Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Land Reclamation Project Proceeds

I have not dug up any more snakes this weekend. Maybe the snake population got tired of the disruption and moved on.

Daffodils, phlox, and fava beans are blooming.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Permaculture as a Means of Restoring Haiti's Environment and Economy

Haiti Rewired (an ongoing conversation about technology, infrastructure and the future of Haiti) has an interview with Geoff Lawton of the Australian Permaculture Research Institute on using Permaculture to rehabilitate Haiti`s landscape and provide sustainable livelihoods for residents.

Whereas typical government or corporate aid generally encourages dependence and helplessness, Permaculture has the opposite effect. By integrating local people`s skills with local resources, Permaculture projects create independence by teaching people to think for themselves and act in the best interests of their communities.

Although Haitians need emergency food supplies for the short term, it would be to their disadvantage to receive emergency aid without help for the long-term sustainability of the population. One of the reasons for Haiti`s ongoing poverty has been "aid" from organizations such as the World Bank that created the need for more and more exports to generate cash to make payments on the debt. Instead of growing food to feed the local population, Haitian agriculture focused on growing cash crops for export.

The urban gardens of Cuba are a good example of how a nation can deal with a crisis constructively. I have read that Havana`s urban plots provide more than 90% of the city`s fruits and vegetables at a low cost -- small gardens are far more efficient than large farms, and since the produce can be sold right where it is grown there are no shipping costs.

See Eat Local - Cuba`s  Urban Gardens Raise Food on Zero Emissions

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Idiots With Heavy Equipment

This photo is an example of what happens when a non-thinking human gets hold of the controls of a bulldozer. That fencing probably could have been re-used. Now I'm going to have to spend hours cutting the mess apart and getting the metal to a recycling center.

More Snakes

 Poor dead snake

Debris pile

I came upon a nest of snakes today -- these are clearly copperheads. No mistaking their beautiful skins. I messed up the skin of the first one when I killed the snake, so I have been more careful with the others, just to chop off the heads and leave the skins intact. Copperheads are pretty aggressive snakes. I found one in my house once, and the thing actually came after me. But it's cool today, so the poor things are moving slowly. I'd like to do something mean to whoever pushed all that wood into a pile. I've attached a couple of pictures to show what I'm up against. It reminds me of playing pick-up-sticks when I was a kid. I have to figure out which piece I can take off the pile next without making the whole thing collapse. What in incredible mess! And with the snakes in there too, and all manner of garbage -- soggy fiberglass insulation, parts of radios, bits of plastic. I wish I could find whoever made that pile and make THEM clean it up. It may have been the person I bought the land from. May have been some of the neighbors who thought they were doing me a favor by getting the stuff "out of the way."

You might ask, as one of my neighbors did, why I don't just torch the whole thing. There are four reasons I am putting myself at risk of  falling, being crushed, or being snakebitten:

1. It is a very large pile, and the fire could get out of hand and burn down things I do not want to burn

2. The pile is right under a couple of  trees, and I do not want to kill the trees

3. There is good stuff mixed in with the trash, and I do not like to waste stuff

4. There is toxic stuff that would make toxic fumes if I burned it.

Well then, you might ask, why don't you hire someone to do it for you, since you're a frail old woman? I dunno ... I don't want someone else to be at risk of falling, being crushed, or being snake bitten? It would be really expensive to hire someone, because it is quite time-consuming? Someone else wouldn't know what I want to keep and what I want to get rid of? I kinda enjoy doing it?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Don't Know Whether to Be Sad or Glad

The skin of the snake I killed

Photo of Western Massasauga from the Web

Pic of juvenile rat snake from Web (the head of the snake I killed did not look like this)

 The snake when it was freshly dead

I killed a snake today while working at clearing the huge pile of debris that someone created with a backhoe or dozer. It looks like a Western Massasauga. But then ... it could also just possibly have been a young rat snake (it was definitely not a grown rat snake). It was very definitely not a hognose, as the head was completely different from a hog nose head.  Its head looked like a pit viper head, but there were no obvious rattles on its tail.The massasauga's rattles are said to be small, but still ... this one had no rattles at all, far as I could see.

Anyhow, it did not go to waste. The skin is in the freezer until I can get a tanning kit, and I fed the meat to the dog and chickens. There's a delicious looking recipe online for spicy snake meat pasta but my weight increased by 5 pounds when I had a sinus infection recently and felt too bad to exercise, and I am on a raw-veggie-with-the-occasional-egg diet for a while.

If anyone sees this and has an opinion as to what sort of critter's life I ended today, please let me know.