Apr 182013
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In going through my e-mails today, I came across a newsletter from the website About.com about frugal living. It contained a list of plants that keep various pests away, and there were several links to making homemade flea treatments for pets, tips on keeping ants at bay, and how to make a fruit fly trap.  I’ve taken the liberty to condense it into a five page pdf, and downloaded the companion plant chart that came with as well. Hope you find it helpful as you do your Spring Flower and plant shopping! You can visit the About.com website and sign up for literally hundreds of free newsletters on about any topic under the sun.

Now it’s time to go play in the dirt.

Or feel free to share your own gardening and pest control tips


A Dog’s Eye View: What’s up with the Chelmsford Dog Park?

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Apr 122013
Dog Park Concept Plan54 Richardson Road
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Please thank Anna B. for getting me off my butt to tend to my blog. There are many things happening around Town (as always). Some days I feel like a squirrel and all the nuts are across the busy street.

But back to Anna’s inquiry…”so how’s the Dog Park Plan coming?”

After four years of looking at multiple sites all over Town, I am happy to report that at this spring’s Town Meeting, Warrant Article 23 will seek to designate a two acre area of 54 Richardson Rd. for use as a Dog Park.

Now some of you are probably sitting here going, “Are you kidding me? Isn’t that where the DPW lives? Why would I want to bring my dog THERE????” And there are others of you asking, “What the…who’s paying for THIS????” And there are probably others of you saying, “By all that’s holy, it’s about time, I’m sick of stepping in dog crap everywhere else!!!” And then there’s that last bunch of you saying “We have enough parks, why do we even need this?”. I will handle these questions, and I’ll even add answers to some other questions I haven’t listed here.

Yes, the DPW currently has their facilities at 54 Richardson Rd., but they will be leaving for their new home at 9 Alpha Rd. sometime later this year. That will open up much of this area for improvements, since right now there is a giant, huge massive pile of dirt and stuff there. The pile of dirt and stuff will be moved somewhere, and in it’s place the Chelmsford Dog Association (CDA) will partner with the Town to construct and maintain a dog park like the one pictured above.  The CDA has been and will continue to fundraise for the park, and once we find a site, we can move forward with finding grants and other funding sources to get it done.

There is a written plan available for download on the CDA website that will give more detail about what we’d like to do there. The idea of a Dog Park was initiated in 2009 by Erik Merrill, Chelmsford’s Animal Control Officer, who even back then was receiving multiple complaints from angry people about dog feces being left on public land, dogs running off leash and getting into conflicts with people, other dogs, cars and wildlife. He realized that people have no place to legally let their dogs run in Chelmsford, and if such a place was available, there would be less dogs running around these public places creating problems for everyone else. He announced a meeting for interested residents to meet and talk about this, and the Chelmsford Dog Association was born. We have applied for our 503(c) designation, which we hope to receive this year, and to date have raised close to $7,000.00 toward a dog park.

The site on Richardson Rd. will need a lot of TLC, and we’re estimating it could cost around $100,000.00 by the time we’re done. With the help of volunteers and interested residents, we will get there. We will continue to host our various events like the Spring Flea Market and Howl’ween. Walgreens is planning a Dog Rally in June which may include a walk-a-thon. We will be visible at the Town’s July 4th activities and parade., and we’ll be providing breakfast and lunch for the German Shepherd Rescue League’s Walk-n-Wag at the 4-H Fairgrounds in September. All of these events and more will help fund our work for the Dog Park.

The CDA would like to thank Town Manager Paul Cohen, former Conservation Commissioner Beth Logan, former Conservation Agent Thad Soule, current Conservation Agent Alison LeFlore, Town Engineer Scott Ludwig, and North Chelmsford Water Commissioner Bruce Harper for their assistance and patience with me for getting us where we are today. There are many others that have helped us along the way, it’s going to be a long speech on Opening Day!

Other things you can look forward to will be the next Coloring Contest for the kids, and a contest to name the park. We will also be announcing work sessions for the design, engineering, and construction of the park.

Anyone with questions is highly encouraged to ask them here or visit our Facebook page under “Chelmsford Dog Park” or “Chelmsford Dog Association”.

Our next meeting will be held at the Chelmsford Police Station Community Room, 2 Olde North Rd., on Wednesday, May 8, at 7PM. Everyone is welcome at our meetings, even the kids. Thank you for your support!

A Dog’s Eye View: The latest in Local Dog News

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Mar 062013
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In spite of Mother Nature’s latest shenanigans, the Chelmsford Dog Association is preparing for Spring.

Richardson Road Proposed Dog ParkFirst up, is the Chelmsford Spring Town Meeting, which starts on April 29. The Spring Town Meeting Warrant is now signed by the Board of Selectmen. Article 23 will designate an area of 54 Richardson Rd to be used as a dog park. Article 29 will allow off-leash dogs in an area designated by the Town. The Chelmsford Dog Association is asking supporters for a dog park in Chelmsford to let their Town Meeting Representatives know that having a public dog park is a desired project, and to ask them to vote in favor of these two articles. Once these steps are complete, the group can finally work on building the park. They’ll be asking for lots of help then. Thanks to all of you for getting the word out.  Please feel free to ask questions-if I don’t know, I’ll find out! Thank you-on behalf of the Chelmsford Dog Association.

For May, the CDA will host their Third Annual Spring Flea Market on May 18, from 9AM-1PM at the Chelmsford Senior Center. Many Vendors are wanted to make this event a huge success. The good news is that it is very easy to be a vendor-anyone and everyone can do it. A 10×10 space can be yours for a $25.00 donation to the CDA, the proceeds of which will be used for dog park planning expenses. Non-profit groups can get a space for free. The flyer and application have been attached for convenience. You can sell whatever you’d like as long as its legal, and not hotdogs, chips or drinks because the CDA will be selling those for lunch. They will have coffee and donuts for the breakfast crowd as well.

For June, Walgreens will host their Third Annual Dog Rally. They are still working on setting a date for this one, and this year’s rally will include a walk-a-thon. All proceeds from this event will also be used for the Dog Park. More details will be available as I get them.

In July, look for the CDA’s float in the July 4th parade. They will also have a table at the Country Fair on the Common.

The German Shepherd Rescue League is working on their plans for their Annual Walk-n-Wag in September. This year’s event will be held at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Westford. This was a wonderful event last year-we had a great time.

Howl’ween will be held in October, and it’s way too soon to be thinking about that. Unless you are like CDA member Will Wagner, and already planning what Violet will wear this year. She was a sheep last year. Competition gets tougher each year, the costumes get more and more ornate, and I expect it the bar to be even higher this year.

A Dog’s Eye View looks at: The Dog Days of Summer

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Aug 202012
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Several weeks ago (yes, the end of July), I went out feed the rabbits and I noticed one of them had started to shed his summer coat. This usually happens around now (the middle to the end of August), so I was surprised to see this starting so early. About a week after that, I noticed the huskies were starting to plop their summer tufts, and the goose has started his semi-annual molt early as well. I’ve noticed an inordinate amount of leaves on the ground, but I’ll just blame that on the torrential rain we’ve had recently. Fall is in the air. Already? It’s eighty degrees out!

Today I’m scanning the headlines, and the focus is on back-to-school. My middle-schooler has her schedule and is happy with the teachers she got. My high school senior son is in full football mode already. Found his schedule, and I see he’s traded Spanish for Latin, has the usual ecology, sociology, haulocost and calculus type courses, and…furniture construction. All that wood we’ve had him haul, maul and split for heat next winter must have had an effect on him. Winter is coming. Egads.

Winter is the time to lug buckets of water to the barn animals. And chop up the ice in their buckets, while running out the mice and moles from the grain bins. The squirrels challenge the chickens for their grain, which, last year, they tediously lugged to the holes they gnawed in our roof to spend the winter in. Noisiest neighbors I ever had. They learned to hate paintballs. The chickens will generally stop laying eggs by the beginning of December, and they’ll start again in March. Spring is arriving at that point.

Spring brings a new round of shedding fur and feathers at our house. The fishtank heaters no longer burn brightly at all hours of the day and night. The goose and the rooster want to have their way with any female creature that crosses their path, and God help anything they suspect may be trying to encroach their women.

The dogs in our house love the summer. They can sprawl out on any floor, all day long. No crate time when the kids are home, although sometimes they’ll nap in one anyway.

The chinchilla, on the other hand, despises the heat of summer. He refuses to lay on the cool granite slab in his three story cage, preferring instead to give me heart failure laying on his side panting pathetically until you reach in to check him, and then instantly re-inflates and flies around the cage at speeds ranging from 42-63 MPH for 5-10 seconds. We put a window unit air conditioner in, just for him. We thought the huskies would rejoice, too. The big young one still sleeps in the hot kitchen. Sometimes, he pants pathetically. Other times, he lays on his back, feet in very odd and unatural angles, tail in the water bowl, tougue on the floor. Life is good.

A Dog’s Eye View: A Plethora of Information for You

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May 152012
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Consider this a later Mother’s Day gift. I’ve spent the last two weeks making notes on various things I could write about and it looks something like this:

Why don’t squirrels get rabies, what is mange, how can I attend the CDA Flea Market at Countryside Vet Hospital this weekend and still grab a burger at the Military Community Covenant Barbeque at Agway happening at the same time. What the devil happened to my keys this time? What’s up with the yellow chain gate at Agway? Where did my money go? Isn’t there a chocolate cat event on the 18th?  Look up moose migration patterns. Pay car insurance.

Let’s start with mange: Straight from Wikipedia, I present the following:

Mange is the common name for a class of skin diseases caused by parasitic mite. Since mites also infect plants, birds, and reptiles, the term “mange”, suggesting poor condition of the hairy coat due to the infection, is sometimes reserved only for pathological mite-infestation of non-human mammals. Thus, mange is a term used to describe mite-associated skin disease in domestic animals (cats and dogs), in livestock (such as sheep scab), and in wild animals (for example, coyotes, cougars, and bears).[2][3] Since mites belong to the arachnid subclass Acari (also called Acarina), another term used to describe mite infestation is acariasis.

Mammalian parasitic mites that cause mange embed themselves either in skin or hair follicles, depending upon their genus. Sarcoptes spp. burrow into skin, while Demodex spp. live in follicles.

In humans, these two types of mite infections, which would otherwise be known as “mange” in furry mammals, are instead known (respectively) as scabies and demodicosis. However, the mites that cause these diseases in humans are closely related to those that cause the mange in other mammals.”

From my own witness accounts of dogs affected by this disease, it can be treated with antibiotics or sulphur baths. Treatment takes up to a month. The baths smell horrible, and Erik the ACO has lost many an article of clothing treating the dogs that have come in like this. The dogs in these cases regained all of their coat,  and have gone on to live happy lives with other people.

From e-med TV, we have the following about squirrels and rabies:

Rabies and Squirrels: An Overview

Squirrels are almost never found to be infected with the rabies virus. Squirrels also have not been known to cause rabies in humans within the United States. Bites from a squirrel are not considered a risk for rabies unless the animal was sick or behaving in an unusual manner, and rabies is widespread in the area. In all cases regarding rabies and squirrels, consult the state or local health department before making a decision to begin rabies treatment.

What About Rabies in Other Rodents?

Besides squirrels, other small rodents (such as rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and chipmunks,) and lagomorphs (such as rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have also not been known to cause rabies among humans in the United States. However, from 1985 through 1994, woodchucks accounted for 86 percent of the 368 cases of rabies among rodents reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Woodchucks or groundhogs (Marmota monax) are frequently the only rodents that may be submitted to state health departments because of a suspicion of rabies.”

In general, any mammal can carry rabies, it would appear that some animals get it easier than others, and no one knows why-but there are those that have their theories.

Since this is now long enough, I’ll wrap it up by saying I’m going to forgo the burgers this year (bummer!) as I’ll be serving hotdogs at the Flea Market. Let’s all thumb our noses at Weight Watchers, and visit both events-for a satisfying breakfast and lunch! Also, on May 18th you can attend the Billerica Cat Care Coalition’s 8th annual Chocolate Tasting being held at the Indian Ridge Country Club on 73 Lovejoy Rd. in Andover. Tickets are $25.00, and all proceeds benefit the cats.

And finally-the chain across the Agway parking lot when the store is closed has nothing to do with Rail Trail Traffic-they love the Rail Trail users. Unfortunately, they’ve had an issue with after hours visitors driving away with inventory, so something had to be done.

I’ll tackle the rest of the list next time. Until then, to quote a post I saw on Facebook: Cigarettes are like squirrels – they’re both completely harmless until you stick one in your mouth and light it on fire.