My pets are brushed and checked for ticks every day, but they are all very active and need regular bathing as well - every couple weeks for the dogs, and about once a month for my cats. Yesterday was bath time for my pair of calico Persians and my French Bulldogs. I love to do this task myself when I am home, but since I was traveling, Carlos and Enma were happy to do the job. The most important tips to remember - go slowly, use lukewarm water and only mild pet shampoos, and if using a blow dryer, always position it to the lowest heat setting to prevent skin burns and irritations.
Despite some of their expressions, all the pets did very well. Here are some photos, enjoy.
Bath time takes place in the big laundry room in my Winter House basement. I have two large, deep enameled sinks there, which are good for soaping and rinsing.
My beautiful Empress Tang is first. In general, cats are skittish about water. The key is to make it a gentle and positive experience. Carlos and Enma talk to the cats throughout the entire process. It’s also good to schedule baths when the cat is most relaxed.
Cats have built-in grooming tools and do a lot of self-grooming. Longhaired cats require a bit more grooming care than shorthaired cats. My cats are longhaired, and very active, so bathing is a necessity.
Always use a good quality shampoo specifically made for pets. The shampoo should be diluted in a container of warm water. Enma gently combs Tang’s head and is careful not to get the face wet. Cats do not like getting water in their nasal passages.
After cleaning one area at a time, including tail and legs, fresh lukewarm water is poured over Tang’s body to remove all the shampoo. Removing all traces of shampoo is crucial to prevent skin irritation.
Tang doesn’t seem to mind the soothing lukewarm water.
After her bath, Tang is wrapped in a large terry towel for drying. Be sure to dry in an area free from drafts. Tang is very affectionate, and loves being rubbed and petted.
Not all cats will tolerate a blow-dryer, but my dear Empress Tang is very accustomed to them. Always use the lowest heat setting to dry the coat. Here, Enma uses a damp washcloth to carefully wipe Tang’s face.
Enma then brushes Tang’s coat as Carlos blows it dry – it is always helpful to have two sets of hands.
Enma also brushes Tang’s head very gently, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth.
Here is her tail getting a good combing. Removing matted fur is important because collected mats can cause irritation and hair balls.
Enma goes over the coat one more time to be sure Tang’s coat is tangle-free.
Don’t you feel clean and fresh, Tang?
Once she’s released, Tang scurries upstairs for a nap in her cozy bed.
This is my precious Princess Peony, who is quite used to having a bath, as she’s been receiving them her entire life. However, on this day, she doesn’t look entirely pleased with the idea.
Peony is bathed in the same way, with lukewarm water and special pet shampoo. After her bath, Peony is quickly wrapped in a large terry towel to absorb more water.
It appears Peony prefers being towel-dried over being washed.
Peony actually got a little sleepy while on the table.
My cats are brushed every day to keep their coats as tangle-free as possible. Baths are done when needed.
Princess Peony is a bit more shy than Tang. Almost done, Peony – just a little more brushing.
Creme Brûlée is next. My dogs are also very accustomed to being bathed. The Frenchies are nearly 14-months old and have had many baths. Always keep a close eye on young dogs when bathing – some are very quick to move.
Bete Noire sits nearby and watches. These rolling laundry carts are excellent dog carriers!
Creme Brûlée is a very sweet and loving puppy. She is bathed in the same way as the cats, using lukewarm water and shampoo specifically formulated for pets. Here she is in her large terry towel.
After being towel-dried, Enma blow-dries her coat using the same low heat setting.
While Enma dried and brushed Creme Brûlée, Carlos bathed Bete Noire. Here she is getting toweled dry. Despite the sad expression, the French Bulldog is comical, entertaining, and dependably amiable. The puppies make everyone laugh here at the farm.
Very little grooming is needed for a Frenchie, but it is a good way to examine their coats for any abnormalities. My dogs are brushed daily. Their paws are also cleaned after walks – I like to rinse them in a shallow bin filled with lukewarm water.
Bette Noire and Creme Brûlée wait for an after bath treat from Carlos.
They are now squeaky clean, and ready to head upstairs for more playtime.
And more GK time – these pups adore my handsome boy.
Every now and then I come across a product that solves a common problem. One such nuisance is furniture that scratches the floor - chairs and tables that pull across the floor leaving unsightly marks in their tracks.
Many years ago, the shopkeeper at my local hardware store introduced me to EZ Glide Surface Protectors - the small carpet-like pads specifically designed to prevent surface scratching. EZ Glides are terrific - not only do they prevent scratches, but they also make moving furniture so easy. I have them on the bottom of every chair leg, and every table leg - even on the feet of my garbage receptacles - everything that could potentially damage the floors if moved.
Every spring, Cheryl and Gretchen, who take care of Skylands, my home in Maine, check the everyday furniture and replace all the EZ Glides in time for the busy summer entertaining season. They change hundreds of EZ Glides on chairs, tables, baskets, planters, etc. It's a tedious chore, but well-worth the effort. Enjoy these photos.
EZ Glides are available in rounds, strips, pads and rolls. The heavy duty Olefin fiber construction makes them water resistant for extra durability. http://www.ezglides.com
During winter, when I am not at Skylands, the furniture is always protected with white sheets. Every spring, as rooms are cleaned and furniture is uncovered, EZ Glides are replaced on all the often-used pieces.
Here, Gretchen removes the old EZ Glide from the bottom of a dining room chair.
These chairs also have protective plastic rounds on all the leg bottoms, but the EZ Glides attach easily on top.
These protectors are very simple to use – just peel off the paper backing and adhere to the surface.
This size is perfect for these chair legs, but if needed, EZ Glides can be cut to fit.
Once the chair is turned over, it is easy to push back under the table without any scratches on the floor.
The EZ Glides are nearly invisible from this distance – they don’t deter from the beauty of the faux bois dining table and silk velvet chairs.
On the pink granite-topped table, even the boat, holding many stones I’ve collected over the years, has EZ Glides under its hull.
Cheryl is replacing the EZ Glides on the stools for my large kitchen table.
Over time, the old ones flatten from use.
Because the adhesive is so strong, Cheryl uses a putty knife to remove the old EZ Glide.
The new EZ Glide is affixed to the stool leg – so easy to do, just peel and stick.
The bright and spacious kitchen has always been an important part of Skylands. During the summer months, there are always many mouths to feed – I keep about 18-stools under this table for guests to use.
Even the garbage cans get EZ Glides. Gretchen uses a large round for each of the four feet.
So neat and tidy – they fit just right on the bottom of this receptacle.
All the garbage cans are labeled – trash, glass, recycle, returnable bottles, etc. These two sit next to one of two enameled sinks, which are original to the house.
These waste cans sit next to the bank of stoves across the room from the sinks.
Gretchen uses EZ Glide strips for the bottom of these laundry baskets.
The EZ Glides stick firmly to the wicker. These baskets are pretty sizable, so Gretchen uses six strips under each basket.
I keep two baskets by the fishmonger table – one for kitchen linens and one for table linens. I found this porcelain fishmonger table in an antiques store – it looks so perfect in this kitchen, as if it has always been here.
This is a faux bois planter. Because it is so heavy and made of concrete, it is important to place several EZ Glides on the bottom, so nothing touches the surface of the wooden windowsill.
The EZ Glides certainly make moving them a little easier when the leaded windows are cleaned.
This pink granite-topped table is currently in my living room. EZ Glides are affixed to all the legs, especially since I like to move its location from time to time.
EZ Glides are also under the legs of this faux bois chair in my Living Hall.
You probably recognize this table, even under the sheets – my long faux bois table in the center of the Living Hall. Built by artist, Carlos Cortes, it is a very strong structure. The table top and the four bench tops are made of wood-grained cement. The table top alone weighs 1200-pounds! And yes, each leg has an EZ Glide.
And, so does each bench leg.
EZ Glides save the floors, and your back – they’re not only great, they’re a good thing! Where do you use your EZ Glide Surface Protectors? Let me know in the comments section below.
Preparations for spring are underway at Skylands, my home in Maine.
There is still snow on the ground on Mount Desert Island, but last week, my gardener at Skylands, Mike Harding, began potting some of the ferns in hanging baskets for use on my Western Terrace. I always hang a series of fern-filled planters under the pergola - it adds such a lovely touch of greenery to the space.
The hanging planters are first lined with sphagnum moss. Sphagnum is a genus of about 120-species of mosses known as peat moss. It works great to store water, and helps to keep the potting mix inside the container. Here are some photos - enjoy.
This is my Western Terrace – on this day, it was just 12-degrees Fahrenheit, but Mike was very ready to start preparing for spring.
During the warmer months, hanging ferns adorn the entire perimeter of the Western Terrace.
Here is one of the hanging wire baskets we use every year for our Boston ferns. It is from the greenhouse supplier Griffin, and measures 18-inches across. http://www.griffins.com
The sphagnum moss is very dry when it arrives. Here, Mike is preparing a section to soak so it softens and molds to the wire planter. Each hanging basket needs about a cubic-foot of sphagnum moss.
Sphagnum moss is available at garden supply stores. Mosses are small flowerless plants that usually grow in dense clumps or mats in dark, or shady locations.
Mike let the sphagnum soak in warm water for a few minutes. Here, he pulls apart the moss and works the water through it until it is completely wet through and through.
Once it is wet, Mike squeezes the excess water back into the bucket.
Clumps of sphagnum moss are pulled from the water and placed into the basket. Starting from the bottom, Mike creates a layer about an inch-thick.
The goal is to prevent any soil from falling out, so Mike makes sure the moss lines the bottom of the basket well.
Mike presses the moss firmly along the sides, creating a one to two inch wall on the inside of the basket.
Here, it is easy to see how the moss molds to the wire frame.
Mike soon works his way to the top.
At the top of the basket, Mike places additional handfuls of moss over the top rung and squeezes the wet moss around the edge – the top wire rung will be completely surrounded by the moss.
Next, Mike lines the sphagnum moss with a piece of black plastic – the bottom of a black garbage bag. This prevents the soil from drying out.
Mike then cuts several drainage holes in the plastic.
Mike uses a good potting mix combined with compost made right here at Skylands.
The white specks are balls of perlite – a non-organic additive used to aerate the media. Mike fills about a third to a half of the basket with soil mix.
Mike takes down a Boston fern to plant in the basket. These ferns, Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’, are among the most popular varieties with its frilly leaves and long, hanging fronds.
The fern is placed into the container and more soil is added.
This fern was in an eight-inch pot – it will certainly grow into its new space – about twice its size by the end of summer.
We always prefer using organic fertilizers at Skylands and at my Bedford, New York farm. Boston ferns responds well to fish emulsion. For outdoor potted plants, mix one-tablespoon fertilizer in one-gallon of water to treat one cubic foot of soil.
Mike uses Organic Neptune Harvest fish emulsion – made from fresh North Atlantic fish. It is made by a unique cold process that protects the vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and growth hormones.
The hooks for the hanging planter are attached to the wire – this basket has four hooks.
This Boston fern looks perfect in our hanging basket. It will be hung up in the shop until all are ready to move to the Western Terrace pergola – usually the second week of June when temperatures are in the upper 60s or low 70s.
Mike gives all the ferns a good drink. Don’t worry, fortunately, this shop is equipped with floor drains.
This summer, the ferns will look like this hanging from the inside of the pergola.
Here is a sunny summer glimpse of the Western Terrace in June with the hanging baskets of ferns, and urns planted with farfugium japonicum and cycads – so beautiful.