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Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

Something Old, Something New…

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

After watching a little bird disappear inside, I found this nest in this lamp by my front door. It reminded me of many things about this thing we call Life.

It also reminded me that if we make room for the natural world rather than trying to conquer it….we might just see the light.



DYI Dog Treats – better for pets and wallets, less waste

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I know I’m giving away my animal geek status with all my pet-friendly posts lately, but I stumbled upon some useful stuff. I was never big on treats for training with my dogs, but I now have a very “independent-minded” Cattle Dog come to me as a rescue and it seems to be the thing that works when it comes to convincing her that chasing squirrels and rabbits is not the ONLY thing worth living for.

Since we hike in the woods every morning, I use a lot of treats. I need something really small, which is hard to find. I found one kind at Whole Foods, but they immediately made her skin itch – too much processing, I think. So, I bought the organic, high-protein stuff, which works fine, but is expensive. Then there’s the package to throw away, too.

So, despite the fact that I don’t enjoying baking, I decided to commit a couple hours to DYI treats.

Here’s a recipe I found on

Get Lick’d Organic Peanut Butter Carob Treats
Makes 48 muffins

2 cups organic brown rice flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegan carob chips
1 Tb organic peanut butter
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp organic vanilla
1 organic egg

Fill a pot with an inch of water. Heat on high. In a bowl, combine carob chips, peanut butter, and water. Place the bowl on top of the pot so the steam and heat melt the carob chips (a double boiler). Whisk occasionally for a minute or two until the carob chips are completely melted. Remove the bowl (careful, it’s hot), and whisk in the brown rice flour, baking powder, and vanilla. Once combined, whisk in an egg. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and fill the mini muffin tin cups 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 12 minutes for the soft version, which lasts about a week (perfect for pooch parties). For a crunchy version that lasts three to four months, place the mini muffins on a cookie sheet and bake an additional three to four hours at 200 degrees.

(I make mine in tiny blobs on the cookie sheet so I have lots of bite-size training treats.)

Intuitive Healing for Animals – it’s REAL

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

Speaking of our pets…

I’ve shared two of my experiences here before – I just have to remind everyone that Intuitive healing for aniimals is the real deal. And if you’re doubtful, it doesn’t matter, because this is about the healer and the animal and an exchange of energy. It also doesn’t matter where you live – this energy covers any number of miles. So, don’t hesitate. If your animal is suffering, you can save time, money, and worry with the help of a gifted healer, like the one I have used often, Bonnie Illies.

Now when my animals get into health trouble – whether it’s an obvious injury, or an unknown illness, I don’t despair. I know the first thing I’ll do is contact Bonnie.  She not only has the intuitive power, but she is able to share a lot of information about your pet’s condition in general – like food choices, supplements, and options for other treatments.

For more information, check out Bonnie’s website at

Thank you for always being there for us, Bonnie,

Tao, Ayla, River, Jazz, and Sufi

Dog Waste DYI Composter – super E-Z

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’ve written here before about the Doggie Dooley composting system, but now that I’ve moved, I’m back to poop-scooping (in gmo-corn-free biobags) and throwing poop out with the trash. Yes, that’s better than allowing it to wash into streams or storm-drains, but still not an optimal environmental choice. I’m thrilled that I came across the super easy dog waste compost system on  Dig a hole ! Yep, simple as that – here’s how to do it – or go to the site for more detailed instructions.

Sharon Slack’s Dog Waste Composter

About 15 years ago, I dug a hole in the back of my ornamental garden, away from my food crops. The hole is about 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep, and is covered with a plastic lid from an old compost bin. I empty my dog’s waste in the pit every day so that it will break down as compost.

Occasionally I add Septo-Bac, an enzyme-active biological compound formulated to increase the digestion rate of sewage.

I haven’t had to empty the hole for over 6 years. When I did empty it, I dug a hole under some nearby shrubs, put the nearly composted waste in and covered it with soil.

Next time I empty it, I will line the sides of the pit with 1/2 inch hardware cloth because my soil is very sandy and tends to cave in a bit.

I am also starting to add some chopped yard waste (green and brown) to hasten the process. The finished dog waste compost can be used on ornamentals, but not on food crops. Dog waste is not allowed in garbage bins, so this alternative has served me well.

Thanks for the tip, Sharon. I’ll be out in my yard with a shovel this weekend! Tao

Sea Shepherd, At the Edge of the World

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the pirate-protectors of whales, knows how to get things done. Although many animal protection agenices, like the Humane Society, resist condoning militant tactics of rescue groups, they can’t deny the effectiveness and determination of Paul and his crew of so-called “Pirates”, as they pursue whaling ships who who defy the world-wide anti-whaling treaty (transgressors are listed as Japan, Iceland and Norway). In his own less than state-of-the-art ships and in less than ideal antarctic conditions, the Sea Shepherd crew patrols the oceans with a mission – “to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.”

The idea of Sea Shepherd was formed when Captain Paul Watson founded the Earth Force Society in 1977 in Vancouver BC, Canada. The original mandate of both organizations was marine mammal protection and conservation with an immediate goal of shutting down illegal whaling and sealing operations, but Sea Shepherd later expanded its efforts to include all marine wildlife. Dedicating his life to protect the environment and animals since the age of 10 (read his full bio here), Paul was also one of the co-founders of GreenPeace.

Now you can see just what it takes to stop illegal whalehunters in the documentary, At The Edge of The World, released August 28th. Director, Dan Stone bankrolled this film himself – to the tune of 1.1 million dollars – after being exposed to the horror of seal slaughters. He was drawn to the story of Paul Watson when he heard him described as, “Someone who’s actually doing something.” When asked to describe the film, Dan said, “The action and adventure that unfold in the film also bring into play the larger questions of ends and means, injustice and indifference, idealism and greed, laws and politics and life and death.” Insisting that the camera is the most effective tool in fighting whaling, he has since helped create (as exec. producer) an Animal Planet Series called, Whale Wars.

Maybe sometimes it takes a little pirate to be a real hero and to get things done. Namaste and more, Paul and crew.

Photo from

Art Lives

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Every day I marvel at the magic of nature – it’s wholeness, it’s purpose, it’s beauty, it’s creative force that can’t be stopped. What I rarely think of is the fact that humans possess the same innate qualities. That’s why Art has always been an important part of the human process. It connects us to what is both inside and outside ourselves and connects us to each other and nature.

If you’ve ever doubted this, take a look:

Made from driftwood.

Heather Jansch is the artist.

No Bones About It – Eat Less Meat, Get Big Results

Monday, April 13th, 2009

It’s Spring – the perfect time to clean things up and out. If you are not ready to give up meat, consider cutting back and get huge results for your health and the environment. When you do choose meat, choose organic, local, free-range and naturally fed. Your body and the environment will reap the rewards. Read below from Kath Freston on Tao

The Breathtaking Effects of Cutting Back on Meat
By Kathy Freston
I’ve written extensively on the consequences of eating meat – on our health, our sense of “right living”, and on the environment. It is one of those daily practices that has such a broad and deep effect that I think it merits looking at over and over again, from all the different perspectives. Sometimes, solutions to the world’s biggest problems are right in front of us. The following statistics are eye-opening, to say the least.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
● 70 million gallons of gas–enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
● 33 tons of antibiotics.
If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;
● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.
My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Other points:

Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, if we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day–that’s twice the grain they would need to survive. And that doesn’t even include the 225 million tons of soy that are produced every year, almost all of which is fed to farmed animals. He writes, “The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we–the relatively affluent–have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly.”

A recent United Nations report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems–that’s all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also concluded that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level–local and global.

Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

In its report, the U.N. found that the meat industry causes local and global environmental problems even beyond global warming. It said that the meat industry should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Unattributed statistics were calculated from scientific reports by Noam Mohr, a physicist with the New York University Polytechnic Institute.

Eat to Live or Live to Eat – ? Spring cleaning for your diet and the planet

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

By Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Maybe we fall somewhere in between on this one. But when it comes to moving towards sustainability and our health, eating to live may be the Yin to the Yang. To me, this simply means considering one thing with every bite – why am I eating this and what am I supporting when I do? Yes, food can and should be about celebration and enjoyment, but if the short answer doesn’t involve nourishment and a certain consciousness, you may be making your food choices more difficult and less healthy than you realize.

The biggest and most welcome change I made in my diet years ago (even more than becoming vegetarian) was to get over the idea of eating imaginary foods. You know what I mean – the things that may have started as a food, but have been processed into something entirely different – and empty nutritionally. The obvious? Soft drinks, processed salt and sugar, white flour and processed fats. Those are the absolutes – as in, we absolutely don’t receive nutrition from these foods and they in fact are harmful to your health.

Then there’s the borderline foods which aren’t much better – things like boxed cereals, cheese crackers, pita chips, soy cheese, or “sports bars”. Also beware of relying on the term “organic” as a shopping guideline. Sure, you can find “organic” versions of cookies, waffles, even jelly beans, but organic junk food is still junk food and not any kind of answer to sustainability issues. The big truth is that relying on processed and out of season foods means junking the environment, our health, family farms and more.

It was a huge relief to me to finally pare down what could be confusing choices to one category – real food. Even coffee, tea, wine, beer, chocolate, sea salt, maple syrup and other natural sweeteners all fall into this group! I’m definitely not suffering from lack of enjoyable eating experiences – in fact, I’m discovering new foods every day, like the jerusulem artichokes I tried at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend. And no, I really don’t miss bagels, pasta or soy bologna.

Keep in mind that many small farms cannot afford to become officially certified as organic but are aligned and committed to growing practices that are not exploiting our health, the animals or the environment. Local is usually a more sustainable, socially conscious, and healthy choice than buying organic products shipped across continents. Once you start thinking about the real things, it’s easy, fun and delicious. Each season, you can look forward to what is naturally available in your area. Delicious and wholesome whole grains can replace flour products. You may feel satiated for the first time in your life, while participating wholeheartedly in the joy of eating without conflict.

(After writing this, I found this topic covered beautifully by Mark Bittman, author of Food Matter: A Guide to Conscious Eating”, in the NYTimes this morning. Enjoy!)

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