Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Did you know...?

Did you know that digging in the dirt makes you happy? 

There's a type of good bacteria that lives in dirt and when it touches your skin it acts as an antidepressant.  The scientific name for this bacteria is Mycobacterium vaccae.  Scientists are not quite sure how, but contact with the dirt bacteria signals the brain to produce a chemical called serotonin.  A lack of serotonin is thought to cause depression in people.

Maybe that's why I was so happy to play in the dirt and mud as a kid (it would entertain me for hours, especially if I had my little plastic toy animals)!

So with that in mind, who has their own garden?

My kitchen garden is running wild! :-D  I have been able to harvest turnips, radishes, most of my herbs, and my leafy greens!  And I should have tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, fennel, and possibly some cucumbers and beans within the next week or two.

I think my problem was being too worried about frost and not planting my seeds early enough...otherwise I would have a lot more produce ripening by now.  Oh well, not to shabby for my first kitchen garden if I can say so myself, lol.  How is yours coming along?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My 1st Kitchen Garden

So, I've taken the plunge.  I've started my first kitchen garden!

Sadly, no...it'll not be that pretty


A few quick considerations:
  • I live in a tiny appartment (less than 200 sq. ft.)
  • My landlords allow me to utalize their side yard
  • The side yard recieves little to no shade
  • My current locaiton is by no means pernament
  • Limited funds and time
I've decided upon a mix between raised beds and containers. 

The containers will be mostly to control sturdy and fast growing plants (such as mint and strawberries) as well as beneficial flowers that attract good bugs and birds to help control pests (such as marigolds and wild carrot).  Plus, they'll make it easy to bring in plants that wouldn't like the Maryland winters and would come back in the spring (such as my berry bushes).

The raised beds are to make sure that I have good quality soil with good drainage (they help make sure that my thumb more green than brown).  Maryland tends to have lots of clay which is too heavy and hard for most plants to enjoy.  Plus, it helps me control what goes into my plants (I'm shooting for a 100% organic garden).


Why organic?  Because it tastes better.  Oh, and it's healthier for me, my sugar gliders, and the environment.  Plus, chemical fertilizers and pesticides are pretty pricey in comparison to the natural way:
  • companion planting - mixing the types of plants in the same bed to help balance nutrients and protect from pests
  • worm composting - adding nutrients to the ground and a great way to 'recycle' kitchen scraps
  • attracting birds and beneficial bugs to help control pests (all that's needed are some pretty flowers, a bird feeder, and a bird bath)

And, I'm going to try to take it the next step with biodynamic gardening.  Biodynamic gardening works with nature to increase yields by considering the 'farm' as a single living organism.  Why is this the next step from organic?  Because all that organic really means is the elimination of chemicals.

How did I discover biodynamics?  There is a local farm near here that is 100% biodynamic: White Rose Farm of Taneytown, Maryland.

I visited White Rose Farm last fall when I was researching healthier and inexpensive food sources including CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture).  The owner gave me a tour of their farm and I was intrigued (especially when I tasted the difference). 

Organic foods already taste better to me than the more typical foods.  But the food that I tasted at White Rose Farm blew me away.  Even their celery had a complex flavor!  And talk about delicious radishes!

A biodynamic farming calendar

Plus, working with nature just makes more seance to me.  Why fight a force much greater than I when I can get greater yields and better tasting food by working with her?

Current Status:

I've started all of my root vegetable seeds and they're sitting on my eastern facing window sill.  Less than a week after planted, my beats and radishes have already sprouted along with one of my garlic plants (yay)!  Still waiting on the little green heads of my onions, turnips, carrots, and fennel.  I've also started a few sugar snap pea plants as they take longer to start than others.

I also have bought all of the seeds I should need for this growing season including various leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, etc), herbs, edible flowers, pretty flowers to attract butterflies and birds, summer vegetables (green beans, zucchini, etc), and fruit (watermelon, berries, tomatoes, etc).

My raised beds are about 1/3rd of the way done (need to continue to level, loosen the base dirt, finish the building, put down a layer of pebbles and shredded coconut husk (for drainage), and some good compost dirt).

I have some compost started from kitchen scraps.  I also am going to make a homemade worm compost container where old leaves and kitchen scraps will go.

The Next Steps:

Yes, I will keep you up to date with pictures, how to's, etc. 

For now I'm going to continue to monitor my seedlings and plant them into larger containers before transferring them outdoors (this helps extend the growing season and protect the plants when they're at their weakest).  I will also continue to research gardening best practices, preserving, and so forth.

I'm not sure why this is uploading sideways, it looks fine on my computer. Anyway, these are my first sprouts of the season: beets and radishes.

As soon as I'm able to transfer some of my seedlings to larger pots, I'm going to start other seeds...probably some spinach, kale, tomatoes, and peppers (the last two are considered 'slow' growing plants so I need to get them started earlier in the season before transferring them to the ground in early/mid May (the last frost date for this area is typically the end of April/beginning of May).

Do you have a small kitchen garden?  What are some of your favorite things about it?  Your greatest challenges?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Behind the Diets: the Story behind LGRS Suggie Soup

I was recently lucky enough to interview Ed of Lucky Glider's Rescue about the LGRS Suggie Soup that he and his wife created.  Because all that these sugar glider lovers have done for the good of the glider, they have earned great respect from many in the sugar glider caregiver community.

The original recipe is meant for malnourished and sick 'sugar bears' and can be adjusted for healthy sugar gliders.


  • 1 cup of canned Mango juice or liquefied fresh Mango
  • 1 cup of canned Papaya juice or liquefied fresh Papaya
  • 2 cups of Calcium and Vitamin D fortified Orange Juice
  • 2 cups of Filtered Honey
  • 1/4 cup of Plain, Low-Fat Yogurt (kind with 12g protein per half pint)
  • 1 small scrambled egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of Trader Darwin's Vanilla Flavored Soy
  • 1 Tablespoon of powdered, dehydrated Fly Pupae 
  • 2 Tablespoons of powdered Bee Pollen

1. Cook and scramble egg, set aside to cool

2. With a blender, powder the bee pollen and dehydrated fly pupae together so it is one fine powder and set aside

3. Warm honey using a hot water bath method or microwave.

4. Mix warmed honey and juices in blender

5. Add protein powder and yogurt to the juice and honey mixture. Blend till smooth (depending on the size of your blender. You may need to blend the rest in stages)

6. Add egg and pollen/pupae mix into the liquid ingredients. Blend until smooth.

7. Pour into small freezer-safe containers for freezing use containers that you can put in the fridge with enough to last two or three days. If you have two gliders who will only eat two tablespoons per serving, those containers can be pretty small. You can freeze the soup in ice cube trays and pop the frozen cubes into freezer bags.

Here are a few links where you can learn more about Ed, the Lucky Glider Rescue, and LGRS Suggie Soup:

Here is the interview itself; the questions and answers are verbatim.

1) how long have you been working with sugar gliders?  what got you into them?

Our introduction to sugar gliders was at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas where Steve Larkin, of Custom Cages Works (also Perfect Pocket Pets of Dallas, and Tropical Attitude Pets - depending on time frame) was selling gliders out of a booth at a home show.

We lived in Vegas since the turn of the century and met Mr. Larkin I think in 2006. We were instantly smitten with the little critters, like most people are - but had not done much research on them. At that point we where not aware of their origin state-side - that is from glider mills in FLA and TX.

After two weeks, we noticed both gliders were skinny and slow and we were terrified they would die. We contacted our vet and consulted with glider experts and found out they were malnourished from a diet of pellets and apples - what we would later dub "the apples and pellets death diet." We did a crash course on gliders, interviewed with vets, and bought numerous field studies, nutrition books and articles on glider nutrition. We began to conduct detailed nutritional analysis on foods and popular glider diets, because strangely none of them had published nutritional analysis data on them.

So what got us into gliders was initially having bought a pair (Buddy and Barbie) at the trade show. We brought home a few others and let three of the females (Barbie, Belle, and Darla) have two joeys each and then neutered the males. By early 2007, we had two colonies - the "B" colony with seven members and the "D" colony with six.

2) can you tell me what inspired the Lucky Glider Rescue?

We began to meet other people through glidercentral.net and sugarglider.com who had gliders. We swapped stories and learned a lot about their behavior. We worked very closely with local exotic vets to learn more about them.

Over the next year or so, one individual who was nursing a lone, 3-year old female glider (Critter) and asked if we could take care of her and eventually introduce her to other gliders. Critter's mate had been killed and eaten by a dog. She too had come from the trade show. She was malnourished, never played with and a very scared and bitey little girl.

We said "yes" and I guess Critter became our first rescue-turned pet. We put her on a special diet based on veterinarian's instructions and we attempted to introduce her to the B and then D colony. We learned that introductions are dicey - especially introducing lone gliders to an established colony.

Both colonies rejected Critter. We then culled one sub-adult from each colony (Butch and Dottie) and joined them together. After quarantine, we joined them with Critter. There was some fussing at first but after a few days they were all sleeping together and they've been together ever since.

So Critter was the inspiration for the rescue. After a few months, we were contacted by other people who wanted to surrender their gliders. The story was the same for most of them: "We just got in over our heads." Most of the surrendered pets came from individuals who bought them in impulse-buy venues who had not been coached on how to take care of them. As their numbers grew over time, we decided it would be a good idea to become licensed and to change the status of the operation to a public charity.

We also got a lot of great, free advice from Jamie and SuggieSavers and from Angie and Debbie at Hope For Gliders. In fact we took separate trips to do some light volunteer work at Hope For Gliders before opening our own local rescue. We wanted to see what we were getting into and learn more about the best practices associated with rescue operations.

3) what other experience have you had relating to sugar gliders?

We have gained a lot of experience in rescue and rehabilitation.

We have traveled as far as six hours away in California and Arizona for example to pick up unwanted gliders. We developed an animal husbandry course and a dietary workshop that we have used to orient animal care workers and vets at local animal shelters. We have had our fair share of gliders coming in with metabolic bone disease, self-mutilation, colony rejections, eye problems (including enucleation), mating wounds, inbreeding, ear cropping, tail cropping, blindness - you name it.

Unfortunately, we have had to syringe feed very sick gliders but have been fortunate in being able to nurse most of them back to health. We also have experience in community outreach and education and have been involved with the Best Friends Animal Society "read to the animals" program.

Our experience as pet owners only partially prepared us for running a rescue.

4) what first inspired you to create the LGRS diet?

We were inspired out of necessity to create a high-protein diet that was affordable. So many gliders come in with hind leg paralysis and other maladies associated with malnourishment. That's probably the biggest problem in the husbandry of these animals that we run across. We had dabbled with a few diets including BML and HPW.

After doing a nutritional analysis of BML, we found it was too high in iron - about 55 ppm per serving owing to the lizard vitamins and wheat germ.

We turned to the HPW blend, and while it is a pretty good diet, we found it to be too low in Calcium after a similar analysis. You can bump up the calcium in that diet by simply using Calcium-fortified orange juice instead of water.

We began to make adjustments to our own high-protein blend and also were inspired by the Healesville Sanctuary Diet along the lines of the bee pollen and fly pupae. The result is the LGRS suggie soup recipe which is part of a balanced diet.

We use calcium-fortified orange juice in it along with papaya and mango juice and dehydrated fly pupae. The dehydrated fly pupae is a good source of protein that is lower in fat than other feeder insects. We also cut way back on the eggs other recipes use because it is best to derive protein from various sources.

The soup does have a lot of honey in it, but you can cut back on that if the suggies get too fat. We err a little on the side of fattening them up because so many animals come in malnourished.

That's the one variable we advise people on when they use our diet - that is to adjusts the honey downward over time if suggies get too fat. The average weight of a "normal" male adult is 150 grams and a female 135 - 140. If they start getting up in the 200 gram range, you should consult with your vet and consider cutting back on complex polysaccharides and carbs in general until they lose some weight.

Honey is rich in natural sugars, so that's an easy thing to cut back on incrementally while leaving everything else alone.

5) what went into creating the LGRS diet?

Three big factors went into creating it:

First, we read a lot of field studies and took advice from our vet and (expensive) marsupial nutrition texts where we learned what gliders eat in the wild year-round. It was interesting to see how their diet changes with the seasons and how they derive protein from various sources.

Second, we contacted the manufacturers and suppliers of popular glider feeds and with the data supplied and third party information, began to categorize and note the nutritional value of each item. We used the USDA nutrition database and nutritiondata.com to  tally the results. We did a lot of research also on Oxalate and its effect on metabolizing calcium and made adjustments to our recipe based on that.

Third, we compared the nutritional make-up of high protein womberoo with various other milk replacers and other protein formulas. We were concerned about the cost of the imported stuff and were seeking a way to have that ingredient be lest costly. We were happy to find a few suitable replacements for HPW including Trader Darwin's Vanilla Flavored Soy and also Suncoast's Arnolds Choice Possum Milk Replacer.

The soy is a little controversial actually because a lot of people feel the acid wash process that is used to extract the protein from the soy is "dangerous." But by volume, that is not a big part of the recipe so we are not too concerned about that and we have not been told by our vet it was a problem. Regardless, the Arnold's choice is an alternative because it is whey-based protein without soy isolate.

Over the years there have been three major changes to the recipe - all based on reducing the cost and reducing unnecessary fat,  cholesterol, and iron.  The cost of the recipe is very important because for people to use it, it must be economical.

One batch yielding between 7 - 8 cups is approx. $7.90.  That batch can be frozen in ice cube trays and will last two gliders two or three months depending on what else is fed with it.

The approximate cost breakdown per item is as follows:
  • Mango = $0.45
  • Papaya = $0.50
  • Caclium-fortified Orange juice = $0.25
  • Honey = $2.00
  • Yogurt = $0.50
  • Egg = $0.25
  • Protein powder = $0.20
  • Dehydrated Fly Pupae = $2.75
  • Bee Pollen = $1.00
The most expensive item is the fly pupae, but one pound of that (@ $80 per pound) lasts us about six months and that's with close to 100 gliders to feed

Click on this pic to see the difference in gliders that Ed rescued and fed them LGRS Suggie Soup

Do you have sugar gliders?  What diet do you feed them and why? 

Are you looking to get sugar gliders?  If so, what kinds of questions do you have?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Behind the Diets: The Story of the HPW Sugar Glider Diet

I'm one of those people who likes to know the 'story' behind everything':
  • the 'Why'
  • the 'How'
  • the 'Who
So I thought it was pretty cool when the creator of the HPW diet (what I'm currently feeding my li'l sugar glider: Fritz) contacted me.  I mean, with so little concrete information on how to care for sugar gliders, having access to someone who actually did the research to 'create' a diet for her sugar bears was very exciting. (Yes, I'm constantly pounding her with questions and bouncing ideas off her!)

Here is the original HPW recipe:


  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 3 scrambled eggs (some people like to grind the shells into a fine powder and add these to the mix for added calcium and other nutrients)
  • 1/4 cup High Protein Wombaroo Powder (increase to 1/2 cup for breeding sugar gliders - this can be bought online through multiple sources) 
  • 1 tablespoon Bee Pollen (American or Australian - you can find this at most vitamin or health stores) 


Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir until honey is dissolved.  Add in the High Protein Wombat Powder and mix well.

I use a mortar and pestle to break down the bee pollen granules into a fine powder.  After I do that, I do the same with the egg shells (minus the eggs which are being cooked at this time).

Then, I put the cooked eggs, egg shells, and bee pollen into my blender and give it a whirl while slowly adding the wet ingredients.  Make sure everything is blended well - this could take a few minutes.

I like to freeze the mixture using ice cube trays.  1 1/2 a teaspoon is a serving (per glider per night).  The HPW mix will freeze very soft.

Note: without the egg shells, the calcium to phosphorus ratio (CA:PH) is about 1.1:1.  Sugar gliders need a diet with an approximate ratio of 1.5-2:1.

Modified HPW Recipe:

According to Peggy, the search to find the right diet is ongoing.  That is why she gets regular blood panels for her sugar gliders to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need.  With that information, her and her vet (Dr. Tristan) work together to adjust the diet as needed.

That is the process that lead her to 'publish' the most recent version described below in her words.  I will be using this mixture for my next batch of HPW mix.

The HPW mix is made as follows:

2 cup of water
1 cup of honey
1 cup of Odwalla green juice (Naked brand can also be used)
1/4 cup HPW powder (1/2 cup if you're sugar gliders are breeding)
3 scrambled eggs (cooked)
1 tablespoon of bee pollen (Australian - I use American)

Place all ingredients in blender and blend for 2 minutes. Place in freezer safe container (I use ice cube trays with this version since it freezes a little more solid due to less honey included) and scoop out serving each night.

Feeding instructions: (per glider)

1+1/2 TEAspoons of HPW liquid
2 Tablespoons of veggie and fruit mix

The Story of the HPW diet:

This is my brief interview with Peggy verbatim.

1) How did you decide to create HPW?  What 'inspired' you?
It is more of a question as to 'who' inspired me to create the HPW. 

I was trying to find the right diet for my gliders. I had tried the BML, Suncoast, Happy Glider, and we were on the Darcy Diet when I finally started talking with Debbie. Her screen name on GC is Pockets. After talking to her in great lengths and her sharing all her success stories with me I decided to start using her diet as my gliders just did NOT like any of the others I was offering, other than the Darcy Diet.

My Vet didn't like the idea of the Darcy Diet because it is using Ensure, and although that would be good for a glider not of good health, he wasn't happy with using it on a healthy glider. Pockets feeds PML. So I ordered the Wombaroo high protein supplement and thought I would give it a try.

I asked her what else she fed and I ordered everything she suggested. A couple of the items were straight from Australia and they were a seed mix. I personally did not feel comfortable feeding that. Debbie also grows a lot of her own Australian Flora (or at least at the time she did, not sure if she still does)and offers that. I have a brown thumb, not a green one. But, I really liked the idea of using this powder since it was created and used in Australia over the years for Flying Foxes, Sugar Gliders, Possums and other Nectar eating animals.

So I did what Debbie had suggested over and over and she still does on the boards, and I consulted with my Vet on this diet. It was decided since they would get extra proteins from some of the things in the wild, to add an extra egg (Debbie only uses two), and to add some Bee pollen in it to add the extra nutrients, protein and natural calciums. Not to mention it needed no additional supplements.

2) What is your experience with sugar gliders?
I have owned Sugar Gliders since 2003. I have been breeding them since 2004. I have stood and watched numerous surgical procedures and necropsies preformed on them. I have been getting my Sugar Gliders blood tested (different ones at different times) since 2004 to keep track the their levels are at good to optimal levels, including their CA:P ratios. I have taken in Rescues when needed and found forever homes for them when they were ready. I have assisted other breeders by keeping their ill gliders with me so they can get treatment from Dr.Tristan (the breeders lived either out of town or out of state) and I try to keep up to date on all the new things learned from inside the scientific aspect of things as well as our daily learnings we all share with each other.

3) How did you go about the creation of HPW? Answered above.

4) Is there anything that you'd like to say about the whole journey of creating HPW?
It has been a wonderful ride for me. I have seen many gliders thrive while eating the HPW diet. I love that they have no smell while on this diet and as a breeder, I constantly have large, healthy joeys born here in my home and have never lost a Joey due to mom having a lack of milk supply for her young.

With all that being said, I am constantly trying to find ways to improve the diet as I feel there is always room for improvement in any field. We as humans do not have the right diet for us so I am sure that we are far from the perfect diet for them. But it sure is rewarding to be able to continue the research and make simple changes when and where you can.

Peggy's book on sugar glider care. Available at Amazon.com
What do you think? 

Do you own sugar gliders?  If so how do you go about making sure they recieve the nutrients they need? 

Are you looking to own sugar gliders?  If so, what questions do you have?

Also, if you happen to know (or are yourself) the creator of another popular/recomended sugar glider diet, I would love to continue this series with similar posts and would love to interview other creators.  Any help with this regards is greatly appreciated.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stink Bugs and Sugar Gliders

I have discovered a way to rid us of the Stink Bug Plague!

What we need to do is import a bunch of Sugar Gliders and set them up in the wild.  Why?  Cause they eat Stink Bugs! (My Fritz ate one this morning, now I know why my apartment was never flooded with them like others I know, lol.)

Now, what would you rather have in your back yard?  A cute Sugar Glider colony or a swarm of nasty Stink Bugs?

I already know my vote!

Sugar Gliders would be prime candidates for these reasons:
  • they're the only animal that I know of that LIKES to eat these nasty bugs
  • they DON'T breed in high numbers, so they can't become invasive
  • their preferred climate is moderate through tropical
  • if we set them up now, more southern states will be better protected against the stink bug swarm
  • while they can go into a semi-hibernation state, harsh winters will help control their population
  • there are plants here that are harmful to the sugar gliders, also helping with population control
  • once our wild gliders are set up we can carefully select a few at a time to help keep our domesticated pool healthy and diverse (no more inbreeding)
  • they are not known to carry diseases
  • it is rare to have an allergy to them (and is generally caused by bites or scratches, much like any animal)
Yes, it is true: I have thought about this  WAY too much.

So, Pennsylvania, do you still want Sugar Gliders to be considered illegal after the many years you've spent with Stink Bugs?  And Maryland, isn't one summer with this plague enough?  Virginia and south, the time to prepare for the plague is NOW!

What do you think?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

[Restaurant Review] Cazbar, Authentic Turkish Taverna in Baltimore, MD

I'm a member of Groupon.com and was recently alerted to an offer: $30 for $15 at a Turkish restaurant in nearby Baltimore, Maryland.  I'm a big lover of traditional cuisine from many cultures; to me it is a great way to be introduced to a culture.

The restaurant is called Cazbar and is located on North Charles Street. 

The menu looked fantastic and unique so I went ahead and bought one. 

And let me tell you, I'm glad I did!  Absolutely delicious food!  And the whole experience was fantastic.  Ambiance was comfortable and elegent.  Food was unlike anything I've had before and supremely made.  I'm definitly going back.

The location was easy to find and in one of the nice sections of Baltimore, MD.

On the weekends they have belly dancing shows as well. Though I was unable to witness this during my visit.  (Something to look forward to next time!)

The ambiance is great for a romantic dinner for two, a gathering of friends, or even a business dinner.

Have you ever been to Cazbar?  What did you think of it?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ok, I Messed Up

If you haven't read my company review regarding my experience with Pocket Pets, then you might want to do that before reading this post.

Behind the Scenes:

But anyway, here's what's happened between then and now.  Because of that review I received a call from Adam, my local Pocket Pets representative.  Sadly I was in a bad reception zone (dang cell phones!) and the call was dropped before we could actually start the discussion.  He at the time thought I hung up on him and passed it to his boss, Virgil the owner of Pocket Pets.

Virgil sent me a VERY long letter (as an email attachment) that while intelligently and civilly written, basically accused me of slandering his company and warning me off before I get caught up in a huge lawsuit.  (If anyone would like to see the copy of this letter, let me know.)

Wait, what?  He's accusing me of slander?  No way!  Since when is a customer review slanderous?  This is basically what went through my head as I read it to the end.  Almost immediately, I typed up a reply email to Virgil (again, if you'd like to see a copy, let me know).

The gist of the email was along these lines...
  • A review based of personal experience isn't considered slander and is a common place practice among customers of numerous companies
  • I described some concerns that I had regarding my personal experience
  • I mentioned that I was insulted that both he and Adam thought I hung up on Adam earlier
  • I requested that we continue this discussion and can come to a solution peacefully and maturely
  • I promised that if my concerns were taken care of satisfactorily that I would post a public apology with a full explanation (hence this post)

My Apology:

Yes, there was a BIG misunderstanding.  And I did get caught up in the passion too fast.  No I never saw any proof of the accusations (and I never actually posted those accusations as my own).  But, for my part in the drama, I definitely apologize.  I was wrong.

My Reasoning Behind the Apology:

Now that you have the back story, here's what happened next.  Virgil himself never emailed me back (according to Adam he's too tired of the accusations to believe in diplomacy, lol).  However, Adam did call me back (during the lunch hour of 1/14/11).

And during a phone conversation that lasted just over an hour, Adam explained the history and the reason behind Virgil founding Pocket Pets.  He also discussed at length with me regarding various concerns that I had regarding my experience and some of the accusations that I had heard during my lengthy research.  (Sadly there's not many sources out there that I can utilize!)

No, I didn't take notes.  But, he was very respectful and obviously passionate about his work, his side of the story, and his love for his own Sugar Gliders.  And, as far as I'm concerned, they alleviated my worries and suspicions about their ethical standings, concern about the sugar bears, and business practices.

Would I run the business different?  Maybe.  But I truly cannot know since I don't know nearly enough about Sugar Gliders and that type of industry.  And, as of now, I respect where both Virgil and Adam are coming from.

A Note to Those Who Might Be Upset Regarding My Change of Mind:

I have a feeling that I'm going to disappoint many people with this post.  So here are a few things that I want to say to them.
  • I was in no way frightened or bribed or tricked into this
  • I'm not the type to 'change sides' without VERY good cause
  • I still greatly respect your opinions especially regarding the care and quality of life of Sugar Gliders
  • Fritz and any other gliders that I get will be kept in a LARGE cage, be fed the HPW diet, receive plenty of interaction and enrichment
  • I will still assist with the education regarding the care options regarding sugar gliders
  • I will assist with the challenge of breeding mills (as long as there's concrete proof)
  • I will assist regarding the collection of valid data to help reduce any confusion regarding the best care for our favorite little snuggies
  • If you can provide me with CONCRETE (aka can hold up in court) proof that the accusations made against Pocket Pets and affiliates (real or not) are true, then you'll have my full support
Also, unless you have that concrete proof regarding what you're saying about Pocket Pets, I'm suggesting that you quiet down because Virgil is going to court about this.  And he has every right to as a businessman and a human being.  I'm not trying to threaten anyone, this is just a piece of friendly advice.

If anyone would like to question me further regarding this change of mind, please feel free to message me here or on sugarglider.com or glidercentral.net (I'm KatFarrell).

Ok, now for a lighter topic, I want to hear your favorite sugar glider stories!  :D

P.S. - Adam, now you can show this to Virgil and hopefully increase his faith in the sugar glider caregiver community!  :D

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Become a Local Voice for Your Cause

Do you have a cause that you are passionate about?  Does it need help creating awareness in your community?

In this post I'll provide some quick, easy tips on how you can become the local 'voice' for your cause even if you are not an official representative (yet).  Right now my main cause is...
  1. spreading the word about mill brokers and breeders of sugar gliders/honey gliders
  2. helping build awareness of reliable sources of information to help potential and current sugar glider owners make the best educated decision for them and the sugar gliders (or sugar bears as some like to call them)
So I will be using this an example throughout this post (two birds and one stone, lol).

Before you go off and spreading the word to help your cause, please do your research.  There might be materials, phrases, forums, organizations, tools, etc that can help you.  Why re-invent the wheel?

Once you've done a thorough job of researching and know that you can consider yourself at least a beginner expert about this cause, then dive right in by all means!

1: Talk about it

Does this cause or a related topic come up often? Good, that should be an easy transition to inform people (briefly) about your cause.

How can you do this?

Nice thing about Sugar Gliders is that 90% of people in my area have absolutely no clue what they are (which is something the mill breeders and brokers like to take advantage of).  So, I am regularly explaining what type of creature they are and how I find them to be a great pet for me. 

There, I can share some knowledge and places where they can go to research for themselves. 

Note: do NOT go over board and make a lecture out of a conversation; people have a tendency to stop listening.

2: Utilize the Web

With the right timing, consistency, and voice certain causes can go viral.  Which is great, but not necessary to make an effect.

Post/share informative articles (blog posts, videos, quizzes, etc) about the cause that are engaging and easy to read (or they're useless) to your social media platforms.  If you do this on a regular basis, those who are apart of your online community will see you as an expert.  Which means they'll ask you questions or refer people to you.

For example: I will start sharing any news articles, blog posts, or videos I think that will be able to help potential owners or current owners of sugar gliders find the best information possible so they can make an educated decision for themselves.

Out of sight, out of mind

Plus, if they see it, it's on their mind.  Creating awareness even if it doesn't create any tangible results...yet.

Note: please follow best practices for web marketing while doing this. Don't overcrowd people's feeds or inboxes.  Keep it regular and often, but no bombarding!

Those are the basics that everyone can do.  There are others, but they follow along the same lines.

Now it's time for the ways you can take it to the next level!

Note:  The 'next level' should be just that: the NEXT level.  Start with the 1st two ways to spread the word.  Once those are solid and the word has gotten around (and maybe you've recruited a few helpers), that's when you can advance.

This is when you start CREATING, instead of just sharing.

3: Blog it

If you have a blog, you can use that to create informative, intelligent, and engaging content about different aspects of your cause.

A good resource for newbie bloggers (it's on my reference shelf)
Note: make sure you know the best practices about blogging before you decide to do this.  Blogging is not something that should be done as whim.  You need regular and frequent content.

4: Create a Facebook Page

You're starting a grass-roots movement, this is one way you can build 'members', awareness, and create a 'home' for the community of people who care about the cause.  This is free and easy to do.  If the community grows too fast and too big, you might need a separate nich community home like a separate web page with a forum.

5: YouTube It

YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine world wide.  Try creating a channel, connect it to any official and related channels, and make videos sharing information and rallying people. 

Note: If you're not a writer, this can take the place of a blog.

6: Tweet It

Share links to videos, blog posts, discussion threads and more.  They don't have to all be by you.  They can be by other similar organizations.  You can also share links to news videos and articles that are related to your cause.

And I could go on about social media tools and web marketing.  But those are the basics.  They should get you started.  Here are some tips to help them get off their feet and start running.
  1. create a dedicated team of content creators and managers (so it's not just you)
  2. continue using the 1st two ways to spread the word
  3. make sure everything you do regarding the cause is interconnected (with your efforts and efforts of related groups)
  4. play with the strengths, tools, and materials you already have at your disposal
  5. think outside of the box regarding everything
  6. the more creative you and your team are the more engaging it will be to the current community members and new members
  7. encourage your community to start sharing information with their connections as well (the more voices the better) and give them tips on how to do so

Together...we can

I hope this helps.  Did I leave something important out?  What sharing tips or questions do you have to share?