Thursday, May 26, 2005


Royal Society for Protection of Birds

Many years ago, I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring". The book scared me and set me on a life long path to save the birds and harmonize with nature. My great godmother, Mrs. Mitchner (yes, that family!) was an early bird expert in the nineteenth century, she was born just before the Civil War began, and she taugh me all about birds. When she was 100 years old, she lived outside in her verandah surrounded by wild birds that she tamed.

I even had a hummingbird land on my fingers there!

Because of the dangers of pesticides, I dedicated myself to organic gardening. This meant research. Gardening with gooses and such.

Here is another reason to avoid pesticides:
Farmers and amateur gardeners who are exposed to pesticides run a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease, researchers said yesterday.

Previous evidence that suggested an association with the disease was strengthened by the publication of research covering almost 3,000 people in five European countries.

Scientists found that heavy exposure to pesticides increased the chances of developing Parkinson's by almost 50 per cent.

The incurable disease is characterised by tremors, rigidity, shaking of the limbs and difficulty in walking. It is caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain that send chemical messages to neurons controlling the muscles.
There it is! Another nail in the coffin of "kill bugs so they won't bug us". I was against pesticides because of the the delightful bird species that eat bugs need bugs to stay alive. We turn our farms into bug deserts, the birds die! Just for that alone, I was against pesticides. I built swallow houses on my home for them so they can eat bothersome bugs. I love watching them swooping and dropping coconuts....ooops.

I love swallows. And gentle fly catchers. A pair this week are building a lovely little nest right next to the computer room window. I watched them meet and court each other for two weeks, flitting in and out of the peach tree that grows there. Bugs get into my apples and peaches and I eat them anyway. Guess what?

My great godmother used to say, "Bugs are good for you, they are like vitamin B pills!" For healthy chickens, I feed them bugs by letting them out, guarding them from the fox that frolics across the fields while hunting mice, and we wander about, seeking bugs. They eat the grasshoppers and crickets. The turkey flock is even more vigilant in the quest for bugs. Turkeys love bugs and frogs and snakes. Didn't know that? Ever watch a flock of turkeys corner a large snake and then play tug of war? Or trying to swallow a large toad?

Living in nature is easy. When we lived in a tent (yes, for years, actually) a large toad moved in with us. He lived under the hot tub and I made him a little door. We knew when he went outside by the door creaking as he shoved it open. Sometimes, after a rainstorm, I would stumble over him in the dark outside. He would occassionally serenade us in bed, ribbit ribbit craaak. Our son grew up with Mr. Toad. He got quite large. He ate the crickets which is why I loved him and took care of him.

Now the toads live in the garden. I make little homes for them with rocks and boards and watering dishes. They eat the bugs. Surrounding the garden are plants certain bugs don't like. Marigolds and herbs. Farming with nature is possible. We have to figure out how to do this.

Organic farming means imperfect looking food that is healthy, even with the bugs.