Gerry-mandering is a 19th century term that ought to be updated to a more appropriate 21st century term. I'm thinking we should call it gerry-rigging.
Blue Collar Comeback
I'm sure the members of No to NC Chicken Registration love their chickens just as much as the parents who oppose vaccinations love their unvaccinated kids. The science-less dynamic is the same and the outcome will be a big step backward in both cases.
The first US occurrence of avian flu showed up among a hobbyist's flock in Washington state. Since then 50 million poultry nationwide have either caught the flu and died or have been euthanized to keep the flu from spreading at a cost approaching a billion dollars. There is no conspiracy going on here. There are no jack-booted government agents, black helicopters or even corporate ag types coming to take anyone's healthy backyard chickens away.
I'm a lefty Democrat who has fought Republican's going to back to the days of Strom Thurmond (never did beat the guy, but I have outlived him, so that is something), but I endorse what our Republican Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler wants to do: register backyard flocks so henkeepers can be kept abreast of developments and so threatened flocks can be tested for the flu. Only if birds are infected will NCDA take any action. As well they should.
My wife and I were leaders in the successful campaign to legalize backyard hens in the city of Durham. I write a column for Chickens magazine. We've both encouraged many people locally and nation-wide to keep chickens. Registering our flock of three birds has been on the back burner. But given this bizarre anti-public health effort (which gives libertarianism an unwarranted bad name), we're getting on the stick. We're registering our chickens and we encourage other henkeepers in NC to register their flocks so they get timely information about the possibility of avian flu coming to NC. Timely, and more accurate information than what's to be found on the opposition's Facebook page.
Our state may get lucky and dodge this bullet. I hope so. But in the time it takes to post a paranoid rant on Facebook, henkeepers can sign up for accurate updates on avian flu at www.ncagr.gov/avianflu/. And that's what we all should be doing.
Congratulations and good luck to Erin Byrd and her colleagues. Another small piece of the struggle to overcome food deserts is being accomplished by Alan Muskat and his Afikomen Project. He teaches an after school program at several elementary schools in Asheville. There the kids learn to identify the most common high dollar mushrooms and edible plants in their area. This is a safe skill that allows kids to put healthy food on the table and perhaps even learn to sell foraged crops to local chefs and develop their entrepreneurial skills. Check it out at: http://notastelikehome.org/the-afikomen-pr…
News flash for all the college-educated, creative class types moving to Durham and driving housing prices up and displacing working class, working poor and retirees out of their old neighborhoods. If you don't want to be asshats like the Caktus folks who painted over our downtown mural of the Eno River, then start putting your money where your mouth is (as well as putting pressure on elected officials) to support the only proven way to mitigate gentrification--the Durham Community Land Trust. Land Trust housing stays affordable for generations and allows neighborhoods to retain their diverse character. So write a check to the Land Trust or to a pro-Land Trust official or candidate or you could be a Caktus person. Frank Hyman
Great story about how climate change will change farming. But could I suggest that we drop the terms "climate change" and "global warming" for a term that is perhaps more descriptive and more motivating: "climate disruption." Frank Hyman
More deer in NC are killed by people with drivers licenses (i.e. with their car) than by bow hunters, or by hunters on public lands. And those deer/car collisions killed nearly a dozen people in 2008. Hunters with firearms on private land kill the most deer--about 176,000 or so in 2008 or very roughly a tenth of a still-growing population.
Mary Mendell is right in her contention that there are two separate but related issues 1) deer do damage gardens and there are some steps homeowners can take and 2) the more serious issue about safety (of deer and drivers) and health (many deer are undernourished and succumbing to disease and they are also vectors for diseases that can harm people).
Horticulture magazine will run in March (meaning it's probably on the stands in Feb.) an article I wrote about how to minimize deer damage to your garden, but those options don't address the large problem of an exploding deer population without predators. If a bowhunting season can be managed safely, it's probably the best thing for people, deer and gardens.
Ten great pledges. But there's no need to have a compost pile that's slimey or stinky. No need to turn it either. Ever.
What makes a compost pile nasty are the 'rotting bacteria' that's already on your food scraps (eeuuww). A good compost pile beats them by having a dribbling of garden soil added periodically to inoculate the pile with --guess what--composting bacteria.
You can go one better by tossing in some leaves from time to time as well. Keep an old,lidded garbage can full of leaves next to your compost pile. And a nursery pot of garden soil too, so you can spike the pile periodically.
To avoid turning it, , when the pile is full, just start another pile next to it. When the second pile is full, the first pile will be a smaller pile of finished compost. How long? Three to six months. Spread the finished compost in the garden and start another pile in its place. Voila. No stink, no turning, less waste to the landfill and a better garden for the new year.
Good luck, Frank Hyman www.frankhyman.com
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