Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve, 2010

Driving through North Carolina, the Harvest Season is a very real thing. The cotton is being picked, the other fields are empty, and many are already being winterized. In my own family, harvesting the fields is a little less familiar. I've never spent a day in a field, much less a hard day in one. I've never depended on such a day in the field to put food on the table. For my family, harvest season is less about the crops in the field.

Tomorrow, families and friends all across the country will gather to celebrate this season. For some of them, the crops from the field are still just as much a part of the celebration as they have been for hundreds of years in this country.
For the rest of us, this holiday, Thanksgiving, is less about the crops in the fields, and more about the successes of the year behind us.

I read this quote today:

Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving - H.U. Westermayer

I think that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving. The true successes of a life, and of a year, never come easily. Sometimes intense heat in a field, or intense scrutiny in an office. There are disappointments, and even failures along the way, and we acknowledge them on all of those other days. We acknowledge them, and we address them, and we do our best to get past them. Then we set aside this day, this single day, to not notice them. This day is not about them, this day is about our successes.

Tomorrow we give thanks for the fortune and the bounty of a table with our loved ones. Whether your bounty is in food or in laughter, in love or in numbers, we celebrate together. Its been a year of hard work, and we have succeeded.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Taking the plunge & Transition - Prey model

Its certainly been no secret that I've wanted better food for my dogs. I've been researching it off and on for years, and especially since deciding that we want to start showing dogs in the future.
Well we finally took the plunge 12 days ago into what is called "Prey Model" raw feeding.
The idea here is that Dogs are naturally carnivores, and therefore we should feed them as such.

I won't get into the details, but I will provide links for more information, should you be interested.
Calculator to determine how much/what to feed.
Anyway - here's the results of almost two weeks of raw feeding:

We started them out on dark-meat chicken quarters, with skin removed. The skin/fat is pretty hard to digest if they're not used to it, and its already a big change, so I removed it. They were admittedly confused by the new meal, and it took a while for them to get the hang of it, but once they did - they loved it.

Day 3 we had a bit of a mishap overnight. I think I left too much skin on the chicken, and someone had some tummy trouble upstairs. I made sure afterwards to be more careful - and things have gone well.

Day 8, I added a heart & gizzards to the regular meal. While this was received eagerly, it did seem to cause some digestive upset because I didn't provide any bone to counteract the amount of protein/phosphorous. (in other words, it wasn't a balanced meal)

Day 11 - We've noticed that they look thin, but this is likely because i've been removing the skin from the chicken, which in turn removes a lot of calories. I've begun (slowly) adding the skin back in, and they seem to be handling it fairly well, and will hopefully regain some of the lost weight.
I've also noticed Boston being more playful in the daytime.
Everyone seems to smell less like a dog, and the backyard is surprizingly clean.
I'm not thrilled with their coat texture at the moment, but from what I understand this is a normal "detox" situation, and they often shed some rough unpleasant fur while they're getting bad stuff out of their bodies, and that it will go away as the diet gets more established. They may also need the oils from the chicken skin they haven't been getting until now.

Their meals do not currently include organ meat, which will increase their nutrient and caloric intake considerably.

This week - I'm hoping to add ground beef to the menu - but need to stock up on bones to balance it out. Ground beef is fattier and higher calories, as well as being better for Boston's heart condition, so i'm excited to see those improvements.

We were also brought some "offal" from a local hunter, and are very appreciative. Shane is going hunting this weekend, so hoping that goes well too!