terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Spring is Coming March 18, 2008

Filed under: environment, garden, organic, pets — terra @ 7:00 am

IMG_5147Spring is just around the corner – after all this snow melts! This week and next are the ideal time to start seedlings indoors, to transfer to their outside home in 6 weeks. We also have to plan for grass restoration and other gardening activities. Let’s prepare for those Japanese Beetles before they eat all our roses this year! Here are a few tips I’ve gathered throughout the winter.

Grass

The best way to grow and thicken your lawn is to aerate and overseed. NaturaLawn of America is a company that can help you grow a thick, beautiful lawn with no harsh chemicals. They use effective and safe organic products and Integrated Pest Management program to help you grow a healthier lawn, naturally. If your grass is thick, you are less likely to have a weed problem because there’s no room for weeds to grow. Natural approaches like this are better for kids and pets too.

Pest Control

Beneficial nematodes are microorganisms that live 7″ deep in the soil and they kill pests like fleas, grubs (Japanese beetles), several kinds of flies and worms, weevils, ticks, and wood borers.
Pettiti Gardens
in Ohio offers some organic spray pesticides, as I’m sure many local garden stores do. Pettiti was a featured presenter at the Akron Home and Garden Show a few weeks ago, and they did a nice presentation on the Green Stage, highlighting some organic ways to fertilize and control pests. I prefer methods that are safe for me, my pets, and the environment, and I’m glad there are so many options available. I’m going to stick with natural, spray-free remedies this spring and summer, and see how it goes.
Here’s the post about Japanese beetles from last summer. Since you can’t put nematodes in your neighbor’s yard (to prevent Japanese beetles), it might be a good idea to have some plants that repel Japanese beetles – see the post for links and more info.

Plant and Flower Fertilizer

This year, I’m going to grow herbs and hanging tomatoes. (Sadly, we can’t grow vegetables in our yard.) I hope you’re able to grow vegetables where you are. That’s the best local food you can get! If you’re planning to have a vegetable garden, you may want to start a compost pile for yard waste, newspapers, and other compostable materials. Composts produce the best organic fertilizer you can find. It makes your plants healthier and more productive. If you don’t want to compost, look for TerraCycle Plant Food (that’s the name, I’m serious!). They make “worm tea” that you can spray on your plants to give them a great organic fertilizer. No worms are harmed in the making of worm tea.

The company’s flagship product, TerraCycle Plant Food™, is an all-natural, all-organic, ‘goof-proof’ liquid plant food made from waste (worm poop) and packaged in waste (reused soda bottles)!

You should be able to find TerraCycle products at Target, WalMart, and Home Depot.

Water

Don’t forget rain barrels! They save water and rain water is better for your plants.

 

Drink Wine, Help Dogs February 9, 2008

Filed under: food, gifts, pets — terra @ 7:00 am

The Dog Lover’s Wine Club will deliver wine to your door, and deliver money to a dog rescue or shelter to help our furry friends.

What a great gift idea! You can even get your dog’s picture on a wine label.

 

Happy Birthday Pets February 4, 2008

Filed under: gifts, pets, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Those of us who have pets instead of kids miss out on planning birthday parties, and seeing the joy on our little ones’ faces as they open gifts. Sure, Christmas is fun, but what about birthdays? I have not yet held a cat or dog birthday party, but I’ve been inspired by a great idea… My mom’s pup is having a birthday party this weekend, and all the gifts are going to the dogs. Not the birthday dogs, but to their less fortunate 4-legged friends.

Instead of loading the birthday dog up with raw-hides, bones, or chew toys, the party hosts ask that doggie friends bring supplies for the local humane society. If you host a pet birthday party, consider having the gifts donated to a local pet organization.

Summit County’s Humane Society is overflowing with wonderful animals who desperately need a home. The staff also need supplies to keep up with the ever-growing population.

In Akron, One of a Kind Pets recently opened a low-cost spay and neuter clinic for strays, which also needs donations and supplies. They are also a rescue organization with plenty of pets for everyone.

These are 2 of my favorite pet rescue groups in Akron. There are many more. Check Petfinder.com to find rescue organizations near you.

The list of needed items is usually the same, and is generally inexpensive:dog bday

Dog Biscuits
Leashes and Collars
Sheets, Comforters, Blankets
Cat liter
Cleaning supplies such as…
Paper Towels
Sponges
Bleach
Vinegar
Latex Gloves
Laundry Detergent
Stamps
Heavy Duty Trash Bags

So while it may sound goofy to have a birthday party for your pets, donating the gifts to a local pet charity makes it worth it!

(photo: that’s not my dog)

 

One of a Kind Pets December 3, 2007

Filed under: local, pets, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

One of a Kind Pets in Akron is a rescue group for homeless pets. They are located at 1699 W Market St in the same building as the gas station at the Market-Exchange 5-point intersection. As a rescue organization, they have saved over 600 homeless pets and placed over 400 into loving homes. Their extensive network of foster families takes care of the animals until they are able to find a home.

One of a Kind Pets rescues pets from the Animal Control facility, which euthanizes dogs and cats after just three days. Akron’s catch and kill policy is ineffective at controlling the cat population because cat lovers would never call them, knowing that the cat will be killed. A spay and neuter program would be much more effective at saving animals.

To Akron’s fortune, One of a Kind Pets has just opened their One of a Kind Pet Spay and Neuter Clinic at 1700 W Exchange in Akron. It’s a low-cost clinic, offering spay and neuter services starting at just $30. Their Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Package includes the operation, plus vaccinations and a flea treatment for just $45. Here are a few facts, which point out why a low cost clinic is so vital to our community:

    kitten

  • 4-6 million adoptable pets are euthanized each year because they don’t find homes
  • 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day (compared to 10,000 humans)
  • only 1 out of 12 cats will find safe haven in a loving home
  • only 1 out of 10 dogs will be nurtured and loved for its lifetime
  • a female cat that has not been spayed, and her offspring, will produce 370,000 kittens in just 7 years

(the above facts taken from One of a Kind Pets’ newsletter)

The Spay & Neuter Clinic would appreciate donations, which can be directed to animal care, spay and neuter services, or their Pit Bull Fund, the FREE Pit Bull Spay and Neuter program. Many communities have a pit bull overpopulation because the people who have pit bulls often don’t alter them, believing that it emasculates them. It is critical for pit bulls (and all dogs) to be spayed or neutered, for the dog’s health and the community’s safety.

Please keep One of a Kind Pets in mind this holiday season. If you’re able, consider a donation. Check out their wish list before hauling stuff to the curb or dumpster. Or, offer your services as a volunteer. The store on W Market St sells food and toys, with profits benefiting the rescue organization. My dog loves to get her nails clipped there, and I like knowing that the cost helps pets like her find a good home.

 

What not to feed a dog September 26, 2007

Filed under: pets — terra @ 7:42 pm

Try not to let your furry friend munch on these goodies. They can cause major problems for dogs.

  • IMG_6351Alcohol (and yeast) – can cause a coma
  • Coffee – increased heart rate and seizures
  • Chocolate – dark or milk can cause vomiting and death
  • Macadamia nuts -temporary paralysis in the hind legs
  • Garlic – breaks down red blood cells causing anemia and kidney failure
  • Onions – damages hemoglobin. Small bits at a time have a dangerous cumulative effect.
  • Grapes (and raisins) – renal failure

I’m sure lots of dogs have had a little of at least one of these, but it’s best to avoid them now that we know.

-National Geographic

 

More on pet waste… CATS August 30, 2007

Filed under: pets — terra @ 7:49 pm

Cats
The best choice for cat waste is a natural kitty litter. There are many options - some made of pine chips, newspaper, corn, and wheat. Treehugger highlights Swheat Scoop as a good “green” litter, and readers share other options in the comments.

Clay litters are bad news all around because they must be strip-mined, which is bad for the environment, and it later ends up in the landfill. Plus, the dust is bad for kitty, and you.

Over 2 million tons of non-biodegradable cat litter made from clay that is mined ends up in municipal landfills each year.

Thurston County, WA is concerned with pet waste, and gives suggestions for disposal. One suggestion is to flush dog and cat waste down the toilet. There has been some confusion about toxic cat waste, and whether flushing is a good solution. Do not flush if you buy clay litter. It must be flushable. If so, it is perfectly safe to flush. Some people even train their cats to use the toilet. The concern with cat waste is from feral cats who relieve themselves outside, which will seep into ground water and sewer water.

Pets
Here are some other ways to “green” your pets. Some people are actually converting cow poop into energy, which can power an entire farm!

 

By popular demand… a post on pet waste: DOGS August 30, 2007

Filed under: pets — terra @ 10:59 am

Dogs
Dog waste is hard to get rid of because the plastic bags aren’t exactly biodegradable. Some say they are (here’s one), but as I’ve learned, our landfills are designed in such a way that nothing really biodegrades. We walk our dog every day, and she usually dumps on the walk, but sometimes does it in the backyard, which is where a waste removal system would be most beneficial. There are a couple of ways to design a backyard dog waste remover: a Doggie Dooley, a home-made dog waste compost, or a flushing system.
dooley
The Doggie Dooley is a pre-built waste disposal system that you put in your backyard. You add enzymes to get the stuff to compost, and the rest is history. It seems pretty simple, and you don’t have bad smell, bugs, or garden contamination.

dogVisit the City Farmer.com for a step-by-step guide to making your own dog waste composter. All you really need is a garbage can and a shovel. Cut out the bottom of the garbage can, dig a deep hole, bury the garbage can, dump the poop inside, and cover with the garbage can lid. You can add enzymes to start the composting process. Since this method reaches the soil, make sure you bury it away from food gardens.

This site, Pet Habitats, designed a dog waste flusher that may work for you. It connects to the sewer line and uses your outside hose to flush the waste down, bags and all. They say it doesn’t clog the pipes. Pet Habitats offers these environmental facts about their product.

I like the home-made composter and the Doggie Dooley. They’re both good options for people who want an easy set-up and low cost. Pet Habitats attempts to meet the needs of dogs like mine, who “go” on walks instead of in the backyard. They are all interesting options for getting rid of your dog waste in a environmentally friendly way.

 

Penguins at the Akron Zoo August 27, 2007

Filed under: pets — terra @ 12:30 pm

Akron Zookeepers let the new penguin chicks choose their own names! The zoo held a contest for people to submit names for the Humboldt Penguin chicks, and received over 640 names. The zookeeper wrote the names on a paper fish for the penguins to select. They chose:

Poquita – “Little one”
Aletta – “Winged one”
Fausto – “Lucky”
Guapo – “Handsome”

Humboldt penguins are warm climate penguins, unlike their Antarctic relatives. Humboldt penguins are commonly found in more temperate cpenguinslimates like Peru and Chile.

They are an endangered species, with some estimates giving them 10 years of existence. Akron Zoo worked with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan to breed the chicks.

 

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out August 21, 2007

Filed under: garden, organic, pets — terra @ 7:18 pm

wormsWe have recently discovered the benefits of composting. I had been thinking about it for a while – every time I threw a banana peel into the garbage -there’s got to be a better use for this. So, we looked more into it at the Burning River Fest. The people from The New Agrarian Center were very helpful, as was the guy from Great Lakes Brewing Company. Both are master composters.

Here’s what we did – it’s pretty simple. We bought a storage container (a big Rubbermaid one), some mesh screen, organic dirt, and 1,000 red worms. Drilled holes in the container – worms need to breathe air – and filled it with 6 inches of organic dirt and wet strips of newspaper and computer paper. This bedding is supposed to be moist, not dripping wet. The compost bin was set up in the basement, to avoid smell and dog curiosity, and so it could be bigger than under-the-sink. We left the light on for the first week to discourage the worms from escaping. Next, we collected all of our food scraps – banana peels, strawberry tops, bell pepper cores, onion peels, coffee grounds, etc. – and buried them under 2 inches of bedding. Now the worms take over. We’re supposed to put the food in a different place each time and add new bedding every 2 months. (Don’t put meat in your compost – it’ll attract rodents)

What’s the benefit of having a pound of red worms chewing up your food? Well, the whole process creates worm castings, which is this magical organic fertilizer that you can use in your garden. Essentially, it’s natural recycling. We eat the food, feed it to the worms, they turn it into fertilizer that we’ll use to grow herbs, which we’ll eat in the spring. Aside from the initial set-up, it doesn’t take a lot of work to maintain, and in about 4-6 months we’ll have some pretty awesome soil for our garden.

Wikipedia does a good job of describing vermicomposting, or you can Blackle it. Worms Eat My Garbage is supposedly the definitive composting guide. The Village Green does outdoor composting, which is an excellent way to get rid of weeds and fallen leaves. If you do start a compost bin, don’t dump your worms in the garden – red worms are not native to North America, and are an invasive species, which can threaten other earthworms.

(Here’s the rest of the worm song)

 

Thanks Betty Sutton August 14, 2007

Filed under: government, pets — terra @ 2:44 am

Congresswoman Betty Sutton introduced legislation to increase federal penalties for dog fighting. This bill has 9 co-sponsors. People care about dogs. The same legislation has been introduced in the Senate by John Kerry.

There are so many loopholes in the current dog fighting laws that people can easily slip through. Spectators are currently not open for prosecution. They are the reason dog fights happen, so they are just as bad.

“My legislation will close these loopholes and make our federal animal welfare laws more comprehensive by ensuring that anybody who knowingly sponsors, exhibits an animal in or views a dog-fighting venture can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My legislation also ensures that it is illegal to buy, sell, possess, train, transport or deliver any animal specifically for the purpose of participating in a dog-fighting venture,” Sutton said.

There could be tens of thousands of people involved in dog fighting in the US every year. Even in Ohio, dog fighting is a popular activity. “In March, a federal grand jury in Dayton, Ohio, indicted nine people on 45 counts for their roles in the operation of an extensive, multi-state dog-fighting ring.” NE Ohio has also seen some dog fighting and cock fighting cases.

The legislation will also delete provisions in current law requiring prosecutors to prove that animals crossed state lines to fight and increase the penalty for dog fighting from a maximum three-year prison sentence to a five-year prison sentence.

It should have a much longer sentence, in my opinion – participation in dog fighting unveils some serious psychological problems, and animal abuse often leads to domestic violence and other crimes.

Dogs are so amazing and should be treasured for the joy they bring people. I hope this legislation does a little more to deter this vicious activity.

 

Sweet Kitty Litter August 1, 2007

Filed under: cleaning, conserve, pets, reduce — terra @ 3:47 pm

litterA while back, I was reading Peppermint Lisa’s blog and she wrote about a new kind of kitty litter called Swheat Scoop. It’s made of wheat, ground down to the size of regular kitty litter.

The clay kind was nice at first, but the cats kicked up a lot of unhealthy dust, and a lot of plastic bags were used to remove the mess. Also, the clay kind is mined out of the earth, which is not so nice. This new wheat litter comes from a renewable resource, is biodegradable, and can be flushed down the toilet. It also smells better – more natural. You also don’t need to put a plastic bag in the garbage every day – just flush it down the toilet.

One word of caution: my cat Lemon thought it was food, because his is sometimes given buckwheat pancake mix. To avoid that, sprinkle the old litter on top for a few days, but be sure to throw that out – don’t flush it until it’s pure Swheat Scoop.

be efficient: Wash your car on the grass.

 

The Purpose of Dogs July 20, 2007

Filed under: pets — terra @ 7:16 pm

Mostly, to make people smile. To get us through the day. To provide endless love and affection. To inspire us to be better. Also:

Seeing Eye Dogs
Police Dogs
Hearing Dogs
Therapy Dogs (soon to be my dog, fingers crossed)
Search and Rescue Dogs
9/11 Heroes

Shall I go on? Dogs are here to enjoy life. End of story.

What does this have to do with the environment? I believe we are responsible to the environment, and to all living things. We should appreciate and be good to them. Doing so will bring us nothing but joy. (I really had to get that off my chest, in light of recent news, and keeping with my desire to be positive here.)

A couple of fun Friday quotes:

~ Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz
~ Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear. ~Dave Barry
~ The average dog is a nicer person than the average person. ~Andy Rooney
~ Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull