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Friday, December 19, 2014

As Yule Approaches

Yule, the winter solstice, comes on Sunday, along with a new moon.  I cannot think of a better time to reflect, renew and reaffirm!

Toward that end, this week has been largely devoted to organizing and cleaning, when I was not painting on the two large hex signs that have been ordered. With any luck, they will both go to UPS on Monday, but that story is for next week's blog.

Moose at his new a-frame dog shelter.
Dog yard fence
The first big job for this week was getting the "dog yard" and shelter set up for Moose, our baby Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). We recycled some of the old wooden fence panels from the original dog yard to connect the back stoop to the turkey pen and added a short fence section between the eastern most fowl pen and the house, enclosing Moose with poultry pens (so he can get familiar with his charges and they with him). LGDs are not mature, and therefore not trustworthy to be alone with stock -- let alone fowl -- for at least two years. He accompanies me into the pens, on a leash so that I can easily correct behavior, as I do chores. Guardian dogs are not pets, but working member of the farm team and, while given attention and praise as they work, live permanently with the flocks and herds that they guard, as these dogs are bred to do. Moose is 1/4 Great Pyrenees,  1/4 Anatolian, and 1/2 Akbash and the offspring of Cooke and James, who work with my friends Michele and Vester at Hickory Hollow Homestead in Oklahoma.
Typical LGD pose and habit... laying in the snow OUTSIDE the
dog house!

 While waiting for her outdoor home, Moose lived on our back porch with the two fiber bunnies so it will come as no surprise that the second big job of the week was cleaning up puppy mess!  Not just a bit of poo, but as a curious -- and bored -- pup he managed to shred several boxes and reorganized some of the other stuff stored on the porch. I also had been negligent in the cleaning of the pans under the bunny cages, so when all was said and done, I sent three feed sacks of compostables out to the pile and had a much cleaner room.

The last big project for the week was collecting up the trash,  sorting recycles from the things that SHOULD be recycled but are not accepted at our local center and collecting the returnable bottles. Over the past month, my renewed and upgraded commitment to waste minimization has born obvious fruit. We had only two, 50 lb feed sacks of trash for the month (and not packed solid either... less than 10# by weight I estimate) and less than a full 20 lb cat food bag of "should be recycles" that I have not yet found a place to recycle. Our local center accepts only paper, #2 plastic, cans and glass.

Bottled lemon juice for Tractor Guy's sweet tea and ranch dressing were the last things packaged in #1 (clear) plastic that we typically were buying and both of those came to an end this month. TG is using a combination of Lemon Zinger herb tea bags along with his black tea for his brew and the juice of actual lemons, which come packaged in a compostable skin. And he readily accepted the home made ranch dressing using the mayo that I bought in a 1 gallon #2 plastic jar , home grown herbs, garlic and onion and a bit of raw milk that had "gone by" as a substitute for sour cream.

As I have reflected on our efforts to live more lightly on the land, I have to give thanks to a friend for bringing to my awareness that, of the folks out there who do not currently recycle, some of them are people that I would expect -- by virtue of shared lifestyles and beliefs -- to be beating the drum along with me on the front lines of the cadre of active recyclers. And yet, they are not. I understand that it takes a wee bit of time and a definite commitment in many places, to do so.

We have come a very long ways since the late 1960s, when recycling centers were scattered willy-nilly in parking lots of grocers and some other stores. In their initial effort to appear "green" (long before the term became common, let alone before we discovered the commercial effort of "greenwashing") the Glass Container Manufacturers opened a pilot program in southern California, in the city of Industry, to recycle glass containers and expected folks to make a dedicated drive to this totally commercial area with their paper bags of bottles and jars! Ecology Action, of which I was a part, was instrumental in calling them on their publicity stunt and getting them to move to a more environmentally friendly process of picking up the glass -- by the ton -- from our centers.

Nowadays, many towns have curbside recycling right along with curbside trash pickup and it is as easy to recycle as to pollute the earth by sending things to the dump. ...And yet, folks don't do it. Folks who, in other aspects of their lives, live frugally, naturally, and who may even espouse earth-centered spirituality find ways to justify sending recycles to the trash on a regular basis.

Our stable of urban legends abounds with stories of recycling materials gone astray and thrown in the waste stream. I do not dispute that such things happen, though after the fines that were levied on companies and possibly individuals, I have not found any documented accounts of such on a large scale since 2006. But regardless, others' disregard and wrong actions can never be a suitable justification for OUR actions or lack thereof.  

As the moon turns new and the calendar turns as well, I would like to encourage -- or challenge if that would more effectively motivate -- everyone who reads this to:
  • REFLECT on their relationship with Planet Earth.
  • RENEW our commitments to our planet, our fellow beings and our Gods to take care of what we have been blessed with.
  • REAFFIRM that we understand that what we do, each and every one of us, affects each and every other one of us.
Recycling IS the right thing to do. Being aware of, and taking responsibility for our purchases -- including the packaging thereof -- IS the right thing to do.  So let's do it! Lets ALL do it and move forward into 2015 with intent... and lighter trash cans!