Monthly Archives: April 2013

Doug’s Transition Back to Health with CVHR

Can I get a round of applause for the hard work and dedication of CVHR’s founders, volunteers, and supporters? Check out Doug now! Here he is the image of a happy, healthy horse ready to learn his job in the world. Doug has been evaluated under saddle now and he was an absolute gentleman!

Doug CVHR rescue horse

Doug April 2013

Doug has come a LONG way since his arrival to Central Virginia Horse Rescue. Doug is not the first horse to come to the rescue in such poor condition, and he won’t be the last. Thankfully, the good people at CVHR know how to rehabilitate horses incredibly well. This rescue truly gives every horse taken in another lease on life. Check out Doug’s transition over the past several months below:

Doug CVHR rescue horse

Doug’s transition back to health

I support CVHR because I can see the difference this organization makes every day. You can literally see your donations at work as horses are rehabbed, trained, and eventually adopted out into loving forever homes. Thanks for all that you do, CVHR!

Want to help the horses at CVHR? Donations are very much appreciated! Donate to CVHR via PayPal at or via snail mail to 389 Boydton Plank Road, Brodnax, VA 23920.


Stretching the Iliotibial Band

Since my leg has been feeling usable again, I’ve been researching ways to stretch the iliotibial band. Since it is such a large band, it can be tough to get a really good stretch.

Boy, it sure feels awesome when you find that perfect stretch though! I’ve been using the IT band stretch and the bum stretches for my hip pain. It really makes a difference in my day if I start out with these stretches.

The link below is the original page I found these stretches. It is illustrated with cute little stick figures! I thought I could show you the IT band stretches a little better with actual photos though.


IT Band Stretch

Stand on one leg and lean sideways away from that hip. You can put your other leg in front crossways for balance.

Bum Stretch 1

While lying down on your back, cross one leg over the other. Pull the lower leg up towards your chest.

Bum Stretch 2

Sit with one leg bent and cross the other leg over. Press the hip of the crossed leg downwards to stretch.

Just a Lil’ DIY Fire Pit

outdoor fireplace camp fire pit

Our bonfire area

The hubby and I built this awesome area for our bonfires! They seem to be pretty frequent this year, so we finally made an official outdoor fire area. It was fun making this area together and it was very easy and free!

Eddie cut a fallen pine into 3 foot sections to use as benches around the fire. They’re great! The rocks around the fire pit were found around the yard, woods, and the creek. We’re planning on building the rocks up into a more stable wall with some kind of cement or grout soon. For now, the rocks contain the fire and help give it stability.

I just love this spot in our yard now! I’m thinking about adding some mulch or pebbles around it to define the space better. There are so many things we could do with it! Do you have a favorite DIY outdoor area? What is it and how did you build it?

Iliotibial Band Syndrome = No fun!

Remember a few months ago when I posted about my bum knee? Well, I wanted to share the cause of my problem. Hopefully some of this information can help another person experiencing knee pain!

I found some great information at the link below. Check it out!

Iliotibial Band – A common source of hip and/or knee pain.

My pain was caused by ITB Syndrome. It’s often associated with runners, but apparently horseback riding and even walking can cause it. Basically, it’s an overuse injury. The pain can be excruciating.


The IT Band is illustrated in red                                        (Photo credit: fickleandfreckled)

A few weeks ago, the knee pain finally subsided (it only took 4 months). I wasn’t very happy when it was soon replaced with hip pain on the other end of the iliotibial band. Apparently the inflammation can occur at both joints it connects to. Thankfully they don’t both hurt at the same time!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on stretching and strengthening exercises. Once the inflammation starts to go down (this can take quite a bit of time), you can work on relaxing the IT band with stretches. The condition can also be treated by strengthening surrounding muscles. ITB Syndrome is often caused by muscle imbalances in the legs.

I’m going to try to post something soon that illustrates the different stretches you can try to relieve IT band tightness. I’ve also found that massage works great! My wonderful husband has spent many evenings trying to massage the tension out. He’s the best! ❤

ITB Syndrome can also be caused by a gait disorder. I’m not sure what caused mine, but I’m going to do my best to stretch and strengthen my leg back into condition.

Do you have ITB Syndrome? What have you done to relieve the pain and tension?

Raw Meat Diet for Your Dogs?

Wolves eat raw meat and bones as the main source of their diets. What about our domestic dogs? Genetically, dogs and wolves are practically identical. Heck, my dogs hunt voles, rats, squirrels, and even birds down all the time! Stray domestic dogs hunt and scavenge anything they can find to eat and survive, too–including raw meats and animal carcasses.

Would you feed your dog a diet of raw meat, bones, and forage? The article below considers the issue.

The Raw Diet for Dogs | Marks Daily Apple.

I’ve found that two of my dogs, Malachite and Bandit, have some kind of allergy to several commercial dog foods. Their skin gets dry and itchy and their fur turns coarse and wiry. Sometimes we’ll be feeding the same thing for months before they have a reaction, other times it is as soon as they start eating it.

Meet my puppies!

sandy yellow lab

Sandy (yellow lab)

sage german shepherd lab mix

Mama Sage (Sable German shepherd X yellow lab)

butters german shepherd yellow lab mix

Big Brother Butters (Sable German shepherd X yellow lab)

malachite german shepherd lab mix

Daddy Malachite (Sable German shepherd X yellow lab)

bandit german shepherd yellow lab mix

Little Brother Bandit (Sable German shepherd X yellow lab)

Corn, soy, gluten, chemicals, preservatives, and lots of other ingredients in commercial dog food can be troublesome to sensitive dogs. I’ve also heard of popular brands being recalled for making dogs get very sick and die all across the nation. Plus, the hubub about GMO corn and soy is enough to make anyone want to go organic.

We usually supplement our dogs’ dry food with leftovers, raw fresh fruits and veggies (like apples and carrots), rice, and olive oil. I think this helps keep them healthier and they certainly appreciate the taste!

german shepherd lab mix sleeping

Malachite snoozing with my niece

german shepherd lab mix

Butters and me

We often buy “soup bones” at the grocery store for them. My mom used to get these for our dogs when I was a kid, too. They are usually cow or pork bone with marrow and sometimes even a little meat left on the bone. The dogs LOVE them.

Mom likes to cook hers, but I leave ours raw. The marrow cooks out and the bone splinters easier when you boil them. Plus, I always figured it would be fine raw because…well, wolves and coyotes chew on raw bones and survive. Our dogs also get dewormed and vaccinated regularly, so I’m not worried about them getting “something” from the raw bones.

german shepherd lab mix

The boys hanging out in the snow

german shepherd yellow lab mixes

They loved hanging out in the snow

german shepherd lab mix

Bandit, Malachite, and Butters out in the snow with the kids

german shepherd lab mixes

Sleeping brothers Butters and Bandit

Anyway, I’ve been seriously considering this raw diet “fad.” There seems to be pros and cons on both sides, but  my intuition tells me that natural is healthier. What do you think? Would you give the raw diet a try with your dogs?

CVHR Spring Hay Fundraiser

central virginia horse rescue dollar hay fundraiser


Don’t you wish they did? LOL Sometimes I do! Horses are expensive to feed and maintain. Central Virginia Horse Rescue has kicked off their Spring Hay Fundraiser with this funny picture! Donations can be sent via snail mail to CVHR at 389 Boydton Plank Road, Brodnax, VA 23920 or via PayPal to .

If everyone who sees this sent $1 to CVHR, they would have enough hay to feed the rescue horses for a year! A dollar isn’t much and every little bit will help feed the horses. Now, off to find a stamp… 🙂

Companion Planting and Garden Planning

This year my garden is going to be totally different than it has ever been. Instead of making rows of vegetables, I’m growing my garden in small patches. Each patch will contain groups of companion plants that aid each other. I’ve been planning this since last year when my garden went kaput!

In addition to small companion patches, I’m adding flowers into each patch. Flowers are beneficial because they attract good garden bugs and cover the ground space, leaving less room for weeds to grow.

black eyed susans, marigolds, nasturtium, and lavender

Flowers are great for your garden!

Flowers in a vegetable garden? Sounds crazy, I know! I’m hoping that the end result is both beautiful and functional. I’m planning on planting marigolds, yarrow, black-eyed susans, daisies, asters, echinacea, lavender, and sunflowers! Hopefully they will do their job attracting ladybugs, hoever flies, lacewings, and wasps to the garden. Those insects are great at keeping garden pests at bay.

painted daisies, echinacea, asters

More wonderful flowers to keep your garden healthy

So what plants go well together? I’m so glad you asked! Here is what I’ve determined are good companion plants based on gardening experience and research into the topic. I have not included beans or peas because we don’t plant them here.

  • Asparagus should be planted near basil, parsley, tomatoes, and marigolds
  • Cabbage can be planted near celery, chard, cucumber, lettuce, onion, potatoes, spinach, chamomile  garlic, catnip, hyssop, rosemary, sage, dill, mint (in a container!), nasturtium, tansy, and thyme
  • Carrots go well with lettuce, onion, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, chives, rosemary, and sage
  • Celery likes to be near cabbage, tomatoes, chives, garlic, and nasturtium
  • Chard should be planted near cabbage and onions
  • Corn does well next to cucumbers, melons, parsley, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, marigolds, white geraniums, and pigweed
  • Cucumber can be planted near cabbage, corn, radishes, tomatoes, marigolds, nasturtium, oregano, and tansy
  • Eggplant does well near peppers and marigolds
  • Lettuce likes to be near cabbage, carrots, onions, radishes, strawberries, chives, cucumbers, and garlic
  • Melons do well near corn, pumpkin, radishes, squash, marigolds, nasturtium, and oregano
  • Onions can be planted close to cabbage, carrots, chard, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, chamomile, summer savory, pigweed, and sow thistle
  • Parsley makes a great companion to asparagus, corn, and tomato
  • Peppers go near carrots, eggplants, onion, and tomatoes
  • Potatoes can be planted near cabbage, corn, eggplant, horseradish(very good at 4 corners of potato bed), sunflowers, and marigolds
  • Pumpkins like to be near corn, melon, squash, marigolds, nasturtium, and oregano
  • Spinach does great near cabbage, strawberries, and eggplant
  • Squash should go by corn, melons, pumpkins, borage, marigold, nasturtium, and oregano
  • Strawberries love it near lettuce, onion, spinach, thyme, and borage
  • Tomatoes are good near asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumber, onion, parsley, peppers, basil, bee balm, chives, mint, borage, and marigolds
  • Broccoli can go near onion, dill, sage, and peppermint
  • Cauliflower likes to be near onion, peppermint, sage, and thyme
  • Chives should be planted near onion and cabbage
  • Eggplant does well by peppers and lettuce
  • Marigolds can be added near basil, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and melons
  • Catnip helps pumpkins and squash
  • Lavender aids cabbage and cauliflower
companion planting

My garden plan sketch

This year, my garden will have four patches of companion plants. Here is what I’m planning:

1. Strawberries, spinach, lettuce, eggplant, cilantro, cucumber, marigold, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, onion, chives, and lavender

companion plants

2. Corn, sunflowers, squash, cantelope, watermelon, pumpkin, catnip, oregano, parsley, marigold, nasturtium, lettuce, carrot, onion, chives, cucumbers

companion plants

3. Potatoes, cucumbers, marigolds, cabbage, chives, lavender, sunflowers, corn, echinacea

companion plants

4. Tomatoes, asparagus, cilantro, zucchini, parsley, okra, peppers, eggplant, carrot, onion, and marigolds

companion plants

We don’t plant beans of any kind because Eddie is allergic to all fava beans. Even the pollen from bean plants can cause a reaction, so we keep them out of our gardens.

seedlings for companion patch garden

Seeds I started have begun to sprout!


Baby strawberry plants!

onion seedlings

Onions are sprouting up too!

I’m so excited to see how everything does! Are you doing a garden this year? What does it look like?

Nutrient Deficiencies: Look at the Leaves!

Ever wonder why your plants‘ leaves are turning funny colors or just not looking so good? Me too! I found this informative article all about how to identify nutrient deficiencies in plants. If you have a garden, you should definitely check it out!

Identifying Nutrient Deficiencies in the Garden | ECHO Community Gardens – ECHO.

Basically, you need to keep an eye on your garden and really pay attention to the condition of the leaves on your plants. You should be looking at the old leaves, new leaves, leaf edges, and even the veins in the leaves!

Once you identify which nutrients your plants are lacking, you can fix the problem by applying fertilizer or other things to the soil around your plants.

I recommend using a nice, rich organic compost in your garden. If you aren’t able to make your own, you can buy bagged compost at most garden centers.

Deficiencies you can observe in your plants’ leaves:

Identify deficiencies in your plants by looking at the leaves!

  • Not enough nitrogen presents as yellowing of the leaves from the bottom of the plant to the top. The leaves will look pale throughout the plant and the yellowing will begin on the outer edges of the leaves.
  • Too little phosphorus can make leaf tips look burnt and leaves closer to the bottom of the plant may turn dark green to reddish purple.
  • Older leaves on the bottom of the plant will begin to look wilted and scorched if you have a potassium deficiency. You may also notice the leaves losing color from the base of the leaf inward from leaf margins.
  • If calcium is lacking, you’ll noticed newer leaves at the top looking distorted or odd-shaped. It can also cause premature rotting of fruits/vegetables.
  • Too little magnesium makes leaves turn yellow on the edges from the bottom of the plant up. A green arrowhead shape will be left in the center of the affected leaves.
  • Sulfur deficiency causes young leaves at the top of the plant to turn yellow. Sometimes the bottom leaves at the base of the plant will also turn yellow.

Do you have a garden? Have you noticed any of the leaves showing symptoms of nutrient deficiencies? How did you fix it?

Derecho Learning to Lead

As you may recall, last summer a loose stallion turned up at my farm. He was surrendered to CVHR and is being fostered here indefinitely. Derecho has settled in nicely and is learning how to be a polite horse.

stray stallion cvhr owner surrender

Derecho July 2012

He came with very little, if any, training. Derecho was pushy and did not understand how to give to pressure. After just one short week, he is now respecting my “space bubble” much better and very sensitive to the slightest pressure. He isn’t scared of anything and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Derecho is one of the sweetest horses I have ever encountered.

Teaching an 1,150 pound 3 year old stallion to lead is NOT easy. We had foals when I was a kid and I helped teach them to lead…but this was a completely different task. Derecho knows he is bigger than me and did not like the idea of being led around. Although he wanted to follow me around like a puppy dog, he didn’t like being tugged on with a lead rope.

Since he resented being pulled forward so much, I decided to work on other directions first. We have nearly perfected backing already! He willingly moves back a step at a time with the slightest touch now. I can get him move away from me to the left and right, although he is much more supple to the right than the left. Derecho also lowers and raises his head easily for me with gentle pressure either on his poll or under his jaw.

When I want him to move forward, I began by simply encouraging him to follow me with the lead rope long and loopy. He does well following at a respectful distance most of the time, but occasionally he still gets too close and I have to stop and send him back a few steps. After a week of practicing multiple times a day, he took his first willing steps beside me moving forward. I was thrilled!

We made 3-4 large circles in each direction in his paddock. I began by walking beside him and apply the slightest forward pressure to the lead. Derecho followed the pressure willingly and lead beside me like a champ by the end.

Check out the rest of his year in pictures below! He’s adjusted really well and is a super nice boy.

Derecho makes a great gelding

Derecho in his recovery stall after being gelded.

Derecho with other horses at feeding time

Derecho finding his place in the herd in the lower field–after he became a great gelding, of course!

Derecho giving me a cuddle

He is such a sweetheart! ❤

Derecho the stray stud is a great gelding

Derecho saying hi to Annabelle.

Derecho loves Coda

Derecho and Coda having a drink in January 2012.

Derecho in the snow

Derecho and his best girlfriend saying hello during our March 2013 snow storm.

We’ve been letting him take some time to be a part of the herd since he learned how to lead. He has also learned how to pick up all 4 feet, behaves politely for the farrier, and stands nicely to be groomed. This spring we are planning on starting him under saddle. Stay tuned for more Derecho updates!

Nitrogen Deficiency – My Poor Broccoli!

Last weekend we bought some broccoli and cauliflower seedlings for the garden. We found them at a plant stand in near the flea market while we were out and about doing our Saturday errands.

We got two 4-packs for a dollar each. Can’t beat that price! The only problem is they aren’t looking so good now…so I did a little hunting. The lower leaves are yellowing quickly and the little seedlings look pretty sad. I need to fix them fast before they die!

Help! I need nitrogen!

Yellowing leaves indicates nitrogen deficiency

I quickly learned that broccoli plants are susceptible to nitrogen deficiency. Thank you, wikipedia! I really hope this helps my sad little broccolis.

Interestingly, plants are more likely to become nitrogen deficient if there is sawdust present in the soil. That’s because of the high carbon content in sawdust. Now I’m pretty sure plant stand guy said he used composted manure and sawdust for his greenhouse plants…

So how do you treat nitrogen deficiency in plants? By adding a nitrogen rich fertilizer! You can use blood meal or some other kind of fertilizer. However, be careful not to apply a fertilizer with too much phosphorus.  This encourages early bloom, which could make your yields smaller. Blood meal is the way to go to heal your nitrogen deficient plants!

Nitrogen deficiency – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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