Monday, May 18, 2009

Compost, Nettie Wiebe, Handmaid's Tale and bird pests

Weirdness on the Gorge. Who leaves a tethered cat on a walkway frequented by dog-walkers?

Operating as I do from a position of smug complacency atop my composter, I was comforted by this article about composting, and its assertion that "every time you're not finished until you compost."

Nettie Wiebe was speaking at the conference where I read in February, and a wonderful speaker she was. Bernadette passed along a great article about her by Penney Kome; a terrific opening sentence:
"If it is true that we are what we eat," said Nettie Wiebe, "then most of us are like those stuffed animals that you get from vending machines with labels that say, '100 percent unknown fiber'."
Meanwhile, this morning's junk mail folder held a personal message from Awotwi Alden who promised that Women Will Be my Resigned Slaves. Alas, I did not find out how this could be before kissing the message goodbye, but it reminded me to catch the last episode (aired Friday) of The Handmaid's Tale, broadcast on BBC Radio 7 every day this past week. A book I loved and it made me think of Natasha Richardson in the film version, which I wasn't overwhelmed by. If you're quick you can catch the last four episodes here.

Our urban farming group talked about the plague of birds that is upon us. Many in our neighbourhood have had seedlings uprooted or bitten off

by birds - Peg and Tom watched a pair of robins work their seedlings, while I witnessed sparrows eating my chard leaves - and there was talk about why this should be so. We wondered if there is a bigger problem for them; that they seem to be eating things they didn't eat before: apples and chard for example. A hard winter, ongoing urbanisation and destruction of habitat and natural food sources and - maybe? - people cutting back on bird seed, or who knows what other factors - are making them hungry.

Perhaps all that bird seed in the past helped to boost their numbers beyond sustainable limits? So instead of cleaning up on the pests in our gardens they are searching harder for food and making a royal mess of things.

Which is forcing us to cover our plantings, which might give the wireworms and cutworms and other crawlies free reign on our vegetables. The ongoing battle between gardener and nature continues.


Blogger the regina mom said...

Birds are eating chard? I don't think I've ever heard of that before! But then I didn't think squirrels would eat zucchini until I saw it with my very own eyes!

Oh, ya gotta love Nettie, eh? And ya gotta wonder who on earth would do such a thing to a cat...

Hope you're well!

10:08 p.m.  
Blogger Joanne Epp said...

I've also seen that label "100% unknown fibre" on bolts of fabric, and thought, 'Come on, somebody must know what this stuff is!" A rather chilling phrase, though, in the context of Nettie Wiebe's comment.

12:45 p.m.  
Anonymous carla said...

Hi Rhona,
Nettie certainly is on of Saskatchewan's gems. I'm continually amazed she doesn't get elected. I drop in on your page occasionally and am pleased to see you holding forth for local and healthy foods. We are growing tomatoes, cukes, peppers, zukes and snap peas to provide our local groceries (2) and several restaurants. We even have fans! All the best to you. What are you reading these days??? Carla

8:41 p.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

Carla, you're amazing and a boon to your community, wow! I fear I've over-planted so will have a real test of my preserving skills come late summer.
I'm reading A Continuous Harmony - essays by Wendell Berry - but so slowly as to be not even noticeable. Poetry is a hodge-podge: I dip into the Forward anthologies (UK) and various collections loom by my bedside including Elizabeth Bishop, Yehuda Amichai, Maureen Scott Harris, Mike Bartholomew-Biggs... And I am itching to read The Soil & Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture by Sir Albert Howard.
And you?

8:33 a.m.  

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