Saturday, August 29, 2009

We interrupt this blog for bunny nursing

Occasional gratuitous bunny photos aside, I intended this blog to be about local economies, green crafting, and my attempts to live creatively and in a way which damages the planet as little as possible.

But sometimes life gets in the way. Or, specifically, life-saving gets in the way. Even more specifically, bunny-life saving.

It's been a week and a half since my house rabbit Yogi came down with severe head tilt. Head tilt--more formally known as torticollus--happens when something damages a rabbit's sense of equilibrium, causing him or her to twist its neck in an effort stop its dizziness. Sometimes it's caused by an ear infection, sometimes by a protozoan, sometimes by a stroke, sometimes by cancer. Unless there's some visible discharge in the ear to culture, it's hard to know the cause and, therefore, the treatment. It's a life-threatening disease. And if the rabbit survives, it's likely to be permanently disabled.

For now, Yogi's head is almost upside down. He can't walk or even lie upright unless he has firm support on his sides. The right side of his face drags on the ground, and he has ulcerated his cornea. When he tries to move, he spins in place as if he's on a super high speed rotisserie. It's frightening for both of us.

I'm giving Yogi antibiotics, anti-protozoan, anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory drugs, eye drops, eye ointment, syringe-feeding him water and something called Critical Care, plus hand-feeding him as much hay and green vegetables as he will eat. The whole routine takes at least five hours a day, not including the trips we've taken to four different vets.

The good news is that he doesn't seem to be in pain, that he likes the taste of his medicines, that he's more affectionate than usual (he's given me more bunny kisses in the last week than in the previous five years), and that even if he ends up with a permanently tilted head, he might still be a happy rabbit for a good many more years. The bad news is that I'm exhausted from middle of the night feedings and butt-cleanings, that I'm spending my summer's earnings on vet bills, that there are no guarantees, and that I don't have enough time in the day to properly care for him and keep up with my soapmaking business, much less blog regularly.

But I did want anyone reading this to know that my blog isn't dead. It's just taken a temporary back seat to bunny slavery.

Time to give the little guy some head rubs and clover. But first, a 20-second video of some bunnies having a blast with a slinky. Rabbits are such clowns. How can you not love them?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Urban Setting: the New London Farmers Market

The New London Farmers market is extra special to me. Just a short walk from my house, it was both the first farmers market I frequented and the first market to accept me as a vendor. I probably wouldn't have become a soapmaker if this market didn't exist.

And yet, I have to admit that this market--like New London itself--is always struggling, never quite thriving. It's a small market with few vendors. Some years we've had fish and some years we've had eggs, but most often we've had just four farmers and myself. The produce has always been top notch and surprisingly varied: along with staples like tomatoes and corn, you can find okra, cilantro, raspberries, kale. But there's no bread, no meat, no dairy, no street food. With so few vendors, we haven't had much budget for promoting the market. And with little promotion, the market hasn't attracted enough customers to retain many vendors. So it hasn't exactly been one-stop shopping.

Until this year.

This year the New London Farmers market relocated to the parking lot of Fiddleheads Natural Foods Co-op. Although we still don't have the range of vendors that other markets enjoy, now our customers can buy produce with us, then finish their shopping in the co-op. Local and raw milk, cheese, bread, meat, bulk items, coffee, olives, even gingery pickled carrots--between the farmers market and Fiddleheads, our customers may not need to visit a conventional supermarket all summer.

How do the customers feel about it? Well, I'm a customer and I love it. The market runs Tuesdays and Fridays but I only vend here on Fridays. So Tuesdays, 10 a.m. sharp, I'm here with my market bags, buying as much produce as I can fit in the fridge, then going into Fiddleheads to buy staples like nuts and seeds, as well as produce like avocados or bananas that can't be grown locally. (Fiddleheads also has local produce, but I want to support my fellow vendors on market days.)

I admit, I'm biased. I joined the co-op before it opened and used to serve on the Board of Directors. So of course I'm thrilled that my market and my co-op have teamed up. But is anyone else?

Yes! I say that with confidence because today I got to see the market through fresh eyes. My friend Anna, who'd never been to the New London Farmers market and had only briefly seen the inside of the co-op, met me outside Fiddleheads this morning for the grand tour. She had such a smile on her face buying her carrots and blueberries. She hadn't eaten breakfast, though, so we quickly went inside the co-op for a little nosh and conversation. (I love that the co-op has a few booths by the window. One thing our farmers market has lacked is a place for friends to sit and chat.)

After breakfast, we bought dates, avocados, almonds, cheese...then went back out for a little more produce. As Anna was buying peaches, she turned to me and said, "I'm so happy! This is the way we shopped when I was growing up in Italy!" Best of all, just before she drove away she said, "Can we do this every week?"