Friday, August 30, 2013

Trans-Species Gratitude....

Some folks say that dogs can't express gratitude.
Clearly those people have never saved a dog from the shelter on euthanasia day....

Meet Beatrice!  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pupdate on Wigzi!

 Several people have written about Wigzi and asked how he was doing so I thought I would give an update.  Wigzi just came back to my house a week ago after spending a couple weeks with my friend Debbie and her dogs, and where the improvements are not always obvious they are big!

1)  Wigzi now holds his tail up in the air.  Gone is the tucked tail that he wore before and you can tell is becoming more confident being around people.  (We still aren't allowed to pet him....)

2)  In the last few days he has started playing with the other dogs, and he LOVES to run around the yard on his flexi-leash.

3)  He now lays in the same room as me when I am on the computer and he jumps up on the couch to lay down even with me sitting on it.

4)  He gets in trouble a lot!  He is discovering his inner puppy, digging through the trash, chewing on bones and toys, or vacuum cords and shoes.  You know, whatever he wants!  ;)

5)  He is terribly cat aggressive and frequently gets scolded for harassing the kitties in a not so kind way.

6)  He has quit barking in his crate, but has discovered how to bark at me for other reasons.  No one really knows what those reasons are except him.  He just stands there with his head cocked and barks at me.  If I try to ask him what he wants he runs like his butt's on fire!  Baby steps....

My friend Julie described Wigzi and I's relationship the best.  It is sort of like the move "50 First Dates".  We have to start over again EVERY day, but I figure as long as I am given another tomorrow we will try again.  I have faith that this boy is going to make it!    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Reluctant Farmer's Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

After what has possibly been the coldest summer I have ever witnessed, we have finally been inundated with tomatoes and The Reluctant Farmer has been hard at work perfecting the tomato sauce recipe that we are using for the 2013 garden season.  I think she has perfected the simple sauce recipe this year folks! This is such a nice, basic recipe that even the most novice canner will be successful at preserving their own homegrown deliciousness!

The Reluctant Farmer's Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

Tomatoes, cored and peeled
Bottled lemon juice
Dried Herbs (Dried Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, or whatever your family prefers...)

Quarter tomatoes and place them in a large stainless steel saucepan.  Bring to boil over high heat, while crushing the tomatoes and stirring constantly.  (We used a potato masher for this step...)  Continue to boil while you stir and crush the tomatoes for 10 minutes or until the volume is reduced by at least one-third.

Add 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of dried herbs to your already prepared pint jar and then ladle in hot sauce, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe rim, center lid on jar and tighten to fingertip-tightness.  Process jars in water bath canner for 35 minutes.

This recipe makes a thin tomato sauce, that creates a killer tomato bruschetta or spaghetti sauce!  


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Am I Being Punk'd?!

Photo credit:

Tonight on my way home from work the dreaded low fuel light comes on inside the car.  My head hurts something terrible, and I really don't want to pump my own gas so I contemplate:  "Can I make it home and have The Reluctant Farmer go out and fill up my car later tonight?"  I decide I might not make it home, and there is only one thing worse then having to pump my own gas with a headache:  WALKING!  So, I pull into the gas station, where there are approximately 10 gas pumps, and notice that every pump is occupied except the pump on the end.  I drive over to the pump, swipe my credit card, and start pumping my gas.  

Suddenly I hear a man say: "Excuse me ma'am?"  (I automatically assume he has noticed that I have a headache and wants to pump my gas for me....)   

I reply: "Yes?"

And he says:  "I just want to tell you how wrong it is to use the diesel gas pump when you don't own a diesel vehicle.  It's like parking in a handicapped parking space and not being handicapped.  It's just rude!"

Here's where I pause and chuckle, because I am sure one of two things is happening....  Either this guy is TOTALLY not serious, or at any moment Ashton Kutcher will come hopping out of the passenger's seat of this truck because I am being Punk'd.  

I quickly ask: "Are you serious?!"  (At this point if either the driver OR Ashton Kutcher hops out of this truck, I am totally going to knee them in the balls.)  And offensively the driver replies: "Yes!  You are being terribly rude!"

I know anyone who knows me and is reading this right now is going: 10..., 9..., 8..., 7..... Because I am about to EXPLODE!  

I turn to him and say: "Do you know what's rude?  You are!  I have a headache, was here first, and in case you have not noticed this pump sells both, regular AND diesel fuel!  And do you know what else?!  You are making me angry!  So angry, that the only thing to improve my mood is chocolate!" 

I efficiently spin around with my key fob in hand, held high over my head, wait for the "beep, beep" and stomp inside to buy a candy bar, leaving Mr. Happypants to stew in his truck for a little while longer.  Not wanting to ruin my night, and in order to keep my status as the Queen of Passive Aggression, I decide I need to treat others better than Sir Happypants treated me, so I allow 4 other people to go in front of me to pay for their gas and sundries.  (I'm in no hurry....)  And when they thank me, I explain that the guy in the truck (and I point to him) was so kind to me, that I just wanted to pay it forward and brighten someone else's day.  It was so beautiful making someone else's day, but not nearly as nice as it was watching Captain Patience stroke out as I took my time in the gas station.  That'll teach ya, punk!  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Skinny Bitches and Me....

For months I have been contemplating going to a yoga class that is offered just down the street from my house.  And for that long, I have come up with many excuses as to why I couldn't go:  too tired, too nervous, I forgot, can't walk that far, can't miss the Amazing Race on television, etc...  

Well tonight I decided that I was going to yoga.  In my mind, I would be the fattest, most out of shape person there.  I would sweat like a pig, and I worried about farting.  (Don't ask....)  I walked into the studio, nervous but determined and realized my mind was right.  I was the fattest, most out of shape person there.  
In fact it was sort of like being invited over to the Barbie mansion for a pool party.  Everyone there was blonde and 120 pounds if that, but the instructor was really nice and invited me to find a place for my yoga mat.  I squeezed into the back row hoping that nobody would notice me and that I would shyly exist in my stretch pants and a t-shirt.  The instructor welcomed us all, grabbed her yoga mat and laid it down right beside mine, and then I realized:  I was in the FRONT of the class not the back of the class.  Gulp....  

No one wants to be the fat girl in a sea of "skinny bitches".  That's just not cool and to be in the front row?!  I wanted to crawl inside my gym bag!  But I didn't...  Instead I harnessed my inner chi, closed my eyes and did the most modified yoga workout ever done.  It was 1 hour and 15 minutes of twisting my body into karma sutra like poses, and I have to admit I sweated worse than a pig.  (Do pigs even sweat?  I don't know....)  

But you know what?!  I lived and the "skinny bitch" next to me is the one that farted!  Overall I would say it was a success and I just might go back next week....

Gourd of Horror

Last year before planting our garden, we started seeds in our little greenhouse and nurtured them along the way, until a wind storm took out our greenhouse and the only 2 plants that survived were one tomato plant and a mystery vine type plant that we hoped to be a cucumber. It was not a cucumber, it was a bottle gourd.  I don't know if you have ever grown birdhouse gourds, but beware this plant took over it's little space at the community garden and started working on the neighbor's space as well! (Our neighboring gardener had to put up a fence to keep the gourd out.)  This was really a trial plant since we had never grown them before.

What do you mean your electric and cable are not working....
This is the only big gourd we could find so far
So this year I planted 10 plants on the hill next to our garden, and figured this would be plenty of space for them to grow and not bother anything or anyone. (Sorry community garden neighbor...) Well I have since decided that someone should write a horror story about this plant. They are EVERYWHERE, and the vines are much like strawberry vines in that they put down roots on their off shoots. They are climbing up trees, bushes, and into my watermelon. I even had to pull it off the electric pole!  I'm not sure it would have climbed all the way up to the wire, but I'm sure the neighbors would love us if the power went out because of my crazy gourds. I think we should have a bumper crop of birdhouses to paint next spring if the gourd doesn't attack us first!

It was nice knowing you tree.
Don't get to close it may climb you next.
Hope our neighbor didn't like this fence

This blog post was shared on some of our favorite blog hops:

Giveaway WINNER!

The winner of the Skin Soap Co. drawing is Lisa Seibert!
Congratulations Lisa!

Friday, August 16, 2013

DL: A Natural Vaccine for Allergies

Recently I was asked to start writing for Dayton Local and my first article is out!  Several people had asked if they could be notified when it was available so they could check it out.  Well here it is!   

As always folks, thanks for reading what I write, it's an honor....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mama said there'd be days like this....

Tonight Wigzi came back to me from his temporary foster home (more on that later...) at the same time that Katzya was ready to come home from the horse barn.  I knew that Katzya would be so happy to have him back at our house because she really loves him, so I decided to take him with me to the barn to pick her up.  It was going to be a surprise....

In my haste of leaving the house, I quickly scooped Wigzi up, trucked him to the car, and away we went.  Never thinking for even a minute that he gets car sick.

In fact it didn't dawn on me until we were about 2 miles out of town, and suddenly he started dripping saliva from his mouth.  I thought, "Oh, no!" and quickly kicked myself for being in a hurry and not remembering this issue.  So, I continue to drive, hoping to find a place to pull over so I could put him on something so he wouldn't vomit on my seat.  Naturally, I couldn't find anything except The Reluctant Farmer's jacket, so I did the next best thing.  I grabbed an empty McDonald's bag rolled down the side and thought I would have him barf in the bag.  WRONG!

He is afraid of the bag (of course he would be!), misses and promptly vomits on the seat of my car!

This lovely moment comes after I have been urinated on by a kid at work, stepped on by our horse this morning, and locked out of the car AT the gas station only to realize I had no debit card and had to crawl through the window to get into the house for the spare set of keys after WALKING home.  

Tomorrow is a new day, thank you God!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Grit and hard work....

It is county fair week here, and Katzya has been working hard on getting Mia (and herself!) ready for the show pen.  This year has been a little challenging for Katzya in terms of showing.  

Katzya loves to show on a local circuit during the year from about April - October, but this year without a horse to show (Mia is very limited on the amount of showing that she will participate in, and to our family she is a companion first and a show horse second...) we sat out this show season.  Holding us back from purchasing a new horse is money currently.  

Showing horses comes with a price, and when you are showing several weekends a month, it comes with a big price.  As a family, we decided sitting out this year was what we needed to do financially.  (There is a valuable lesson in teaching a child that you can't always have what you want, and where we would love to give her another horse, realistically some children don't ever get one horse, let alone two.  She gets it...)  

But slowing down our progress most recently is the fact that Katzya fell off Mia several weeks ago, and was afraid to really commit to her riding again.  It has been a challenge for both of them.  While we leased another horse last year, Mia sat in her stall, unemployed, eating and being content with her retirement phase of life.  She was so content that she decided she wasn't going to lope anymore, and there was really no amount of retraining that was going convince her otherwise!  So for the last 3 weeks, Katzya and Mia have worked tirelessly on finding Mia's "lost third gear".  Finally, after what might have been the most stubborn battle of wills that they have ever encountered in their relationship, Katzya won the battle! 

And I am proud to say all of Katzya's hard work has paid off brilliantly!  I got this picture earlier today on my cell phone, and by the smile on this girl's face you can tell she is proud of all the hard work she's put in.  

Way to go ladies, I couldn't be more proud of you!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Trust, Respect, Love and Courage

Best of luck the rest of the week ladies and much admiration to you both!
Love, Your Biggest Fan

Both of these girls have worked very hard these past few weeks.  
Their recent relationship has been defined by cooperation, communication, and a lot of determination.  
I couldn't be more proud of these two ladies than I am tonight.  
The tears and sweat have paid off today.
Several weeks ago we had a young lady afraid to get back on a horse after a fall.
A horse that didn't want to get back in the ring because of fear, and I wasn't sure how this was going to end.
This is what trust, respect, love, and courage look like....

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Long overdue....

Today Buster left us and where it's sad because we loved him, I am rejoicing because this marks that end of my dog fostering for a while.  I think I might revisit the idea in 2014, but maybe not...

Wigzi is in a foster home right no with a friend, gaining some social skills and will come back to my house in a few weeks but he is available for adoption now, and I pray he finds a home sooner rather than later.  

I have gone non-stop since "The Maplewood 6-Pack" and I said I wanted a break before that.  I will still be active in rescue, and the compassionate side of me will not go away but I will be active in a different capacity.  I am excited about these changes and the responsibilities that come along with that. 

Fostering the volume of dogs that I foster takes up a large part of my time, money, and resources.  It is taking a toll on my brand new house, and it is taking a toll on the animals that call this place home.  It has been 17 years since I have not had a foster dog in my house, and as strange as it's going to seem, I am excited about this change.  

It's time to move on folks, actually it's long overdue.... 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GIVEAWAY! Skin Soap Co.

Sponsor: Welcome Skin Soap Co.

Fine, homemade products are important to us here, On the Urban Farm, and we love to bring awareness of local artists and crafts people to our readership.  We believe in supporting local businesses, and standing behind quality products, especially ones that are made with natural ingredients.  We found all of this in the Skin Soap Co. and are so proud to have them as sponsors on our blog.  From cold-press soaps to lip balm and laundry soap, these products are amazing!  

In November I contacted Skin Soap Co. because my daughter was celebrating her 13th birthday and the theme was cupcakes.  I asked Leah Hampshire (owner) if she could make soap in the shape of a cupcake that we could hand out as party favors.  The result was absolutely brilliant!  Leah made cupcake soap that was the hit of my daughter's party.  Every last detail down to the glitter frosting was perfect.  I  am so happy to have her as a sponsor of this blog!  Please support  this local business owner and her products by spreading the word about her and her business.  

Can you tell us about the products you produce?

I make cold process soap using traditional methods.  My soaps are vegetarian or vegan, made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, distilled water, either organic milk or Snowville Creamery grass-fed Ohio dairy milk, sodium hydroxide (lye), castor oil, sweet almond oil, and pigments, oxides, herbs, or spices.  I use either pure essential oils for scenting, or phosphate-free and nitro musk-free fragrance oils.  My bars are 95-100% natural, and I use some organic ingredients as well.  In addition, close to 100% of the raw, wholesale supplies that I buy come from Ohio companies, with a few neighboring state products included.

What is your favorite product and why?

My favorite product is definitely cold press soap.  It's simple, beautiful, and something that everyone regardless of age or gender can use.  Plus, it's nice to remember that real soap still exists - not these chemical detergent "body washes" that are in the store and made overseas.  Real soap made with vegetable oils the way your grandmother would have known soap.

You mention that nearly all of your raw, wholesale supplies come from Ohio companies.  That is impressive!  Can you explain why buying local is important to you?  

I believe in buying local for so many reasons: the environmental impact, the support of your local community, and the support of artisans who use money for piano lessons for their kids, and not for massive business operations.  I love how unique local products are and how diverse.  They are made with a level of love and pride that you can't buy at a box store, no matter how many millions of dollars were spent on the marketing to try to convince you how unique and artisan the product is.

How long have you been making soap?

I made my first batch of olive oil soap two years ago.  A coworker who had made 3 batches of soap before, taught me how to do it one night and I spent the next 6 months researching soapmaking more before I got the nerve up to try it again.

What lead you to start your own buisness?

I wasn't really planning on starting a business.  I started making soap because it was fun and relaxing to me.  I am not very artistic, but I appreciate artisan products and I found that soapmaking allowed me to be an artisan.  Once my family members saw my soap, they loved it.  They wanted more than the bars I was giving as gifts so I started making more.  Soon I was applying for my LLC to make it official.

Are your products sold in any stores locally?  

Yes.  I have soaps, bath products, lip balms, and soy candles at Somewhere in Time in downtown Piqua, Ohio, and soaps at Posh Hair Salon, Stone's Throw Market, and Samorzjme in Troy, Ohio.

Are there any other ways for people order your products?  

Yes, I have an etsy store as well. 

Do you take custom orders?

Yes I do!  I also do wedding favors, baby shower, bridal shower gifts, and birthday party gifts.  People can email me at for more information.

Leah has graciously donated cold process soap to our On the Urban Farm blog to be used in a giveaway, and one lucky person will win a bar of her cold process soap to try to for themselves.   Here is how the contest will work:

1) You will need to go to Skin Soap Co. and "like" their Facebook page.

2) Then come back here to my blog or On the Urban Farm Facebook page at , and comment saying that you have done so. By commenting your name will be entered into a random drawing and the winner will receive a bar of cold process soap.  The winner will be drawn Monday 08/12/2013.  Good luck!

If you have already "liked" Skin Soap Co. as entrance to our last giveaway, please share this post on your page instead, and leave a comment letting me know you shared!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You save me, I'll save you...

Yesterday I had come home from a long day at work, let my 6 dogs outside and leashed my foster dog Buster for a walk.  At the same time I threw my dinner in the oven knowing it would be ready by the time Buster and I got back inside.

Just as planned, Buster and I arrived back home, my dinner still had a few minutes left to cook, and I let my other dogs back inside.  Only 4 of my dogs came back inside though, and I figured the 2 that were missing were just enjoying the sunshine on the deck.  Selfishly, I decided that I would leave those 2 dogs outside while I ate my dinner real quick.  (Eating dinner with 7 pairs of eyes staring at you is sometimes unnerving...)  
As I was eating my dinner Buster ran up to me and forcefully nipped at my arm.  I had never seen him act like this before, and quickly corrected him for the behaviour.  That did not stop him though.  He came right back at me again, this time grabbing my pant leg.  I yelled at him to stop, but could tell he was very agitated.  He was running in circles, looking out all of my windows, and panting like his butt was on fire.  At that point he ran back over to me, an nipped me again while barking this time.  I was beginning to get angry at him, and decided at that point I would just crate him until he settled down.  As I stood up, Buster started hopping up and down on his front feet, and was frantically circling me while running to the back door and then back to me again.  Suddenly I asked him, "Do you have to go potty?!"  Buster started crying and jumping all over the back door, as I wrangled him into a sit and put his leash on him.  I opened the door to the backyard and Buster went barreling out the back door, hell bent on getting outside, and suddenly my heart stopped.....

There on my deck was my 10 year old Belgian Tervuren (and soul mate) blue and gasping for air.  I couldn't tell exactly what was going on for a second, and then I realized he wears a flat collar with his id tags on it, and somehow when he was laying on the deck his tags got stuck between the slats and as he pulled or circled to get away the collar just got tighter and tighter essentially cutting off his airway.  I was able to pinch the plastic buckle on the collar and the collar fell of freeing Chai, and then it dawned on me....

Buster just saved Chai's life!  How about that?!  I have always said that "fostering saves lives" and fostering Buster not only saved one life, but it saved two, and for that I will be eternally grateful.  Now it's not that Buster is a regular-Lassie or anything, and he is trying to not let all this "your a hero" stuff go to his head, but he would like me to mention that he is still available for adoption to the prefect home.  

Buster is a 3 year-old, neutered male collie, who is flawlessly housebroken and crate trained.  He loves older children (the younger ones move a bit too quick for his liking....) other dogs, and "herding dog savvy" cats.  He loves to walk, ride in the car, and play fetch until your arm falls off or until you say "enough".  Buster's ideal family would understand that he needs someone who is a "leader", because if they are not ready to take that position he will.  He corrects well, loves to please and will all but turn himself inside out for a good butt scratching session.  PS:  If anyone out there is looking for a performance dog?  Buster is your man!  With biddable drive, instinct, focus, and brain this dog is the agility/obedience/tracking competitor's dream.  The focus that this boy gives you EVERY time is hard to find and his attention is to die for!  Buster does have hypo-thyroidism which requires $12.00 worth of medication every month, but really that is a small price to pay for such a brilliant best friend.  Think Buster might be the perfect dog for your family?  Go on over to Tri State Collie Rescue's page and fill out an adoption application for this boy.  Can't adopt right now?  We understand, but can you please share Buster's information to help him find his forever home?  

Thanks, Emily and Chai  (Buster's most grateful fans....)


Saturday, August 3, 2013

George: 173 Buster: 0

Several weeks ago we started fostering a collie for Tri State Collie Rescue named Buster.  Buster is a very fun boy, and active due to his age and lack of discipline in his life previous to entering the rescue.  (He is getting quite the education while he's here!)  We are teaching him the "leave it" command, and where Buster is very smart, he is also very determined.  

George is the cat in the picture and he is one cool cat.  He is always the cat I use to test for cat aggression in my foster dogs.  With swag and moxie, George exudes confidence, doesn't run, and is NEVER wrong about a dog!

If I bring a dog in to my house that is cat aggressive George will tell us right away.  He will not come downstairs, or he will bristle and growl at the dog.  With dogs like Buster, who just need a reminder (many times!) that manners are expected, he hands out firm but fair "nose taps", and again he doesn't ever run.  He almost dares them: "Come on, try it!  You will wish you had never even been born!"  Because of Buster's determination, I find myself telling him to leave George alone A LOT!!  Tonight I could take it no more...

Sometimes a mom just gets sick of talking to her children and repeating herself over and over again.... 

Sometimes you just have to let them learn on their own... 

Finally after the 473rd time of telling Buster to "leave it" in regards to the cat, I thought I am just going to let him learn the hard way.

As you can see, ol' Buster got the lesson of a life time tonight, and I'm not going to lie, I didn't feel one bit sorry for him!  

No worries, only Buster's pride was hurt.  George chased Buster into his crate and sat cooly outside reminding him that there was one man in charge of this house, and it was not Buster!  

Score is:  
George: 173  Buster: 0

You are what you eat? I hope so...

I snapped this photo while I was harvesting out in the garden, and I just love it.  I am amazed everyday by what can be grown with just a little dirt, sun, water, and love.  Today I am in awe though over the beauty that I created with the help of Mother Nature.  

Never would I imagine that what were seeds just a mere 16 weeks ago, would be so beautiful today.  There is a feeling of giddiness that comes with producing your own food, and it gives me butterflies when I see just how much food I was able to grow at home.

If it's true that you are what you eat, I am happy and content to be as beautiful as this basket of produce is....  

Friday, August 2, 2013

How does your garden grow?

Our garden is doing really well this year.  Mostly....  As usual, we have learned so much and it hasn't all been fun and games.  (Our cucumbers and vine plants had a mold form on them and we lost a lot of plants...)

  Somehow we ended up with a ton of cherry tomatoes this year.  Nothing can hold our cherry tomato plants down!  It has been crazy!  Our hope was to have a salsa garden, but it is not looking to promising... 

Perhaps we will find someone who has too many big tomatoes and wants to barter?  That will be the hope!  What is hot in your garden right now?  What is not so hot?