Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I went out to pick blackberries this morning at the farm where I cut them a few weeks ago.  I guess they're not really a farm.  They cut the back field and sell the hay but the livestock they have, well they're all pets.  When I was out there before, I got to rub a goat's noggin, because it was itchy.

I had to be careful because after the last time out there, I got poison oak.  It's in the ditch along the road.  I had been looking in a drain pipe, that goes under the road, for kittens.  That's how I got it.

They had a cat show in the field, with two kittens.  With nowhere they were being fed, I could not catch them, a month ago.  And that poor mother is struggling to survive by trying to catch mice.  I was told she is gray or gray and white.  I believe her kittens did not survive.  I've never seen the cat.

No one has now for about a week.  But this time, I left a trap tied open along a field fence, a fence line she'd been seen along before, but not for awhile.  There's food in it.  The most recent sighting is down a ways.  But she may find it.  I left a food trail out to the road but probably the birds will eat that. They're going to renew the food daily, in the morning.  It's really hard to trap there because they have outside allowed cats and there are possums and raccoon.  They only feed inside so they don't feed everything else on earth.

Many of the blackberries still are not ripe but I got half a bucket before the heat set in.  I kept coughing and I could feel irritation in my throat from whatever I was breathing.   Dust is the allergen that gets to me the most.

When I left I understood.  Just down the road, the grass seed farmers are plowing under the fields to replant.  They do this from air conditioned sealed cabin tractors, but the dust clouds they raise affect everyone else.  The dust thrown up and blown by the wind pervades the air, even when you can't see the cloud of it anymore.  There are times I can't drive to Lebanon because of the dust, feels like sand in my eyes and poison to my lungs.

Grass seed is produced in this valley, and all around me.  There are two seed warehouses within a mile of me, in fact.  The warehouses dot the valley.  Grass seed "farming" is quite lucrative. I put farming in quotes because I still tend to think of farmers as those who produce food that humans eat.  But I think "farmer" really means anyone whose livelihood comes out of the ground.

Sometimes I think of all the land in this valley that is put to growing grass for seed and think what if it grew food.  But it's not my land.  Sometimes I think as a native Oregonian be nice we got a break on things Oregon grows, like seed or blueberries or hazelnuts or salmon.  I think that sometimes.

The salmon are dying in Oregon rivers right now.  They return to spawn in streams, but this year, the water is too warm and its killing them.  Over a quarter million returning Sockeye salmon have died thus far.  Some put the number closer to half million.  The Chinook salmon fared better.  They seem to tolerate the warm water better.  There will be other runs later on of different species and who knows how they will do.  The heat this year combined with no rain is unbelievable for Oregon.  We're headed into another stretch of six days with temperatures forecast over 90 and two days, tomorrow and Thursday, where it will be near 100.

 Grass seed production doesn't require much in labor.  You don't have many employees.  You don't water the grass, it grows on its own all winter and then they cut it when the seed heads are ripe.  Sometimes they hire that out.  Then they sift it out and bag it and ship it out in the bags when they get orders.  It's what is used for lawns and sports fields all over the world.   If they hold onto it, bagged and stacked to the ceiling in huge warehouses, sometimes they seal up the warehouse and gas it, killing everything alive inside.  Rodent control.  But the gassing kills unlucky birds and cats too.  I was shocked to hear about the gassing of warehouses.  Probably happens with other seed crops too.  Made me shiver to think of animals and birds dying that way.

One animal loving seed farmer I knew tried to invent some other form of rodent control that wasn't so mean to birds and other animals, that might be in the warehouses, like cats.  He loves cats.  I never wanted to know about the warehouse gassing.

I have trapped cats at lots of seed warehouses.  I love to trap at seed warehouses.  I used to nap, when I became exhausted, way up laid out across seed bags stacked high on pallets.

Backside of a seed warehouse with huge piles of grass seed.  In the store, here, we pay $10 for just 3 lbs, if you can even find it that cheap.  It's extremely expensive.

The seed farmers also cut the straw, or stubble left after harvesting the seed.  They bale it and ship it to S. Korea, where livestock farmers mix it into feed.

I doubt I'll catch that poor cat out there before she dies of starvation, is hit on the road, or some asshole shoots her.  But I wanted to try.  They struggle so hard, the cats who end up dumped way out and especially the females, who get pregnant and starving, try so hard to hunt enough mice to feed hungry kittens.

I feel for them.  I wish others did out there.  It's unforgiving out there.  Kittens often get chopped to pieces during harvest.

One time these people called me, out that way, a little farther out.  They'd left to go camping but had seen a badly injured cat they didn't know go under their deck to get away from their dogs.  I went out and was able to call the cat out.  He crawled out crying, on his belly.

Took my breath away.  I recoiled in horror.  He had only one leg that wasn't damaged.  The other three had all been cut off to some extent.  Gangrene had set in.  The stubs were black with infection and smelled.  I rushed him to the nearest vet where his suffering ended.   He'd been chopped up by harvest equipment.  I couldn't look at the machines in the fields the same way anymore.  The clinic said they get all kinds of animals chopped up, even fawns.  It's just the way it is, I guess.

My brother says he's going to pay my internet when I can't.  So I'm still connected.  I have guilt over it, so I don't know.  But for now, I'm good.  Sorry about the gorry post.   The country is where people dump their unwanted cats, the stupid fucks, because most suffer horrible slow and painful and terribly sad ends.


  1. Good to hear your brother is helping you and interesting to learn how grass seed is grown. The rest..........sad and depressing.

    1. Sorry about the sad and depressing part. I get overwhelmed in memories of horrors sometimes and wish people would not do what they do to cats.

  2. It is really good that your brother is going to help out.
    The rest? Sad reality. Which doesn't go away if we don't know about it.

    1. It doesn't go away. People don't like to understand the reality of what happens to their cat after they dump them or abandon them. I hope some of those a holes read this so they know and maybe they won't do it again.

  3. I started reading about the blackberries and remembering our happy times living along the coast of Oregon (and picking huge blackberries)... then continued on... those grass seed operations sound interesting... then got to the reality of kitty life and how difficult it is when out there alone in this big ole world.... hard to digest it all.

    1. It's something almost all Oregonians do--pick blackberries. I love them. Last night I got some ice cream and had them as a topping. I make smoothies of them too or just eat them. I've enjoyed knowing a lot of seed farmers in the valley, through cats. Many are very nice people. That one guy, who tried to invent a more humane rodent control, he used to even "water" the bees. Clover seed farmers rent out the hives from bee people but there's often no water anywhere near and bees need water, so he'd run a hose and create large puddles that would be surrounded by thousands of bees. He fed the birds too, and trained the cats at his warehouse not to go after them. He'd sit in a chair under the pear tree and throw pears at any of the cats who came after the birds. They got the message. He loves all creatures. I'd probably do anything for him.

  4. That's good news with your brother helping you :) lucky lady.
    how the grass seeds are grown is interesting...i enjoyed and as for the animals..oh dear.

    1. I am very very lucky to have the brothers I have. I don't get to see them enough. I love them dearly and know many people do not have family like that.