Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chicago-area Edible Garden Tour

The Sugar Beet Food Store Cooperative (“Sugar Beet Co-op”), a community based, member-owned, full service grocery store is hosting its 3rd Annual Edible Garden Tour Saturday, July 26 from 10am - 3pm.

At the peak growing season, participants can get a peek inside the beautiful edible gardens of neighbors in Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest and Austin. Visitors will learn about urban agriculture, organic gardening, raised beds, successive planting and more. Cycling from garden to garden is encouraged.

Highlights of this year’s Edible Garden Tour include:

Back by popular demand: The Ioder Goat Farm housed in a backyard garage in the Austin neighborhood, Chicago

Examples of successful community gardens including Wonderworks Childrens Museum, The Longfellow Family Garden Club Garden, the Forest Park Community Garden and the Dominican Priory Garden

A private home in North Oak Park that completely converted their front and back yard into an orchard and vegetable garden

A private home in South Oak Park with a children's garden including a cucumber teepee

“This year, we’re really seeing more people trying their hand at growing their own food,” said Jill Niewoehner, chairwoman of the Edible Garden Tour. “The number of families raising chickens has increased too. This event is ideal for those curious about gardening with edibles and for people looking for inspiration to try something new and different in their gardens.”

Tickets are limited and may sell out. Order tickets online in advance at Co-op Members are $10, General Public $12 and Kids are FREE, but everyone must register. Become a new member of The Sugar Beet Co-op the day of the Edible Garden Tour and your tickets to the tour are free! Walk up ticket sales, check in, and map pickup the day of the tour is from 9:30-2pm at future site of The Sugar Beet Co-op 812 Madison, Oak Park.

Also, raffle tickets will be sold at The Sugar Beet Co-op for a chance to win a $250 garden consult and or a signed copy of the book, “From the Ground Up,” by Jeanne Nolan the Organic Gardener responsible for the edible gardens at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The Sugar Beet Co-op will be open to the public in early 2015. Member-owners of the Sugar Beet Co-op will receive store discounts, voting rights, and patronage dividends. Membership is open to everyone and can be purchased through the Sugar Beet Co-op’s website.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

For Love of George

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since
(I've) been here . . .

~ George Harrison

Not that George . . . this George!

Our sweet old boy had his thirteenth birthday just before Christmas.  He's the primary reason I've been absent from the blog so long. 

 Back in early 2012, we received the presumptive diagnosis of Degenerative Myelopathy - the explanation for mysterious, progressive neurological symptoms we'd been seeing in our sweet boy since late summer of 2011.  DM is a disease of the canine spinal column, believed to be autoimmune, where the body attacks the myelin sheath that protects and insulates nerves in the spine.  It's believed to have more than one form - a form that resembles Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in humans, and another that's more similar to ALS.

As the disease progresses, it eventually causes the dog to lose the use of its back legs, and later as it progresses up the spine, the front legs as well.  Left to its natural course it eventually affects the organs of the respiratory system.  Few dogs make it that far, and most either die of other causes or are euthanized due to complications of the disease, or often, due to another illness.

The average lifespan post-diagnosis is only a few months.  Many dog guardians have their dogs euthanized almost immediately after diagnosis, and others, once the dog loses use of their back legs.  

Some, like our sweet old boy, have guardians who opt to do what it takes to keep them happy, healthy, and enjoying life for as long as possible.  It's a lot of work, but for many of us who opt to wait until our dogs are ready to leave us, it's very rewarding, and very worth the effort for these loyal, loving canine members of our families.

We have some special equipment for George.  This was his first doggie wheelchair/a/k/a cart.  Over time, as his front legs compensated for the paralysis in his back legs, this cart got to be difficult to use.  An Angel donated a different cart to us.  It's counterbalanced with a variable axle, and transfers more of his weight to the wheels, taking a lot of extra weight off his shoulders, and giving his freedom for walks and backyard romps back to him once again.

There's also this harness (below).  You can't see the top since  he's busy rolling around in last fall's leaves, but it has handles in the front and back, making it easier for us to lift him and help him get around.  Our sweet old boy is still happy, enjoying life, and doing all the things able-bodied dogs can do.  He just needs a little help.

There's no sugar-coating it though, eventually we'll lose him, either to DM or a complication, unless something else gets him first.  A dog's life is just much too short.  In the meantime though, as long as he's still happy and otherwise healthy, and as long as I can take care of him, we're taking life one day at a time, putting in the effort needed to make sure he gets plenty of exercise and play, good food, lots of supplements targeted for the disease, and a medication that helps slow down the progression in most dogs lucky enough to try it.

We feel fortunate to have had our sweet boy so long.  He's a big dog - a Lab/German Shepherd Dog mix, and he's already outlived the expected lifespan of both breeds.  It's never long enough when you love a dog, but we are blessed still having him with us.  Every day is a gift.

Keeping a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy healthy and happy is a lot of work.  It's physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, and it takes a lot of time and focus.  

His smile, his happiness, and the love . . . they make the sacrifices worthwhile.  Some pictures are worth a thousand words.

So I'll try to make it back here to the blog when I can.  In the meantime, if anyone's looking for me, I've just been a bit busy and preoccupied.  It's all for the love of my sweet George.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
It's all right, it's all right.