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Sigtrygg Silkbeard trains archers in Waterford Museum

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Medieval Archery Experience in Waterford Museum of Medieval Treasures. It’s a first in the world to provide archery training with real longbows and real arrows within a museum.

Learn - or die

Learn – or die

A short discourse on arrows and the life of an archer is given then the guest gets the unique chance to draw a real longbow and loose real arrows at a traditional butt-target.House of Glass

DSC00110Sigtrygg explains living-history.

IMG_4606[1]Nice line leads to a clear shot!

Tips-to-go-green-at-home

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Tips-to-go-green-at-home : http://theartofsimple.net/tips-to-go-green-at-home/

40 ways to go greener at home …besides just recycling.

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by Tsh OxenreiderBeing intentionally eco-wise is about celebrating the Creator’s creativity, being good stewards with what we’re given, and passing on those values to the next generation.

The thing I love most about practicing good green green habits in our home is that nine times out of ten, they’re also the more frugal option.  And I love being frugal. Being environmentally-friendly is just good economics—in our home and budget, and with the earth.

There are tons of little things we can do in our homes to play a small part in reducing landfill waste, cleaning the air, and preserving the natural landscape. But we double our efforts when we get our kids involved, helping them understand the why to our what.

When they get it, it’ll be second nature when they’re adults—and that much easier to pass it down to their children.

Here are some small, easy, green choices we can make in our homes. Choose three that you’re not already doing, and make them a habit this year.

40 ways to go greener at home (besides recycling)

40 easy ways to go greener at home—besides recycling

1.  Plant an herb garden.  It’s good to have a reminder around of where our food originates, and this one is super easy.

2.  Switch all your lightbulbs to CFLs (or at least switch a few).

3.  Create a homemade compost bin for $15.

4.  Switch one appliance to an energy efficient model (look for the “energy star” label).

Photo from Flip & Tumble

5.  Stop using disposable bags. Order some reusable bags—my favorites are Flip & Tumble. Or, make your own—they’re insanely easy.

6.  Buy an inexpensive reusable water bottle, and stop buying plastic disposable bottles (my favorite is theKleen Kanteen with the sport cap.  Then watch The Story of Bottled Water, a short movie about the bottled water phenomena.

7.  Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot.

8.  Turn off lights when you leave the room.

9.  Don’t turn on lights at all for as long as you can—open your curtains and enjoy natural light.

10.  Drive the speed limit, and combine all your errands for the week in one trip.

Photo by Kamyar Adi

11.  Better yet, walk or ride a bike to your errands that are two miles or closer.

12.  Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market.

13.  Turn off your computer completely at night.

14.  Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company.

15.  Pay your bills online. Not only is it greener, it’s a sanity saver.

16.  Put a stop to unsolicited mail—sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers.  While you’re at it, if you’re in the U.S., go ahead and make sure you’re on the “do not call” list, just to make your life more peaceful.

17.  Reuse scrap paper.  Print on two sides, or let your kids color on the back side of used paper.

18.  Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.

19.  Subscribe to good eco-friendly blogs—I dig Keeper of the Home, Kitchen Stewardship, and Live Renewed.

20.  Before buying anything new, first check your local Craigslist or Freecycle.

21.  Support local restaurants that use food derived less than 100 miles away, and learn more about the benefits of eating locally.

22.  Fix leaky faucets.

23.  Make your own household cleaners.  I’ve got quite a few recipes in my first book, Organized Simplicity.

Photo by Kasia

24.  Line dry your laundry.

25.  Watch The Story of Stuff with your kids, and talk about the impact your household trash has on our landfills (I don’t love some of their politics, but I can overlook it when watching).

26.  Learn with your kids about another country or culture, expanding your knowledge to other sides of the world.

28.  Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.

29.  Unplug unused chargers and appliances.

30.  Repurpose something. It’s fun.

31.  Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants and garden.

Photo by Lori Ann

32.  Switch to cloth diapers – or at least do a combination with disposables. Even one cloth diaper per daymeans 365 fewer disposables in the landfill each year.

33.  Switch to shade-grown coffee with the “Fair Trade” label.

34.  Use a Diva Cup for your monthly cycles. At the risk of TMI, I’ve been using mine for more than five years now. (Update: Eight years and counting.)

35.  Use cloth instead of paper to clean your kitchen. Be frugal, and make these rags out of old towels and t-shirts.

36.  Use cloth napkins daily instead of paper.

37.  Read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and be utterly inspired.

38.  Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage, especially in the kitchen.

39.  Watch the myriad documentaries on Netflix about the food industry and environment. Some of my favorites are Food Inc., Amazing Planet, Discovery Atlas, and Food Matters. My daughter was totally mesmerized with that last one—it’s insanely important that our kids understand where our food originates.

40.  Donate to—and shop at—thrift stores.  You’ll be recycling perfectly usable items, you’ll be supporting your local economy, and you’ll be saving money.

Which of these do you already do?  Which ones are you going to focus on this next year?  And what can you add to the list?

Earth warming – some thoughts

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Signs of a Changing Climate – ‘Science has spoken’

FAQ2.2 figure2

The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

  1. Human-induced climate change,
  2. The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  3. Options for adaptation and mitigation.

See: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Intergovernmental+Panel+on+Climate+Change

Pishogues; CROSS DRESSING + A WILD HARE

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Original article; http://farmette.ie/tag/pishogue/

Yes, you read that correctly. That is indeed the correct title of this blog post. Now, imagine my surprise to learn that our little parish has been historically known to have women morphing into hares by night and kids dressing up as their opposite sex counterparts on occasion.  Strange, but I must admit it made me feel a little more “at home”…I mean what’s more American than Playboy bunnies and cross dressing…very urban…very cosmopolitan, no?

On a closer examination, I learned that this countryside cross dressing/hare morphing was of a different ilk, which was initially disappointing, but became far more interesting as I listened to the cacophony of stories about “May Eve” and all of the beliefs attached to it. Pishoguery, coaxioriums, changelings, faeries and perhaps the most fabulous and sensational: real women who transform into hares and run around wildly about the land. {without a doubt, a talent I would most certainly love to have}

Now, we all know that Ireland has it’s fair share of lore and such, but I had no idea that many of these teachings still have a valid place in modern countryside society and that furthermore many traditions around those beliefs are still practiced in our tiny village. In fact, I was only just informed yesterday that our entire farm is sprinkled with holy water each year on “May Eve” to ward off Pishoguery and other spirits.

Allow me to explain. May Eve is the evening before May Day (April 30th) and on this evening it is said that a certain type of sorcery transpires in which female evil-doers called “pishogues” come round and do their best to make people’s lives miserable in one way or another.  The pishogues would do things such as lay eggs, bread, meats and other consumable items on another’s land and it is believed that by doing so it would somehow rob the riches from that farm and be transferred onto the pishogue’s estate. Now, let me be clear-these pishogues were real people; neighbours, churchgoers and everyone knew who they were. Real people who were known to be sort of possessed by the devil and forced into doing these dreadful acts.  This pishoguery basically put the fear of God in people and villagers began sprinkling holy water on their homes, livestock, farmyards, machinery….everything and anything to ward off this evil on May Eve. (I hate to say it, but it kinda sorta reminds me of what seemed to happen whenever the Avon lady would come calling in the neighborhood where I lived as a child.)

It doesn’t end with the Pishogues, May Eve offers still more unusual events and characters. There would be faeries flitting about who were known to capture the little boys from farms and change them into their own offspring, i.e. “changelings”. In order to prevent their children from being taken, families dressed up their boys as girls to fool the faeries. Apparently, girls were no good to them.  This meant that it wouldn’t be uncommon to see little boys dressed as girls walking about the village or going to church on the first of May; and nobody would give them a second look. Oh, how times have changed.…

Of course, no May Eve would be complete without a story involving the ubiquitous “love potion”.  Yes, coaxioriums were popular on this evening as well {LOVE the word coaxiorium-despite the fact that I can’t say it out loud}. Allegedly, if a woman made an advance on a man and was rejected she would slip him a potion and he’d come around. After this act, the people in the community would comment that she must have gave him the coaxiorium. Nowadays, it seems it’s the men who need their own secret little potion of one type or another…..

My absolute favourite is the whole business of women who had the power to turn into hares. They would morph into wild rabbit hares and go out during that day or evening and get into all kinds of mischief and then return home and have a cup of tea as if nothing had happened. Often times, a person would come across a lady’s dress and shoes lying near a hedge and they would take no notice, assuming that she had likely changed into a hare and was just out galavanting in the field.  Forgive me, but I would take great pleasure in that type of behaviour…imagine, if you will, gathering all of your best girlfriends, changing yourselves into hares and having a mad little tea party in the Irish countryside with all of the hedgehogs and red foxes.

So there you have it, May Eve, cross dressing and wild women hares in the country. While this all seems a bit Twilight Zone-y to me, many of these accounts have credible witnesses and are steeped in traditions that have stood the test of time. So now I know that in Kilcolman, we sprinkle our holy water to be safe and all I can say is:what’s good for the gander…

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

A Plea for Bees

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A Plea for Bees

Bees are dying in droves. Why? Leading apiarist Dennis vanEngelsdorp looks at the gentle, misunderstood creature’s important place in nature and the mystery behind its alarming disappearance.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp is Acting State Apiarist for Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture, studying colony collapse disorder — the alarming, worldwide disappearance of worker bees and Western honey bees.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dennis_vanengelsdorp_a_plea_for_bees#t-30920

Eco-Friendly Household Cleaning tips.

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Climate change, agriculture and food

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Climate change, agriculture and food – from a course at Open University:

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/our-changing-climate/steps/20369/progress

A decrease in food security and a breakdown in the global food system are identified as some of the most significant risks from climate change. Poorer parts of the world are most at risk.

All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change including: food availability, access and utilisation, as well as price stability.

How will climate change affect agriculture?

Crop production: negative impacts

Crops are highly sensitive to climate, with crop growth, production and yield dependent on temperature, rainfall and CO2 concentration. Changes in climate can have negative and positive effects on crops.

Many crops respond to increasing temperature by shortening the time to maturity which results in reduced yields. Wheat and maize, two of the world’s major food crops, have already been adversely affected by rising temperatures, resulting in a net decrease in global yields. Although soybean yields have decreased in some growing areas, the decrease has been less severe. The yield and quality of rice has been negatively affected by warmer night time temperatures.

High temperature during flowering also decreases grain set in a number of crops. In general, temperatures exceeding 30-34°C negatively impact crop yields and temperatures in excess of 33°C result in rice spikelet sterility.

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Figure 1: The estimated impacts of observed climate changes on yields of major crops over 1960-2013. The numbers above the bars show the number of studies assessed. Source: IPCC WGII AR5 (2014) – Fig TS-2E from the Technical Summary of the IPCC (2014) Working Group II assessment report.

Ozone at the surface (an air pollutant produced from vehicle exhausts and other processes) can damage crops. It is estimated that the increase in tropospheric ozone since pre-industrial times could have reduced yields of wheat and soybean by around 10% for example.

Food production can also be negatively affected by climate-related extremes, including heat waves, droughts and floods, which occur less frequently but often have devastating impacts on crops and livestock.

Crop production: positive impacts

Changes in climate can also have beneficial impacts on crops, for example the reduction in the number of frost occurrences since 1961. Some positive impacts of climate change have been identified, mostly in cooler, high latitude regions.

An increase in carbon dioxide levels can stimulate plant growth and increase yields (often referred to as ‘CO2 fertilisation’). This is especially the case for C3 crops (e.g., wheat, rice, cotton, soybean, sugar beets, and potatoes). However, the response to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere depends on temperature, the availability of water and nutrients and the levels of air pollution. So there is considerable uncertainty about the effect of CO2 fertilisation in the future.

Crop productions: future impacts

Negative impacts on global crop yields become likely by the 2030s. With yield decreases of 0 to 2% per decade projected for the rest of the century. These impacts will occur in the context of rising crop demand, which is projected to increase by about 14% per decade until 2050. Adaptation, such as the use of heat or drought tolerant crop varieties, could significantly reduce negative impacts of climate change and increase the benefit of positive changes. Such adaptation will be highly specific to regions and systems of agriculture.

After 2050 the risk of more severe impacts increases and the ability to adapt to such impacts becomes more difficult.

Weeds, pests and diseases

Recent evidence suggests that changes in climate and increasing CO2levels could enhance the distribution and competiveness of weeds (which compete with food crops and potentially reduce yields). Some of the worst weeds are often wild relatives of the domesticated crop species (e.g., ‘red rice’).

With increased CO2, the growth of such weeds is likely to be stimulated, resulting in reduced crop yields. Some studies have also suggested that rising CO2 could reduce the effectiveness of the herbicides used to kill and control weeds. For example, the invasive Canadian thistle produces a larger root system under elevated CO2 levels and this dilutes the effect of the herbicide which is absorbed within the plant roots.

Climate change may alter the geographical ranges of crop pests and diseases and may also increase disease intensity. However, the overall effects are uncertain.

Livestock

Livestock varieties have been selected to increase productivity (e.g., cattle with increased milk yield or poultry with increased growth rates). However, such selection for productivity produces animals with lower heat tolerance. For example, this results in increased mortality and financial losses of dairy cows in response to heat stress.

Embryonic development and reproductive efficiency in pigs will be negatively affected by increased temperature and heat stress impacts ovulation and follicle development in horses. Water availability may limit livestock production, particularly in water-scare regions.

How will climate change affect food prices?

The price of food is an important aspect of food security – especially for poorer people who are likely to spend a larger proportion of their income on food. The price of internationally traded foods, such as wheat, maize and soy, reflects the overall balance of supply and demand.

During much of the 20th century, food prices have been declining, but in the last decade there have been several periods where food prices have increased rapidly. A major cause for this recent increase in price volatility has been increased demand for crops, partly as a result of increased biofuel production which in turn is linked to policy changes and oil price fluctuations. Fluctuations in food production are also considered to have played a major role and recent price spikes often follow climate extremes in producer regions.

While food prices result from a complex interaction of physical, economic and policy influences, climate change could contribute to increased food prices over the 21st century. In addition, future increases in the frequency and severity of climate extremes are likely to add to short-term variability of food prices.

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Figure 2. The history of food and cereal prices since 1990. Vertical lines and text boxes indicate events when crop yields dropped significantly in producer regions indicative of a seasonal climate extreme. Food and cereal prices are also clearly also linked to the price of crude oil. Source: IPCC WGII AR5 (2014) – Fig 7-3 fromChapter 7 of the IPCC (2014) Working Group II assessment report.

Further reading:

How to feed the world in 2050: actions in a changing climate:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gjtIl5B1zXI