Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

13 November

Gimme Questions! “Turn On Your Radiooooo…”

by Jon Katz

My show’s theme music is Van Morrison’s “Bright Side Of The Road.” Second choice was  “Caravan.”

Gimme questions. I love questions. My radio show is not only fun, but I can’t believe what I am learning. Every time I get a question, I end up doing research or online or through my many books to answer thoughtfully.

Mike Kasablan from Maine send me a great question last night, he asked if I had “ever considered, thought about, or researched the vegan or vegetarian or humane certified life style?”

This send me off on a tour biological research and veterinary school papers. I have considered a vegan or vegetarian diet, and I will talk about it on my program tomorrow (Wednesday, one to three p.m. WBTNAM 1370.)

I hope Mike calls me on the show so I can talk about it with him – 866 406-9286. Live calls make the show special for me, I hope he calls or other people call. You can live stream the show here. Or get it trough the Simple Radio app.

We are having fun either way, Thomas says the show is catching fire. We’ve had calls from Italy, California, Kentucky, Ohio and South Dakota, as well as New York State and Missouri.

Not bad for a tiny and impoverished community radio station in Bennington, Vt.

I’m proud to be there, but then again, who else would have me and give me two hours of air time each week?

Sometimes the show is flooded with calls, sometimes there are none. I have no idea how to read that, but I am loving questions.  They give me the chance to grow and learn and be actually helpful.

You can send them to me during the show – I check my Iphone – or you can e-mail them to me anytime – jon@bedlamfarm.com.

Some creative person asked if it be possible for her to sponsor parts of the show, or sponsor rescue or other dog related groups at one time or another. Good idea. That would cost very little money.

I’ll check it out with Thomas Toscano, who runs the station.

The research and debate over  vegan and vegetarian diets for dogs is raging, and there is a lot of very good literature about it. I’m eager to talk about it tomorrow.

Like the political world, the animal world is filled with warring ideas and factions. I have no desire to argue, only share what I am learning and thinking.

Call with  your questions if you can, e-mail me if you can’t. We are sending good signals out into the world. That’s the bottom line.

13 November

SAD: When A Season Makes Us Sad

by Jon Katz

Can a season make me sad? I think so.

They call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, another way in which people in health care are quick to label disorders and difficulties that sometimes seem quite inevitable to me.

If your read much history – I love history – you will see writing dating back thousands of years that talks about the depression and sadness that often comes with a new season, especially the dark and grey days of late Fall and Winter.

They often called it the dark days, and I’ve read about it in spiritual writings and farm journals and even in medieval screeds.

People get sad this time of year, and then come the holidays, which make some people joyful and a lot of people even sadder. Family is often a mixed blessing.

Some people drink more, some think of suicide, some are exhausted.

It’s a time to be good to one another, I think and practice radical acceptance. We can’t be up every day, or happy all of the time. I think  funks can be nourishing and cleansing and healing.

I think of them as a flushing out of life’s poisons.

In our country, we don’t expect to ever be sad or depressed, and when we are, we look for symptoms of illness as well as 10 ways to feel better instantly. Or ten pills to feel better, or ten glib bits of wisdom.

Or maybe special lamps and prayers and music to lift is up.

If I went to a therapist, he or she would tell me – Maria also – that I probably have some variant of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am a fan of therapy, I had many years of it, but I wouldn’t care to see a shrink for this particular affliction.

For me, this is under the heading of life, and what it brings.

SAD is a type of depression related to changes in seasons – it begins and ends about the same time every year.

The symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping energy and bringing moodiness, and depression.

They also include sudden weight gain, oversleeping, a sense of being exhausted and sometimes hopeless.

The treatments, says the MAYO clinic, are “light” therapy, as opposed to the heavy kind I have needed, and some medications. For me, the treatment is patience, meditation and Spring.

My daughter once sent me an SAD anti-depressant kind of light for the dark says.

It sits on my study desk, I have never turned it on. SAD has made me sad at times, it has never stopped me. I think of it as the way God might have made Spring so wonderful to help us humans  appreciate color.

I believe Maria also suffers from a form of SAD. Today, November announced itself with rain, cold, ice and snow and onrushing  darkness in the mid-afternoon. It reminded us of what is to come. She looked sad all day.

She and I both live close to nature. Color and light is our work, our food, our treatment and inspiration. Color and light is what my photography us about, and I hope my blog and much of my writing.

When it goes, when I am entering the dark days, I often feel listless and somewhat hopeless. Usually this ends when winter finally gets here, and I can see a different kind of light – the Winter Pasture. Winter here is hard but she is also beautiful, a kind of color and light all of  her own.

I don’t minimize the suffering of SAD, I know it is real. The spiritual challenge for me is how to find grace, not perfection.

November has brought the darkness, and I am feeling it. My naps are deep, my sleep is restless.

Maria crashed today, I could see it, she so loves the warmth, she is always barefoot in summer, tending to  her gardens, singing to her animals, walking through the woods, talking to her trees, bring color to her art. For a few weeks, she will sleep a bit later, rather than leap out of bed, as she normally does, yelling “we have to get up!”

She is a naturally cheerful and hopeful person, she can’t wait for each new day,  but not today, really. It was all gray out there, all cold and rainy. Just the first, the Winter Solstice is bearing down on us, we are slipping into the dark days.

We both looked at one another and shook our heads. It’s time, we both said, to crash a bit.

The shrinks say people with SAD have to work to stay motivated, but that is not our problem. We go to sleep motivated and wake up motivated.

What we do is accept some sadness as part of the wondrous recipe that is life. For what is joy without sadness, what is peace without fear, what is hope without helplessness,  meaning without emptiness, what is light without darkness?

We honor the sadness and let it move through us, I wouldn’t wish to take any pill that would make it go away.

The dark days will come, and they will go, as always. A time to be strong and embrace acceptance. I respect life, even as the darkest days come tip-toeing with great purpose and strength, just over those beautiful hills.

I expect to be here when they are gone.

 

13 November

Do Dogs Make Friends The Way We Do?

by Jon Katz

Bud seems to settle into our lives more a bit each day. He is calmer than when he first came, less fearful, more confident, he seems to love everyone in the family – dogs, cats, people, even the donkeys, who he loves to tease by charging at them and then veering off.

The donkeys don’t take it poorly, they are used to dogs and forgiving, they pay little attention.

Today I took him shopping with me into Bennington, we went to Petco, and I decided to bring him in, mostly to socialize him. I see no reason to bring dogs into stores and restaurants, it always seemed a bit obnoxious to me, unless it’s for the purpose of socialization. That was my idea with Bud.

He has a lot of poise, it was, to my knowledge, the first time he had ever been in a big store, walked through a busy parking lot, encountered streams of strangers, new sounds and lights.

Bud is more grounded that I thought, he was calm, curiously, friendly, well-behaved. In the car, he sat on the console next to me watching the scenery. He sat quietly in the car while I went inside of stores, he didn’t bark or get nervous. He is fascinated by the sights and sounds of the world, perhaps in his metal pen, he didn’t get to see much of it.

They say Boston Terriers are family dogs, this is so. He shares his toys and treats with Fate, puts up with her snippiness, is always happy to play with her or nap together. This photo caught their deepening connection.

I’ve written about Bud’s friendship with Red, but his friendship with Fate is  deepening also. Fate is much more high-strung and stand-offish with Red, she never lies close to another dog, not even Red, and never shares a dog bed.

That is changing, The two of them play for half the day, and now, in the cold, they both curl up next to the fireplace together. Fate is the one who needs calming, not Bud so much. These two seem to be good for each other.

Bud is changing all of the time. He is so different from when he first arrived, he is figuring us out, watching over all of us all the times. I didn’t realize small dogs could be so generous.

I wonder sometimes what friendship means to dogs. They are not like us, it can be the same thing, yet it also relies on trust, and openness and affection. I see that dogs listen to one another, talk to each other in their own ways, and watch out for each other.

Dogs are  radically more accepting than we are, and I believe they accept death as an integral part of life and don’t waste too much time on it. I do not believe dogs to be grievers and mourners. They move along, and inspire me to do the same. I don’t think dogs think back much on the dogs they knew and lost.

Yet, clearly, Bud needs friends and makes friends. He trusts them and treats them with care. That’s as far as I have gotten.

Bud has touched and impressed me, he has figured out his new family, set about making friends and treating them with love. I want to think more about dogs and their ideas of friendship.

13 November

On The Radio Wednesday: Give Us A Call!

by Jon Katz

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 14, marks the fifth broadcast of my new radio show, “Talking To Animals,” airing on WBTNAM1370, a feisty little Community Radio station out of Bennington, Vt.

It’s not entirely clear how the show is doing, there is no research or marketing stats for us to look at, blessedly. My sense is it’s going very well in many different parts of the country.

In media, when you don’t know how you are doing, that means you are free to do what you want.

And Thomas Toscano, the  Station Director, and I, are having fun at least. I t think we are helping his non-profit station, and I am getting a good cause and and fulfillment of a good dream.

Neither one of us is rich or ever will be, and I am not getting paid for my show.

The reward is two hours of air time that is easily live-streamed all over the country, and the chance to have a thoughtful, civil discussion about pets and other animals with people who care about them.

This broadcast isn’t just about my voice, it’s about your voice as well. We sincerely want to hear from you. (Shy people, jump in, we are nice…)

There are lots of ways to interact with this program, something of an experiment in using new technologies to communicate. You call call of course, the number is 866 406-9286, if you live outside of the listening area, and 802 442-1010 if you live inside of the listening area.

You can stream the broadcast, as I mentioned.

You can e-mail me your animal and pet questions before, after and during the show: jon@bedlamfarm.com, and I will read them and answer them as soon as I can. You can do this at anytime, including during the broadcast.

You can also go to the Apple App store and download a free radio app – I use Simple Radio – to hear the station loud and clear from anywhere. In addition, there is a podcast option, you can go here for that, each program is available soon after the broadcast.

Beyond all that, you can support the station if you like – they need almost everything – either by donating directly via Paypal, or by contributing to the WBTN Amazon Wish List. You can also send a donation to WBTNAM, 407 Harwood Hill, Bennington, Vt. 05201.

If you want to sponsor all or part of the show, you can do that too, by calling 802 442-6321. It’s amazingly inexpensive. This is the media voice of the people, not corporate broadcasting.

The calls are exciting.

On the first broadcast there  were two, both from neighbors of the station.

On the second show, there were no calls at all, the phone system (built between the Vietnam and Korean Wars  might not always work, but plenty of people have made it through.

Thanks for your questions. I am happy to read your questions and discuss them over the air but the show works best by far when I get to talk to you and listen to your stories and concerns.

I believe this broadcast is important, not only for community radio, but for all of us animal lovers. I know of know regional or national radio broadcast that deals with questions about pets and animals in a respectful and meaningful way. We are not here to laugh at you or fight with you or patronize you.

We treat one another well and with respect. No small thing these days.

So if you can, give us a call: 866 406-9286, or if you are nearby, 802 442 1010. And please e-mail me your questions if you can’t call or don’t wish to: jon@bedlamfarm.com.

At the least, I hope you will get to listen and enjoy the program. We are making some little bit of history here, if we can pull this off, it would be a good signal to send out into the world

13 November

Wintry Days: In The Dog House

by Jon Katz

I’ve always had all-weather dogs until I got Gus and Bud. The border collies, the Labs, Frieda, all were indifferent to the weather, they were (are) just as happy sitting out in the rain and snow as they were being inside.

About ten years ago, I bought this 150-year-old doghouse from Jack Metzger at Outback Jacks store. Frieda was the only dog that ever went inside and that was to nap or eat some animal she had caught.

Gus didn’t mind the snow or cold much, but Bud was raised and lived in Arkansas for much of his life, and he is not a hard-weather dog at all. If she sees rain outside, he runs inside the house

This morning, there was snow and ice on the ground and Bud just made a bee-line for the dog house He has also discovered the warmth of the wood stove, and is spending a lot of time dozing in there.

This morning, I saw him through the kitchen window, sitting inside looking out at the pouring rain. Fate  was sitting out in the cold and wet, watching the sheep.

As I write this, Bud is back in front of the fireplace, dozing happily. I am happy to see this old Dog House, built by a dairy farmer around the time of the Civil War, still getting some use.

Am curious to see how Bud reacts to his first true snowstorm. I have a hunch he will like it.

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