Earth Day Lament

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More often than not, I’m still groggy every morning when I step out the front door onto the porch to make my way down the gravel driveway to fetch the newspaper. More often than not, it is still quite dark out at 5:15 AM.  More often than not, my slippered foot lands on something a little crunchy and a little squishy and a lot icky on the welcome mat in front of my door.

The front porch cat (as opposed to the back porch cat, the garden shed cat, the hay barn cat, the horse barn cat and an average of 3 additional stray cats), predator that he is, leaves behind certain remnants of his prey’s….um, body parts.  Mousey body parts or birdie body parts.  I assume, from the consistency of this little carnivore compost pile, these are unappealing to the kitty, so become the “leavings”, so to speak,  of the kill. Typically, it is a little mouse head, complete with little beady eyes, or a little bird head, complete with little beak, and something that looks suspiciously green and bulbous, like a gall bladder.  I don’t think heads or gall bladders are on my preferred delicacy list either. And they are certainly not on my list of things I like to wear on the bottom of my slipper.  Yet I do and I have.

I’m perplexed by this habit cats have of leaving behind the stuff they don’t want on the welcome mat, even the occasional whole shrew or field mouse, seemingly untouched by claw or incisor, but yet dead as a doornail on the doormat.  Some cat owners naively think their cats are presenting them with “gifts” –kind of a sacrificial offering to the human god that feeds them.  Nonsense.  The welcome mat is the universal trash heap for cats and a testimony to their utter disdain for humans.   Leave for the human the unappetizing and truly grotesque…




So humanity is not alone of earth’s creatures to create garbage heaps of unwanted stuff.  Not only cats, but barn owls are incredibly efficient at tossing back what they don’t want out of their furry meals.   Our old hay barn is literally peppered with pellets, popular with high school biology classes and my grand-nephews for dissection instruction.  These dried up brown fuzzy poop shaped objects are regurgitated by the owl after sitting in one of its  two stomachs for a number of hours.  Bird barf.   It’s fairly interesting stuff, which is why these pellets (which we recycle by donating by the  dozens to local schools) are great teaching material.  It is possible to practically reconstruct a mouse or bird skeleton from a pellet, or perhaps even both on a night when the hunting was good.  There is fur and there are feathers.  Whatever isn’t easily digestible doesn’t have much purpose to the owl, so up it comes again and becomes so much detritus on the floor and rafters of our barn.  Owl litter.  There should be a law.




Then there is the rather efficient Haflinger horse eating machine which leaves no calorie unabsorbed, which vacuums up anything remotely edible within reasonable reach, even if reasonable means contortions under a gate or fence with half of the body locked under the bottom rung, and the neck stretched 6 feet sideways to grab that one blade of grass still standing.  The reason why Haflingers don’t eventually explode from their intake is that Haflinger poop rivals elephant poop pound for pound per day, so there must be a considerable amount ingested that is indigestible and passed on, so to speak–like part of a tail wrap, and that halter that went missing… you know, like those black holes in outer space–that’s what a  Haflinger represents on earth.






This is quite different from the recycled “cud” of the typical herbivore cow who regurgitates big green gobs of  grass/hay/silage to chew it  again in a state of (udder) contentment and pleasure.   If humans could figure out how to recycle a good meal for another good chew or two, the obesity rate would surely drop precipitously.   So would attendance at most happy hours. But then, how many skinny cows have I seen?  Probably as many as purple cows.  I never hope to see one, but I’d rather see than be one.

In my daily walk through life, I have my share of things I unceremoniously dump that I don’t want, don’t need,  can’t use, or abandon when I only want the palatable so the rest can rot.  Today is Earth Day, and I feel properly shamed and guilty for my contribution to landfills, despite my avid recycling efforts for the past 40 years.  Nonetheless, I am in good company with my fellow carnivores and omnivores who daily leave behind what they don’t want or need.

I now need to figure out that herbivore cud thing.  I can go green and just might save on the grocery bill.






6 thoughts on “Earth Day Lament

  1. Many folks are writing ‘happy earth day.’ I think Earth Day Lament is a more appropriate title. Thanks for your post! There is sadness in the crisis of our earth, as well as they joy of how beautiful it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A truly thoughtful (what else could it be from you?) Earth Day reflection. I just wonder why we can’t be like Sweden (or Spokane, for that matter) and burn our trash for energy.


  3. You are right on again and again.
    When cleaning out our buildings for our farm sale last fall, we got a dumpster and then another and another. And now I see dumpsters everywhere. I see them in driveway after driveway and pause with sadness. Why did we and why do others keep buying stuff we don’t need. The other day at an Ace Hardware store the clerk said, “Did you find everything you need.”
    I said, “No. This is a want.” Far too often I buy wants.
    In our community in eastern PA we have an explosion of warehouse building…Pet Smart, Dollar General, Amazon, Ace Hardware and others. They are HUGE. They are covering farm land with miles and miles of concrete. This is so sad to watch. And friends are forced out of their lifelong homes and farms, because of this warehouse explosion. It is just Sooooooo sad. When I drive by, I can only think about all the stuff coming out of these warehouses eventually making its way to the landfill.
    I too recycle faithfully, but far too much trash waits at the end of people’s driveways that could be recycled. So very, very sad.
    God…forgive us for this gluttony and wastefulness.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Linda, I agree completely with all that you have said here. Although not a ‘farm girl,’ I see most of what you mention – in our city neighborhoods and vast encroaching impersonal shopping meccas in our suburban areas and I naively wonder, whatever happened to the familiar, neighborhood convenient life of our childhood? What have we gained? More to the point, what have we lost?
    I fondly recall our friendly and accommodating local, usually family-run, grocery, hardware and drug stores, ice cream shops and even certain banks and post offices that have long since disappeared from poorer neighborhoods, leaving mostly the elderly and family persons without cars stranded.
    Occasionally I will go through a few shopping center stores, grab a cart if one is available and just walk around. I need the cart because I have diabetic neuropathy in my feet and need the stability of a cart. After I finish my excursion, my exercise for the day, I leave the store — empty handed, no overfilled swollen shopping bag, just tired feet. I invariably ask myself, ‘Well, Alice, did you see anything here that you ‘had to have’ and could not easily live without’? The answer each time is a resounding ‘No’!
    I am disheartened, too, when I realize that nearly everything that I see in my fast trip through ‘shop USA’ is either imported or outsourced. And we wonder what happened to our American jobs and our once thriving industries that employed millions of people? As a staunch Union member, that question hits home — my home, the United States of America!

    Liked by 1 person

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