Tag Archives: Belle

New Normal

The house is strangely silent. There are no jingling dog tags behind me. No crunching of kibble while Little Mister sleeps. No sniffling of the spring air through the windows. No zipping of the dog run.

I no longer have to hold the door open behind me when I step outside. Snapping my fingers after putting Little Mister to bed is no longer a call sign. Rope toys no longer threaten to tangle themselves up in the vacuum.

It’s going to take this homestead a long time to get used to the new normal.

Our darling daughter, co-farmer, and protector lost her year long battle with what we believe to have been cancer.

Rest in peace, Belle. We’ll miss you more than you ever know.

I love pillows

Snap-Shot Cleaning: Kitchen

One area of any house that tends to get ridiculously cluttered and falls behind in being kept up in the kitchen. While previously in Jacks’ room I gave myself 30 minutes, I made sure that this time I gave myself a good chunk of time, 45 minutes to be exact. I broke the cleaning down into 15 minute spurts to make it more manageable and to allow myself to take photos at each quarter hour mark as a way to tell whether or not I was truly making progress. For the sake of saving space, I’ll only post the before and after pictures here.

The “before” photos are on the left, with “after”s on the right and below the “before”s.

Amount of time spent cleaning: 45 minutes

There was a lot of little things that went into cleaning the kitchen, as is always the case. I feel a little odd that the “after” photo still has a load of dishes in the rack and the tea set drying on the table, but I really didn’t feel I needed to put in yet another chunk of time into the kitchen for the day. While I might not be able to list everything I did off the top of my head, here’s what I can recall doing:

  • Washed three loads of dishes.
  • Dried two loads of dishes.
  • Washed new tea set.
  • Took care of piles that had been building on chairs.
  • Cleaned window sill and placed pumpkins closer to the window.
  • Cleaned the top of the butcher block and reorganized.
  • Compiled and reorganized recycling.
  • Cleaned larger tea kettle.
  • Washed counter tops.
  • Took care of stuff that was on the table.
  • Took care of towel used to drying Belle yesterday.
  • Took care of blocking board for knitting.
  • Took care of the left over gift wrap from the holidays.
  • Fixed Belle’s and Ashes’ bowls and fed them lunch.
  • Found a home for the returnables.
  • Washed table.
  • Removed coupons from fridge and put them in coupon book.
  • Placed new magnet calendar on the fridge.
  • Cleaned off the pile on the printer.
  • Swept the kitchen floor.

With any luck, if I spend about fifteen minutes in the kitchen each day, aside from doing dishes, I should be able to keep it tidy and possibly work on further organization.

Family Fat Camp

So it seems as though a good chunk of us here need to lose a little pudge in the Raymond family. Jacks, the mini-rex, has a bit of a dew-lap that could be smaller; Ashes has no waist to speak of; Belle eats for exercise I think; I just need to lose about 20 lbs to hit my goal.

Jacks (mini-rex)

I’ve noticed that with Jacks, there seems to be a downturn of his energy levels if i cut off pellets, so temporarily, he’s on 1/8th of a cup of pellets in the morning and 1/8th at night, totaling to only 1/4 cup. I’ve also increased his hay dramatically. I now give him a new handful morning, noon, and night, instead of just at night. This is outrageously important since rabbits need a constant flow of hay to keep their digestive track stable.

Belle(Border-Collie mix)

I think the key thing right now with Belle is to increase her activity level. We’re getting more gutsy with leaving her off the leash when we’re outside, so stick fetching (one of her favorite activities) may end up happening a bit more often. Also, we need to keep a better eye on her food consumption. One thing that may actually help is what we’re going to try to do for Ashes, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

Her “walks,” which are just loops around the house, will be increased. When we first got her, we took her on daily one-mile walks, but she seemed to be getting stiff, and not knowing if she has arthritis or not, we did not want to take any chances, and cut back on the walks on the road; the impact of the non-giving tar on the road can severely damage joints after a while.

Ashes (Maine coon cat mix)

Right now, Ashes is my main concern. We did not realize how bad he was getting until I looked down at him the other day and realized he was almost the same width as Belle. I’m putting him as around 19 lbs right now. He really needs to lose about three. I’ve been doing a lot of reading the past couple days and have come up with what Joe and I feel is a pretty good plan.

Ashes has been getting for food….

* 1 cup of Iams Weightloss (dry) split into three meals a day

* 3 – 5 tartar control treats in the morning

Now, the dry food suggests that you feed 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 a day to maintain weight for a 16 lb. cat, and 1 1/4 to lose weight. He’s been on the 1 cup “diet” for close to a year now. Granted, he is getting older and went through a very lethargic period when we got Belle, but he’s gained a lot of weight. About two months ago we tried him on a more “natural” food with no corn — he ballooned up. I think that the rice fillers in the food was the main culprit. Regardless, we’re back to the Iams, but we’re going to try a few adjustments.

In trying to find a way to increase Ashes’ protein from meat and decrease his protein from plant matter, I spent some time looking at wet foods at the local grocery store. There were a few points I was looking for:

– Max crude protein – This should be at least 8% and should be primarily from meat. You can base that off from the ingredients.

– Max crude fiber – Should be considerably lower than crude protein, especially if you also feed dry food, as that has a lot of fiber.

– Max ash content – This should be as minimal as possible. After all, do you want to be eating ash?

– No “for pet consumption only” labels or anything in that regard. To me, if I’m feeding my animal food, it better be something that my future children could consume without me having a heart attack.

In looking at a wide assortment of grocery store carried wet foods, I decided I might also check out Agway’s selection at some point, but that’s neither here nor there. The wet food that I did decide to go with? Surprisingly, Fancy Feast Appetizers. Let me start by stating that for one, these little things are mislabeled. In no way should this be an addition to your cat’s regular meal — it should be one of the meals. (A rant for another time is that we Americans tend to fatten up our animals the same way we fatten up ourselves. We add snacks to meals, instead of creating it into the meal and adjusting our portions. ) The ingredients were very minimal with no artificial anythings and no filler. You can see that it literally is just meat in a sauce. The greatest thing is, with how picky he is on wet food, he loved it!

The game plan is thus…

* 3/4 cup of Iams Weightloss dry food a day split into four meals

* One 2 oz. serving of wet food a day as a meal

This doesn’t seem like much fo a change, but the trick is to eventually get him to a half and half diet, or all the way to wet food with dry as a supplement, the reverse of right now. We will have to keep an eye out, however, to make sure he does lose too much weight too quickly.


Don’t bake so much this winter and keep going on my walks…even if it’s cold out!


Well, I noticed that we haven’t done much here in the way of updates, and for that I apologize. Things have been a little hectic with the wedding, post-wedding aftermath, winterizing, Samhain, and everything else that tends to crop up during this time of year. Not to mention that just yesterday we had to have roughly $600.00 worth of work done to the furnace. Not sure how we’ll pay that yet, but we’ll get there.

In more personal news, I have decided to go back to school this spring for my Master’s. I love that Joe is behind me 100% on this. I can’t help but feel from trepidation over it all, since it ment leaving my steady and predictable job of Title I ed. tech. to become a substitute teacher for two districts (and I might have to pick up a third if I can’t get the ball rolling on freelance writing).

However, I do have to say that it’s been nice being able to get stuff done around the house and to be able to cook again, meaning less money spent on food. Now, with the holidays of Yule and Christmas coming up, it’ll be even nicer that I can put time into making gifts this year. I think I might even throw caution to the wind and make something for Mom, Dad, and Peter. (There’s a personal paranoia there that they won’t appreciate the homemade gifts.)

In the animal kingdom, Belle (border collie) and Ashes (Maine coon cat) are starting to get along very well. Belle’s even tried to initiate playtime with Ashes, who in turn just looks at her as if she’s lost her marbles. Unfortunately, Ashes has gained a lot of weight since going to the all-natural food, so we’ve had to swap him back to the IAMS Weight Loss formula. Hopefully that and more exercise can trim him back down. Given the heart problems that Maine coon cats are susceptible to, carrying extra weight isn’t really a good thing for him.