This is where it all begins…

Greetings from Gypsy Family Farm on beautiful Manitoulin Island (Ontario, Canada)

For anyone who has taken the time to search out this blog and is actually spending valuable time reading it, thank you and I hope that you won’t be disappointed. Since I am a farmer and not particularly computer savvy, you may have to be patient as I get a feel for things. I am fresh off a failed relationship with a website so am in a particularly fragile state of technological hurt. My website demanded a higher commitment to html which I could not accommodate. My website and I are parting ways. This could be a messy split, but more about that another time.

In the days/weeks/months and perhaps even years ahead, I hope to use this blog to share thoughts, ideas and even occasionally to rant at the wrongs of the world… there are a few of those that require immediate attention.

I am ending this first posting with an air of brevity as I have to take some time to explore technical options and figure out this confounded world that I have just committed to.

See ya’all soon,


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Bats in my Belfry? You be the judge… ps, it’s a true story.

Published Garden Gossip article from Jan/10.

Just the other day I overheard some folks discussing recently received Christmas gifts. I couldn’t help but chuckle at one person’s reaction when their friend shared that she had just received a bat house for her garden. Next to snakes, bats probably do more to creep the average person out than just about any other wild creature you can think of. It could be the fact that they look like winged mice. It may even be the wings themselves since bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that bats are nocturnal and are comfortable in a world that we can’t relate to. A little more pragmatically, our fear of bats may arise from the fact that they can often be associated with rabies. Whatever the reason, bats are not a well loved creature. The unfortunate part of this is that humans tend to be hard on creatures we dislike or don’t understand. What a shame. If people would take the time to learn about bats, they might come to gain a real respect for the beneficial role that bats play in our world.

As I stood and listened to the “bat house” conversation, I couldn’t help but be taken back several years to a time in my life when I too had a nice new bat house for my garden. Some of you may have already heard this story and if so, I apologize, but I can’t help but tell it again. It was about fifteen or so years back and we were living in South Texas. Our home there was surrounded by gardens that were overseen by a wide variety of bird and butterfly houses. Then, one fateful day I received a bat house to be added to the garden. I probably waited six or seven months after putting it up before my impatience got the better of me and I decided that since the bats weren’t moving in voluntarily, they were going to move in with a little help. The time of year was what passed for winter in Texas and it was cold enough that the local bat colonies were hibernating. Since I knew just where one of these hibernating colonies was, I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult to sneak up on them and scoop a few into a canvas sack to be transported to their new home. With nothing other than that sack, some misguided intentions, and a willing helper in my young son Benj, I set off. The colony was nearly an hour’s drive from our home but it was a beautiful sunny day and the time passed quickly. Before we knew it, Benj and I arrived at the hibernation site, and successfully scooped up a bag of about sixty or seventy slumbering bats. We wrapped a string around the neck of the bag, tossed it in the back seat, and headed for home. As I mentioned earlier, it was a nice sunny day. Whether it was the sun beating on that bag or just the warmth from the car heater I’ll never know. What I do know is that one minute Benj was chatting merrily about our adventure and the next he was screaming something about “them” being “out”. It only took a second for me to realize that they were indeed out and our car was full of revitalized and confused bats who were swirling around and doing their best to find an opening to fly out of. Fortunately, Benj’s seat belt was on so that when he flung the door of the moving car open and tried to heave himself from the swirling mass of winged rodents, he couldn’t. I managed to weave the car through the fortunately light traffic and screeched to a stop on the side of the road. By this time the seat belt was off and Benj was out of the car like he’d hit the eject button. We lost a few bats through his open door but I was actually able to coral most of the escapees and get them back into the sack… which I double knotted. The more difficult part of the process was convincing Benj that it was safe to get back into the car. There were no more adventures on the trip home but I couldn’t help but notice that Benj travelled the rest of the way with one hand on the door release.

Once home, I took the bag of bats and tied it to the bottom of the bat house. It didn’t take them long to climb up into the reassuring darkness where they still rested later that night right before I went to bed. The next morning I couldn’t wait to go out and visit with my new garden “pets”. I grabbed a cup of coffee and raced to the bat house with a flashlight that I intended to use to examine them. Imagine my surprise when I shone the light up into the opening at the bottom of the house, and it was completely empty. Not one single bat was left. All that effort for nothing. Well, maybe not entirely for nothing as

Benj had the best show-and-tell story when he went back to school that Monday. One interesting side effect of our bat episode was that Benj soon moved from his cozy “cave-like” bottom bunk to his open and airy top bunk. Apparently it had something to do with dreams of bats and a newly discovered sense of claustrophobia.

The moral of this story, besides the one about not needlessly exposing children to frightening circumstances, is that if you get a bat house, be patient. If it is to their liking, bats will eventually find it and move in. If it’s not, then you at least have a nice new garden ornament that you can use to lead into the story, “did you hear the one about the idiot who took his kid bat hunting?”

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Raw Milk Rant

The following is my Jan 29/10 Garden Gossip newspaper article… and they actually printed it sans editorial wrist slap…

So this is winter, after all. I was beginning to wonder just a little bit. That was probably the warmest January I’ve seen in a while and it will be interesting to see just how it affects the maple syrup season which is just a few weeks away. I guess this is a sign of the El Nino weather patterns that we’ve been told to expect for summer.

So while the weather has been the main topic of conversation on the Island in recent days, a more compelling drama has been playing out in a Southern Ontario courtroom where raw milk producer, Michael Schmidt, received the long awaited verdict on the charges he faced, of endangering human health by selling his raw milk. In a truly unexpected turn of events, he was found not guilty! While those of us who have been following the story closely simply see this as the only logical and common-sense ruling that could be made, we are also quite aware that common sense is, as the old saying goes, not at all common.

While there is no question that if the milking process is carried out improperly, then raw milk can pose a health threat to the people who consume it. However, all customers buying from the couple of existing Canadian raw milk producers are educated about these risks and are able to make an informed decision. There are many other things that potentially pose as great, or greater, risk to human health that are freely accessible. Processed meats, wieners and soft cheeses are such a “serious health risk” that pregnant mothers are warned to avoid them for fear of potential Listeria contamination that could kill them or their baby. But, these foods are not illegal. Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are finding their way into our food supply with alarming rapidity. There is no safety testing done by our government on these foods. Independent studies are showing “probable” links between GMO’s and serious health issues in lab animals. Since it often takes several generations for genetic-type problems to show up, we won’t know the true effects of these foods on our species for a few years yet. So are they illegal? No! In fact, our government is complicit in promoting GMO’s as one of the futures of world agriculture. How about the old stand-bys, alcohol and cigarettes. Everyone knows the health dangers related to these substances. They are considered two of the three leading causes of death in the developed world. Pregnant mothers can legally use either substance. Young children can grow up in a house full of tobacco smoke. While the government has made modest efforts to curb the exposure of children to smoke, they have not made it illegal (except in cars). The government makes millions of dollars annually from the sales of these products. But, because we live in a free country, we are allowed to make our own decisions about consuming these products despite the possible deleterious effects on children (the main argument of the anti-raw milk group). Lets move on to fast food. Once again, we are well informed of the negative health effects of eating at the local burger and fry joint. Canadians are becoming obese. Heart disease, stroke and diabetes are so serious that Health Canada has now listed twenty year olds as an “at risk” group. Our health care system is flooded trying to keep up with the fallout of self-inflicted dietary illness. Is fast food consumption regulated in any way? No. In fact our government is now looking at adding chemotherapeutic medications to fast food to make it a “safer food source”… yum. Let’s move on in the list. There is “white” sugar, “white” flour and “white” oil in one form or another in almost every food item that is available to be purchased, except raw products. Similar to the fast food situation, these additives (they are NOT food products) are purchased and used freely. They can, in fact, comprise nearly the entire diet of young children with the inevitable health ramifications. You’d think since our government is so concerned about negative health effects on children that this would be highly illegal, after all, children are dying. Uh, no, apparently we live in a free country and once again this is a freedom of choice situation for the parents. Then what about over the counter health care products such as “children’s” vitamins, acetaminophen, motion sickness pills, cough and cold mixtures, ASA and more. These medications have each been linked to serious health problems and often death; in children. Illegal? Not with the amount of money available to be raked in from pharmaceutical companies. And don’t even get me started on plastics and what our government knows about them, but ignores. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is not about our health, not close.

So is raw milk for you? I guess in a free country that would be for you to decide, wouldn’t it? But at least in a free country you could inform yourself and then make the decision that best fits you and your family. In a free country…

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Another random thought…

Altruism sounds like a wonderful idea… but what’s in it for me?

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Another election!?!

What’s the point? We live in a fascist country. All another election will serve to do is either strengthen one dictator or replace him with another. If you don’t believe our system is fascist, just examine the whole concept of partisan politics. Such a way of doing things could not exist in a truly democratic society. We have no freedoms, we have no rights and we certainly have no democracy. Yeah, I’m in a great mood today.

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I’m not sure about all this twitter hype, it seems to be a site dedicated to following celebrities, and selling stuff (mostly adult stuff…). Anyway, in a moment of weakness I decided to try it out and see what all the fuss is about. Anyone wanting a briefer and more frequently updated “tweet” from my life can find me on twitter under the name “gypsyfarmer”… or you could spend your time productively…

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We are all subject to a strange duality. Each of us has both talents and limitations. Sadly, few of us have the talent to see what our own true talents actually are. Simultaneously, each of us are equally guilty of being limited in our ability to recognize and accept our own specific limitations. One of the conundrums of our existence…

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…so winds down the summer that never was…

Wow, what a brutal summer it’s been on the farm. Despite the weather I still managed to stay too busy to keep this blog as current as I had originally intended… the road to Hell and all that…
Anyway, 2009 was as damp and cold as a summer could be. Nothing in the garden was particularly happy, except the raspberries (there’s always an exception) which had their best year ever. This abundance led to the creation of a new jam… “Raspberry Tingle”… a surprising marriage between purple raspberries and hot peppers… come to the Gore Bay Farmers’ Market if you are interested!
Lotsa stuff going on in the world… little of it good. The Codex Alimentarius issue is poised to topple the world food system leaving only a handful of corporations in complete control. Remember, “whoever controls your food controls you”.
Also, just watched “The Obama Deception”… now I’m really worried.
There is so much to get into… all in due time… for now I just wanted to get this puppy up and functional again. Lets see if I can actually find time to keep it current this go-around!?!
Now for some down time with my therapist – my dog…

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