How to Sharpen your toolsWritten by James Curran
This article can be found in its totality at
The article is as follows:
Why sharpen tools? Most gardeners do not take extra time to clean and sharpen their tools mostly because either a. they don't understand importance of it or b. they don't know how. Hopefully this article will help you with both.
The main reason why it is important is that when a pruning tool, like a shear or a lopper, is sharp you get much cleaner cuts which is important to healing of tree or plant. Immediately after making a cut on a plant, it starts to ooze sap or resin. This is plant's natural protection remedy to provide a shield from weather, fungi and insects. When a plant has a jagged cut, as from an unsharp pruner, plant has a much harder time healing since there is a larger area exposed to all natural elements.
The second reason why it is important for sharp tools is that it will make your own efforts faster and significantly easier.
How to sharpen tools 1. The first step in sharpening any tool is to make sure blades are clean. I usually start by taking my pruning tool and cleaning blade with soap and water to remove dirt and debris. This step, however, will not get rid of sap and resin from your recent pruning. To remove sap you need to dip metal ends in a solvent such as kerosene. After I lightly dry them I give them a mild coat of pruner lubrication oil. This lubrication oil is not on a lubricant but will also prevent future rusting. If you are going to sharpen you tools at this time you can put lubrication oil on at end of that process.
2. The next step is determine correct sharpening angle. This is usually about 10 to 15 degrees. I then take my sharpening stone and put a light coating of vegetable oil on it to keep it lubricated. The oil not only keep stone lubricated but helps to carry away grit while you are sharpening. It is important to periodically to add a little more oil as your sharpen. To maintain correct angle, press blade against concave side of stone while sharpening. The main word of caution here is DON'T PRESS TO HARD! Use several smooth strokes, moving blade in one direction toward tip. For every 10 strokes to outer bevel, apply one stroke to inner angle.
3. To test whether you have sharpened blades enough you can perform light reflection test. Simply hold up newly sharpened blade to any light source. If you get a reflection off blade edge then you have not sharpened enough. It is important to note, however, that you don't want to sharpen blades too much as that will make them fragile. To do a final test you can go out and test sharpened tool on a size of branch is was designed to cut (i.e. cutting capacity 3/4"). If blades pull or catch you need to sharpen some more.
How long will your pet live?Written by Dawn Jenness
The pet food industry, a billion-dollar, unregulated operation, feeds on garbage that otherwise would wind up in landfills or be transformed into fertilizer. The hidden ingredients in a can of commercial pet food may include road kill and rendered remains of cats and dogs. The pet food industry claims that its products constitute a "complete and balanced diet" but, in reality, commercial pet food is unfit for human or animal consumption.
"Vegetable protein", mainstay of dry dog foods, includes ground yellow corn, wheat shorts and middlings, soybean meal, rice husks, peanut meal and peanut shells (identified as "cellulose" on pet food labels). These often are little more than sweepings from milling room floors. Stripped of their oil, germ and bran, these "proteins" are deficient in essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. "Animal protein" in commercial pet foods can include diseased meat, road kill, contaminated material from slaughterhouses, fecal matter, rendered cats and dogs and poultry feathers. The major source of animal protein comes from dead-stock removal operations that supply so-called "4-D" animals-dead, diseased, dying or disabled-to "receiving plants" for hide, fat and meat removal. The meat (after being doused with charcoal and marked "unfit for human consumption") may then be sold for pet food.
Rendering plants process decomposing animal carcasses, large road kill and euthanized dogs and cats into a dry protein product that is sold to pet food industry. One small plant in Quebec, Ontario, renders 10 tons (22,000 pounds) of dogs and cats per week. The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture states that "the fur is not removed from dogs and cats" and that "dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones and fat at 115° C (235° F) for 20 minutes".
The US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is aware of use of rendered dogs and cats in pet foods, but has stated: "CVM has not acted to specifically prohibit rendering of pets. However, that is not to say that practice of using this material in pet food is condoned by CVM."
In both US and Canada, pet food industry is virtually self-regulated. In US, Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets guidelines and definitions for animal feed, including pet foods. In Canada, most prominent control is "Labeling Act", simply requiring product labels to state name and address of manufacturer, weight of product and whether it is dog or cat food. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) are voluntary organizations that, for most part, rely on integrity of companies they certify to assure that product ingredients do not fall below minimum standards.