Wednesday, January 21, 2009

props to my home state

Some HMOs Madison, Wisconsin, are offering rebates on health insurance if the insured eat more fresh produces, particularly by subscribing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program). What a great way to support local farmers, healthy diets, and more affordable health insurance! Too bad my insurance company doesn't do that. I don't belong to a CSA, but I sure do eat a lot of vegetables.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

garden, birds, weather, life

The broccoli I brought inside in November didn't handle the transition very well, and it crumbled up and died after about two weeks, but the cabbage I brought in in October not only has survived but has become beautiful. I don't think it'll ever be edible/tasty, since it's still not quite forming heads (some of them are slightly more head-like than the one pictured here, but the leaves are still very loosely arranged and are very thick and stout). And even so--they're so pretty now I don't think I could eat them.

I also have a pot of parsley that is still robust and strong, and I used some in potato soup earlier this week. Last year I overwintered a pot of parsley, too, and it eventually died just as the fresh pot I planted in the spring was ready to harvest, so that worked out perfectly. Next year I really want to grow more herbs and try to overwinter them, since it's such a treat to have fresh green things in spite of all the snow and ice and cold.

My geraniums are doing well, too, although I haven't had any flowers since early December. But they're putting out fresh leaves, and I'm not losing as many older leaves as I was in the fall. Oddly, though, almost all the leaves are a solid green, or only have a ghost of the patterning that you normally associate with cultivated geranium foliage. (You can sort of see it in the leaf on the bottom-most right in the picture.) I have one pot in a south facing window, and one in a west facing window, so they're both getting plenty of light, so I'm not sure what the deal is.

Outside it is bitterly cold, seventeen below zero when I woke up this morning, and with a fierce, strong, terrible wind. In the yard there was one redpoll, one junco, and two or three chickadees cruising for seeds. Since it's warmed up to nine below, there has also been starlings and pigeons, a downy woodpecker, and more chickadees and juncos. There's still the fierce, strong, terrible wind, and according to the internet the current windchill is negative twenty seven. All the feeders in the yard are mostly full, and I'll put more seed out on the ground when I leave for work.

To remind myself of summer, today for breakfast I had pancakes with chokecherry syrup. Food becomes more precious when you make it yourself from scratch, all the way from gathering or growing it. Chokecherries are very, very common, almost to the point of being weedy, but there is still a limited amount of them, and even more limited is the amount of berries that any one person should gather . I made a ton of chokecherry syrup last fall, enough to give some away and still have plenty left for myself, but it'll be about another seven months from now until I can make any more syrup (or jam--I want to make chokecherry jam next year). And to have gone out walking, found the cherry trees, picked a big sack ful and carried it home, then cleaned them and cooked them down and made the syrup, and then to have some of that bottled summertime in the fridge in Janurary... it feels luscious and sacred. I am not above licking the plate clean.

Monday, January 5, 2009

deer hunters cause lead poisoning in eagles

There was an article in the paper yesterday about how research has linked the lead content in bullets used for deer hunting with lead poisoning in bald eagles. (Link, but it probably won't last very long and you'll probably have to register to read it, because the local paper is stupid like that, but do read it if you can.) I am slightly embarrassed by my own species that it took us this long to make the connection--hunters field dress the deer, eagles feed at the gut piles, duh--but I'm glad the connection has been made and that people are trying to do something about it.

What I'm not so glad about is how much trouble the wildlife researchers are having trying to convince hunters to use alternatives to lead bullets. The article says that when they talk to hunters about the issue, one of the responses that they hear the most is "So what?" So what if a few eagles are dying? They're off the endagered species list, the population has recovered from DDT. So what if we're poisoning them with lead now?

And the thing is, a lot of the wildlife researchers are deer hunters themselves, and they are doing their darnedest to make it clear that they're not anti-hunting or anti-gun. But they are anti-poison, and they're just trying to find a solution that will work for everyone. But the majority of hunters still fuss and pout and keep using lead bullets, and so eagles keep getting poisoned. And it's not like the evidence is inconclusive—something like a third of all the eagles that enter rehabilition centers test positive for lead poisoning (and most end up dying because of it), and nearly all the cases of lead poisoning come in during deer season.

Despite the fact that I am a tenderhearted vegetarian, in theory I don't really have a lot of issues with ethical, sustainable hunting. If people are going to eat meat anyway--and I don't think I can convince them all not to--I would much rather that they get their meat from hunting, fishing, or raising their own livestock, instead of picking up some factory-farmed, plastic wrapped chicken from the supermarket. But oh, hunters, please get your act together soon, because you're really not endearing yourself to anyone here.