Category: Small House Living

Living Large tip of the Week: Recycle a Pet

Animals have been a central theme this week at Living Large, so I thought I would continue that on with the Tip of the Week: Recycle a Pet.

Over 5 million healthy dogs and cats are killed in shelters each year in the United States. Millions more struggle to survive on their own on the streets and in the countryside.

If you put all of the animals killed in shelters each year together, it is more than the human population of Los Angeles and they would equal the populations of Chicago and Houston combined.

That’s a lot of animals.

We taxpayers also foot the $2 billion bill to capture, house and ultimately kill these animals.

Homeless, feral cats also have a profound effect on the environment and eco-system, greatly reducing the number of birds in some areas. I couldn’t find any statistics with regards to how much of an environmental footprint shelters leave on our planet, but it must be astounding.

So, why is it necessary to continue to breed pets or buy “new” pets from breeders or pet stores? It isn’t. It’s American consumerism, the need to have the “best,” the “prettiest,” the “fastest” the “biggest,” the “smallest…” whatever descriptor. It is because we see animals as an extension of our lifestyles, instead of living beings with feelings and emotion.

Some may also feel that shelter or rescue pets are “broken,” or have behavioral issues that cannot be fixed.

That is simply not true. We’ve had a total of 7 rescue cats and 9 rescue dogs (including a foster) in our married lives, none of which required anymore training and socializing than I would have put into a “new” puppy. Of these, 3 of them were purebreds, which also proves you can find purebreds, if you so choose, in rescues and shelters.

There’s a saying in animal rescue: “Shelter animals are not broken, they’ve simply experience more life,” and we’ve found that to be true. Our rescues have all also been the most loyal of pets. Emma, our German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix even saved me once from a charging horse.

Dale brought home a new stray last week. He’s a younger Beagle mix. He is very needy and clingy, he needs lots of attention and love. He also doesn’t seem to have been house trained. But I know when he settles in and he knows we won’t leave him or dump him, he’ll be a great dog.

We’re calling him Dexter, because he has “killer” eyes that will melt your heart.

If you cannot adopt a homeless pet, there are other ways you can help the effort:

  • First and foremost, please make sure to spay and neuter those pets in your care. Two unaltered cats and all their descendants can theoretically number 420,000 in just seven years. Two unaltered dogs and all their descendants can theoretically number 67,000 in just six years.
  • Volunteer your time and any unneeded pet toys, beds, blankets, towels, linens and other items your shelter may need. Food and of course, monetary donations, are always welcome too. Many shelter and rescues have sponsorship programs, which are great gifts for the people in your life that have everything and need nothing.

Here at Our Little House, we believe the 3 R’s of Repurpose, Reuse and Recycle is not just limited to “things;” but also to the beings that we, as a species, have domesticated, making all of us responsible for their humane care and the imprint we leave on the environment in doing so.

We would love to hear all about your recycled pets and how they found you.

On the Road Again at Our Little House

I’ve known for sometime that I would most likely one day be known as the “Crazy Dog Lady” here on the mountain.

Last week, I think Dale thought that day had come to pass.

I wrote in July about our 9-10 year old Doxie, Molly, being diagnosed with a severe enlarged heart.

Unfortunately, Molly cannot take walks with us any longer and this was inhibiting my ability to take Dakota, the Dachshund/Beagle mix on walks. The larger dogs can go out by themselves to roam, but Dakota is too small and now too old and I fear some big bad wild animal will get her if she’s not on a leash.

This left us with only these choices, none of which were good:


Living Large Tip of the Week: Clothespins as Chip Clips

Back in the 1980s when we were just establishing our home, we thought these plastic chip clips were the best things since sliced bread (it turns out commercially produced sliced bread isn’t so wholesome either, but that’s another post…)

As I learned more about plastics and sustainability, I learned that the United States consumes about 30 percent of the world’s resources, although we only make up about 5 percent of the world’s population.

It takes resources to make plastic items and then those items typically end up in the landfill someday.

Dale worked in a landfill for nearly 25 years and saw first-hand the effects of the never- degrading plastic trash discarded.

Our solutions for “chip” clips, which we use on bags of flour, cereal, dog food, dog treats, coffee, etc…

Wooden clothespins.

Wood, of course, is biodegradable, so when these break, we don’t feel as bad chucking them into the trash (or even the fire).

We didn’t even have to worry about any new resources to make our clothespins. We bought a huge older bag of them at a garage sale for .25.

Clip that!

Do you use wooden clothespins on anything besides hang drying clothes, if so, what?

Mountain Time

It’s true that life moves much slower in the country.

Most of the time, this is a good thing, but sometimes it can be well, downright annoying, like when you need a product or service.

Most rural companies provide it on what we like to call here, “Mountain Time.”


The Nesting Season Begins

This is the time of the year when my nesting instincts begin to kick in.

When the weather begins to change, I feel the need to get the house ready for the winter ahead.

We’ve had some warm days, mixed with cool and wet ones, perfect for digging the crock pot out and dusting it off, rearranging the kitchen and making note on what we needed to stock up, just in case of that snow or ice storm. I also need to rotate the closet.

I hate doing that just yet, I miss my cotton peddle pushers in the winter, but the truth is that it has been a week since I’ve worn them, choosing instead my warmer sweats.


Living Large Tip of the Week: Hanging Clothes out to Dry

We all want to save money these days. Most “green” tips will actually help save you money and this one is no different.

I’ve been hanging most of my laundry out to dry for a long time.

It not only saves our clothes from wearing out as fast by fading and shrinking, it saves us on energy.

I didn’t realize how much until I did a test for an article I wrote. (I do dry some things such as towels and furniture covers.)

When I looked at the electric meter during that test, it was spinning way too fast and I knew each head-spinning whirl was costing us big bucks.

How much?

According to the Consumer Energy Center, the dryer is the second most energy using appliance, next to the refrigerator. It costs an average of $85 annually to use and over $1,500 over the course of the lifetime of the unit.

The bonus is that it is a very environmentally friendly thing to do and when using wooden clothespins instead of plastic, completely green.

If it’s cold outside or you cannot hang your clothes out to dry due to silly Homeowner Association rules, hang your clothes inside.

During the winter, this adds valuable moisture to the air. It also makes our house smell fresh and clean!

Do you hang your clothes out to dry? Why do you prefer it?

The Things I Learned this Past Weekend

We had a really good time this past weekend. Saturday was the annual Hillbilly Chili Cook off here, which is always a good time.

On Sunday, coincidently to my post about going solo last week, our part-time neighbors who live back East full time, asked us to a neighborhood cookout. It was fun and good to reconnect with them and meet some of our other “neighbors,” (some are more than 5 miles away).

This weekend was also a learning experience.


Living Large Tip of the Week: Eliminating Junk Mail

Our Old Big Box

Someone once said that life is a journey not a destination.

The same can be said about eliminating unwanted junk mail from your life, it’s an ongoing process, but one so well worth it, both for space and the environment.

In a small home, everything that comes into the space has to have a place or it feels cramped and cluttered. This goes for mail as well.

Piling up the table with unwanted credit card offers and catalogs is not a good thing. For the past several years, we’ve been trying to eliminate the amount of junk mail that comes to Our Little House, a daunting task since we were also receiving mail for my deceased mother for a time.

It seems now is the season for new catalogs to arrive and we’ve been getting credit card offers in droves again.

We have accomplished eliminating about 90 percent of our unwanted mail by doing these three things:

  1. Catalog Choice: This is my favorite website for eliminating unwanted catalogs. It just seems easier than calling the companies directly. Only if my opting out at Catalog Choice doesn’t work, will I call the companies.
  2. DMA: The Direct Mail Marketing Association gives you a 1-stop choice in opting out of credit card offers and other unwanted solicitations.
  3. Going paperless. I now receive almost all of my statements via email. The except to this are statements I need for my business. I just discovered two financial statements I had previously forgotten to opt out of via mail. Usually this only takes a click of your mouse on your bank or creditor’s website.


Have you thought about going green while also reducing the amount of junk mail that comes into your home? Any other tips?

This post is part of the Blogging Bee at Attainable Sustainable.