Saturday, February 13, 2016


Weeds.... Almost every yard gets them. They are mostly a pain. Getting rid of them is not easy and usually requires the liberal use of chemicals. I am generally opposed to using chemicals in the yard of any kind.

I recently found through Pinterest a very effective way to naturally kill weeds. Now, this method is only effective in areas where you intend to kill all the green you spray.  If your weeds are in the lawn, the grass around the weeds will also die.

We have a back yard devoid of any grass. There was grass planted there when we moved in, but I don't think it was a suitable variety for a shaded, yet hot and humid area. It died little by little. Now we have what I refer to as a lovely "dog scaped" yard... There is nothing of any real value growing on the ground. It is mostly dirt, leaves and areas of rock and gravel.

Each year I get some kind of weed like ground cover which I do not know the name of. It's actually kind of pretty. Gets little flowers in it and grows nicely dense and doesn't seem to mind being walk on my man or beast. I'd leave it to grow if it weren't for the "other" things that inevitably start growing in there as well. The space it to large to want to weed the weeds! So I go for total kill! Nicely of course...

Since the yard has dogs in it throughout the day, any type of chemical is out the question for me. What I found to use is awesome! Cheap, easy and totally pet safe!!!

It's a simple solution of cheap white vinegar, Epsom salts and dish soap.  

1 Gallon Vinegar
1/2 Cup Epsom Salt
Squirt of Dish Soap (I use Dawn)

I bought one of these last year and SOOOOO glad I did..

I just put all the ingredients in the container, screw on the top, which locks in place when not being pumped, and give it a swirl. I usually let it sit for a few minutes to let the Epsom salts dissolve, but I don't find this takes a long time.. just swirl a bit and you are good to go! All you have to do is pump pressure in the tank and then spray. I find this one to work great! If I can pump it... ANYONE can! It sprays for a nice long while before needing to be re-pumped.

I usually make two gallons at a time so I can do the whole yard. You want to do this on a day when it's going to be sunny. I spray in the morning and then leave it.

Your yard WILL smell like vinegar! This goes away after a day or two and is only really noticeable during the warmer part of the day.

The first photo is of the lovely ground cover before being sprayed. Yes, it looks kind of cool, but a closer look would show all kinds assorted evil just dying to burst forth.

This is after only ONE day! I will probably do this again in a week or so depending on how well I got everything in round one. It usually takes me more than one time, but twice is about all I normally have to do to get everything under control.

I have one consideration with this process and I time it so to make less of an issue out of it is... soap of any kind will kill bugs/insects etc. This is usually a good thing, BUT we use beneficial nematodes in our yard as a very effective flea and insect control. Any pesticide include insecticidal soaps will damage the microscopic little guys! 

I am doing this weed treatment BEFORE putting out new nematodes for the year. We usually refresh them yearly. Since winter is relatively mild here, we probably have a reasonable amount that survive the cooler weather, but I like to add new ones just to be on the safe side. We will be adding our nematodes in the next month or so.

I will do a whole post on beneficial insects soon. We use a variety of fun stuff!!

That is all for today! Till next time...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Subtleties in Natural Labeling

I've been on a mission to get as natural as possible for my family and my critters. It's a process. Layer by layer. You really can't change EVERYTHING overnight. For the critters, they have little choice beyond protesting to eat what they are offered. So far, no protests have been waged. 

I am mindful of what I am giving them and hope they find it all palatable. I figure they will tell me they don't like it by not eating it should that be an issue.

My current issue is with dog shampoo.. seems innocent enough right? I thought if you bought something labeled natural, that is what you were getting. I will admit I didn't even read the label all the closely. I figured a brand known for natural products would be NATURAL...

Here is a link to a great article in Dogs Naturally Magazine about ingredients that SHOULDN'T be in your dog's shampoo. It can be a bit confusing with all the chemical names. I actually just googled some of the ingredients on the shampoos I had since they looked similar, but not exact to the ones on the list. Turns out they were the same types of thing... (This all makes me want to start looking at what I'm slathering on my own head and body!..One step at a time!)

Why does this matter???.. animals, just like people, absorb things through their skin. This is why topical flea treatments are offered. They don't just work on the outside, they are absorbed into the body. I am NOT a fan of these or flea collars or any other chemical flea treatment. Yes, I have used them at times in the past, but only when absolutely necessary and I am taking as much of preventive approach as possible now to hopefully NEVER revisit them again.  (I will do a post on natural flea prevention and what we use soon)

Back to shampoo...

Today I threw out over a half dozen different bottles of dog shampoo.. Several were labeled "natural".. I have ordered a new version online from the website I get my dog/cat food and other supplies from called (LOVE these guys! )

I am hopeful about the shampoo since I have bought dog treats etc. from the same manufacturer and liked what was in them. I did have a hard time finding a list of ingredients for the shampoo, but I think this one checks out well.

I am ordering supplies to make some of my own DIY Dog Shampoo. I'll share that recipe once I get the supplies and take it for a test drive.

I did some research looking for a recipe and found lots of ideas, but most recommended using soaps that contained the same ingredients I was trying to get away from in the so called "natural" dog shampoos. I have to admit once I started looking at ingredients in brands likes Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation, which I always thought were REALLY good, the products started looking a little LESS natural than they'd like you to think they are. I am sure they are a better option than most mass produced brands, but under a magnifying glass things start getting a little blurry.

I'll update later about my homemade shampoo experiment!  I KNOW I have test subjects just DYING to try it out!!!

One last thing about They are awesome! I buy all of my dog food, cat food, kitty litter, treats and "other" items from here. It is shipped FREE.. I have an Auto Ship set up, they email me a week prior to my shipment so I can adjust, delay etc. I change my order EVERY month!!! But I always get free shipping since I am feeding a few critters, I never run out, I don't have to go to the pet store and lug around heavy bags of food, litter etc.. and... Its' CHEAPER!!! Always! Comes to the door in 3-4 days after shipping via Fedex. All I have to do is drag the boxes in the house.

The price on the dog food I get fluctuates a little, but is consistently $10-20 cheaper per bag than PetSmart or Petco! (I do buy BIG bags!) Kitty litter isn't a huge savings, but it comes right to the door and THAT saves me having to go get it!!! Each month seems to be a little different for me, so I love that I can adjust the order and still get the auto-ship discount. This month I ordered PUPPY food!!!! I had to get some of what they are currently feeding the puppies and a bag of what we will be feeding him to transition. I know they will send some with him, but transitioning should be done slowly. This little guy will have a few new things to get used to so I want to move slow with food changes..

That is all for today! Till next time...

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Over the years several of the dogs we have had experienced problems with repeated ear infections. Quinn, our Golden who passed last year had a really big problem with them. It got to the point we had a standing prescription for gentamicin from our veterinarian so we didn't have to go in EVERY TIME he got another flair up.

I was getting tired of medicating him and wasn't fond of the list of side effects, especially the one that suggested long term use could cause hearing loss.. ugh!

So I set about to find an alternative. I came across an enzymatic ear solution on Amazon which claimed to be highly effective for ear infections. I read it.. My medical husband read it and we decided it couldn't hurt to try.

The product is called Zymox Enzymatic Ear Solution with 0.5 % Hydrocortisone. I have to say it worked wonders! I didn't have to use the prescription ear medication again! Quinn did still get occasional ear infections, but less frequently and this worked in the same time frame as the RX.. Not to mention cost less!

They also have an ear cleaning solution you can use for routine care, but it's not intended to be used at the same time as treatment.

Both of these products are available on Amazon. I can't say the dogs LOVE having the stuff put into their ears, but they like the little massage that they get with it. That is usually followed by running around like a fool, rubbing your head on the floor, couch or whatever seems best at that moment. This last for a few minutes and we have a treat and calm returns to life.

Here is a recipe for an ear cleaning solution. I have not yet used this solution myself. It was recommended on a Great Pyrenees forum I belong to.

Ear Cleaning Solution

8 oz. Witch Hazel or Rubbing Alcohol
2 Tbsp. Boric Acid (pharmacy or Amazon)
8 drops Gentian Violet Essential Oil

Mix all ingredients together. Place in a small dropper bottler.

To use place several drops in ear, close ear, massage. Try and keep ear closed a few minutes. Release dog, allow to shake clean excess from ear with a cotton ball. 

Till next time!