Mikles Family Farm

Fixing up the Farmhouse

Keeping Your Farm Cat Happy & Healthy

by miklesfamilyfarm on April 7, 2016

farm catIt goes without saying that pets are an important part of the farm & family. Keeping them safe, happy, and healthy is always at the forefront of pet owner’s minds.

For those of you who share your home with a friendly feline, you’ve certainly noticed cats can be picky eaters. The aisles of most supermarkets can also compound this as shelves are often stocked with dozens of varieties to entice your cat. If you choose the wrong kind of food your cat will not be able to maintain good health. Conversely, if you have overfed a hungry feline, he or she will get fat. Obviously, you want to reduce the number of costly visits to the local Animal Hospital, so making sure your cat maintains a healthy diet is of utmost importance.

Any veterinarian will tell you that both age and size certainly make a difference when it comes to food quantity. Kittens require more food to support their growing bodies while adult cats should be fed only once a day. Many cat owners feed only dry food to their felines. This is fine, but it’s important to make sure the food is complete and balanced, which will provide all the vitamins and nutrients your cat needs.  Additionally, cats that predominantly consume dry food must be provided lots of fresh water each day.

Canned Cat Food Options

Canned food is typically about 80 percent water and is found to be more palatable for cats, which is perfect to mix both wet and dry food together. That said, keep in mind, just like people, overweight cats are at an increased risk of diabetes, joint pain, and liver issues—so serving size is very important!

Cats, who are natural meat eaters, are also safe to enjoy the occasional table scrap. Meat is essential for cats to maintain good vision, a healthy heart, and a healthy reproductive system. For this reason, feel free to share a small portion of fully cooked beef, turkey, chicken, or lean deli meat, free from seasoning or excess salts.

The Fish Diet

Cats are also well-known for their attraction to fish. Fish are very high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your cat maintain his or her sharp vision.  Adding a small portion of cooked or canned fish to your cat’s dry food as a treat is fine from time to time, just don’t overdo Also, don’t ever share your sushi—as that contains certain ingredients that are unhealthy for our feline friends. Plus, raw food always has the potential to hurt our pets.

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Feline

cat and burgerThere are foods that your cat should absolutely avoid. These include chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, macadamia nuts, garlic, bread dough, alcohol, and xylitol, which is an artificial sweeter found if many sugar-free desserts. All of these items are toxic to cats.

Cats are also very curious, so it is important that you are aware of certain houseplants which could be poisoned if ingested by your feline.  According to the Human Society, there are more than 700 plants that include active or toxic substances which cause harmful effects in animals—this could be anything from mild nausea to death.

Plants to Keep Away From Your Cats

Some popular houseplants to keep away from your cat include tropical elephant ears, as the entire plant is poisonous to animals, Hyacinth bulbs, Mistletoe, Poinsettia, and a Castor Bean. Flowering plants such as the daffodil, Lantana, and Lily of the Valley can also make cats very sick.

If you’re looking to treat your cat—and feeling ambitious—you can always whip up some healthy homemade treats.

Try the Cat Attack Cookies for an extra special indulgence.  Combine one cup of whole wheat flour with 1/4  cup of soy flour, a tablespoon of Catnip, one egg, 1/3 cup of milk, two tablespoons of wheat germ, 1/3 cup of powdered milk, a pinch of molasses, and two tablespoons of butter.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and cut it into small, cat bite-sized pieces. Bake for 20 minutes, let the treats cool and store them in an airtight container.

You can also whip up some coconut fish croutons that your cat will adore. Combine 1.5 ounces of canned tuna with one cup of coconut flour, one tablespoon of olive oil, a spoonful of dried catnip, one egg, and a splash of water. Mix this up and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll small pieces of the sticky dough into croutons and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve them to your kitty when cool. (These should keep for about a week).

Keeping Your Home Safe from Lawsuits

by miklesfamilyfarm on December 29, 2015

Avoiding Injuries & Personal Injury Claims on Your Property

Understand Premises Liability

Having children, pets, and guests roaming around your home means you must create a safe and happy environment. If the safety of close ones is not enough to motivate you to take in-home safety measures – beware personal injury lawsuits. Premises liability is defined as a landowner having liability for certain wrongs, or “torts”, that occur on their property. Someone may have a premises liability case if you neglect to keep your home an injury-free zone or warn others of safety issues.

According to the Richmond personal injury lawyers Tronfeld West & Durrett, you have the right to seek compensation if you have been injured from an unsafe or dangerous condition on someone’s property. Traditionally, a property owner is responsible for providing a reasonably safe environment for invitees.

How Can Someone Sue?

Vicious pets, unstable floorboards, or slippery areas can be causes for someone to sue for damages. More examples include:

  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Water leaks causing slippery areas
  • Fires
  • Toxic fumes
  • Snow and ice
  • Insecure railings
  • Loose steps

Maintaining a Safe Deck or Balcony


One of the most common reasons for premises liability cases is insecure balconies and decks (which means they either cave in or the railing may break). To make sure your deck is safe, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your deck is safely secured to your home’s exterior. The ledger board is where your deck attaches to your home, and it is a common cause of collapsing. Make sure that these boards are bolted or screwed to your home. Simply nailing a ledger board to your home means that it could easily fall out.
  2. Check for weak spots on the wood floor. Splinters, areas that don’t match the appearance of the rest or your deck, and soft spots are signs of weakened floorboards. These areas may be at risk for caving in, so check frequently.
  3. Check that posts are secured to the floor. On raised decks, the post supporting it must be tightly braced horizontally.
  4. Make sure that railings are secured. Each time you go outside, give the railing a good push to make sure it holds in place before leaning. It is a good idea to check these each time you have company over.
  5. Check your stairs. Aside from the railings, make sure each step is tightly secured to the supporting structure. Again, check for weak or soft spots.

If you hired a contractor to build your deck, make sure you check each of these items on your own once the project is complete. Go through this checklist after weather changes, or when you expect a high volume of people to be spending time on your deck. Even if your structure is just a few feet off the ground, finding problems quickly reduces your risk of falls and accidents that could lead to a personal injury claim.

General Home Safety Tips

It is impossible to check for every possible personal injury scenario. Overall, make sure you are up-to-date with all of your inspections. For instance, whole home electrical inspections can rule out common hazards and while checking to see that your home is in compliance with local codes. Additionally, replace older structures as they grow weak or old. If you live in an older home, don’t shy away from renovations – you can’t put a price on safety!

How to Find a Good Daycare For Your Child

by miklesfamilyfarm on August 25, 2015


If you’re looking for the best child care in Riverview FL, there are many things you will need to consider in order to find the best place for your child. Here are some factors you should consider when choosing a daycare facility or preschool.


Educational Background and Experience


You need to ensure that the preschool teacher who will oversee your child’s development is experienced and properly qualified. Ideally, the teacher should have relevant credentials in child development or early learning and understand how children grow and develop. Don’t be afraid to ask what training and experience they have received.   Also, the staff at the facility should also be fully certified in CPR and first aid.


Play Opportunities For Developing Fine Motor Skills


Preschools and daycare centers should offer plenty of opportunities for your child to engage in active play. Physical activity is important for a child to develop their motor skills and helps to promote health and wellness, which is why your child should be exposed to fine motor activities, such as assembling things and doing writing activities.


Regular Rest or Naps


A growing child must be allowed to rest at some point during their day, so ask the teacher when naptimes will take place. Naps should be scheduled for the children for the same time every day for no longer than two hours at a time, as longer naps may prevent your child from getting a good night’s sleep. You should also check if the school will supply mats, sheets, or pillows for naptime, or if you must provide these. If you must provide them, arrange a regular time when they will be taken home to be washed and use a permanent marker to put your child’s name on all of their supplies.


Meals and Snacks


You should check if the school provides meals and snacks, and if they do, make sure that they are nutritious and well-balanced. You also need to ask how they handle children with food allergies, to ensure that they know the proper steps to take to deal with an allergic reaction.


Potty Training


If your child isn’t toilet trained yet, you should check whether potty training is a requirement for the school or day car center. Certain facilities require that a child be fully potty trained before enrollment, while others are more flexible and are willing to assist with this process. Whether your child is potty trained or not, you’ll likely have to send a change of clothing with them in case of an accident.


Disciplinary Matters


The rules of the school should be clear from the outset so that you and your child will know what is expected. Ask the teacher how they handle disciplinary matters such as bullying, hitting or fighting, and what steps are taken when conflicts occur. Positive redirection should ideally be the first course of action, as well as defusing situations by letting the parties cool-down or take a timeout. They should also let you know at what point the parent will need to get involved.




It’s a good idea to contact the licensing agency that the school falls under to check whether there have been any complaints or violations about the school. It’s also a good idea to ask for references from the teachers and principal to ensure that they are in good standing in the community.

My Grandfather’s Southern Drink Recipe

by miklesfamilyfarm on August 14, 2015

mint-julepGrowing up on the farm with my grandad taught me a lot of things.  It taught me about good hard work, it taught me patience, and it taught me how to fix almost anything.  Growing up there gave me a lot of fond memories and things to reflect on.  One of my favorite things my grandfather taught me was how to make his special mint julep.  Once I turned 19, he decided I was old enough to enjoy one of his favorite drinks with him.  After a hard day’s work, we would sit on the front porch and enjoy a glass of his favorite whiskey drink.  I remember him always being very particular about this specific drink.  He had a method and he’d argue til he was out of breath with anyone who tried to make it differently.  Apparently he had learned his method from his father, who learned it from his.

Passed on from generation to generation, this recipe is one that I’ve always kept with me and share it whenever I get the chance.  Here it is:

-          Mint

-          1 teaspoon sugar

-          1 good pour of bourbon

-          Lots of crushed ice

Place the mint leaves at the bottom of a chilled glass, add the sugar, and crush slightly with a muddler or spoon.  Pack the glass full of ice and fill with whiskey.  Finally place a few sprigs of mint on top, and enjoy.

Recently, I was able to visit and catch up with my grandfather who has recently enlisted the help of a senior care helper to help him around the house.  As we were talking and remembering times past, he decided he wanted to share another julep.  I offered to make it, remembering just how he likes his made.  He was so impressed that I had remembered.

For the rest of the night, we stayed up talking about the good ol’ days of working on the farm, herding cattle and hunting deer on the property.  It was a great night filled with fond memories and good drinks.  I can’t wait to visit again soon.

Is it Difficult to Install Windows?

by miklesfamilyfarm on July 2, 2015

So, you have decided it is time to get new windows. As you have no doubt discovered, it is expensive to get replacement windows. Installation costs even more. As a result, you might feel tempted to install them yourself. But is that a wise thing to do?  If you are handy around the house, you might think it will be a breeze.  However, window installation is a different process than that of most home improvement projects.  And yes, it is pretty difficult.One of the main reasons you probably purchased windows from RBA window replacement or another window manufacturer (here is a full list) is because your windows are drafty. Installing them yourself will most likely lead to more drafts even if you are installing more energy efficient windows because its often difficult to fit them perfectly to the window frame.

Getting the Old Ones Out

Step one of the window installation process is getting the old windows out. It sounds simple enough, but it is very easy to damage the surrounding structures as you do this. Remember: those surrounding structures are pretty important when it comes to the integrity of your home.

Measuring Properly

Sure, you’ve been using rulers since grade school, but measuring for replacement windows means getting everything exact. There is absolutely no room for error. If you do opt to do it yourself, be sure to measure a few different times. One thing to be careful of is warping of the windows as the dimensions will not remain consistent throughout the entire length and width.

Getting the Right Fit

Replacement window installation requires a perfectly snug fit. This means using shims to compensate for any irregularity and being incredibly careful as you fix them into place. Small mistakes make a big difference.

Don’t Damage Surrounding Structures

Yes, this was mentioned with regards to getting the old windows out. Well, you can also do plenty of damage getting the new windows in. It is easier than you might think.

Older Homes will Give you More Trouble

Finally, if your home is older, be prepared to discover brand-new problems as you go. This could range from discovering that your home is sitting unevenly, indicating problems with the foundation, to finding rotting wood in the walls around your windows. If you aren’t prepared to deal with this on your own, you might want to call in the professionals.

My 2015 Home Improvement Plan

by miklesfamilyfarm on January 12, 2015

plans for my homeWith the holiday season over and the days getting longer again, many people are getting a head start on some home improvement projects. Its never a bad idea to plan ahead a little bit and think about what sorts of changes you want to make to your property this Spring and Summer. This year, I have a few different projects in mind specifically for the exterior of my home. First I want to have the windows tinted, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Next is another project ill need to hire a contractor for which is having new siding installed. Finally a DIY project im looking forward to is landscaping my yard.

Residential Window Tinting for My Home

Having my homes window tinted is really appealing to me for a couple of reasons. First its going to make my home more private as its harder to see through the tint from the outside. Next, it helps to reduce cooling costs in the warmer month. I also just think window film looks great whether its on cars or homes. Ive already had Solar Film VA come and provide an estimate and now and am planning on having them install the film next month. I’m looking forward to a better looking comfortable home in the future from this work.

Replacing my Siding

The old aluminum siding I have installed on my home has lots of dents in it and is very much discolored simply from its age. If I can save up the money in time, im hoping to hire a builder to install something like Cambridge or Town Square brands of vinyl siding. This is something im still looking into but if your siding is going bad and you want to way to dramatically improve the look and performance of your house, it can be a great upgrade. Im thinking of going with a light blue color to replace the dingy yellow on my home currently so wish me luck that it turns out well.

Landscaping Plans for my Yard

Last comes the project im most excited about because it’s the one I get to do myself. I wish I could be more hands on about the window film and new siding but unfortunately I don’t have the skills or the resources to do those myself. The same could probably be said about landscaping the front, back and side yards but after a few gardening magazines like fine gardening and garden design so I should be ready to start soon. In the front I want to plant a few bushes directly in front of my house, then have a flower garden in front of those. Then I want shrubberies on the side lining the fence and finally a vegetable garden in the back. If I get really ambitious im going to try and plant new grass all around.

Being a homeowner can be expensive and a lot of work but it can also be a lot of fun too when you take pride in it and make it your own. Feel free to check back as im sure I will have more on my to do list soon.

Building a Guest House for the Parents

by miklesfamilyfarm on January 9, 2015

If you live on a farm or in a neighborhood with large amounts of property, don’t let it go to waste. Adding a guest house or additional building to your backyard can increase the value of your home, provide some easy living space for family or guests, or be an extra source of income if you decide to rent it out. In this story, one of our readers explained how having a guest house benefited his family:

“My parents lived far away, and they needed some assistance mowing the lawn and taking care of their pool. I hired home care in Los Angeles California to help them out, but we knew that we had always planned for them to move in with us one day when things were getting tough. Finally, we decided that even though we did not have enough room in our house, we did have the budget to add on or build a guest house.

A guest house seemed to be the best option for a couple of reasons. First of all, we wouldn’t have to deal with the construction noise, dust, and equipment around our household. We also felt safer having someone build an addition outside our house because we wouldn’t have unknown workers around our personal space and belongings.

We also saw having detached housing as an asset. If it didn’t work out with my parents or we came to the point where they needed to be in a nursing home, we had a space we could rent out for some extra income. If we decided to sell our house, others would see the extra space as an asset as well, so it could increase the market price.

The guest house was easy to decorate and furnish. We used some IKEA furniture and closets to fill it up and added a small TV. The entire process was affordable and effective.”

If you think an additional living space could be beneficial to your household as well, take the next steps to move forward:

  • Look into your city’s zoning laws to determine the rules
  • Apply for a building permit
  • Determine financing and set a budget
  • Find the best architect for the job

Once you’ve gathered all of your information and determined whether or not a guest house would be a good investment for you, you will be ready for action!

How to Choose a Home Addition

by miklesfamilyfarm on January 5, 2015

An addition to your home is a great option for some people looking to create more living space. Some people might want one because they have growing families, need space for working at home, or simply have the funds to add more function to their homes. So if you are thinking this is a good option for you, what is the next step? The planning stage for having a home addition built can be rather tricky, but once you get through the first steps a home addition builder can do all the rest.

Starting the Planning Phase

home addition in process, VirginiaThe first part of the planning phase typically involves deciding what function you want this new part of your home to accomplish. Maybe you would like more living space in the form of a den, another bed and bathroom for guests or an extended eat-in kitchen. These are all popular options but they come in almost an unlimited number of forms because additions are all about being a custom solution.

When you figure out which function you want your new space to serve, its time to get a little more specific and start to look into different designs. For this, I often suggest people look at http://www.houzz.com/addition since houzz has so many different pictures of home additions you can get some really great ideas for your house. They currently have over 100,000 examples you can look at from all types of homes from modern to colonial.

After you have a basic idea of where you might want to have the addition built along with its basic appearance, both inside and out (this doesn’t need to be too specific at this point) its time to speak with a local builder to put all of the pieces together and come up with dimensions, price estimates and other logistics.  So long as you have a licensed and insured contractor you can trust, the rest should just be a matter of listening and working with them until completion of the project. Also don’t forget the details, have quality building materials used like Andersen windows (click here for Pennsylvania residents) and Certainteed roofing shingles installed.

Many people I know have found building a home addition to be a worthwhile investment both in current usage of their living space and increased home value for the future. Good luck with your building project, and take your time to design the perfect custom space you need for your home.

Truck Mounted vs Portable Carpet Cleaning Machines

by miklesfamilyfarm on November 17, 2014

Which is Best to Have Used to Clean your Home

If you are taking the time and spending the money to hire a carpet cleaning service then chances are you expect the technicians to use industrial grade cleaning equipment instead of a cleaning Machine you could probably buy at Walmart. That’s why whenever I call for carpet cleaning service and make sure they use a truck mounted system for at least the main carpeted areas in my home because those are the most powerful carpet cleaning machines in use today.

Benefits of Truck or Van Mounted Systems

truck mounted cleaning systemBecause they are more powerful than portable units, these truck mounted carpet cleaning systems have the advantage of being able to clean an area faster as well. Part of this is simply because the truck systems are much longer than portable carpet cleaning machines but they also can hold much more cleaning solution so the technician does not constantly have to dump and refill the portable machine while they’re working. It makes the entire process a lot easier because all of the water, tanks, power, and cleaning products are all contained within the truck or van. This added power also helps suck up water making for a healthier cleaning process and also helps the carpets dry faster, something Chem-Dry carpet cleaning is known for, the local cleaner I use.

Why they May Not Be The Best Choice for All Homes

By using the truck system you can be much more confident that all four most of the dirt, pollen, and even chemicals are being picked up out of your carpets or rugs leaving a truly clean result that is healthier for anyone who enters your home. With all this said, sometimes the truck mounted systems can make it more difficult for the cleaners to get in tight spaces or if you happen to live up high in an apartment building where the hose from the truck might not be able to reach. In these cases a strong portable unit might be the only option and depending on what equipment is used, you can still get a really deep clean if the technician takes the time to thoroughly go over all the square footage of carpets and rugs you have.

The Importance Of Energy Efficient Windows In Massachusetts

by miklesfamilyfarm on October 13, 2014

massachusetts home with new windows installedLiving in Massachusetts, you know that winters can be very cold. Your heating bill can quickly skyrocket when the temperatures plummet. That’s why it’s a wise investment for you to invest in energy saving solutions for your home. A good place to start is with your windows. Here are a few reasons that emphasize the importance of energy efficient windows in Massachusetts.

  • Better insulation means constant temperatures. Think about the clothing you wear in the wintertime. You most likely wear the warmest clothing that you own; clothing that keeps the warm air in and the cold air out. If you think of your home like your body, you want to minimize your heat loss as much as possible. If you didn’t know already, windows can lose heat quickly because glass is thinner than walls. But if you have energy efficient windows, your heat loss will be lower and since you’re losing less heat, the temperature in your home will be more constant.
  • Efficient windows mean lower energy bills. When temperatures drop well below freezing, you turn the heat up in your house. Since the air outside is significantly colder than the air indoors, the colder air mass will take heat from the warmer air mass. With less heat getting through the energy efficient windows, you’ll spend less money heating your house. Energy efficient windows are more expensive but they pay for themselves in energy savings in just a matter of years. Plus you’ll be more comfortable in the wintertime. Comfort definitely highlights the importance of energy efficient windows in Massachusetts
  • Increase the value of your home in the long run. When you buy Andersen windows you are instantly making your home more valuable whether you plan on selling it in 2 years or 20.

New England winters are long and cold. Do yourself a favor and buy windows that are going to keep your nest warm. The less expensive windows will only make your house colder, so go for comfort with the energy efficient windows. You’ll be warm and happy knowing that you’re saving hundreds of dollars on your energy bill.