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Welcome! Our blog focuses on environmental conservation, education, green living & wildlife rescue! We have put together links to resources, books and information to help you and your children learn more about these topics. Please feel free to comment on any items posted. Rate or review us on NetworkedBlogs (Facebook app) & Blogged. Tell your friends about us. Follow us on Twitter and other sites listed on this page. There's a banner & widget if you would like to include us on your webpage. All we ask is that you please keep any comments here G-rated for the kids!

NOTE: The birds & squirrel pictured at the top of this page and in the slideshow below are just a few that I have helped rehabilitate.
WARNING: Please do not touch a wild animal, especially the young ones. If you remove a baby from it's home, sometimes the mother is just off getting it's baby food and will be back.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Santa,

Thank you so much for the Christmas card with the money in it!  Tom and I had decided to not buy each other gifts this year so that we could really make the kids' Christmas special.  So, when we got the stack of cards out of the mailbox on Christmas Day (sorry we were a little late, it had been a busy week, but I know you had been watching...) it was like our gift to each other; we split them up and each enjoyed the gifts they brought.

I noticed the North Pole postmark first, and thought it was kind of funny, and then opened up the card and out fell all of that money!!!!!  I'm very sorry, Sir, but you know how banks are, and they don't believe, so when Tom went to cash it...we found out that you bought it in Centennial, and have a bank in Grand Junction....So my dear Santa, we love you dearly, whoever you are....And please know, that we still believe!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweetened Condensed Milk (Homemade!)

Photo courtesy of

You know that ooey, gooey can of milk that you always have on your shelf for those extra rich baked goods...that is until you need it?  Well, I needed mine yesterday, and lo and behold, my son donated it to the canned food drive.  So what is a savvy baker to do?  Google it of course.  And I came up with a great second choice because I always have powdered milk on hand, doesn't everybody?

So here goes, it's easier than pie...

1/2 cup hot water
1 T. butter
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in blender and mix well.  I must admit, that I thought I could get away with saving myself from washing the blender and just mixing this by hand.  Big mistake.  I had lumps and an exhausted arm, so use the blender and then this can be stored in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer.  By the by, my lumps baked out perfectly in the toffee chip bars that I made, so it worked out fine, but it still would have been worth washing the darn blender!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Christmas Tree Debate...

Being an environmentalist really makes the Christmas Tree debate a personal one for me, especially living right in the middle of the forest and being as passionate about saving trees as I am.  But I know what a HUGE carbon footprint those plastic jobbies leave when they are made and placed in your home.  So where does that leave an environmental steward like me?

We looked high:
And we looked low:

And then we found the most perfect compromise ever!  We took a tree that already needed to be cut down!  This spectacular Colorado Blue Spruce was encroaching on the power lines at The Royal Roost, our "Nest in the Woods" getaway cabin for visitors.
It also was blocking some much needed sunshine from that very same cabin, so we knew it needed to go sooner or later, so I said why not use it for a Christmas Tree and firewood?
So this year, so far, my dreams are coming true.  What is your opinion on the Christmas Tree debate?  What are you doing this year to be green?  Or maybe to save some "Green"?

Monday, December 6, 2010

What do gardeners do in the winter?

I read about spring. I collect web pages that will help me make the changes I need, and I always make changes. Meanwhile, my bunnies take advantage of my being indoors.

This is Krumpet, our little lionhead rabbit, keeping company with La Petite. Yes, she is really a little ball of fluff. Krumpet, that is, not La Petite.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The mint that took over the world

I enjoy my mums. They are such tough little flowers; they keep on going into November most years.

I'm not nearly as fond of the mint that grows like wildfire next to the mums. It tries to infiltrate the mums. It spreads in between the lilies and the daffodils. It smells good, but it is a very aggressive bully of a plant!

Enter the resourceful Daisy. Dirty cardboard, big bags from bunny litter, large pieces of thick non-recyclable cardboard and layered paper.

Next: convince Chuck to help. Dig out as much mint as possible. Cover area with paper layers and cardboard. Toss a layer of gravel on top to weigh it down. Later, when there's time, I'll bring up a wheelbarrow load of compost and/or dirt to cover the paper and gravel. Next spring there may be a few sprigs of mint coming up, but I can handle those.

That's what mojitos are for, right?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Putting the garden to bed for the winter

It looked like this at first. Deceptive, really; the air was quite cold.

Then I pulled out all the stops, er, stakes and supports and put them in a safe and sheltered place next to the garage. The rain barrel is already off the cinder blocks.

Without their supports, the tomato plants looked like this -- sprawled across the ground, no strength left.

Don't worry; I picked as many tomatoes as I could before this. A few random and hardy zucchini, too. We'll be eating fresh for a while longer.

It's a bittersweet time, putting the garden to bed for the winter. It's the final end of one season and the beginning of another, and the waiting begins until we can plant again in spring.
Goodnight, tomatoes. Goodnight, zucchini. Goodnight, peppers. Goodnight -- oh, all right, I'm done.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I do a lot with my small city yard. Small city, small yard, and it's just right for our needs.

We live in an older neighborhood not far from downtown: old Victorian homes, narrow streets, parks, big trees - lovely, really. Neighborhoods near us are similar, but many don't have yards. We are lucky. Most homes near our downtown were built in an era when garages weren't necessary and yards were just work. Only one block away from mine, large houses overlook a gorgeous ravine, but have no place to shelter the cars. My block doesn't have a prestigious address, but it offers great neighbors, 2-car garages, and room to grow tomatoes.

I feel very lucky to have the space we do. True big city dwellers might have a balcony if they're lucky, and it may or may not get sun. With a little square foot style gardening and a small section of rhubarb, we get a remarkable yield from our downtown piece of land.

In my own little corner, in my own little yard, we compost, use rain barrel water, grow tomatoes, herbs, and more. I always feel a little down in the fall as I bring the pots inside and start piling leaves on top of the garden plot. It's a bittersweet time: lovely, colorful trees surrounding dying tomato plants and zucchini vines, picking tiny beans that never got enough warmth to fully mature.

This is the time I begin looking ahead. If my ankle heals sufficiently, I'll spread compost on the new plot to help prepare it for spring. I'll pull the boards that make the walkways and set them aside. Eventually I'll drain both rain barrels and turn them upside down to avoid freezing and cracking.

Yes, small city and small yard, it's a good place for growing. We do a lot on our small plot. Winter's coming, but I still feel that life is good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bringing in the herbs

The oregano sits on a bookshelf near a window now. The thyme and rosemary sit on a tray atop the piano. The basil - now that's a little tougher. It's in a big, heavy pot. It's been thriving next to the steps, around the corner from the rhubarb. But now that it's cold and we're risking frost at night, what to do?

Chuck set up a cinder block in the corner of our living room. On top is a shelf reclaimed from an old and broken-down linen closet.

Chuck went looking for a cloth to cover it and found this in the rag basket. Um, I don't know how long it'll last, "cool" though it may be.

Then we realized the pot doesn't have a base. It's been strictly an outdoor pot for years. To put it over our wood floors, we need a water-safe base that will fit. Since we were out searching for refills for the bunny litter boxes, we checked out Fleet Farm's remaining garden supplies. No luck. We found the litter, Chuck hefted it on his shoulder, and then - his phone rang.

He ended up having a great chat with Amigo in the equine aisle of Fleet Farm, but we didn't find the base for the basil.

Maybe that's good; it gives me time to replace that t-shirt.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Animal advice from an, er, expert

Speaking of Rams!

I always have to laugh a little bit at some of these funny titles these days, many of them not requiring degrees or years of knowledge.  Animal behaviorist, animal psychologist, name it, there is an expert out there for it.  Now, don't get me wrong,  I am by no means dissing them, the title comes from me doubting myself, just a little.

I have been living with and loving animals most of my life.  Although Mom was raised on a farm in Iowa and was not fond of taking care of critters we did always have outdoor cats and dogs as kids.  Then within about a week of Tom and I cohabitating we realized that life with just two people was very boring after living in a house with all of his buddies; so we got our first orange tabby; Razz.  As you know, the story has grown and multiplied over the last twenty years...dramatically.

Even before I met Tom, I was an active volunteer with various rescue groups.  If I remember correctly, the first being the Inter-mountain Humane Society, or was it the Evergreen Animal Protective League?  I don't know which came first and it doesn't really matter, the point is, is that I have been doing this a long time, and I still doubt myself as an expert in the field of animals; crazy!

That is why you always have a good team to back you up.  Mentors are my first line of defense.  And I have different mentors for each group of animal; sometimes it is the person I got the animals from (like the sheep breeder or a llama breeder).  But most of the time, you need to search out your own mentors, maybe this can be your vet, or even someone you meet online; but make sure you have that person to call (or e-mail) for advice at a moments notice.  It goes without saying, that a person with animals needs a good, trustworthy vet.  Not a vet that you are intimidated by, or don't share beliefs with, but one that you know will come out for any reason what-so-ever!

But the most important thing a pet owner can have is common sense, no really.  Common sense enough to trust your own instinct when it comes to your critters.  Watching them and knowing them is the very best preventative medicine you can do for them.  Almost every training method (100% success rate) that I have come up with has come from simply watching the behavior of my animals and adjusting the routine.

Take for instance our dog Rosie.  She was depressed and getting aggressive.  How do you tell a dog is depressed?  Well, she attacked a cat, she was not hanging out with the family, when she did she had her head down, etc, she just seemed depressed.  She was also very aggressively going after Gigi, my little dog that we had recently inherited from my Grandma; so it didn't take a genius to figure out what was causing her depression.  She had been my Baby and now Gigi was going everywhere with me.  So, I started taking Rosie with me everywhere; she no longer had to be in the fence with the rest of the dogs she got treated exactly like I treated Gigi (the only reason Gigi wasn't in the fence was because she could squeeze out of the wire!)

Now, as for the aggressive behavior towards the cat and Gigi, I was not taking any chances there (not with kids and small animals in the house), and I got aggressive myself.  I attacked her back just like another dog would.  It scared the crap out of my kids, I must tell you, but it got the point across to Rosie as well.  I yelled, and growled and rolled her over in a submissive position and held her there until she knew who was boss.  Between doing these two very easy and minor things Rosie is a very happy and normal companion now.

Let's move on to my problematic Rooster while we are talking about dominance here, because this is a new battle for me.  As I mentioned dominance is something that I believe you should always show in your herd, so to speak.  But, this is just a chicken, a bird for goodness sake!  Really, what harm is he going to cause me, and why do I have to win that battle?  It really took some re-thinking on my part.  I realized that every time the roo would see me get worked up, so would he, and if I would just hold still...he would fluff his feathers and move on.

So I tried this new thinking with my teenage son yesterday when I made him go gather eggs for my friend Janet.  I told him exactly what to do, even though he insisted the rooster would not attack him.  Well, he said that bird followed him around trying to get him into battle.  He did exactly what I told him to do.  "No, chicken", and hold still.  The funniest thing was his response.  He said that it went against his grain.  He said "you know Mom, I'm a teenager, and I really wanted to teach that chicken who was boss, it felt like I was letting him win!"  It's very hard to turn the other cheek sometimes.

Speaking of battles you can't win, remember that it is time for the rut, people.  Elk are bugling, the deer have that wild look in their eye, and my ram Paco, well, he looks like he's gonna knock me flat on my ass.. So as soon as I can catch him, he will be locked up with his girlfriend Esther.  And let me tell you, I won't be catching him with my hands, that sheep has one crazed look about him, I will wait until he is in the right pen, and then I will simply close him into it.  Yeah right, and then watch him ram the hell out of the gate, but that is why they call them rams I guess!

While we are talking about advice, I thought I'd mention a trick I have been using lately on the dogs various leg injuries.  It is total and complete immobilization.  Iowa has hurt her leg twice since we have brought her home, and now Gigi has a hurt leg.  When a dog is limping there can be many causes; check the foot first looking for any burs or cuts on the pad.  If there are none, you may need to try this trick, and it has saved me big bucks, because all of the times I thought I was headed to the vet.  Although it seems a bit drastic, put the dog in her crate for a minimum of two days, only walking her on a leash for potty breaks.  The problem is that dogs don't know not to run on an injured leg, and will still run to the front door to bark or whatever.  This really is the only way to completely immobilize an animal, lock them up.  I always feel terrible doing it, but when the leg is better, I know I have done the right thing.

So how about you, do you have any great pet advice to share?  How about pet stories or pics?  I'd love to see them and share them here and on my Facebook page.

Friday, September 24, 2010

They're not Maple leaves, but they'll do

Good morning GSO readers.  Yes, it is the wrong day for me, but I had a few hiccups this week, so I am posting on the wrong day because I wanted to share fall in Colorado with all of you.  I sure would love to see some pictures from the lake states... (hint, hint!)  But anyway here is my post from Wednesday at my daily blog at The Royal Ranch:

Well hello again Rebels!  I heard there was a nasty Twitter Bug, no I didn't say Jitter Bug...a Twitter Bug.  Someone got a hold of Twitter yesterday and made quite a mess of it from what I can gather.  As a matter of fact, when I did my research this morning to make sure it was safe to blog and all, I'm not even comfortable linking to any of the articles that I checked because there were so many pop-ups to, well, pop-up.  And that was the problem I guess; third parties that took you places that had all sorts of pop-ups and malware and nasty stuff.

So here I am being all proud of myself for just having gotten everything all connected.  You know, my new Royal Ranch Facebook page, and my new Twitter account, and of course this blog, and Tuesday is the day that I post for Green Spot-On...Wow, I'm pretty hooked up.  Yeah, hooked up to spread a virus like that like wild fire!  Really I laugh as I write this, you all know that right?

So, to make up for my absence, and god forbid any trouble I may have caused by my huge, massive exposure and connection  I will finally be posting my pics from our overnighter up to one of my favorite areas in the state; Lost Park Wilderness.  You know, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I do have quite a few pics here.  Ha!

Lost Park at sunset

Our walk in the "Park"

Dog walk at sunrise, aaahhh!!

You do see the antelope, right?

One of my favorite old barns in South Park

The next day we went to Tarryall Reservoir, what a beautiful dam!  
Pretty cool husband too!

 If you look closely, you can see swallow nests up top, and huge piles of bat guano on the ledges, very intriguing for a manure connoisseur!

There is no rock that they will not climb!

A little grody, but look at the size of this Pike head!

The first picture is from Monday night here at the house, we had a beautiful storm pass through, too bad it didn't bring much rain.  Please excuse the power line, but the view was worth it I figured!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trying something new while keepin' it real

You know, I was so excited today with the response to my new Facebook page for The Royal Ranch.  It was really quite surprising; not only in the number of people, but who it was.  So since things were already on a little bit of a mixed up trend, and I;m getting ready for my big launch of Royal Rebels on Friday, I decided to do my post a little differently today.  I did part of post via video, so please bear with me and all of my nervous umm's, but I am new to this... so here goes:

And by the way, I was so excited about my idea to record my post I forgot one of the main reasons I was videoing.  That is to ask all of you to do the same.  Get your cameras and video recorders ready to record your goals for the Rebels and send them to me.  You can either send me a link to a YouTube video or e-mail me a picture to judy at royalranch dot net; this way we can all share in one anothers goals and successes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tweeting Twoubles

 My new twitter pic.  Actually I also used it on my book, Llucky Llama.

Okay, so I know I am about a decade or so behind a lot of bloggers and other regular folks, but I just don't really understand this whole tweeting thing.  But, I am bound and determined to get it.  I have been doing quite a bit of reading, and feel that it is the next step I should take to help the blog grow and to help spread the word about our Royal Rebels.

I got myself a Twitter account, and from there I was lost.  My e-mail is through my website, not through gmail or Yahoo, so no contacts there.  I followed a couple things, but Jonas Brothers kept showing up...No thanks.  But I did find this cute widget to make it nice and easy for all of you to find me!

So today's post is more of an open ended question to you, my dedicated readers at Royal Ranch, and to my weekly readers at Green Spot-On; how do you use Twitter?  Where do you go, who do you follow?  And most importantly, why?  What makes that person, attractive, so to speak?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tomatoes? Make soup!

I usually post a recipe every Tuesday on Compost Happens. I'm making this one today. It's a combination of two recipes, made in the slow cooker. Typical of my kitchen, I'll add in a few fresh herbs and vegetables, but if it's not ripe now, I'll leave it out.

Harvest your tomatoes and enjoy!

1 quart fresh tomatoes
1 medium to small onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 cup fresh beans
1/2 cup grated zucchini
2-3 oz. fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4-6 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
(optional): 1 teaspoon lemon pepper, 1 teaspoon dill
salt and pepper to taste

Wash tomatoes. Core them, but you don't have to peel them. Yippee! Place tomatoes in crockpot and tomato guts in the compost. Did you think I'd let that go? Not a chance.
Add onion, peppers, carrot, beans, zucchini, spinach, garlic, basil, and broth to crockpot. Let simmer on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
Close to serving time, blend with an immersion blender (or remove portions from pot and blend in regular blender, but the other way is easier). Use a slotted spoon to remove any skins that are still solid.
Use your favorite thickener. Add slowly and stir. I like a tablespoon or two of cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water or broth, then turn the pot to high for 30 minutes to an hour.
In the meantime, prepare your sides. Salad, fresh bread, even a PBJ will taste good beside this soup. Oh, yes, don't forget the goldfish crackers!

Adapted by combining Joanne's tomato soup found on Zorba Paster's site and Stephanie's tomato soup recipe on A Year of Crockpotting and adding a few random goodies that were ripe in my garden the day I filled the crockpot. Ah, a vegetable garden is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heritage Breeds/Varieties

I've been doing a little research lately on heritage breed chickens because of a hen of mine going broody.  Broody means that she has gone into the state when she is bound and determined to raise her own brood of chicks.  It has been really quite interesting to watch, and although I was not going to raise chicks, I have decided to do so because of the health of this chicken.

Broody chickens go into a zen, almost comatose state and will not leave their nest, and with my chicken it has meant even to the detriment of herself.  When I would try to put her back in with the other hens, they would pick on her terribly, so I just decided to let her stay in her nest.  The point that I am trying to make is that these chickens have a strong instinct that is almost impossible to override, and I got to thinking, why would I want to?

I have a huge demand for my organic eggs, absolutely adore having my chickens, and have the facilities to raise the chicks safely until they can live in with the rest of my chickens.  So, with a little research, and a couple of days of  collecting just the right eggs, we have placed the eggs under our wonderful broody hen.  But with that research, I have learned some very interesting things about heritage breeds.

First and foremost, heritage breeds are very hearty and intelligent breeds, just like my broody girl.  One of my new favorite sites is the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and according to them: "The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy protects genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of endangered breeds. These rare breeds are part of our national heritage and represent a unique piece of the earth's bio-diversity. The loss of these breeds would impoverish agriculture and diminish the human spirit. We have inherited a rich variety of livestock breeds. For the sake of future generations we must work together to safeguard these treasures."

The site also has a great list of all heritage breeds, whether it be poultry, goats, sheep (which I have), cows or horses.  So if you are at all interested in raising livestock, look into heritage varieties, you won't be sorry.  It takes much less work as they tend to do part of the work for you.  And not only that, you will be keeping a part of our history alive!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Volunteer - oregano?

Lately I've spotted oregano in some unusual places. There's a little volunteer oregano in the dill.

There's oregano in the thyme.

Yes, I said in the thyme. Look closely!

I said in the thyme, not in the - oh, wait a minute. In the pines?

How on earth did the oregano move to different pots on my deck?
Tiny, furry, guerrilla gardeners: the ones with big fluffy tails.
There's no telling what'll come up next. Thyme in a bottle?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I knew I liked his name...

"We have bigger houses but smaller families,
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense
more knowledge, but less judgment
more experts, but more problems
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We've been all the way to the moon and back
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever...
but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but short on quality.
These are fast times of fast foods but slow digestion.
Tall man but short character.
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It is a time where there is much in the window
but nothing in the room."
~the Dalai Lama

My friend Tiffany wrote a great post on acceptance yesterday, check it out.  It led me to a great new blog, that led me to this poem.  Thank you, Pilgrimsteps, for the inspiration!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gardening keeps me humble.

Nature does humble a person. No matter how much research I do, online or in books, no matter how many experts I ask, the weather will take its own course. No matter how healthy I am or vice versa, the plants and weeds will keep on growing. They'll fall over before the wind, and I'll pick up what I can, but the storms will arrive when they will. When it's super hot, I'll drain the rain barrels to water the plants. When it's rainy, I'll squash mosquitoes. If I'm lucky, we'll get just enough rain to refill the barrels and all will be well with the backyard gardening world.

Every year I start with plans - big plans. This year the big change was the new tomato plot. We planned ahead, set it up as a large triangle with layers of cardboard and newspaper covered with compost in the style of a lasagna garden. When spring came, we braced the three sides with boards donated by a generous neighbor and then covered the area with about 4 inches of soil trucked in from a local nursery. Then I planted: tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli, with a few wildflower seeds scattered across the back. Fleet Farm had the tomato supports I wanted, and we were set.

Read the rest of this post at Compost Happens. Enjoy the summary of my garden summer and the many ways it keeps me humble.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making every last minute count

The kids are headed off to school tomorrow; one of my saddest days of the year.  I get so used to having the little pains in the rumpy around that I really miss them when they are gone for the day.  But, as they remind me, I will have some time to work on my next book, so I guess it is a trade off...

Since today was our last day of summer, we had to make every minute count.  My daughter saved up her money this summer from taking care of the neighbors house while they were on vacation and decided to repaint her room; a girl after her own mother's redesigning heart.  Of course the process took a lot of prep work which entailed cleaning out the "little girl" toys.

The morning started with getting every last bit of paint out of the gallon that the dear girl had worked so hard to buy.  I of course will need one more gallon to finish the job while she is at school; three ten year olds did quite a job on the trim, etc, but what the heck, her and her girlfriends thought it was a great way to wind down the summer!

My middle boy starts high school this year, and my eldest made the mistake of telling him that all the high schoolers wear hats to school since it is allowed now.  The sucker in me gave in, wanting him to feel at his best on the first day as a freshman and headed down the mountain to find him a hat.  

It all worked out just fine because I could donate the "little girl" toys that my daughter had gathered to a local charity (making the trip down the mountain more worthwhile in my mind), take my youngest two to an inexpensive lunch at our new local diner (supporting a great new business), and I got the "lid" covered!  And speaking of back to school fashions, they are fantastic!  The colors this year are so vibrant  and beautiful (yes, even for the boys), that I didn't mind doing the laundry, and that is saying quite a bit!

The best part about it, was that I got home in time to catch my oldest son cleaning out his car.  So I pulled my truck up next to his and started cleaning it.  I have asserted for a long time, the best way to talk with a teenager is to do while you both are working.  The words seem to flow easier, the teen seems less defensive, and you're accomplishing a task on your to do list on top of it!

So, for those of you with school age children, good luck this year, and give your kids an extra squeeze, they will be graduating high school like my boy (soon) in the blink of an eye!  And please, by all means, please be aware of the school buses and zones!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Water, water everywhere - cutting consumption

I had mixed feelings the day my rain barrels ran dry. We were in a heat wave, the tomatoes needed water to bear fruit and ripen, and the rain barrels were empty. I turned to Chuck and said, "This will be the first time all summer that I've needed to water plants with water from the house." Impressive, really. My two rain barrels, regular rainfall, and no treated water from the house was wasted on watering the gardens.

Mother Nature provided a rainstorm the next night. Both barrels refilled completely.

Around home it's easy to monitor my water consumption. Rain barrels. Replacing my top-loading washer with a front loader. Using cooking water or dishwashing water to water the herb pots on the deck. Away from home, though, it's another story.

Here's a link to National Geographic's Water Footprint Calculator. I felt good watching my water use average go down as I answered the home questions. My coffee habit is higher than average. As for transportation, I drive a minivan, but drive fewer than average miles. I rarely fly, so that helps keep the average down.

My biggest impact on water consumption is my diet. It's part of the omnivore's dilemma; raising meat animals consumes a lot of water. Cutting down on the amount of beef, pork, and even poultry that I feed our family can make a significant impact on water consumption. As for the coffee - well, I'll have to work on that.

The concept of water consumption presumes a steady supply of clean water, usually pumped through a treatment plant on its way to the user and again after use. The Kalamazoo River oil spill shows another danger to our water supply: our addiction to petroleum based fuels.

Now that I've made serious inroads on my home water use, it's time to look outside the box. Try the Water Footprint Calculator, and read the tips. They're very informative.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recycled Roof

Yes, a recycled roof.  I was bragging on my daily (almost) blog yesterday about my environmentally, money saving, recycled roof; but I wanted to wait until today, when I could share it with all of you, even the GSO readers, because this is a pretty good one.  Wow, another sentence that would have my English teacher popping migraine (or worse) medicine!

I have to give you a little background here.  I have mentioned (groan, many times, over and over, you, my dedicated readers say?) that our little piece of heaven, The Royal Ranch, sits at almost 9,000 feet in elevation.  It also sits at the base of two almost fourteeners, Mt. Logan and Mt. Rosalie.  Now, I'm not just telling you that to brag, okay maybe a little-ha!, but we get some wicked winds up here, and I do mean wicked.  

This last winter seemed to be particularly harsh.  We had quite a bit of damage, we lost our historical sign, which I posted about here, and we had lots of little pieces of roofing come off the barn.  Well, I hadn't really noticed that those little pieces had all really added up to one big problem until we got all of this rain.  And then the other day, I went to step inside the barn and sunk six inches into the mud.   Now, I'm no genius, but when you are inside the barn, I don't think you're supposed to be slopping around in mud like that!

So, I get to thinking.  We have tried multiple kinds of regular roofing on this barn and it has not worked because of the tree limbs rubbing on it and the wind tears about anything paper like or shingle like, ie: typical roofing.  Okay what about a tarp type situation?  Now wait, I know you all are thinking, what, a tarp?  Now that's pretty hillbilly.  

But wait, these are the sides and the tops of the old hay barn that the wind took year before last.  It was one of those car port type things you buy at Costco, and it would have worked out great if it weren't for the wind picking up the whole thing, that was concreted three feet into the ground, and throwing it around like a ball of play doh (I told you we got wicked winds!).  It bent all of the poles beyond recognition and tore a few of the tarps, but for the most part the tarps were still in tact, and just awaiting a new life.  I recycled the poles, why not the tarps?

As a matter of fact the buildings themselves are recycled.  My tack shed is a six seater outhouse from a Civilian Conservation Camp from the Depression era that was moved here by Charlie Royal.  And the llama/sheep barn is an old chicken coop that old man Royal built himself.  When we first got llamas, we had our then renter, remove a wall and reinforce it for the larger animals, and voila, a loafing shed ideal for ruminants (which is what sheep and llamas are).

Well, it wasn't exactly me that did the work on the roof anyway.  I don't think any of us would want to know the outcome if clumsy old me had gotten up on that roof.  But Tom did a heck of a job.  He laid the first tarp down and nailed it around the edges, and then a second one over the top, to make sure to cover any of the seams of the first one since these were meant to be walls instead of roofing.  He then sort of wrapped the barn roof like a present, and it looks great.

He also used some wood to reinforce where the wind will catch it.  He just took a long 2x12 and nailed it over the tarps.  It will hold down the tarps and to a certain extent guide the runoff away from the front of the barn.  The great thing about this is that now it is essentially one piece, so hopefully the wind won't catch little bits of it.

While Tom did the roof, the kids and I worked on the drainage around the barn.  I dug a few trenches, not really dug, more like guided the mud, to get as much runoff away from the barn as possible.  We all worked on raking up the loose dropped hay to put in the barn to soak up the mud; so it got recycled too.  Normally I would be able to rake this up once a week and feed it, saving myself quite a bit, but it is all too soggy to use; although I did see the chickens happily scratching their way through it, so that is good.

Back to me and my brilliant ideas, thank goodness I have a husband to help implement all these crazy ideas of mine.  I'll let you know how this one holds up, but in theory it's a good one, and it didn't cost me a dime.  So far we have had some really amazing rain storms and the barn isn't any wetter, which is of course what we were going for!

Sorry folks, I am experiencing technical difficulties, and have been waiting all day to get my links together and post this, but it isn't looking like the problem (within Blogger) will be fixed anytime soon.  So, I shall go ahead and publish without the links, hoping that you will come back and check those out another time!  Thanks for your patience~Judy

Monday, August 9, 2010

Next year's garden

I just started picking tomatoes. The first zucchini are still potential on the vine, and the rhubarb has weathered its transplant beautifully. So why am I talking about next year?

Gardeners are always looking ahead. We are constantly learning as we go.

I like the new tomato supports, but I don't really have the right varieties of tomatoes on the right types of supports. Next year, I'll prune the determinate kinds, guide them up the spirals, and put the non-determinate kinds in the square supports. I'll also leave more space between the tomatoes and the peppers; my poor banana peppers are in the shade of the yellow pear tomatoes.

The perennials are moving. Perennial vegetables, that is. The chives are going closer to the house. I think they're tough enough to live on the south side in the sun. If not, well, a few will probably still come up in the old spot.

Asparagus is still in its infancy. I wonder if the crowns (the root systems) are still small enough to be moved? If I don't, the raspberries will take over. It's worth a try.

I can see spots in the new tomato plot that have been eroded from all the rain. It makes me glad the rain came late in the year; the plants had set their roots deeply enough that they didn't fall over or get washed away. I'll add a layer of compost on top of the soil when I'm prepping for winter, and then I'll remember to plant my tomatoes deeply in the spring.

My herbs are doing quite well in their pots on the deck. Last year I brought them inside, only to have them die of neglect. Or die of the cold. Or... lack of sun. I don't know. Is a sun lamp worth the cost, including the electricity to run it? I'm not sure. Learning to dry or freeze the herbs now might be more useful.

But as I look ahead, I must remember that there is still a lot to do in August and September. If the tomatoes keep on giving and giving and giving, I have recipes for stewed tomatoes and a salsa to try. And then there's that pesky item called earning a living; school starts soon, too! I have a classroom to prepare and lessons to write.

I think I'll grab a few tomatoes and a cup of coffee. That'll keep me energized, whether I'm reading curriculum or weeding around the peppers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill - Press Release for Circle D Wildlife Refuge

GreenSpot-On has been following the coverage on the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill in Michigan.  We have been in contact with the Circle D Animal Refuge which has already taken in some of the wildlife that has been affected by this environmental disaster.  The following press release was sent to me by Damon Talbot, PR for Circle D Animal Refuge.  For more information on how you can get involved please see the previous posts on GreenSpot-On.

Khrysania @ GreenSpot-On

The Press Release:


13500 E U Ave

Vicksburg, MI 49097

Press Release

Contact: Damon Talbot; PR


Phone: (231) 903-2629

9 A.M. EDT, July 29, 2010


VICKSBURG, MI, JULY 29TH, 2010: With the ongoing animal rescue effort being coordinated by the State of Michigan and Enbridge Oil, Circle D Wildlife Refuge is transitioning to act as a rehabilitation center for animals who have been cleaned, but may have long term health risks.

The staff of Circle D Wildlife Refuge were some of the first to respond and help contaminated animals in Calhoun County. During the first few hours they were able to rescue several ducks, geese, and a muskrat.

As the situation progresses there will be a need for volunteers, and donations to help with this response. Circle D Wildlife Refuge has worked with many types of animals in the past and is ready to meet this challenge.

For further information, to schedule an interview, or for media visits to the facility please contact email us at:


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

HELP SAVE MICHIGAN WILDLIFE - Updated 7-28-2010 at 2:15pm

In efforts to try and help various animals that will be/are affected by this oil leak in Michigan, they are in desperate need of supplies. If you know any businesses or anyone that would be willing to donate that would be great! Circle D Wildlife Refuge is in need of rubber gloves and aprons, dawn dish soap,etc. Cash donations would probably be great also - so they can get food supplies that they will need for the animals.

As I have said in the past, these rehabbers work on their personal time and are not paid and the supplies that we get, these are out-of-pocket expenses or by donations. For more information you can look below for Circle D Wildlife Refuge's information or check with Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Animal/Wildlife Rescue facebook page.

Contact information for Circle D Wildlife refuge:

Circle D Wildlife Refuge
13500 East U Ave.
Vicksburg, MI  49097
Phone #:  Pam Decuypere at (269) 365-5349  Please Do Not call the phone number unless you have wildlife that needs help, they need their only phone line free to field calls about animals.  They would prefer you to contact them by e-mail if you can.
A message on the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Animal/Wildlife Rescue facebook page stated:  "If you are willing to answer phones on a regular basis, clean birds, or care for other animals, please send me your contact information at While I will begin calling folks from the spreadsheet list, this is in no way connected to the large scale cleanup efforts that require training. This is only to help out the small, animal refuge to prepare for the influx of animals, volunteers, media, etc. that will be coming in droves soon. I will contact you soon to get more information on how you can help".

I'll find out if there is a website or donation page for them ASAP!

Items needed by Circle D Wildlife Refuge:
- Rags or towels
- Dawn dish soap
- Rubber aprons
- Rubber gloves
- Buckets
- Vegetable oil
- Respirators
- Cash donations so they can feed the animals they are getting along with getting other supplies! 
They were also looking for volunteers!  It may take a while for them to get back to you by phone as they are very busy right now!

Remember, the best way people can help is by donating at this time.

Focus Wildlife is currently responding to the "Marshall Leak Incident."  To sign up with wildlife officials or to report oil-covered wildlife, call 800-306-6837.  Focus Wildlife Website:


Here is yet another place you can donate items to (As posted on Facebook):

"Senator Nofs has helped to facilitate a donation collection center to help the wildlife. Donations are being accepted at Crossroads Church and Ministries. Details are available here on specific times and what items are needed:;

Please do not hesitate to call me with any questions, 269-274-3220.

More information on volunteer training will be forthcoming. A volunteer seminar will take place sometime in the afternoon on Friday with authorities.

Steve Sachs
Office of Senator Mike Nofs"

WHAT: Community Animal/Wildlife Rescue Donation Drop Off Site
LARGE COLLETION TENT LOCATED IN NE CORNER OF PARKING LOT . 717 US Highway 27, Marshall, MI 49068 (1/2 mile S of I-94, exit 110, on west side of road)
WHEN: Today (12:00p.m.-9:00p.m.), then open daily from 9:00a.m.-9:00p.m. until further notice.
- LINENS: non-elastic, non-fitted
- Sheets and Large Towels
- Pillow Cases
- Cardboard Boxes (Medium-Large)
- Small Whiteboards
- Duct Tape
- Firewood (Small-Medium)

Items will be transported by officials to the secure animal care center. For more information, please contact Steve Sachs at 269-274-3220.
More information to come!

Oil Disaster in Michigan

Dear GreenSpot-On Readers,

I wanted to talk to you about something very important.  As some of you in Michigan or even in the nation may have heard, on late Sunday, July 25, 2010 a pipeline malfunctioned (which is being investigated by the EPA and the National Transportation Safety Board) near the border of Marshall and Fredonia townships in Calhoun County, Michigan. The oil then leaked into Talmadge Creek, which flows northwest into the Kalamazoo River.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer:  "After the oil leak was detected, the pipeline pumps were shut down and the valves upstream and downstream from the leak were closed, according to a press release from Houston-based Enbridge and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management."

The spill has already went past booms set up by workers in Marshall township and is now flowing into the Kalamazoo River in Kalamazoo County.  So far it is estimated that about 877,000 gallons (Or according to other news reports around 20,000 barrels) of oil had spilled into the creek leading to the Kalamazoo River according to estimates from Enbridge Energy Partners.  A meterologist speaking with the news agency WZZM 13 from the National Weather Service has also said that the spill could reach Lake Michigan by Sunday, depending on a few variables having to do with the flow rate.

There have been warnings and advisories set against swimming and fishing in the area and there is a worry about Benzine being in the air.  There are also families that have been evacuated (Last I heard it was at least 20 homes) due to the potential health hazard.  According to other sources, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) have told hopeful volunteers to stay away from the area as they are trying to get respirators for workers near the spill.  As for wildlife rescues I had heard from another source that the DNR are looking into having trained and licensed wildlife rescuers help with the wildlife and that it is too dangerous for an untrained and unlicensed person to handle distressed wildlife.  There have alrady been injuries to reported at Wood TV8 in West Michigan by these distressed animals to humans who had hoped to do some good.  Please let the trained professionals and licensed wildlife rescuers do the work, if you want to help ask the Michigan DNRE what you can do.  To sign up with wildlife officials or to report oil-covered wildlife, call 800-306-6837.

I promise that as soon as I find a reputable place that is taking donations I will let you know.  Already, I have talked with a couple licensed rescuers (Including GreenSpot-On's very own JRouse) who are possibly going to be allowed to volunteer for clean-up, so if I hear any news on how people can assist them or the effort I will let you all know!  Though I did find this today: 

"BATTLE CREEK (The Enquirer) -- The Circle D Wildlife Refuge has rescued 12 geese, a muskrat and a swan from the Kalamazoo River, said refuge spokeswoman Pam Decuypere. The Vicksburg group is working to help capture and clean wildlife hurt by the oil spill, she said. The refuge is looking for volunteers today to help clean the birds, monetary donations, and donations of buckets, vegetable oil, dish soap and rags, Decuypere said. If you want to help, show up at 13500 East U Ave. in Vicksburg, or call Decuypere at (269) 365-5349"

Meanwhile I am looking for a couple of photo's to post of this disaster in my home state to show you before and after photo's and what it is doing to the environment and the wildlife.  If anyone from this area has new photo's and will give permission to post them please contact me!

Please see the links and video below for more information and the sources for my information.

MI DNRE Website:  Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment
Huffington Post:  Michigan Oil spill among the Largest in Midwest History: Kalamazoo Spill Soaks Wildlife
The latest story from the Battle Creek Enquirer:  Granholm criticizes company as oil heads west
Battle Creek Enquirer story:  Eager Volunteers told to Wait 
The Battle Creek Enquirer has posted a Map showing the spill.
WZZM 13:  Oil Spill could reach Lake Michigan by Sunday
Wood TV8 Latest story:  Oil Spill Spreading toward Battle Creek 
Wood TV 8 video:  DNRE: Leave animal cleaning to pros

Thanks for thinking of the families, wildlife, environment and our state as we deal with this disaster.

Khrysania @ GreenSpot-On

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A work day poem

I didn't want to go to work,
My life was feeling a little too berserk.
Cleaning fire pits and picking up trash,
Can really be a big old pain in my ass.

But I really must go,
they aren't going to clean themselves, you know.
So I will make the best of it,
Because I am a tough little chit.

I grab my shovel and rake,
along with my pail I do take.
And there as I work a Stellar Jay flies by,
While a chipmunk is running up high.

A Gray Squirrel gets mad we are in her space,
And throws pine cones at Isabellas little face.
A chickadee is hopping down a nearby pine,
Gee, I am really glad this job is mine!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Have I lost my mind?

Photo form GreenIrene

I would like to start off saying that I would really like feedback from this post, actually I would like it to be interactive even, because this is something that I am really curious about.  I have been reading lately about how our food affects our carbon footprint.  I recently had the need to look up locavore is what brought this up I think, and a locavore is a person who tries to eat all of their food from local sources, to help reduce their carbon footprint.  They probably have other reasons too, I don't know, but that is the biggy.
In this research I found out that the best way to reduce your food CF (carbon footprint from here on out) is to not eat meat as it creates the most gases, etc when being produced.  Well, pshaw, is what my family would say to that!  There is absolutely no way you are getting my carnivorous crew to not eat meat!  So, how does a greenie like me, cut my food CF?  (Just a funny side note here, spell check doesn't like locavore and greenie, but accepts pshaw, what's up with that?)
We do our own hunting, but that meat really does not last as long as you'd think.  And the grocery store meat, well don't even get me started...I buy it when I absolutely have to, but I am very particular and only buy stuff that is on sale and that I know where it has come from, hopefully.
But on to how I have lost my mind.  Yesterday a truck drove in my driveway and I bought a crapload of meat off of it.  I know, I can't believe I did it either.  Tom just about killed me.  I have never done such a crazy thing. 
The company is Pacific Prime and I don't know what the hell happened to my brain while the guy was here, but actually it all worked out okay.  I got a good deal, but Tom got us an even better deal.  See, I had asked and read and looked, but you know how the big bad biker is, if not every label says "Made IN America" he won't touch it.  He called the guy back and left a message for him to come and pick up his chinese tasting meat, since the guarantee was only good for taste.  God the man slays me!
During that time we made some calls and did more research.  It was exactly as I thought.  You pretty much never know where your meat is coming from.  If it is labeled, you best hope it is labeled correctly.  King Soopers gets most of their beef from US, Mexico and Canada the old man was horrified to find out, and pretty much every single package I have ever brought home is labeled US.  I don't think I get that lucky, even the butcher on the phone joked about the box in the back saying US but having a different product in it, it was being reused.
The meat from Pacific Prime on the other hand is all labeled correctly from each place, is very high quality meat and above all, is all natural with no extra crap in it like I would get at the stores.  The other thing is that it is simple stuff too, easy to defrost and prepare a very healthy meal for the family.  Especially now that Tom got all that money off I will be feeding the family for at least the same price.
So back to my food CF.  I am wondering if that is what was in the back of my mind when I lost it yesterday with this salesman, that I normally would have chased off the ranch.  Although some of these meats, specifically the seafood are imported, the majority of the food is US we found out after going rounds with the company.  So my question is this, does a company like this, one that brings things to your door, help you reduce your overall CF?  I have to keep in mind the packaging, and yes there is quite a bit of it, but none of those styrofoam trays and yucky pads; just recyclable boxes and the plastic the meat is flash frozen in.  
But, the big thing for me is that this will cut my trips to the store drastically.  With working at the food pantry, we will fill in with fruits and veggies and breads there; Lord knows there is plenty to go around.  Tom can pop into Costco for milk and cheese and we are pretty much good to go.  Therefore, you have taken one F350 truck off the road for at least one hour of driving for five trips let's say.  That's quite a little impact, I'd think.
Now not everybody lives as far away from the grocery store as I do, etc., but I am curious to know your thoughts.
So weigh in on this subject folks.  Have you chased these people off before?  What about your food CF?  Where do you get your all natural meat from?  Does anybody have a good Colorado source they'd love to share?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Garden Pizza

There's a certain pleasure in picking ingredients from a kitchen garden, no matter how small. It feels so satisfying to go outside and find basil and oregano, maybe onion, and (some seasons) even spinach. This year I didn't get much spinach; something small and furry found its way into the greens and ate it. I bought my spinach from the Farmers' Market instead. My tomatoes aren't ready yet, so this particular pizza had sauce from a jar.

When food comes out of the backyard garden or from a local producer, the cook knows what really goes into it. Organic, pure, additives or not - harvesting (or buying from the grower) and cooking from scratch increases control over food quality.

Enough philosophy already. Here's a quick ingredient list: a bit shy on specifics because I make my pizza on the fly with little or no measuring, but still useful if you want to try it yourself.

Crust: I buy mine as a mix. If you can make your own, I envy your talent!
Sauce: Less is more! Choose a basic marinara sauce and spice it up to your own taste. I've used as little as half a cup on a 12 inch pizza.

Now the fun. Go to the garden or the farmers' market and get --
onion (you choose the type)
garlic (to taste)
-and anything else that appeals to you when it's on top of a pizza, including a wonderful mozzarella cheese.

I cut up the herbs and sprinkle them on top of the sauce. Onion and garlic and peppers (optional) can be next. Spinach: simply cut off the stems and set the leaves, whole, on top of the herbs, etc. Then choose a good mozzarella (I bought mine from a local cheese shop that stocks fresh cheeses from local dairies). Grate cheese over the top of the pizza. Tempting though it might be, don't overload it. Let the flavors come through.

Bake according to the package directions for the crust. Dine! Enjoy!

The pizza? Delicious.
Growing and picking the ingredients? Very satisfying.
Having direct control over the quality of the food my family eats? Priceless.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Milestone at Royal Ranch

One year, could it really be?  One year ago today was The Beginning of Royal Ranch Green from the "Bottom" Up, aptly named, I suppose.  It really is quite fitting that it happened to be on a Tuesday, and let alone the 13th.  I had to look it up, but I knew the anniversary was coming up and was pleasantly surprised about those two facts.  Tuesday because it would fall on a day where I do double duty and write for Green Spot-On too; and the 13th because that was Grandma's favorite number.  Her birthday was August 13th so I'm assuming she was a little partial to it.
What to do on such a milestone?  I mean, it's not like my birthday or something.  I don't see any gifts coming my way... damn!  But I do feel like celebrating.  This really has been a blast for me, getting to know my readers, but better yet, getting to know how my blog affects my readers.  Not only do I share funny stories about things that happen on this crazy piece of heaven on earth, but I have tried to share some things that hopefully make a difference in a persons life.
Maybe in just a little teensy way, admit it.  Okay I admit it, blogging reminds me constantly to stay true to the course that I have chosen, you know the environmentally friendly one.  Recently a friend of ours was making these huge bear traps (don't worry, they are only for decoration) and I encouraged him to use recycled material.  He came roaring in the driveway the other day to tell us that his product is now 85% recycled (thanks to me, he added) and he has already sold one!
Or maybe I have helped you deal with a health issue, because Lord knows, I've had my share.  Hopefully I help you deal with them with dignity and humor, because sometimes that's the only way to go.  But above everything else, I hope mostly I brought a smile to your lips each and every time you saw that there was a post.  I also hope you have learned by now that I am a total rebel at heart, as a matter of fact, many times my own rebellion is my worst enemy, so I thought it quite appropriate that I close this milestone post with a hillbilly "Rebel Girl" song from Miranda Lambert:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bringing the outside in

He picked a black-eyed Susan from a neighbor's yard.

I picked up a bouquet at the Farmers' Market.

And finally, we picked a color for our bedroom walls.
To see the rest of the story, go to Compost Happens.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Green living through dentistry?

I just got done e-mailing my dentist.  We've been chatting back and forth all weekend.  Now, my situation is a little atypical, but the dedication of this woman is amazing!  She is a student at The University of Colorado Denver Dental School, and for Green Spot-On readers please catch up with this story here.  My journey with this school started clear back in February and has been a great one.
Now, what does all of this have to do with green living?  A lot.  I have found that this is a great way for me to do community service, save money and that the school is on the cutting edge of technology which includes green practices.  When I say community service, I really feel as if I am helping these kids when I go in there.  I have the attitude that I am forming the minds of the future dentists of the world and what better way than to be totally open and honest and give them feedback and to help them learn?
It was really interesting this last Wednesday when I was in there, the student had the instructor come over, and the teacher asked why my hygiene area was still blank.  My student said she had felt awkward about asking that, so that is one of the things her and I have been e-mailing back and forth about.  Brainstorming ways of finding out true tests of ones personal hygiene without embarrassing them.  I said maybe she could ask the patient to grade themselves and then she could ask why they gave themselves that grade.
My neighbor, Mr. P. has even gone after asking me about it, and calls and updates me each time.  He is so proud of all of the work that he has gotten done there, it is almost funny.  Most of his dental work was done many years ago in Germany and is now needing to be replaced.  He is proud to tell me that for the thousands of dollars that his regular dentist was going to charge him, his total is at about $330!
Now, as I said in my first post about the dental school, it has to be a proper fit.  Meaning you must be able to devote quite a bit of time to your student.  I don't think I've ever gotten out of there in under three hours.  Mind you, I have gotten a lot done in three hours, but when you include a 1.5 hour drive each way, you're talking all day for each appointment.  But for me, it is worth it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Here, kitty kitty kitty

Spaying and neutering is something I have firmly believed in since the first time I heard Bob Barker remind his viewers on the Price is Right how important it was.  And believe me, that has been a long time!!!  I recently have had many examples of why I so firmly believe in this literally dropped on my doorstep, okay maybe not dropped on my doorstep, but living and breathing and affecting the health (and food bill) of my ranch, so that counts too.

Meet Pimienta and Nocola, Royal Ranch's newest addition's.  Pimienta means pepper in Spanish and Nocola means no tail, I guess you'll be able to figure out who is who.  Not quite a year ago our renters got two cats, brother and sister from a breeder of Bengal Bobcats.  They got them for free because they are solid black instead of the typical Bengal markings.  Now, as a Landlord, I really try to mind my own business, but when I saw that the cats had had kittens I got a little concerned, let alone that the kittens were outdoors.

During this time, some changes in that very same rental happened and we took back over half of the duplex that the cats use, so Isabella and I became very familiar with the cats and what was going on with them.  That was when I realized that the Mama kitty was pregnant again!  As a matter of fact, Daddy kitty was trying to breed Pimi as well, which is what finally got me to leave a (not so friendly) letter on the door of the renter.  Well, one thing led to another, and thank goodness I have friends in the rescue business,  and now fast forward a couple months and here we are...
So, it has taken me multiple trips down the mountain to Spay Today to get all of the adult cats spayed and neutered.  I took Daddy, Pimienta and Nocola, who at the time all still belonged to the renter down right away.  Mama was busy having just had these cute little things.  I then waited until two weeks ago and got Mama spayed, another trip down the hill we go.  Last weekend we got to take her to a vet up here to get her tested for Feline Leukemia so that my friends over at Evergreen Animal Protective League can have these adorable babies without spreading that horrific disease.  Today we will deliver the babies, yup, all three of those precious babies are going to new homes through EAPL over in Evergreen.
Now, I mentioned that none of these cats were to be ours, and that was the original plan; until the renter mentioned that he might sell the middle generation at a pet store.  Since they are Bobcat Bengals, and since he is having a hard time financially and since they are always looking for kittens, etc.  Well, I'm probably going to offend someone here, but over my dead body!  I have heard waaay to many horror stories for these cats that Isabella and I have been working very hard to tame and take care of to end up in some filthy pet store!  So, that is how Pimi and Nocola became Royal Ranch cats, and you know the funny thing was that the very same day that we "claimed" Nocola, she started calming down.  It was just as if she needed to know she had a place to stay forever.
Okay, so I have bragged about my friends in high places, but you do not need friends in high places if you don't get yourself in this pickle of needing multiple surgeries done at once.  There are lots and lots of resources out there people.  If you can't afford to spay or neuter your pet, call your local shelter and they will help you get it done, I guarantee it.  Also, help your neighbor, they may be too embarrassed to admit that they have a problem.  We have a sad story going on right now here in Colorado, an 80something woman got kicked out of her house due to it being overrun with cats.  I know how it happened, I have seen it.
As a matter of fact, last summer, the very same thing happened to us.  A gal had been coming to us to buy her hay, and when she broke her leg, we offered to help take care of her horse.  Well, it led to much more than that, her place was taken over by cats and could have been condemned at any moment.  So we cleaned it up and got the animals fixed.  It was amazing, I found a group that brought a motorhome to her place, and in one day we trapped, spayed, and neutered 22 cats!  If we had not done that, the cats would be doubled by this year, think of that!  People just don't realize how quickly it gets out of hand.
Now, off of the "soap box" as my Dad would say, but I do have some interesting points about these Bobcat Bengals.  They really are some amazing cats.  Boy, can they climb!  The ones with no tails have extra toes to help them with their balance, which kind of looks weird, but again, makes for some amazingly agile cats.  Genetically, this has been an odd bunch.  Mom and Dad are both solid black as are Pimi and Nocola, and then here comes the third generation that has all of the Bobcat Bengal traits, like the toes and tails, but are Siamese in color, very odd.
I'm not sure where I stand on the breeding down the Bobcats and Bengal tigers thing.  Before I met these cats I would have said I was against it, for sure.  And I'm not too impressed that the breeder did not make sure that my renter get the cats fixed if she removed them from the breeding program.  But some of the websites I have visited are pretty cool, and talk about saving a piece of wildlife and endangered species, and the "good examples" of the breed are amazingly "tiger" like.  I thought GSO would be a great place to get some feedback on such a discussion, so come on people, let's hear what you have to say!