Pets Aplenty – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Pets Aplenty
by Malcolm D. Welshman
Published by Austin Macauley Publishers
310 pages Paperback
ISBN: 9781849639965
Price: £7.99

Pets_Aplenty-CoverJoin novice vet, Paul Mitchell, in a further six months of hilarious escapades he experiences while working at Prospect House Veterinary Hospital. He's confronted by a ravenous pig while sunbathing naked in a cornfield. He locks jaws with a caiman with scale rot and battles with Doug, a vicious miniature donkey that's always sinking his teeth into him. It ends with a Christmas pet blessing which erupts into pandemonium as frightened pets and owners scatter through the pews. Throughout his adventures, Paul is loyally supported by the team at the hospital - in particular Beryl, the elderly one-eyed receptionist, and, Lucy the junior nurse - together with whom he shares this merry-go-round of mayhem. It's a gripping, fast page-turner that's guaranteed to keep animal lovers entranced.

The author has an uncanny ability to paint human as well as animal characters in his books and this will enable anyone with a little imagination to actually visualize the people and animals he is writing about.

Pets Aplenty should carry a health warning such as “You could die laughing”. For me it was already in the first chapter and it was the hens that did it. Being a keeper of hens – well keeper is really not the right word with hens – I know just what they can be like.

However, this is but one chapter. The reader will be laughing all the way through and let me issue another serious warning; do not read this book on public transport of any kind unless you don't mind laughing out real loud and long on a bus or train and have people question your sanity.

I laughed a great deal with the first book that I reviewed by this author, namely “Pets in a Pickle” but this one has topped it. The problem is that I love puns and there are puns aplenty, as much, if not more, than pets aplenty in this book that will make you fall about laughing.

Any animal lover will adore this book, of that I am certain.

Malcolm Welshman is a retired vet who was a consultant dealing with exotics. He has written for The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and magazines such as The Lady. He was the My Weekly vet for fifteen years. He is a BBC Radio panelist and a guest speaker worldwide on cruise ships.

© 2014

1/2 Of Our Food Is Going To Feed Our Food. Wait. What?

FoodAnimalsYea, And That´s Not All: Food Conundrums of the 21st Century

One half of all the non-animal foods produced in the United States today is used to feed the animals we eat. In other words, the animals we feed upon eat half of the crops we produce in this country. As if that´s not surprising enough, people do not consume the entire other half of the food crops we produce. That is because -- as a result of the petroleum shortage -- a large portion goes to bio-fuels.

How large a portion? Well, consider this: in 2000, 90% of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock. 45% is used to feed livestock, 40% is used to produce ethanol and only 15% is produced for human consumption (1).

But it gets better!

Crop and Food Production: Two Different Animals... Er, Plants

In its simplest form, crop production requires little more than photosynthesis and human cultivation. Organic foods can almost net a 100% energy return. Processed foods, on the other hand, require a great deal of energy to manufacture.

In fact, the production of one calorie of processed food requires five calories of energy. This is so because of the energy required to fuel agricultural and processing plant machinery. In other words, food that grows naturally from the sun´s energy and nutrients in the ground gross only a 1:5 return when processed.

But wait, there is more.

Wait a Second; Organic Foods Can Feed the World?

While it is true that in industrial areas, organic foods only produce 92% of the yield produced by industrial foods. However, in developing countries, organic foods produce 182% of the yield produced by industrial foods -- those produced using chemical fertilizers, hydroponics and artificial light. Simply stated, organic foods yield far more than industrial foods.

And it gets better.

Read more: http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/13390-1-2-of-our-food-is-going-to-feed-our-food-wait-what.html

Just How "Legal" Are Seed Libraries?

After the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a community seed library, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law. According to PA regulators, in order to give out member-donated seeds, the Simpson Seed Library in Cumberland County would have to put around 400 seeds of each variety through prohibitively impractical seed testing procedures in order to determine quality, rate of germinability, and so on. The result of the PA crackdown is that the library can no longer give out seeds other than those which are commercially packaged.

Quite ironically, this is in the name of “protecting and maintaining the food sources of America.” In this news article that went viral, regulators cited, among other things, that “agri-terrorism is a very, very real scenario.” In reality, seed libraries have emerged in an effort to protect our food sources and to ensure access to locally adapted and heirloom varieties. The public’s access to seeds has been narrowing ever since 1980, when the Supreme Court ruled that a life-form could be patented. Since then, large seed companies have shifted away from open-pollinated seeds to patented hybridized and genetically-engineered varieties. The companies generally prohibit farmers from saving and replanting the seeds, requiring that farmers buy new seed each year. In response to this trend, seed libraries give members free seeds and request that members later harvest seed and give back to the library in the future, thereby growing the pool of seeds available to everyone.

Seed Law Basics

It’s important to set the record straight about the legalities of seed libraries. Let’s begin with the basics: In every state, there are laws requiring seed companies to be licensed, test seeds, and properly label them. At the federal level, there is a comparable law governing seed companies that sell seeds in interstate commerce. All of these laws exist for good reason: If a tomato grower buys 10,000 tomato seeds, the grower’s livelihood is on the line if the seeds turn out to be of poor quality or the wrong variety. Seed laws, like other truth-in-labeling laws, keep seed companies accountable, prevent unfair competition in the seed industry, and protect farmers whose livelihoods depend on access to quality seeds. The testing and labeling of the seeds also helps to prevent noxious weeds and invasive species from getting into the mix.

In some states, the licensing, labeling, and testing laws only apply if you sell seed. In other states, such as California, the laws apply if you even offer seeds forbarter, exchange, or trade. How do you define words like sell, barter, exchange, and trade? And how do they apply to seed libraries? Read on if you are ready to venture into interesting legal grey areas.

In at least one state (yup, Pennsylvania), even supplying seeds make you subject to at least some regulation. But the Pennsylvania seed law is about to be put to the test, and we think that regulators should have read their law more carefully.

Read more: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-08-12/just-how-legal-are-seed-libraries

Move over, landfills — food scraps give Massachusetts biogas

The state of Massachusetts is cracking down on food waste in a big way. Come Oct 1, any institution producing more than a ton of leftovers a week — think grocery stores, hotels, universities, nursing homes, and the like — won’t be able to send their discarded food to the landfill anymore. Their only options: donate any usable food, ship the remaining scraps to a composting facility or as farm animal feed, or turn the food waste into clean energy at an anaerobic digestion facility, where microbes in enclosed chambers break it down. The resulting biogas can then be used to create heat and electricity, or converted to compressed natural gas to fuel buses and trucks.

Some 1,700 business are set to be affected by the ban — part of the state’s ultimate plan to reduce its waste stream 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. NPR reports:

Read more: http://grist.org/news/move-over-landfills-food-scraps-give-massachusetts-biogas/

99-year-old Woman Sews a Dress for an African Child Every Single Day

Lillian-Weber-senior-seamstress-sewing-WQADvidIn a senior living community in Davenport, Iowa, a group of residents meet weekly to sew dresses for a charitable organization. But for Lillian Weber the hobby has turned into a mission: In her Bettendorf farm house she makes a dress for a small girl in Africa every single day.

By next May 6, when she celebrates her 100th birthday, her tally will reach 1,000 handmade dresses donated. In the past two years she’s finished more than 840 of them.

She may use just a single pattern but adorns each one with special decoration, ribbon or ruffle that make the dress one-of-a-kind.

“When I get to that thousand, if I’m able to, I won’t quit,” she told WQAD-TV. “I’ll go at it again.”

She simply loves what she does. She also said she needs to stay busy.

Read more: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/99-year-old-lady-sews-dress-african-child-every-single-day/

David Jenkins celebrates 43 years at IOG SALTEX as the show leaves Windsor

DAVID JENKINS, managing director of DJ Turfcare, will celebrate 43 years of attending IOG SALTEX with the last show at Windsor Racecourse before it moves to the NEC.

DJ Turfcare press conference at Saltex 2012 DSC_0013His first SALTEX was at Motspur Park in 1971 and he has attended almost every show since, many of them with Charterhouse Turf Machinery Ltd - the company which he founded in 1981.

David began his career in publishing working with The Groundsman, the IOG's flagship magazine, and Parks and Sportsgrounds magazine.

This experience provided a springboard into the machinery side of the industry and he joined Marshalls Concessionaires, importing Jacobsen machinery into the UK.

Then came the founding of Charterhouse Turf Machinery Ltd and the dramatic introduction of the Verti-Drain into the UK - a machine which revolutionised pitch aeration.

Since founding DJ Turfcare Equipment Ltd in 2002 David has introduced Plugger Aerators from the US, Bushranger Edgers from Australia and Viano fertilisers from Belgium.

"It is sad to see SALTEX moving indoors," says David, "but I have seen a lot of changes in this industry and wish the IOG every success.

"SALTEX has always been a place for colleagues to meet and it is very much a social event where old friends catch up.

"I look forward to meeting many of my colleagues at Windsor this year and they will get a warm welcome to the stand."

David will be on stand K55 with wife Liz and office manager Barbara Jarman.

AT SALTEX this year DJ Turfcare will have Viano organic lawn fertilisers, including the award-winning MO BACTER.

Machines on show will include the PLUGGER PL855 Pro HD aerator, the highly-rated BUSHRANGER EDGER, and second-generation ATOM EDGERS, both professional and domestic, with new Mitsubishi engines,

Also on the stand for golf greenkeepers will be the proven ATOM BUNKER EDGER.

DJ TURFCARE: Stand K55. Contact: 01483 200976 www.djturfcare.co.uk

Urban Gardening – Thoughts from a Soil Scientist

Along with the trends of buying local food, buying organic, etc., there seems to be an increase in (or perhaps more accurately, a return to) gardening – especially in urban areas. Urban gardening is a great way to save money on food, a great source for fresh vegetables, and an easy way to introduce kids to where the food on their plate comes from. In fact, working with the soil has been proven to make you happier! However, there are a couple potential obstacles you should consider first before starting your urban garden.

"Graze the Roof" by Sergio Ruiz

First, in urban environments the possibility that soil could have been contaminated with heavy metals, petrochemicals, etc. is pretty high. Lead (which was once a common additive to gasoline and paint) is common in urban soils and can be adsorbed by the roots of the vegetables you grow. Because of this, that lead can eventually end up in the food on your plate. Most lead poisoning comes from ingesting lead (like eating lead paint chips…), so it’s important to know that the soil you’re using for your garden is safe. You should take some soil samples and send them to a lab in your state that can test for heavy metals like lead. Usually the “land grant” university in your state (in the US) will have a soil testing lab where these tests can be performed for a nominal cost. Other forms of contamination are possible as well, such as chemicals from cars, asphalt , laundry-mats, etc. These chemicals are more difficult to test for, so your best bet is to find out the history of your garden plot. These records should be available from your local city government, perhaps even online.

Second, urban soils are often compacted from foot, car, or perhaps machinery traffic. Compacted soils make it difficult for plants to grow, mainly because the plant roots are not strong enough to penetrate the compacted soil, and thus cannot gather enough water or nutrients for the plant to survive, let alone grow and produce vegetables. Compacted soils are especially common in newer housing developments where entire blocks of houses were built around the same time. The construction companies often remove all of the topsoil prior to building the houses. The soils are then driven over by construction machinery and compacted. Then sod is laid directly on top of the subsoil. This makes for soils with very poor growing conditions for both lawns and gardens.

Read more: http://colbydigssoil.com/2014/08/16/urban-gardening-thoughts-from-a-soil-scientist/

'Elixir of Long Life' Recreated From 1800s Bottle Unearthed on Bowery

Archaeologists have dug up a 19th-century recipe for fending off death.

During a recent excavation beneath a hotel site at 50 Bowery, Chrysalis Archaeology discovered a tiny, greenish glass bottle that once contained the "Elixir of Long Life."

The bottle found amid a cache of 150-year-old liquor bottles beneath what was once a German beer garden sparked the archaeologists' curiosity, and they decided to hunt down the original recipe so they could try the elixir themselves.

“We decided to engage in our own brand of experimental archaeology,” said Alyssa Loorya, the president of Chrysalis, a company regularly hired by the city to oversee excavation projects. “We wanted to know what this stuff actually tasted like.”

Loorya enlisted colleagues in Germany to help her track down the recipe in a 19th-century medical guide. After they translated it for her, she discovered it contained ingredients still used by modern-day herbalists: aloe, which is anti-inflammatory, and gentian root, which aids digestion. Mostly, though, the elixir was made of alcohol.

“These types of cure-alls were pretty ubiquitous in the 19th century, and always available at bars,” Loorya said. “Similar bitters and ingredients are still used today, in cocktails, and in health stores, but I guess we don’t know if it was the copious amounts of alcohol or the herbs that perhaps made people feel better.”

Loorya and her team are gathering the ingredients for the elixir and plan to try making it within the next couple of weeks.

They also plan to recreate Dr. Hostetters Stomach Bitters, a once-popular 19th-century medicine, after finding two of those bottles at the 50 Bowery site and seeking out that recipe as well.

The Hostetters recipe is a bit more complex, containing Peruvian bark, also known as cinchona, which is used for its malaria-fighting properties and is still used to make bitters for cocktails, and gum kino, a kind of tree sap that is antibacterial. It also contains more common ingredients, including cinnamon and cardamom seeds, which are known to help prevent gas.

When DNAinfo New York showed the recipes to herbalist Lata Kennedy, who's owned the East Village herb shop Flower Power for 19 years, she said many are still used to naturally treat ailments.

“All those ingredients are about your digestive health, and that’s really a key to good health in general,” Kennedy said of both the Elixir of Life and Hostetters recipes. “Those ingredients make a liver tonic, one that soothes your stomach, and also helps you poop — get out the toxins.”

Using alcohol to extract the beneficial properties of herbs and roots is still a common practice used by herbalists today, Kennedy said. She sells many of the ingredients used in the recipes, both in raw form and alcohol-based tinctures, and she believes they improve people's health — and could even prolong their life.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140616/lower-east-side/archaeologists-recreate-elixir-of-long-life-after-unearthing-1800s-bottle/

Pope’s Top 10 Happiness Tips: Focus on Leisure, Family and Being Positive

In the July 27 issue of “Viva”, an Argentinian weekly publication, Pope Francis revealed his Top 10 guidelines for achieving happiness. He advocated for playing more, especially with others and children, and toning down the negativity. He placed importance on caring for our environment and working for peace. Most surprising was #9, an admonishment against religious proselytizing.

His advice to Argentinians for finding happiness was translated into English by the Catholic News Service.

1. Live and let live. As they say in Rome, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. Be giving of yourself to others. If you withdraw into yourself the ego may isolate you. “Stagnant water becomes putrid,” he said.

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. Strive for the ability to move with kindness and humility, along with that calmness.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. 40 percent of Americans don’t take vacations because they don’t want to get behind in their work. The same fear goads us into checking our phones constantly. Studies show that taking real vacations and leisurely weekends prepare you better for problem-solving and creativity. It leads to happiness too. The pope said parents must set aside time to play with their children, even if schedules are full, and turn off the TV during dinner so you can talk to one another.

5. Sundays should be holidays. “Sunday is for family,” said the Pontiff, who wants a day-off for all workers.

6. Young people should be able to work. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs,” he said. “It’s not enough to give them food.” Dignity becomes a bonus whenever they get rewarded for their own labor.

Read more: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/popes-top-10-happiness-tips-focus-leisure-family-peace/

From Garbage To Garden: Regrow These 5 Food Scraps You’d Just Throw Away

grow food

I’ve been a gardener almost my entire life, and I love the idea of regrowing your food scraps. It’s free, frugal, environmentally wise and a lot of fun! Instead of sending your scraps to the trash can, try planting them and reaping the rewards! Plus, did you know that we throw away over 133 billion pounds of food every year, and still people go hungry? That’s insane!

Here are 5 foods that are easy to grow. As always, source from organic, non-GMO plants if you can.

1. Green onions are one of the easiest vegetables to regrow. Instead of throwing out their root ends, plant them in some soil and give plenty of water and sunshine. In no time at all, you’ll have your own delicious homegrown green onions. Sounds delicious!

2. Celery is another incredibly easy vegetable to grow from its base. Simply stick the base you’d usually discard in some soil, give plenty of water and sun, and in a few weeks, you’ll be harvesting fresh celery. If you have the space for enough celery plants, you’ll never have to buy the vegetable again! Better for you and more delicious to boot. Awesome!

3. Carrot tops are another easy one to regrow. By simply placing the tops in soil and covering lightly, you’ll get your carrots regrowing over and over and over again. In a matter of days you’ll start seeing the carrot greens poking up through the soil, growing a new plant. And be sure to buy whole carrots. Baby carrots are like the fast food burgers of the vegetable world. Beets and turnips can be grown in the same way.

Read more: http://higherperspective.com/2014/05/regrow-food-scraps.html