Nov 13

Unhappy Horses

horsesOur animals are unhappy horses.  Our pony and horse are too fat.  We have too much grass and too few animals.  For most farmers, the problem is the other way around.  They have unhappy horses because they do not get to eat all the grass they want.  They stay in small paddocks with little to eat in the way of natural forage.  They need to feed hay and grain year round.  Not so with us. Our guys only eat grass, and most of the time until the grass dies or is covered in too much snow.  Only then do we start feeding them hay.  It’s a very healthy diet for them, but it’s just too much of a good thing.

By this time of year, the grass has stopped growing and they are not gaining weight.  This fall, we are having an unusually mild fall and the grass is growing like its spring.  There are a lot of weeds mixed in with the grass, but the grass is growing surprisingly fast.  So far this fall we have mowed twice, thinking it would be the last time this year we would need to cut it.  Unfortunately every time I look out at the pasture it is tall, tick, green and growing like spring. All the while, I have been watching my horses getting fatter and fatter.  I finally got so concerned for their health that I made them come in at night and lock them out of the pasture.  You see, just like people, horses can get sick from being overweight.  They can get something like diabetes (but for horses) and there is another strange illness called founder.  It is like getting a fever in your fingernails.  I told you it was strange! It is also called laminitis, because it is an inflammation of the laminae in the hoof.  Basically the hoof gets hot and soft, and it can get wrinkles in it.  It is very painful for the horse and can cause permanent lameness and even death.

So now when I look out at them in the morning I see unhappy horses. I feel bad, but the alternative is killing them with kindness. So they are just going to have to be unhappy for now.

Oct 13

No, Goats don’t eat tin cans

No, Goats don't eat tin cansPeople are under the misconception that goats eat everything.  I hear this all the time and my response is “ No , goats don’t eat tin cans.” Folks are always surprised when I tell them they are quite picky eaters. I often tell folks they will eat what you have planted, such as lilacs, roses, blueberries, and raspberries. They are browsers like deer (they eat shrubs). They are not grazers, (grass eaters like cows). I ran across this post about the subject, and I thought it was interesting so I decided to share it. 

By Andy Wright on September 18, 2013

In the realm of fun campfire songs, “Bill Grogan’s Goat” is fairly horrifying. The titular goat devours his owner’s shirts off the laundry line, prompting Bill to hit him with a stick and tie him to a train track.

In some versions of the song, the goat gets out of this scrape. In many, he does not. Anger management issues aside, the song illustrates an idea about goats that is firmly entrenched in the popular imagination: Goats will eat anything that isn’t bolted down. They’ll eat shoes, books, McRibs, even tin cans.

Except, that’s not really true at all.

“They can’t eat a tin can or the shirt off your back,” says Sandra G. Solaiman, Affiliate Professor of Animal Nutrition at Auburn University. “They are very curious creatures. I’ve worked with sheep, I’ve worked with cattle, and what I realized is that with goats they are much more personable. They can be pets, they are curious. That’s why they get into everything.”

In fact, goats are actually extremely picky eaters who go after only the most nutritious options available to them.

“They are the survivors because they are very good at finding the most nutritious stuff,” Solaiman says, “They don’t eat tin cans but they will look inside a container and find something and get something out of it.” In other words, goats are resourceful when it comes to finding something to eat. “You’ll see cattle skeletons on the ground in the desert, but [goats] are running around.”

Solaiman says that goats are browsers who go after whatever in their environment will benefit them most. She’s seen them eat the bark off trees, because bark is a good source of tannin which supplies the goats with antioxidants to help ward off parasites and fungi.

One thing goats aren’t crazy about? Hay. While livestock like cattle can get by on the feed, goats need a more varied, nutrient-rich diet.

“If you feed goats low-quality forage, they will play with it,” she says. “They’ll be like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m not going to eat this. I can lay on it, I can pee on it. But I’m not going to eat it.’ In truth they are pickers and choosers.”

But what about when you wade into a goat pen and every mischievous little mouth is tugging at your shirt? Solaiman says this is just the curious nature of the goat. They do not want to eat your new Brooks Brothers, they’re just checking it out.

The FDA even addresses the myth of goat-with-a-trash-compactor-for-a-stomach in a primer covering the ins-and-outs of keeping goats as pets. In a section emphatically labeled “Goats Do Not Eat Tin Cans” they caution that goats “like small children have a propensity for mouthing or ‘tasting’ any new object they encounter.”

And to hear Solaiman expound on her research subjects is to believe that a bit of saliva on your sleeve is a small price to pay for keeping company with a goat.

“Goats are the most interesting, cutest, entertaining domesticated livestock,” she says. “They are characters.

Oct 13

Living Your Dreams

Are you living your dreams? My brother and his wife are living theirs and I couldn’t be happier for them. Here is a little history. When I was in my late teens I worked at a summer camp in Beaour nestr Mt. NY (by the way that is how I came to be a NYer). When I would get my week off I always ended up on my big brother’s doorstep. You see he had a sailboat. And he and his wife were so gracious to put me up and take me sailing too. That continued for many summers. When they had their son and moved away from the water they sold their sailboat. That was almost 40 years ago. Two years ago his youngest son married a lovely girl whose family had sailboats and they sailed with them on numerous occasions. And I think they fell in love with sailing again.

When my brother retired, he still had his own business that he and his wife operated. Then they sold their business and they contemplated about what they would like to do now. How fortunate, that they both had a shared dream of living on a sailboat. So they bought one. The boat is a beauty and much larger than the one they owned years ago. It is 36 foot and that may sound spacious but let me assure you it is not. Their plan is to sail it down to the Florida Keys for the winter.

We went down to visit them and check out their new home on our way to our anniversary get away weekend. They welcomed us aboard and showed us around which you can do standing at the bottom of the stairs. Then we all went out for a very pleasant sail in the bay. Being the ever gracious hosts that they are, they gave us the best sleeping quarters and they took the bed in the bow (front of boat for those who are not nautically inclined) I slept fine, my 6’2″ husband Dean, not so much. He realized he seems to be getting somewhat claustrophobic as he gets older. Not such a good thing on a sailboat. He finally gave in and went out and slept in our truck. He was able to get some sleep and woke somewhat refreshed around 7:30. I can’t remember when he has slept that late. My brother and his wife made us a delicious breakfast and we said our goodbyes and wished them well.

Because of the wonders of technology, my brother can keep his family and friends updated on their adventure. I video chatted over the computer with them the other day. They were about day 8 into their adventure. I’m not sure I have ever seen them looking so happy! I mentioned to them that they haven’t killed each other, they are still talking and sitting next to each other and they look so happy. They said that they are, the boat doesn’t seem small to them, they don’t miss having a house and they are having the time of their lives; living their dreams. I am just so happy for them and that we can share their journey with them via the wonders of technology.

But it got me thinking. Sometimes we hold onto what we have so tightly that we can’t imagine the possibilities that might be even more fulfilling then what is; definitely something to ponder. I think we are in part living our dream with a little consuming hobby called Alabu. How about you? Are you living your dreams?

Sep 13

The Mall and Me

The Mall and me

The Mall and me

I had to go to the Mall, which I always try hard to avoid. But we were going to a wedding and I needed something dressier to wear. Our small town has two stores where you could buy clothes; Dollar General and Family Dollar. Yeah, so I was off to the Mall the night before the wedding; did I say I hate to go to the Mall?

So when I got there it was pouring rain and it occurred to me that I should do some other errands first; right I’m procrastinating. I made two stops in the pouring rain. I’m not running to and from my car like everyone else because I’m afraid I’ll slip in my sandals. I knew I should have worn sneakers! So I just got wet and tried to enjoy it.

A few years back the owners of this Mall decided it would be a good idea to remake the mall and instead of all the shops being inside, there are now little shops in the front of the mall so you can enjoy the weather going store to store outside while you are shopping. Yeah, I never thought it was a great idea for shopping in the northeast weather, but they look cute.

I went through all the clothes at two stores and I wondered who designs all these ugly clothes. At the third store I finally found some clothes I liked but they all seemed too small or too big. I finally settled on something and went to find a sales desk that was open.  I inquired at the first one I saw, if I could check out there. She said she wasn’t sure because she was new. I could see I had made her uncomfortable and tried to reassure her that was ok, no problem and moved on.

I found another sales desk and there was a line of sorts. It was a man in his mid 50’s and an elderly women sitting on her walker. I assume it was a son and his mom. He was buying her several outfits. She was sweetly telling him he was spending too much money on her. He was reminding her that the holidays were coming and she should have some nice things to wear.  Her son was so loving and kind. And she was almost apologetic. Her question reminded me of my dad; after my mom died he would ask us why we were so good to him.  I couldn’t help but smile at this pair.  I bought my clothes and left the store.

Then I saw a little way off in front of me a teenage boy and his dad coming out of a store. The father put his arm around his son’s shoulder. The son didn’t pull away like you might think a teenage boy would, he moved a little closer to his dad, that made me smile too. So my trip to the mall started out frustrating when I was trying to find something for myself, but turned into two beautiful glimpses of families loving each other. All in all it was a good trip.

Want to know how to get Alabu specials and savings? Sign up to become an Alabu Friend.  New Friends receive a significant first order discount!

Sep 13

Children; a better way to praise

mc9-11Children, from the day they are born, parents have the responsibility of preparing them to be the best they can be for themselves and society.  If there was something that you could immediately do to help make the world a better place for yourself and others, would you?  This man – Rabbi Joseph Telushkin – has an interesting approach  and I want to share it with you.

Will you share it too?

Here is the link to the five minute video: How To Praise Your Child.

or here is his full transcript:

There are so many things that are wrong with the world, that we by ourselves, cannot fix.  As much as we, as a society, would like to see peace brought to troubled areas corrupt government reformed, cancer cured.  There is a limited amount that any of us as individuals can do about large scale issues.  However, there is one thing that nearly all of us can do that will immediately and exponentially increase both goodness and happiness on earth.  If practiced widely, it can in just a few years’ time- morally transform the world.

Parents and all other adults, should reserve their highest praise of children when they do acts of kindness.  This is not the case at the present moment and time.  As a rule, children receive their highest compliments for one of four things.

  • Their intellectual and academic achievements
  • Their athletic abilities
  • Their artistic attainments
  • Their looks ( especially , in girls).

Children who receive their parents and other adults’ compliments in these areas are delighted; after all, everyone loves a compliment.

But what about the children who don’t excel in academics, or who isn’t a gifted athlete or dancer? Or the girl who isn’t particularly pretty.

What will their parents praise them for?  The most flattering remark that the parents will tell others will be “She/he is a really good kid”.  From which it can be inferred generally speaking that being a “good Kid” is not a big deal that – from the parents’ perspective, the child is probably not very good at anything really worth talking about.

Now, I want to make clear that I am not suggesting that parents stop complimenting their children for their accomplishments in other areas. All children want to know that their parents have respect for their accomplishments. And girls, even more than boys, also need to feel that they’re physically attractive.

But, and this is a big But- what I am suggesting is this:

The traits that we most often emphasize and praise – doing well in school, athletic and artistic achievements, and professional success are all important only if being a good person is placed at the top of the list.

Now, what do I mean when I speak about young people being good?  Let me share a few examples:

  • Speaking out against and confronting a school bully
  • Befriending a nice kid at school who isn’t popular
  • Finding a wallet or cell phone and making every effort to locate the owner instead of keeping it.
  • Offering ones seat on a bus to an older person
  • Treating your siblings decently
  • Not cheating on tests

Note:  I did not list in my examples going on a 10k walk for a good cause like cancer research.  That is, of course, a very worthwhile thing for a young person to do, but it isn’t the point I am trying to make. I am trying to impose one-on-one acts of kindness and goodness; having integrity.

Parents need to give their children praise for kindness and integrity, it will have a powerful impact.

Children will ultimately identify feeling good about themselves about being kind and a good person and use that as they grow up to act nobly.  Or in other words, their self-esteem, will come from goodness and kindness than anything else.

If this proposal were to catch on, we will raise a generation of people who most like themselves when they are doing good.
Think about this for a moment.
What a world that would be!
And the best news about this proposal is that you can start doing it immediately, and I don’t mean tomorrow. I mean now.

I’m Joseph Telushkin, for Prager University.