coax him in to the back of her blue dodge pick up truck. My wife and I ran out and called him back and the woman took off. I reported it to the police but of course I think my cries went unheard.

People who don’t know Coal and don’t know the breed are often afraid of him. They want him to be caged when they visit, or held on a tight leash when we are in public. I understand their fears, after all the press has demonized this breed and made them look like blood thirsty killers. But all it takes to free yourself from misconceptions is a little bit of research. They aren’t scary, they aren’t mean. They are loyal, they are loving, they have feelings, they are protective and they trust people far to easily. Please, if you don’t know the breed don’t judge them Don’t believe everything you see or hear on the news, research it for yourself! And if you have a bully breed, please keep an eye on them when they go outside. I know these babies aren’t only going missing where I am. It’s a worldwide problem!

Don’t bully my breed!

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Finding The Right Pet For Your Home

I am a big advocate of adoption, both human and animal. But adoption is a serious commitment even when you adopting a cat, dog or small animal. Many people don’t take in to account how much vet bills will cost every year, obedience classes, food, exercise and just spending time with their new fur baby. I often see people online looking for a free dog for their children, and they can’t afford a re-homing fee. In no way am I bashing these people for not wanting to pay an adoption fee, but in my experience a $50-$200 adoption fee is the cheapest part about owning a dog. And it makes me wonder, if they cant pay an adoption fee how will they pay for vetting and food for said dog? Here are some tips for finding the right pet for your family.

When adopting any animal it is important to check with your landlord or local laws to make sure you are allowed to have animals. Most landlords wont allow dogs that are in the bully breed category due to insurance reasons. Also many states have adopted BSL or Breed Specification Laws that restrict ownership of certain breeds. Also check with your landlord to find out if there is a restriction on weight. If your landlord says you are not allowed to have a pit bull, don’t adopt a dog that is similar to it like the American Bulldog or Staffordshire Terrier. Often times when people aren’t familiar with breeds many other dogs are misidentified.

Pick an age that works for you. Puppies are cute, but they require a lot of attention and training. They are great if there will be someone home with them for most of the day, but if you work a lot and go out often, a puppy might not be the right age for you. If you want a baby animal, consider a kitten. Once litter box trained they are easy to clean up after and will often take care of themselves while you are gone. Young dogs ages 1-3 are great companions for the active outdoors-man. They are the perfect age if you have children, plus you don’t have to worry about potty training or chewing(usually). But if left untrained they may be rough with small children, or further develop bad habits like marking, digging or chewing. Adult dogs ages 4-6 are wonderful dogs that are often looked over when it comes to adoption. They are great dogs who may already be well trained and are much calmer than the young dogs. Much less jumping!! Adult dogs are wonderful for children and teenagers as well as for a couple looking to add a fur child to their life before human ones. Last but certainly not least, Seniors. Senior dogs often wind up in shelters because their owner passed away or they were traded in for a new younger dog. They are usually surrendered due to no fault of their own. This often makes them depressed and scared which may cause them to seem listless in their kennels when you go look for a dog. Thus they are often overlooked. But I guarantee if you ask the shelter worker to take the senior dog out of his cage to take him for a walk he will perk up and be the happiest dog in the whole building. The loud barking and echoing walls of a shelter are very hard on a seniors ears, which is another reason you may see them shaking or hiding their heads in their fur.

When adopting a dog, it’s important to think about the future. Are you planning on expanding your family? Will you be getting a new job or attending school soon? Are you planning on moving? Are you financially stable? These are all important questions to think about when looking to adopt a pet. If you are hoping to have another child soon, or starting a new job that will keep you away from home for long hours it may be a good idea to wait a little longer before adopting a pet. The wait is hard but once you have figured out your new schedule of routine it will be easier to decide what kind of dog best fits you. Financial stability is also very important. Will you be able to afford food for your dog? Vetting? Both are important factors in pet ownership.

Research the breed before committing. Not all breeds are equal! Some breeds fall short of certain expectations where others exceed. Some dogs are more prone to aggressive behaviors, some dogs need more exercise than others. Some dogs don’t get their brains until 4 or 5 years old like Labradors. Some dogs enjoy digging up your yard like doxies. Certain dogs have longer life expectancies than others, so it’s important to keep all these factors in mind before adopting.

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Horray October is Here!!

Quite possibly one of my favorite months, I am so happy that it is finally October. People can no longer look at me like I’m crazy for already being decorated for Halloween and my house will be filled with pumpkin spice everything. I am so thankful for a world where there is an October.

Growing up in New England, I was able to see all four seasons but October was always my favorite. Acres upon acres of orange, red and yellow leaves were visible from almost anywhere you went. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches were one of my all time favorites. There were small roadside markets where you could stop and get a cup of hot apple cider and some apple doughnuts. The colonial buildings that stood on the main roads looked to be right at home surrounded by the fall foliage. Fall is amazing in that way.

Now that I live in the south I don’t get to see the leaves changing colors. They seem to instantly turn brown and skip turning to warm colors. I can’t seem to find a pumpkin patch or apple orchard any where. This is the time I miss New England the most. I am fortunate to have my parents and many family members living down here with me and my mom does her best to help with the home sick feelings. She buys apples from the local farmers market and makes cider and apple sauce. Everything she cooks has pumpkin in it. And she makes her house look exactly like it did when I was little.

Home is where you make it, my mother is evidence of that. No matter where we go or how different the seasons and weather is, her house will always be home as long as she is there

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Deco Mesh Wreaths for the Holidays

March has been the month of deco mesh at my house! It all started when I went to Michaels craft store and saw a beautiful spring time wreath. I had to have it and it was marked down to $17.99 from $49.99 which was a great deal. Then I had to have one for Saint Patricks Day so I asked the woman at the floral department to make another one.

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What You Will Need:

  1. Pipe cleaners that are a similar color to your deco mesh
  2. At least 3 different colors of deco mesh
  3. Meal Wreath Form
  4. Accents (optional)

Less than a week after purchasing the 2 wreaths I saw a sponsored post on my Facebook Timeline advertising deco mesh for 50% off regular price. Deco mesh can be fairly expensive, a 12in wide 10 yard long roll will normally cost $9.99 and a 21 inch wide 10 yard long roll will cost $19.99 if bought from a craft store. The store I purchased mine from was a $9.99 and under store on the coast, and the deco mesh rolls were marked down to $2.49 each for the 21 inch wide roll. I spent $30 on 12 rolls of deco mesh in assorted colors. My mother then informed me that Walmart had some other colors and patterns available for $4.77 for a 21 inch wide roll. I picked up another 3 from Walmart. I also bought 2 different size metal forms to attach the mesh to. The 12 inch form is much easier and requires much less deco mesh, the finished product is about 24 inches wide. The 18 inch form requires a lot of patience and time, and will take 3-4 full rolls of mesh.

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To start, the deco mesh needs to be cut in to approximately 12 inch long strips. If you purchased the 21 inch wide deco mesh you can cut strips 12 inches long and then cut it in half so its roughly 12×10.5. If it’s not even that’s ok! For a 12 inch form you will need approximately 90 12×12 or 90 12×10.5 pieces of deco mesh.

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Second, roll 3 pieces of deco mesh and stack on top of each other then hold by wrapping it with a pipe cleaner. I recommend butting your pipe cleaners in half so that you don’t waste. Attach pipe cleaner to one of the wires in the middle of your metal form. If you are using a 12 inch form I suggest putting 5 groups of mesh in each section, totaling 15 pieces per section. Alternate colors so that you have a good mix, pick a nice soft color as your base.

Once you have attached all your deco mesh to your wreath you can individually “fluff” each roll and add accents. I added Easter egg picks that I purchased at Dollar Tree for 5/$1. I also wrapped me 18 inch form 2/3 of the way with burlap that I purchased at Walmart for $2.50.

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Happy Crafting!

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Fall Chicken Check Ups

If you are a crazy chicken lady like I am then you can probably spot when something is off with one of your feathered friends. I spend a couple hours a day with my birds and observe their behaviors. Each bird has a name that fits their distinct personality. It’s good practice to spend time with your birds every day so if  problem does arise, you can nip it in the butt before it gets worse, or worse than that… Before it spreads. Check ups will not only keep your bird happy and healthy, but will also maximize their productivity. It’s important when you are doing your fall check ups to pick up each bird and examine them. Is there excessive feather loss (not molting), are they comfortable, are they in pain?

When doing fall check ups you should start at the comb and work your way down. 

  • Comb should be a nice rosy red with no black spots. If the comb is a purple color that indicates that there could be some respitory problems that need to be addressed imediately by a vet. A pale comb could be a sign of heat exhaustion or could be that your hen just laid an egg. Keep an eye on her to see if the comb stays pale or goes back red.
  • Eyes should be clear and bright. Watery eyes, coughing and sneezing could be signs of a respitory illness and you should seek veterinary assistance if the problem last more than a couple days. Cloudy eyes could mean conjunctivitis caused by ammonia build up in the bedding. Flush eyes with saline solution and clean bedding.
  • Crop should be empty in the morning. If the crop is hard or mushy then you may have a case or impacted crop or sour crop. Immediate treatment is necessary.
  • Breast bone should not protrude. If it does then you may need to put some more weight on your birds before the cold months come.
  • Wings should be clean, be sure to look under wings for lice, ticks or mites. If you do find pests under the wings, soak the bird in warm water, salt and dish soap followed by a heavy dusting of Diatomaceous Earth. Add garlic to your hens diet to make they blood less appetizing to pests.
  • Vent should be clean, moist and pink. A dry pale vent indicates that your hen is not laying. Remove any chicken poop from the area by soaking or trimming.
  • Legs should be smooth and brightly colored(unless you have a dark legged breed like Marans). Scaly or raised scales on the legs are a sign of leg mites. Just to be safe you should rub your birds legs down every month or so with Vaseline or olive oil.
  • Feet should be cool. If your birds feet feel warm and puffy then you should closely examine them for thorns or splinters. If you see black spots on the bottom of the foot that could indicate that you have a case of bumblefoot and it should be treated immediately.
  • Feathers should be shiny and unbroken. If you notice your birds looking scraggly and breaking their feathers that could indicate there is a protein deficiency in your flock and you should boost the protein until you see the problem reverse. Broken feathers could also mean there are rodents getting in to the coop at night. Be sure your birds are tucked in safe at night and fill in any holes you may find. Broken and missing feathers could also be a sign of molt. During which time you should increase their protein intake.
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8 Reasons to Delete Social Media from Your Smartphone

8 reasons why I am deleting Facebook and other social media apps from my smart phone!

  1. Missing out on real life. I love nature and playing with my son but I know I am guilty of putting it all on hold to check a new Facebook message or notification.

2. Wastes time. When I have nothing better to do, I will scroll my timeline to see if anyone has posted anything new. If there is nothing interesting I will close the app only to check it 5 minutes later. There is so much better stuff I could be doing with my time!

3. Eats up data. I use anywhere between 15-25 gigs of data every month plus having wifi at work and home. At least 75% of my data is wasted on Facebook! 

4. Kills Battery Life. Another reason I am deleting social media apps is to preserve my phone’s charge. The batter life on smartphones isn’t great, especially when you are taking pictures to load on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I would rather preserve my battery life for taking pictures to scrap book. Or what makes even better sense, to call and text people like phones are meant to do!

5. No more pokes. Let’s face it, people you barely know poking you on Facebook is pretty creepy. What’s even worse is that people have had the option to “poke” you since day one, but Facebook still hasn’t created a dislike button.

6. Use the Skills You’ve Learned. Instead of playing Farmville, try harvesting real crops! Plant a garden, read a book on gardening, get some chickens. Real life. However if you are more in to Facebook games like mobsters I would disregard this whole statement!

7. Relationship problems. Whether you want to admit it, Facebook and other social media outlets create a lot or relationship drama. Whether someone is trash talking their significant other on their wall, or they are “Facebook cheating” it is an undeniable fact that Facebook can be serious trouble. My wife constantly gets upset with me because I ignore her and scroll Facebook.

8. We are forgetting how to talk to people. We all know those people on Facebook who talk a big game but some up short when met face to face. Social media gives people this sense of invincibility, like they can talk to people however they want.

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Soap Making

This whole soap making idea has been something I’ve been sitting on for about 6 months and after a week of making soap I really wish I had started long before this. I’m a crafty mom and I love making things to put around the house. Which explains the 10 or 11 fall floral pieces around the house. I’m the kind of person who gets an idea and runs with it, and eventually I slow down but the first few months I’m focused on that craft. I got in to deco mesh wreathes a year or so ago and we ended up with 9 or 10 deco mesh wreaths around the house. Luckily with soap making it’s quick, easy to clean up and the finished product makes a great gift!

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A few weeks ago I bought a soap making starter kit from Michael’s. I finally decided to give it a try after my wife bought me a How To Book on soap making a few months earlier. The starter kit sat on the kitchen counter for a few days, then it moved to the credenza in the living room. I kept putting it off until my niece finally pushed me to make it with her. I was expecting a huge mess to clean up when we were finished but that wasn’t the case, which may be why I enjoy it so much. Fortunately I work somewhere that has dried herbs and essential oils so getting the ingredients was easy, my boss just gave them to me in exchange for some custom soaps. Also, the starter kit wasn’t expensive either after we used a weekly coupon. I believe my total for the starter kit was only $10.

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The starter kit came complete with a soap mold tray, 3 bottles of dye (red, blue. yellow), a bottle of cucumber melon scent, 1 lb of clear soap base and 1 lb of white soap base. It has everything you need to make soap, you don’t have to have essential oils or dried herbs to make soaps but some people may choose to like I did. The instructions were clear and easy to understand although we kind of did our own thing from the start. I used a recycled glass jar to melt the soap in and a small spoon to stir with. The soap is already marked where to cut so it was easy to measure and it only took 30 seconds in the microwave to melt the soap. We really enjoyed creating new colors and experimenting with different herb and essential oil combinations. I had some silicone trays sitting around so we made little soaps too.

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We enjoyed making soaps so much the first time that we went out to Michael’s a few days later and picked up 8lbs of soap including she butter, olive oil and goats milk soap bases. We spent the weekend making soap for my niece’s grandmother whose birthday is coming up. I love seeing my niece have so much fun in something so simple, it doesn’t happen often because now she is almost 19 has so many other things to do. We used the dried herbs from my work and essential oils from Karma Organics. My favorite was definitely peppermint herbs with peppermint oil and jojoba.

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The Importance of Family Dinners

With conflicting work schedules and after school activities its no wonder many families no longer have family dinners together at the dining room table. Yet studies show that family dinners are an important part of healthy living.

When families eat together they tend to eat fewer fried foods, soda and foods with trans fats. When younger children frequently eat dinner at the table with their families they are less likely to be overweight than other children as well. Obesity is a serious concern because nearly 1 in 5 children aged 6-9 in the United States are overweight. That puts them at higher risk for many health problems when they get older.

Family dinners are also very important as your child reaches their teen age years. One of the most effective ways for parents to be engaged in their teens’ lives is be having frequent family dinners.

CASA recently reported on a national phone survey of 1,000 teens and 829 parents of teens. Eating dinner as a family helped kids in many ways. It helped them get better grades, and kept them away from cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana, and more. CASA recently reported on a national phone survey of 1,000 teens and 830 parents of teens. Eating dinner as a family helped kids get better grades and kept them away from cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

In case the examples above weren’t reason enough, here are a few more reasons to eat dinner as a family.

  • Everyone eats healthier meals.
  • Friends won’t likely abuse prescription drugs.
  • You and your kids will talk more.
  • You’ll be more likely to hear about a serious problem.
  • Kids will feel like you’re proud of them.
  • There will be less stress and tension at home.
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