Dog Toys

Dogs need their toys. They look at their toys as their personal possessions and they guard them carefully. There is a natural instinct in all dogs to have a selfish streak. This causes them to play tug-of-war with your socks and it causes them to carefully hide their favorite toys behind the sofa. It does not matter if they live inside your home or out in the yard, a dog needs to let their selfish instincts thrive by playing with their favorite toys.

I have been blessed with many dogs throughout the years and they’ve all had probably hundreds of toys during that time. I have myself, become somewhat of an expert on dog toys. I have witnessed the countless dog smiles and the look of wild-eyed excitement that a toy will bring in a dog’s life. Over the years I have also seen how a dog comforts themselves to a peaceful slumber by resting their heads against their toy. A good dog toy can keep the monsters away at night, or so I am told by my wife.

On occasion I have seen dogs make their own toys too. We rescued an abandoned puppy from the side of the road once. After she became acclimated to her new home and us, she began to play a bit and I would notice that she would seek out pine cones from around the yard to play with. She would chew on them and throw them in the air and bark happily at them. I figured that pine cones were all the she had to play with in her previous life, and even though she has countless wonderful chew toys of all types now, she still prefers to sneak in a pine cone from time to time. Dogs have excellent memories and they can easily remember their favorite toy of all time.

I have learned the hard way that expensive and elaborate dog toys are not always the best. I have bought many types of electric or radio controlled dog toy gadgets that were just too cool to pass up. Trips to the local pet store usually result in a bag full of pricey dog toys being transported home in a shopping bag. Their fancy labels show very excited dogs playing with the toy with wild abandon. Our anticipation builds as we let our dogs have their new toys and then a minute later they are off someplace slinging around their old ragged toy or pine cone while the new toy is quickly abandoned. Such is the folly of pet toy designers, not the recipients.

Our house has become a dog toy storage warehouse of sorts and I’ve lost count of the times that we have tripped over a stuffed lobster or stepped on a sticky and slimy chewy bone. Each of our 3 dogs has their one particular super special toy. All of my dogs in my past have also had that one toy that stands out above all of the others. It may take a little time at first, but eventually you’ll notice that one special toy that they prefer, and once they do, that particular toy is theirs for life. Our oldest dog has a pink stuffed teddy bare that has been by her side every night of her life and it will always be the only one that she sleeps with.

Many years ago, my beloved little dog Snuggles, passed away. I was devastated and heartbroken and consumed with loss. I gathered up a giant bag of her toys and went to the local dog shelter and asked if I could distribute them to their dogs. They said of course you can, so I gathered all of the strength that I could muster, and went up and down the aisles of kennels. By God’s miracles, I somehow had exactly enough toys to give every dog in the place one toy each. Even the large and violent dogs suddenly became overjoyed when I gently pushed it’s new toy inside their kennel. I specifically remember one little shy dog that was hiding behind a cardboard box shivering. He watched me dutifully give all the other dogs their toy and talk a bit with each one. I reserved the one last toy in my bag for a special recipient. This toy was a stuffed chicken that my dog Snuggles played with for years. I had a long history with Mr. Chicken and Lord only knows how many times I had to climb under the bed to rescue that chicken for Snuggles. That day, the shy little puppy in the kennel refused to come out from behind the cardboard box in spite of my calling him to me. I pulled the old chicken from my bag and gently placed it on the floor of his kennel and backed away. I hung around a bit like I was busy doing something else. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him crawl on his belly and sniff the old toy. A moment later, he latched onto the chicken and pulled him behind his cardboard box. I left that day feeling like Snuggle’s spirit was with every dog in that place. I bet she comforted all of them too considering their surroundings.

No dog should ever be without a toy. Even large outside dogs need their toys, and it is up to us to make sure that we have a fresh stock of Mr. Chicken’s available at all times!

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving Reflections

As I settle my well-fed and stuffed body into my porch chair, I think about the Thanksgiving holiday this year. The holiday was a bit different for most of us this time around. To me at least, the Thanksgiving holiday means God, family and friends, and of course – food. I can imagine that I am not too far off from the original Thanksgiving holiday traditions of the past generations. We all have our favorite memories of past holidays and each family has created their own particular traditions that makes Thanksgiving, well, complete.

This year because of the Corona virus pandemic, those traditions were tossed out the window and suddenly everyone was wondering how to cope with the “new normal”. Some politicians wanted to ban family gatherings at the Thanksgiving table entirely, while others took a more realistic approach and preached the appropriate social distancing to keep the virus transmission at bay. I did notice that my family was sitting farther apart than normal at the dinner table this year. Now that the feast has passed, and I have time to sit and enjoy my cigar after the day’s events, I muse about what I am thankful for…

Fall has traditionally been the time to bring in the harvest from the fields and storing it into barns and silos for use during the cold winter months. In other words, Thanksgiving came about as a period to rest and reflect and give thanks after a busy harvest season. I was also busy this summer growing as much food as possible and preserving my harvest. The pandemic lock downs and food and supply shortages quickly drove home the importance of having a food stockpile on hand for emergencies. I grew a fair sized garden this year and I was blessed with a bountiful harvest here at the farm. Now I look upon all of the rows of neatly stacked jars of preserved vegetables in our pantry and I feel comfortable and secure because of my work in the garden. I am truly thankful for the land that I have to sustain my family during the lean times.

I am also thankful for the people who came and left my life this past year. I don’t have many friends. I am a loner by choice and I am the most comfortable when I have solitude. That being said, the few friends that I do know placed a warmth in my heart that’s difficult to describe. I have always gravitated towards older people for my close friends, as I love to listen and learn from their vast well of experience. Sadly, I lost two friends this year whom I will always remember with love and profound respect. Their voices and laughter are silent now. It was a privilege to have them as a part of my life.

I am thankful for so many things that I tend to take for granted; blessings from the Lord, my wonderful wife, my sweet fur babies, and my health, to name just a few. My family makes my life come full circle and I simply cannot imagine life without them. Have you ever stopped for a moment to think about were you would be if it were not for being grounded and kept alive by the love and commitment of your spouse?

Thanksgiving is to me about reflection more than anything else. Reflection upon my blessings, family, friends, and sometimes sheer luck. I truly pity the person who never takes the time to notice all that happens around them. As for me, I may not notice right away if I am being helped, but I feel it eventually and I am thankful.

Today as I sit and think about things such as these, I know that life has a larger purpose than the everyday mundane. It is up to me to try and understand and recognize that.

Planting Onions – A How-To

Bud Brinkley


Gardening|Modern Homesteading|Self-Sufficient Country Living

I literally just closed the cover on the last page of the Chairside Reader. I totally enjoyed it and much of it parallels my own childhood memories of my country relatives. Good job, Bud!S.T. Fitch


Planting Onions – A How-To

I live in zone 8b so it’s time to plant some onions in my garden. This year I purchased onion sets from Dixondale Farms in South Texas. I bought a total of four bunches of Texas Legend onions. These are a sweet bulbing type and I have always had terrific success growing large onions from this variety.  Four bunches netted about 300 onion sets this year from Dixondale which will cover two double rows about 30ft. long and planted 4″ apart.

First thing was to prepare the row beds. I tilled my soil and added in some composted cow manure and then tilled again till the manure was well mixed with the soil. Dixondale has a great planting diagram that they send with the onions sets and I followed their instructions. I dug a small trench down the center of each row and laid my drip tape tubing and added some 13-13-13 fertilizer in the trench. After that I raked soil over the top of the trench and leveled everything out again.







Next, I connect my drip tape to the header tubing and hooked up the water hose to check for leaks. After a few minutes, the drip tape marks a nice wet line down the center of the rows to aid in planting the onions, which is the next step.

I am rather anal about getting my rows and plants as straight as possible in my garden. I suppose this stems from the story I mentioned in my latest book The Gardner’s Chairside Reader in which I talk about trying to get straight garden rows with my Dad when I was a kid. To help getting the onion sets perfectly straight and spaced at 4″, I built a quick planting template from some scrap wood. This has 4″ marks drawn on each side.

Dixondale recommends a maximum planting depth of 1″ deep for their onion sets, so I marked a wood dowel 1″. After placing my template centered on the row, I simply walked along and pressed in the dowel to the 1″ mark to make a small impression in the soil at the proper spot. The template makes all of this very simple and consistent.

Next I removed the template and set it aside and planted my onion sets in each hole in the soil. I firmly pressed the soil tight around each set and then used the template again down the row till I had a perfectly straight and spaced double row of onions.

Onions are heavy feeders which means that they require a lot of fertilizer to grow into large bulbs. By using the drip tape, I am able to inject liquid fertilizer to the onion roots by using my fertilizer injector. These will grow throughout the winter months and will be ready to harvest around late March or early April of next year.

I hope that I have gave you some ideas on how to adapt my planting method to fit your garden and I wish you much success and big juicy and sweet onions!


Goodbye Facebook. Hello MeWe…

I am going to make this post short. Facebook is the Walmart of social media and I feel like I need a shower to clean off after visiting there. I’m sure a lot of you know exactly what I am talking about too.

The manipulation that Facebook brings into everything you say and post is beyond reasonable. Many folks who do not have a commercial page on Facebook have no idea of the crap that they burden you with just to be able to speak to your friends and followers. It has gotten to the point of… well…let’s just say that I have now moved to the MeWe social media platform.

You can follow me there at ;

Vermiculture – I’ve Got Worms

Yep you heard that right, I’ve got worms. Nearly 5000 of them! For those who have never heard about vermiculture (raising composting worms), you are missing out on probably the fastest way to produce super-rich compost!

Worm farming is super easy, fun for the kiddo’s, and the best benefit of all are the bags of super good organic compost for your gardens and flowers. The worms consume your kitchen scraps and the poop. A Lot! Their poop is called worm castings and it is the actual compost.

I wrote a small E-book explaining how to build a nice 3-tier worm bin so you can also raise your own worms. I keep my bins inside my workshop which is temperature controlled, and they are happy there. They are very clean, hygienic, and produce zero odors. I feed them every few days and spray their bedding with water from a squirt bottle to keep it moist. That’s all I ever do and my worm colonies have been thriving for years. The benefits of using the worm castings have been well documented over the years and those who use it rave about the results with their plants just like me!

If you want to build your own worm bin and get started for yourself, take a look at my book and inside are complete building plans and instructions for beginners.

Here’s the link to the book;