Friday, October 31, 2008

Villa is Growing Up

Villa the Labrador grew legs over the last several months; legs and tail and neck and muzzle. She looks like a gawky teenager - which is exactly what she is. :-)

She still runs with amazing grace, and can outrun and outmanoeuver all of our dogs, including Clifford.

Now and then, she'll show a glimpse of the promise and potential of her pedigree and herself at 8 weeks old. She has a lovely reach of neck, topline, tailset, shoulders and rear angulation.

Now she just needs to grow up and fill in "a little", so she looks more like "Dad" - Ch. Waifin's Topform Conundrum, WC, RN...

...and Mom - Ch. Winroc On Line, JH, RN

- Franna

Spanish Au Pair Adventures

My niece is in Spain! She's working as an Au Pair for a Spanish family in a town near Barcelona and studying the culture and language while she's there.

I just added a link to her blog on my "Blogs of Interest" list. I hope you'll enjoy following her adventures in Spain.

- Franna

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Petty Thievery and Not-So-Petty Disappointment

A couple weeks ago, I checked our Asian pear tree. This young tree is just starting to produce more than a few pears, though it's a biennial bearing tree. This year was the "on" year for fruit. There were several dozen, nice golden pears almost ripe.

Last week I went out to pick a pear for breakfast and ... they were ALL GONE! Sometimes they all fall off, and critters get more than I do. That leaves pears and remnants of pears on the ground. There are no pears on the ground. No pears on the tree. No remnants of pears on the ground or on the tree. Someone systematically picked and stole my whole pear crop.

Now, people might be hungry, people might like pears, but these were MY pears, planted, pruned, thinned and watched by me. I've been anticipating eating these juicy, crisp, sweet pears all year... for TWO years, since last year was an "off" year. They'd developed into nice sized, healthy, better than organic, pears.

Theft is theft. It is trespassing and a violation of trust. I hope whomever took them at least feels guilty. There's almost no chance I'll find out who it was. Like they'd come up to my door and apologize? Bring me a new box of Asian pears?

Yeah, the tree is in the front yard. But - it's in the front yard! In full view of anyone driving by. I don't want to hear about any of you readers stealing pears!

Oh, pooh.

- Franna
...who isn't going to resort to store bought Asian pears

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rare Political Statement from me

Dear Blog Readers,
I know most of you have animals, care for animals, love your animals, and love your freedom. Many of you might not know about the HSUS's semi-hidden agenda - to eliminate animal ownership entirely. The following is eye opening if you aren't aware of what HSUS really is, and eye opening to those who might be in support of Obama for other reasons.

Sometimes I feel very isolated as a McCain/Palin supporter, and usually keep my mouth shut. This time I'm passing it along for others to read:

To Dog Owners Who Support Obama
Is Your Freedom To Own Dogs The Most Important Issue?
American Sporting Dog Alliance
The 2008 presidential election has become emotionally charged for dogowners, resulting in a virtual brick wall that divides supporters of Democrat Barack Obama from those of Republican John McCain. The two candidates present a stark contrast in both style and substance. As the campaign draws to a close, neither side seems willing to listen tothe other. We are asking Obama supporters to hear us out, but want to be up front from the beginning.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance is opposed to Obama's candidacy because of his close relationship with the Humane Society of the United States and his political alliances with several key animal rights movement supporters in Congress. We also think he has been dishonest about his views regarding hunting and firearms, and these are issues of major importance to many of our members.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance sees this election as a watershed for animal owners. We think that its outcome will determine the future of theprivate ownership of animals in America.We are convinced that animal ownership is doomed if Obama becomes our next president.

Some people may ask if this is really important in comparison with the candidates' views on foreign policy, the economy and social issues. The truth is that animal issues have played no role in this election for mainstream voters, because the news media, political pundits and politicians have not identified them as important. But they are important to us.We also believe that these issues should be important to everyone, because the way Obama would implement the animal rights agenda is a perfect microcosm of his views on the future of America. Those views accurately predict Obama's approach to foreign policy, the economy and social issues.

Throughout American history, animal ownership has been regarded as a personal choice. Each individual has had the freedom to own animals or not,to eat them or not, to enjoy them or not, and to hunt or not to hunt.It has been freedom based on the idea of "live and let live." You do your thing, and I'll do mine.The principle was to create a society that is based on the maximum possible amount of freedom for each American to live the way that he or she chooses.

America was founded on the simple yet radical principle that the purpose of human life was to be happy. The Declaration of Independence used the words"pursuit of happiness" as a vital aspect of freedom. What makes a person happy was seen as each person's private choice. Government was seen to exist only as a way to ensure the greatest opportunity to make and pursue personal choices. "Happiness" was not mentioned specifically in the Constitution or Bill ofRights, because it was seen as a given. Those documents attempted to create a government that provided the greatest possible opportunity to pursuechoices in one's life, and to protect Americans from both foreign and domestic threats to our freedom to make personal choices and live our lives accordingly.

All of the complex protections of due process, voting rights, civil rights, checks and balances on political power, and redress to the courts boil down to exactly that: Protecting our freedom to make and live by personal choices.

Our relationship with animals is one of the choices each of us has had thefreedom to make and live by. It was part of our American identity, and still is for most of us. It was all about the freedom of the individual. In the Twentieth Century, however, a new philosophy swept over much of the planet: Collectivism. It boils down to a belief that "social good" is more important than the individual. It defines benefit to society as a higher value than benefit to the individual. It was a philosophy of sacrifice, maintaining that each person should bewilling to sacrifice him or herself to "the greater good," which was defined by the collective.

In real life, the collective usually translates into government and those who have the power to influence it. This philosophy was at the heart of Marxist/Leninist thought, and it also was the underpinning of Nazi ideology. In both cases, the collective - that is, government - became the sole arbiter of how people must live. Government existed under the pretext that its job was to define and promote the common good. This was seen as the highest value - not freedom!

Collectivism actually is a very old idea that reached its greatest influence during the Medieval Period of European history, when the concept of individual freedom was viewed as heretical. During the Dark Ages, thepurpose of human life was to serve and glorify the monarchy and the church. A belief in basic human rights and individualism often led to being burned at the stake.

In light of this historical background, the American emphasis on personal freedom was truly revolutionary. It's core belief is that the job ofgovernment is to protect freedom so that people could live the way they choose. Many people mistakenly believe that this was meant only to protect people from religious and political oppression. In fact, it was meant to protect the individual from any kind of oppression that threatens the individual pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

The right to own and enjoy property was a major issue for the founding fathers, as this is basic to the freedom to pursue happiness. Obama represents the modern reincarnation of collectivist thought, and his views and alliances on animal rights issues illustrate this clearly.

The endorsement of Obama's candidacy by the radical Humane Society of the United States should send up a hailstorm of red flags for anyone who values individual freedom. The HSUS ideology embraces collectivism in its purest form.

Without exception, every political position advocated by HSUS boils down to a belief that individuals have an obligation to society to sacrifice individual freedom in order to achieve the "common good" - as defined by HSUS. Every HSUS position tells animal owners that they must sacrifice their own freedom in order to pay for the sins of a few people who treat animals callously.For example, everyone knows that there are a few bad "puppy mills" in America that should not be allowed to exist. All of us would agree with that statement, including owners of commercial breeding kennels.

But HSUS argues that these few bad kennels make every breeder of dogs suspect, and that this requires "Big Brother" to look over his or her shoulder in order to protect dogs from exploitation. It is like saying that we shouldn't enjoy our supper because people are starving in Ethiopia, or that all parents should be licensed and inspected because a few of them abuse their children.

The fallacy of this argument is easy to see. All of its premises are utterly illogical. It assumes that government is somehow morally superior to individuals, and that government can be trusted more than people.

Read any history book for an hour and the flaws of this argument become apparent. Throughout history, government has been the greatest oppressor of people, animals and the Earth itself - by far! I doubt if Al Capone harmed as many people as the average corrupt restaurant inspector in Chicago.

It assumes that the answer to bad government is more government. HSUS and Obama believe that current laws are not being enforced. Their answer is to create new laws, which is a laughable example of intellectual absurdity.

The answer to bad government is to make it work better, not to create new laws and bureaucracies whose only purpose is to burden and oppress good people. It assumes that exploitation of animals is the norm, rather than the rare exception. Anyone who raises dogs knows that this is absurd.

The lives of dogs have never been better at any time in human history. They are beloved members of millions of American families, most breeders dedicate their entire lives to their animals, and thousands of dedicated rescue people save the lives of millions of dogs that are doomed to suffering and death in government-run animal shelters.

Would you want the fate of your dog to rest in the hands of any government-run animal shelter in America? And yet, HSUS and Obama see government as the answer. Obama's well-documented belief that government is the answer to America's problems is at the heart of our objection to his candidacy.

For example, every improvement in the lives of dogs in America is solely because individual people have made personal and ethical choices that benefit their animals. No improvement of any kind can be attributed to the actions of government. Each political victory by HSUS and its allies in government has resulted in terrible suffering for animals. For example, the HSUS-backed ban on domestic horse slaughter has led to tens of thousands of horses being trucked to Mexico, where they are slaughtered under the most inhumane conditions imaginable. Every mandatory spay/neuter ordinance has led to the terrible deaths of thousands of abandoned pets at the hands of government-run animal control programs.

Compassion for animals is one of the highest human virtues. It happens only through the dedication of individuals. Compassion and government are mutually exclusive concepts. The HSUS endorsement of Obama is but the tip of the iceberg. Consider that his primary political mentor, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, has been the major proponent of anti-dog-owner animal rights legislation in Congress. Durbin is the sponsor of the current "PUPS" legislation that would extend the heavy arm of federal bureaucracy into most kennels in America, and also was the author of the failed amendment to the Pet Animal Welfare Act that was attached to the 2008 Farm Bill. Obama's main allies in Congress read like a "Who's Who" of radical animal rights activism: defeated Sen. Rick Santorum (author of the failed PAWS legislation three years ago), Sen. Diane Feinstein, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Ted Kennedy and several others. Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden,consistently gets 100% HSUS ratings. The Obama ticket is an animal rights dream team.

Please remember, too, that political endorsements and support come with a price tag. We believe that price tag includes:

* Support for federal animal rights legislation to restrict dog ownership and virtually eliminate the breeding of companion animals. A federal spay/neuter mandate is likely, as are prohibitions about using dogsfor hunting, herding or in competitive events. These are all parts of the HSUS agenda.
* Support for the camouflaged but very real HSUS agenda of forcing America into becoming a vegetarian society. This would be done by increasingf ederal regulation of farming, ranching and slaughterhouses with the goal of making meat, milk and eggs too expensive for most people to afford.
* The gradual elimination of hunting, both by outlawing specific kinds of hunting and also by changing policy to eliminate hunting as a tool in wildlife management.
* Naming HSUS-sanctioned people to be the new Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Interior, and also filling many administrative and leadership vacancies in both Departments with HSUS-anointed personnel.
* Creating a federal task force to study and recommend legislation onanimal issues that is heavily weighted toward HSUS.
* Nominating pro-HSUS judges to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, federal appeals courts and federal district courts. Even if judicialnominees don't have a track record on animal issues, it is likely that most of the nominees will strongly support the concept of federal intervention on social issues, and strong opposition to the concept of private property and the rights of individuals.
* And, based on Obama's track record as an Illinois state senator and his endorsement by gun control groups this year, many restrictions on the right to own firearms are likely. This also is a major goal of HSUS.

When it comes to political paybacks, to the victor go the spoils. The HSUS Legislative Fund's Board of Directors has voted unanimously to endorse Obama. This is the first time ever that HSUS has endorsed a candidate for president, and this says a lot about the importance of Obamato HSUS.This endorsement didn't happen out of the blue.

Our review of the HSUS questionnaire submitted by Obama shows clearly that he actively sought the endorsement. He wanted it. He went after it. Obama stated his total acceptance of every HSUS position on dozens of different pieces of animal rights legislation. He did not disagree with any of them. As dog owners, we cannot ethically support any candidate who is in 100-percent agreement with HSUS. Here is how the HSUS announcement describes Obama:" <> Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a <> solid supporter of animal protection at both the state and federal levels.

As an Illinois state senator, he backed at least a dozen animal protection laws, including those to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty, to help animal shelters, to promote spaying and neutering, and to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. In the U.S. Senate, he has consistently co-sponsored multiple bills to combat animal fighting and horse slaughter, and has supported efforts to increase funding for adequate enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and federal laws to combat animal fighting and puppy mills.

"In <> his response to the HSLF questionnaire, he pledged support for nearly every animal protection bill currently pending in Congress, and said he will work with executive agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to make their policies more humane.."

That statement is a nightmare come true for dog owners, farmers and hunters. It also is a nightmare for any American who believes in the sanctity of individual freedom. An Obama victory, especially by the wide margin now shown in the polls, would place collectivists in firm control of both houses of Congress and the White House. Obama and HSUS would be able to get almost any law they want.

What all of those laws will mean is that government will not respect your freedom to make and live by your personal choices. You will be required to sacrifice your life to the collectivist ideal of "total animal liberation." That means the elimination of almost all breeding of dogs. That means tight restrictions on the ownership of dogs. That means laws making it impossible to raise food animals, or for most people to be able to afford to buy animal products. It means the destruction of hunting and gun ownership. It will all happen in the name of the "common good," as defined by HSUS and Obama.

The animal rights agenda is a totalitarian philosophy to force you to sacrifice your life to achieve the political goals of HSUS. Obama quite clearly has signed on to that agenda, and his signature is written in your blood.

Like most totalitarians, HSUS favors only "top down" leadership. For example, they know it is hopeless to try to convince Americans not to eat meat or to raise dogs. They don't even bother to try. Instead, HSUS pushes for laws aimed at making it impossible for Americans to afford to eat meat or raise dogs.

The strategy is to gradually remove meat and dogs from the lives of a large majority of Americans, until the day when those things don't matter anymore. At that time, they will be politically able to achieve their long-range goal of the complete elimination of animal ownership in America.

Obama is a key part of that strategy, because of his willingness to support "do-gooder" animal rights legislation, even though very few Americans are asking for those laws. The animal rights movement is not a popular uprising of political sentiment. Instead, it is an elitist movement that reflects the view of only a small but politically well connected percentage of the population.

Through his support of HSUS, Obama has shown clearly that he is an elitist who is willing to impose the extreme views of a small minority on America to achieve a collectivist goal. If he will do it about dogs, he will do it about any social or political issue.

Freedom is his enemy. Personal choice is his enemy. Collectivism is all about using governmental power to force people to conform.

In that light, we are especially concerned with the power Obama will have to nominate Supreme Court justices, and other federal appeals court and district judges.

The constitutional system of checks and balances sees the courts as the citizens' final avenue of redress when their rights are infringed upon bythe legislative and executive branches of government. The courts are meant to be a check of that power.

For dog owners, the courts are our last line of defense against bad laws that take away our rights to own and enjoy animals.

Obama will nominate the kind of judges who will be inclined to limit individual liberty in order to achieve collectivist social goals. They will believe that individuals must sacrifice personal freedom in order to create someone else's idea of a better world. They will see the right to own and enjoy personal property as something evil.

This year's Supreme Court case about firearms rights illustrates this viewpoint. In this case, gun control advocates tried to claim that individual rights do not exist. Instead, they attempted to say that there are only "collective rights" of the American people as a whole - as they define them.

This was the actual argument used by Obama's allies to try to say that the Second Amendment does not apply to you and me, but only to an undefined "us." Obama has claimed that he is not opposed to firearms ownership and hunting. We believe he is not telling the truth, and is really saying that he is not opposed to his definition of acceptable firearms ownership and hunting.

His track record as an Illinois state senator shows this clearly, and we are indebted to Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson for making this important information available to the voters. He was the ISRA's chief lobbyist during the years when Obama was a state senator in Illinois.

Here are excerpts from Pearson's account of Obama: "I lobbied Barack Obama extensively while he was an Illinois State Senator. As a result of that experience, I know Obama's attitudes toward guns and gun owners better than anyone. The truth be told, in all my years in the Capitol I have never met a legislator who harbors more contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner than does Barack Obama."

"Although Obama claims to be an advocate for the 2nd Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate paints a very different picture. While a state senator, Obama voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens. That same bill would authorize the state police to raid homes of gun owners to forcibly confiscate banned guns. Obama supported a bill that would shut down law-abiding firearm manufacturers including Springfield Armory, Armalite, Rock River Arms and Les Baer. Obama also voted for a bill that would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month."

"Without a doubt, Barack Obama has proven himself to be an enemy of the lawabiding firearm owner. At the same time, Obama has proven himself to be a friend to the hardened criminal. While a state senator, Obama voted 4 times against legislation that would allow a homeowner to use a firearm in defense of home and family."

"Does Barack Obama still sound to you like a "friend" of the law-abiding gunowner?"

"And speaking of friends, you can always tell a person by the company they keep. Obama counts among his friends the Rev. Michael Pfleger - a renegade Chicago priest who has openly called for the murder of gun shop owners and pro-gun legislators. Then there is his buddy Richard Daley, the mayor of Chicago who has declared that if it were up to him, nobody would be allowed to own a gun. And let's not forget Obama's pal George Soros - the guy who has pumped millions of dollars into the UN's international effort to disarm law-abiding citizens."

"Obama has shown that he is more than willing to use other people's money to fund his campaign to take your guns away from you. While a board member of the leftist Joyce Foundation, Barack Obama wrote checks for tens of millions of dollars to extremist gun control organizations such as the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Violence Policy Center."

Firearms issues are important to many of our members, and probably half of them are hunters. We also recognize that many dog owners do not own guns or want to own them. However, we believe Second Amendment issues are important to all Americans.

If a politician is willing to destroy even one of our freedoms, then none of them are safe. To compromise one part of the Bill of Rights is to endanger all of them.

Firearms issues also are important in understanding the collectivist mindset. Because an infinitesimally small percentage of firearms owners are criminals, collectivists believe that the other 99.99-percent should sacrifice themselves for the "common good."The call to sacrifice extends even unto freedom itself.

We cannot support any political candidate who has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice any of our basic American rights. Obama has shown that willingness and, we believe, fully embraces collectivist calls for the sacrifice of the rights of innocent individuals in order to achieve his social goals.

It is a mindset that would willingly destroy the lives and livelihoods of millions of American farmers, dog professionals, hunters, dog owners, hobbyists and the tens of thousands of people whose jobs depend on them, in order to impose Obama's vision of a "New World Order" on America.

We believe Obama would destroy those people without batting an eyelash. He would see himself as the righteous defender of animals, but doesn't want to see the truth.

The people who own animals are the people who defend and protect them.

Animal rights groups like HSUS want to destroy them: as gently and gradually as practical, perhaps, but destroy them nonetheless.

Please do not vote for Barrack Obama.For your dogs' sake. For your sake. For everyone's sake. Just say no to Obama.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We welcome people who work with other breeds, too, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission.

We are funded solely by the donations of our members, and maintain strict independence.

Please visit us on the web at

Complete directions to join by mail or online are found at the bottom left of each page.

Have You Joined Yet?
The American Sporting Dog Alliance

- Franna and the dogs, cats, camelids, poultry and sheep of EverRanch Farm

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the Way to Work

This summer, I took a job at Take Root Farm, a local CSA, after learning that they paid some of the employees with food shares. The Share Exchange spots were all taken, but I was offered employment of 10 to 15 hours a week from May through October. Employment = weeding, planting, harvesting, preparing veggies for the shares, putting down row covers, taking up row covers, hauling, digging, weighing, measuring. I figured it would be a good fitness program in addition to providing oodles of veggies and fruit.

It is and it does! Even the sheep have benefitted by getting pea vines, bean plants, sunflower heads, carrot tops, split carrots, and reject squash.

I love the drive to work. It's all on back roads, the opposite way of most of the traffic. There is just one stop sign on my way out, and it's only 6.5 miles each way.

My drive takes me past Lake Tapps - getting more and more built up every month. It's not my favorite part of the drive. The "favorite" parts start after I leave the arterial and turn onto the back farm roads.

I've watched the farm below transform from rough field to neatly manicured pasture. This barn is on my "would be really nice to have" list.

The farm is on this little lane which heads through the trees and up a short hill. It's my second favorite part of the road. It's so quiet, and I seldom even meet another car on this section.

Just up the hill and around the corner is my favorite part of the drive. Mt. Rainier dominates the skyline, and the road wanders past a dairy farm that still lets the cows graze in the fields.

Mt. Rainier is prominantly visible from Take Root Farm. "The Mountain" has been out many of my workdays this summer.

The first week in October, this was the scene as I arrived at work. Jen had decorated for fall with corn stalks, pumpkins, gourds and ...
... a little pointed organic humor. The link at the bottom of the sign is :
The more I hear about GM (Genetically Modified) foods, the scarier it is. Needless to say, I want to know as much about where my food comes from as possible.
Here's a little closer look at the poster and the 2 "scarecrows".
... in case you can't quite read "John's" lab coat:

And "gourdman's" tee is the leading photo in this blog entry. "Food grown in harmony with nature and each other." Take Root Farm is not only an organic farm, but sustainable, utilizing compost, open pollinated seeds, cover crops, organic fertilizers and old fashioned covers and picking to reduce insects.

Below are three fall photos of the farm. First, the tomatoes, finally with ripe and ripening tomatoes, not long before the first frost took them out. In front of the tomatoes are some of the flower beds - zinnias and statice.
Here are two of my coworkers, Julia and Randy, trimming leeks for the weekly shares. One of the dalia beds is in the foreground.

And here are some of the myriad of gourds from the "gourd tunnel". The winged gourds are especially fun!

There are only 2 more weeks of "summer share" at Take Root, and with them, only 2 more weeks of work for me. I'm sorry to be done, and at the same time, ready to move on.
- Franna