Friday, October 21, 2011

49 Dead in Ohio

If you are tender souled, avert your eyes. This is a tragic story, and this picture is heartbreaking. On October 20th, 2011 a gentleman in Ohio, and ex-Vietnam helicopter gunner under extreme distress, severely depressed, with no one to turn to (in his eyes) released 50 of his exotic animals and then shot himself in the head. Ohio, pressured by the Dear Friend of Michael Vick, that animal loving football hero, yes you guessed it, Wayne Pacelle the self-admitted Hero of Animals is being pushed to legislate in emergency session a total ban on private ownership of all exotics.

Ohio, Just Don't
49 Dead in Ohio
All I can see is this picture in my mind with clashing music looping over and over. Through the rage, and the tears, I keep seeing the pictures in my mind of the people I know who live in Ohio and other states who own exotic animals. Responsible private owners who will be punitively affected by a ban law, even tho their animals have never escaped, never caused any problems, were not stolen from the wild, are well kept, well loved, healthy members of the Family. Sure, they may be considered an oddball Family, but aren't all of our Families a little different? a little oddball? A little maladjusted? A little dysfunctional? I know mine is, and really... I wouldn't want it any other way ...

These are the things I know for certain:
  • Terry Thompson was a Vietnam Vet who was still struggling with his experience there.
  • He lived a relatively solitary life. He and his recently-divorced wife considered the animals as part of the family, as their "furry children."
  • He got in over his head, and had too many animals, and was having troubles caring for them all appropriately.
  • He recently was released from prison on a weapons charge, for ownership of unregistered weapons.
  • He was cited on neglect charges in April of 2005
  • in January of 2011 Joe A Schreibvogel of GW Exotic Animal Memorial Park offered to help Terry and the County by taking the animals and was refused his assistance by Sheriff Matt Lutz.
  • Feline Conservation Federation also offered to assist when Mr. Thompson was incarcerated, but was refused by the authorities.
  • The authorities on the scene were not properly trained in management of frightened large exotics and were self-admittedly "nervous" as reported by on-the-scene reporters.
  • Most of the animals were still on Mr. Thompson's private property.
49 animals were shot and killed, and at least one monkey was eaten by other predators. People are calling for a ban on all private ownership of exotics. But what people don't seem to realize is this: Just how far do you want to legislate? Will owning a pet lizard be OK? An African Grey parrot? A friend of mine is upset about the fact that big cats are privately owned, stating that "they should never have been taken from the wild", but she owns African Greys, which, according to one source, some 21% of the global population is from the wild. Why is this acceptable but owning big cats is not? So, will exotic birds be a part of this ban? Is it the size of the animal? Without private owners and private breeding facilities, the global population of the Bengal Tiger would be effectively extinct as a result of the small number of Bengals in the wild. Non sustainable populations = extinction. I'm not saying that everybody should have one or three, nor am I saying that this is a problem we, as a society, don't need to address. What I am saying is that if you push for a ban on private ownership, are you thinking about ALL the ramifications? Will snakes be legal to own? If you have a big cat and you've never ever gotten into any trouble, and your "really big kitty" never goes walk-about in the neighborhood sampling Eau de Poodle, and your kitty is healthy and happy and part of your Family, does anybody have the right to rip that animal away from its' loving home as a result of another person's mistakes? And all those legally kept animals whose owners don't have enough money to pony up brand new bells and whistles, and lawyers, what will we do with their animals? Will you put their animals in a cage? Animals who have never known that kind of hand's-off husbandry, who have only known sleeping on couches across Mommy's lap, or laying in bed with Daddy, wouldn't that be cruel? OR will we simply kill them all because there's "no room at the Inn" all across America at the Zoos and Sanctuaries? Most small towns -or states for that matter in today's economy- don't have the resources necessary to enforce new laws with new training of employees and all that is necessary legally to enact these kinds of "emergency ban laws", nor do they have the resources to fight legislative battles in court for these untrained employees and the mistakes they will undoubtably make. In today's economy, can we afford the tax dollars all these new legislative issues will cost?

Repeatedly people have shown the truth of HSUS' real agenda. (This article is a very good one by a member of the AVMA) HSUS is a radical animal rights organization with close ties to terrorist groups like PETA, ALF and ELF. But when it comes to animal welfare laws, it seems as if we just go knee jerk, and forget all we ever learned of critical thinking. We hear good ol' Wayne Pacelle decry the horror ! the tragedy! We need to ban all animal ownership (ooops! sorry, he means EXOTIC animal ownership, ALL animal ownership, that'll come later) to prevent this from ever happening again! But will it? After all, the ban that's being suggested is only against PRIVATE ownership. Zoos and Sanctuaries will be exempted. Even though over 80% of all the incidents of bites occur in Zoos or Sanctuaries. Private owners, as a general rule, know their animals' tolerances, and don't allow them to be pushed. Don't get me wrong, most Zoos and Sanctuaries are well run animal care facilities with passionate people who truly care for the welfare of their charges. Of course, these facilities also aren't the usual recipients of bite incidents.

So I suggest that we all grab tight hold of our common sense and THINK first before any of us-and any of our representatives- run off to pass new laws "to protect the animals". And furthermore, I offer the radical idea of enforcing the laws we currently have on the books regarding animal welfare, and the "laws of the land" such as "roaming at large". Make it across the board. Make it simple. All animals will be given adequate food, water, space to excersize, and size of containment according to their species' needs. Yes, factory farms will set up a hue and cry to this kind of radical simplistic common sense, and yes, this will probably affect the price of some animal food products, like meat and dairy. But isn't this really past due anyway? (Please click here for a very short explanation of "battery hens")

If our Country had had one solid piece of a law regarding animal welfare, this incident would have been taken care of last year and January before it got to this tipping point. What if all the Vietnam Vets had been offered intense help to readjust and re-assimilate into our society rather than ostracized? I wonder if Mr Thompson would have felt so alone if he had some kind of support group when he got home. What was Sheriff Lutz' reasoning to reject the two offers of help from reputable rescue organizations? If he had accepted their help, those animals wouldn't be dead today. Why are we listening to Wayne Pacelle? Tax the heck out of those scoundrels, and get them out of the lobbying business. Those 49 animals didn't have to die. But in the interest of justice, I pray that America doesn't wind up banning all responsible private owners from living their lives in the manner which they please, in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness all because one man, lost, lonely, sick at heart, made a terrible terrible choice.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Untitled As Yet?

I saw this book available through Amazon the other day:
Part Wild The author came to our home and met with my friend Dianne, and spoke with her at length about living with wolfdogs. She met one of my mentors, Sue Cranston, who runs Indigo Mountain Nature Center She met with many other extraordinary wolfdog owners and she met honest-to-God high content "mostly wolf" pet wolfdogs, with owners who have proper containment, who train their pets to behave, and not act like heathens, who interact with them with loving care. This lady met, face to face, the "real deal", but even the Truth sticking right in her face could not dislodge the preconceived notions she has of the "poor lost wolfdog, always caught between two worlds", and "the cruel lot of the wolfdog, forced to live in confinement and always yearning to be free", etc etc ad naseum.

It made me want to scream. It made me want to shake her till her pigtails popped. And after a few days, it made me pick up one of my journals that I hadn't gotten around to writing in yet, and start to write. I mean, I figure if I bend me to it, if I write every day, and fill this book with my experiences since MY first wolfdog way back in 1987 to date, well if a pack of misinformation and preconceived ill-considered thoughts of a woman with a low content, poorly trained and socialized malamute mix would sell, I wonder if the thoughts and experiences of an animal welfare advocate and responsible wolfdog owner and the trials and errors I've lived through with my babies would sell.

My experiences are far different from this woman's. I started out with a wolfdog of the same approximate content as she did, but I actually LISTENED when I was first told that my "pet wolf" was "mostly dog". I listened, and I researched, and I went around the country and met other people's pets, from low content wolfdogs to pure wolves. There are places I still wish to go, (Indigo Mountain, for one!) but I don't do much traveling anymore, except back to my Home town for Christmases to see my Mom and my Tribe... I have my babies to consider.

I've seen a lot of books out about why wolfdogs make lousy pets, but very few about the good side of sharing your life with a wolfdog. Well, maybe it's time that changed.

I started last night. All part of my re-invention scheme!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seven and a Half Years #BAD11

Seven and a Half Years #BAD11 (which is some kind of Tweet-speak about Blog Action Day)

Having just been let go from my Dream Job –oh wait, let me redefine that , of all the jobs I’ve done, all the work I’ve fallen into, everything I’ve been paid to do, the job I have loved the best was working at the Garden Center. It’s been leased now, and the new owners don’t have room for me… “Well, maybe next March or April” which is a soothing salve for my now-downtrodden ego, but doesn’t put chicken in the mouths of the woofers, or litter in the cat boxes, not to mention food on the table for this Winter- I find myself having to redefine myself all over again. (the shade of Yogi Beara sits on my shoulder for that sentence)

One of the things I was most passionate about with this job, and my new life of 7 & a half years in Oregon was food crops and organic methods of gardening. The town I wound up in, (a pin stick in a map from long long ago) is a very small rural town with old farmers and old hippies and young people yearning for a more natural life away from the sick smelly rat race. Or trapped here, there are those who say that too. It’s a slice of Rural America here. And as small as this town is, it has the pulse of “what’s important”. Because the stuff that’s really important gets steamed off into a thicker, more pungent gravy in a small town. A small town has less room to maneuver, less of a bumper, small decreases of economy hit harder in rural small towns. One business that goes under is one BIG domino.

So when the economy started showing signs of shivering and weakly pneumonia, I saw people who hadn’t planted gardens in years or never start coming down to the garden center to ask me about how to plant their gardens.. What to grow? Where to grow it? Why do my tomatoes have spots? Why does my peach tree have red blotches on the leaves? What’s this grey green fuzzy stuff? I didn’t get any onions last year, can you tell me what to do? And I did, I researched, and I read. My library of gardening, and gardening techniques, and organic methods is fairly hefty. Lots of old books with some outdated information, and some lost gems of wisdom.. And I took seminars, and pounced on every event that any supplier put on… Seed trials, soil improvement and elements of healthy soil, pest integration systems, anything everything that had anything to do with gardening naturally. I have learned a great deal about living, about growing, about what works, and why, and why not.

I discovered a lot of things, mostly through that age-old Task Master, “trial and error” . Gardening naturally is harder work –especially in a commercial business- than traditional chemical methods. This past year that has really sunk in, when we realized that white flies had taken root in a BIG way in the third greenhouse- the propagation house. The past ownership wasn’t much into doing anything beyond taking money for plants. CARE of plants, or greenhouse upkeep just wasn’t in their business plan. I sprayed daily, using Neem, pepper wax spray and Pyrythrin alternately, and we cleaned the house of all weeds, sterilized the benches, segregated the plants, and once Winter hit, I was going to drop the sides and bomb the greenhouses with a pyrythrin bug bomb. That didn’t happen, because the place got leased, and the new owners are chemical people. He’s registered as a pesticide sprayer. First day there, all the weeds were given their last rites with Round Up. The last 3 weeks I had purchased some white fly predators, and I gave them the last strip. So the white flies will not be given them any grief, I am sure. What pests escape the predators, the new owners will kill with pesticides.

So why did I make more work for myself? Because I was the one who had to do the spraying, and I do not have a HazMat suit to do this, and I don’t want to have chemicals around me. They are nasty, poisonous, deadly, and the garden center borders a drainage ditch of significance which drains straight into the Clackamas River. The water table is so high there, that you can’t even sink a toilet, you have to have a port-a-potty. All that poison drift, all the pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, all that goes straight into the river, and I didn’t want that on my conscience. And because we sell FOOD items, plants that make food for people, plants that will be living with us for a while until they find their new owners, and I don’t want to ingest poisons, and I sure don’t want to sell a food plant that’s been soaked or sprayed with poisons to my neighbors, because well, dang it, I sure wouldn’t want to grow a plant that I plan to eat off of that’s been loaded with toxic chemicals…

There’s enough of that around. We have seen way too much of the results of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as we have grown in this Country. We were given milk from cows who were saturated with bovine growth hormones, and fed grain which included the crushed up bones and meals of companion pets. And we wonder why little girls of 8 are going through menses, and why cows go mad with bovine encephalitis. We try to eat better, and get e-coli from our spinach because AgriBusiness doesn’t have enough port-a-potties in their fields, so their workers use “the bushes”, which leaches into the fields of “garden fresh” vegetables trucked direct to your table. And then the attacks on small organic farms by Monsanto, and the push to use GMOs as a food source for ANY living creature (don’t eat the popcorn at the movies, *dang!* cheap GMO corn) even tho in Europe, the studies have proven time and again to be linked to very bad mojo long term diseases…. Glyphosate Birth Defects ) I’m well past child-bearing years, (long story) but why would I chance ingesting a product which has been proven time after time after time to be poisonous? WHY would anyone trust a company who repeatedly settles out-of-court so they don’t have to state how many times they have been taken to court and LOST?? I’m just afraid now to eat stuff not locally produced by people who use organic methods of farming.

Consumers need to know this: We need to be actively aware of what we choose to purchase at our stores, we NEED to be proactive about our food choices.
Monsanto & Glyphosate Toxicity studies
GMO corn study reveals health damage and cover up
We are being fed a crock of unuseable compost regarding GMOs. Mad Cow disease is a result of using meat & meats meals rendered from all sources (pets, other animal stock, downed farm animals) and fed to HERBIVORES along with bovine growth hormones in order to produce more milk, more meat, bigger better more more more than we can sustainably ask of any farm animal or food source. And why, when there is a ban on feeding ruminants any mammalian byproducts, why hasn’t the USDA actually implemented and enforced the bans, the proposed laws and consumer protection? Instead, we get to have GMO corn pushed on us by the very people who are supposed to be protecting us. Is our USDA bought and paid for? WTH??? and the bee decline has been linked substantially to 1) re-sizing combs bigger to produce more honey -mites get in over the bodies of the bees who aren't big enough to block the re-sized combs- and 2) from wide-spread use of systemic pesticides where the bees gather the pollen off flowers which have been treated with this systemic, and the bees die as well as the bad bugs which feed off the plants.

I can see, actually, why someone who believes in the status quo, who believes that chemical pesticides and herbicides are the way to go, why someone like that would not necessarily be interested in hiring a person like myself. After all, chemical methods of plant care ARE more effective, short term. It’s the LONG TERM where their shortcomings and the dangers come from, and many people in the plant industry are not concerned about the long term. They are concerned with the short term, the plants and products they can sell TODAY, this week, and to hell with the cost over the long term. I can see it, because I know myself pretty well, and I’m a big mouth, especially when it comes to something I am passionate about. I won’t be silent, I will not comply, I am recalcitrant beyond measure, and stubborn beyond reasoning. And actually, in this economy, who can blame anybody for thinking about how they can survive TODAY??

I dunno. That’s why I’m redefining myself. That’s why I’m writing this, to raise my own level of awareness. I was a professional gardener. Now I’m just another natural gardening advocate. I wonder where this road will lead me.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

So Fare Well to McGregor's Nursery

I got laid off a couple weeks back, to working just one day per week... The McGregors' were having a heck of a tough time pulling the Garden Center out of the financial spiral that the past ownership and the economy spilled it into..

So I went to work today, and at 3 -ish pm, I got told that they had leased the Garden Center, and the new owners were taking over TOMORROW. The new owners wanted me to delete the website (blogspot) and the FaceBook pages, which I did. I am sorry that I couldn't say good bye properly, didn't have much notice.

Gave up my keys, but I get to keep my cell phone until I can get all the pictures and contacts out of it.. Tried to talk my way into keeping it, but no go.

I'm glad I had made out a list of my stuff, so that I won't be TOO lost as I try to get everything out... The fridge, the microwave, all the fans in the greenhouses, the heat mats.. The big wagons, the tools, shovels, hand tools, etc... the vacuum cleaner, step ladder, all the office supplies (well, most of them.) the oak desk.. and there's a whole page of other stuff...The easel for *specials*.. I took my computers today, as I thought it might be wise to make sure that no-one would accidentally damage my files... It wasn't ALWAYS the "work computer". It started out as my website computer, with all my photo and drawing programs in it..

Man, I feel lost.. I have been working there since 2 months after I moved to this state... It was like another home.. I put my heart and soul into it.

Maybe the new owners will decide I'm worth keeping on, I don't know. Maybe they won't. The McGregors' gave them my name and number, anyway.

I just don't know what the Universe is preparing me for, or pushing at me. My friends Dave & Bobbie came over just after I found out, and later, after the shock wore off a little (a VERY little) I threw invisible me up in the air, and told God, "Here ya go! Do with me as You will"... Seven and a half years. (minus one Spring after MGC laid me off/fired me because I got hurt at work, and *couldn't do the job I had been hired for*. I still need surgery for that) So wow, just wow. Life moves on.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World Blog Day

Once again, it's time for Blog Action Day. This year's topic is FOOD, and BOY do I have alot to say about THAT! I invite you to tune in to my Blog (you are here) on or after October 16th.

I'm in, are you ?