Archive for September 28th, 2011

September 28, 2011

Take note! (And plan for spring!)

Autumn is here.  It’s the time of year that I begin to reflect upon the past growing season for my entire yard including my veggie garden, fruit trees, vines, perennial beds, containers, lawn, etc.

This is the time to bust out that Garden Journal (or start one if you haven’t already) and jot a few things down.

What was the weather like? If you didn’t make note of it throughout the season, try to recall as best you can and jot it down.  Late spring, lots of rain early, intense heat in the middle of the summer (many 90+ degree days), followed by the first hard frost on Sept. 14th, with a dry, dry fall.  The weather impacts a lot of things in your yard and garden and it’s good to have an idea as to what took place in order to reflect on what plants liked and didn’t like.

What went well? Tomatoes?  It seems to be a toss-up depending on who you talk to.  Yesterday I took a visit to Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply in St Paul.  What a fun store!  (It is definitely getting added to my list of favorites!)  It’s a small store with pretty much everything you need for an Urban Garden including chickens and chicken supplies.  There weren’t any chickens there yesterday, but we were told that the baby chicks will be in around February or March.  In any case, we were discussing weather and tomatoes (as many gardeners do) and I found out that part of the issue with tomatoes this year was the heat.  However, it wasn’t what I was expecting to hear.  Apparently a lot of heirloom tomatoes don’t care for the intense heat while in bud stage, so many people growing heirlooms experienced bud drop this year, but those growing hybrids did not.  (A reason to grow a little of each.)  I grew both and I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay that close of attention to my tomatoes to take notice if or where buds dropped, but it does make sense because I did get far fewer tomatoes on my heirlooms than I did on my hybrids.

Another thing that did well were my containers on my front steps filled with all things edible – mostly herbs, but also strawberries and Nasturtiums.  All of them went gangbusters.  The key?  Go large – really large on containers.  You will be able to put a lot of plants in without stressing them because there will be enough soil and the container will maintain the moisture much longer than smaller pots do.

What didn’t go so well?  See tomatoes, above.  See also Cabbage, Broccoli, Peas… (see weather, above).

Who’s gotten too big for their britches?  Well, let’s see… for me it would be a mix… raspberries, Monarda and asparagus are quite obvious contenders in this category as, quite honestly, are all of my perennial beds.  I didn’t get out in them enough this year and they definitely need some love.

Who didn’t make it?  Where are the holes that need filling? Which combinations didn’t work together? Who didn’t play well together? Who overstayed their welcome? Who simply needs a new home? You get the idea…

If I take a look at all of my notes while everything is fresh in my mind, I can start a game plan for next year.  I know it sounds insane to be thinking about spring when autumn just started last week, but it really is much easier to plan for next year while you still remember what happened this year!


September 28, 2011

How’s Darby?

Well, Darby’s home.

Her surgery went well.  When I called last Friday evening for an update on her they told me she was eating, everything was functioning properly but she had “sad eyes” and was resting.  I know that look.  Ouch.  They said if she was doing well and was able to take baby steps she should still be able to come home on Saturday but that we would get a call from the Dr. Saturday morning to confirm.

Saturday morning I got the call.  I could tell by the sound in her Doctor’s voice that it was good news, and it was.  When the doctor went in to check on Darby that morning, Darby stood up and took two steps toward the Dr. Robles before she fell over!  Her doctor was delighted.  That’s a huge improvement from even the night before! When we brought her in she not only couldn’t stand on her own at all, but even if we supported her, her back legs still just dragged behind her.  Standing is awesome and taking steps on her own was even better.  So Darby got the  green light to come home.

Excited as I was, I was nervous as all get out.  It’s like bringing a new baby home.  Now what?!?  I was so afraid I was going to hurt her, break her, do the wrong thing…

Things are a bit different around here now.  Jake and Darby have to be completely separated, so that means everything that needs to be done with them needs to be done independently (feeding, eating, sleeping, going outside, etc.) whereas it was all done together in the past.

I’m also feeling a little bit like a nurse.  I typically check on her about every 2 hours (during the day – I don’t work the night shift) to see how she’s doing and get her outside.  She gets meds 3 times a day, which I hide in peanut butter.  She absolutely LOVES peanut butter!  But seriously, she has to wonder what the heck is in that peanut butter because every time she gets it, she gets tired and woosey.  Regardless, it doesn’t stop her from eating it.

She’s not allowed to have more than one hour of activity as day and has doctor’s orders to just hang out and watch TV.  In other words she’s “kenneled” 23 out of 24 hours in the day.  When she goes outside she’s allowed 5 – 10 minutes max. to do her business and then back inside she goes for more rest, relaxation and healing.

If you’re thinking this sounds cruel, I did at first too, but she really doesn’t seem to mind all that much.  Of course I forgot to mention, she’s not really in a kennel. In order for her to have enough room to eat, drink, sleep and turn around, but not enough room to walk so much as to fall down and get hurt, Darby is now living in a little space set -up in the sun room that we refer to as her apartment.

As far as Darby’s physical state, she’s improving little by little each day.  The first few days were trying because she still didn’t have complete control over all of her functions so she had quite a few accidents.  That became tricky trying to clean up, change bedding, swap stuff out, while supporting her so she didn’t tip over.  But we got there.  She also tired pretty quickly, and was in quite a bit of pain so I ended up carrying all 49 lbs of her (yes, she’s on a diet now) in and out and up and down stairs.  I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re lifting, carrying and trying to be as gentle as possible so as not to jar her or hurt her in any way and you’re doing it multiple times a day, MAN do you feel it!  But it’s a super fast way to get some pipes!

Darby is gaining strength every day which is really encouraging.  Her back end and back legs still need to be supported with a towel or her “hot pants with a handle” in order to walk.  If she is just wandering around the yard on her 10 minute jaunt she tends to look a little drunk.  Her legs aren’t as strong as they used to be and she wobbles and stumbles, but given the right motivation, she seems to forget the pain and she’s able to get going pretty well (with support).

She still has a couple of months of recovery ahead of her, but it sounds like the first 2 weeks will be the most difficult for all of us.  The good news is she’s incredibly tough, very strong willed and determined to get back on walks.  We’re working through it all and starting to find our groove, so if things stay on the path we’re on right now I’m pretty optimistic she’ll be close to her fighting weight in a couple of months as well.

Please continue to send prayers for a speedy recovery, because so far they appear to be working!