Deadly Bat Disease: White-Nose Syndrome

Photo Courtesy of http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/

Back in our old Urban Homestead, we had build and put up a bat house to attract these wonderful and super helpful creatures.  Well it would seem the bat poplulation in our neck of the woods might be in big trouble.

Researchers in New Brunswick have found some cases of "White-Nose Syndrome" in some hibernating bats in caves.  From what I've read so far, this fungus seems to affect primarily little brown bats, like the ones we had in our little roost.  The fungus disturbs their hibernation patterns, making them wake up during the winter and fly out the mouth of their cave.  Then they basically die off as they can't survive the winter.

Researchers don't really know what causes the disease and there doesn't seem to be a way to combat it yet, other than restricting access to caves so people don't help spread the spores that spread this nasty fungus.  With a disease that can have a mortality rate of 50-90%, these poor little bats need all the help they can get.

I hope something can be done to help the bats, cause I loved watching them at our old urban homestead.  We'd sit on the deck and watch them criss cross the yard eating away ;o)  I'll be keeping an eye out on this issue and hope to introduce some homemade bat roosts next year as we move along with our plans.

For more information on White-Nose Syndrome, check out U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website dedicated to this topic:

http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/

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Fall Is In The Air

Beautiful Fall ColorsThe month of Sept signals the coming of fall for us in Canada.  Soon the leaves will be changing colors, the mornings are already getting cooler, and the garden is starting to get mighty thin.  The last of the green and yellow bush beans are picked and the pole beans climbing the corn are almost ready.  Talking about corn... even though they were laid down, I'm happy that our corn wasn't destroyed due to the high winds of Tropical Storm Irene (by the time she hit us).

Apple picking season is almost here as well, this is my most favorite time of the year actually.  We love to pick apples for table and baking.  We're also planning our own mini-orchard and rejuvenating some old apple tree's around our property to support our love of apples.  This is part of our 5 year plan...

This year we're going to build cold frames to plant winter greens.  I'm not sure how well we'll do, but have to start somewhere.  We already sourced some old windows and need to pick up some lumber, hopefully recycle some, and start building them.  A new to me book I'm running through now is Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.  I'll complete a review on this book when i'm done, but so far it's very fun to read and exciting to see what the opportunities are to growing all 4 seasons in our climate.

Well all this to say "Happy Start to Fall to All"!!  It's one of the most beautiful times of the year and one to be enjoyed!

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New T.E.D. Energy Monitoring Tool

There are many energy monitoring tools out there on the market today, but one of the best is The Energy Detective (T.E.D.)  We currently have the TED 1000 series model which we purchased back in 2009.  I wrote a review on this awesome home energy monitoring tool on SustainableUrbanHomestead.com

When it comes to saving energy, you first need to know what you're using and where it's being wasted right?  This is why every house should have an energy monitoring tool.  After months of research, I selected TED for it's options, simplicity and overall company view of how home energy monitoring can and should be done.

Even though our current 1000 series unit is running strong, technology is always advancing and released their TED 5000 series unit.  Some of the enhancements over the 1000 series unit are:

  • Optional Wireless Display
  • Stores up to 10 years of data
  • Data viewing remotely with an existing Internet service
  • Data Aggregation and third party apps

The Optional Wireless Display is nice and more convenient then the wired Stationary Remote Display (RDU) of the 1000 series and looks more like a PDA.

For the 5000 series, they embedded their Footprints data viewing software on the gateway with web server so you can view your energy usage from any computer browser on your network.  For those tech savvy folks, you can configure your router to allow restricted view from outside your network as well... like if you wanted to monitor energy consumption from work over the Internet.

One of the best feature introduced, and in my opinion a great vision by the company, was developing AggreData which is an open-source data platform allowing users to gather data from their TED units.  There is an API available for the tech savvy or programmers to build custom apps using aggregated data from the server, very cool!  For the non-tech savvy that means there are third party applications available so you can view your data remotely from your smart phone and many other options.

Another bonus is for us Canadians, we can now purchase the TED directly from Canada, no border fees and free shipping for orders over $50.

OK... so you can guess that I'm a fan of the new unit and this post is my way of talking myself into upgrading... BUSTED!  I'll do a full video review of the new unit when it comes in ;o)  If anyone is using other energy monitoring tools I'd love to hear which ones and your opinions.

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The Future of Food Documentary

The Future of Food DVD

I was searching through YouTube vids and stumbleupon "The Future of Food" Documentary by Deborah Koons Garcia.  You can watch The Future of Food directly from their website for free as well.  It was released in 2004 to bring attention to genetically engineered food and seed patents by mega corps to control food production and seed consolidation.

I had already watched and commented on Food inc. on SustainabeUrbanHomestead.com which touches on GMO seeds and seed patents, but this documentary goes into much greater detail.

One of the great stories is of Percy Schmeiser, the Saskatchewan Canada farmer who fought Monsanto in court for GMO contamination of his Canola fields.  Truly a David vs Goliath story and will wake you up regarding how our farmer are being bullied by the mega-corps.

Overall I thought this was a great film and really made you think of where your food comes from now and more importantly, where would you like it to come from in the future.  Our society has become far removed from our food and it's time we educate ourselves and speak our minds.  Remember you can make a change with every purchase and/or non GMO/heirloom seed you plant so grow your own and support your local farmers.

My personal view is you shouldn't genetically modify crops and definitely should not be patenting seeds, which is life.  As with everything you read, watch, listen and learn... do your own due diligence, research and don't be afraid to ask questions.

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