New Luke Walker starts next week!

Luke’s two years older and now he’s at secondary school, but he’s still the boy we know and love 😀

Chapter 17 starts next week so if you want to know what happened in the first sixteen chapters, you’d better get over there now! 😉

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children’s story, veggie kids, vegan children, vegan children’s books, animal rights, vegan fiction

Something unexpected that brightened my day

Recently I returned to my home town to visit family and, compared to where I live now, it’s like stepping back into the 1980s in terms of vegan options.  My dad was in the Coronary Care Unit of the local general hospital and there wasn’t a single vegan option on the hospital menu, for breakfast, lunch or dinner! The Coronary Care Unit!

Well, I’m sure you can imagine how I felt but on my way home my spirits were lifted.  I popped into the local library and look what was on the wall!

So don’t get disheartened, I said to myself – there are vegans everywhere, plugging away.

Whoever put this board up – thank you so much 😀

Look at our apple trees now!

Remember we planted some sprouted apple seeds nearly five and a half years ago? I can’t believe it’s been over five years!  Anyway, look at them now!  In our last update, three years ago, they were still in pots, but not long after that we planted them in the chickens’ area of the garden where my husband works.  We thought they’d make the chickens’ patch more interesting and give them some shade in the summer.  They grew at different rates, maybe because they’re different types of apples but also because a couple of them have been plagued with ants farming aphids on them.  The little one at the back of the photo (above) was in a really bad way last year because it was smothered in greenfly so I soaked some soapnuts in a bottle of water and doused them liberally with it and this year it’s really bounced back.  Doesn’t seem a very vegan thing to do though does it?  But I want to protect the trees.  This year the ants are still there and the greenfly are back, though not in such great numbers yet.  I was hoping some ladybirds might help out if I left things alone but so far I’ve only seen one so I’m not really sure the best course of action.

Any natural suggestions would be greatly appreciated 🙂

This one is the strongest this year – isn’t it marvellous?  A nice bit of shade for the chicks and, five years in, we’re half way to getting some apples.  Greenfly permitting 😉

Growing your own trees – it’s a rollercoaster of joy and apprehension! ❤

Basking Sharks

Photo by David Mark of Pixabay

Basking Sharks are so named because they’re often seen feeding at the surface of the water where they look like they’re basking in the sun!  They are enormous and often spotted in UK waters during summer months.
APPEARANCE:
Apart from their large size, Basking Sharks have:

  • a very large mouth – this can be well over 1m wide!
  • 5 huge gills which almost encircle the head
  • and a powerful crescent-shaped tail

COLOUR:
They tend to be greyish-brown with a lighter underbelly. Often they have irregular patches, patterns and streaks on their flanks and fins. Using photo-ID we can use these distinct markings to identify individual Basking Sharks.

SIZE:
The largest reported Basking Shark was 12m long. But most don’t get bigger than 9.8m.

WEIGHT:
The average Basking Shark weighs 4.5 tonnes. Yet, they can weigh up to 7 tonnes!

DIET:
Basking Sharks eat zooplankton. This includes small copepods, barnacles, decapod larvae, fish eggs and shrimp.  They’re one of 3 filter-feeding sharks but are the only species that feeds entirely passively. They swim through the water with their mouth wide open, rather than actively sucking water in. Only closing their mouths to swallow their food. Long comb-like structures on their gills (known as gill-rakers) trap and filter zooplankton. These can strain up to 2000 tonnes of water per hour!

REPRODUCTION:
It’s thought that Basking Sharks live for at least 50 years. Males reach maturity at 12–16 years. And females at 20 years (around 4.6-6.1m in length).
Females produce eggs, which develop and hatch inside their body. They then give birth to fully developed young, which are around 1–1.7m long. This makes Basking Shark pups larger at birth than many species of shark are fully grown!

There’s little data on Basking Shark reproduction. But pregnancy is thought to last around 14 months. There’s only ever been one reported catch of a pregnant female (1943), who was carrying 6 pups. This suggests that Basking Sharks give birth in areas of low, or no fishing pressure.

BEHAVIOUR:
Basking Sharks are quite social. They can be seen on their own, in small groups, or, schools of hundreds. There are many reports of same size and sex groups. Suggesting a strong sexual and age segregation within the species.

Despite their size, Basking Sharks are capable of leaping clear out of the water. A behaviour known as breaching. They seem to breach most when in large groups and during courtship, so this may act as a social or sexual function. It could also help to dislodge external parasites.
Info from sharktrust.org/about-basking-sharks

Basking Sharks are long lived, slow growing and produce few young. This makes them extremely vulnerable to human impacts.  Although Basking Sharks are now one of the most heavily protected sharks in UK and EU waters, they continue to face threats from human activities:

ENTANGLEMENT
Basking Sharks easily become entangled in fishing nets and ropes. Unless fishermen are on hand to quickly release them, they often die. Although some do manage to disentangle themselves. You can sometimes see scarring and abrasions caused by nets on their dorsal fin.

BOAT-STRIKE
Propeller and boat strikes remain a serious danger for Basking Sharks. Particularly in summer months when they’re feeding at the surface. Basking Sharks rarely evade approaching boats. So it’s common for them to have scarring and sometimes horrific injuries from collisions.

HARASSMENT
Basking Sharks are very sensitive to disturbance and harassment by people. In all the excitement of seeing Basking Sharks, boats and jet-ski’s often end up striking them. As well as causing physical harm, water-users can also disrupt their natural behaviour. Such as feeding, courting and mating.

FISHERIES
Basking Shark fisheries worldwide have all but collapsed. Although in some parts of the world they continue, driven by demand for shark fins. Basking Sharks are also still caught as bycatch in nets intended for other species.

Info from sharktrust.org/basking-shark-threats

To learn how you can help basking sharks go to sharktrust.org/how-can-you-help-basking-sharks

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Homemade Raw Bars

After giving up refined sugar I got hooked on these things.  They are an absolutely delicious, feel-good treat (Pulsin is on the ethical chocolate list) which is almost guilt-free.  Almost.  Unfortunately they’re wrapped in plastic.  So, to avoid that, I decided to make my own – and they are equally yummy, if I do say so myself 😀

I ordered my supplies from the Zero Waste Club – a wonderful new company from whom you can order all sorts of healthy staples without plastic wrapping.  The following is my first attempt and it made a lot of bars.  In future I’ll halve these measurements 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Almost 3 mugs full (500g) of organic pitted dates
  • About 2 mugs full (about 350g) of organic cashews
  • About 1 mug full of organic raisins
  • About half a mug full of organic cocoa powder (to be truly raw, substitute raw cacao)
  • About a mug full of organic cacao nibs
  • Some organic oats (to be truly raw, omit these)

First soak the dates and the cashews in water (separately) in the fridge for a couple of hours to soften.  Afterwards, drain and rinse the cashews in a colander.

I don’t have a food processor (I used to have one but it broke and I refuse to buy another one which will also break at some point and add more plastic to landfill) so I used my beloved manual juicer to process these ingredients.  This is a simple, hand-crank machine made of stainless steel which I believe will last me a life time.  I highly recommend it 😀 (BL-30 Manual Stainless Steel Wheat Grass and Vegetable Juicer)

  1.  Process the softened dates into mush and put them in a large mixing bowl.2.  Process the softened cashews into mush and add them to the bowl with the dates.3.  Mix the stiff mixture of dates and cashews until thoroughly combined.4.  Process the raisins into mush and mix them into the mixture.5.  Add the cocoa and the cacao nibs and mix until everything is fully combined into a lovely chocolatey mixture.6.  If you don’t want to add the oats, you’re finished so you can spread the mixture into a tin or onto a plate or container.  It is delicious now but you won’t be able to pick it up with your fingers to eat it, like a shop-bought bar.  You’ll need a plate and a fork coz it’s mushy.  So, I added a few oats to stiffen it up.  Just add a few at a time and mix them in until you’ve got the consistency you want.7.  When the mixture is the right consistency, spread it onto a lined cookie sheet (I lined it with eco-friendly grease proof paper from If You Care)  Flatten it with  the back of  a wet spoon.8.  Then cut it into bars and chill in the fridge.  Easy 😀 Yum 😀

 

Freedom

Story continues from yesterday:

Yay Venus! She saved the day again!

If you want to know what she did next, go to episode 4

If you want to know what she did before this, go to the Venus Aqueous page 😀

Have a great day, see you tomorrow ❤

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vegan, vegan children, vegan children’s story, vegan comic, children’s comic, animals, marine animals, veggie kids, basking sharks, jet skis, fishing, fishing nets, ghost nets, marine pollution

Art Attack

Story continues from yesterday

Phew! Thank goodness for that.  Find out tomorrow whether Venus can save the basking shark😀

or read the whole story now 😉

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vegan, vegan children, vegan children’s story, vegan comic, children’s comic, animals, marine animals, veggie kids, basking sharks, jet skis