Monday, 25 September 2023

Autumn Colour

 I took these pictures yesterday but am writing the post today. The weather is the perfect Autumn weather- warm in the day, cooler in the evening. Trees aren’t quite in their full regalia yet but there is certainly colour to be seen.

All over the property, there are swaths of yellow.

Black eyed Susan are aggressive and prolific self seeders but they do provide beautiful colour.

Aptly named Autumn Joy Sedum has a home in most of my beds and borders.

I have various hydrangea, some of which turn a lovely bronzey rose colour. Notice Aristotle peeking out.

Russian sage is still creating a lacy purple effect beside the snowball bush.

This year has been very good for this bunch of Michaelmas daisies. Other years they have barely bloomed. I think it was our rainy August!

Most of the tall phlox is done but there are still a couple of clumps blooming.

The Burning Bush isn’t quite on fire yet, but it’s off to a good start.

Finally, this branch belongs to a neighbour’s maple tree. Just that one branch is showing bright scarlet, the rest is still quite green. I walk past it on my walks and always admire it!

How is the colour where you are? Do you have some of the same plants?

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

September 19, 2023

 It is a foggy morning this morning. I've been keeping myself busy with supply teaching here and there and the ongoing garden produce. Unfortunately, the little germ factories passed on the "scourge" to me with a sore throat and such. It was inevitable. 

This is still my world:

The Roma tomatoes have already been canned, but the other "regular" tomatoes remain in my kitchen, on my window sills, etc. Today I am going to tackle many of them and I am DONE with actual canning. I think I will just skin them, squish out the seeds and ziplock bag them for the freezer (even though I still have some from last year!). It was a good year for tomatoes, which makes me happy.

I did one last round of pickled beets yesterday, making only three little half pint jars. For the first time ever, I made pickled jalapeno peppers. I had such an amazing crop of them from just one plant.

Here they are in all their glory, prior to the pickling process. I wore gloves to cut them up. Son is very pleased. I didn't think to take pictures of the finished jars, but this made four half pint jars.

I am continuing with my elimination diet (specifically low fodmap) and have successfully reintroduced wheat. Today begins dairy. 

On a different note, I seem to have a broody hen. She is one of the lavender orpingtons. I've always just referred to her as "little comb", for good reasons. Poor thing has lost her tiny chicken mind, staying put in a nesting box, fluffing herself up and trilling every time I go near. She's not even laying (I don't know if that is part of being broody, but seems counter intuitive to me). She can sit there forever, but nothing is going to happen, as I don't have a rooster. I've been trying to gently break her of her broodiness, as I think it is hard on a hen to limit her food and water and not even end up hatching anything out, by lifting her off her nesting box and putting her out in the run a few times a day. Yes, again, I realize I have codependency issues.

Silly bird. 

We have had some excitement in our lives recently. This isn't unexpected, but nice that it is official:

Our eldest is now engaged! No wedding date is set yet but we are very happy for both of them! I will be a mother-in-law in the months to come and have a married child (she's 27, not exactly a child...). It's humbling. 

Thursday, 7 September 2023

September 7, 2023

 Here is a picture of a quick 10:30 a.m. gathering:

I honestly think I could have been a great homesteader, if it weren't for the lack of modern dentistry, the outhouses, the backbreaking work of washing clothes, no electricity, and no benedryl...

I'm getting ready to make some salsa today. It won't be super hot, just some jalapenos (no seeds). Son wants it hot, so I might start by filling some jars with the regular, then introduce a hot pepper (not shown in picture - they are little cayennes, turning red now) into the remaining salsa and bottle the rest (labelling accordingly).

(For my own future reference, this is a bit more than six pounds of tomatoes, some Romas and other regular kind - the amount needed for this salsa recipe)

It was hot, hot, hot here in my neck of the woods for the past couple of days, but then we got a good downpour of rain which cooled things off. I actually don't mind the heat. Let's all remember January and February, people!!

I am ready to get back into the swing of supply teaching. I booked a two day stint on Monday and Tuesday of next week. It is in a 4/5 split, but at this time of year, it will feel more like a 3/4 split, which I'm very comfortable with. I also booked a hair appointment for Wednesday of next week. It is time. I'm starting to get that "you've got long hair and just pull it back into a pony tail and not care what it looks like" hair. I need to change it up and feel good about my hair again (lord save me from frizzy, unfortunate hair --- thank you Scottish ancestry). 

Have a good day, all.

Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Chili Sauce Day

 My house currently smells like (to me) abundance, contentment, love, goodness, harvest, autumn, and the happy parts of childhood.

Yes, it's chili sauce day. I have posted about this before. This concoction is not a hot, spicy type of condiment. It is more like a cinnamon spice sweet / tomato-y slightly thick sauce that pairs perfectly with sausage or roast pork or roast chicken thighs. 

Clean jars awaiting their contents.

It is a perfect way to use up some tomatoes and it does not require a lot of ingredients. I will share my mother's recipe for those who are interested:

Ingredients being brought up to a boil.

After boiling down for about an hour.


Maureen's Chili Sauce

Ingredients for a small batch (can easily be doubled):

-9 good sized tomatoes

-1 large yellow onion

-1 tbsp salt

-1/2 cup white vinegar

-2 cups white sugar

1/4 tsp allspice (or more if desired)

1 tsp cinnamon

Drop clean tomatoes into a boiling water bath for a minute or so, then place in cold water so they can be cored and peeled. I also de-seed some of them as I'm doing this. Chop roughly.

Chop onion into medium to small pieces.

Put all ingredients into a large pot (like a small soup /stock pot) and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a low boil/ brisk simmer and occasionally stir for aprx. 2 hours (you want a lot of the liquid to boil away and for it to be somewhat "thick")

Ladle into 1/2 pint, or 1 pint jars - process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.


I double the recipe and it makes aprx. 9 1/2 pint jars. I like to give these away to family members. 

I do realize that I am canning on perhaps the hottest day that we have had since July. But that's all part of the process. These beautiful early September days are when all the good things happen. I might also do yet another batch of zucchini muffins (chocolate chip this time), to stick in a large freezer bag and freeze for later. 

(Yes, I made these while I was waiting for the sauce to boil down.)

This last one is for Joanne, whose tea towels are still as perfect as the day I received them as a gift!

It made 6 half pints and 2 full pints.

On a whole other note, and yes, this is where we get personal, I've been dealing with digestive issues for five, yes five, weeks. I'm not going to go into detail, but whatever you guess is probably correct. And if you are from Ontario, you know that I can't see my doctor for 4 weeks (at the time I tried to make the appointment). I stopped taking supplements that were somewhat new to me, as I thought perhaps that was what was causing my gut angst. I stopped coffee and the minimal amount of alcohol that I was consuming. Parasites, etc. were ruled out. To not avail, I decided to take matters in my own hands while waiting the weeks and weeks to see my actual doctor (I did get to see a nurse practitioner who ordered the tests to rule out creepy crawlies, but that's all she did).

I researched (because I'm good at researching and learning and applying and all that) the low FODMAP diet and the elimination diet. So as of six days ago I am religiously following this elimination diet (basically eliminates all foods in five categories that are known to cause intestinal distress). After you follow this for at least two weeks, or more, if you are seeing that your symptoms have significantly calmed down, then you move onto the reintroduction phase. It's all laid out and easy for me to follow and I'm keeping meticulous notes. In fact, my digestive issues have already 90% settled down. I am now VERY curious to determine what the heck it was that put me in the place I was in for 5 weeks. 

My question to you, dear readers, is have you ever "suddenly" developed a sensitivity to something that was never an issue before, but now absolutely is? I know it happens. I know people can develop hay fever having never had problems before. I know allergies can occur for no particular reason ( or for reasons that people suspect but will be called out on if uttered publicly). I wonder if some of my medications to suppress estrogen and progesterone, or my bone-builder infusions (Zometa) (all a result of my breast cancer this past year) have contributed? (No, I did not have chemo). My sister, for those who regularly read, almost died last year and was in the ICU and for a while, it was unknown what the actual cause was until finally a targeted allergy test determined that she is now deathly allergic to ibuprofen!! Yup, good old Advil that people take for their aches and pains all the time! She had never, ever had problems before. 

So please chime in if you've discovered you suddenly can't consume dairy, or wheat, or onions (lord, I already miss onions and garlic, which I have to currently eliminate), or whatever. Also, tell me if you are canning anything right now. We homesteaders need to stick together! 

Saturday, 2 September 2023

Saturday, September 2, 2023

 I've been somewhat MIA lately. We have had family from out of the province staying with us for a few days. Prior to them coming, we had to get two spare bedrooms ready for company. If you are like us, or if you have a "project husband", you may use a spare room for storage, the place where crap goes to live that you think you can't live without but you don't have a proper place to put it.

As well, materials from an unfinished upstairs project were living in one of the spare rooms. Dust and detritus from the project had created a coating over pretty much everything in that spare room, so plenty of putting things back (into the garage), even a little purging (yay!!), and a deep cleaning was in order. 

There has been plenty of egg collecting and garden harvesting. August was incredibly wet and not consistently hot, so things grew and grew and grew. Every day the hens get some bolted spinach or lettuce, sending them into a rapture of excited clucking.

I have baked two kinds of zucchini muffins (which were consumed whilst the out-of-towners were here) and two kinds of zucchini loaf. I still have lots of zucchini left. That might be tomorrow's project for me. I can just freeze things for some other time. I have already frozen some shredded zucchini as well.

Today, I decided to make pickled beets. These are not my favourite. I prefer hot cooked beets with butter, salt, and pepper. But husband and daughter's boyfriend love them. 

Here is a great big pot of them, ready to boil. I wash them, cut off the tops and bottoms, and cut into chunks. Later, when I run cold water over them, the skins just slip right off. 

It only made four jars, but aren't they a beautiful colour? This is the stage at which I poured the hot syrup over them and put on the lids. They aren't done with their water bath yet.

Whilst the company was here, husband took advantage of extra hands (i.e. 3 young strong men and one older, but still strong husband) to bring a giant tank out of the basement. It is scheduled to be purchased by someone this coming Wednesday. It was an ordeal getting it out of our very old basement.

Only one finger injury and one snagged shirt ensued. There was a great deal of sweating, stopping and starting, reconfiguring, swearing, placing of mats on the floor, getting soaked from the rain when it went from front porch to carport, and then finally victory. 

This is the beginning of the long weekend in Canada. Monday is Labour Day. For thirty-one years, I would have been already getting my classroom ready, and experiencing that combination of excitement and anxiety as a new school year is about to start. Like that old Bits n' Bites commercial, you never know what you're going to get each year, a "whole new ballgame". ( I hope this link works),vid:MJLF6hQGZwk,st:0

 Sometimes new students would arrive (AFTER you have labelled everything, created a seating plan, and figured out you had JUST ENOUGH hooks on your coatrack), and sometimes there would be a shuffle of students. 

But alas, it is now someone else's task to prepare for a new school year. Yes, I will still do some supply teaching, and that suits me right now.

Did you see the "blue moon" the other night? We stood outside to look at it, and son said, "It's not even blue. It should be blue." That made me laugh, because I don't even know why the term "blue moon" was adopted (yes, I realize it is the second full moon in a month, but did the term happen first and then the expression, or did the expression precede it?).

I love this time of year with the purple and yellow colour combination in my beds, the crickets chirping, the pre-fall feel in the air. I hope you all have a contented weekend. 

Sunday, 20 August 2023

Sun., Aug. 20, 2023

 I just have to ask… am I the only one who looks like Les Nessman at any given time? I am referring to a character from WKRP in Cincinnati who constantly had various bandaids in his fingers or hands. I loved that show, by the way, and lament the lack of fun, middle of the road comedies on tv now. 

But I digress. I have been known to say to my husband, “ I seem to be unaware of my extremities “. Tonight, for example, I was simply walking from the kitchen drawers to the table with a small can opener in my hand to open a fresh jar of chili sauce for supper and I swung my hand, grazed the back of my finger on the ( not sharp) corner of a wooden kitchen chair. I then realized I was bleeding, having shaved some skin off the back of my finger by making contact with a not sharp wooden chair!

I’ve grazed my knuckles by reaching into a cupboard space to throw away garbage, and by reaching into the crisper drawer in the fridge. I can’t even begin to talk about gardening hand and finger injuries or the scratches ensued on my arms from cutting back shrubs. I’ve only today removed the bandaid from my big toe ( not even going to explain). 

Is it my age? Am I walking like a gorilla now? I smack my elbow in doorways more often than I want to admit. The doorways haven’t become more narrow and I haven’t become ( much) wider. I have a bruise on the inside of my knee that I’ve been watching evolve through the colour wheel. I don’t even know how I got that bruise. 

So all those of you whose age would be rounded to 60 ( or more), can you relate, or am I just a clutz?

Monday, 7 August 2023

Peppers: Advice and Success

 I watched some videos on what to do to your young pepper plants to have a bountiful harvest. You are supposed to cut off the top of the plant after it has been growing for a bit, even if you are snipping off some blossoms. This forces the plant to branch out from the top and create more stems which will produce more blossoms and potentially more peppers. I did that this year (although it's hard to do, much like thinning carrots and beets - you feel like you are killing off growing baby plants). Here is the result! 

I'm impressed! I didn't do anything different in terms of fertilizer or watering. I'll be doing this every year from now on. 

Saturday, 5 August 2023

Aug. 5, 2023

 Ahh August. The month of crickets, tomatoes, sweet corn, and cooler nights. Today I spent a bit of time in the vegetable garden picking for tonight’s supper. 

Green beans, beets, and my very first potatoes! Butter, salt and pepper, and diced raw onions!!

I tore out some overgrown arugula ( rocket) and gave it to the hens. By the time I’d taken this picture, most had lost interest since they had already been fed the beet greens.

Now, a question. After I took as much compost as I needed earlier in the season, I just let things grow out of it and called it my compost garden ( it gets regular feeding of chicken manure and shavings, too). A vine began growing and now this is the result. It is not yet mature but I have NO idea what these “ fruits” are. I can guarantee you that there were no hard squash seeds, pumpkin seeds or gourd seeds in my compost ( maybe some spaghetti squash from a one time meal). If you have any thoughts , let me know. My hand gives you an idea of size.

And to finish, here is what is blooming right now: day lilies, purple cone flowers ( echinacea), phlox, and a showy hydrangea that I forget the name of which will turn a gorgeous rosy shade later. Of course black eyed Susan, too, but I have a love hate relationship with those so didn’t bother photographing.

Have a beautiful weekend everyone and great long weekend fellow Canadians!

Sunday, 30 July 2023

Ooops, and a Blogger question

 Every morning, I go out and open up the chicken's little door to let them out in the run, and feed them and do a quick clean up of the inside of the coop where they have been roosting and sitting the night before. Then sometimes I go over to my vegetable garden to have a quick look around. I will also, sometimes, lift a corner of the row cover fabric that goes over my two zucchini plants to see if there is anything to harvest, or blossoms to pollinate. However, it has been rainy lately and the mosquitos are INSANE, swarming me and biting me, so I don't always check for blossoms that need pollinating because it takes a moment to do.

This morning, I found these two:

I guess that teaches me to not ignore the zucchinis, or at least check all sides, not just lift a corner or one edge. The smaller ones were harvested a couple of days ago. You can see my kitchen reading glasses on the counter for a size comparison. Ooops, indeed.

Now, on to the question. I can now only properly comment on people's posts or on my own blog using my blog's name on my old desk top computer. I'm not sure about my laptop, as I don't use it very often. However, on my phone, when I try to comment, it tells me I have to sign into Google to do it. When I click on the icon (?) to do that, it just takes me back around to comments again. I haven't even signed OUT OF Google, so I don't know why it is telling me to do that. When I can comment, it just shows me as anonymous. 

Another blogger, Marty, said she was having similar problems and figured out she was using Firefox (I'm guessing on a PC, not her phone) and when she used a different browser, the problem was fixed. I never use Firefox, but of course, that wouldn't explain the problem when I'm on my phone.

This has been happening long enough that I know it's not one of those weird glitches that sometimes occurs with Blogger and then goes away as quickly as it came. So, if any of you have had this problem and figured out a way around it, please let me know. Thanks! And, does anyone want a zucchini?

Thursday, 27 July 2023

From Enabler to Problem Solver

 If you haven't already read my post about Houdini chicken, you may want to go back and do that, in order for this to make sense.

So... the top of the chicken run is now completely secure, no gaps, no parts that need a piece of chicken wire patched in, seams sown together with thin wire. Done. All done.

Yes, for two days, I enabled my insane chicken. I was outside at the time that she was pacing back and forth inside the run, looking for a method of escape (or maybe I planned to be there at that time?). And yes, I opened the gate for her and she left to go in her perennial bed to lay her little egg. On the second day, she heard me approach the coop when she was done and she emerged from the perennial bed and waited at the gate for me to open it, like a cat or a dog ready to be let in. 

I recognize that this is insane behaviour on my part. I recognize that I will most certainly have become a slave to an approximately 8 pound animal. I became an enabler. And I know all about enablers! So, here are the further lengths that I went to. I dug up some daylilies (because anyone with daylilies knows you can always divide them and still have plenty) and quickly "potted" them in some leftover plastic pots from hanging plants. I put them in the front corner, inside the run (at the end of her pacing lane). Why did I not plant them right in the ground? Because any loose soil is met with absolutely joy by a flock of chickens who continue to scratch it up and excavate yet another dust bath for themselves. 

Today I decided to keep busy and away from the back yard for a few hours (i.e. show some tough love to Houdini and exert a little strength on my part). And here is the result.

Here are the hastily potted day lilies (notice the leaves that have already been "snipped" off by inquisitive beaks).

And, when I had a look, drum roll please...

Ta da!! 

I know, I need better hobbies.

Anyway, here is a picture of the completed run.

What's that atop the gate, you ask?

Well, that would be the official supervisor, master of all domains, pool cat Murphy. He thinks the wooden strapping was put there for him, little pathways so he can walk all over the run and end up on the roof of the coop.

Just so you know I do something other than agonize over poultry, here is a tiny sample of current garden harvest. 

The alien looking things are rutabagas that I planted from seed. I've never grown them before and I was curious about what they are like (I'm well acquainted with turnips from my German heritage mother and Scottish heritage father). They were good, but obviously need a bit more growing time. The beets were lovely. 

I was cleaning up the front perennial bed and felt so sorry for the delphiniums that were beaten down by a couple of rains, so I cut some and then grabbed some other flowers and stuck them in a vase. I am NOT a flower arranger by any means, but I like the colour.

I will leave you with these gorgeous, although somewhat invasive, crocosmia. I think they are Lucifer. The hummingbirds love them and they look so tropical! Have a great day, everyone!

Monday, 24 July 2023

Little Bandits

 The roof of the chicken run is closed in with chicken wire. This is a good thing because the four red tailed hawks are swooping and calling and having a grand old time overhead and in the general area. 

However, the back corner of the run still has a bit of finishing to do (wooden pieces need to be trimmed off, chicken wire needs to be stapled, and a piece of chicken wire has to be "sewn" in where there will still be a gap. 

This means that local raccoons can still get into the run at night, which they do. Don't worry, the chickens are locked up tight in their coop by me in the evening. This also means that we had to get out the live animal trap again. For anyone who has a similar problem, the bait of choice is marshmallows, ripped open to reveal their temping aroma. Also, one must block off the sides and the back of the live trap (I used concrete blocks and patio stones) because raccoons can and will reach in with their nimble fingers and extract the bait without going into the trap. As well, a deep container is a good idea (tall yogurt container) to put the bait into which is then wired into place in the back of the trap so they really have to work at getting their marshmallows.

Meet bandit #1:

Meet bandit #2:

The second bandit actually ripped the yogurt container right off the wire. 

Don't let those sad little expressions fool you. They are destructive little darlings who would also kill a chicken if given the chance.  These two were caught within three days.

For each raccoon, we drove them out to a very secluded seasonal road (meaning it does not get maintained in the winter time) which leads into the woods and is not close to someone else's property and released them (both in the same spot, just in case they were siblings). 

I think there is a large mother raccoon still to be caught, but she may be more savvy than her youngsters. We shall see. Either way, a new bait container must be created and wired into place and perhaps three marshmallows with a dab of peanut butter (I'd actually eat that!) might be in order. 

Have you ever had raccoon problems? We've had them in the past a few times, and here is the most recent, if you wish to read about it. Please share your stories. 

Sunday, 16 July 2023

Houdini Chicken and a Construction Project

 I spent a lot of time on looking at netting. The good kind that I wanted, that I knew would last and the size I needed was, of course, sold out and unknown when more would be in. Why was I looking at netting? Two reasons, well actually the first reason is more like four reasons. We have a resident family of red tailed hawks. Mom and the three juveniles fly over our property, calling out, throughout the day. They sit on top of our neighbour's roof. They sit on the rail fence that borders our property and stare at the chicken run. Mother hawk (I think) took a swoop down at Murphy! (He subsequently leapt up into the air and tried to get her).

The other reason I was looking at netting was a hen I have named "Houdini chicken". In all the years that I have had chickens, I have never had a problem with chickens flying out of our run. The fence around their run is four feet tall. The only one who ever flew out was a nasty little piece of work Banty rooster named Rusty (yes, Friendly Giant reference for my Canadian friends). 

However, one of the "new" hens, a lavender Orpington, has taken to jumping up on a fence post and then jumping down onto the lawn. We corralled her back into the run several times. I worried about her escaping into the acres of weedy brush to the west of us, or being eaten by a predator if she didn't return quickly enough, so I watched some videos on how to clip wing feathers. It doesn't hurt the bird and it makes them somewhat unbalanced in their flight attempts and keeps them more grounded. After one of her escapes, husband and I caught her and I clipped her flight feathers of her right wing (you only do one side). 

Then, a couple of days ago, husband felt generous with his time and energy and began to build a structure over the chicken run in order to enclose it with a chicken wire roof (better than netting). I helped as much as I could.

Here's a progress pic so far. He had previously built (and refurbished) the chicken coop for me as well. 

Much more work has been done since I took this shot a couple of days ago. You can see the hens eating and scratching around. Please note the one whitish/grey chicken farthest to the right, facing outward. She will feature prominently in the rest of the post.

Let me introduce you to Houdini chicken. Here she is frantically pacing back and forth along the fence line. On this particular construction day, she was acting positively neurotic. Her beak was open (no, it wasn't too hot, no she wasn't lacking water), she frequently pushed her head through the openings in the wire fence, and regardless of wing clipping, she was able to do this:

Yup, with some upward estimating and some good knee flexing, she flapped her way up to the top of the fence post. MANY TIMES. I would turn her around and she would jump back down into the run with the other chickens. After jumping up to the fence post maybe four or five times, I actually held her , stroking her little chicken head, feeling her heart beating out of her chest, and asked her what the issue was. She had a good life here, everything she could want, was it because the grass was literally greener on the other side of the fence? 

Anyway, chicken neuroses aside, husband continued to build and I continued to help, and at one point we were on the other side of the run and Houdini chicken jumped up and out AGAIN and I was just too damn tired of her foolishness to go get her, so we finished up whatever we were doing and after a minute, husband asked where she was. I didn't see her but figured she couldn't have gotten far. We started to look for her and in true Houdini style, she had disappeared. 

I have a couple of perennial beds that are parallel to each other and form a pseudo walkway of grass between them toward the chicken coop. I started parting plants and looking to see if maybe she was hiding in there. And eventually, look what I found:

There she was, tucked under a day lily, contentedly "purring" and not bothered by the fact that I had discovered her. Then upon closer inspection, I saw some broken egg shell under the same flowers. This was actually her nest! She laid an egg in there, popped out of the perennial bed and went straight back toward the fence, whereby husband opened the gate for her and she went right back in as happy as could be. There were, in fact, three other broken egg shells in there. Unbeknownst to us, she had been "flying the coop" regularly, laying her egg, and flying back in. (I'm not sure why the eggs before this were broken, either something had discovered them and eaten the contents, or her first few attempts at eggs had brittle shells).

Alas, for those of you forward thinkers, we realize that the chicken run will very soon be enclosed from the top with sturdy chicken wire. I am already anxious about Houdini chicken's future stress levels. (Yes, I know I have a problem). If I am home and in the yard and I see her pacing, I will just open the gate for her, let her out to do her thing, and then let her back in. Others have also suggested I transplant some daylilies in the run for her to lay her eggs in there, but for anyone who has ever had chickens, we know that chickens love nothing better than to scratch, dig dust bath holes and generally decimate all plant material in their runs. Eventually, I suppose, she will just have to suck it up and use a nesting box in the coop like everyone else, but it would seem she has some pretty strong "wild chicken instinct", escaping and finding a protected little hidey hold in which to lay her eggs. Ahhh, my life.

And on a different note, yesterday was my birthday and here is the cake that daughter and boyfriend arranged to me:

Isn't that a hoot! It was delicious! (carrot cake). 

Do share your own neurotic animal stories and the lengths to which you have gone for your own furry or feathered friends. (So I know I'm not alone).