Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas gifts

Li'l Ralphie, Elliot, Evelyn, and Lyla have been batting around our discarded wrapping paper after we opened our gifts. If I didn't tell you before, Elliot and Evie are the two kittens we rescued right after Li'l Ralphie came to live with us. But before we had found Li'l Ralphie by the side of the road, I had applied to adopt a cat at a shelter in North Carolina. She was brought to us by a pet shipper early one Saturday a few weeks ago. Though we have a bunch of cats already, there's always room for another in need of a home.

I have so many gifts this Christmas, but I didn't just get them today: I've had them all year round. Of course, my husband is my greatest gift, as well as my parents. I've got some special friends I cherish: like Sheryl, Mare, Terri, Tecu'mish, Samantha, Jeannie, Mary, Ruth, and Debbie, Judy and the Kennies. Then I've got my literary agent, Diana Flegal, who loves my writing and continues to forge ahead with my mss., despite the poor economy and the lousy state of publishing. I cherish her, and I told her so in a Christmas email this morning.

I am equally thankful for having most of my pets this Christmas, though I wish Fancy, in particular, could be enjoying it with us. And I'm taking time today to think about other pets, other horses, pot-bellies, and cats, llamas, and donkeys that have lived with us and have left us. Christmas this year resembles, in some ways, my special memorial day--thankful I've been lucky to have shared the gifts of those animals' lives.

I have to tell you all something that occurred to me the other day when Li'l Ralphie jumped into my lap and looked up at me. Though he has one blue, blind eye, I looked carefully at the markings on his fur coat. I never really noticed his beautiful white collar that stands out against his orange-striped coat. He sort of looks like a nun. And all his markings are so symmetrical--he's classical living art.

Ralphie's outstanding handsomeness made me think of the consideration, deliberation, and trouble that this force called Mother Nature takes for each of her creatures, no matter the vast number of them on Earth. Whether one believes in a Mother Nature as a force, an entity, or whatever, somewhere, something drives the genetics that gives each creature his or her own distinction. Each insect, fish, mammal is mapped out as an individual, no matter the sheer numbers of those creatures. Though the people who dumped Li'l Ralphie out on the road regarded him as just another burdensome cat, whatever fashioned him did not overlook him in such a way, instead, gifting him with distinctive markings and beauty that distinguishes him from the rest of his kind. Even though hundreds of thousands of cats are born each year, Mother Nature, masterminding the designs of all kinds of critters, still put her heart and soul into Ralphie's design--making him one handsome being with all internal parts working and jiving in a way that makes him the living, walking sweetheart that he is.

If Mother Nature or this genetic force or whatever, could be so precise, so detailed, so intent and careful with one kitten's design, then who are we, as humans, to discard him as though he were worthless? No human could ever fill Mother Nature's moccasins, yet some people are out there dumping her precious, carefully-fashioned gifts as though they had no more value than a clod of dirt.

In this time of gift-giving and love among family and friends, I hope that people will be able to think beyond their new iPhones and stuff and feasting and take an appreciative look at the gifts that may be already lying under the Christmas tree or sitting right at their feet or out in the barn or the field or woods: living gifts--a deliberately fashioned cat, pig, dog, bird, horse, hamster or woodland creature-- created, mastered and designed by a force that values and puts much effort into each being as though it were the only one of its kind.

Merry Christmas to all and well-being and content to all animals.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Enlightment on the Human Condition

I have been enlightened by Stella's comment on my most recent post.

Essentially, if people don't care about how animals suffer and endure inhumane conditions in the factory farms, during transport, and while awaiting death at the slauighterhouses, then perhaps they should care about the effects that kind of stress has on the meat they eat. In other words, let's examine, in an admittedly unscientific, but logical way, some facts, at least, about hormone production in people who are stressed out. People under continuous stress produce various hormones--corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), GH, norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. If people's bodies react to stress by producing hormones, it follows that animals, particularly if they find themselves continually under stress for months and for every moment of every day in factory farms, also produce hormones. These completely stress-out animals have no respite, and the hormones keep jacking up inside them during transport and while awaiting slaughter. Then, they are cut up and shipped to our grocery stores.
We meat-eaters are consuming these hormones without knowing their consequences to our health.
I'm not a scientist, but I do know that over-usage of antibiotics in cattle may be dangerous to the humans who eat antibiotic-treated meat. So, why wouldn't all those stress hormones created from continuous, inhumane treatment at these factory farms, etc., be detrimental to our health as well?
While you are slicing into a juicy steak,t think about the possible hormones caught in that tissue. Enjoy your dinner, if you can, and then do your research on meat saturated with hormones. Inform yourself, and then take appropriate action.
Thank you, Stella, for your insightful comment.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Help Farm Animals in Factory Farms

Sometimes my blog won't always be comfortable. This one is not. You don't have to watch the video if it is your custom to protect yourself. But if you really want to see what happens to factory-farmed animals raised for our dinner plates, please steel yourself and watch the video because pictures do not lie. And know that, afterwards, you can take action that may help spare other animals.

One of Hatfield Quality Meats’ pork-producing farms includes Country View Family Farms, an industrial-strength hog plant in Pennsylvania. They also have over a hundred other farms in Ohio and Indiana, as well, and market themselves as the Trusted Producer of Wholesome Pork. Their animal-handling philosophy, as stated on their website, reads: “To be responsible stewards of the animals placed in our care, . . . to constantly maintain the highest level of integrity in animal welfare and biosecurity, . . ..”
However, Country View Family Farms are not the “stewards” of the pigs they factory farm. Caught on video by an undercover worker equipped with a hidden camera, (Please see it for yourself at, the abuse is absolutely horrific: tossing piglets by their ears and legs into cages, removing piglets’ testicles, cutting off their tails—all without anesthesia—throwing sick and dying and injured piglets into shopping cart-sized boxes called “gassing carts” where they’re gassed to death by CO2. Pigs in these carts gasp for breath for many minutes before succumbing. Handling of the pigs include striking them with heavy mallets with numerous spikes. And more instances of torture and abuse and neglect abound at these farms. The video will bring anyone with any heart to tears followed by the urgent need to help these intelligent, sensitive creatures and punish those who commit such atrocities.
Unfortunately no federal laws protect food animals during the gestation, birthing and nurturing, and raising of the animals to slaughter. Likewise, no state laws, with the exception of seven states, exist to prevent neglect and abuse of farm animals at any time before and during slaughter as long as the acts are “undertaken in normal agricultural operation.” Therefore, any activity a farmer uses in raising his animals is considered legal in Pennsylvania and in other states where Country View Family Farms operates.
Here’s what you can do to help insure humane treatment of farm animals. First, please sign the petition from Animal Law Coalition’s "Stop farm animal cruelty" on Click this link to view the petition--
Second—Boycott purchase of and consuming of any Hatfield Products.
Third—Call on USDA and Food Safety Inspection Service officials to enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
Secretary Tom Vilsack
US Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington DC 20250
Phone: 202-720-3631

Alfred V. Almanza, Administrator
Food Safety and Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington DC 20250-3700
Phone: 202-720-3700
Fax: 202-205-0158
Fourth—Call on Congress and US representatives: < Call on US Senators: < and demand they provide laws for the humane treatment of farm animals.
Fifth--Call on Pennsylvania lawmakers at <> and <> and ask them to apply animal cruelty laws to farm animals and adopt a simple law that 7 states have already enacted that would ban gestation crates and unnecessary violent handling and neglect of farm animals. Sixth—Ask the above Pennsylvania lawmakers to join forces with Michigan, Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, and California in their efforts against cruel and inhumane handling and raising of farm animals. You may access this information at http://www.animallawcoalition,com/farm-animals/article/938#new. Seventh—Send an email to all your friends, relatives, and people with common sense asking them to view the undercover video of Country View Family Farms at and ask them to boycott Hatfield meat products. A Country is only as civilized as its treatment of its animals.