Thekla McDaniels

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since Aug 23, 2011
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Thekla has been studying soil life and the process of soil development since 1965, also, the then new idea that fossil fuels were a limited resource. 
She farmed 2 1/2 acres in western Colorado, starting with fine grained ancient blowing desert sand but was 6+ inches deep rich black soil!  Using nothing but seeds and water, and strategic mowing and grazing.

What a lot of fun that was.

In 2022 , purchasing 14 acres in NE California, with ponderosa pines and incense cedar, once again planning to retrofit a conventional building for green and comfortable living, with the idea that there are millions of conventional houses that need improvement in energy efficiency, and to accommodate quality of life.

Can’t wait to see what happens next.
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Somewhere about 100 miles north east of Redding California
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Recent posts by Thekla McDaniels

 Looks like more than one of us is making dog food!

About the grapes, my Komondor used to stand with her head in the grape vines.  When she was busy elsewhere, I went to look what might be of interest to her.  Bunches of grapes.

I helped a friend disassemble coyote scat from the wild, (part of his PhD).  From what they ate, I concluded they and dogs must be omnivorous.  But opportunistic carnivores is a great label, and I am glad to have been educated.  Thanks to all who put that forward.

My thought on observing what my dog was snacking on was that it was probably OK… based on the omnivore thing… and opportunistic….

With my goats, I believe  that if they are not starving, and have access to diverse foods, they won’t poison themselves.  And, doing good so far.  Averaging 5 goats in almost a decade, I have had no food related losses.  I made this same conclusion on the dog eating a few grapes.

Internet says any amount of grapes for any size dog puts the dog at risk for (immediate) kidney failure.  Can anyone put this in to perspective for me?
12 hours ago
Thanks for starting this thread, AND for all the information.  I will need to read it a few times!  I think it says there ARE genetic factors which can predispose a dog to CHF.  But I need to go read it again before I begin on that.

Appropriate nutrition is a great place to start!

I feed best possible commercial dog food from the feed store, look at the ingredients, avoid the ones whose first, or 3 out of the first 5 ingredients are grain derived, but is there a better way?

My dog, 3 year old spayed Belgian Malinois, self supplements 😉 as all farm dogs do, steals cat food (and poop ack!) and gets the leavings of my food, coleslaw to rib bones.  She also eats things I give to the goats, carrots, pumpkin, bananas, roasted peanuts in the shell.

I could make her dog food, I have known people who do that, but I have heard veterinarians say we should stick to commercial feed because they are the “experts”, and I have dog owning neighbors express surprise that I give my dog people food, saying they thought people food makes dogs sick.

I believe dogs are omnivores, with digestive systems to process everything from insects to carrion, with fruits eggs included.  But we have a specific challenge here, healthy dogs😍!

So, what should a CHD prevention diet include?

22 hours ago

Trace Oswald wrote: But there are a lot of really great breeders that spend a lot of money on veterinary care, infrastructure, top quality food, and training.  They also offer health guarantees and replace dogs that have issues like hip dysplasia, which is sadly pretty common among dogs of this size.  Maybe don't be so quick to judge everyone simply by the price they charge.

There ARE great breeders.  The trouble is in finding one.  The breeder I bought my two pups from said if they didn’t work out, she would take them back.  When Mopsie didn’t work out I contacted her.  I thought the hardest part was over, the heartbreak of loving this pup who was not a good match for my place.  That’s actually a very difficult decision to make for many people, and I am one.

When I contacted the breeder, she said essentially “what do you want me to do about it “

She was moving to Hawaii, had a new baby, a new partner and so forth.  She didn’t even participate in the process of rehoming the dog.  

So much for promises.  

How to find the GOOD breeders is a challenge.
23 hours ago
There are multiple theories about the origins of hip dysplasia, which is a consideration when discussing LGDs.

I am sure genetics play an important role.  IMO, irresponsible breeders whether puppy mills or backyard breeders who focus on registries and or sales and production are largely responsible for the hip dysplasia and many other genetic problems canines face.  The heartbreaking part of this to me, is that a breed’s gene pool is a treasure wherein the potential and the future of the breed reside.  Irresponsible breeding increases the prevalence of genes that develop into painful conditions, and ill health.

Two other contributors to the development of hip dysplasia in an individual dog that surprised me are age at spay-neuter.  Gonads produce hormones important in bone development.  Remove the gonads, you remove the hormones, healthy bone development becomes difficult to impossible.

The second is too much exercise too young.  Pups aren’t built to run miles and miles, nor should they be on pavement for miles and miles.  Their musculoskeletal system isn’t mature when they reach adult size and stature.

I really don’t know what the solution is, because it will require a group effort to address the situation.  I would enjoy sharing in the discussion if there’s a thread or organization somewhere, someone can direct me to.  And I don’t want to take this thread astray!
23 hours ago
I minimize my use of mined materials, and both of these are mined, heated to transform them into their commercial state, then transported multiple times, and packaged in plastic bags.

I am sure they will suit some folks’ projects.  I used perlite to insulate strategic places in my first rocket stove, but don’t use them in my soil.

I think as a soil amendment, they are going to prove expensive, and not make much of a contribution to fertility.
1 day ago
I would start with a lot of seeds, then plant in a marked area, then see what came up.  Maybe 100 seeds in a one foot square plot.

Make one plot per desired tree, placed in the forever location.

You will see how well this works.  If you get 3 tree sprouts, you got 3% germination.  If you get 50 little tree sprouts, you got 50% germination, and NEXT year you can seed at a rate that’s less wasteful.

Or, just direct seed in your plots this year.

I used to have an apricot orchard.  The trees were ~70 years old, an excellent variety, great flavor, blushed red, big size. I wanted to start more trees.  I had plenty of seeds.  I set aside a place in my garden, and took care not to disturb it.  I had lots of tree sprouts.  The year I had woofers, one of them chopped them all out!  This was after I had weeded that area, identified it as a research plot which they were NOT to disturb, showed them the seedling trees…. and set them to weeding (hoeing) nearby.

Might be I told about this and other woofer adventures in the “volunteers that make you go hmmmmm” thread.  That’s a great thread if you have time to read it, and want to glean some pointers for what to do and not do!

I guess marking the plots is pretty important for the first couple years.  I have spent plenty of time thinking about it, how did he do that after I showed demonstrated etc…. Perhaps he backed as he chopped, and obliterated them with out even knowing it!

But a tiny chicken tractor type box might work, or surveyor tape or flagging on sticks?

But mark the whole  area until the trees are big enough to tie flagging on!
1 day ago
Yeah! It works a charm.

You need to be able to cover a large area, because the roots are not necessarily straight down from where the plants are this year.  

And when it has worked best for me, I used several layers of cardboard, with the seams very definitely not aligned… so that poor plant would have to send that stem a loooooong way to get through a layer, then another loooong way trying to find the next crack.  I left the whole thing in place through 2 growing seasons.  I didn’t water or anything.  Another good thing was, the wood chip mulch minimum 6 inch depth makes a fine inoffensive surface.

I think I heard somewhere, and I believe that bind weed has a big water storage root.  And being a perennial, it also has a store of “food” underground.  My strategies when trying to get the bindweed into good neighbor status instead of dominating the region all are about trying to get the plant to deplete its resources.  

Good luck!
1 day ago
If you have corrugated cardboard with all tape and stickers removed, it’s fine to lay it down before you throw the wood chips directly on the ground, but no need to consider it necessary.

Cardboard adds diversity to the food stock available for fungi, microbes, all our friends beneath the surface.

In many circumstances composting cardboard is  preferable to energy intensive industrialized recycling.  Too many variables to choose an absolute best practice on what to do with cardboard, and so many good things to do with it.

When I put cardboard down before the wood chips it will kill bindweed, or cut way back on it for a couple years, allowing me an opportunity to weed the remainders.  Sometimes we want to suppress some plants, foxtail, puncture vine, burr clover...  If there’s nothing I am trying to suppress, I take a pitchfork or digging fork and poke through the chips to puncture the cardboard.  In my mind, I am increasing gas exchange, increasing water penetration into the soil, allowing pathways for migration of organisms from below to above and back again, so that they can find optimum conditions.
1 day ago
Wood chips are an excellent cover for soil!
2 days ago
Plenty of ideas here.

I enjoy milkweed stems.  They taste a lot like asparagus , but some species of milkweed are poisonous.  I only eat showy milkweed.

Another favorite is the developing seed from Siberian elm, I start eating as soon as they are big enough, if there are plenty.  They are best when the green surrounding the seed is well developed, but the seed in the center is still tender.

Lambs quarters, leaves before they get tough, technically, probably a prolific reseeding annual, but they’re there every year unless I take action against them.

About the inulin in the sun chokes, it’s a valuable food for some beneficial intestinal microbes, the kinds you want to maintain.  I drink chicory root tea daily for just this reason.  I have for years.  I must have adjusted to it, because I don’t have the problem of extreme flatulence described previously.  (And others do not avoid being in enclosed spaces with me🤣😉)