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Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

Faith in Things Unseen

So I haven’t written in awhile, I’ve been so busy going back to school. However, an event today spurred me, since it is too long for a Facebook post.

I put a pond in about two years ago.IMG_4334

This is what it looked like in the beginning of summer, after I got two koi to add to my gold fish. The little colored specks are the fish. I get very attached to them. The light colored one towards the back, that’s Blondie. I really didn’t think she’d made it through the winter. Every time I thought she was gone, she fooled me. Other ones did die, I bought 6 more goldfish at the beginning of this summer, along with the koi.

All this time, I’ve wanted to deepen it. I felt we were too hasty to get it done and didn’t dig it deep enough. Especially since I kept finding dead fish in my pump, which I kept in the deepest part. I felt the fish were trying to get in there to hide from predators.

Well, I hadn’t seen a fish in weeks. Yesterday I put water clarifier in, the pond was very green. It must not have been enough, it only lightened the green, it didn’t make it disappear the way it did previously in the above picture. Today, I was convinced the fish were gone, and I thought “Now’s my chance to dig it deeper, with no fish to worry about.”

Can you guess where this is going? Oh me of little faith. Not only was Blondie and one of the koi alive, but someone had been busy. There were at least 5 goldfish that I had never seen before. Very little goldfish. I couldn’t have been more proud if I had hatched them myself.

empty pond, looking awful.

See that little muddy hole? There was still one more fish in there after I scooped all the others out. I never found him till I was done and started putting everything back.

Of course, I have to give credit to my helper.My long suffering husband. I'm sure this is not how he expected to spend his Sunday afternoon. Once my husband saw I was determined to do this, he came out to help.

IMG_4607

It was all worth it in the end.

I even made a new hiding place for them. Now they don’t have to commit suicide in the pump to get away from bad guys. Moral of the story: Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it is isn’t there. And it might just be better than you thought. And you can make all the spiritual allegories you want. I will, and do.

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Reason No. 43 to Love Your Leafy Greens

Ta DaA small garbage bag of Swiss Chard!

Look at all this! And after a hard frost! This is the 3rd or 4th major harvest. I cut it all down this time to put all the newspaper, compost and leaves on the garden. How can you not like a veggie that just keeps giving like this? The kale is still growing well too. I left the cabbage in too, hoping the heads will get bigger than a fist. What to do with it? Well, put it in EVERYTHING! from your scrambled eggs, soups, stews, stir fries, casseroles, and meat loaf (don’t tell my husband). Between the food processor and the blender, you can hide your leafy greens all over the place.

Why I Won’t Become Vegan any Time Soon.

As I talked about in my last blog article, the Law of Unintended Consequences is one of the overriding philosophies of my life. We just don’t know what our actions will do until it is too late. It isn’t always bad, it’s just what we think is going to happen may not always be what does. Which brings me to my topic of veganism.

vegan emblem

Veganism will lead to fewer animals

One of my friends is a vegan, and she sends me articles with her reasoning. One of the pushes for veganism is animal welfare. If no one eats animals, there won’t be any inhumane farming practices. Which is true. There would be no reason to keep cows, chickens, pigs, goats or sheep if you are a vegan. On the downside, there would then be almost no cows, sheep, pigs or chickens. And that is the unintended consequence. If you are  a vegan for animal welfare, than you must think it is better for there to be less of them. Lets face it, raising cows is hard. No one will keep them as pets. They won’t revert to the wild easily. So, there just won’t be many. Pigs of course, will fare better. They revert quite easily, to become a menace and a nuisance. Sheep and goats might be kept as pets by some, but the numbers will dwindle mightily. And chickens? Yes, they have their devoted fans, but unless you eat eggs, they aren’t that fun as pets. Also, as I can attest to, they are extremely easy prey for any predator, making keeping them alive a challenge.

bull dozer

Hunters spend lots of money to avoid this.

What is the monetary value of wild animals?

If you believe that it is better to have fewer animals than to have them in captivity, than your veganism is realistic so far. But how about wild animals? There is the logic out there, based on the truth that we have hunted many animals to extinction or near extinction, that hunting and eating animals is always bad for them. That would be true if no other factors involved. However, unless your concern for animals goes to the extreme of wanting to bump off humans, the opposite proves to be true today. Today the biggest threat to animals is loss of habitat and overcrowding. If there is not enough food for the wild animals they starve, and if there is not enough room for them, then there isn’t enough food and disease can easily spread. How land is allocated depends on money. There is a LOT of money to be made in developing land for housing and businesses. Both farmland and wilderness are being eaten up by this factor. We all want our little piece of turf, if we can afford it. While millions do live in cities, millions more move to the ‘burbs, turning the ‘burbs into smaller cities and creating their own outlying suburbs. It is cheaper to build on empty land than to tear something down and build over, not to mention all the people who kick up a fuss when you tear the old thing down. So, all that “empty land” that was home to deer, grouse, turkey, fox, skunk, opossum, bluebirds, yellow jackets, etc., etc., now becomes someone’s house and they don’t want the deer eating their bushes.

Ducks unlimited logo Hunters are good for animals

What was my point with all that? Oh, yeah, hunters. Hunters want places to hunt. They also want those places to be filled with critters to hunt. Hunters spend a lot of money to get that. They either buy land themselves to preserve it, go in on a piece of property together, or give political contributions to organizations to lobby congress to preserve hunting areas and the wildlife therein. Two organizations have been huge in this effort, Wild Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Read this link to  Ducks Unlimited, and this one to the NWTF if you’d like to learn more. Money talks. Without hunters, there would be far less wilderness areas for us to enjoy. Hunters today are an enlightened group, they spend a lot of time talking about the best way to ensure the health and survival of the species they hunt. Sure, there are always going to be a few idiots of the “shoot anything that moves” variety, but there are bozos in any organization. For the most part, hunters are bigger conservationists than any other group, because they are out there in nature and they want it to stay that way. Without hunters, and there would be very few hunters if they didn’t eat the meat, there would be fewer roadblocks to development.national wild turkey federation logo

calf with heart shaped white blaze and blue ribbon on neck.

Where do cute cows come from? Maybe farms?

Farmers are good for animals.

You hear the argument that it takes so many more acres to raise a cow than it does to grow the vegetables that a human could eat to stay alive. That’s great! That is that many more acres that aren’t being paved over or having a high rise  or strip mall put on them. And guess what? Many game animals depend on those farmers fields as part of their habitat. So if you are vegan for animal rights, buy a piece of beef from your local farmer and give it to a meat eating friend. That way, he won’t have to sell his farm to a conglomerate that will either put up a shopping center or add it to a mega factory farm where the conditions are inhumane. If you really care about animals, support humane farming practices and conservation organizations. Then there will be plenty of happy, healthy critters running around and eating the veggies in your garden.

cover for a children's book promoting veganism

Emotionalism, not reality. If you really loved them you’d support the conditions that support their flourishing.

Seriously? Organic isn’t better?

A study was published in the Annals of Internal medicine has everyone talking, since it purports to show that organic isn’t healthier. I found the original article here but it is only the study summary. One thing to note about summaries, is that they are the author’s conclusions. You can draw different conclusions from the same information. every article I’ve read has taken the authors conclusions to heart without any analysis.

rebuttal:

  1. Organic isn’t more nutritious- I never thought it was. All the arguments about “depleted soil” and “our food isn’t as nutritious as what are ancestors ate.” are bunk too. Most of the nutrients we get from plants are created by the plant from sunlight, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and trace amounts of minerals and chemicals in the soil.
  2. Organic isn’t significantly lower in pesticides- I’ll rebutt that in their own words:

Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets, but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum, urine, breast milk, and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences. All estimates of differences in nutrient and contaminant levels in foods were highly heterogeneous except for the estimate for phosphorus; phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce, although this difference is not clinically significant. The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small.

Less pesticides in your kids isn’t better???

What did they just say? They found less pesticides in the urine of children fed organic food. How is that not better? They found the risk of being contaminated with pesticide residue smaller in organic. However, on the bright side, even your pesticide user has no greater risk of exceeding the maximum allowed limit. So which is better? We have an allowed limit of pesticide contamination, and whether you eat organic or not, you don’t have a high risk of exceeding the allowed limit. If you show me two peaches, one has 5 parts per million of a chemical, and one has 25 parts, I’ll take the lower one, thank you. We also have a government set limit of rat feces in canned food. I’ll take the uncontaminated one, if you please. The government limits are set by politicians, who have to balance the risk to people with the economic needs of farmers and chemical companies. They have to compromise, you and I don’t.
3. Organic didn’t lower rates of allergy symptoms. – Is someone claiming it does?

4. Organic had lower rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria, although no better rate of avoiding bacterial contamination. -Not promoting antibiotic resistant bacteria isn’t a good goal?

Never say never.

I’m a realist, I’m not an ideologue. I may even use some chemicals, at some point, in my own garden. If a farmer is going to lose his whole crop to army caterpillars or some other pest, I can’t always say never, under any circumstances do anything. We have almost 10 billion people to feed, we need to consider that. However, I think avoiding chemicals whenever possible is a good thing. My overriding philosophy is the Law of Unintended Consequences, that we just don’t know the ramifications of everything we do until it is too late. We have been conducting a chemistry experiment on ourselves for the last 100 years, and we won’t know all the ramifications for the next 100. Why not err on the side of caution and proceed slowly? I’ve been hearing so much lately about the rise in autism, how do we know that isn’t a by product of this grand chemical cocktail we’ve been consuming?

spraying pesticides from the air.

It goes where the wind blows.

Not 100% pesticide free.

One last point- the study said that organic produce isn’t guaranteed to be pesticide free. True, If I spray pesticides, they aren’t just going to land in my field. Also, everyone isn’t always honest. However I still say we should at least try. Humans are heard animals- when a trend goes a certain direction, we all head that way. The organic and slow food movements are at least keeping the heard milling about, rather than stampeding towards an unknown future of chemically created foods. Lets think more than once before spraying substances that kill life and then eating those substances. We depend on our gut bacteria for our health and we are eating chemicals that could kill them, or change them into something that is not beneficial. Now there’s a scary thought!

Two Recipes for your Health

I’m not a foodie, but I do have my moments. I made two recipes today to use lots of veggies since I have a garden, belong to a community garden and belong to a C.S.A. To explain, a C.S.A. is Community Supported Agriculture- you buy a share from a farm at the beginning of the summer, and you get a share of whatever is produced throughout the summer. Anyway, I have LOTS of veggies in the house, and part of our goal with our community garden is to encourage our church members to eat healthier, since the garden is a church activity, so I came up with some recipes that I thought everyone would like. Eating lots of veggies is the BEST way to stay healthy. While people can argue the point, I see a strong correlation between taking care of your physical body and taking care of your spirit. I also make a “kale slaw”, but that is just cole slaw with kale substituted for the cabbage. I didn’t have enough after the pot luck to bring any home, so I guess it was successful.

So, I thought I would share the two recipes to help others enjoy their veggies.

Americanized Tabbouleh western version of a middle eastern salad

I changed it to use all the kale I have:

3-4 kale leaves, finely chopped
1 c. Bulgar wheat, prepared
1-T. lemon juice
1t. lime juice (optional)
¼  of an onion, chopped
1 cucumber peeled and chopped
1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2T. Italian dressing
1-4T. chopped fresh mint
Mix and chill

All amounts are approximate, I don’t measure things, I go by look and taste.
Now, this second is based on a possible memory, I thought I had heard of something like this, but couldn’t find any recipe, so I just “winged it”. It turned out fantastic.

Beet slaw

beet salad

pretty too!

1 peeled shredded beet
6 or so baby carrots
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
a dab of  molasses
a dab of strawberry jam
a good squirt or two of olive oil mayonnaise
a handful of dried cranberries
I wasn’t sure what raw beets would be like, but it was really, really good. I had a carrot salad that was a bit sweet with raisins at a restaurant the other day, giving me the idea of what to put in.

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