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Earth Law Center Speaking at EARTHx, the World’s Largest Environmental Conference

Jellyfish by Michelle Bender

Photo by Michelle Bender

I’m so pleased to share with you that Michelle Bender, Ocean Rights Manager at Earth Law Center will be speaking at EARTHx in Dallas on Sunday, April 22 (Earth Day). Founded in 2011 by Dallas-based environmentalist, philanthropist, and businessman Trammell S. Crow, EARTHx promotes environmental awareness by curating the world's largest annual forum for sharing the latest environmental initiatives, discoveries, research, innovations, policies, corporate and NGO practices that are reshaping the future.

Michelle will also unveil the first Ocean Rights Framework in the world; The Framework aims to help local communities and environmental organizations to create management plans for Marine Protected Areas that include Earth Law and rights of nature. Mission Blue endorses the Earth Law Ocean Rights Framework.

After eight months of research, writing, gathering global expert input; Earth Law Center has now completed the Earth Law Framework for Marine Protected Areas. Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected areas of seas and oceans that can take many forms ranging from wildlife refuges to research facilities. MPAs restrict human activity for conservation purposes, typically to protect natural or cultural resources and often endangered marine species.

Did you know that the ocean produces half of the world’s oxygen, absorbs and sequesters one-third of the carbon dioxide human activities emit, provides protection from extreme weather events, and provides a source of food and livelihoods? In fact, 20 percent of the human population depends on the ocean for their primary source of protein, and over seven percent rely on the ocean for jobs and income.[1] The ocean also provides key medicinal components and treatments, such as the anticancer drug, Ara-C[2] and an enzyme to treat asthma.[3]

Being near and on the ocean is proven to boost human mental and physical health.[4] For those of us who don’t live within sight of the ocean, we may forget that human life and well-being depend on the ocean (UNEP, 2011).[5] An estimated 50-80 percent of all life on Earth is found in the ocean.

The Ocean Earth Law initiative joins a growing list of wins in the global rights of nature movement. The Columbian Amazon is the latest area of nature to win rights recognition in January 2018. In addition to Ecuador and Bolivia recognizing rights of nature in their national constitutions, three rivers, national park and sacred mountain also hold rights (the Whanganui in New Zealand, the Atrato in Colombia, the Villacabamba in Ecuador, and Te Urewera National Park and Mt. Taranaki in New Zealand).

This initiative supports several other ocean initiatives launched by Earth Law Center which seek rights for: The Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary in Uruguay, the Patagonian Shelf in Argentina and the Puget Sound in Washington State (US).  Earth Law Center serves to connect and catalyze local partnerships, consisting of communities, indigenous groups, and guardians, to create new laws which uphold and defend nature's rights against harm.

Learn more about ocean rights here

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Volunteer on the project here

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Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature's rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


[1] OECD, Marine Protected Economics, Management and Effective Policy Mixes: Policy Highlights, 2 (2016), available at: (“OECD”); United Nations, Overfishing: A Threat to Marine Biodiversity (Aug. 31, 2017),

[2] National Research Council (US) Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health, From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health, 4 (1999), available at:

[3] Nicole Levins, Oceans and Coasts, The Nature Conservancy, (Aug. 31, 2017),

[4] Carolyn Gregoire, Why Being Near the Ocean Can Make You Calmer and More Creative, Huffington Post, Feb. 25, 2016,; Wallace J. Nichols, Blue Mind, Little, Brown and Company (2014).

[5]  OECD, supra at 2.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Counting Towards Spring

outdoor spring dining

While tulips, hanging flower baskets, hummingbirds, and having lunch outside aren’t here yet, we know they’re coming. 

It’s a ritual.  Breakfast time arrives after chores and opening up the shop, when Mom announces, “Did you hear the trumpeter swans fly over this morning?  Put that on the calendar!”  Up I jump, snatching a pen from the counter.  Amidst notes about the upcoming needle felting class, a doctor’s appointment, and the scheduled delivery of aquaponics lettuce to Northland College, I mark down the observed return of the swans.  I’d heard them too, scooting low over the house on their way dutifully north.

Each year, we watch and make note.  The first robin arrived just the other day, heralding that the snow is not over yet.  “Three snows on the robin’s tail,” the old-timers say.  Some years, it’s been “well, at LEAST three snows…” 

But don’t get glum about not being fully out of the woods with winter yet.  It’s been a beautiful spring—long strings of sunny days with crisp evenings to firm up the ground and our gravel lane.  No huge dump of snow since Birkie season, no torrential rains to cause flash flooding.  The deep snow is slowly collapsing in place, and sometime soon I’ll be able to trounce out to the garden and dig up that bed of carrots mulched last fall for late winter harvest.

I was a little eager to get at those carrots last week, piling all my necessary equipment on a sled (shovel, pitch fork, potato fork, plastic tote) and headed off across the yard.  Crunch, crunch, I kept sinking in over my knees.  When I finally reached where I thought the 100-foot row of carrots should be, there was no discernable markings in the dense blanket of snow.  No mound, no nothing.  Should have put a flag sticking up out of the end or something…a good idea to remember for next year.  So I just started digging.  45-minutes later, I found the bed of carrots, but I was too tuckered out to unearth more than a handful.  I’ll have to try for a rematch once the warm days have shrunk the snow-cover a bit more, and it’s less treacherous to even make it out to the garden.

But these warm, sunny days and crispy chill nights are absolutely ideal for making maple syrup.  In the mornings during chores, I can practically smell the maple sap, even though our trees have stood untapped for years.  Maple season is another way to count the steps towards spring, with its own set of nature markers.  There’s the receding snowline around the bases of the trees, the delicate growth of buds at branch tips, and the songs of returning birds overhead.  Syruping has its end markers as well—the pussy willows pop open and thrust out their yellowy stamens and the spring peepers cry mercilessly from the marshes.

Next in line after that will be the return of the red-winged blackbirds and sandhill cranes.  The farm will come alive with the cheep-cheep of baby chicks arriving in boxes from the Post Office, and folks will start heading north to open their cabins for the summer season.

Then it’s the hummingbirds at Mother’s Day; someone spots the first tiny fawn in the woods; and all the trees leaf out like there’s some big party going on that no one can miss.  There’s daffodils and tulips sprouting out everywhere like hope on stems, and the dandelions parade their golden pollen orbs to the delight of all the buzzing pollinators.

Sugar Time!!

But spring doesn’t start with tulips and green grass.  Spring in the Northwoods has already started—with maple syruping, with the birds returning, with the change in the way the clouds look and move through the sky.  It starts with icy puddles and bare roads and realizing that it’s no longer helpful to use a sled for pulling hay bales around the barnyard.

Springtime in the Northwoods is about weight limits on the back roads, lingering ice patches on the north shadows of buildings, and thinking about raking the gravel out of your yard from plowing season.  There’s mud (oh yes, that old friend) and fresh smells and way more garden work that you feel ready to tackle.  Already, I was able to shovel my way into one of our high tunnels, work the soil, and plant spinach.  It’s not up yet, but I’m keeping the beds moist—hauling the hose stuffed into a Rubbermaid tote into the basement each night so it stays thawed for the next use.

Springtime in the Northwoods is that funny moment when you see the still-white snowshoe hare against a completely brown landscape.  It’s about cleaning out the bird houses before the swallows and bluebirds arrive.  It’s about no longer having to put on 15 pounds of extra clothing before you step outside for five minutes.  And it’s noticing the phoebe back on top of the barn roof, singing his heart out.

The animals notice too.  Soon it will be time for shearing the sheep, massive chicken coop cleanings, and mending fences for pasture season.  The critters big and small are enjoying the longer day lengths, the warming temperatures, and the sense of change in the air.  Belle, our aging guard donkey got to take off her winter blanket.  Water dishes freeze solid less often.  I even got my utility golf cart running this week for hauling water to the Red Barn.

So, instead of being glum because you can’t wear the flip-flops yet or the crocuses aren’t up, savor each step towards spring.  Notice them, count them, write them on the calendar.  Find gratitude in each milestone.  See if it helps to change your mood about the situation.  I like to think that Mother Nature appreciates the attention as she awakens from her wintry slumber.  We’ll keep counting towards spring!  See you down on the farm sometime.

Photo by Laura Berlage

Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

What the New Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Could Mean for the Construction and Housing Market

The unexpected announcement earlier this month of new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum could impact prices for the U.S. construction, infrastructure and housing markets. Protectionist trade policy, introduced by the White House to boost domestic production and add new jobs, will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

Following through on a key campaign promise and rattling stock markets, this is the latest of aggressive trade policy changes, preceded by the U.S. exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Why Tariffs, and Why Now?

Messaging from the federal government initially declared no country, including Canada and Mexico, would be exempt from the tariffs unless the U.S. can negotiate a better deal with NAFTA. The Trump Administration has since announced Canada and Mexico will now be exempt from the tariffs — undoubtedly a relief for Canada, which produces 16 percent of U.S. steel and 41 percent of U.S. aluminum.

Speaking at a White House meeting, Trump said no one truly understands how badly other countries treat the U.S., and that “disgraceful” trade policies have obliterated the country’s capacity to produce vital commodities. "When our country can't make aluminum and steel," he said, "you almost don't have much of a country."

The U.S. is the world’s largest steel importer, and even though it relies on shipments from more than 100 countries and territories, Trump has singled out China previously as a threat to domestic trade and did so once again in his statement.

China accounts for 2 percent of 2017’s steel imports, following Obama Administration-era 2016 trade taxes of various types on imported steel, causing imports from China to drop by almost 66 percent.

Aluminum remains another matter. China is the fourth-largest supplier to the U.S., equaling $389 million in 2016, according to a February report from the Department of Commerce.

The Effect on State Economies, Construction Projects and the Housing Market

As expected, speculation on the domestic effects of these tariffs is flooding the media, and advisers have been bitterly divided over how to proceed, given the potential ensnarement of allies such as the EU.

Industries in the U.S. — namely, automakers, food packagers and construction — have pushed back on the tariffs for months, stressing that not only will they prompt retaliatory trade actions, but without cheaper imports, their costs will increase, eating into profits and forcing prices to rise or workers to be laid off.

The National Association of Homebuilders is among several trade organizations that spoke against the import taxes, claiming higher steel costs will raise construction costs for its members, and then get passed onto homebuyers.

The construction industry, it seems, is still finding its way through the April 2017 tariffs the White House imposed on the five Canadian lumber companies. In retaliation to Canada’s U.S. dairy import restrictions, lumber prices have since increased 31 percent, which, compounded by higher steel prices, could price some homebuyers out of the market.

The construction industry — accounting for 43 percent of all steel shipments in the U.S., including over 345 billion shipments in 2013 of certain steel products — is currently unable to meet demands for housing as it is, and the hike in prices means the shortage of affordable housing has created some fierce competition. Reports include bidding wars on houses people haven’t even viewed yet. Mortgage rates are now rising, and the national average earlier this month was 4.28 percent, an increase of 3.85 percent at the start of 2018.

However, on the flipside, not all building projects use a huge amount of steel. Single-family homes require more wood than metal, and steel and aluminum only contribute between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of a home’s cost. Larger buildings such as flats and skyscrapers will experience more effects from the tariffs.

Scott N. Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, is one individual who support these tariffs, releasing a statement saying, “enforcement action must be broad, robust and comprehensive.” Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also defended the move, calling the news “long overdue” for steelworkers in his state.

A Summation So Far

Speculation will continue, since no one really knows what’s going to happen and how exactly tariffs will affect the construction and the housing markets. Lumber tariffs seem to have already taken their toll on rural and suburban housing costs, but as it stands, it seems larger projects in cities will experience the direct cost hike of rebar and cladding.

We will know more after the administration has defined tariffs more clearly, once the White House has issued its infrastructure plan and once an infrastructure bill has been passed.

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living and has an especially strong passion for helping others increase their mental health and happiness by improving their daily productivity and positivity. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+Facebook  and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on Productivity TheoryRead all of Kayla’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Deer Repellents : Types, and Do They Work?


There is a wide and varied mixture of deer repellents that you can try and buy to keep deer from invading on your land. In our experience, very few of these repellents actually work, but some homeowners swear by them.  The only one that is truly effective method is hiring a nuisance wildlife operator to professionally prevent deer.

Some things that you need to take into consideration when you're using a deterrent or repellent is the effectiveness of them (if there was any to start with), cost, and timing of when to stop or reapply. Liquid or granule-based repellents, for example, will need to be reapplied after you water your lawn or garden or any time after it rains. Electrically powered repellents, such as noise or sound devices, will either run on batteries, solar panel, or via the mains. Solar panel ones are obviously cheap to run, but can be more expensive to buy upfront. If the device runs on batteries or via the mains, you will need to think about the long-term running costs. This can also be the case for electrical fencing, which is another method you can look at for keeping wild critters at bay.

There are a few homemade remedies, usually said to deter deer and other nuisance wildlife from hard-hit plant life, usually by way of a very bad taste. Chili peppers or hot sauce, for example, can be used as a spicy repellent, but these can actually make the animal feel sick in some instances, so it isn’t recommended.  Another one is a mixture of eggs that smells like rotten eggs. We know that these are more wives tails that we wouldn't want on our land, and we're sure that many of you can say the same thing. On the other hand, human or dog hair is known to be effective.  The deer smell the human or dog scent and keep away.  In fact, really strong smells is something that deer seem to steer well clear of, and you can use strongly scented anything to try and deter them from your land. You could look at using fabric softener, or an old bottle of really strong perfume that you don't like. The strong scents can sometimes work to deter deer, but can attract other creatures. Strong and sweet perfumes, for example, can bring in bees or wasps from far and wide. Make sure whatever you use is not toxic, and won’t cause a problem for or contaminate local water or food sources, or soil.  Onions and garlic are not advisable, however, because there are a number of other wild animals, including dogs and cats, that can't eat them. Onions and garlic are just two examples of toxic foods for domesticated pets.

Certain plant types have been said to have varying degrees success too. If you plant things that the deer don’t eat in front of the plants that the deer do eat, there’s a good chance they won’t venture through to get to the good stuff. You can even mix them in among the often-eaten plants too. These include flowers, such as snapdragon, daffodils, lavender, and hyacinth, along with herbs — thyme, dill, and oregano. These are very fragrant. You’ll enjoy them, but the deer is said to dislike them.

Elizabeth Gatto is a promoter of humane treatment of animals and supports many wildlife conservation organizations.  She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her online at AAAnimal Control.  Read all of Elizabeth’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

How Fast Do Rabbits Reproduce?


Rabbits, just like rodents, are very well known for the speed at which they breed, with many females having more than one litter a year. In fact, it is not uncommon for the average female rabbit to have many litters because gestation is only about 1 month. Each of these litters can have anywhere from three or four babies, to seven, eight, nine, and maybe even more.  Not only that, but the mother is physically able to become pregnant again a few days after giving birth.

Let’s just imagine you have one pair of breeding rabbits on your land. They stick around for twelve months. They have three litters, and each of those litters contains five youngsters. Two adult rabbits could turn into 17 rabbits, with 2 adults and 15 youngsters. What if that pair had four litters? That would mean 20 babies. If she had a few extra young in her litter one time that would mean a higher rabbit colony. It doesn't take long for the numbers to start mounting up. Better conditions, such as a well-built burrow and plenty of food around will encourage longer survival and resources for young, meaning faster breeding. If the rabbits are having difficulty finding food, they will slow down the rate at which they breed.

Young rabbits can reach sexual maturity at about six months of age, so, within the same year, the pair of breeding rabbits could give birth to a number of litters that might also become sexually mature, and then have their own babies, within the same year. Once again, that population number just keeps on growing!

Although rabbits breed like … well, rabbits, they don’t tend to live for very long. The average life span of a wild rabbit is just two to three years. Many of them fall prey to predators, including humans, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and even neighborhood cats and dogs, and if that's not what gets them, it’ll be a passing vehicle, dehydration, starvation, or hypothermia.  The short lifecycle likely contributes to their need to reproduce quickly, so if conditions are right in their environment, they will multiply quickly.

Rabbits are often thought of as pets, but wild rabbits not only exist, but pose a massive nuisance wildlife problem for many property owners, agricultural, residential, and commercial alike. It is when these hopping critters are eating, pooping, and attract other bigger predators such as wolves, coyotes, and foxes that you may need to reassess the environment you have on your property and whether you want to create for wildlife refuge or not.

Elizabeth Gatto is a lover of wildlife and promoter of wildlife conservation. She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her online at Attic Noises. Read all of Elizabeth’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Attracting Barn Swallows To Your Property

BARS nestlings 

Did you ever pause on a summer day to admire the swallows doing aerial gymnastics overhead? Those swallows are designed to maneuver incredibly quickly while flying at speeds up to 40 miles/hour. Swallows are aerial insectivores and catch 99% of their diet while diving, banking hard, and wheeling through the air. Fortunately for us, their favourite food is the larger insects that pester us: mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and flies. A single swallow eats approx. 60 insects an hour, and from a utilitarian perspective, swallows make great neighbors.

The traditional farm offered ideal habitat for swallows. The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) was a common summer resident on the farm, which offered these birds outbuildings in which to build their nests, fields and ponds for foraging, and livestock to attract their insect prey. In exchange for a safe location to raise their broods, the swallows feasted on the insects that pestered the farmer, his crops, and his animals. Coincidentally, the North American population of barn swallows has dropped significantly since the mid-1980s, which is around the time that the conversion from family farms to mega farms began to level out. While the causes for the decline in barn swallow populations are not fully understood, a loss of nesting and foraging habitat is suspected to play a substantial role

If you are lucky enough to have barn swallows on your property - congratulations! If you do not, but wish you did, you can take steps to improve the likelihood of hosting these birds. Either way, you could have more swallows by looking at your property from their perspective and enhancing the features that attract them. The payoff for you will be less insects to pester you and your family, as well as the knowledge that you are taking steps to help a beautiful and valuable species.

Landscapes That Attract Barn Swallows

Barn swallows do not like forested or urbanized areas because they need open air space to forage. Instead, the swallows choose grasslands, fields, marshes, and bodies of water. What follows is a list of some basic habitat requirements for swallows.

Areas of open grass: swallows need it for foraging and if an expanse of grass is mown less frequently, then more insects will inhabit it and provide more food for the swallows. Hay fields are excellent places for swallow to forage.   

Bodies of water: swallows drink by skimming over the surface of ponds, lakes or wide streams and scooping up mouthfuls of water. Bodies of water also abound in insects.

Open areas with few trees: trees obstruct the swallows flight and make foraging difficult. Tree swallows, a cousin of barn swallows nest in tree cavities and nest boxes and don’t mind a few trees.

No pesticides or insecticides: swallows are insectivores - no insects, no swallows.

Spots to perch: All swallows like to perch on wires, clotheslines, or antennas; and will commonly nest near power lines.

Habitat Features That Attract Breeding Swallows

Barn swallows construct their mud nests under an overhang to protect it from the rain and wind. The nests are constructed by a pair of barn swallows who visit a mud puddle, mix a beakful of mud with grass stems and form it into a little pellet, and then ‘glue’ it to the side of a vertical surface and to each other. In the end, a mud cup lined with fine grasses and feathers provides a dry home for a clutch of eggs.

Traditionally barn swallows nested in caves. Today, as their common name suggests, their favourite locations are eaves, rafters, and cross beams in barns, sheds and stables. They also use the underside of bridges, wharves, and culverts. Barn swallows don’t mind company and large colonies are common where suitable habitat exists. Each pair will defend a small territory around their nest between 4 - 8 square metres. Below is a list of features that will entice barn swallows to breed on your property.

Mud puddles: barn swallows construct their nests out of mud. And even though they will reuse an old nest, they still want to dab new mud pellets along the top rim to refresh the nest. A working farm should have no problem providing mud. For others, allowing a spot for mud to form under a downspout provides nest material for a pair of swallows.

Access to buildings: if you can do so, leave open a door or window so the swallows can enter and leave at will.

Platforms for nest placement: the swallows will either affix their nests to a vertical surface, or construct it upon a shelf. Having a shelf or platform to build upon saves the swallows from needing to construct one of their own from mud pellets and allows them to skip this step. From scratch, it can take a pair of swallows over 1,000 trips to the mud puddle to construct a new nest. A nesting platform can be as simple as a 2x4 ledge.

Leave old nests: given that it takes swallows a lot of effort to construct a new nest, they would prefer to reuse an existing nest. Adults have strong site fidelity and will return to the same locations.

Artificial Nesting Cups and Barn Swallow Nest Structures

If you feel inspired to go even further in attracting barn swallows, you can hang artificial nest cups and nesting shelves or erect a special nesting structure. Richard and Diane Van Vleck of American Artifacts observed that barn swallows preferred to use the artificial nest cups (which can be constructed of wood, clay, or concrete affixed to a wooden backing). The swallows still added some mud pellets to the rim. Here is a summary of the key points if you wish to hang artificial nests:

Place the cups where you want the swallows: since they prefer the artificial nests, you can use the nest draw the swallows away from a less than satisfactory location.

No hot spots: don’t place cups under a roof that has no insulation or ventilation and that receives afternoon sun; the microclimate will be too hot.

Head room: artificial nests or nesting shelves should be 6 in. (15 cm) from the ceiling

Foot traffic: barn swallows typically nest 8 - 10 feet above the ground where foot traffic is minimal. The birds like to nest farther above ground where traffic is heavy. The swallows will become used to the same people coming and going and don’t seem to mind some human activity.

Dealing with droppings: for the first two weeks the parents will remove fecal sacs from the nest. After that point the nestlings will defecate over the edge of the nest. If you wish to keep the ground/building below a nest clean, you could lay down some newspaper and remove it after the young have fledged. Some old-timers believed that barn swallows spread salmonella, but a Swedish study proved otherwise*. In fact, barn swallows are not a significant source of disease†.

Clean nests: if you can clean out the artificial nest, a pair of swallows will likely reuse it. An annual cleaning will ensure the nests are ready for each new year.

If you or someone you know is handy, you could construct a barn swallow nesting structure. I’ve come across these structures used as mitigation tools to preserve barn swallow nesting colonies. For example, the structures can replace demolished barns and outbuildings. The nesting structures are typically a long, roofed box with an open bottom supported by four wooden posts. Within the box, dividers hang down to provide each pair of swallows with its own compartment. Metal flashing wraps each post to deter predators.

Barn swallows are beautiful birds and their presence should be a welcome sign. If you take steps to attract them to your property, I hope you will be rewarded with their aerial gymnastics and insatiable appetite for insects.

If an old building that houses a barn swallow nesting colony is to be demolished, you should erect the new nest structure the year before so the birds can investigate it as a potential nest site for next year. Adding artificial nest cups will make the structure even more attractive.

Resources: * Haemig, Paul D.; Hernandez J.; Waldenström J.; Bonnedahl J.; Olsen B (2008). "Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) test negative for Salmonella". Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 8 (4): 451–454. †BSC

Rebecca Harrold homesteads and homeschools on a 23-acre property in rural Ontario, where she is engaged with all types of wiser living skills. She believes that restoring the land to its healthy, sustainable state will increase its resilience, and in turn, the resilience of the people who depend upon it. Connect with Rebecca at Harrold Country Home and on Instagram. Read all of Rebecca’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Is that a Rabbit or a Hare and What’s the Difference?

Rabbits and hares look much the same, and many people get the two species confused. It is rather fascinating because even though they look so completely similar, they are actually different species.  There are some tricks to learning their differences and identifying which creature you have encountered. 


You can easily tell them apart when you get a bit closer to the animal, with longer ears on the hare, and blacker tips on the coat of the hare too. Rabbits don't tend to have this darker coloring, but the two creatures can be very similar in color aside from that.  So, your first item to check when you spot one is its ears. 

The second item to check is the hind quarters of the hopping animal.  Powerful hind legs and a cute, fluffy tail is what often give rabbits away.  The hare’s hind legs are longer than the rabbit’s hind legs.  Both rabbits and hares have coloring cleverly disguising them when they stay still in longer grass and weeds. They're both very fast too, so they’ll bolt before you have a chance to get to them to have a closer look.

Unlike hares that live in above-ground nests, rabbits live mostly underground, in warrens. They are capable of digging their own burrows, but would much rather hijack another one they come across, or inhabit one that has previously been abandoned by another wild animal. Their burrows are cleverly engineered, and often very complex in nature, and, when left to their own devices for long enough, can be incredibly large.  And it’s a good thing too, because when a rabbit is born, it is hairless and blind.  Hares, on the other hand are able to move and have a full coat of fur so they are much more equipped for survival at the beginning.

Many rabbit species can be found across North America, such as Cottontail, brush, and Pygmy.  Hares consist of the snowshoe and white-tailed jackrabbit.  Both species have highly populated human territories, but they prefer large and open meadows, marshlands, woodlands, and even on and around mountainous regions. In fact, they’re quite adaptable creatures, and the fact that they spend a lot of their time underground helps them to make a home in many different habitats.

When the weather is nice and warm, rabbits have an abundance of food to eat, including wildflowers, weeds, clovers, and grasses.  They mostly feed on vegetation with a soft stem verses the hare that can sustain itself on twigs and shoots, and even bark.  In harsher times, they are more likely to eat anything green for survival, which could mean they are on your land.  If you have any issues with rabbits or hares, please contact a <a href="">professional wildlife removal expert</a> for help.


Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, Specific Types of Rabbits & Hares

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Gatto

Elizabeth Gatto is a lover of wildlife and promoter of wildlife conservation. She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her online at Wildlife Animal Control. Read all of Elizabeth’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.