March 13, 2011

Unspoken rituals

Oppenheimer Park

organized sport on the field surprises me

those flattened yellow cones reminiscient of school

people gather on one side, cones spread out

if it’s in a pattern, I cannot tell

the other side, the domain of seagulls

they own the place when we aren’t looking

I once watched them in ceremony

together, a hive mind, they tore into flight

circling the field — a different field

one that enjoys more organized sport

— and together descended to alight in a sort of circle

from which they marched outward,

each individual making its own bobbing path

and repeat

all this from the window of a bus

i wonder

if anyone else notices

these unspoken rituals

75th graphicThis daily green blog challenge is in celebration of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday, supporting the David Suzuki Foundation. Please help me out by sponsoring me online now.

Note: I am writing solely on my own behalf, and do not claim to represent the David Suzuki Foundation or its views here.

February 3, 2011

Where do your eggs come from?

Eggs, Pemberton farmEggs at a family farm in Pemberton, BC

The sled dog mass killing in Whistler recently has sparked outrage, leading to some much-needed discussion about the unethical treatment and slaughter of animals that we tend to ignore: factory farm animals and grizzly bears. After a cat was thrown in a garbage can, fuelling world-wide fury, a question was posed whether food animals are “victims of their poor image”. Considering dogs and cats appear to get all the attention, I’d have to agree.

I wrote the following text almost three years ago for an Environmental Ethics essay, but I was already beyond the word limit and didn’t include it. You can probably expect to hear more about factory farming from me as this series continues (unless you help me reach my $300 fundraising goal!). Later, I’ll dig up and add some more information that came to light well after this was written.

Chicken and eggs

The deplorable conditions in which hens and “broiler chickens” are kept are becoming known to the public. Canada’s egg industry relies, as does its pork industry, on “the extreme confinement of animals to the point of virtual immobilization — in the name of efficiency” (Youngman). Of the country’s 26 million laying hens, 98 per cent are confined in wire-mesh “battery cages” of four or more birds each, cages so small they cannot even flap or spread their wings. By the time the hen is considered unproductive, “she is often bald from feather-pecking and the constant grinding of her body against the wire mesh and other birds” (Youngman) and her entire body is in terrible condition. Battery cages are, of course, unnecessary for egg production. “They are used because they allow eggs to be produced under factory-like conditions, thus lowering the market price of the eggs. The chicken’s living conditions subsidize the true cost of the eggs you eat (Vancouver Humane Society).

Continue reading Where do your eggs come from? »

September 7, 2008

Another visitor: Winnie-the-Pooh

Yesterday The Visitor returned for tea, uninvited. Lumbering across the lawn, he (or she) found a comfy spot and settled down onto the mossy grass and laurel hedge cuttings. Stretched out like a bear rug, he lay there panting, only looking up to see what the passing cars or people were on about. I agreed, it was a hot afternoon.

Mr Bear

And so he lounged there awhile, would find a different spot every so often, roll over and roll back. Sometimes he would stretch out until his hind legs were straight and his front legs casually bent in front of him, supporting a sleepy head. “I’m so full… so sleepy.” One could say, I suppose, that he was having a siesta.

Continue reading Another visitor: Winnie-the-Pooh »

July 24, 2008

A visitor

Flicker on the window

Continue reading A visitor »

June 2, 2008

“Monsanto invents the pig”

Celsias posted a shocking film, Patent for a Pig: The Big Business of Genetics (43 mins) with some grim truths about Monsanto that are beyond frightening. I find it hard enough to comprehend sometimes that we place a monetary value on something nature alone created, e.g. selling your cat’s litter or some plants that appeared in your backyard. (Breeding/raising is a bit different as there is work input into the result, but it’s still animals creating animals.) I’ll let the film tell the details, with this intro from the Celsias post:

It’s amazing what humankind can do with a little effort and ingenuity. Who’d a thought we could create an intelligent, four legged creature with a curly tail, that actually walks and makes cute grunting noises?

Stand by to be horrified at the lengths Big Biotech will go to take over the world’s food supplies. You’ll also be shocked to learn that pig and cattle farmers are seeing their livestock go sterile due to giving them genetically modified feed.

“Introducing Monsanto, the inventors of the pig…”

Thanks to my mother for the heads up on this item.

February 21, 2007

Eggs, hens, and animal welfare

If you read that title and started to back away, don’t fret: animal welfare isn’t synonymous with PETA or extremism. It’s about the ethical treatment of animals — raising, feeding, caring and, in certain cases, killing them in ways that prevent (or minimize, if unavoidable) their suffering and maintain their natural needs and environment. That’s my extended definition/interpretation, anyway, via my readings and class discussions in my Environmental Ethics course.

Through this Plenty Magazine article about hens, eggs, nutrition and welfare, I got to this (A) Brief Guide to Egg Carton Labels and Their Relevance to Animal Welfare. The facts are striking. Mind that this is an American site so some labels we see in Canada aren’t listed, and others listed aren’t seen in Canada. I guess. I’ve seen “free run” and thought it to be different from “free range,” and perhaps it isn’t, but no answers are provided on that page.

Continue reading Eggs, hens, and animal welfare »

September 1, 2006

Whiskers under the sea

I think I just named this little fellow. He or she is a peppered cory catfish. They’re quite pretty and move sort of gracefully. Incredibly cute! I’ve been converted to a fan of pet fish… anyway, here’s one of our newest additions to our 55 gallon aquarium. Photo by my boyfriend, the fish enthusiast!

August 8, 2006

We have babies! Fish babies, that is…

Hey, small fry, whatcha doin down there?

We have 3 zebra danios and determined that at least one of them is female, and that one is carrying eggs.

Something as tiny as a fry is difficult to photograph, but my boyfriend captured this one that I then zoomed in on and added an arrow to point out the little critter. We have 7 or 8. Unfortunately when he discovered the hatchlings’ presence, he was doing a partial water change of the tank and siphoned one into the bucket. It then went down the drain… oops. He says by morning we’ll have 50 more. We thought the eggs would be eaten before they could hatch but apparently not, so the two of us are rather excited.

August 3, 2006

Vancouver Aquarium photos

We recently acquired some fish and all the trimmings. Last week Wednesday we visited the Vancouver Aquarium as neither of us had been there in quite some years. I took a ton of photos (135 to be precise), with some intended for desktop wallpaper and artistic endeavours.

Flash, no flash. What a difference in depth!

June 14, 2006

Photo in the News: Cat Chases Bear Up Tree

that is the headline for this curious and unusual story about a very territorial cat.

i recently saw a real liger… but have you ever heard of a “pizzly”?

story with photo at

(warning: it’s dead 🙁 )