Fall Foliage Shouldn't Be Taken For Granted

Fall Foliage Shouldn't Be Taken For Granted

If we don't take care of trees now, we won't have any left for the future.

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It's the most wonderful time of the year...it's fall! The trees in New England are trading in their summery green leaves for shades of brown, orange, yellow and red. Streets from Connecticut to Maine are flooded with travelers alike that are hoping for the chance to see the beauty of fall foliage at its peak. Cameras are out, cars are pulled over every which way, while those of us who are used to it just drive by and scoff a bit.

We see the trees transform every year, what's the big deal? People overhype fall foliage way too much right? WRONG.

The natural world around us is a resource we cannot afford to just brush off because it's always there. We're losing more and more of our trees by the day throughout the entire world, and you can still see it right here at home. Try observing for gaps where there were once trees along the highway (I see them in Connecticut all the time.) That big tree in town that basically became an unofficial landmark? That's gone too. We see a tree as just a tree sometimes, we can easily plant a new one anytime and just about anywhere.

This kind of mentality needs to be put to a massive stop. Trees are a natural resource we will run out of if we do not take the care to watch out for them. They feed us clean air and apples, as well as offer us the lumber for our houses and throw some shade on a hot day. Trees are a life source for all humanity, along with our wildlife. Every living thing relies on a tree somehow, and it's a fact that many people tend to forget.

We have to educate ourselves. I'm fortunate to have taken classes for years teaching me about how important conservation is, but many people have never and probably will never take a class or read a magazine that talks about conservation and just how important and relevant it is. Trees are important to our economy and help people heal from mental and physical wounds. How can we lose something that does nothing but gives and give to the human race as it's always done since our prehistoric days?

The Connecticut Forest and Park's Association has multiple talks about our natural resources and wildlife around me, specifically, but there are places just like them in every state there to educate the public and make movements in the legislature to get better laws aimed towards conserving our natural world. Look at these organizations, donate, and help make a change.

We cannot allow for a future without fall foliage or any foliage at all. Our kids and grandkids and everyone down the line deserve to see the sights we get to see or travel to see. It's up to us intellectual and amazing humans to save what keeps us alive.

Next time you drive by those gorgeous red maple trees or burnt orange oak trees, be thankful.

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.
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The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.


2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.


3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.


4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).


5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.


6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.


7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.


8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.


9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.


10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.


11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.


12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.


13. Goblin Shark


This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.


14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.


15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.


16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.


17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.


18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.


19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.


And finally....


20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Don't Boycott Fairlife Because Of Fair Oaks Farms Just Yet

These shameful acts do not represent the dairy industry or agriculture as a whole.

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I am currently enrolled in Auburn University's College of Agriculture set to graduate in a short time. I am majoring in Poultry Production with a minor in Animal Science. I also work on a small cow-calf operation on the weekends and am completing an internship at a chicken processing plant. I am well-versed in areas of animal welfare, proper husbandry, and have many certifications and countless hours training in proper animal handling for all manner of livestock and meat-producing animals.

Because of this, my Facebook feed and other social media accounts are often filled with farming videos, new agricultural technologies, and the occasional Peta ad. Upon opening Facebook this week, I came across the Fair Oaks Farm scandal. I typically don't click on videos depicting animal abuse allegations without first doing a little research of my own.

Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) is an organization promoting the cessation of severe animal cruelty. A noble cause for sure, but as with many of these organizations, they often seek to demonize agricultural organizations by preying on the heartstrings of individuals who know little about farming or the industry as a whole.

Often, modern farming activities are misconstrued with either adulterated information, misguiding comments, or extremely old, outdated footage. While these actions recorded by ARM in the Fair Oaks Farm were very real instances, they were isolated.

These organizations never seek to show what humane treatment of animals looks like. They never aim to showcase good handling practices. For every minute of abuse, they videoed, how many hours of proper conduct was carried out?

Upper management, supervisors, and individuals in a position to stop unacceptable behavior are incapable of being everywhere at once. In addition, when offenders know they are being watched by such individuals, they will discontinue the behavior until they are unsupervised again.

Because of this, any company that handles livestock practices some form of the "See Something, Say Something" rule. This rule, under one of its many name variations basically means if an employee of any level sees another employee participating in behavior that is inhumane, they are required to report it immediately or risk termination. The undercover videographers were at one point, employed by Fair Oaks Farm.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but that makes the ARM videographers employees of Fair Oaks Farm which men they went through the "See Something, Say Something" training, and knew they were supposed to report it, but didn't.

How many times in the four-month observation of the ARM videographers could they have reported the actions of the men in the videos? How many times did they fail to notify the company of the responsible party's actions? How many of these cruel instances of abuse been prevented had they notified management and how much sooner could the culprit have been terminated? They allowed these activities to continue to transpire until they had enough evidence to smear the dairy industry. They inhibited proper company function and they disregarded the safeguard practices the company had in place.

Fair Oaks Farm is not blameless, and these acts should not go unpunished, but boycotting Fairlife isn't the way to do it.

Sure, boycotting it will pull money away from the company until they inevitably source milk from another dairy in response to the media and consumer's cry for change, but how does this help the dairy cattle at Fair Oaks or the employees who have abided by proper animal handling? When you boycott, the responsible farm and responsible parties fall out of the public eye and the abuse goes uncorrected.

Boycotting is forgetting.

How about instead of refusing to buy their milk, you push for changes in their employee vetting processes or make amendments to their animal welfare checks. Don't let people forget about Fair Oaks, and don't turn your back on a farm because of the actions of a few. Instead of pretending the company doesn't exist, we hold them to a higher standard. Then, we will see change.

But if you simply cannot continue supporting this company, I understand. It's a hard concept to come to terms with. But remember, these shameful acts do not represent the dairy industry or agriculture as a whole. Do not stop supporting the dairy industry and the countless dairy farmers nationally.

Do not assume this is normal behavior because it isn't.

The employees in question were terminated before the release of the video campaign because a responsible employee reported them.

Do not turn your back on agriculture or farmers, and do not idolize organizations like ARM who interfere with proper business practices in order to capture the information they want.

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