Monday, September 8, 2008


As most gardeners realize, our plants do not live
in some sealed off vacuum, free of competition from Nature.

Despite the severe disconnection from Nature
that affects most of our lives today, we are still
encased in the natural world.
The bubble is an illusion.

Ive had some interesting run-ins
with critters who have found my plants
to be equally tasty as I have.
Here is the line-up:

This colorful fellow is the gypsy moth...(pre-moth stage).
Guess what...they LOVE apricot leaves.
They will turn into massive gypsy moths,
and from what I've heard they are pretty rare
around the area. If we provide the habitat,
the animals will come. ALWAYS.

Here is me pondering what to do.
They really tore into one of the apricot trees.
I wish I had chickens that I could feed them to.

Now, Im not claiming to be a saint here.
I've killed many caterpillars eating
the kohlrabis, cabbages, and cauliflowers,
but these new guys were so much bigger.
Does size play a role in the right to live or die?
Sounds funny, but if you consider it, you might find it to be true.

Even the type of animal makes a difference.
What if rats were eating your produce?
Would it be easier to shoot them dead instead of
a rabbit who was doing the exact same thing?
Can you see how biased we all are?

So what did I do?

We put them in a jar for a couple of days
and fed them some other leaves.
Later on we let them out further away.
That is my dad's writing. Funny guy.

Alright...moving on.

The tenacious woodchuck.

(Photo courtesy of Alaska Dept of Fish and Game)

This little furry MONSTER will devour a garden.
They have ferocious appetites
and have no qualms about taking one bite
out of a cucumber and then moving on.
Cute though, right?

When all the trex deck materials were piled in
the yard, one made a home underneath it all.
You should have seen the hole.

A day after we noticed it, he hit the cabbages above.

I didnt feel like killing him, although every other
gardener I know in the area would surely
stick a pitchfork in one if their livelihood was in danger.

Often common is dropping smoke bombs inside the hole
and basically gassing them.
That seems horrible, but if your livelihood
depends on raising food to sell, what do you do?
Remember, they don't have all the time that
I do to play around. Its not all fun and games.

Instead, I stuck the water hose
down the hole and let it run.
Not to drown him hopefully, but to make the
den wet and unbearable to stay in.

No dead woodchuck (I think?)
and after we moved the lumber,
he never came back.

A book that I read a while ago,
titled "This Organic Life" by Joan Dye Gussow,
points out an obvious dichotomy between the ethics
of veganism and the large amount of animal deaths
that actually occur due to the raising of fruits and vegetables.

Animals are killed all the time because they compete with
our food supply. The only way I can really see to avoid it
is to grow our own and try to prevent the animals from getting in.
If we still have problems with them,
we can then try our best to treat the animals humanely.
Maybe we could use live traps or have a dog near the garden.

We just can't escape death.
In NATURE, death is an everyday occurrence.
In order for us to live, other things must die.
Sad but true...its a fact.
This includes plants, animals, and sometimes
in extreme cases unknown to us, people.
We are so intricately connected, that we truly will never
know the consequences. So with a humble heart, we must
at least honor the fact that because someone is vegan
doesn't mean that animals were not harmed in the
growing of all their food.

A big thing I realized this summer while starting
the garden and the orchard was how I was
the newcomer to the area. The deer, rabbits,
woodchucks, squirrels, raccoons, and caterpillars
have all been there for millions of years.

"Some jerk human comes into the area and thinks
he owns the place?? You've got to be kidding us."

They are trying to eat the goodies, just like us.
Killing them because of it might seem very lame,
but some gardeners might see no other way out.

I haven't reached that point yet,
but hey...I haven't had my garden massacred by animals.
And its not like gardeners want to kill these animals,
but when it comes down to who eats, well...

Vegans can act VERY holier than thou when it comes
to that stuff. Ironically enough, they usually haven't
raised bees, milked goats, raised chickens,
so despite their ideals, their real life food-raising
experience is usually minimal at best.

Vegans are some of the most conscious eaters on
the face of the Earth, but it doesn't give them the
permission to be self-righteous.
And remember please...I AM a vegan...wait, I'm a bee-gan ;) .

Until we walked in someone else's shoes,
we shouldn't be judging them.
There are so many factors involved already,
and farming is hard enough without animals
eating all of the food meant for us.
We just don't appreciate this fact at all.
Our separation from Nature runs far deeper than
most of us can actually deal with.

Can we do it differently? Sure, but many gardeners
still can't. Especially if they don't want to spray their plants,
or are blessed to live in areas teeming with natural wildlife.

Instead, we can do our best to keep the animals out, and if
they do take some of our produce, maybe consider it a tax paid
to the Earth for finally being a part of Nature again.