seeds

You thought the blog was done for, didn’t you? Well, it was just in hibernation. I started writing this post in the spring & am just now finally getting around to posting it.

This time of year provides more inspiration to write (even if there’s less time to do it). This spring I started some seeds in trays to plant in my home garden. I’ve had a box of seeds in my fridge for years. The last time I had a vegetable garden was at least 4 or 5 years ago, and most of the seeds I have were acquired around that time. It amazed me how much was in that box when I opened it again this year. I’d bought seed packets at conferences, traded them with friends, picked them up at Seedy Saturday events, etc. Anyway, now that I have garden space again, I thought it was about time to pull that box out of the back of the fridge and get growing! (Incidentally, even though I grow vegetables for a living, having a home garden is too great to pass up. Yes, I know this means basically coming home from work and doing the same job at home. I suppose that’s a sign of passion for the work.) Anyway, I didn’t sit down to write about the garden, but about seeds.

beans
Mix of beans, including cranberry, orca, black soybean, and some other heirlooms

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yes, in your backyard

A dumpster outside a barn piled high with dead pigs

A dumpster outside a barn, piled high with dead pigs

Yes, that is what you think it is – dead pigs in a dumpster. I took the photo earlier this year. The farm is about 10 minutes from town. Eat Local, everyone!

Okay, enough with the bitter sarcasm. Seriously, since this photo was taken I’ve seen the same dumpster fill up with dead animals again, twice (and this road is not one I frequent too often). This is the stuff we sometimes hear about but nobody wants to believe – or at least believe it happens at home.

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market stories

Finally, a farm post!

The markets are in full swing right now. We’ve been fortunate to have great weather on market days this year, in spite of our relatively cool, wet summer. It’s a lot of work to schlep stuff like tables, tents and full coolers to market, but it’s one of my favourite things to do – after working hard in the greenhouse and fields to grow everything and keep the weeds & insects from taking over, it’s rewarding to take it all to market and have people come back every week to get more, and let you know how much they enjoyed everything.

peas

The market is also a place to make connections. A few weeks ago, an older man walked his bicycle up to my table and started asking me about the market – it was his first visit. As we chatted, another older man walked his bike over (yay bikes!) and asked me if we had any wild garlic. We don’t, but I showed him what garlicky stuff I could offer him, and the other guy turned and said “hey, I have tons of that stuff growing in my backyard.”

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Notes from the Field: part 1

Happy summer, y’all.

You’ll notice that I started using the “read more” feature on here, so my full posts are visible after the cut below (click on “read the rest of this entry” in each post to go to the full page).

I recently pulled out a stack of binders I had packed away from my days at university. When I cleaned out my desk at the end of the program, I recycled most of the notes I had, but some course notes I kept without really knowing what I’d do with them. The reason has become a bit clearer to me now that I’ve had a few years to recover from being in that environment.

I spent some time recently looking through each page of each binder, recalling some of the lectures, professors, and field trips I took part in during the course of my schooling. These notes have been sitting in a box for ages, but now I’d like to share some of what I learned at school by posting them here. Here are some photos of key pages, in addition to descriptions of what happened at the time the notes were made, or what concepts & practices the notes are referring to.

This post covers general practices in various animal exploitation industries. There will be more posts in the near future that are specific to each industry, ie. the “production” of eggs, milk, pigs, birds, fish & cattle. This is a chance to gain some insight into not only the practices used, but the language and resources employed by animal industries. Think of it as an insider look.

IMG_6903

“Feed economically to make a bigger profit” : An example of the kinds of things we feed to animals, many of which are items that could be directly eaten by humans, or are waste “products” of animal industry itself which get fed back to more animals.

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pride yourselves

hi y’all. For the first time ever on this blog, here’s a little pride-related post. There are many, many people in the world who deserve more recognition for what they do. Here are just a few, on the wide spectrum of gender & sexuality, who not only work (or worked) for humans, but for other animals too.

Alice Walker

“I am not a lesbian. I am not bisexual. I am curious. If you are really alive, how can you be in one place that whole time?”

She’s brought us so many amazing works of fiction, poetry, & essays, including the famous book (and film) The Colour Purple. Check out her website.

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.  They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”

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be gentle with yourself

This is a self-care post. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I can’t have all the wisdom I wish to, all the facts memorized, all the nuances understood, and that’s okay.

It’s easy to set high standards for ourselves and in the meantime, forgive others for not reaching those standards. We can forget to forgive ourselves and be kind to ourselves when we can’t achieve all our goals as fully as we want to. I try to remind myself that even though change feels excruciatingly slow, small things matter and help. I need to remind myself that I too deserve compassion from myself when I can’t meet my goals as fast or as easily as I want to.

This is a circle. Forgiving others, and understanding that we’re on different parts of our learning curves, helps maintain community instead of breaking it down. Being gentle with others reminds me to be gentle with myself, and vice versa. It reminds me that I too have learning to do and that’s okay. All of us make mistakes and we each have our own journeys to make. What’s important is that we stay committed to and present within the journey itself.

Do you want an example of a time when I totally missed the point of some of the concepts I was learning? I look back on this with frustration, but also humour, and think “man, I was doing it wrong”. But I’ve learned more since.

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links

Hey readers, Intrepid Lynx has a question: What do rodeos, agriculture and bullfighting have to do with violence against women?

Remember the No Joke post? You all seemed to find that one especially interesting. Want a little more about interconnectedness? Read on!

I recently started listening to Animal Voices, a radio show based in Toronto. I continue to be impressed by the hosts’ abilities to ask relevant questions, find countless guests who have interesting and important things to talk about, and how the show fosters a holistic view of non-human animal issues by demonstrating sensitivity to, and addressing, various human issues and connecting the dots. Back in 2005, Animal Voices did a show for International Women’s Day (March 8), which included a slew of amazing speakers and touched on very important topics, one of them being the links between violence against women, and violence to non-human animals. Much of the show is devoted to examining this issue in Wellington County, Ontario – right in my backyard. In light of the recent mass shooting in California, an event that now sits atop the mountain of other mass murders (which all seem to have been done by men) over the last few decades, this is what I want to talk about today.

For resources on dealing with partner and animal abuse, click here.

First off, I acknowledge that violence against women, and violence against non-human animals, are both very real issues. If you’re a woman, or are read as a woman by other people, you’re confronted by this every day, both in subtle ways and perhaps very obvious and scary ways. If you’re a woman of colour, disabled, of size, queer, trans, whatever – your risk is even greater (I’m sure you don’t need to be told, and could probably tell me of your own experiences that demonstrate this. In fact, I encourage you to leave comments on this topic if you wish). I want you to know that I understand that this is a real and serious problem, one that I also experience, and I don’t simply want to use it as a jumping-off point or an oversimplified argument in order to further my own thoughts in this post. The purpose of discussing these issues is to bring awareness to how they are linked and how they come from the same source. I hope that those of you who’ve read my other posts understand this, and that I can make it clear here as well. That said, if you think I need to do better with the nuances of it all (or other things), please email me. Also, given the subject matter of this post, be aware that some images in this post are difficult. Stay fierce and support each other.

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spring!

Finally! The sun is back, and with it the insects and the birds, frogs and toads, and rabbits and squirrels.

The bees are around again, too. The honey bees at the farm have been pretty active on warm days recently. Sometimes I hear them buzzing when I walk by the hive area, or see one or two in the greenhouse as I work. Meanwhile, in internet-land, there are many articles circulating about neonicotinoids (a type of water-soluble pesticide commonly used on cereal crops and turf) and other issues that affect bees negatively, mainly in the form of what’s been called colony collapse disorder (read: hives dying).

Some things I’ve noticed about the conversation in these articles is that honey bees are the focus, and rarely other, native pollinators. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the conversation doesn’t look at how bees are kept or cared for when people use them for honey. I think these are two big gaps in the discussion.

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no joke.

It’s been a while that I wanted to write about a gruesome topic that came up a few months ago. I still don’t know exactly how to word this post, but I want to do a bit of justice to the events by talking about them here.

You may have heard a while back that (brace yourself) the heads of six dead cats were found around Stouffville, an area north of Toronto. I remember hearing about it last fall and being grossed out and angered. This article covers the details from the time when the heads were discovered. The article includes two video interviews, and states that investigations are underway by police and SPCA officials. Whether or not you feel comfortable about police involvement, I think we can all agree that it’s important for something to be done.

I know this is an awful thing to think about, but bear with me. It’s possible that coyotes are the culprits, though the very public location of the heads seems suspicious and the investigators don’t think that is the case. Whether it was coyotes or humans, you probably feel some sense of justice knowing that a search is happening to try and find the person(s) who did this. You may feel glad that it’s getting media attention, enough to be on national news. You probably empathize with the cats and feel they deserve justice. I feel that way, too. When disgusting things like this happen at the hands of humans, investigations are important so that future acts can be prevented, and reported on so that more people can become aware of what’s happening and to let perpetrators know that they’re not getting off easy.

Now, I want to tell a related story. I’ll admit that this is not something I witnessed myself, but it was told to me by friends, neither of whom are affiliated with any animal protection organizations.

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vegan mythbusting: ethics

Welcome to a new, soon-to-be-regular blog feature: vegan mythbusting!

People ask me all kinds of stuff about vegan life. People probably also assume all kinds of things about it (like that I went vegan because my reaction to seeing a piglet was similar to the drawing below. I probably would fawn over a cute piglet – who wouldn’t?! – but this goes deeper than a squee!) Sometimes those things are evident, and probably a lot of them aren’t. Why not talk about it?

People find out I’m vegan and probably think it’s because I once saw a piglet and did this

Before we go on, let’s be clear: the point of vegan mythbusting isn’t to get all the backup I have and tell the world that what they think is wrong. That doesn’t help anyone. The goal here is to create a clearer understanding of what really lies behind our plates of veggie bacon. I can only speak for myself, so start a conversation if you know someone else who’s veg and are interested in what their motivations are.

Today’s Vegan Myth: Your ethics concern animals alone and/or prioritize non-humans over humans. You must be ignorant and/or insensitive.

This is a common one. It often gets presented to me in the form of “there are so many other problems in the world, why aren’t you trying to help people instead?”

(What a cop-out question. Who says you can’t do both? And who says that being vegan only helps animals? If I started eating animals again, would it help any marginalized group in their struggle? I’ll elaborate on this in a bit.)

When it comes to the question of what motivates vegans, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

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