Three important reasons you shouldn’t get chickens right now.

Anyone who’s gone to the store lately knows that egg prices have gone through the roof. Now, we’ve all heard the reasons why (bird flu, price of feed has gone up, transport cost, etc.). However, this has led to yet another call for people to start getting chickens as a way to combat the price increase. For some, this might work. However, for the majority of people, it will definitely “NOT!”

Please don’t get me wrong, owning chickens can be a very rewarding experience, once again, for some. Having once owned chickens for several years, I can honestly say that I don’t regret the experience. It came with a big learning curve though, one that most people won’t be willing to experience. So, with that in mind, here are 3 reasons which will help to explain why this is most likely not end well for those currently contemplating getting a household flock.

  1. It’s a nationwide shortage for a reason: Bird flu is thought to have impacted commercial flocks as wild bird populations migrated. So, once as they flew south, and then again as they made their way north. If the professional bird keepers couldn’t keep it out, what’s the likelihood that you can is small, backyard flocks, which can and do get culled due to infection. (If you don’t know what culled is, google it, and then don’t get chickens)
  2. It’s not going to work the way you think it will: People often think that owning chickens will result in a ton of eggs overnight. News alert….It Doesn’t! Depending on the breed you get, and their age. they may not produce for several months. Adding to that timeframe is the season. Especially in colder climates, the shorter days will cause lower, if not a completely stopped, egg production.
  3. It’s not going to be as easy as you think either: If you’re envisioning a backyard inhabited by your low/no maintenance chickens, well get over it 😂. If you’re chickens are to thrive they’ll need 1) A safe, clean, and warm place to sleep (which you’ll have to build or buy). 2) They’ll need good feed (yes, they’ll eat bugs, and even some kitchen scraps, but you’re still going to have to feed them chicken feed Every Day!) 3) They’ll also need health care. Although chickens are pretty sturdy creatures, they do get injured and sick. You’re gonna have to cover the cost if things go wrong. All this can make homegrown eggs mighty expensive.
  4. Bonus: Your yard will suddenly become a predator magnet. Coyotes, birds of prey, and even insects are all going to be interested in eating your birds. As their keeper, it’s up to you to make sure they don’t get a chance to succeed.

Please consider thoroughly before bringing chickens, or any animal, into your life. The time and expenses shouldn’t be trivialized.

New year calls for new thinking

With each new year there’s always the hope that with the changing of the calendar, better things will be ahead. Then twelve months later we look back and lament over the fact nothing really changed. This year, perhaps a new way of thinking is in order.

Instead of thinking about how “everything” must change, perhaps reflect first on what you want to stay exactly the same. For example, are you happy with your current car? Then why constantly wish you had a new one? Unless you win one, wouldn’t getting a new car probably also mean getting a new loan to go with it? As accessories go, that is one of the more unpleasant ones.

Once you’re aware of all the nice things in your life that are worth keeping, then you can be better able to identify the things that truly do need to change. With so many indicators that the economy might be rough this year, maybe do a money self-check, and determine how to streamline your expenses? How many of those streaming services do you really use on a regular basis? Can any of them now be purchased as part of a bundle, or gotten free as a credit card or phone perk?

Baby steps may not seem like much at first, but collectively they can move you along to the change you want/need without causing the chaos that more radical steps can bring. Don’t get me wrong sometimes dramatic change is necessary, such as leaving an abusive relationship, or stopping drinking. However, not everything needs to be such as huge leap.

Also, those baby steps are often easier to keep up with, so the changes can become permanent. Take for example the needed to live a greener life. Starting down this path by changing everything you eat to new (and therefore unfamiliar) brands most likely won’t end well. You’ll get sick of the expense, miss your old favorite brands, and soon find yourself dropping the whole experiment. However, if you baby step your way into it, the changes can work. Start with swapping out regular for organic produce as sales pop up. Try one new brand of organic soup, and see if you like it. If you don’t, oh well it was only one thing, and next week you can try another. Doing this can actually result in more changes by years end than you might imagine, all without driving you crazy in the meantime.

Ultimately the important thing is that you keep trying, and don’t forget to celebrate your wins when they happen. Whatever changes you hope to make, remember you still have to be happy with you.

Happy New Year Everyone 🎉

Don’t forget to sign up at the library

Even little kids can join in on the fun. Photo by Salena Wakim

September is the designated National Library Card Sign Up month, and although the month is almost over, there’s still time to join.

Libraries take sign ups all year round of course, but it’s still a nice time to either get a new card, or reactivate your old one (yes, even your card has to periodically be renewed 😉).

What’s so special about now? Well, if you get everything set up now, then you’ll be all ready to participate in all the upcoming Holiday activities your local library has planned.

If you haven’t checked it out in awhile, then you may have been missing out, not only on all those new releases, but also on free cooking classes, contests, giveaways, and free seeds for your garden too.

Today’s libraries truly are community centers, with plenty to offer all ages. All you need to join in on it all, is that free library card, which the whole family can qualify for. So, check it out, and start enjoying all those additional perks!

Green Living Challenge

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As we wrap up this heat-soaked July, and enter into a possibly even hotter August, a challenge is being issued to all of you who are taking refuge from these high temps.  Take a moment to re-evaluate what you’re doing to be green. Can you improve on anything, maybe add a little something to your repertoire?  Perhaps start by checking on what all you believe is recyclable.  Double check with your local trash company, you might just be surprised at what you find.  So many things  that people assume are recyclable, actually get rejected by the local waste management company.  Make sure that your efforts are going to be fruitful by updating your green living knowledge.  Challenge set, now go.

Esri is back in town!

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For a couple of years now, all conferences, and conventions, have either been canceled or moved online.  The consequence of this is similar to what we’ve experienced in other parts of our lives, it’s isolating.  When this happens with conferences though, that can mean a decline in idea sharing, and cooperative actions.  However, 2022 has seen a return to face-to-face gatherings for many of these organizations.  This is a bit of a double edge sword of course, as not everyone can safely return to such huge gatherings.  Luckily, not all organizers are oblivious to this fact, and some have made sure to continue to offer the virtual option for those of us who, for various reasons, can’t attend in person.  A great example of a blended event is actually currently underway in San Diego, the Esri User Conference.

This will be the first time that Esri has met in person in three years, a fact that Esri president Jack Dangermond mentioned in his plenary speech on Monday.  The overview that he gave during that speech was inspiring, showing the best of what can happen when we work together, and just what assistance that GIS can lend. 

If you thought that maps were only useful for getting around an unfamiliar city, think again.  The Esri UC allows a showcase for the true scope for the modern use of maps, and data analysis.  From conservation, to finding landmines in Ukraine, this technology is helping to address some of the world’s most urgent needs. Plus, by bringing all those who are working on these problems into the same space, Esri is also helping to facilitate future collaborations, and even more solutions to be worked out.

As the week progresses, and the various sessions play out, I’ll try to share some of that information with you’re here.  See you soon. 

Time to plan for the future you want see.

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The events of the past several months have been demoralizing at best. How to best move forward is now the question on everyone’s mind. The only advice that I can offer right now is to look to your own future first.

Why you ask? Well, if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want your future to look like, then how will you know what to fight for?

Make your plan, find others who share that dream, and then try to make those plans a reality.

Good luck to us all.

It’s time for another drug take back day

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This is just a reminder that this Saturday, April 30th is Drug Take Back Day.  Remember to remove any personal identifying information (such as labels) before you turn them in to your local drop off location.  Want to go the extra green mile this year? Then also take a moment to gather up any old batteries you might have laying around, so that you can properly recycle them too.   Earthday might be over, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook until next year. 

How to best fight inflation by growing some edible greens

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No one likes high inflation, but most people are especially hating what’s going on right now.  Sadly, we seem to be stuck with these rising prices for awhile to come, but that’s not to say we have to take it lying down.  If you’re like most people these days, you’re searching out articles like this, as part of a desperate attempt to claw back some of your hard-earned cash.   Therefore, you’ve probably already seen that one money saving tip it to grow a garden.  Yes, this will absolutely help you to save on your grocery bill, but what some will find to their horror, is that it may actually end up costing you greatly in other ways instead.  So, that’s what this article is for, to try and help you avoid those gardening pitfalls (as much as possible that is).

First off, let’s look at what’s needed to start a garden.  You’ll need seeds of course (or plants if you want to save some time), good soil, water, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. 

1. Seeds and plants can both be found on sale.  However, the variety you’ll find is often greatly reduced by the time those sales happen.  You can make your own sale when you need it, by looking for discount coupons and/or codes online. 

However, you can also potentially get your seeds and plants for free by joining local garden clubs (they usually call these events seeds/plants swaps).  Depending on where you live, your local library might even offer free seeds via an increasingly popular program called “Seed Saving Libraries.”  Call your local branch for help; even if they don’t have one, they might know who does.

2.  Soil is a big part of gardening success, and the solution to this problem really is unique to your situation.  If you live in a track style home, often the developers scraped off the topsoil to sell it, long before the house was even built.  It’s an income source for them, but a nightmare for homeowners, as they often have to fight for years to fix the poor soil quality.  If you’ve just figured out you have this problem, you’ll need to pick your battle.  Unfortunately, to fix the entire front and back yard, will cost a small fortune, and the amendments you add will often have to be repeated (at least in part) more than once, over the course of a couple of years.  Only then will you have truly addressed this issue fully.  DON’T PANIC yet though, as most people will never need to truly go that far, after all, you’re not starting a farm here, just a garden.

If you’re fixing a small plot, then money output will be minimized considerably.  Often, all you’ll need are several bags of garden soil additive, mix it in, and you’re good to go.  However, you should know you’ll probably need to repeat this every year that you do a garden.   

 If you’re just getting going, the easier route might be to start with a container garden instead.  You can get some inexpensive pots (large ones, not small, plants grow after all), or a starter “Raised Garden” kit.  This will have you starting out with Container or Potting Soil, which will have all the nutrients needed to grow healthy plants.  You’ll only need to fertilize periodically over the growing season, which with pots is much easier overall.  This also has the added benefit of being clean soil, usually free of any plant diseases from previous growing seasons.  Trust me, starting out with good soil will be worth it in the end. Plus, even soil can be bought on sale as well.

3.  Water is often completely overlooked when making a garden plan, and ironically can wind up costing the most.  Consider what you’re really wanting to grow.  Some plants just drink up water, and will wind up cost you much more to grow, than they ever would have from a store.  Watermelons, for example, take a bit of water, and can be very difficult to successfully grow.  Other crops are very susceptible to pests, especially if they are under-watered.  All that work, only to have your plants die, or get eaten up, will only lead to headaches for you, and who needs that right now.  Avoid this pitfall by seeking advice from your local garden center about what is easiest to grow in your town.  Note I said town, as sometimes what will grow in a region on average, actually won’t work at all for your little corner of it. 

Also, make sure to seek out better ways to water throughout the summer months.  Ask about drip irrigation (which is sometimes as easy as just using a special hose), and how to save water by clustering your plantings.  Certain plants can be grown in close proximity to each other, and it actually helps them grow better.  Sometimes that comes from nutrient replenishment from one plant, pest repelling traits that benefit them all, or shade being granted by one plant for another (which prevents excessive evaporation).  It’s worth inquiring about, as this can mean a greater harvest in the end. 

Then there’s that free water that available to us all, RAIN.  Rain-harvesting, or gathering, can help to cut into the water bill of a garden considerably. Even if you don’t get a lot of rain in your area, it’s still worth grabbing what you can.  This can be done via a rain barrel (there are still rebates available for these, so look for them), or by simply putting some buckets/large bowels out on your patio (just be sure to weigh them down with a rock to prevent them from blowing away during windy storms).

4. Finally, stagger your plantings.  If you’re going to plant carrots for example, you should plant a couple of rows, wait a week or so, and then plant some more.  That way not all your veggies will ripen at the same time.  It may seem great, at first, to be pulling in bags and bags of tomatoes, but how many of them can you eat in one week?  Staggering your plantings, or planting varieties that will ripen at different intervals all on their own, will help make sure that you can fully benefit from the fruits of your labor.  Unless, of course, you want to give most of it away to others who didn’t even help with the weeding.

Don’t forget that you don’t actually have to grow everything all by yourself.  If your neighbors are growing a garden too, then think ahead, and talk to them about the possibility of doing a swap, if you have a good turnout.  Then you each get a little bit of variety, without all that extra work that variety would usually entail. 

Gardening can be fun, and relaxing, which can only be viewed as a bonus in times like these.  Get the kids involved if you have them.  It’s also a great way for them to learn about where their food comes from, while they simultaneously burn off some excess energy to boot.

If your garden grows the way you hope it will, then your food budget can get a bit of relief as a result.  Which sadly, can then be used to help pay for your gas.  I’ll leave you to search out gas saving tips on your own I’m afraid.  I’ve got my own garden to start, so see you next time.  Happy gardening Everyone!

Mind your mask manners, Love Planet Earth

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Masking has been such a ridiculous part of the whole Covid-19 controversy, that really, we should all be ashamed.  The fight, especially in light of the now raging Ukraine struggle over retaining their actually endangered freedoms, has been a petty squabble from start to (hopefully soon) finish.  One of the most long-lasting problems involved though, is the fact that so many people seem to be walking out of stores, tearing off their mask as if declaring freedom, and then throwing it on the ground.  There it stays as a gross piece of litter that no one wants to touch. 

Littering is littering, no matter what your political values are.  Most of us grow up learning that you aren’t supposed to throw things like Kleenex, and napkins on the ground when you’re done with them.  So, why are so many people acting like spoiled children when it comes to their masks?  It doesn’t matter if you love or hate them, at the end of the day, they are still your responsibility. 

With mask mandates either lessening, or ending in various parts of the world, the reality still remains that masks will continue to be a part of our lives for a while to come.  If you go into a hospital, doctor’s office, or use public transport then you will still be required to wear one.  If the infection rates start to climb again, due to a new variant popping up (and I think we can all agree to hope that this doesn’t happen), then you will need to mask up once again.  Regardless of why it might be needed, your reaction to having to wearing it should not, and cannot, include tossing it on the ground once done. 

All of the free N95, and KN95 masks that the government is now handing out, via local stores and pharmacies, are all disposable.  Please use them when required/needed, and then properly dispose of them.  Regardless of what is happening to us right now, the world, as a whole, simply can’t afford for us to toss yet another item into the ecosystem.  I know that all those masks going into the trashcan isn’t great either; but it’s a far better fate then all them all winding up on the ground, where they can eventually be blown into storm drains or wildlife areas.  This is so easily avoided, shame on us if we don’t do our best to do so. 

Please, be the better version of yourself, and show your care of the world around you by doing your part.  In this case, it isn’t even hard to do.  The Earth will thank you.