Gardens, Dogs, and Toxicity…

We decided to fence our garden (but not fragment the deer trail!) It wasn’t because of critters in the garden; well, at least not wildlife. Some of our tomato, bean, and pepper plants were destroyed by “country dogs” (dogs with owners and homes but are allowed to roam.)

After cleaning up the fifth pile of poop for the day in our garden area, I thought about fencing. Besides poop, after all, we had destroyed plants. We are dog people so I panicked and told the dogs’ owners that their dogs may/may not have ingested poisonous plants in our garden.

We thought we would revisit a list of common poisonous plants, some of which are found in a garden. This list was composed by CCSPCA.

  1. Sago palm
  2. Tomato, pepper, eggplant, and potato plants (tomatoes were the only one listed, but the others are in the same nightshade family.)
  3. Aloe Vera
  4. Ivy
  5. Amaryllis
  6. Gladiola
  7. American Holly
  8. Daffodil
  9. Baby’s Breath
  10. Milkweed
  11. Castor Weed
  12. Azalea/Rhododendron
  13. Tulips
  14. Chrysanthemum
  15. Begonia
  16. Oleander

Each of these plants have different medical needs so before inducing vomiting, call your Veterinarian. Some Veterinarians are unaware of the toxicity of some of these plants so ask them to call ASPCA Poison Control. You can also call ASPCA Poison Control, but there could be a charge.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.

One goal down for 2021

One of my biggest challenges has been baking bread. I know, some of you are thinking, “what’s so difficult about that?” but it seems even with my scientist brain, all the right, clean tools, the yeast didn’t activate or the kneading was too much (by hand!) I made it a goal in 2021 to be able to bake bread. So why start with something basic like a loaf?

Instead, I opted for cinnamon rolls.

I gathered all of my supplies and ingredients. I washed all of my bowls and utensils and dried them, just to be safe. And I checked the date on the yeast we had. I was disappointed to see some we had bought April 2020 had actually expires October 2019 (eventually I will learn to check dates.) Luckily, I had several back-ups, all expiring in 2022.

And I started. I went through four batches of yeast as it would not activate. The temp of the warm milk was 112° so that wasn’t it. I was about to give up when I said, “no…I can do this.” And I did.

Fast forward…

After using almost every dish and utensil in our home…success…

Yeah, I should have trimmed my dough first so I had nice, neat, 12 rolls, but I’m a realist. I called my two ends “rustic rolls.”

Needless to say, they turned out great. However, a lesson was learned: I have the skill TO bake bread, but if just doesn’t bring me the joy I get from baking other things. I’ll gladly barter for home-baked bread though.

One goal down! Let’s move onto another.

$5 for eggs??

I recently had someone ask me, “why should I buy your eggs over ones from the grocery store that I can get for $2/dozen?”

After explaining some differences, she walked away with two dozen eggs from our homestead.

First off, I will say that the eggs our ladies produce are graded as Grade AA large brown eggs. Eggs are graded based on visual appearance of the shell, the yolk and white, the strength of the shell, and weight of the egg. You can find more in-depth information on egg grading here.

The ladies, or the Hey-Heys as we call them, spend a large majority of their day roaming around a field, digging, scratching, eating grass and other plants, insects and worms. They are kept in their yard if we are doing something, and they go in their coop (“house,” The Mother Cluckin’ Eggship) at night.

A chicken’s diet directly correlates to the eggs they produce. The eggs produced by ours are much better in quality than Store-Bought eggs. Not only that, but they are more nutritious as what they eat and benefit from, so do we.

For a bit more information on the differences, I put together this video.

Grow what you sow.

Last year, 2020, seed suppliers saw a massive uptick in people buying seeds and gardening. It was a combination of people sheltering in place and others concerned about our food supply due to shortages at the grocery store.

We bought basic seeds, and we successfully grew tomatoes, beans, peppers, squash, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, and beets. It was enough to supplement our meals, and we were able to put some up as well. We scored a great deal on a pressure canner, too!

In December we realized some of our seeds needed to start mid-January (indoors) and so we bought our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, American Meadows, and Michigan Bulb.

We are glad we did! Just yesterday we saw posts on social media from some of the seed suppliers talking about shutting down their websites for a few days to catch up on order processing. Other suppliers were already OUT of seeds for 2021. Others are out of pre-sale fruit trees and won’t have any until 2022!

The moral of the story, if you plan on growing what you sow…… find seeds now.

Sawing into the new year…

There wasn’t any rain in the forecast today so we started making the most of it. Besides adding to and turning our compost pile, we started building more raised beds.

The benefit of raised beds is that you can use whatever you want to build them (except treated lumber and some hardwoods.) We opted to use the trunks left from some clearing we did to improve wildlife habitat (more on that in another post later.)

Do logs break down? Yes.

Will they do so quickly? That depends on a few things: type, moisture, heat, location, age, health of tree, etc.

We chose the trunks because we had them on hand, and when they do break down, they will become part of the soil anyways. After some notches and planning, we started our first bed.

We will have several more along the way, but Andrew’s sinuses were congested making him woozy and cloudy. Safety first: no chainsaw work with THAT!

But we’re off to a good start!

2021.

I’m not making any resolutions for 2021. I looked back at 2020, and I am just going to keep doing the things that bring me and us joy and positive waves. I am going to stop doing things that don’t. The biggest thing I’ve learned in 2020 is that time is, indeed, precious and unpredictable. Things can do a 180° in a matter of a minute (or three minutes in our case this year.) Do what brings you joy and love. You get what you give so I’m going to make sure I give love and peace and time.

About Us

Welcome to our homestead. Ours is a unique homestead in that we live with nature versus against it. Our homestead is situated on six acres in the Appalachian foothills of Northwest Georgia. We (Andrew and Shelby Register) along with our dogs and our menagerie of animals call The Preserve at Uppsala our home. We have worked on and have traveled the United States and have seen the damage traditional agricultural practices have done to the ecosystems in which they exist. The soil is dry and depleted of nutrients to the extent that chemical nutrients have to be applied; livestock is often removed by physical or lethal means; native trees and plants are wiped clear to make room for crops and livestock operations. We decided to step away from the more commercial type of farms and farming methods and focus on methods that would work with nature and the landscape versus against it while also becoming more resilient and self-sufficient.

Some examples of methodology that we use or intend to use include the following:

  • Rainwater collection to irrigate the gardens
  • Planting sacrifice gardens for wild animals and pest control
  • Planting wildlife gardens to support songbirds, mammals, reptiles, and insects
  • No-till garden method using organic compost and local mulch (often from some trees on the property)
  • Use of OMRI-approved pesticides versus traditional chemicals
  • Retain rotten / old trees on the property for bird habitat
  • Leave 75% of nuts and berries on the trees and bushes (or on the ground after they have fallen) to provide sustenance for wildlife
  • Responsible harvesting of livestock for food supply; using ALL of the animal

2021 Plans

2020 was a challenge for everyone around the world, and it continues to be a challenge as we all face something we’ve never faced before: a worldwide pandemic. Nonetheless, time moves on, and so are we!

Our plans for 2021 include the following:

  • Build our home on top of the hill
  • Plant a vegetable garden, fruit garden, and orchards
  • Build a barn to house Nigerian dwarf and Oberhalsi goats and American chinchilla rabbits
  • Produce homemade crafts and goods for sale at the local farmer’s market