Erin Lemky

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since Mar 12, 2015
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Recent posts by Erin Lemky

Hey Everyone,

My two barn cats went missing while I was stuck indoors very ill. My husband did an excellent job towing the line with everything while I couldn't get out of bed, but he did forget to feed the two barn cats a few days (it's normally my job). They were gone for about two weeks. My favourite cat of all time, the male, returned last night. We gave him loads of cuddles and let him stay indoors until he kept waking us, then let him outside.

The problem is, the female is still missing and I fear the worst. We have a lot of wild predators in our woods (lynx, cougar, bear, coyote...). We have a significant mouse problem without the assistance of cats so I can't delay replacing her. So I've decided to get a kitten. The little guy is arriving tomorrow and I'm wondering if anyone has tips on how to introduce my recently returned male to the kitten. I don't want him to run away again, but I also want the kitten to be safe.

I'm thinking perhaps I can keep the kitten indoors during the day to help him acclimatize to our family. At night I could keep him in our feed barn as he'd be too small to open the cat door, and that way the grown cat still has access to his food, water, and bed, and the kitten can't get hurt outside. Pros/cons/other ideas?

In other news, I'm interested in advice about the relationship between my favourite male cat and our recent puppy addition. The dog is about 5 months old. He's good about hollering alarm if he anticipates predators, and he lives outdoors full time. The problem is he's still playful and wants to pounce around the cats but hasn't shown any signs of being actually dangerous. Unfortunately, just two weeks after we brought him home we had a friend visit with a similar looking but older dog. That dog chased my male cat to the point that I was afraid he was a goner. It was very close, and we weren't able to stop it. The cat now doesn't trust my puppy, though he's done nothing wrong, just looks similar. Anyone have advice on how to help the two become friends?

Thanks permie friends!
5 years ago

Ann Torrence wrote:If you took one of my hens and fed them commercial crap, how long until the egg on the left would match the one on the right?

Ann, what do you feed your chickens? I'm interested in moving from organic feed from the store to a mixture of in-situ forage and food grown on our farm and then stored for feeding over winter, but it's hard to find out what I should grow. Do you grow your own feed?
5 years ago
For what it's worth, they shouldn't damage your veggie garden crops. They mostly defoliate trees, which just grow leaves again the same season. We find it ugly, and gross for picnics when they crawl all over you and your blankets, that's it really. Though I do tire of finding cocoons everywhere. Everywhere.

It's also encouraging to know that they go in cycles. You'll see them for a few years and then the paracites will lower their numbers. It's about a decade cycle with only 3 years of high population. They also don't often nest on the same site for about a decade, so it should't be an annual plague. At least that's what the biologists around here tell us. (BC, Canada)
5 years ago
Wow, you guys are amazing, I love! Thanks for all the excellent ideas.

I've been mulling it all over and we've done a lot of standing in various parts of the yard, examining the land. It feels daunting at times, staring at the blank slate with so much promise. It's also a relatively flat piece of land, and in the past we've had to work with more variation in terrain, which made it easier to know where to put things because the land limited us. Now there are almost too many possibilities!

Thanks for all the ideas and links, and we always welcome more.
Thanks Justin! I looked into my source further and learned that it's not real kefir grains that I bought, but rather a powdered "starter" that you cook to make a single batch. Kefir grains don't grow from it. I'll see if I can find kefir grains locally, but if not, thanks for your offer to send some! I'll let you know!
5 years ago
Thank you, Rose Lee, that was an excellent read.
5 years ago
Hi Everyone,

Most of the time when I read about permaculture gardening, there are mentions of - or photos of - the gardens with circular patterns almost always used instead of rows or patches. Can someone explain that to me or share some good links?

I understand the value of polyculture and crop rotations, but it seems to me that straight rows of intermixed crops would be much easier to grow and harvest. Is there something I'm missing?

Scale wise, I'm upgrading from gardening vegetables for our own consumption to a market garden now that we've moved to an acreage. So hundreds of feet by hundreds of feet this year, and we're entirely growing our veggies on an area that we're converting from (untreated) lawn into garden via sheet mulching.

Thanks for any advice!
Hi there,

I bought kefir starter from the refrigerated section of the local health food store. The instructions say to heat it in milk to make kefir, but all of the instructions I'm finding online indicate that if I want to grow them as kefir grains I should rehydrate them on the counter in milk, replacing the milk every 24 hours for 3-7 days.

The problem I'm having is that at the first 24 hour point when I was supposed to replace the milk, I couldn't find the grains in the milk. So I strained the milk through a sterilized cotton t-shirt and am hoping for the best - that the kefir grains are still in the thick white slurry at the bottom of the jar.

Day 2, the new milk smells wonderful like buttermilk and is completely thickened. Again, I strained it through the cloth but can't find the grains. This time I'm just adding new milk in the hopes of not washing the tiny grains out into the milk discard (that I'm fed my chickens on day 1, no wasting of course!)

So the question is, has anyone come across this before? Am I doing something wrong? And when will my grains be big enough to see?

An aside: can I personally drink the discard milk as I rehydrate the grains? I've only heard of feeding it to chickens but don't understand why I couldn't have it when it smells and tastes good.

Thanks everyone!
5 years ago