The “leftovers” scam during the polite days.

So it has been a few days since the last posting so I thought I would share a small story I found humorous this morning.
Gretchen the cat has always been a fussy eater. You would think that an animal that was feral for a portion of her youth would be willing to eat any size portion that was put in front of her. Nope. Usually only tuna-based wet food and only salmon-flavored dry food. Sometimes she will demand dry food three times until she gets enough, sometimes she will demand food and eat three pieces. Enter her partners in food-scamming crime. We began to sense a pattern. Gretchen would wander by her sisters and then come to us and demand food. We, being the ever faithful servants, would deliver. Three small pieces later she would wander off and miracle of miracles, of of her sisters would be there to finish up her leftovers so that Gretchen had fresh food every time.

cat and dog sitting side-by-side
Mali and Gretchen, co-conspirators.

At first we thought this coincidence. After all, don’t these two seem innocent? It soon became apparent that some type of food-trading scheme was going on. We weren’t sure what Gretchen was receiving in return, but for a good amount of time we allowed the “leftovers” scam to continue. It seemed to contribute to a degree of sisterly-bonding between the three we reasoned.

Fast forward to several days ago. It is unclear what brought this scam to such a horrible point. Gretchen has finally started venturing forth from the house in the warm weather. Perhaps she isn’t delivering on some winter promise of all the mouse-heads the girls could eat. It really is unclear. However, Mali has now escalated the leftovers scam. Mali will hover over Gretchen getting closer and closer until she is resting her nose on Gretchen’s back while she eats. Or, horror of horrors, drool on Miss Gretch. This forces the cat to abandon her food more quickly, so that Mali gets a bigger portion of the loot. Mali took it to an all-time high yesterday when, after finishing her dinner in another room, came scrambling into the kitchen where the cat was eating and leapt onto her dog bed causing it to slide into the cat, pushing her out of her food bowl. Observing this, Mrs. BoDonkey commented, “Well, it looks like it has turned from a leftovers scam into a pushovers scam.” I found this funny, the cat — not so much. Moral of the story, All good scams depend on the willingness of the participants to play well together!


“…the next guy that says, ‘Hijinx’, gets pistol whipped…”

So, little Gracie barked a couple of times in the night -not her going out bark, more her, “there is a skunk I want to play with” bark, or her “there is a fox making noise” bark, or even her “a squirrel is eating something out of the large paper bag of birdseed that got left on the porch right outside the front door” bark – so of course we told her to be quiet and go to sleep.

Come this morning, the BoDonkey family woke up and looked out the balcony doors toward the barn only to find the Mustang standing in his favorite spot sleeping – not inside his locked up corral. We went up to feed and found that Dakota’s stall door had been left unlatched. He had pushed it open, proceeded to tear the bale of hay in the aisle apart, and then opened the aisle door to freedom. Luckily the barn is completely fenced, so no foul. The only damage was to the bale that Gracie normally sits on to eat her morning carrot. She was quite disappointed.

Moral of the story, we need to work on expanding Gracie’s vocabulary.

Spring has sprung, but…

The crocus are in full bloom and the daffodils have shown their green face, but they are predicting a nor’easter for this weekend. For those of you that don’t know what a nor’easter is (from Wikipedia):

A nor’easter (also northeaster; see below) is a macro-scale cyclone occurring along the upper East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada. The name derives from the direction of the strongest winds—as an offshore air mass rotates counter-clockwise, winds tend to blow northeast-to-southwest over the land in those regions.

It is unclear how much snow we are going to get. Originally they predicted up to 7″, but now they have downgraded it. Early spring is always frustrating, you see plants popping up in the yard, but the weather doesn’t let you do as much as you want or need to do.

yellow shallots poking up
Yellow shallots in Spring

Case in point, we were a little late in getting the shallots uncovered from their winter mulch.The yellow shallots suffered a little, but should recover just fine.


The fate of the grey shallots is a little more questionable. Every Fall we cover both the shallots and the garlic with a thick bed of hay to protect them for the Winter. We try to get the garlic and shallots planted around

shallots poking up
Grey shallots in spring

end of Oct. beginning of Nov. (Zone 6b). Depending on the weather we have in Fall, we can sometimes see the garlic greens already poking through. The shallots love the covering through Winter, but typically don’t push through the covering in Spring leading to yellowing of the leaves. The grey shallots suffered a little more this year and we are hoping they recover.




:Back to thinking about the limitations of Spring weather. One positive point is that it forces you to take care of those Spring chores that involve being inside. Here at Spring Hill Farm, that means starting seeds. We try to save our seeds, but we also buy or acquire our seeds from a number of wonderful sources. Many of our heirloom varieties come from Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit that connects people interested in preserving heirloom varieties together. They have a wide variety of seeds for sale, but also have a membership service that allows members to easily trade seeds directly. Johnny’s Selected Seeds. We have had good luck with their products and you can find them in a lot of garden centers.

We have set-up a seed starting center in our basement. Sabine says it is too messy to post a picture, so I’ll have to describe it instead. We used to have individual shelves with gro-lights mounted above, but this proved limiting. We now have large counters with adjustable height gro-lights hung above. This allows for a variety of different sized flats and more flexibility about how long we can have the seedlings inside before we harden them off outside. In the past we would run out of height. All of our

flats have temperature controlled mats to keep the feet of the seedlings just right. We like Hydrofarm germination mats and they are available in a variety of sizes. It is important to pay attention to what temperatures your seedlings want in order to germinate – hotter isn’t always better!

Last year we got a set of hoop benders for both low and high house set-ups. We hope in the near future to be able to expand our seeding outside to allow us to enjoy the fresh air while getting this important chore done.

Let us know about your seeding set-up in the comments!

Font-Awesome and WordPress

I’m starting to wrap my head around WordPress – and believe me, with a head this thick that takes awhile! At any point, I love using Font-Awesome (btw – they don’t have a specific icon for their font-awesome product, I think they use fa-flag . They do have one for fort-awesome an interesting way to partially monetize font-awesome – check it out!). There are a bunch of plug-ins out there, but many of them use older versions of font-awesome, or place some restrictions on where you can use it. A quick and dirty way that you can use it in many themes is by altering your theme’s ‘function.php’ file.

You can either set up a new action within your function.php file:

function prefix_enqueue_awesome() {
wp_enqueue_style( 'prefix-font-awesome', '//maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/font-awesome/4.5.0/css/font-awesome.min.css', array(), '4.5.0' );
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'prefix_enqueue_awesome' );

Alternatively, just insert:
wp_enqueue_style( ‘prefix-font-awesome’, ‘//maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/font-awesome/4.5.0/css/font-awesome.min.css’, array(), ‘4.5.0’ );

into the existing enqueue_scripts function. Either way, updates to the theme will likely overwrite this change, so it is something you will have to keep in mind!

As I said, I’m new to WordPress and I would love some feedback on this method. Do you use Font-Awesome on your site, and if so, how?

I would also love to get some feedback on Fort-Awesome. I think I’m going to head over there and check out their free plan!



Whether appropriate or not, it is the weekend and Bo enjoys kickin’ back with a brew or two (just kidding, we only give him a sip now and then.)

So, you’ve met Bo, but I thought I would take the opportunity to introduce you to the rest of our crew. As the weeks go by I’ll dig into the wayback machine and tell you some stories about each of them.

MandGThis is Mali and Gracie. When we finally decided that we would get a dog, we were a little worried about the amount of time we spent away from the house. In the end we decided to get two so they could keep each other company. We questioned this decision for the first six months or so, now I can’t imagine having done things any differently. I’ll tell you some stories in other posts about “incidents” and their hijink!

Dakota the BLM mustang
Dakota at Spring Hill Farm

This is Dakota. He is a rescue mustang from the BLM. He is actually a double rescue. After leaving BLM land he did some duty as a trail horse before being given up for dog food. Some kind people saw him at the slaughter auction and bought him up. Some day I’ll tell you the story of how he came to Spring Hill Farm. It involves a dude ranch, “adventure riding” (highly endorsed!! ) and the next resident of Spring Hill Farm.

This is Hussar’s Tessaria. She is (was) a full-blood Arabian out of the stud Hussar. She was my wife’s horse and sadly passed away in Feb. 2015 at the age of 34. She is very dearly missed. We had a lot of ups-and-downs with this girl. She had spirit and an ability to find every hole in the meadow!


This is Gretchen. She was abandoned on our farm, flea collar still around her neck. All Summer and Fall we saw her darting around the property –

Gretchen bed
Nuttin’ more comfy than a bed of dog toys

likely sleeping under the deck. Finally when it started getting cold Sabine managed to coax her inside. We took her to the vet and they said she was about 1 year old. That was about 8 years ago. She is still an indoor/outdoor cat. In Spring/Summer/Fall she is out with the dawn and sometimes doesn’t come back inside. In Winter though, she curls up in from of the fire and doesn’t go anywhere. Smart cat!

What sort of hosting is best?

Greetings to all my readers!

Inside joke, but seriously, thanks for reading Mom

So, I didn’t make it out of bed when I thought I would this morning, so I didn’t have time to post. I thought I would squeeze a quick one in (wink, wink) before dinner. Right now I’m Stick_and_carrotusing conventional hosting through Green Geeks and through StartLogic. They both have their pluses and minuses. Startlogic was chosen several years ago simply based on price. Green Geeks was chosen because of their resale program where I can buy space and sell it to clients. While this can be an attractive carrot to wave in front of clients. I can offer really cheap hosting and a more permanent link to the person who designed their page, plus it makes deploying their site much easier, since I design it on my resale site and simply turn the admin password over to them once I get payment. However, there is a significant stick being waved at me. The biggest stick is that I am support in this situation. If there site goes down at 3 in the morning my time – guess who has to be on the phone fixing it! The other stick is pricing. While the cost per month isn’t huge, I have no idea when I will get enough clients taking advantage of the offer to break even. THe other thing I was thinking about was finding more of a niche with web app friendly hosting by getting a VPS and reselling space on that device. This however puts me even more behind the service 8 ball. So, what suggestions do all of you have for me?

Welcome to the Garden!



Our site is still dormant from the winter, but it is sure to have green shoots of wisdom pushing up toward the sun soon.  We plan on having an “Ask the Gardener” section, as well as a lot of helpful hints about things like identifying invasive species.

In the meantime, sign up in the sidebar to receive gardening hints, as well as reminders that are specific to your zone!

Which CMS?

Slight diversion for two things before I get into the meaty goodness of my post.

1. I’ve decided that I should force myself to leave a blog post every morning. Most times I’ll focus on what I’m currently learning both from the perspective of a student and an educator of several decades.

2. Several weeks ago I read an interview of Lori Smith by Joyce Akiko (joyceakiko.com).

[fac_icon icon=”quote-left”]Lori Smith is a self-taught coder with absolutely no background in tech, and she’s 60 going on 61… and she just launched her first sites. Today she shares with us why aging isn’t a time of loss, it’s a time of opportunity![fac_icon icon=”quote-right”]

I have to admit that I haven’t listened to the entire episode, but I did read the transcript. There is some really interesting take-aways and I encourage people to head over and give it a read. For myself, it hit a personal chord. As you know from my about page, I’m trying to change careers at middle age. I reached out to Lori (mother-coder.com). She got back to me fairly quickly and also said she is writing up an article on tips for later-life coders and wants to include me! Keep your eyes open here and on her site for the article when it comes out.

Meaty Goodness

wordpress-bikeOkay, I know this has been fought out on a number of sites, but with a new release of Drupal I think it may be time to re-visit the subject.

[fac_icon icon=”wordpress” color=”#1e73be” font_size=”50″]ordpress versus [fac_icon icon=”drupal” color=”#1e73be” font_size=”50″]rupal.

I’ve been building out a set of portfolio pieces, mostly using either straight HTML/LESS or in Drupal, and I have to say, I’m really, really liking Drupal except for my abysmal PHP skills. Now coming back to WordPress I feel confined and slightly lost – even though I’ve built out a ton of sites in the past!

To be fair, most of my focus on the Drupal sites has been building the sites themselves. The work has been split evenly between building a new theme and customizing another one. So I’ve had my hands mainly under the hood, so to say. With WordPress I’m really just using it as a blogging platform. I think I’m going to have to explore the blogging tools available for Drupal to make a more fair comparison, plus get my hands dirty modifying the code over here.

I’m don’t have a lot of experience with either CMS, so I’m reaching out to my readers for help.Which CMS you prefer? Which system if friendlier under the hood versus from a user perspective? How about the quality, cost and number of plugins/modules? WordPress Woocommerce versus Drupal Commerce? So many questions!

Thanks for listening to my brayings!