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The Best Things in Life are Free

January 31st, 2012

You’ve no doubt heard the quote, “The best things in life are Free”. I find this to be quite true, especially when it comes to cat toys. I’ve always wondered why people spend money on cat toys when a milk ring or bottle cap is so entertaining for them.

Our cats LOVE milk rings and lids, but we don’t get milk rings that often since we get raw milk from a local farm in half gallon mason jars. In the winter, the farm lets the cows go dry, so during this time, we purchase milk from another small local dairy. The milk isn’t raw, but it’s low-temperature pasteurized and non-homogenized. If you live in NE Ohio and don’t have access to raw milk I’d highly recommend seeking out Hartzler’s milk.

The cats love the winter because we have a glut of milk rings and milk lids. They absolutely love the big fat lids from the glass milk jugs and have a grand old time batting them around the house (Dexter is especially fond of them). We always save a few to last us throughout the year.

I suppose if I had to pick something that was akin to a milk ring for me it would be the library. You will always find a big stack of books on my table that I get for free. Spending time working in the garden is also something I enjoy that’s free (unless you count the cost of seeds). When I think about it, the things that bring me true joy are usually the things that cost the least!

What things do you enjoy that are free?

Goodbye Christmas, Hello Winter

January 6th, 2012

We love having our Christmas tree, the glow of the lights sets the perfect mood for a relaxing evening. I’m always dragging my feet to take down in January. Our tree is still pretty fresh, so it will stay up a few more days I think.

I’m not the only one that will miss the tree, Dexter will too. He’s our Christmas cat, every year he camps out under the Christmas tree from the day we put it up until the day it comes down.

When does your tree come down?

A Sad Day at Chiot’s Run

April 28th, 2011

The last few days we’d noticed that the resident feral cat “Miss Mama” hadn’t been looking great. While she was friendly and would let us pet her, she was never as tame as an indoor cat, which meant we didn’t see her up close a lot. When the weather warmed she started spending her days out hunting in the woods around our home instead of in the garage, so we saw even less of her. When she was around, she’s follow us around the garden and even took a shine to Lucy, running over to rub on her whenever she spotted her outside.

We hadn’t been seeing much of her lately and figured it was because of the nice weather. When we spotted her the other day we noticed she looked very thin and wasn’t walking very well.

We finally caught her Tuesday evening and immediately knew it was bad. She was weak, could barely walk, and her liver was failing. There wasn’t much we could do, we put out a heating mat to keep her warm and didn’t think she was going to make it through the night. She may have caught a mouse or a chipmunk that someone had poisoned and as a result it poisoned her. Or perhaps she wandered onto someone’s lawn that had just treated it with chemicals, which is also very hard on pets. A sad reminder that often our expedient measures to treat a problem or pest result in consequences that we didn’t intend.

She made it through the night, but looked even worse the next morning and could barely walk. We knew it was time. We carried her out and put her on the side porch to enjoy the nice weather while we made some preparations.

We have a tradition in my family that pets are always buried on the property (all of our previous pets are buried in my parent’s garden). The cats always get a pussy willows planted over their graves and the dogs get a dogwood tree. I set out to decide where I wanted to plant a pussy willow, for this would determine Miss Mama’s final resting place.

While I’m very sad that Miss Mama is gone, I can’t be too sad. Outdoor cats have a life expectancy of 2 years – she was about that old. They have to deal with the harshness of nature and the expediency of humans trying to deal with pests. It’s the price we pay for the joy that animals bring us. I know that Miss Mama had a wonderful year and a half of life here at Chiot’s Run. She had delicious pastured chicken to eat, a warm cozy bed in the garage, the freedom to roam the woods hunting and be a cat. While we would have preferred for her to live a longer life, at least her life here was good.

We still have one garage cat left. If you remember, Miss Mama moved her kittens into our garage last summer. One kitten survived, she’s known as “Little Softie” or “The Sweets”. She’s a burgundy black cat now, full grown. Hopefully she’ll be able to avoid Miss Mama’s fate, she doesn’t seem to wander as far. She was brought to this garage at about 5 weeks old, so this is home to her.

We buried Miss Mama up in the front garden and I’ll get a start from my mom’s pussy willow that is growing over Jeffrey, our first cat’s grave. I placed a bouquet of wild flowers over her grave, perfectly fitting for our wild (yet tamed) cat.

Today we’re very sad still that Miss Mama is gone, but we really appreciate the joy she brought us. As our first garden cat – she was perfect! We’ll miss her chirpy meows, her padding around the garden behind us, the moles she left by the car and the great personality she had. So long Miss Mama, we’re sad to see you go, but happy you chose to spend a year and a half at Chiot’s Run!

Other posts about Miss Mama
Should I Change the Name?
The Word is Out
Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fur
A Series of Unfortunate Events
In Case You Were Wondering
Not So Feral Anymore
Friday Favorite: the Feline Edition
Not Chickens But They’ll Do

Real Food is the Foundation of Life

February 27th, 2011

Nothing on this planet can grow, live, thrive, or flourish without real food. When we eat real, wholesome, healthy, and natural food, like chicken and vegetable stew, we support every single one of our biological systems at a deep, cellular level and bolster the body’s innate abilities to heal itself and resist disease and degeneration. This holds true for people, plants and animals.

Andi Brown – The Whole Pet Diet

I’ve been reading a few books about cooking for your pet, the one above being my favorite so far. I’ve been wanting to transition our pets to a Real Food diet, so I thought the challenge would be the perfect time to do it.

Lucy already gets homemade food on occasion and she LOVES it. She gets all the venison from the previous year after hunting season fills the freezer with a fresh batch. All the deer offals make it into her bowl as well, she’s particularly fond of these, as are the cats. We also give her raw meaty bones sourced from local pastured beef farm. Lucy is also a big fan of homemade dried squash leather treats and bacon which I make for her.

Even though we feed our pets good quality pet food, it will be interesting to see how the pets do when eating Real Food. I’m sure they’ll be much healthier just like we are when we eat real food instead of processed. We’re also in the process of transitioning Lucy from a synthetic thyroid pill to an herbal one and she seems to be doing much better on it. I think the Real Food diet will really help her with this problem and help her age with fewer problems.

Have you ever made food for your pets?

The Face Behind the Name

February 24th, 2011

People always ask me “What is Chiot’s?” Then I tell them the story of how we went to the local pound to get a dog a few months after we bought this house. We spotted this tiny brown lab mix puppy. We picked her above any of the other puppies because in the pound filled with barking dogs, her mom simply stood in her kennel with her puppies and looked at us, almost begging us to take one of her babies. All the other dogs were barking, jumping up on the kennel fences, and running around their kennels. We knew if this tiny puppy had part of her mom’s personality, she’d be a great dog. We paid $8 for her dog tag, put her in a box, and she rode home on my lap. She spent that night and the next few fighting off Parvo, while we prepared ourselves to lose our first dog only a few days.

Miraculously she pulled through and grew quickly into a rambunctious 70 pound dog that tore around the garden at full speed. We started calling her “Chiots” because her puppy food had that on it, chiots is French for puppy (we pronounce it Chee-oats). Hence the name “Chiot’s Run”.

She’s also lovingly referred to also as: the brown chiots, brownie, the brown one, miss brownie brownstone, the stinky chiots, the luce, limpy (from her injury), flandy and a few others.

Lucy grew into the most wonderful dog. She’s kind and tenderhearted, obedient, and would never hurt a flea. She allows the cats to be dominant in the house, and she even give Miss Mama and Little Softie a wide berth in the garden. She’s gentle as can be, even with our first niece who was a wee baby when when Lucy was a puppy. She has always been good, has never eaten any shoes, torn up anything besides a kleenex, and only had one or two accidents while being potty trained. She once did “prune” one of my clematis vines right before it bloomed. That’s not to say she didn’t give us grief when she was in her puppy stage and full of energy. There is still a brick burring in one part of the garden where she used to LOVE to dig (FIY burying a brick really does work, at least it did with Lucy)

Lucy is going to be turning 9 here in the next few weeks, it’s hard to believe we’ve had her for so long. She’s been living here in this house with us for almost the entire time we’ve lived here. Our nieces and nephew LOVE her as does everyone that ever meets her.

It’s becoming evident that she’s moving into the senior stage in her life. She’s happy to spend her days sunning herself on the front lawn and sleeping by our sides in the office while we work. She no longer has the boundless energy that she used to, and her injury makes it more difficult for her to get around as she gets older.

Did you know where Chiot’s Run came from before this post? Did you ever wonder what a Chiots was?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.