Sunday, January 13, 2008

Before your tribe lived here, what did the previous inhabitants eat and how did they sustain themselves? Q.9 of The Big Here Quiz

Our extensive research in Essex, Kent and Lambton counties has revealed that contrary to statements made by many historical writers, for whatever reasons, religious or political, the Native Indians of the contact period and those who preceded them as early as the year 406 A.D. did not live by hunting, fishing and gathering alone. There were only a few wandering bands, who in some manner perhaps contributed to cultural diffusion, that did not live in fixed habitations. The Indians of the Canadian Southwest indeed had summer campsites, but they were not unlike today's urbanites going to a cottage or campground for the summer months...

... As evidenced from the examination of the midden pits, probably subsisted on the local animals, fish, fowl, and vegtation. Their agriculture practice included the cultivation of corn... A variety was developed by the Indians of Southern Ontario to mature in less than 90 days...

[Petagwana to Pele (Point Edward to Point Pelee) : The Story of Great Lakes Prehistoric and Historic Sties and Their People by Al Plant).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt? Q.8 of The Big Here Quiz

According to this map and accompanying Soil Survey of Essex County, the soil under my feet is Brookston clay or Brookston clay loam.

According to “The Physiography of Southern Ontario”, Essex County and the southwestern part of Chatham-Kent are situated within the physiographic sub-region referred to as the Essex Clay Plain – a broad till plain left after the recession of the glacial lakes - Lake Whittlesey and Lake Warren [pdf]

Judging by the very general answers given on Kevin Kelly's website to this question ("clay"), it would appear that most folks are generally unaware of the nuances of soil classification. Even Wikipedia is particularly thin on the topic of soil.

Monday, January 07, 2008

How far do you have to travel before you reach a different watershed? Can you draw the boundaries of yours? Q7 of The Big Here Quiz

Using Environment Canada's Know Your Watershed, I now know that I live in the Northern Lake Erie - St. Claire watershed (WSHED_ID=620)

I'm trying to figure out if there is a particular feature like a river that defines my watershed's Eastern border on the Thames River Watershed. I think it may be the Ruscom River which is approximately 30 km away.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom here? Q6 of The Big Here Quiz

While other places celebrate the first bloom of the snowdrop, there isn't such a tradition in Carolinian Canada. Early last year, I went out on a spring walk with the Essex County Field Naturalists and asked the experts among me what wildflowers bloomed first in these parts. There was no clear consensus but the candidates for the first flowers to bloom in this area are trilliums, jack in the pulpit, and the wood rush.

I tried to look for external confirmation but unfortunately, the results of PlantWatch are largely impossible to retrieve.

How many feet above sea level are you? Q5 of The Big Here Quiz

According to this website, Windsor, Ontario is 190 metres above sea level.

But according to Toporama, my house is closer to 182 metres. See?

My house is closer to 182m

Who knew that sea level means the world to pilots?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water? Q4 of the Big Here Quiz

Because my home is in the Riverfront Sanitary Drainage System (pdf), my educated guess is that the solids and wastewater make its way to the Lou Romano Water Reclamation Plant for treatment.

The facility, which discharges into the Detroit River, is believed to be the largest primary treatment plant discharging into the Great Lakes basin. The Detroit River Canadian Cleanup Committee, a community based organization working to improve the health of the Detroit River, recommended the treatment upgrade to local officials some time ago. The city is adding secondary treatment capability to produce cleaner effluent.

The biosolids "are heat dried and pelletized at a plant on Sandwich Street, operated by Prism Berlie Windsor Ltd. The finished pellets are used as a fertilizer and soil conditioner."

While the Windsor product is 3-5-0 on the N, P and K scale, it is also heavy in micronutrients and adds moisture retention characteristics to the soil. It's also a soil conditioner with high organic matter. Application rates vary from three to four tonnes per acre, based on the following crop and a soil tests.

The biosolids are roughly 65 per cent organic matter and take years to break down so the benefits are gradual, he says. Both active pathogens and cysts are killed in the pasteurizing heat treatment.

The Windsor sludge is of particular value because analysis shows it to be low in lead, cadmium and mercury, which have no place in the soil matrix. There is a decade of data backing claims about this product, he says. Bernie Calhoun cash crops more than 800 acres near Essex and says that over the years sewage sludge has helped his farm a lot by adding organic matter. He considers it a good substitute for cattle manure. He has used the pellets as well, but says "I like it for free, I don't want to pay for it," stressing that human biosolids have a pejorative sound, especially to non-farm rural neighbours.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

ShopEco in Tecumseh

One of my ongoing resolutions is to act more green. Making this task much easier for me is the relatively new ShopEco in nearby Tecumseh, Ontario which pledges to offer "products to the public that are environmentally responsible, coming from sustainable sources and using only the healthiest ingredients." ShopEco is the closest thing to a Grassroots store in these parts.

Yesterday I bought a bisphenol-A free plastic sippy cup from Born Free, a couple silicone nipples for baby-to-be (endorsed by the Children's Health Environmental Coalition), and some Bio-Vert laundry detergent.

When was the last time you felt good about buying laundry detergent?