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Anxiety about harvest time

photo of turkey chick

Turkey chick

Sometime this week, Aaron will probably harvest our two turkeys. I hesitated to get turkeys because I was worried about killing time. Now it’s almost here, and I’m feeling uncomfortable. Processing turkeys is a multi-step process that includes bleeding them out, plucking their feathers, and removing their innards. As you can see from the video below, it’s pretty terrible. I hate the idea of the waste being around my home. I’ve decided not to be present when it’s time. Also, I look at the turkeys we’ve raised since the beginning of summer, and it just seems weird that I’ll be eating them for Thanksgiving. I know they’ll be delicious, but still.

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Chicken industry in Texas

This article by Reporting Texas details the growth of the chicken industry in Texas, treat and the pitfalls and consequences of the industry.

Texas has opened its arms to Big Chicken, vcialis 40mg and Big Chicken has been good to Texas. In 2009, diagnosis the industry contributed $2.1 billion to the state economy and had created 7,700 direct and indirect jobs, according to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Program. The state is home to three of the four largest growers in the United States: Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson and Sanderson Farms. While the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association lists Texas as the sixth-most productive state, slaughtering 684 million chickens in 2010, the United States is second to none.

The communities that seem to owe so much to chickens are also divided by their presence. It has driven once-friendly neighbors to silence and brought an influx of out-of-county (and country) entrepreneurs. Growers live behind guarded gates. Many have unlisted phone numbers. While some families opened their doors for this story, many more hung up the phone, asked to be left alone or suggested that journalists had no place looking into the poultry industry.

How do you feel about all this landing on your dinner plate?

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Thought for today

“Happiness lies first of all in health.” — George William Curtis

Photo by Sean Venn on Flickr

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Soapmaking tutorial

I’m thinking about making my own bar soap for my house and to give to people as gifts. Today I researched YouTube to figure out how hard it would be to make soap. Here’s a comprehensive tutorial I found.

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Thought for today

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

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Calendar thwarts “march of numbers” for nature

In early August, I received a direct message on Twitter from @ECOLOGICALCAL asking if I’d review the company’s ECOlogical Calendar if they sent me a copy. I agreed, and my calendar came in the mail shortly afterwards.

The vibrant artwork immediately caught my attention when I opened the calendar. The envelope that holds the calendar is decorated with a hand-drawn picture of bees pollinating pink flowers as the sun rises on the horizon. The cheerful, colorful artistic style continues throughout.

I became confused when I took the calendar out. I was not sure how to read it. An informational brochure in the package explains that Chris Hardman, an artist, decided to create a new type of calendar because he wanted to bring a greater understanding of nature’s cycles into modern living. The brochure says:

… as societies have grown increasingly urbanized and diversified through industrial and technological progress, the calendar has become more like a continuous, ineluctable march of numbers, a business machine telling us when to be where …

This new calendar gives a glimpse of the multitudinous interlocking phenomena that make a year on this planet the amazing event that it is: changing seasons, phases of the Moon, fluctuating tides, significant weather activity, the shifting biological behavior of flora and fauna, to name a few.

The brochure also explains how to read the calendar. There are different “bands” from top to bottom that give the user information about the sun, moon, tides, etc. The largest and most visually stunning band is in the middle: It contains colorful illustrations of different plants and animals that thrive during the seasons. At the very bottom you will see the months and dates from the traditional calendar.

Each of the four seasons is illustrated with one rectangular panel. I’m not sure if I would have room on my walls to hang up all four at once, so I would probably change them out as the year progressed. Even that way, it may be difficult for some people to find a convenient place to hang the calendar, since it’s an odd shape.

I think this product would be great for school rooms because the children would be able to visualize concepts they may otherwise find difficult to understand. The artwork would definitely catch the students’ attention.

Overall, I think this is a pretty cool idea. I especially like having a visual reminder about the length of daylight during different times of year, and the dates of the full moons. I’m happy to have a copy and I plan to hang it in my office as soon as 2012 begins.

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Thought for a Friday

“Simplicity, sickness simplicity, simplicity!” — Henry David Thoreau.

photo of single cloud in blue sky

Photo by bosela on morgueFile (http://mrg.bz/SqzGk7)

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Maybe I should go vegetarian …

Photo by sioda on morgueFile

I’m reading a Mother Jones article about a report that suggests there’s a link between meat-factory farms that give animals antibiotics, and instances of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in humans. The USDA commissioned a university scientist to create a summary of other research about “the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant infections and their link with factory animal farms.” The USDA published the report on its website, but after a while, the report disappeared. The article says:

… what [the report is] telling us is disturbing: In addition to mountains of cheap product, the food industry is churning out a major public-health menace. And instead of informing the public about it, the USDA seems intent to keep it on the down-low. Justin Tatham of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has been observing the drama since it started in June, put it to me like this: “As a science-based group, we’re concerned about how the USDA is withholding this information from the public.”

By the way, you can read the original report (PDF).

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Basil harvest = Pesto time

photo of fresh basil

Photo by Angela Morris

It’s the end of summer, and our basil plants looked like jungle weeds. That is, before Aaron harvested all of them to make pesto today. Last year, we procrastinated so long that we lost most of our basil harvest. This year we were nearing that same tragedy, but we’re not going to let it happen again. Aaron will be busy making pesto today. We’re going to make two types–The traditional pesto with pine nuts, and an alternate with some other type with yet-to-be-determined nuts.

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Austin buying land to protect aquifer

Photo by heirbornstud on morgueFile

“The City of Austin plans to buy 611 acres in the heart of the sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, viagra a deal officials are hailing as a major step in protecting water quality in the aquifer and in area springs, including Barton Springs,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. “The 611 -acre parcel has sinkholes, caves and other porous features through which rainwater filters into the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer. The aquifer replenishes Barton Springs Pool and is a source of drinking water for rural areas in Travis and Hays counties.”

This part is particularly awesome:

The tract will help weave together 9,000 acres of contiguous, conserved lands in Travis and Hays counties. Along those properties, the city and two nonprofits — the Austin Parks Foundation and Hill Country Conservancy — plan to create the Violet Crown Trail , a 30-plus-mile regional public trail system that will run from Zilker Park to Hays County.

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