Friday 28 February 2014

February 2014 precipitation

American sparrow in snow

FEB snow
2-Feb    12.7
5-Feb   7
9-Feb    2
10-Feb    3
14-Feb    3
16-Feb    2
18-Feb    3
19-Feb    4
21-Feb    3
27-Feb    2
groundcover 56cm
Total: 41.7
Mostly, cold temperatures, with a skiff of snow overnight. Not enough to truly shovel. The warmth of the sun has melted it on the dark driveway. We had a massive melt Feb. 23rd, and the snow cover was reduced by quite a bit. I drove down to the lake, and could see where some had brought in their ice fishing huts.

Family Farmers + You = A Well Nourished World

We live in a vibrant farming community, with family farms dating back for hundreds of years.

Family farmers not only produce nearly 60 percent of the world's food, but they are the essential ingredient in alleviating hunger and poverty throughout the world.

Food Tank's new video, "Family Farmers + You = A Well Nourished World," produced in collaboration with Greener Media, reveals that when farmers have the right tools, they have limitless potential.
Hubby on his family farm

Coutts Store

The video calls upon eaters, business leaders, policy makers, funders, and donors to ensure that family farms receive more attention, more research, and investment.

 The United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) to help bring attention to the important role family farmers play in feeding the planet.

Please watch and share this new video from Food Tank: The Food Think Tank about the International Year of Family Farming.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Toronto Fire Services Truck stuck in traffic on a call

Published on 26 Feb 2014
Notice Drivers Barely Moving for this Firetruck Responding to a Emergency. Due to This the truck was Delayed due to this.Toronto Drivers Please Pull to the right Next time you see a Emergency Vehicle Coming Up Behind You They might be going to your house or your loved ones. 

Meat eating vs. vegetarianism

deer friend
There is, truly, a cycle of life. We are pretty much a part of it here in the country. I often come across bones, fur and body parts. Out here, in rural Ontario, it hits home frequently.

Whilst some eschew meat, I hearken to Native Peoples who honoured the spirits of the animals they took for fur, clothing, food and shelter.
We all share the earth.

Yes, there are some animal husbandry practices that do not respect the animals, but we do eat local when we can. Lanark County has some fabulous farmers who treat their animals well, and includes many organic farms.
Many locals hunt and kill local deer, filling freezers with fresh venison.

I rather believe that we need particular vitamins and minerals, and if you're going to go vegan, you must do your research to ensure these needs are met. This is a piece of research that I found interesting.

This recent study concluded that:
I'm standing between the highway & house 

"Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life. "
What I do know about good health is that it boils down to simple parameters that many of us must work hard to embrace in our busy lives.

Exercise; healthy eating; avoiding toxins like cigarettes and pollution on land, sea and in the air; balance your activities like socialization, maintaining friendships; keeping mentally and physically active, living, learning and reading. That said, sometimes things do go wrong.

Life includes death in the rural cycle of life: deer carcass

RIP Bambi Feb. 20 - March 10th

There were tracks
going from the highway into our yard
In my sideyard, I found evidence of the cycle of life. Someone or something has killed a deer.
My theory, after I checked out the tracks, is that it was hit by a car, just wounded, and wandered away from the road to die. It could have hurt itself jumping a fence, but I don't know for sure. All I know is that there is a carcass in our side yard, and I'd rather it wasn't there!

Daisy and I heard coyotes in the afternoon the other day. We were hanging out on the bench in the sun, I was running the videocam, and we heard their howl. It was unusual, as they normally are nocturnal visitors to our yard. I've seen the tracks. The coyotes couldn't have hunted down a healthy deer.

It's a great mystery of life and death.

I've been watching the carcass since I noticed it. It had fallen, eyes wide open, and was covered in snow.

Poor thing
Her hooves are so amazing.

The crows have gutted her. Fighting for supremacy, they fly, swirl, warn one another of their prize. The turkey vultures must migrate, as there haven't been any around. I never noticed before.

She lies on the left,
at the beginning of my boot tracks
For the squeamish, do not go gently into that good night! Seriously, do not scroll too far down!

Once I realized she was there, I've noticed that day-by-day, even in subzero temperatures (-20C. nights), carnivores have been taking advantage of the carcass. They've gnawed on her ribs, fur lies on the ground, tossed aside to be able to feast. The insects which would feast, are quite frozen in hibernation. They will be of no help in reducing the body.

I worry, since Buster likes to go out at night, that's when the coyotes wander our property.
Taking a flashlight, peering out the window, I've been watching to see if I could see the coyotes. Last night I saw one, around 9:00 p.m., circling the body. It rather creeped me out, even though I know that they patrol in the dark, howling in the wee hours. I realized that Buster was on the front porch, wanting to come in. At least he can climb trees, and the coyotes cannot!

Her head covered in a blanket of snow,
like a death shroud. Feb. 20.
She must have fallen the day before.
Today, Feb. 27, another snowfall obscures the site. The carcass is frozen solid, yet they work away at it. I would prefer they would do their work more quickly, but then, my late mother always thought I was impatient!
Tracks came from beyond,
deep in the wetland
The crows were the first. Feb. 20
This photo was from our guest room window.

Amazing hooves

Feb. 26

Feb. 25
Feb. 25
- the coyotes have been in the night
They've gnawed around the ribs,
despite -20 C.
Feb. 28 view from the window
Feb. 28 Daisy and I inspected the carcass
Mar. 6th, crow works away at it
The wolf or the coyotes have dragged off its head, across the highway. I bit creepy thinking about it, but we're happy it is slowly disappearing. They come and gnaw the bones in the dark. I've never seen one in the daytime. I could tell by the tracks, that one of them chewed off the head, dragged it away. Then it picked it up and dropped it a little further away. FInally, they dragged it up the hill, dropped it beside the fence, the somehow got it through the fence wire, and trotted across the highway.

Buster did a deer carcass inspection with me on March 7th. I hope the smell of the coyote and wolf was a good lesson for him. He was out all night March 10th.
March 9th, the crows are still having food fights, chasing others away. With the warmer temperatures, the carcass has been melting out of its snow pile. We had 5cm snow last night, but all the critters that feed on it go at it, unburying after every snowfall. The fur lies scattered about.
Mar. 9 - hind and front legs still remain.
The stomach, full of food.

March 10th

And the good news, finally, March 10th, the skeleton and front and hind legs are gone.
There was much action, judging by the tracks. All that was left was the stomach with deer food.
And lots of bits of fur. It's quite coarse, their fur. Bambi has been recycled.

It looked as if several coyotes and the wolf came by. There were tracks leading off into the wetland, down the gully. Also, a larger wolf track heading across the highway, taking parts home. The crows were squawking all afternoon, ticked off that their daily meal has been stolen in the night.
Stomach on upper right,
dragged away

Canine evidence

After the melt down, the crows have been after the bits of hide and the stomach contents. March 17. 

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Annual inoculations and examinations: 4 cats to the vet!

Yes, every year. Deworming, needles, physical examination,
Dorah as a kitten
Daisy and Dorah, Oct. 2012
They are terribly cute as kittens, but they grow and need to be cared for, monitoring their weight, heart health, coats, getting rabies shots and FVR.

In April, we begin watched for ticks and fleas.
Dorah at the vet,
in Oct. 2012
It's quite the project. The rewards of pet ownership are immense, as many of my blog friends know! If you can afford it, and can maintain their good health, there is research to support the social/emotional value of having pets. Pet therapy animals are the perfect example.

Sadie has been our main challenge. She developed food allergies, which is simply rectified by hypoallergenic vet-sourced cat food. With four cats, however, they all have to eat it.

First day, Sadie

I needed a strategy. Firstly, hubby walked softly into the room, grabbed her by the scruff and called me in. I took her by her neck and wrapped her in a towel with the other hand. Unceremoniously stuffed her in the crate, after she'd growled at me.
 One needle, one inspection, one thermometer up the rear quarters.
Buster was concerned,
sitting behind her.
All is well. She has lost a pound from last year, and is now 12.75 lbs., reaching a fine old age of 8 years. That was Monday. Tuesday, we tackled the other three.

Day two

Grumpy girl of 8 yrs.
Everyone else. Two girls in the larger crate, which is less sturdy. Buster in the harder shelled crate. Covered with a blanket, and popped into the back of the car.

Once at the vet, we brought them out one at a time. Dorah has a history of climbing. She did the same thing this time!

Buster, with his chipped tooth seems fine. He's a sturdy 12.3 lbs., a little less than biggest sister. He is the teenager, about age 3, and has an active life. The coyote feeding on the deer carcass in our side yard hasn't dissuaded him of his nocturnal adventures. 
Dorah (12.4 lb.) has some dental plaque, and she'll need some toothpaste gel to kill bacteria. Daily for a week, then weekly thereafter. She could use a weight loss program, but she, like Sadie, is reluctant to go outdoors in the cold. We'll fix that with forest walkies in spring.
Daisy (7.6 lbs.) also has plaque and a gum infection, as well as an eye infection. She's a slim trim little fireball! I've been putting optical Polysporin in twice a day, but should have been doing this 4 x's per day, as it seemed to come back. I'll do this another week.

Thank goodness for the Line Of Credit! The bill, including a bag of dry cat food, shots for all, 4 examinations, 'toothpaste' = $400. 

Daisy tries out the ($25) carrier

Dorah resting before her trip

Buster tries out the new/used carrier

Dorah leapt from the scale to my shoulder

Pretty happy up there

Buster's turn. "Save me, Daddy!"

Finis. He popped himself back into the carrier.
He got out, and went into the other carrier with Daisy,
while the vet examined Dorah.

Dorah got onto JB's shoulder.
She's a bit heavy!

Daddy will save me

Pippin, the resident vet's cat with 3 legs.
A fan of my coat!

Home again. Ready, set, go!
Daisy and I went and fed birds.
horse skull
Cat skeleton
(Vets have interesting AV aids!)

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Do you know about the environmental impact of 2014 Olympic Sochi village?

And that is just the least of it.
While I enjoy watching sports, I'm guilty of being a troll around the games (and I'm not the only one!). In fact, I like to think about the impact of humans on our planet, I may not be alone.
To cut to the chase, any or all, this is what I think could be done:
  1. Limit the number of athletes per country per event, rather than Canada entering 3 bobsled teams, for example.
  2. Instead of building new venues, rebuild those already in existence.
    Mackay - used with permission
  3. Cancel the Olympic Games in lieu of world-class events, such as the X-Games, World Figure Skating Championships, or Commonwealth Games, with media coverage, annual medals.
  4. Limit the age of participants to those of about university age (16 - 22 years).
  5. Eliminate elite full-time athletes, professional athletes, such as NHL millionaires, to level the playing field.
  6. Limit the number of events in which an individual competitor can enter.
  7. Remove the gender bias, create an equal number of events for men and women.
  8. Eliminate physical and financial bias: integrate the schedule of the Olympics and the Paralympics to be held concurrently.
  9. Create fewer subcategory sports, and more diversity.
  10. Eliminate judged sports in the Olympics.
  11. Value the top 10, top 20 finishers, top 100: no one 'fails' who is fit. No one fails, who tries and qualifies. 
  12. Make activity accessible to all: direct education into creating a Participation Lifestyle and Masters competitions.
  13. Redirect Canadian Olympic cost savings to funding more child and adult amateur sports to fight obesity.
  14. Provide work for retired Olympic athletes, to coach and train kids in universities and high schools, the workplace.

Biopsychosocial costs 

There was controversy surrounding the games, of course, in the areas of human rights, equity, fairness, and especially around unfairly judged sports. Canadians, at the very least, should be critical. The pressure to perform in extreme sports, such as the halfpipe, killed Sarah Burke. The pressure to perform triple and quadruple jumps, in lieu of an emotional skate in individual skating performances, lessens the enjoyment for me. Falling, apparently, is de rigeur... e.g., Julia Lipnitskaya, who is 15 

The pressure on Canadian to achieve gold at all costs, concerns me. Not only financial, but the costs of physically repairing torn bodies, torn ligaments and torn minds. If we are directing psychologists and physiotherapists (Tessa Virtue's full-time physio) to care for elite athletes, what about the average person who needs such support to simply earn a living? It doesn't seem just. We abandon an athlete, after the Olympic Games, leaving them without a purpose in life or a job.

My brother, mom, myself
skating at Toronto City Hall
There is no equity in full-time sports. You need financial backing of some sort, which does not level the playing field.  How, in all good conscience, can we send 2 dozen hockey player millionaires to Sochi?

Emotional costs

Then there is the emotional toil on families, who must manage former athletes who are seriously injured or die from their performance training. (Sarah Burke ruptured artery, 1983 - 2010; neck and spinal injuries, ADAPTIVE SNOWBOARDER MATTY ROBINSON DIES AFTER CRASH ; Canada 3's Sorenson concussion; knee injuries, Devin Logan out for season with injury).
We can read about people, like Clara Hughes, biker, skater; Oliver Bone, sailor; Caroline Olivier; freestyle skier,) all who faced depression after their medal career bids were over.

Subjective judging

Me, dad, my little brother
Judging occurs in many sports, none so unfair as at the corrupt Olympics. Figure skating is the first that pops in our minds, but the so-called X-Games sports, were subject to interpretation. No longer is it just the highest, fastest or strongest. The esthetics of sports, like figure skating, seems overlooked. The judges valued Sotnikova's 7 triple jumps over Kim's 6, but "her grace, maturity, composure and soaring jumping ability", and "a poised and flowing tango routine", according to Jere Longman. To my mind's eye, Kim seemed more beautiful and existential. Virtue and Moir, accused of messing up the Finn step, seemed more poised, and in the zone. 

Canada Pond Hockey rink, Gravenhurst
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been accused of bribery and corruption, as well. It's a big, well-oiled machine, sucking up taxpayers money from all parts of the world, traveling to countries to accept wining and dining in return for their votes. With many developed countries paying athletes, coaches, equipment suppliers, psychologists and consultants to produce gold medals, I'm still wondering at the efficacy and the justness of the IOC machine.  ("International Skating Union out of touch on judging controversy").

Financial costs

I truly question how a country, like Russia, can spend $51 billion on this event, where people live in substandard housing.  With the average Russian unable to attend, due to the high cost in both
time and money, to spend a month's salary on tickets, lining up for hours to get a visitor pass, it seems insane. Residents, promised upgrades to lifelong housing, have been left hanging.

I'm afraid to check out how much Canada spends ($37 million in Own the Podium alone). A speedskater is selling her medal, and her skates, to pay for further training for 2018. "Olympic speedskater Anouk Leblanc-Boucher wants $1M for medal"
There are many places to raise the flag!

The Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence Program (FACE)TM

Athletes and coaches can use the funding for:
  • training
  • equipment 
  • travel to competition
To date, the FACE program has helped over 2,400 Canadian athletes and their coaches by providing more than $8,000,000 dollars in direct financial support.

Environmental costs

The sheer impact of the mountain venues have largely gone unaddressed. Those who used to walk in these pristine mountains, have been highly critical of the venues where fragile forests, subject to erosion before the construction of these race tracks before they were built, are now unlikely to be maintained.

There are accusations of illegal dumping of garbage created from the construction process. Construction has blocked the migration routes of animals (brown bear, birds), limited access to drinking water for locals, and decreased the quality of life for city residents.

Canada’s Olympians not exempt from depression and anxiety even with ...
But athletes are not exempt from ... That 2010 French study concluded the most common diagnosed disorders among athletes were anxiety and depression.

Sochi Winter Olympics Criticized for Environmental Problems |
  Sochi organizers pushed ahead with ... issuing interim sustainability reports measuring their environmental impact and devising an environmental strategy. As part of its bid, Russia told IOC members it would be staging a “zero waste” Games that followed green building standards. This was a huge challenge: organizers had to build infrastructure to host 88 other competing countries, the world’s media and hundreds of thousands of spectators in an underdeveloped region that was home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and a national park.

Canadian Olympic Committee boosting Own the Podium funding | CTV News
 Over the next four years, the Canadian Olympic Committee will pour $37 million into high-performance sport and the “ Own The Podium” program. The funding, which will go toward both summer and winter sports, is a 48% increase over the amount spent in the previous four years

Environmental activist who criticised impact of Sochi Winter Olympics is jailed

Vitishko, a geologist, is a member of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus activist group and one of the most prominent figures in a campaign to shed light on the environmental impact of Olympic construction in the city of Sochi.

"Sochi 2014: the costliest Olympics yet but where has all the money gone?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-02-12.

Total estimated costs of recent Olympics (including Games-related infrastructure)

Beijing 2008 $43bn
Vancouver 2010 $8.9bn
London 2012 $13.9bn
Sochi 2014 $51bn