Blog Archives

Going on Instinct

I apologize for neglecting my blog. I have been busy trying to put my money where my mouth is. The permaculture thing…I think even permacultaralists find that too limiting. In theory it embodies a form of agriculture that is more romantic than practical in most applications.

Whatever form it takes for the would-be gardener, farmer, entrepreneur…the bottom line is the sense we can not sustain our current practices or our current lifestyle and that change must come. Change in the shape of reorganizing our priorities, finding a way to make time for our families and pleasures despite the pressures and questioning what is dished out by marketing campaigns, the media and our government.

The new climate change report will be swept under the carpet until we really face the reality of it and it is not an “if” but a “when”. It has already started with escalating energy costs and you may choose to believe there is a shortage because of low reserves or market speculation and civil unrest; but the truth is, they are way ahead of all of us at predicting usage, and civil unrest will always be the end result, not the driving factor of energy consumption.

The fear mongers are out there espousing the evils of Monsanto, genetically modified produce and livestock; flashing horrific videos of cattle being bludgeoned, newborn chicks being tossed out in garbage bags and demonizing fast food corporations. Shock and awe techniques because the science may not be there to make the case. But the science wasn’t there for the damage we were doing to our planet either. Now it is. And yet it slips quietly onto page 12 of the lifestyle section while the media focuses it’s eye on the more tangible; the more here and now and that makes it not a fact – not real anymore and most of us want to sleep at night.

So are they fear mongers? Sometimes we just know when something is bad. We don’t need science to tell us. Maybe, just maybe we know instinctively when we shouldn’t eat something, or we shouldn’t hunt all our food to the point of extinction. Sometimes all we have to go on is instinct.

Case in point: A farmer friend stopped to question the company applying sludge to the neighbours farm. They have low laying acreage adjacent and after a previous application, that acreage was orange the following year and remains relatively unproductive since. The friend asked if they were supposed to maintain a certain distance from property lines. She received a defensive, bullying response. Obviously employees who are trying to earn a living and tired of being attacked. Just like the owners of the land who can’t afford the high cost of commercial fertilizers and choose to ignore the controversy over sludge application because they can’t afford to be informed.

So there is the crux of the matter. Everyone lives to their means and if you try to take those means away you will meet with resistance. Understandably so. The answer does not lay in convincing anyone of the folly of their ways. Not the politicians, the farmers, the corporations or the consumers. It will come down to supply and demand. Only as individuals, whether you call it permaculture, living off the grid, environmentalism, treehugging, self sustainability; or whatever label that fits, in whatever form or fashion – each of us, choosing to make a difference through less consumption, less wanting, providing more for ourselves and having less of a carbon footprint – THAT is what will ultimately make the difference.

This is one time we can’t make a change as a group but as a group of individuals… we have yet to realize our power.



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June 23, 2014 · 12:38 am

A Goat’s Tale

ImageWhen I envision my food forest I imagine chickens poking their heads out from under leafy greens, perhaps a goat bleating excitedly when my car pulls in the drive, maybe even a large pig, whose only mission in life is to bask in the hot sun and churn some soil for me now and then. I don’t know how realistic this can be living in the center of a small town – even if it is a tree hugging town.

This past week I acquired a goat, as temporary caregiver. The poor fellow was rejected by his mother, as goats periodically do, and requires a regiment of bottle feeding and general care. This is not something that is totally out of the ballpark for me. Actually I have spent a lifetime of fostering, nurturing, saving, raising and releasing every stray that has crossed my path. And I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. The one legged seagull that hated my father, the Kestrel that frequented the bait shop next door to my home, the chameleon that hitched a ride nestled in my hair to school much to the embarrassment of my Mother who had to retrieve it and countless raccoons.

Raccoons were my favorite. I became renowned for fostering raccoons, for which the canine control was thankful. Actually I remember very few summers there wasn’t a raccoon on the scene, as my children grew up. From their perspective, I was a much better parent to the raccoons than I was to them. There may be some truth to this. I don’t ever remember yelling at my raccoons, I let them eat whatever they wanted and they could stay out to all hours of the night. I think I cuddled them a lot more too. My patience didn’t run nearly as thin and, well, I was just more maternal when it came to furry orphans. But I think the key was I knew it was temporary and my own kids weren’t – I had to pace myself. That’s what I told them anyway.

I thought of this when the goat arrived – one day old. And with a daughter still here I dreaded the judgment. The midnight bottle feedings I subjected them to, sharing their rooms with cages, climbing trees to rescue the little ones that hadn’t figured out how to get down. Even our household pets had to adjust – cat’s can’t eat birds, dogs can’t eat squirrels….everything in this house went against nature.

And now a goat. I do have a crate but I am not one for caging animals. Arthur is a precocious youngster who is very vocal and demonstrative when it comes to his needs. His idea of play is not nipping at heels and having a German Shepherds paw flatten him on a slippery floor. HIS idea of play is leaping. There is a compulsive quest to leap onto anything that is twice his height. Never mind that he fails nine times out of ten. Never mind that the object of his goal is animate or inanimate. Goats have a compulsive disorder. Leaping and food. He likes his jacket when he is forced outside and prefers the couch to his cage.

So do I want to wander in my food forest knowing that my goat, grazing in his small pen, secretly prefers my couch and a heater to his drafty barn? That the Himalayas would be much more to his liking than my gently sloping yard? Will I be able to resist bundling him in his pet parka in the winter and letting him forage through my edible oasis? Hold on to my visions of nurturing my garden, birds chirping cheerfully overhead as the goat and pig romp playfully behind me? I think not. I think best to leave the livestock to the harder of hearts and stick to traditional domesticated pets. Perhaps a couple of gnomes if I really feel I need some company out there….

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January 15, 2014 · 3:06 am