Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Miscellanous notes on holistic cat care

Of all the things.  Cat care has been all but ignored in the last 10 years in our household, but there have been several recent bumps in the road that have required urgent and directed care for our aging felines.

I found my way with the help of the book Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats and Dogs.


Our poor kitty Tootsie (14) almost died from worms 18 months ago.  Her coat was ragged, eyes, dull, she was skeletal-thin, and she did nothing but sleep on a heap on a basement rug.  We just thought she was "getting old", but a friend noticed her and keyed us in: parasites.  We realized how badly she was infested when she puked up a worm just weeks later.

We had already started the conventional route, feeling like we needed to take action ASAP and not knowing what else to do. (It had been YEARS since we'd paid any attention to the health of our cats.)  It helped a little, but as we were warned, getting rid of intestinal worms is very hard.  The same friend pointed us in the direction of diatomaceous earth; and after we started putting a small amount of DE on wet cat food each day, slowly but surely, she regained her health and went back to her normal, glossy self.


Our gentle old dame Bay (15) had gotten to the point of stinking so terribly that no one wanted to be around her.  Her eyes were dull, her coat was raggedy and dull, and she hid and slept most of the day.  She had sores around her mouth that would not heal, no matter how they were tended.  They hurt her so badly she stopped cleaning herself and her coat turned lumpy and matted.

I knew without a doubt that it was the food that was causing it.  Dried kibble?  Complete garbage.  Wet cat food is no different, it is just a moist version of the dried stuff.  I have made cat food in the past and had been feeling guilty about it for years, but felt swamped with young children and managing a household.  The cats seemed "okay".  But the time had come.  There was no doubt it was the food causing the problem.

And after I started making it...?  Her sores starting healing within a few days.  She was completely recovered, looking and smelling better in a matter of days and weeks.  Her stench wasn't a not-cleaning-herself smell.  It was a toxic smell.  There is no other way to describe it.  And now..?  She smells like a normal cat. Of course.

CORNEAL ABRASION. Eyebright and Apricot Kernel Oil.

Poor Bay.  Just last week she was scratched full across the eye by an outside cat, with a tear in her cornea that went across three-fourths of her eyeball.  It looked terribly painful.

I tried to get at it every day, keeping it clean with a mild saltwater solution and the application of eyebright drops, but it wasn't healing as quickly as we would have wanted.  I finally found the time to apply a just a few drops of apricot kernel oil and within a day it looked so much better.  Of course I was kicking myself. Why didn't I do it sooner?? (Mother of four!) (Weeding season!) (Three gardens!) The suggestion was to use almond oil or cod liver oil, but I opted for the apricot kernel and it worked just as well.

* * * * * *

Hopefully we can keep our cat trouble, chronic or crisis, to a minimum from this point forward, but I know that I will be able to deal with most potential issues at home.

Out of everything, the deep nutrition from their homemade food is going to be the most important to keep them healthy going forward.  I will never, and I mean NEVER, go back to dry cat food.  With a decade of cooking experience under my belt, homemade cat food is a cinch.  I make a double-batch every couple of weeks, freeze it in pint canning jars, and voila - lunch.

As a surprising side-benefit, the cost is same or less than the bagged/wet cat food we were buying.  It is better all around.

Friday, June 10, 2016

More shifting

It has been 90 degrees F for the last two days, which prompted me to finallllly start the seasonal clothing shift and get the boys' summer clothes out.  Until now, they've been making do with a pair of shorts and a few t-shirts.

First I stowed all the clean snowsuits that were waiting for me.  Then I pulled out the 5T for Jamie and the size 7 for Truen.  Easy.

Then I spotted the 18-24 months on the towering clothing storage shelf and thought, "That's it. Taking up space."  Enough.  But when I pulled it out and started sorting?  A river of tears. I couldn't help it. It had to come out.

Both Diego and Truen were very tender and concerned with me when the found me crying. Their sweetness.  I choked out my explanation as I spotted the little maroon 12-18 month sweatpants that Truen wore when he was 2 because it was the only thing that fit his tiny little frame.

Ah. How can it be?

I haven't gone through baby clothes yet, nor the toddler clothes.  But it just doesn't make sense to take up precious storage space.  I've been telling myself that I will sort through them, keeping the precious outfits, but passing the rest to a friend in our homeschool co-op who has a 2yo and newborn baby boys. (Her older kids are girls.)

Honestly, giving them to someone I know has been a big comfort to me in the process of even thinking about it.  I felt that comfort as I started the actual sorting. As I sifted, I found myself making two stacks: one for the friend, one for my SIL.  The second stack contained the pieces that I couldn't bear to part with and/or hold oodles of nostalgia for a particular babe.  Each stack was about the same size.

Then Eliah woke up and needed to snuggle.  I still need to pull down the 3T for Yiya and sort through the miscellaneous Big Stuff for Diego.  He's the ice plow: I have to "break on through to the other side" every year for him; then store it in nice, neat boxes marked "9" or "10" for future reference. I even have it bagged within the boxes marked "5T Summer" or "8 Winter" for my convenience.

I'm so sthmart. (So why does it take me to the middle of June??) (Good question.)

We are lucky - we have many, many hand-me-downs from cousins. So most of Diego's clothes are just a matter of sorting and identifying what fits. The rest are thrifted.  I've found that pants generally last two boys before the knees are totally blasted (sometimes one boy), so I still need to fill in here and there.

But yes: another shift away from the baby years. It hurts. I've thought it will be easier to let go of  clothes as they get bigger, but we shall see.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Rambling pictoral update

 Truen snuggling with this year's goslings.
Sadly, they all vanished one sunny Saturday morning.
We are almost positive it was coyotes.

 Our pigeon, Mr. Squealy.
Diego caught a fledgling pigeon this spring.
This was pre-haircut for Jamie and before Squealy learned how to fly.
He still likes to land on our heads.
Seriously. Pigeons: The best.

 The North Garden. (Three of 'em now.)
It is nestled in our front four acres, currently planted in oats.
Blaine was prepping the onion bed.
We planted, and I'm not kidding, 1,800 onions. 
It was insane. Twenty-four rows, approx. 75 onions in each row.
Garlic is on the right, melons and squash will be to the left of the onion bed.
Qualifications for North Garden admittance: deer will not eat it.

 Our patchwork quilt of a house this spring.
We had to re-roof it last summer due to a leaky roof. (Eegads.)
 We chose tin instead of shingles for a long-lasting investment.
We are very pleased with the end result: cozy, attractive, more cohesive.
(This picture is from the beginning of May.)

Have I talked about the native planting along our driveway?
The old stems and seed heads are so lovely when it rains --
they turn red and have a sweet, floral grassy fragrance.
A prairie planting was perfect for this gravelly weed-infested patch of ground.
It is thriving where lawn grass could not. (And we don't have to mow it!)
In the summer, it is loaded with flowers and the birds and bugs love it. 
Beautiful year-round. And an extremely functional snowfence.

One of our three Prairie Fire crabapples.
The wind affects everything on the rolling prairies --
See how it is growing bending toward the north? 
The south wind blows hard.

Diego is in braces now . . .
Or more specifically, "utility arches".
Phase two of widening his palate.

All our boys will need a palate expander.
Jamie has the most severe crossbite of the four.
See how his top teeth are inside his bottom teeth...? Not good.
And isn't he just the sweetest?  I am really enjoying his little 5yo self.
I gave him his summer buzz a few weeks ago.

 But this fella?  We just can't cut the curls.
I've been putting it in a top-pony in recent weeks.
In this pic he wanted to "climb the tree" by our chicken coop,
but was very concerned once he got up there.