Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An earthworm friendly garden

Earthworms are happy here

Earthworms are a sign of health in an ecosystem. We've had the third wettest June on record in Massachusetts. Tons of rain and lots of autumn leaf mulch in and around many garden beds have made earthworms very happy. They also appreciate the fact that I never use chemicals or pesticides.

In places where I've raked leaves away, earthworms practically bubble to the surface. The soil beneath the leaves is black, healthy and crumbly. All the rain and lots of earthworm activity have accelerated leaf decomposition and delivered compost.

Left undisturbed, earthworms thrive and multiply under moist leaf litter. The ones you see collected in the blue bucket were relocated to leaf piles in the woods where they will continue to hasten our leaf composting. 

Resist the temptation to move earthworms from moist leaf litter and plop them into full sun garden beds. They will die. They must have leaf cover, shade, moisture and nutrients from the leaves to survive and thrive. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Smithfield-China sale

Pigs as "pork production"
The way it was

News of a $4.7 billion deal for the sale of Smithfield Foods, Inc. to China is the worst news ever for pigs already enduring massive suffering on Smithfield farms. 

Smithfield, the world's largest producer of pigs for slaughter, says the deal aims to increase the supply of high quality, safe pork to China. 

But what does it mean for the pigs? 

A reader commenting on the story in the New York Times said it all:

"Smithfield tortures millions of pigs each year to bring the American public their pork products. With this purchase, the Chinese will have access to standards and practices that are abhorrent to animal welfare. Industrialized pig CFAO's are polluting the land around them, polluting local water sources, and contributing to global warming. With this purchase the need for millions more pigs to feed a hungry Chinese market will all but ensure that these practices  continue. The Chinese have greater confidence in American produced products, be they gadgets or food. I just wonder how long we will allow this needless suffering of millions of animals to continue. How healthy can consuming an animal who has suffered their whole lives be?"

Read "Needing Pork, China Is to Buy a U.S. Supplier" and scroll through the comments here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

They remain imprisoned

This post continues my thoughts regarding the parallels in the recent news story about women imprisoned against their will in Ohio and forced to endure shocking abuse, and the miserable conditions animals raised on factory farms are forced to endure their entire lives: prison-like confinement, deprived of sunlight, subjected to psychological torture and physical abuse.  

The pigs shown in the photos above do not live, they are "produced" and treated as objects with no regard for their basic and instinctual needs. They are so closely confined that they can hardly move and or even scratch themselves, and spend their entire lives surrounded by metal and concrete. 

They do not know what it is to feel the warmth of the sun, dig in the dirt, sleep on a bed of hay or feel soft grass beneath their feet as pigs did before the advent of factory farming and as they still do in the stories we read to our children.
What's more the antibiotics and chemicals fed to produce pigs and other animals raised for food have created food hazards and pose many dangers to our public health. 

Churning out animals as quickly as possible to "put food on the table" is what the greedy and profit-driven agribusiness would like us to believe. But putting their profits over our public health is as unconscionable as the suffering they impose on the animals they abuse.

Profits over public health? Humane treatment or suffering in silence? 

You have the freedom to choose and the power to act. Whether you eat meat, begin a vegetarian diet or go vegan, you can still change the way we treat farm animals simply by using your pocketbook.

Buy organic, humanely raised meats and dairy products. Protect your health and the health of your loved ones and do your part to end this suffering. Write to your legislators, make your voice heard and speak for those who have no voice and have no choice.

To learn more visit Farm Sanctuary.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

For them the horror continues

“Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, 
fear and pain. 
They are far more aware 
and intelligent than we ever imagined…” 
— Jane Goodall

"Three women found alive after a decade in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times..."

We have all been riveted by this week's news story that sounded more like something out of a horror movie than real life. Thank goodness these women and the little girl held with them are now safe.

We were shocked, appalled and saddened, and yet vast numbers of animals imprisoned in factory farms are forced to endure horrific and deplorable conditions and nobody seems to care. We rescue people from such miserable conditions, but for too many animals the horror and suffering continues.   

We must act to end this suffering as well. To learn more about why raising animals this way is terrible for them and for us, visit Farm Sanctuary.

I will have more to say in my next post.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Farmhouse quince tree

Many years ago, while house hunting with my then husband-to-be, we came across an antique farmhouse for sale. We were immediately enchanted by the sight of two friendly dogs running free in the meadows and by the quaint, nook-and-cranny style of the house. 

The custom kitchen was a marvel of perfection. Designed by a culinary professional, it had every amenity imaginable along with cabinets, flooring and wall panels in solid natural cherry, my favorite wood. 

The door leading out from the kitchen took us into a walled garden where a small quince tree stood in full flower. I was utterly captivated by its magical beauty and began to imagine myself making jam and other culinary delights with its fruit.

But it was not to be. After we looked at the house, we decided to drive up the street to get a better sense of the farmhouse's location and discovered that the town dump was located there, less than a block away. Though it was out of sight, we knew it would never be out of earshot and the constant traffic on weekends would be awful.

Seeing a flowering quince this week brought back the memory of that farmhouse and I found myself wondering, what if... 

An excellent article about the long and interesting history of quince trees and ways to use their fruit can be found here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I befriended the countryside

I befriended the countryside 
and it led me closer
 to my own heart.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Where I stand on spiders

American House Spider

Terminix likes to send us coupons and their latest reads: "Spiders can make their home in yours." Guess what guys? That's great news here. Take your toxic chemical selves somewhere else. 

I really like spiders and always have. I let 'em live wherever they decide to set up house, er, I mean web. 

I can't say the same for one of our cats. She regularly checks for insects in the mudroom, basement and other locations where she's accustomed to finding them this time of year. She seems to prize them as a delicacy. I know they're packed with protein. 

But there are a few House Spiders living in places she has not yet discovered. They don't bother anybody and catch lots of mosquitoes, providing a free service we really appreciate.

Did you know that 3,400 species of spider make their home in North America with 40,000 worldwide? Check out for some cool info. Like me, they value and respect spiders: 

We defend spiders for the important roles they play in nature, pest control, medicine, engineering and other economic and cultural realms.