Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Homemade dog food

We're on a fairly limited income, so I do everything I can to stretch those Belize dollars.  When we decided to buy our beautiful little Shannon, we knew it would stretch our budget a little, but we really couldn't resist those beautiful brown eyes and her crazy personality.  The unexpected was to have a little boy pup placed in my arms with the request that they really wanted good homes for their precious babes.  How could I resist, but woe to the food budget.  We'd already gone thru the trauma of seizures with dear Bailey and preservatives.  We discovered a local food that stated it uses vegetable preservatives and haven't had a repeat of the seizures, but with puppy food for two added, I could see $200 per month being a stretch.  We have a wonderful friend with four dog who makes her own food, so I decided to do some research of my own.  I came up with something that is working well and the dogs all seem to be thriving.

This may not possible in the States because of food restrictions, but I have an arrangement with a local butcher to get the scraps from their blade when they cut meat.  They grind this and sell to me for $1 a pound.  My friend who also uses this adds things to the meat, makes into balls, bakes and then freezes them.   I take another approach.  I cook this meat product in a large frying pan, breaking it up into bits as it cooks.  When done it looks like hamburger.  (I make fairly small batches of food because it can get heavy and hard handle). 

A batch lasts for two feedings a day for three dogs for two days.  
Two cups of uncooked rice in 4 cups of water.
Add approximately 4 cups of meat mixture
Slice three to four large carrots, cook and then run thru processor.

For the pups I give them one cup of dry puppy chow with 8 to 10 ozs of the rice/meat mixture.  Sometimes I'll add a raw egg to each dish.  They get this twice a day.

For Bailey, who is grossly overweight, I was feeding him just once a day, but he would watch the pups eating and it didn't seem fair, so he gets a small feeding twice a day too.  He get about 1/2 cup of adult chow with 6 to 8 ozs of the rice mixture.  I can't really say he's lost weight since we've switched to this mix, but he does seem more alert and has more energy.   

I'm still working to determine exact amounts, but it looks as tho' we'll use about 15# of the meat mixture and 10# of rice a month.  That would translate to about 25$ BZ.  With dry dog food at $80-$90 for 50#, that is a significant savings for our meager budget.  I add whatever cooked vegetables that I can find, but really like the carrots because they have a sweetness that the dogs all seem to like.  By processing them, they're not faced with hunks of vegetables to spit out. 


Monday, July 15, 2013


For quite some time I've known that we had little bats living behind one of the shutters on the window of our guest house.  The clue was the persistent pile of guano on the floor.  When I first discovered it I attributed it to the darned geckos, but soon realized that there was a "pile" rather than little "gifts".  Some time back I had closed the shutter because of the weather & was startled when the bats flew away.  I think we all have creepy visions of bats and what they can do.  These are just tiny little guys who haven't bothered us or made their presence known until then.  For some time I treated this as a cool thing as they eat mosquitoes so was silently cheering them on.  I could only see them if I scrunched against the building and peeked behind the shutter and during the day, they weren't flying.  This peaceful coexistence continued for several months, with me cleaning the guano up with increasing regularity and spreading it on my plants.  I have a clothesline on that veranda and I could hear a faint humming and figured that their numbers were probably increasing.  I finally decided this had to stop for sanitation reasons.  I had Art pull the shutter closed so that I could get a couple of quick photos.  My camera and I are both very slow, so missed a shot of the whole group, but did manage to get a shot of a few of them.  It's easy to miss identifying them during the day as they're the size of a large butterfly and fly in much the same manner.  Flitting instead of flying directly. 

We plan on building a couple of bat houses to encourage them to stay around, but in the yard, not on the house.  From what I've read, one bat can eat it's weight in mosquitoes every day and a pregnant female will eat 2 1/2 times her weight each day.   Now I'd REALLY like to get rid of the geckos.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I guess I've been in a funk

Time just seems to be slipping by. We're not doing much except spending time with the three dogs and doing a lot of reading. Not very productive but such is life. No matter how hard I try to limit my trips into town, I still seem to trudge up and down our hill at least four times a week. I try to take the old Trooper a lot to save the wear and tear on the pickup. Regardless, we've had to scrape up the money for a new set of tires for both vehicles. We keep debating about selling the Trooper as it's expensive to keep up, but Rene uses it a couple of weekends a month and it's security since we're so secluded. It sure isn't pretty, but the 4 wheel-drive works and it just keeps plugging along. I feel as tho' it's a kindred spirit. We both have traveled a lot of miles, are getting old, but are reliable and just keep going.

It's always hard to admit that we're slowing down so much, but Art's health is declining and we both feel that age is kicking us in the backside. I refuse to admit my age, but sometimes it's hard to deny.

The up-side to all this quiet is that I can sit and listen to so many birds and just appreciate the quiet. We are truly blessed to be able to spend this time here on our lovely little place. I have to keep remembering that when I am missing family. When I'm writing, it's always easy to fall into looking at the negative, so I'm going to shut down now, feed the dogs and get our dinner and be thankful that I'm able to do all of these things.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Embassy party

We had a wonderful opportunity to slip outside our everyday rut to celebrate the 4th of July here in Belize at the US Embassy. This year they wanted to celebrate the artistic contributions of Americans residing here thru painting, music and crafts. I was so pleased to be asked to participate with some of my paintings. Rather than actually sending them we each emailed photos and they were shown in a slideshow at the celebration. Since the embassy is closed on the 4th, the picnic was on the 3rd.

Art & I decided to make the trip count by including other errands. The picnic didn't start until 1pm, so we did some hardware shopping on the way. As it turned out, we were still early, so parked on a side street and walked to the Embassy. Wow, security everywhere. I was surprised to see that they were Belizean, rather than American soldiers. In fact most of the staff seemed to be Belizean, and, as it turned out, it appeared that the majority of the guests were also. We had to present our invitation and then were permitted to enter the courtyard. The picnic was under a lovely, large tent, so sun or rain didn't matter. The weather was perfect. Of course, red,white and blue were everywhere. I've enjoyed living in Belize, but I'm proud to be an American. I didn't realize how much I've missed our country until I heard the National Anthem.

When we first arrived, we went thru a reception line and were introduced to the Ambassador, Mr. Thummalapally and his wife, Barbara. They were extremely gracious and not at all pretentious. I was interested in his name and found that he's originally from India, but came to the US to go to College, where he roomed for a time with President Obama. I've heard that's that how most Ambassadors get their appointments, but, from staff comments, we felt they had a great deal of respect for both of them and that they'd made a definite contribution to Belize. It seemed sad to us that after four years here they'll leave soon to return to the US. I hope that the next ambassador will be as good a representative of the US. Sometimes it seems Americans are viewed as wealthy and arrogant.

Due to the harsh light, the slideshow had to be inside, so I doubt that many folks viewed the work, but I'm still pleased to have been included.

We're pretty quiet folks who don't do a lot of mingling and found that we didn't recognize anyone else, so after enjoying barbecued sandwiches, salads and brownies, we chatted with a few folks and headed for home. It's about an hours drive from Belmopan to Bullet Tree and we like to head up our hill before dark. (As a reminder to anyone who might stumble on my blog, here in Belize sunset is close to 6pm year-round). As we left the Embassy, we were surprised to see that they'd blocked off access to the road and only guests and local residents were allowed near. Seemed unusual to me as we're usually the ones who aren't allowed in. It was a lovely diversion for both of us with a couple of little momentos and a page in my blog.