Heifer International: Working To End World Hunger, One Llama At A Time

bolivian farmerGot an extra $20 burning a hole in your pocket and want to make a difference in the lives of others? Buy a flock of ducks. Eighty-five dollars will get you a camel share, while a mere $48 purchases a share in a “Knitter’s Gift Basket (a llama, alpaca, sheep and angora rabbit).”

Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock, and animal husbandry, agricultural and community development training to over 125 countries, including the U.S. The goal: to help end world hunger and poverty by improving breeding stock, providing valuable dietary supplements such as milk and eggs, and creating viable business enterprises for commodity products such as cheese, wool, honey, or crops cultivated by draft animals like horses and water buffalo.

The livestock species used to support disenfranchised communities are diverse, but traditional to their respective regions. They include goats, sheep, honeybees, beef and dairy cattle, water buffalo, yaks, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, camels, rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry.

When I was a kid growing up on a small ranch in Southern California, we used to donate our male dairy goat kids (which, if sold here, would most likely be relegated to dinner) to Heifer. Although the program no longer ships live animals overseas (it’s easier and safer/more humane to ship frozen semen), the concept remains the same: using top bloodlines to improve the quality and enhance the genetic diversity of herds or flocks in impoverished regions.

Heifer teaches the concept of the “Seven M’s: Milk, Manure, Meat, Material, Money, Motivation and Muscle.” These are the benefits livestock animals provide to people in developing nations. With the training provided by Heifer employees and volunteers, the cycle of poverty can be broken, and families and villages can thrive. During the holidays or for birthdays, I like to make animal gift donations in the name of the recipient, an especially valuable lesson for children (who, let’s face it, really don’t need another electronic piece of crap to foster their ADD and lack of global awareness).

Never doubt the power of a furry friend to change the world. To make a donation, click here.

Check out this Heifer International gallery of animals and their proud owners from around the world:

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SkyMall Monday: Slug Trap

This is the time of year when we all stop focusing on which sweatpants are most comfortable for when we’re watching TV and begin thinking about tending to our gardens. Am I right or am I right? From flowers to herbs to fruits and vegetables, it’s time for us all to thaw out our green thumbs. Those tomatoes aren’t going to grow upside down by themselves.

As we all look at our neglected patches of grass and soil, barren and ravaged from another long winter, we must develop solid plans for rejuvenation. In the past, SkyMall Monday taught you how to fend off one villain of the gardener with the Solar Powered Mole Repeller. Today, however, we direct our attention to an even more dastardly scourge of the backyard: slugs.

Slugs have wreaked havoc on human gardens since the dawn of time.* Don’t let their speed (or lack thereof) fool you. Slowly, methodically and with blatant disregard for all that we hold dear, slugs destroy gardens for no other reason than they just find destruction so erotically thrilling.** But how can one lowly gardener battle such an epic beast? For those of us who have tried to defeat slugs with traditional methods such as guerrilla warfare, trade embargoes and verbal abuse, we know that they are resilient. Thankfully, I’ve called in reinforcements. Leave it to SkyMall to finally figure out how to defeat our slug overlords. This week, we’re unleashing the Slug Trap.Slugs may be slow, but they are crafty. They lure you into a false sense of security and then strike when you least expect it. After a summer rain, you will often see slugs scattered around your yard seemingly overcome by the deluge. However, they are simply absorbing the Earth’s life force through the water.*** Strengthened and emboldened, the slugs unleash fire and brimstone on your flowers and crops. This is not only disheartening, it is life-threatening. For those of us New York City residents who rely on our gardens to sustain us through the long winter months, a slug attack in the summer can mean starvation for our elderly and children come winter.

Think that slugs can just be stepped on or ignored? Think that some salt will solve your problems? I bet you never had to stare a slug in the eye and wait until he blinked first. But, I’ll humor you (not that there is anything funny about slugs in your garden). Let’s take a look at the product description:

Slugs and snails can do a lot of damage in your garden, so use this charming slug trap to stop them in their tracks. No chemicals needed — simply bury the stem of the resin mushroom slug trap into the ground and add a few tablespoons of sugar water or your favorite beer to the tray inside. Instead of chewing on your plants, these destructive pests will be lured inside the slug trap where they’ll meet their end out of sight.

Beer is supposed to make you stronger, wittier and more attractive. The fact that beer kills slugs is proof that they are evil incarnate. And when evil incarnate is finally vanquished by beer and/or sugar water, it is best that they expire out of sight. Since slugs have no souls, their carcasses can turn humans to stone.****

Look, if you think you’re so smart, you can ignore the slug occupation and stand idly by as they destroy your garden, steal your wife and eat your children. But don’t come knocking on my slug shelter when your garden is overrun by those slimy angels of death. You’re on your own, buddy. I’m going to defend myself with the Slug Trap.

* Mike Barish does not employ a fact checker.
** Mike Barish has a wild imagination.
*** Mike Barish was never much of a biology expert.
**** Mike Barish may have dementia.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.