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.

summer storms
July 18, 2013, 6:38 pm
Filed under: farm, preparedness | Tags: , , , , ,

We’ve sure had a lot of rain this summer.

here it comes!

here it comes!

Came home one afternoon to see this storm coming in. Sure got dark quick…

big storm hit about 2 minutes after this picture

big storm hit about 2 minutes after this picture

While I watched, the wind kicked up and a tree fell down over by the wedding tree!

tree across our trail entrance

tree across our trail entrance

We keep having big thunderstorms that drop a lot of rain. Nice to not have to worry about watering the garden! But the power did go out last week for a whole day. And voila, we were reminded that we really DO need backup power–as we have no water and more importantly no SUMP PUMP action in the basement. Flooding was minor down there, luckily. But we should really think about our preparedness for this kind of thing!

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!

strawberries come early?
May 15, 2012, 12:22 pm
Filed under: gardening, the yard | Tags: , , ,

Well asparagus and rhubarb were still kind of bust this year. But it looks like we’ll have a big crop of strawberries!!

Yesterday I actually found one that was ripe. Man was it good! Let’s hope the chippies leave some for us this year!

It seems a little early for strawberries, and I notice that some of them are kind of wonky on the bottom–must have got a touch of frost perhaps?


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!