Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Evidence Mounts- Corn is King


“We get sprayed more and more each year. It’s presently so bad that we may have to leave our farmstead.” And she makes reference to her connection to Ginkgo Tree Cafe, in Dixon. This caught my immediate interest. Soon as I spotted a hole in my demandin' schedule, me and my dogs in pickup, were on our way ta Dixon.
Ruby May had pre-scouted this Ginkgo Tree place out. Told me where it was, the good impression that it left her with. She gave it high marks fer bein' done in quite a tasteful fashion. I wasn't disappointed. Not in the least.

This was spur-of-the-moment, ya understand. I'm un-pre-announced. “Tasha?” I question ta the first young lady I run inta.

“She's in the back, at the kitchen,” I get in response.

Ruby May had told me of the somewhat unique kitchen arrangement, also givin' it high marks. Ruby May's been around. Positives don't flow from her flippantly. Again, she was right.

There are several females scurryin’ around these big stove tops and ovens. Gosh! Did the food cookin' ever exude delicious, mouth waterin' aromas.

“Tasha?” Again I question, this gettin' a brief relay to Tasha, who's just then deep in the back. She gets the idea that there's this gray old fart at the counter wantin' ta talk with her. Wipin' her hands on her apron, she marches right out. I introduce myself, briefly relay reason fer me bein' there, right then. We share hand shakes. First impression, this lady wasn't no lightweight.

I love smart and beautiful females. I had no problem what-so-ever, bull-shittin' with this very agreeable personage. She opened up with her frustrations with very little probing. All the sickness they'd, at first mysteriously, gone through. Herself, her two young and lovely daughters; one was hangin' right there, all ears at first, looked ta be maybe six er seven. And their father, too. He'd really gone down hard, several times, that they directly tied to aircraft applied chemicals. On way-too-windy days they'd experienced drifted toxic sprays that had set them on a dead run fer the house. But you could smell it some even in there. “We could taste it, it was that strong.”


Complaints to farmers did absolutely no good. A complaint got made to Il. Dept. of Ag. An investigator came out but admitted there was very little he could do. Having not been on the scene when the incident occurred. There’s like one investigator for a multi county area. An area impossible for him to police.

They love their six acre place. They'd always wanted to grow their own clean fruits and vegetables. But bein' bordered by chem. ag., they're findin' that ta be impossible.

How many others dream of just five er six acres, out in the country, and doin' just about what they'd planned? Hell! A hundred acres, surrounded by hundreds of other non-ag. acres, wasn't enough fer us. The truth is...there's almost no escape if you live in or around chem. ag. Those livin' in towns ain't free from chem. ag.'s ill effects, either...they just don’t know it, don’t experience it quite so directly.

Easy as I found her ta talk to, I had ta push off. The father of them two kids, who'd got knocked flat by aerial spray, he was next on my list. Dion. He's a barber with a shop just a good block away from the Ginkgo Tree.

Dion's a friend of the Rev. Marques, who's a regular at our Grove Creek Chapter of the Church of the Earth Firsters gatherings. More er less, the Rev. had sorta prepped me.


He was busy cuttin' hair with a couple customers waitin'. I introduced myself and, yeah, Marques had told him of me.

“I didn't meet you, but I met one of your dogs, just the other night,” Dion states. Yeah, I was aware that he and my all-around guard dog, Candy, had met several days before. He was workin' his way to Marques' far-back-in-the-woods, sugar shack. Among other things, Marques taps maple trees.

I was on another trail, headin' in the opposite direction, back to the warmth of the wood stove, here in my ratty-ass little cabin.

“I just finished interviewing yer wife. And I like ta get yer insight on your chemical problems,” says me.

He comes on sorta aggressive, exclaimin' that he had absolutely no faith that anything can be done. He's a complete skeptic with respect to any governmental agency. IL. Dept. of Ag., EPA, “None of them agencies are workin' for us, none of 'em!” He settled some, perhaps understandin' that he was preachin' to the choir. He is a very active speaker, he puts his whole body inta it.

He confirmed Tasha's account of family sicknesses. His own he claimed as quite severe incident after severe incident. He then set to unfolding. To say that he was not in love with chemical ag. is a bit of an understatement.

He told of an incident that occurred there in his shop, just two seats to my left. An investigator of some sort from either the EPA or IL. Dept. of Ag., he couldn't remember which, interviewed him with respect to aerial spraying complaints.

After the interview, to which Dion didn't give up much, the guy took off his credentials and said he could now vent his anger however he felt; indicating that he felt just about the same as Dion, admitting there was almost nothing he could do within the prevailing agency's policies, which was to find every way possible to support chemical ag.

“Corn is king,” was the statement Dion took away from this encounter. “You've got to understand that here in Illinois, corn is king!” this investigator repeatedly stated. 

“Them little yellow planes!” he comes out. “When they show up we pack up the kids and escape ta town. You can still smell that stuff when we get back. Wind! Hell, that doesn’t stop ‘em. You can see the stuff blowin’ like crazy, but that don’t stop ‘em.”


Dumb me. Imaginin' me thinkin' that in a free and open democracy the people were sovereign.
Dion gave me several leads, others I could talk to, fellow complainers. Naturally, I'll follow 'em up.

“You know, Brother David, we’re getting more information and leads on chemical complaint stories than you can possibly keep up with,” Kendra wants me ta know.

“Yeah. Whew! When we first started this Eco Vig, I was a bit concerned with havin’ enough material ta keep writin’ this stuff. Not anymore, though. Shoot no! Oh what luxury ta be able ta pick and chose.”

“Why don’t you do that crop duster plane without traceable owners, or numbers one?” Ruby May wants to know.

“Ain’t researched it, quite enough, yet. But I’ll definitely do it.”
“How about the bees and the butterflies then?” Marques asks.

“The bees, the butterflies. Yeah. That better suits my ‘right now’ mood.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Evidence Mounts- More About the Frogs


Dog food, shelled corn, bird seed, and seed potatoes, these are some of the things that me and this Richie fella deal in. We generally find things fer minor bullshit sessions, too.

I don't know what his politics are er, if he's got one, what religious persuasions he holds. Environmental issues, mostly, seem ta fill our talk sessions. Here, we're pretty much on the same page.

He's a fan of the EcoVig and us members of COTEFers, Washington Grove Chapter. After this Mother Jones article was passed to me from Brother Tom, I was explainin’ ta Richie how relevant it was, and how it might work inta this issue.

I gave him the 100% frog kill info attached to the Headline fungicide, when used at recommended dosages, info.

He sets inta tellin' me this story about a wet spot he's got by his house, which, for as long as he can recall, bursts forth in chorus of amphibian music that he found delicious, somethin' he and his family looked forward to come springtime. I assured him that I certainly understood, us havin' creek bottom and wetlands not far from the cabin. That mixed with the night insects is a symphony I love ta drift off to sleep with. Spring peepers, toads, bull frogs, yeah, what music!

Well, he proceeds ta tell me that that rite-of-spring, for the past two years, simply didn't happen. And not because it wasn't wet enough.

And they stopped seein' frogs around the house, out in the garden and yard too. He goes on to tell me that he and his son, while out on their dirt bike rides, here and there, were findin,' belly-up, dead frogs, lots of 'em. They couldn't piece together the reasons why. Too, they couldn’t figure why their dog kept runnin’ off inta neighboring corn field, stayin’ in there for a long time and didn’t want ta come when they called, highly unusual behavior which caused them to investigate. Not dead yet, dazed frogs that the dog could easily catch, that’s what Richie says they found. The corn was like a foot high. Not much leaf cover yet. And them frogs musta been real stupid ones, not understandin’ that they were supposta be hidin’ durin’ the time of chemical application.

I made it a point ta give Richie a copy of the 'Mother Jones' article. We promised we'd get together later, and talk more about this. Which I'm pretty sure we will.

Richie’s property is surrounded by row crop monoculture, which he claims gets aerial sprayed on a yearly basis. Years ago, because of concern for his then young son, he’d asked the sprayin’ company to please notify them when spraying was going to take place, so they could be sure to protect their son, give them a chance to get him the hell outta the area. The spraying outfit said they would but then never did! Richie got upset, is upset, frustrated by their lack of concern.

Since starting this Eco Vig campaign, we’ve had many, many similar complaints. A total lack of concern from applicators who act like they’ve got some sort of special right-away. “Disgusting in their arrogance,” that’s a line that’s been used numerous times.


Ruby May tells us that we finally got a response from Woodley aviation. Well, sorta. 

This is from Craig Woodley, whom, I’m assumin’ is related into ownership/management. Maybe the owner’s kid?

“Are you an Obama fan? My guess is yes.” His total statement.

“Got even a clue as ta what this Craig kid is tryin’ ta get across?” I questioned. For several rare moments us COTEFer’s just set there in quiet contemplation. “What on earth,” Marques comes forth, 
 “Does Obama have to do with our concern here for some local protection from being unwittingly affected by deadly chemical poisoning?" 

No one could figure how this could be a left verses right issue, or a racist one, either.

“Maybe,” Tom comes on, “in his mind there’s the remembrance of the eyes-closed, see-no-evil, don’t get in the way of chemical ag. biz attitude that previous administrations have had.”

“You sure are right on that one, Tom, old buddy. That last bunch of morons just about gutted most eco legislation. Them and their damn lob….”

“Ok, M&M, cool yer jets. Our cause is a-political. Let’s not chew up this lovely star studded night jawin’ more about that.

“As long as we’ve got Craig’s interest, maybe he wouldn’t mind commentin’ on some of the questions I was hopin’ ta ask poor-sighted Stan, me tryin’ ta reach him by phone.


“Do you, Craig, or any of your pilots, have any type of environmental training? Er do ya just know how ta fly a crop duster? If yer answer is ‘No,’ to the first question, well then I’d be glad to invite one and all ta lessons I’m teachin’ my six year old great-grandson, T.J. I’ve a feelin’ you all don’t have much of a clue as ta what yer achieving; a more and more dead general ecosystem. And you’re infringing more and more on our ‘collective environmental commons’.”

“You guys have got to take a look at this fellas facebook page!” Ruby May cuts in, somewhat excitedly. “It’s a ‘look-what-kinda-toys-I’ve-got’ kinda thing. Shiny car, big 4-wheeler, and lots of crop dusters. He’s obviously enamored with his stuff.”

Kendra comments about that picture of him, er somebody else, low flying that crop duster. “Look at the plum of particulates spray that’s being kicked up into the air behind it. An impersis science of death deliverance is what that looks to me.”

“Ok. Ok. Enough pickin’ on this clown. It’s good ta know that Craig’s payin’ attention. And if he’s got anything even reasonably intelligent to say in reply, well, we’d be more than happy ta print it.

“We're gettin' more and more respondents to the facebook work that Kendra has done such a good job with,” comments Ruby May, who pretty much keeps tabs on what Kendra's doin'.

Ruby May then hands me a list of those respondents that she thinks I should make more direct contact with....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Evidence Mounts- Volume 3

Continued From Volume 2-

You might, er might not, recall that we ended our last eco Vig discussin’ our mission statement, Kendra seemingly implying that we need to broaden it, expand upon it some…discussing this it was thrown out there that we should be shottin’ fer a complete ban on that whole family of deadly concoctions bein’ thrust upon the natural biota, and, in turn, upon all of us. “Remember DDT!?” numerous times, the Manure Man shouted out. That meetin’ came to a close. About two weeks later we rejoined again.

“ raucous assemblage, I can tell by the way the dogs are raisin' hell, that somebody else has just showed up. Hope it’s my buddy Tom. And not the law. Yeah. I can tell by the way whomever it is, their workin' their way through and passed those beasts. Yeah! It’s Tom.”

“Hey! Tom! Com'on in here round the fire where it’s one heck of a lot more comfortable. Folks, this is my buddy Tom. Biologist, emeritus. Long time with the DNR. Brother Tom, let me introduce ya around. This young lady here who wears that constant silly smile, like she's enjoyin' herself, full blast, full time, the one with the fiddle in her hands, that's Kendra. Marques there with the banjo, him too wearin' that 'what me worry' look on his kisser...Oh shoot, you already know Marques, don't ya?”

“Yes, Brother David, we've burned prairies together. How ya doin' Marques? Long time, no see.”

“Howdy, Tom, I’m doin’ just fine. Thanks.”

“I don't know if you remember this old gimped up character, he's...”

“Shoot! I'd recognize him anywhere. I've been a fan of his direct-action style for a long, long time. How ya doin', Mister Manure Man?”

“You can drop that 'mister,' they've got me reduced ta just M&M around here. Anyway, thanks fer yer rememberin' of my past exploits. Fer now, this group has got me pretty well collared. I wouldn't bet that I ain’t one day gonna break loose, though.”

“Naturally, Tom, you know Ruby May.

“I wish I could introduce you to Dina, but she's off doin', I guess what you'd call research, in Peru; the country, not Peru, IL.

“Don't know how many more will show tonight, it’s still early.

“Hey! Tom. Thanks for that great frog information. I reprinted and handed out copies ta these assembled here, and others. I had little doubt that we'd fall inta serious discussion about just this. What did you guys think of that info?”


Marques chimes in first. “It’s... incredible,” he comes out with while sadly shakin' his reverential head. “Absolutely incredible. A 100 per cent kill ratio. That just sucks my breath away. If there were ever reason to come up with a frog eliminator, they've found it.”

“This crap's scary!” Kendra pipes in.

“Those that manufacture that stuff outta be shot! er better yet, boiled in oil!” M&M blurts out, emphatically. “And them that sells it and sprays it too! How the dickens did this ever get past the EPA?”

“These chemicals only have to leap the lowest of bars,” Tom comes back. “These companies that manufacture this crap won't do research that they're not forced to do. You can't see harmful side effects, if you're not looking for them. Research costs money. These manufacturer are inta this for right-now, bottom line profit.

“The main chemical formula concerned in this Mother Jones article is Headline, that was one of the agents in that three-chemical-cocktail that was involved in the aquatic kill in your creek here, wasn't it?”

“Yes,” Kendra pipes up. “Tombstone, Headline, and Sniper. We know it’s deadly to aquatic animals, especially invertebrates. We know it’s harmful to both mammals and birds. And now we know it’s deadly to frogs, and most likely other amphibians, and, what’s left?”

“Reptiles,” Ruby May adds in. “But we don't know if it’s harmful to them. What good biological research, done by prominent herpetologists, without a doubt indicates that snakes, and turtles are in drastic decline, too! Nevertheless, that's quite an indictment. Why not just say, especially the way they're mixin' this junk together, and the way it’s applied...’Environment, move over, get outta the way! Make way for chemical agriculture. Ain’t no room fer nothin' else!’ 100% kill ratio for frogs sprayed with manufacture recommended dosages, and their deaths after contact, happens rapidly, like from 6-8 hours. Incredible.”

“And as you've read, gang, er maybe group, is better, this wasn't some test that couldn't pass muster with respect to the quality of science applied. It comes outta Europe, its peer reviewed by Swiss and German scientists. I mean, this is the real thing!”

“100% kill ratio on contact with ‘Headline,” a commonly aerially applied synthetic agricultural chemical that the chemical manufactures haven't done their homework on, not even close. And this blanketed over a significant portion of Lee and Ogle Counties. And because there's essentially no oversight of those doing the aerial spraying, or that done from the ground, either, you can bet that this stuff is gettin' into the ‘environmental commons,’ proved here by exactly what happened ta Grove Creek. Yeah. The ‘environmental commons,’ something we'll slate for further discussion, later, and in depth, I promise...”

“The manufacture of this killer of a chemical, BASF, a huge chemical conglomerate from the EU that once was involved in producing stuff for quick-kill Nazi concentration camps' gas chambers, found that results of this study interestin', but it also doubted that these peer-reviewed-scientific studies duplicated real field conditions and judged them insignificant. Whew!

“We'll quote directly from Mother Jones here as to this huge conglomerate's response to email questioning:

'The study design neither reflects conditions of realistic agricultural use in practice nor the natural behavior of the animals. Amphibians are not exposed to such pesticide concentrations in practice and under normal agricultural conditions. For instance, Pyraclostrobin is not applied to the bare ground but to the crop, and the plants in the field will certainly reduce the exposure to the amphibians. In addition, amphibians tend to hide (under leaves or in the soil) during times of application. Accordingly, BASF considers the risk to amphibians resulting from Pyraclostrobin to be low in practice and under normal agricultural conditions.'  [you can read the whole article here:]

“The obvious question here that’s just begging to be the hell wasn't research done on this type of problem before this junk started killin' off just all kinds of critters in our, yours and mine, environment? Where is the EPA on stuff like this when ya need 'em?

“Is this an example of corporate double speak er what? How do they know what the exposure to amphibians is...when they've never studied it? Fine. Your chemical is applied by air to the crops. 
Yeah. None of it hits ground. Sure. It might interest you that many species of frogs make their living moving around on leafy vegetation, searching for insects as food. Do you think they could come into contact with these deadly chemicals that way? Seems ta me that there's a chance.

“Twice they mention ‘normal agricultural conditions.’ What the heck, in the always-changing- environmental conditions are 'normal agricultural conditions!'

“Their statement with respect to amphibians tendin' ta hide durin' times of application, I find absolutely ludicrous. Do they, have they, even a scintilla of research data pertaining to that?! Shoot, no. It’s just some PR entity's hack, knee jerk, and stupid statement.

“Those amphibians must hide all the daylight hours, 'cause that sprayin' went on from dawn ta dusk, for days. The reason frogs have such big eyes is that they are 'sight' feeders. Yes they do hunt also in darkness, but bet yer last dollar that they're extremely effective daytime hunters too.”

“Brother David, I love the closing statement in that Mother Jones article,” Kendra expounds. 'If all it takes to kill a frog is a single spray, you're using a problematic pesticide, full stop.'

Marques comes out with a statement about how Church of the Earth Firsters, our Washington Grove chapter, its membership, continues to swell. “We've got Tom here, and there's this fella I know from Oregon. His name is Richie, and he owns a feed, seed, and lawn mower repair service. He's thinkin' of startin' an Oregon chapter. Boy has he ever got a frog story ta tell.”

“Well, David, why don't ya get it from him then?” Ruby May wants ta know.

“I'll do just that Ruby May. This is pretty good, first-hand and very local stuff.”