Animals make the world go round

Where do I find your pesticides and slug killer?”
I hold back my tongue, one that wants to scream:
“ WHY??? Must you really be rid of pests? How are they affecting your personal life? Have you tried mulch, ducks and beer?”

These pests who need only to be managed with careful mitigation strategies, not whipped out! I think about the myriad of animals who perish from the worst possible of murders: starvation, lack of house and home, amputation, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, a slow and silent death from the inside out caused by our increasingly polluted planet. (However, interesting to note the hopeful beacon from Max: he does not believe the world to be filled with toxicity… but he also said that humans have a responsibility to take some of those toxins out by consuming them- so I’m taking it with a grain of salt)

I am sweeping in the garden centre when I notice I have swept over a bee. I kneel down, and gaze as it reaches out its tiny leg and I sense its heartbeat tail off. I pick it up kindly with my fingers and set it upon a marigold flower in full bloom. As it takes its last breath, I wonder: who did this and why did it happen to you? This amazing, hard working specimen that is responsible for the miracle of pollination and honey…

beeeee
There is such a thing as wildlife anxiety. I know because I suffer from it. Photo: Julia J

Was it a lack of water?
Recognizing that urban hydrology does not mimic an old growth forest. In nature, when a tree falls it creates a hole where it’s root used to be firmly planted. This natural depression is important for local hydrology to stay in the system and not be succumbed to runoff, where is this in the city?

Was is a flower that was covertly sprayed with pesticides?
Why do we bother over a couple of bugs in our flowers? Nothing is more satisfying squishing bugs between your fingers- true gardeners revenge. Spraying for one bug may kill dozens of other beneficial insects, we need these peacekeepers in the garden.

Did you spend energy without getting enough return?
I often observe bees and wonder if they are spent of energy, huffing and puffing from one flower to the next. I observe my surroundings and wonder how bees can get by on buttercup and cement walls.

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Bee on Buttercup at the farm. Photo: Julia J

Jumbled up thoughts and emotions because I love animals and nature so much, partly because they surround me and have been a part of my entire existence. I want to save the every last bit of “wilderness”, bring the “wild” back into the city. Having said that, I don’t want to fear the challenges that come with such an odyssey.

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING Social Ecologies Of Half-Humans

As the daily routine sets in too fast, an experience we must all share, I cannot help but feel a sense of emptiness in my place of employment. I witness people mindlessly scurry around looking for stuff they don’t really need, things that are made with little integrity, articles that may end up breaking in a year or so. As I pace on the tiled floor looking for shelter I get a burning sense that I should not be here, but back on Cortes Island. Here I found a community tapped into the ground, full of hard working individuals exuding with genuine intention and direct actions. This lit up a strange concern and impossible task within my being: trying to shut off citizen’s autopilot. I have often felt the need to protect myself against non-thinkers as I wonder, have we truly lost our connection to the circle of life? How can we/some disregard the cycle of nutrients and the spin of the cosmos that make this earth whole and happening?
How can I justify keeping my tap turned on inefficiently while I understand the concerns of water conservation and a drought future for BC?

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Hydrological cycles, systems and watersheds are an important key feature in our environment.  Without them we are not human. 
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These are not my thoughts

I often think back to primordial times:
if you were unable to find food and proper shelter, if you were clumsy and had a severe fall, if you were thoughtless and careless by exposing yourself to your surroundings at the wrong time and eaten- well that was the end of your life. If you were unfortunate enough to make a mistake of that grandeur, your line of genes was finito. Your game of life was terminated, and arguably the ‘bad genes’ taken out of the system. Nowadays, everyone get a free pass and the cycle of life is being thrown off equilibrium. There is a surplus that one day may be too great to handle.

Until now, I could never have considered trying to make the unconscious, conscious. However, with my PDC defense kit I feel like I have the tool belt required to illuminate folk into mindfulness. Cuss, how do we do it? With enlightenment, through our five senses, by staying grounded into what ever you believe in, by being a yogi or a spiritual healer or some other form that makes sense to you (birder, bugster, cook, athlete, artist.. etc).

I strongly believe it is with permaculture that we can save the world, as it provides a holistic foundation upon which health can blossom. In my dreams, I see greenscapes everywhere, transforming un-used surfaces into an environment for the birds and the bees, fountains with harvested rainwater and permies with rocking recliners.

WEEEEEEEED
Weeds can be beautiful too; uplifting and connecting! A bouquet of blue bells a going to seed, ready to spread their glory over the landscape. Photo: Julia J

 
I felt a strong surge of appreciation and desire as I weeded the rooftop of The Clam House at Channel Rock.

Speaking of rooftops, shameless plug for this man, a full human in my eyes
http://www.topsoileatlocal.com/.

& for those of you who are converted birders, I share with you some of the best bird calls the internet can offer: Neville is here for you.


 

What the cheese?

Cheeese- half of us like to eat it, but how many knew that one of the most essential ingredients came from a two-month-old baby cows’ fourth stomach? While it makes me question my eating habits at home, I have zero hesitation to try out the fresh string cheese, mozzarella and bocconcini that was hand made and woven with love. A true delicacy created by 21 students under the guide of cow-whispering, cheese master-flex-extra-ordinaire Davide  (pronounced daaw-veee-du) .

Needless to say we got a wholesome dose of cultured knowledge: Kefir fermenting and granules care plan, and a deeper understanding into industrial cheese production. Davide shared with us his experience of taking a calf’s life away. This action allowed him to justify and understand the reality of a necessary cheese making ingredient” the rennant. This is derived from a baby cows fourth stomach turned into powder, which you can obtain in tablette form. A quick google search lead me to two outlets: Makecheese.ca and Glen Garry cheese making.

I was fascinated upon learning that cheesemakers were simply replicating the natural phenomena that occurred in babies when they digested their mothers nutritious milk. Their stomach would turn (almost churn) their mothers’ liquid offerings into soft cheese curds. This was discovered by hunters and curious folk who would observe this occurence in the stomachs of baby cows, ungulates and even human babies.

Tuesday was a real cheese making workshop, one that did not beat around the bush but truly offered us a realistic look of the art of turning a liquid into a solid.

Here is my recipe I share today;

  1. Warm the milk (or better yet, hot-fresh from the utter)  90-95’C 
  2. Add the kefir- the one that you have been fermenting on your kitchen counter
  3. Dissolve a rennant tablette in a bit of water and add to warm milk while stirring (quick flick of the wrist, not too much!)
  4. Perform alternative activities for 30 minutes while you wait for milk to coagulate
  5. Cut the cheese into sizable inch cubes 
  6. Let sit and watch whey ooze out
  7. Take the fresh curds and hold it, feel it, appreciate it
  8. Mold into pot with holes

From this basic assemblage of a killer cheese you can create a dozen of different varieties  from old aged cheddar to a multitude of exotics (depending on the cultures present in your original milk-kefir mix)
I thrive on announcing that our cheese was special
100% natural & 100% local

I did not know this could be possible and I don’t know if I will ever be able to recreate this experience. A fantastic cheese made with 1000 year old kefir strain, a resilient and self sustaining entity. I am so thankful for the opportunity to take one home and can’t wait to consume my grains’ hard workAs I feed my kefir for the first since since being back home, I am elated at the future where I see cheese making parties with beautiful people ~ bocconcini and stringy mozzarella cheese, all for the permi-win!!

 

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I think this is what community looks like- I am thankful for neighbours who have big hearts and milk surplus. Add some local honey- this is the bees knees.

 

 

 

Owning up to our garbage

It was over borscht soup and pesto toast… no, the black bean soup and grilled veggies, or was it chunky chili and yam fries? Oh I cannot remember what glorious meal we shared but I remember how privileged I felt when Mike and Oliver came late into the feast and settled themselves next to a couple of us. Deep in conversation they carried on the topic of owning up to waste, our litter, the junk and scrap we at one point in our lives think useful. Muffled between my bites and half eaves dropping, I make out a mise-en-scène. There is a mountain of trash that needed to be moved out of the house, and it wasn’t happening fast enough. Out of necessity and pure genius, they (Oliver and fellows) put junk into labeled boxes and left them on the curb. The boxes would be gone by next morning.
Was it desperation or excitement that brought scavengers/people to collect these boxes in haste? Does the subject take the time to inspect what it contains?
The house was soon rid of rubbish.

I appreciated Oliver’s command to love our garbage. How waste can be a reflection of our true self, like a shrine to our material engagement and illusion to how we treat the world.
We throw things out, taking their space and moving it elsewhere. But where does it go? I wonder why we just got better at managing our waste without changing our behaviors nor energy demand. I often feel a sense of responsibility to my own waste and will sometimes carry my compost home. It’s a daily practice of pack it in-pack it out, and a fine line on the fence to being a hoarder. Nevertheless, I am inspired and kept in balance by this photo shared by the Vic Stuff Swaps which was hosted by fellow permies and friends.
I consider the garbage ‘generated’ at Linnaeas and what the curbside could look like on the second Tuesday of the month, curious to what system Cortes uses for recycling and garbage logistics.

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NYC, December 1981 Piles of rubbish on the city streets

I wonder what garbage balancing would look like in the streets of Victoria and how people would respond. Could this be used as an invitation to assess our individual foot print, or would people turn a blind eye and carry on?

As Oliver said: “Feel the heat. Suffer the cold. Inherit the wind. We must salute the super storm.”