Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It is the last time we'll do this.....uh huh
Queen of Hearts is closed. I will post pics of our creations after Feb 7th.
Till then - Peace
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Queen of Hearts Gathering
A few of the projects:
Rosebud and peppermint heart soaps
Paper mache ornaments
Embroidered linen sachets filled with lavender
Soft pink and ivory rose petal pillow
and three more!
Registration deadline is Saturday the 24th
Hannah is back from her DC adventure and she has wonderful tales of the experience. Dozens of painting ideas came to her and she is anxious to get started on a few. That means a mess in the computer room for weeks on end but it is worth it.
The news from Portland: Ben is now the Art Director at his magazine. Mom says "Hooray"
I don't know about you, but I am still glowing from all the Inauguration festivities. I started watching at 4am, took a break from 5pm-7 and watched again from 7- bedtime. It was so much fun to see Green Valley marching by the reviewing stand playing Viva Las Vegas.
I'm looking forward to seeing so many of you this weekend at the sale. Looks like we will have great weather.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Yesterday started off just like any other day, I didn't know when I woke that it would become a day I'd remember all my life. I woke early, showered and wrote for an hour or two, then, when the sun was starting to come up, went outside, fed Alice, Hettie and the chooks and set about planting a few seeds. I like to get my outside jobs done before it gets hot. When Hanno woke, we had breakfast,
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Hannah is enjoying the trip to Philadelphia and will leave tomorrow for DC for the Inauguration. I am thrilled that she has this opportunity. No, I have not lost my mind, these are Steeler colors, and I want to be supportive for tomorrow's game, and I am bored this evening.
I will be posting a sneak peek of Queen of Hearts later this week, so check back. There are still spots available. Deadline for registration is the 24th.
It is a very historic week coming up. Let's hold good thoughts for the country, and hope for us all.
GO STEELERS !
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Temptation is a terrible thing. The attraction of convenience is ever present, the habit of doing things the old way pulls us back and before we know it, we've stopped budgeting and shopping with our cotton bags, and we're back in the mall.
Let's face it, living simply and pulling away from the mainstream can be difficult. We have to learn new skills, what we make usually takes more time
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Her message to PETA: Shut up and go away ... and maybe go to Hell while you are at it.
The makers of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the BBC documentary film that led to the BBC withdrawing from televising Crufts Dog Show in the UK are furious with PETA for jumping on the film’s bandwagon.
Earlier this week, PETA called for the US networks to stop televising Westminster Dog Show, citing the BBC film as evidence of unacceptable deformity and disease in pedigree dogs.
Pedigree Dogs Exposed was the result of two years’ careful research. The film highlighted serious health and welfare concerns in pedigree dogs that many experts agree need to be addressed urgently. However, the filmmakers have no connection to PETA and are idealogically opposed to PETA’s aims.
“I am horrified that PETA is using the film to further its own, warped agenda,” says Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, which made the film for the BBC. “Our film is about animal welfare, not animal rights.
“PETA’s animal welfare record is appalling. It kills 97 per cent of the dogs that come to its shelters and admits its ultimate aim is to rid the world of what it calls the “domestic enslavement” of dogs as either pets or working dogs.
“In stark contrast, and the reason we made the film, is that we believe pedigree dogs are of tremendous value to society and that something needs to be done to arrest the damage caused by decades of inbreeding and selection for ‘beauty’. The film is a passionate call for urgent reform to save them before it is too late. To do that, there needs to be urgent reform of breeding practices and dog shows.
“PETA is a bunch of crackpots who do not care about anything but publicity and making money. They have not bothered to contact us - and, indeed, if they did we would make it very clear we do not want their support. It devalues and marginalises a film that raises a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and quickly.”
Wegman's promotion follows hard on the heels of a similar offer by Giant Foods and Publix grocery stores.
Wal-Mart, of course, started the stampede by offering to fill a wide variety of generic drugs prescriptions for just $4 a couple of years back.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I did a little bit of very light cooking last night (mostly involving boiling water), and while things were heating up I looked through the freezer and found the last bit of Thanksgiving turkey which had started to get a little bit "off" and so I had frozen it, intending to give it to the dogs "later."
Their turn never came around, of course, and so I thawed it out in the microwave and added a cracked boiled egg for something a little extra and set it out for the yard fox.
I did not have the proper setup outside, so I just stood the camera up on a brick at the edge of the greenhouse, I only got one picture as a consequence. Oh well, Mr. Fox looks happy -- and he should be; he got a ton of food last night.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Among the things I have encountered in the field, some of which I have worked around, and some of which were impossible and which required me to simply wait until the dog came out:
- Old metal roofing covered with dirt.
- Old asphalt shingles covered with dirt.
- Old tires covered with dirt.
- Solid (and big) shelves of rock.
- Old cow bones -- lots and lots of them!
- Downed trees blown over entire settes.
- Old trucks and cars (the dog in the ground underneath the chassis).
- Assorted farm rubble of every kind.
- Dirt mixed with old broken glass bottles and cans.
- Old fence posts.
- Coils of old barbed wire covered in dirt.
- A bee hive (digging to the dog only 12 feet away).
- Massive multiflora rose breaks -- solid stands 6 feet tall and better.
- An old asphalt road bed.
- The hard-packed floor of an old horse stable.
- The rock foundation of an old building.
- Bricks and field rocks covered by dirt.
- Old hog wire fencing covered in dirt.
- A stump dump.
- A collapsed barn.
- Sheet plastic tarps and old feed bags mixed with dirt.
- Masses of hay bail twine covered over in dirt.
- Concrete floors of barns and other outbuildings.
- Tractors in a tractor shed.
- A huge metal boiler.
- A porch.
- An old dam (the farm pond long since drained) full of rip-rap.
- Coal pitched down a ravine and grown over with Kudzu.
- Solid masses of roots so thick that a narrow saw blade could not get in.
- Stacked big round bales.
Monday, January 5, 2009
- This will be the first class of 2009 and what I can tell you so far is there are crowns involved and sweet, soft ivory, pale pink and supple linens, oh, and a few hearts. After all, it is Valentines Day the next weekend. As always, there are a variety of projects. Savories and sweets will nourish us and a little bubbly will lift our spirits.
- Space is limited to ten students and on a first come basis. Deposit of $50.00 will be required to reserve your space and is non-refundable. At my discretion and depending on circumstances, deposits may be applied to future Gatherings if 48 hour notice of no-show is given.
- Come join me as we share good food, great company and create wonderful folk art. It is a day of rejuvenation. It is a day away from the job, the family, and the chores. It is a day dedicated to you and your imagination and creativity. Reconnect with friends and make new ones.
- Upon registration you will receive a supply list if needed. Queen of Hearts will require a sewing machine. This is very simple sewing, but you must know how to operate and thread your machine. Friends can share a machine and that is encouraged to save space.
- Call or email to register
- 702-897-1303 - email@example.com
The reason: Merial is now doing the "diverting" all by itself.
The latest evidence: Costco is now selling Frontline, and not just in the stores, but on the Internet.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
The Bush Administration is set to allow a logging company to pave 900 miles of logging roads through National Forest land in Montana so that Plum Creek, a private timber company, can sell off land as tract homes for wealthy vacationers and rich retirees.
Spearheading the initiative is Mark E. Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist who is Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Rey has rammed this proposal forward without an Environmental Impact Statement, public hearings, or a public comment period, and in direct opposition from the State and the non-political appointees at the U.S. Forest Service.
Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, have asked for an inquiry by the Inspector General of the Agriculture Department, which includes the Forest Service.
While on the campaign trail, Barack Obama criticized Rey's efforts to pave forest service roads and cut up wild lands in Montana, noting that a landscape dotted with luxury homes would have a permanent impact on Montana's tradition of hunting and fishing:
"At a time when Montana's sportsmen are finding it increasingly hard to access lands, it is outrageous that the Bush administration would exacerbate the problem by encouraging prime hunting and fishing lands to be carved up and closed off."
Of course, the Bush Administration has never give a tinker's damn about hunting or fishing on public lands. And why would they? Dick Cheney is a canned hunt man who plinks planted pheasant and quail for a per-bird fee, when he is not visiting his millionaire and billionaire friends to hunt on their vast estates (and occasionally blasting them in the face).
If this Bush Administration proposal goes through, you're going to see a lot rich folks in Montana whining in the not-so-distant future that the American people should be spending vasy sums of money (and risk human life) in order to protect estates built in the woods (and often on ridges) from predictable forest fires.
As The Washigton Post put it:
"Scenic western Montana, where Plum Creek owns 1.2 million acres, would be most affected, placing fresh burdens on county governments to provide services, and undoing efforts to cluster housing near towns."
Check it out!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Matt M. in Idaho correctly notes that canned birds hunts are becoming more popular in the U.S., and canned deer hunts as well. Though he lives in one of the wildest states in the U.S., there are at least four commercial bird shoots with an hour or two of where he lives.
"When I was living in Pennsylvania, a local hunting preserve somehow heard I had traveled to hunt big game, so the owner assumed I was rich and would be interested in his trophy deer operation. Both assumptions are false, but I accepted his invitation to tour the place he called 'Deerassic Park.' During my two hours, I had huge trophy deer parade by me 20 yards away. The guide told me 'Five thousand dollars may seem like a lot for a deer now, but in the second week of deer season, when all your coworkers are asking if you got your deer, it won't seem so much.' He was wrong again. The deer were raised in carefully controlled pens, like cattle, to ensure the best genetics. The bucks were then periodically released. I cringed when I read purple-prose stories by 'famous outdoor writers' who embarked on the challenge of hunting deer at this place. Shooting one of my father-in-law's dairy cows would be just as challenging, and as fun."
On the other side of the coin, and on the other side of the Atlantic, Lyndsey H. writes to note that: driven bird shoots are an important part of the rural economy in the UK; that not all shoots are intensely stocked; that on those shoots that are heavily stocked the land can generally support the bird populations that have been placed on them; that the pheasants are well cared for, and that income from shoots supports the upkeep of large estates (to say nothing of game keepers and the like).
Let me begin by saying that my earlier squib on pen-raised birds and driven shoots was not intended to be the beginning of a book on canned hunts. This is a topic far outside my expertise or knowledge base.
That said, the ethics of "guaranteed hunts" has sparked considerable debate in the hunting community, and so perhaps it is (pun intended) "fair game."
Let's see if I can fence in the debate a bit. Sometimes when we define terms and try to put a fine point on things, we can find common ground.
First, let us dispense with the notion that there is an absolute right and wrong. The issues here are too big for such neat box fitting.
As with so many things, there are degrees of good and bad, and there is also the matter of perspective, which is so often shaped by economics, class, social convention, and geography, to say nothing of human population densities, biology and history.
One man's sacred cow is another man's hamburger.
Hunting is a red-hot topic so let me start by talking about something different -- fishing.
To the best of my knowledge and memory, the first fish I ever caught was a trout pulled from a large blue plastic kiddy pool set up at the Washington Boat show.
The fish were hatchery-fed trout, plainly seen against the bright blue bottom through crystal clear water. The fish had been brought in by truck from a hatchery, and the fish and cane poles were designed to attract people to a nearby boat display.
It worked. For a couple of dollars, kids could toss in a hook with a small bit of canned corn on the end, and pull out a wet and wriggling trout while their parents perused the boats.
Even at age four I knew this was not fishing. I remember feeling a little embarrassed at the artifice of the situation.
And yet, looking back on it now, what harm did it do? Trout are raised to be eaten, and we do not belabor the point when Trout Almandine is served at a restaurant.
This was not "real" fishing, of course, but at age 4 or 5 could I be expected to have memorized "Fishing With Ray Bergman"? It was fun.
And yet I no longer think kiddy pool trout fishing is a good thing.
It is not that I am against fun (I'm always for that!). I am simply against bluring the line between true fishing and slaughterhouse taking.
Yes, we want activities for children to be fast and easy. Perhaps, however, fishing is the wrong activity to satisfy this niche.
Fishing may have other lessons to teach young people – lessons about food and habitat, skill and delayed gratification, for example.
No self-respecting adult would stand in line to yank a trout from a plastic pool at an indoor boat show. Yet (and much to my amazement) adults DO show up for "pay lake" trout and catfish. What are we to make of adults that fish in such a childish manner?
Only one step up from pay-pond fishing are the folks who follow hatchery trucks to the stream in order to "get a jump" on their fellow anglers at the start of trout season. Is this "real" fishing? Not in my book.
But what I think hardly matters. Within 72-hours of opening day, half the trout placed in East Coast streams are gone - stripped from the water by "put and pull" anglers.
I will not belabor the point, nor will I venture further through the cosmology of fishing in America (catfish bait-ballers, top water bass-pluggers, crappie jiggers, surf casters, fly fishermen, tuna trollers). Suffice it to say that there are many fish, many tribes of fishermen, and many methods of fishing. Each to his own.
Let's move up the evolutionary ladder to birds.
Here too we have hunting in a variety of manifestations from "tower shoots," where captive pen-raised birds are tossed into the air from a tower while gunners blast away, to "plant and shoot" releases of birds into a field the night before, to stocked and "naturalized" birds released at the start of a shooting season.
The parallels to "kiddy pool" fishing, over-stocked pay-lakes, and "wild stocked" streams and ponds is obvious.
Again, where do we draw the line?
In my opinion, tower shoots are pathetic, and so too is any form of stocked shooting where a man or woman can plink more birds in a day than he can put in his freezer at night.
At some point, you are not "hunting," you are just killing chickens.
The issue here is not "animal rights." The issue is fakery and debasement of a true set of skills. Shooting brain-addled pen-raised birds under the umbrella of "hunting" debases the art of true hunting. When we snap-trap a few mice in the garage, we do not talk about a "holocaust of mice" -- to do so would be to cheapen the horror of the Holocaust while dramatically inflating the status of rodents and denigrating the lives of millions of once-vital human being.
And so it is with guaranteed bird shoots and pay-pond fishing. Angling is an art, and hunting assumes an element of field craft not evident when birds are purchased as units like Chicken McNuggets.
Hunting is about the experience over the day, not the number of fish boated or birds bagged.
But, as noted earlier, not everything is quite so simple, is it?
What are we to make of the 3,000-acre scrub farm were 1,000 pheasants and quail at a time are released into the wild three times a year?
At this population density, and at this bird-release interval, there is a fair chance that more than a few birds will die of natural causes, and some birds may even die of old age.
On a “natural" farm that is “wild-stocked,” the land may be kept not only free of development, but also free of pesticides and herbicides. Brush rows and mottes may be planted and maintained, enhancing the survivability not only of planted game birds, but also of rabbits, deer, and native songbirds.
Surely, such a bird shoot farm is morally and environmentally superiour to a "Roundup Ready" corn field or cow pasture?
More birds are shot on such a farm than are being naturally replaced, of course, but if the bags are low and a "successful" hunt still requires both a skilled dog and a skilled shot, is it really so bad a thing?
Low-stock shoots of field-acclimated birds is a bit different from a driven bird shoot where 400 to 1,000 pheasants are being stocked per acre-year. It's not entirely natural, no, but it's not entirely awful either.
Of course, some may disagree.
Let us leave bird hunting, for a moment, and now think about "big game".
On one extreme we have lions and tigers and other large and rare exotic animals that are released into 10-acre enclosures to be shot by "sportsmen."
It's easy to be outraged by this kind of activity, and no one I know thinks this is actually hunting.
That said, it's worth noting that canned big game shoots of exotic animals are a natural outgrowth of the public's fascination with "zoo babies".
Zoos routinely over-breed animals because tiger cubs and baby zebras boost attendance and generate profits. Cute baby animals quickly grow up, however, and that's a problem. It turns out that the world has more caged lions, tigers and zebras than it knows what to do with.
What to do? Answer: canned shooting preserves in Texas. It's not an accident that at one point nine board members of the San Antonio Zoo owned hunt preserves.
Not all exotic animals used in canned hunts come from large zoos. Many come from small zoos and private breeders of large exotic animals. If you have a checkbook in this country, you can buy anything from a lion to a bear, and from a bobcat to a gemsbok.
And if you have ever bought a wildife magazine with amazing shots of baby cougars, lynx, red fox, black bear and wolf, you are a small part of the problem. Most of those pictures were taken in private "photography zoos," and at least some of those baby animals were later sold, as adults, to canned hunts.
An example is as current as this morning's headlines:
"Country music star Troy Lee Gentry (one half of popular duo Montgomery Gentry) is facing charges for shooting a tame, captive bear and then trying to mask the killing as a proper hunt.... Indictment documents made public this week showed that Gentry paid $4,650 U.S. to kill a 'trophy-caliber' bear named Cubby. The incident took place two years ago at the Minnesota Wildlife Connection, a company that claims to offer photographers a chance to capture wild animals on film. ... Gentry killed the bear using a bow and arrow while the animal was in its pen."
I think most people would agree that shooting a large, rare, exotic or tame animal in a small enclosure is several time zones removed from true hunting.
But what if the animal is less rare -- such as a Russian Boar -- and the enclosure is quite a bit bigger -- a few hundred acres?
Where do we draw the line?
Is it OK to shoot an exotic animal, such as a Fallow or Axis deer, in a very large fenced parcel of ground provided the countryside is more-or-less natural, and the animal actually runs when stalked? Is it OK to shoot it when it is pressed against the fence?
Does it matter if the animals are not exotics, but are native elk, moose, whitetail or mule deer? Is that better or worse?
What if the animals are not fenced in, but are fed every day from an automatic corn-dispensing bait station set on a timer?
Does it matter if the person shooting the animal over such a feeder is hunting for meat or hunting for trophy or sport?
If you decide it's OK to shoot wild whitetail deer on an open farm over a broadcast corn feeder, why is it not OK (as a matter of law) to do the same thing with birds?
If a mechanical caller is OK for fox and coyote, why is it illegal to use it on ducks and elk?
A lot of people will find some of these questions easy to answer, but will pause at others.
The brain dead Vegan and the knuckle-dragging slob-hunter will find all of these questions easy to answer.
So too will the older, thoughtful, skilled hunter who hunts only wild lands and who only fishes wild waters. He knows what he chooses and why.
This last point needs to be stressed.
The types of questions and dilemmas I have posed here are relatively new. Our grandfathers did not have canned hunts and potted bird shoots. This is not part of the American hunting tradition most of us grew up with.
So what has changed?
To some extent, population growth is part of the problem. Though the percentage of hunters may be less than it was in years past, the absolute number is higher than it was 50 years ago due to rapid U.S. population growth. With increasing population density and suburban sprawl has come greater distance to suitably large farms, forests and fields.
More important than suburban sprawl and hunter density, however, is the fact that America has become a land of rapidly rising expectations and a rapidly declining ability to delay gratification.
The American public wants everything it can imagine, and it wants it NOW, and it wants it “super-sized.” We want fast food, fast cars, and instant communication. We want bigger houses, more money and early retirement.
In short, we have become a nation of spoiled, rich and demanding children. The rise of commercial shooting preserves is simply an outgrowth of that phenomenon. Canned hunt operators are, in effect, telling their client base:
"We know you have zero knowledge of field craft or wildlife and that everything has to be easy for you or you will pout. So, just like your Daddy did when you were 6 years old, we are going to rig every game you play so you will always win. And when you do manage to kill some brain-addled, food dependent, hand-tamed creature, we will slap you on the back and say, 'Look what a BIG boy you are!'"
This type of canned shoot is to real hunting what peroxide-blonde hookers are to marriage: a sad charade that debases the individual and jeopardizes the institution.
Just as we have the Playboy channel and Hustler magazine selling the fantasy that every woman is a lesbian-curious nymphomaniac waiting to be unbound, so we have TV hunting shows and magazines selling the idea that every foray into the field should result in a trophy buck, a monster bear, and a bucket-mouth bass. In this sense, "Rack "Em Up" and "Antler King" feed supplements are to the game farm industry what silicone implants are to porn producers.
Just as "sexual service" ads can be found at the back of girly magazines, so too can ads for canned hunts be found at the back of hunting magazines.
It's not an accident that every episode of ESPN's "Hunting the Country" closes with a nod to the outfitter on whose land the “monster buck” was shot.
An “outfitter? What the hell is an an "outfitter"? And how can these people hunt bull elk while trailing a camera crew and talking?
The answer is that you are watching a canned hunt. In the context of television hunting shows, an "outfitter" is a fellow who trains ranch-raised elk to come to a corn-spewing time-released bait station.
"Start feeding them in the spring, and shoot 'em dead in the fall." That’s the business plan, and it’s one that hunting show producers, who need to film a new trophy kill every week, are loathe to criticize.
There are about 1,000 "canned" or potted hunts in the U.S. catering to about 500,000 hunters a year.
That may sound like a lot to folks at the Humane Society, but in fact this represents less than three percent of the 20,000,000 Americans that hunt in this country every year.
For better or worse, you can find an "idiot three percent" in almost every endeavor.
Of course, hunting is not just any sport.
Unlike skate boarding, mountain biking, or motor boating, hunting is under attack from groups like the Humane Society and PETA.
Ironically, the folks at PETA and the Humane Society are just as childish as the slob hunters.
Raised on Bambi cartoons and "Wind in the Willows" stories, the typical Animal Rights lunatic has not spent a single second considering the fact that everything that lives will also die, and that death in the wild is generally slow, painful, violent and miserable.
When a deer dies in the woods, it does not expire with a morphine drip and a Mozart concerto in the tape deck.
The alternative to hunting is not perpetual life - it is vehicle impact, wasting disease, starvation or predation.
Hunting your meat is certainly more ethical than buying it in a store. Childish Americans seem to think cows are raised pre-sectioned, wrapped in plastic, and frozen.
In fact, most feedlot cows never know one tenth the freedom of a deer. For a steer, the last hour or two of its life is typicaly spent in a crowded and lurching truck on the interstate. The last minute of its life is spent slipping on a blood-wet floor in an alien metal-clanging slaughterhouse.
A mature adult does not shrink from death -- he recognizes that life is short and red in tooth and claw.
This is the way it has always been. God did not make a mistake when He created the cycle of life and gave humans canine teeth and molars.
If you spend enough time in the woods, you will eventually see a predator kill something. A hawk or fox does not always kill quickly. In fact, it may play with its food and then eat it alive and screaming. Compared to that, a cow dies with some grace.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the infantalized slob hunter and the anthropomorphic PETA member are serious adult hunters and anglers.
These folks know where meat comes from, and they respect both the life lived and the life taken.
While the slob hunter and the cringing Animal Rights reactionary are obsessed with the kill, the hunter is focused on the experience of hunting.
It’s almost a universal truth that if you do something for very long, you get good at it, and if you get real good at it, you begin to handicap yourself in order to prolong the experience and keep it interesting.
This not only occurs in golf and chess, it also occurs in hunting and fishing.
If you start fishing at age 5, as I did, you stop using bait by age 12. By age 15, your hooks no longer have barbs, and you are snapping the trebles off the back of your plugs. Your leader line gets thinner, and more and more fish are returned to the water.
There is nothing wrong with killing a few fish, but if you have ever caught so many you had to bury some in the backyard to get rid of them, you try to stay clear of embarrassing abundance. A great deal of dignity can be found in simple moderation.
It is perhaps a little too easy to focus on the idiocies of slob hunters. In truth, they represent a small minority, and their numbers may be in decline, rather than in ascendency. There are some small signs that America may be maturing.
Let me give you one example. When the state of Colorado banned shooting bears over bait a few years back, the number of bear hunters in the state did not decrease, it increased.
It turned out that more people were willing to hunt bear provided that the onerous stain of hunting over bait was lifted.
The trend can be seen outside of Colorado, too. The fastest growth area in hunting today is the rise of bow hunting and the increasing use of black powder. Granted many bow and black powder hunters are also going forth in shotgun and rifle season as well. But not all are.
In a day and age when whitetail deer populations are at record levels, and elk populations are holding steady or increasing over much of their range, more and more hunters are embracing the challenge of bow and blackpowder in order to keep in contact with the elements of skill and chance that are at the core of the true hunting experience.
Of course not everyone is so conscientious.
There’s always Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent, for those who do not know, is the loud adolescent faded rock-star who now holds forth on right-wing radio. He is all blood and guts, tough talk and feisty belligerence. He likes to accuse everyone else of being a weak-knee'd “pastrami-breath" liberal, and a cut-and-run chicken.
What his fans do not know is that Ted himself was a Vietnam draft dodger who got himself cut loose from service by showing up for his physical covered in his own feces and after not showering in weeks. He had a child out of wedlock and only ponied up support when the court forced him to. Real family values. A Great American.
But never mind that. He’s a hunter, right?
Well maybe not.
It turns out that Ted Nugent is not just a sunshine patriot, he is also a canned hunter. In fact, Ted runs his own canned hunt facility in Michigan called Sunrize Acres where, for a hefty fee, you can shoot tame buffalo that have been trucked to his 340-acre spread.
Along with buffalo, Ted's farm is a pay-shoot for whitetail deer ($2,000 for a doe!), wild boar, “exotic ram” (that would be farm goats for you who are wondering), and Sika and Fallow deer.
These are not wild animals -- they are trucked-in farm stock. The bison are no better than glorified farm cows, the Russian boar are no better than glorified farm pigs, the "exotic rams" are just farm goats, and the deer are corn-fed dependents.
Cartoon buffoons like Ted Nugent and his canned hunt farm are, I am sad to say, the loud and ugly public face of hunting in America today.
Last year, in my little state of Virginia, we shot 220,000 deer, and we did it without drama, canned hunts, or a peep from PETA, which is headquartered in this state.
Deer hunting in Virginia reduces crop damage, reduces deer-vehicle impacts, feeds poor hungry families, saves our forests and hedgerows from being over-browsed, stems Lyme Disease, and generates jobs and economic benefits across the state.
But the big "hunting story” told in my state last year was not about the ecological or economic benefits of open-farm natural deer hunting. It was about how Dick Cheney shot his buddy in the face in Texas. Nearly every story also mentioned his canned bird hunting exploits in Pennsylvania.
As for today's newspaper hunting story -- the one about how Troy Gentry was caught shooting a tame black bear in an enclosed pen in Michigan -- my bet is that the hunting TV shows will be silent about the travesty. After all, they engage in canned hunts themselves.
The hunting magazines will be silent because they do not want to lose advertisers from their back pages.
Ted Nugent will be silent, because he sells canned hunts and participates in them too.
Troy Gentry's buddy, Hank Williams Jr., will be silent as he participates in canned hunts himself.
And so, through silence, America’s hunting community will apparently signal acceptance of the ugliest thing going on in the hunting community today.
As noted before, hower, canned and potted hunts are NOT part of America's hunting tradition. This perversion has only risen up in the last 20 or 30 years.
And yet peversion and silence often go hand-in-hand, don't they?
Look at Islam. I grew up in a host of Muslim countries, and I can assure you that radical psychotic violence was not part of that world 30 years ago.
Yet it is today, and in the face of that radical hate-spewing violence, what do we see from the Muslim community?
There have been no "Million Muslim Marches" for peace and love in London, Paris, New York or Washington.
Instead, we get terrorists beheading people on TV, suicide bombers trying to kill innocents on airplanes, and car bombs going off everyday.
Muslims sit in silence and wonder why the world does not "understand" them. In fact their silence has become their message to the world.
People that stand silent while others defile and define their culture and community are taking action.
That is how Islam -- once a religion of peace -- has come to be see as a religion of seeminlgy unending violence and irrational extremism.
Are we going in the same direction in the world of hunting?
Time will tell.
All I know for sure is that if you are a hunter willing to stand up and fence off right from wrong, you are sure to get a missive from someone advising you to be quiet.
"We are all in this together," you will be told.
Right. We are. That's why 97 percent of hunters in this country need to stand up and roar against the likes of Troy Gentry -- the three percent morons.
It's time we defined what we are about -- and what we are NOT about as well.
"I ain't gonna spare the rod
Cuz that ain't what my daddy did
And I sure know the difference between wrong and right
You know, to me it's all just common sense
A broken rule, a consequence
You do your thing, I'll do mine"
- Lyrics from the Montomery-Gentry song "You Do your Thing" in which Troy Genry drives through suburbia with a dead deer strapped on the hood of this car.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The down side is you have to have a prescription. Details are here. The program will also be available at Giant’s sister chain, Stop & Shop.
What going on? What are they doing this? Simple: Since Wal-Mart started its four-dollar prescription program a few years ago, cheap generics have become a way to bring in customers.
“We have a lot more competition these days,” says Robin Michel, executive vice president of Giant, “and there’s no way you can be more competitive than free.”
Publix’s grocery stores (which are mostly in Florida) has had a free antibiotics program in the past, and so have a few other smaller grocery store chains, such as Schnucks and Martin’s supermarkets.
Want to get antibiotics for your working dogs without a prescription? Unsure of canine dosage rates? See the antibiotics page on the terrierman web site. The down side here: you will actually have to pay cash money. The upside: paying for non-prescription antibiotics is still cheaper than going to a veterinarian. That said, please be advised that the terrierman.com antibiotics page is only for simple flesh wounds. If you have a sick puppy, get your lazy, penny-pinching ass to a vet!
Down the farm road!
It's a bit strange to shave a horse!
A quick pee before the start.
Chris and I went out hunting yesterday, and as we came back to where we had parked the trucks, a load of horses and about 20 hounds were unloading for a day of fox hunting over the same land we had just walked.
The horses were a mixed lot: a huge Percheron, a couple of Warmbloods, a Paint, a couple of ponies, and a few other horses of varying quality, including one with ears like a mule. All were clearly loved and well taken care of, though I think shaving a horse in winter (so it does not over-heat while riding) is a bit strange. But what do I know? Nothing about horses!
The hounds were an even-looking lot and seemed very well taken care of, and packed up rather nicely considering they went from road vehicle to trail without more than 30 seconds to pee.
I gave the Master of the Hunt my card, noting that the next time they located a fox, they could call me on my cell phone, and I would walk over from where I was parked in order to bolt it out for another run.
That's a bit of an inside joke, of course: In the U.S., mounted fox hunting is mostly chasing after the hounds, and the fox is never dug to, and can generally get to ground any time it wants. There's certainly no shortage of groundhog holes for a fox to escape to!
I suspect most of these American riders had never seen working terriers, and we certainly had a bobbery pack for them to take a look at: an ancient Border Terrier, a Jack Russell Terrier, and a pair of Patterdale Terriers that looked like a matched set of salt and pepper shakers.
We also had a little game with us -- a 16.5 pound raccoon that had lost its tail sometime in its life, and whose teeth were now worn down to almost its gums.
We had been looking for fox of course (perfect weather for it), but had drawn a blank on Mr. Reynard. We were happy to come across the raccoon though, and it was good experience for Moxie who found it as we were coming back to the truck, and who worked it sensibly the whole time. Excellent!
Did I mention we had a fun time in the field? True! The dogs did too, of course.
Jethro Tull :: Heavy Horses - Lyrics
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Link to video
Back in the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch decided to see to how easily people would succumb to peer pressure.
His theory was that humans had a moral and intellectual core and a finely tuned sensory system, and though there was clearly a "herd instinct" at work with humans, it would probably be over-ridden by self-awareness and rational thought when put to the test.
But what would be the test?
Asch came with up with one designed to support his thesis that humans would not easily succumb to conformation pressures.
The scheme was simple: four students were gathered together and told they were going to participate in a "vision test."
In reality, only one of the four people was actually an independent variable; the other three people were actors hired to see to what extent peer pressure alone could make a person disavow what their eyes were telling them.
In the basic Asch test all four subjects -- the three confederates and the actual test subject — were seated at a table side by side, and all four were shown a series of three lines, and asked which one was the same length as the fourth line, which was set off to one side.
In every test, the non-actor participant was last to choose -- he or she heard all three of the previous answers before he or she gave his or her own answer.
When the three confederates were signalled to answer truthfully, all four got it right 100 percent of the time.
However, when the three confederates were told to pick the same wrong answer, the test subject would often go along and give the same incorrect answer, in effect negating what he or she could actually see with his or her own eyes.
An astounding 75% of all participants gave at least one incorrect answer to at least one question when prompted by the confederates.
What's all this have to do with dogs?
Quite a lot.
You see, in the world of dogs we are frequently told that what we see with our own eyes is not true.
The show ring German Shepherd cannot walk? "Oh, sure he can -- you just don't know what proper movement looks like."
The bulldogs and the pug seem to have a hard time breathing? "Oh, don't worry, they're fine. They are very old breeds, and the bulldog was once used to chase down wild steers."
The Fox Terriers seems too big to go down a hole? "Oh, they're not. It's just that no one hunts fox anymore -- it's been banned in the UK, you know."
The pressure to conform is particularly strong in the show ring, where the unifying idea is to punch out "cookie cutter dogs."
If you want to win, you better produce the type that others are producing, and don't expect the judge to think independently!
And the pressure is not all one way.
After all, the judge is in a bit of a pickle as well. You see, he or she probably does not work, own, or breed the dogs being judged.
The judge is probably not a judge by dint of having spent 30 years shooting over the dogs, or 20 years digging on the dogs, or a lifetime coursing the dogs to live quarry in open fields.
The dog show judge has a bit of paper and a rating saying he or she is "qualified" to judge a breed, but he or she often has a dark secret that terrifies him or her just a little bit: they have no idea what they are doing! Often they are reading the standard for the breed right up to the minute before they enter the ring!
What's a judge to do in this situation?
Well, one time-honored trick is to look up the leash. The top professional handlers are likely to be handling better dogs for the simple reason that cash money pays for both good dogs and good handlers, and the best handlers are not likely to take on crap dogs as clients. Let the handlers narrow the field a bit.
And then, of course, there is the obvious cheat-sheet: a quick check on the Internet to see which dogs in the breed have been winning other big shows in recent months. Will any of them be in the ring today? If so, that's the likely winner!
After all, who wants do be the odd person out, and revealed to be a know-nothing? No one, least of all the AKC judge who took all those weekend training courses!
And so it goes, with the blind following the deaf, and the fools following the inexperienced.
A standard written by the nameless and the faceless is used by a judge who does not own the dogs or work them.
The owners of the dogs being shown frequently did not breed them, nor are they required to even walk the dog around the ring -- a paid professional has often been hired to do that.
The entire system of breeding is based on a 19th Century eugenics theory which says if a handful of dogs -- generally no more than a few dozen -- are put in a closed registry system tied to conformation shows, then evolution can be put into hyper drive and the movement will always be in a forward direction.
And in the end, what do we have?
Dogs that do not have the structure or the temperament to do the job, and dogs that are being bred for defect, deformity and disease due to rising coefficient of inbreeding and various types of genetic bottlenecks.
So is there any good news here?
Surprisingly, there is, and it too comes from the Asch Experiment.
It turns out that if even one confederate "broke rank" and told the truth, the fourth person was likely to speak up and let his or her brain follow their eyes as well.
In short, even a few dissenting voices can dramatically change the end result, so long as those voices are actually heard.
But, of course, in the Kennel Club there has never been a place for a dissenting voice to be heard.
Not until the Internet came along, that is.
The Internet changed everything, and it continues to change everything. As more and more people have come on-line and moved up the ladder of web-based applications, from email to list-serv, and from list-serv to bulletin board, and from bulletin board to blogs and web sites, the level of information-sharing has risen.
And as more information has been shared, the number of AKC registrations has fallen like a rock -- a 53% percent decline since 1983!
Up to now the Kennel Club has been losing due to a simple "war of words."
Words are a pretty low-caliber bullet as far as communication goes, but due to the power of even a little dissent against the Asch effect, words can have a big impact even when they are paired up against such big canons as the prattling announcers on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel dogs shows (which seem to on every week).
Against these thousands of hours of fawning and uncritical canine puffery has come a single documentary from the BBC: Pedigree Dogs Exposed. And yet, like David against the Goliath, it has found its mark.
"Don't tell them, show them."
And with that simple idea, the wheels have come off the bus at the U.K. Kennel Club, which has suddenly lost corporate sponsors and its longtime television patron, the BBC.
As a direct consequence of a single television show, breed standards are being re-examined. and the U.K. Kennel Club is promising -- all of a sudden -- to put breed health first. There is even some talk of opening up some long-closed breed registries. Just talk for now, but still ...
But, of course, that is what is happening in the United Kingdom. What about the United States?
Over here in the U.S., the American Kennel Club is plodding along like a draft horse as registration numbers swirl down the bowl.
The AKC seems to think that if salvation can be found, it will be found not by adopting a different business model based on producing quality dogs, but by doubling down on crap dogs produced in commercial puppy mills.
And, of course, they are looking to non-registration sources of income as well, such as kickbacks from veterinarians, pet insurance brokers, pharmaceutical companies, and dog food companies.
Will any of this work?
Not a chance.
The AKC is offering nothing new and is simply doubling down on a failed business model based on 19th Century eugenic theories.
With the information out that AKC registration is less a guarantee of health than a prediction for defect, there is no reason for commercial puppy peddlers to pay for the AKC's scrap of paper, and not much reason for hobby breeders to do so either.
Which means that AKC registration numbers are going to continue to go south, leaving the American Kennel Club growing less relevant by the day.
The signs are everywhere if you take the time to look.
The dog food companies have not yet walked away from Westminster, of course, but can there by any doubt that they will some day, and that they are already preparing for it?
Pedigree and Iams are already on the bandwagon with a new message, which is that a unique and "forever" quality pet is available to all right down at the local animal shelter. You can do good and do well through adoption.
Today, more than half of all dogs in U.S. homes are all-American mutts, and the fastest growing segment is not purebreeds (which seem to be bred for defect) but intentional cross-breeds (which seem to be bred for hoped-for hybrid vigor).
Clearly, America's long romance with the Kennel Club is just about over, even if it long-standing love of the dog is not.
Bailey gets adopted.