the curious way we think of animals

Today Pittsburgh is honoring a lost comrade..in a big way. Rocco the police dog was stabbed in the line of duty and ultimately passed away. He’s getting a big deal funeral, and police from all over the state are attending. People are alternately confused about the expense and trouble, or moved to tears about the story.

I guess I fall into both camps. Definitely moved to tears by the story, but also a bit confused about the big deal from a culture that doesn’t do much normally to honor animals. There was another sad animal story this past week, which was quite horrific. A large “egg farm” caught on fire. No the eggs don’t just produce themselves–there were around 300,000 hens in the barn at the time. Can you imagine? Horrific in death and in life. Apparently this farm keeps 2 MILLION hens. Sheesh. All those little lives. That brings many tears to my eyes.

Especially as I tend to my two spoiled egg laying (sometimes) charges. Knuckles and Bubbles have the cabin fever. They’ve been so cold this winter.

Yo, how's about you turn the heat up?

Yo, how’s about you turn the heat up?

Here they sat one morning last week, up on the roost right under the heat lamps. They were actually shivering! Poor chums. But at 20 degrees they’re ready to party. I head out to the run and they’re at the door waiting to break loose.

It’s very icy on top of the snow, and I can’t actually open the back door of the barn (which I usually leave open so the chickens could return home if they wanted). SO….yes I give them a free ride to the barn (their little chicken heads bobbing, sometimes telling me a tale).

One at a time, I carry them across the frozen yard to the barn, where they can spend the afternoon scratching around in straw and enjoying themselves. Yes I’m that person, some kind of crazy chicken lady. Not sure how it happened, but at 4 pm, you can find me, carrying a chicken back to the coop, hoping that she enjoyed her day out on the town.

I’m happy that a police dog is getting a big fancy funeral. I see lots of changes out there in how we treat our animals. Sure there are many many contradictions in how we do it, but as long as we are generally moving towards a greater appreciation of life, it’s good, right?



Local food: thing of the past in the burgh?
January 30, 2014, 12:50 pm
Filed under: food, food issues, pittsburgh | Tags: , , ,

Only a matter of time I suppose. Post Gazette article talks about some restaurants getting fed up with the whole local food thing. It’s too HARD. Yep I get that. We don’t live in California, so our local food options create a not so glamourous menu. The sad part is that I hear in this article as well as from some of my local farm friends, that some supplier lists on local menus include farmers with whom they haven’t done business in several years?!! They’ve just kept the purveyors on the list so they look like good responsible restauranteurs.

UGH! Now that’s just plain sad. And it reminds me of the big scandal we heard about in Tokyo–where many products on menus were not as described. Hankyu Hanshin Hotels admitted that 47 different ingredients were involved. Selling cheaper shrimp as more expensive ones, frozen juice as “fresh”, “Home-made” cakes were purchased, etc. They knew that customers were looking for a quality brand product, so they left the menu descriptions intact while they served different items. Pretty terrible!

We’ve all heard the fish swap stories, that we’re not actually getting that great tuna or whatever we might think we are. But now it apparently applies to veggies in PA, too. I’m curious to follow up on this story, but then, I don’t really eat out that often. And I sure HOPE our one favorite restaurant is not among the deceitful. But I feel ok about it because we actually went to a farm event and heard from the farmer that he is STILL supplying his fantastic salad greens to Eleven.

I am really glum about this story. Not that surprised I guess, but still sad to hear it. At least these local restauranteurs in this article are keeping it real and deciding to be public about it.

an unusual risk of living in pittsburgh–the cars
August 2, 2012, 3:06 pm
Filed under: pittsburgh | Tags: , , , , ,

I really like living in Pittsburgh. It’s got a lot going for it, including having a great set of outdoor resources–parks and trails, as well as a great overall standard of living. But before you pull up stakes and come and take advantage of great housing prices, perhaps a caveat for you.

In other posts I’ve talked about the poor air quality in Pittsburgh, and the scary Marcellus drilling that’s starting. I haven’t spent too much time talking about the insane *sports love* in the town, but that’s there too. But of all of the potential downsides of living here, it turns out that the biggest unknown risk of living in Pittsburgh is not one of those things.

It’s having someone drive their car into your house. Yes I’m serious!Growing up near Buffalo it was all about the house fires. It seemed that every night on the news you’d hear about another house fire in a Buffalo neighborhood frame house. Fire in Lackawanna, Fire in Cheektowaga! aBut, in Pittsburgh I’ve noticed another trend. As it seems rather a stretch, last summer I decided to start documenting it. Read it and weep people!

tally of near 6 months of house crashes in the burgh

Let’s take a closer look shall we?
3-Jul crash into high rise in car chase
9-Jul crash into restaurant
28-Jul crash into house
1-Aug crash into house
16-Aug crashes into health club
28-Aug newlyweds crash
1-Sep crashes into house serious damage
16-Sep crashes into house
20-Sep crashes into house again old lady
1-Oct into garage
2-Oct drunk guy into house
8-Oct crashes into house gas line broken
16-Oct crashes into pizza shop
17-Oct crashes in to house our neigbhorhood
21-Oct crashes into house
23-Oct crashes into gas pumps
23-Oct crashes into porch
23-Oct crahses into courthouse
24-Oct carjacking crashes into house in garfield.
25-Oct truck into mausoleum

6-Dec jeep into house leaves its bumper
7-Dec pickup into bank
9-Dec stolen van into gas stationin oakland
12-Dec truck into TWO houses!

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a long time now–as it’s kind of a pain to find all the news links–and I need to be watching the news to hear these stories. Not sure I ever got to November!

But alas two big stories in the last two days–and it’s time to finish the post!!

So,yesterday–a pepsi truck driver was distracted for a moment and missed a curve in the road. Looked up to find himself careening through a guardrail and down into and through the corner of a house. Man took the whole master bedroom out!!! Tire tracks in the field showed that he continued on for quite a ways into the woods. Luckily no one was hurt.

And then today, I heard the news chopper nearby. Uh-oh. I wondered what it was, and here’s the story. Lady drove off the edge of the road and crashed into a landscape and nursery building!! Poor lady wound up in a creek. Hope she’s ok.

At any rate, it sure is a hazard here! Could be our crazy curvy roads. Some drunks, some older adults miscalculations. Or houses too close to the road? Or something!! Drivers took the side of my car off when I lived in Lawrenceville more than once, but so far, knock on wood, no car into my house.

whole food “local” honey–not local! Oranges in W.PA?

Local food seems easy enough to define. Or at least define what it’s not! Shipping bees across the country and then selling the honey as “local” is pretty misleading! And pretty impossible in any definition of the word in this case–orange honey in Pittsburgh??!

Visited our newest neighborhood Whole Foods the other day. It’s a nice big store with a great beer cafe! We’ve been waiting a long time for it to open. Unfortunately it’s exactly equidistant to as the other Whole Foods in Pittsburgh. Sigh.

Taking our first tour through we noted some different items. And we noticed a lot of signage. Everyone is on the Local bandwagon these days, and Whole Foods is using a lot of Local tags on its shelves. To wit:

whole foods wexford PA marketing orange honey as local!

Yep. That label shows the apiary has locations in NJ and FL. So, um wait a minute here. It’s interesting to think that New Jersey–around 8 hours away qualifies as “local.” Clearly not a 100 miles version of “local”.

But the real problem–dudes, listen–since when are we growing oranges in Pittsburgh!!! Sheesh. Get real Whole Foods!!

As for the company–I do like the fact that this label gives such a thorough picture of how the honey was produced. Itinerant bees shipped around the country. You know sort of, what you’re getting!

a late frost equals plant protection

We’ve had some really unusually great weather. So great that things started to come up and even bloom way too early! Then, as expected, a big freeze came. Another one is scheduled for tonight. Here’s how it looked for the first one:

Scary halloween show. Wrapped fruit trees in row cover.

a pretty pillowcase adds a decorative touch. Two bamboo stakes make it easy to slip this over a small daphne.

When you run out of sheets, start looking for boxes. Beer boxes with a bamboo stake through the handle worked well.

I put away all the sheets and stuff, so looks like i’ll be hauling everything back out tonight! Can’t wait til we’re in the clear and on to the real spring!

our night in burgatory
May 22, 2011, 10:11 am
Filed under: pittsburgh, restaurants

Our ongoing quest for the great restaurant veggie burger took us to Burgatory, conveniently located in a mini mall not so far from home. We’d been there once before and it was pretty good, so I was ready for another go. Alas, be careful what you name your restaurant–we ended up literally in Burgatory!!! We had company in town–best pal and her beau, and we’d tried to visit the Church Brew Works on Saturday night. It’s a great tourist spot, though i don’t totally love the food and the beer is not that great either! But they brew it in house and it’s a cool church with the tanks at the altar. Cool!! But not cool–big weekend in May and it was packed. We weren’t in the mood to wait for an hour so we left.

Next night we found ourselves ready to try a restaurant outing again. We went to Burgatory on a Sunday night at 530. Thought that wouldn’t be totally primetime. But no. They said it would be 45 minutes. Ok. We’d wait, besides we could check out some shops while we waited. But the restaurant isn’t really set up for groups larger than 4. We had 6 and it looks like they have 3 tables that can take that many. At one hour we returned to see where our table was. Not ready!! Argh, I thought this would be a quick stop in get a meal and go home–we were tired out from our long day of sightseeing at Fallingwater.

I didn’t feel like cooking but could have made great veggie burgers at home by now.

But then we were already in, and already wasted an hour. So we couldn’t leave now right? The staff were quite apologetic and by the time we were seated another 20 minutes later, they’d offered us free apps! Right on! That was nice. We ordered dinner, it took a while to get it (and they got my order wrong–argh). Another comp. Which was nice. But really it was kind of a hellish experience!!! We didn’t leave until 845!! That’s a long time for a burger and fries don’t you think?

I sure hope staff will get the thing figured out, or that they’ll move to a bigger place. Like our other veggie burger place, Double Wide, Burgatory is plagued by insanely long wait times. So we’re still looking for our go-to burger place.

This post is really about those times where you are in wait line purgatory–but you probably want a reference about the food huh? I had a salad the first time at Burgatory and really liked it–I’m a sucker for sunflower seeds on a salad. The veggie burger is a lentilly kind of base, and it’s pretty good. The topping options are pretty nice too. The chips are ok–dude doesn’t love the sweet potato ones so much, but I do, and the fries, also good. Double wide’s burger is good but seems a bit more health food like than this one–you know, more visible carrots, oats, that kind of thing, and the toppings options aren’t too exotic.

official bird of turd acres–Turdus migratorius
February 7, 2011, 11:05 am
Filed under: farm, pittsburgh | Tags: , , ,

Ha! While you might think that the common american pet chicken is the official bird of turdacres, I think it should probably be Turdus migratorius! We do travel a lot here at the acres, don’t you know.

I’m sitting here all glum about the Steeler’s heartbreaking superbowl loss last night. Not only did they not win, but now there’s nothing to look forward to. Nothing but the long gloomy tedious endless last days of winter.

Anyhow so I’m sitting here, being glum, and all of a sudden a huge flock of Robins (aka Turdus migratorius-fer reals people!) arrives to sit in the crabapple tree eating the last little berries up there. Cute little guys! They stopped by to tell me that in fact, winter will end soon.

Either that, or they came by for the funeral of little buddy who was eaten by a hawk a few weeks ago. But I’m not going to dwell on that! Thinking positive..

PS. I wondered how big Robin flocks tended to be. I googled size of robin flock but didn’t find an answer. Did find the latin name and lots of info on wikipedia, though.