July 22, 2014

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Tapping and sapping maple trees
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 8:40 PM

 

By Kylee Baumle

If I could name one thing that I enjoy most about gardening, it’s that it is a venue for always learning and experiencing something new. Become a gardener and you’ll never ever be bored. Even if you don’t like some of the activities that tending a garden involves (weeding, anyone?), the perpetual classroom in the great outdoors more than makes up for it.

I suppose there are people who don’t crave knowledge, maybe because they didn’t have a good experience trying to absorb facts in high school, so that they could pass their exams. But so much of life isn’t a test as much as it is learning at our own pace, in the subject matters of our choosing.

Gardening is more than planting seeds, hoeing weeds, and pruning shrubs. It’s an opportunity to see nature at work and the miracles that happen every day if we choose to slow down and observe them. It invariably leads us down related paths, such as watching the insects we encounter while harvesting the vegetables or hearing a bird song that we never noticed before while deadheading the perennials.

An example of related activities occurred for us in late winter and early spring this year, when my husband and I decided to take advantage of the fact that we have maple trees and live in a part of the country with a climate that allows us to tap them for sap.

 

We’ve been around for about six decades now and neither of us had ever even thought to do this before. I’m not sure why we didn’t, because much to our pleasure, we found the whole process to be quite easy and rewarding.

Several weeks ago, we made use of a tree-tapping kit that I was given at one of the trade shows I attended last summer. Using a 1/2-inch drill bit, we drilled a hole two inches deep into one of the larger maple trees we have (probably a silver maple), and immediately the sap began dripping down the side of the tree.

We inserted the spile (that’s what the tap is called) and hung a 2.5-gallon bucket on the attached hook below, to collect the sap as it dripped from the tree. In order for sap to flow, night temperatures need to be below freezing and day temperatures above freezing, creating pressure that causes the tree to draw up groundwater through the roots.

Sugar that the tree stored there the year before is added to the groundwater and then it’s delivered as nourishment to the branches and developing leaves.

If you’ve never tapped maple trees for their sap, you might be thinking that it’s golden and sticky, sort of like pine sap. But it’s clear and thin, just like water, and in its natural state, tastes like it too. It has a very slight sweetness to it, and it’s very healthy to drink it this way, due to its antioxidant qualities and the micronutrients it contains.

In my opinion though, one of the best things about maple sap is boiling it down into maple syrup. We did this in small batches on our stovetop, but because of the amount of steam the process gives off, it would be best to do it outside, if possible. We have a good exhaust fan over our stove that vents to the outside, so it works for us to process it inside.

The maple sap collecting season varies from year to year, both in length and in the sugar content of the sap. The length can be anywhere from two to six weeks long, depending on the weather. This year, the season, which has come to a close for us, lasted about four weeks. Sugar content varies from 1-4%, depending on the type of maple.

Trees need to be 12 inches in diameter before tapping and we tapped three trees. In the end, we collected 42 gallons of sap and ended up with 1.5 gallons of syrup. We’re calling it good and the spiles and buckets are now cleaned and stored for use again next year. The trees will repair the holes by then with no help needed from us, not even plugging.

Until then, we’ll enjoy the maple syrup - nectar of the gods, really. I think it tastes better than honey and I really like honey. If you have maple trees, you should try it.

Read Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at www.ourlittleacre.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OurLittleAcre. Contact her at PauldingProgressGardener@gmail.com.

 

 
A birthday tradition
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 8:39 PM

 

By Jim Langham

Last week, I carried out a very special birthday tradition that I have done for many years.

In the small Indiana town where I was raised, dear friends suffered a heartbreaking tragedy many years ago. They were on vacation in the south. One evening, as they were taking a walk, a driver under the influence crossed the road, went off the road and struck one of two 9-year-old boys, taking his life immediately.

That was many years ago. The remaining twin is now in his mid-20s, had an extremely successful wrestling career, has served our country with honor and is engaged to marry a girl from Scandinavia, a beautiful girl who has warmly been received by the family.

Over the years, the family has suffered emotional lows and lowers as they have sought to grieve and put their late son’s tragedy in some type of perspective. During that time, we have experienced a deep friendship, embracing each other many times in prayers and tears.

 

The twins share my birthday; they were also born on April 1. Each year on that day, the family gathers and takes balloons to the son’s grave in a cemetery just east of Geneva, Ind. There, after a time of meditation, and a placement on the grave of some of the lad’s favorite toys, the balloons are released with the hope that they will ascend towards heaven where they are fully certain that their son is with Jesus and they will some day be reunited with him.

Many years ago, they asked me to join that activity and we would all celebrate our birthdays together. Following the visit to the graveyard, we return to their home for pizza and birthday cake.

Ironically, the mother, especially, is a “cardinal heart” person all of the way. Each year when I visit the family for our special celebration, I take her a cardinal. These days, an entire cabinet in the family home is full of pictures of the son and cardinals. One day when I was visiting with her, we stepped on to their front porch and a beautiful cardinal swooped to us and kept circling us as we were talking.

“That is so comforting,” she said at the time. “I know that our son is okay.”

One day in a stroke of cardinal inspiration, she wrote a poem as though the son had written it to her. I feel it is appropriate to share that at the end of this column. In her scrapbook, a beautiful cardinal is pasted above her poem:

Song Of The Cardinal

For Mom

I sang outside your window today

Telling you it was going to be a wonderful day

I know you miss me I miss you too

But here in heaven the birds sing all day

And every day is a wonderful day

Jesus and I are waiting for you

Tell my brothers and Dad I want them to come too

Heaven is such a wonderful place...

Everyone can come here by God’s amazing grace

So Mom every time you shed a tear

Remember Mom I am still near

Until then I’ll sing you a song

Walking with Jesus till you come along

 

 
Ode to my jeans
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 8:38 PM

 

ODE TO MY JEANS

By Nancy Whitaker

Do you have something that you just can’t get rid of? We all have a favorite pair of shoes, a favorite shirt or a favorite pair of jeans that may be old and holey, but parting with them would be like losing a part of yourself.

If you are like me, I have a pair of jeans that appears like they have seen their better days. However, I love them and intend on wearing them till they fall apart. The old blue jeans are tattered and faded, lost their crispness and they fit a little too tight. However, when I put them on I feel comfortable, at ease and am ready to wear them on my next adventure.

They have been with me when I played the keyboard, attended fairs and festivals, worked in the yard, went on vacation and cleaned the house. They have heard my laughter, felt my hands wiping off flour as I baked a pie, and caught any dripping tears I may have shed through the years.

While attempting to put on these jeans just the other day, I heard a big rrrrrip. I looked down at the front of my leg and sure enough that big hole had just ripped a little bit more. I tugged and pulled to get them over my waist and I said, “Come on old blue-jeans, we are both getting old and tattered, but we still have some life left in us.”

 

I do know that people pay big bucks for the worn look holey jeans. However, these old jeans have had the holes put in naturally by the wear and tear of everyday life.

I see some grass stain on them. I recall that I got that stain one day as I was trying to get in from the rain and slipped and fell. Ouch!

Another thing I see is a paint stain that I received a long time ago when painting an old picnic table. Oh what good family picnics we had.

Down at the end of the pants leg are some frayed strings hanging down. Those were put there by our old deceased weinie dog, Brownie, who loved chewing and tugging on pants legs.

My pockets have partial holes in them, but I can stick a dollar bill in them and a penny for good luck and know they will be secure.

My old jeans have been sweaty, dirty, clean, and new. They have been washed, dried, held grandkids and yes, they have even been to a church function.

They are just like me and a lot of us now, I suppose. As we age, our good looks may fade away, we may look frazzled and torn and we may have holes in us which were put there through the emotional scars of our past.

I am not ready to retire my old jeans, and even though I, too, am getting faded and older, I think I still have a few good years left in me. Let’s go old jeans and find our next destination. Our trip has just begun!

Do you have any old jeans, shoes, shirts or something that you dearly love and would not part with? Let me know and I’ll give you a Penny for Your Thoughts.

 

 
Interesting facts about the American Coot
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 8:38 PM

 

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist Paulding SWCD

For my daily walkers and building renters, have you noticed some different bird and duck activitiy? The nature center has a pair of American coots temporarily living here. Although commonly mistaken to be ducks, the American coot belongs to a distinct order. Unlike the webbed feet of ducks, coots have broad lobed scales on their lower legs and toes that fold back with each step in order to facilitate walking on dry land.

Coots live near water, typically inhabiting wetlands and open water bodies in North America. The American coot is a plump, chicken-like bird with short wings, visible on the rare occasions they take flight. Their dark bodies and white faces are common sights in nearly any open water across the continent, and they often mix with ducks.

They are closer relatives of the gangly Sandhill than of mallards or teal. The American coot is listed as “least concern” under conservation ratings. Hunters generally avoid killing American coots because their meat is not as sought after as that of ducks.

 

You’ll find coots eating aquatic plants on almost any body of water. Coots generally build floating nests nd lay 8-12 eggs per clutch.

Females and males have similar appearances, but they can be distinguished during aggresive displays by the larger ruff (head plumage) on the male. The American coot measures 13-17 inches in length and 23-28 inches across the wings. Females are smaller in size, averaging 1-1/2 pounds, while males average 1-3/4 pounds. Juvenile birds have olive brown crowns and a gray body. They become adult color around four months of age.

The American coot can dive for food but can also forage and scavenge on land. It is carnivorous, eating plant material, arthropods, fish, and other aquatic animals. Its principal source of food is aquatic vegetation, especilly algee.

The American coot is a prolific builder and will create multiple structures during a single breeding season. It nests in well concealed locations in tall reeds. There are three general types of structures; display platforms, egg nests and broad nests.

So on your travels to the nature center, you can take a sneak peak at the centers newest arrival, the American coot.

 

 
The saga of the tomato hornworm
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 8:37 PM

 

The saga of the tomato hornworm

By Bill Sherry

Late last summer as I harvested a bumper crop of tomatoes I noticed several tomatoes and the leaves of the plant had been partially eaten. Upon closer examination, I noticed, or should I say I was startled by, several large green worms feasting on my tomato plants. I found that my moth identification book called these worms the tomato hornworm because of the large, horn-like growth at the rear of its body and noted that the tomato hornworms are a common large caterpillar that defoliates tomato plants. Their large size (3-4 inches long) and voracious appetite allows them to strip a tomato plant of foliage in a short period of time, so they frequently catch gardeners by surprise.

I took one of these monster worms to church the next Sunday. I used it for my children’s message about things God has made that we don’t often see. One young lady was fascinated with this monster worm, played with the worm and asked if she could take it home. I had brought some extra tomato leaves and we talked briefly after church about putting a couple inches of dirt in the bottom of the gallon jar and feeding the monster tomato hornworm until it didn’t want any more to eat.

 

The next Sunday, the young lady brought the jar back and informed me that the worm had stopped eating and that she could not see it any more. That’s because the tomato worm had borrowed under the soil and had formed a pupa. This is how the tomato hornworm pupa will remain until winter is over. I put the jar with the tomato hornworm pupa and buried in about 2 inches of garden soil in my unheated garage for the winter. This morning I was reminded that winter is almost over and something is about to happen.

I retrieved the jar from the garage this afternoon and the pupa is still buried in the garden soil inside the jar. It’s time to bring the jar out of the garage and expose it to some of the upcoming springlike weather and give the tomato hornworm a chance at changing from the ugly worm and pupal stage of life into a beautiful sphinx moth that loves to sip on the nectar of the spring flowers as it prepares to lay eggs on my tomato plants later in the summer.

In my opinion, the eggs will hatch and later in the summer I will find a some large green worms eating my tomato plants again this year.

I do hope to see you in church this Sunday; we need to talk because we have something in common.

William W. Sherry is a correspondent for the Paulding County Progress.

The opinions stated are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

 

 
Stop killing the trees!
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:15 PM

By Kylee Baumle

As the ground is thawing out from The Winter That Would Not End, even those of us that may dread the coming busyness of the spring season are chomping at the bit to get out there and do something. Anything.

One of the many things that spring is good for is planting trees. Fall can be a good time too and many will debate which is the best time, but as with perennials, I prefer spring. This allows the plant plenty of time to become established before winter.

No matter when you plant a tree, there are some things to remember. And as I go about my business, I see one huge mistake being made over and over again that costs many a tree its life - the mulch volcano.

 
A Billy Goat burger and hockey
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:14 PM

By Jim Langham

I can’t begin to spell it how they pronounce it, but I sure could use another one about now.

The cheeseburger at Billy Goat’s Tavern near the United Center in Chicago, late one afternoon last week, was so tasty that I officially placed it on my “bucket list” and then quickly removed it again.

Actually, the double burger is supposed to be the specialty. It is served on a unique homemade bun so delicious that it just had to be healthy whether it is or not. One of the specialties of the eatery is a “fixings” made up of pickle chips, shredded and sliced onions and various sauces and ketchup to build up the sandwich.

 
Cruising down the river
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:13 PM

CRUISING DOWN THE RIVER

By Nancy Whitaker

I am sure we are getting tired of the cold, damp, weather and perhaps would like to go on a cruise to where the weather is warmer. Personally, I have never been a fan of water travel, so therefore I have gone on any type of cruise. I believe I am too claustrophobic to sleep on a ship and want to the peace of mind that if I wanted to get off the vessel, I could just get out and walk on dry land.

Many people love cruise ships, though, and have been on many successful trips. However, isn’t it amazing how ships, cruises, and water transportation have changed and cruises are now considered luxuries?

 
What are April showers creating?
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:13 PM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist Paulding SWCD

Invasive species are plants and animals not native to a region. When introduced into a native ecosystem, they are competing against native plant and animals. Invasive species can be introduced accidentally or on purpose. Many are brought in with shipments of produce or plants from foreign countries, or hitchhike on ships and planes. Many animals are brought in legally as pets, and then released when people don’t want them anymore.

 
There's lots to do for little or no cost
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:12 PM

 

There’s lots to do for little or no cost

By Joyce Huseby • Guest Columnist

Have you talked to anyone in the past few months that hasn’t said “I’m sick of the weather/snow”? Doubtful!

It’s easy to get moody when there isn’t any sunshine for days and you hear a lot of grumbling about it. Maybe the thing to do is break the monotony with something you don’t usually do. If you have a camera stuck away somewhere, how about walking or driving around in the county and take a few snapshots of places or people you haven’t seen for a long time. Maybe an artistic look at the view off a bridge or the scene behind the library.

Speaking of the library, if you don’t have a library card it costs just a dollar to get one. That opens up a whole world of things to do. I see posters in the elevator with programs they are having for the kids every so often. If you sign up the kids, that frees mom/dad to some free time to look around and read the local newspapers. Also, a huge variety of magazines, CDs and even DVDs are available for borrowing free of charge.

 

The main attraction are the hundreds (thousands?) of books from the very newest titles to the old favorites plus recorded books, and they can also help you get what you want onto your Kindle. If they don’t have the book on hand, they will gladly do an interlibrary loan, which is also free (unless you keep it too long, of course).

My main interest is going to the library and using the computers, which are also free to use. I hear a lot of negative comments about not caring about computers and not knowing how to use one, etc. I have to laugh at that since it’s just typing in what you want and then tapping your index finger on the mouse to choose what you want. Actually, the library staff gives computer classes every few months, especially for beginners. If you’re bored, it’s not the library’s fault!

The library isn’t the only place to meet and talk to people. There are always the coffee shops, such as McDonald’s where you can get a senior coffee for 70 cents and sit and visit with all the friends, neighbors and business people who come in and out at all hours. You usually see someone you know. Of course, the same goes for the Dairy Queen, which has a special every day with no coupon needed that makes it more economical for you to eat out with a friend every once in a while. Between 2-4 p.m., you get a real deal – any drink with a straw for half price, even milk shakes. That place is so neat and clean and the food is always good. It makes it a pleasure to go in.

If you really want to go talk to people, go into the Past Time Café. They always seem to have people coming and going during the day. The food is great and the portions are generous. They have specials most days, too, and the quality is good so you can call up someone to go with you and be sure they will enjoy the lunch and the friendly employees.

The Paulding County Senior Center has nice activities and programs all year long. If you are of this age group, they will be happy to help you with your questions, or join them for a meal or activity. They offer many services, many of which are free. The staff is friendly and helpful and you may find some old friends or new ones if you pay a visit to the center. They have speakers who discuss financial questions, help with income taxes, give information about Medicare, nutrition and many other topics.

There are probably lots more things to do in Paulding County that I haven’t brought up, but when the sun starts shining we seem to get more inspiration. Monroe Park will be finished before long, and there’s LaFountain Park where you can take a snack and sit in the sunshine and fresh air (soon). Think about all the ball games and the swimming pool opening.

The newspaper is always a good source of activities and new ideas. Many clubs and organizations print their meetings in the Progress and you might find something that interests you.

Maybe someone who reads this will be inspired to come up with some more things to do that don’t cost much and write a letter to the editor with their ideas to share. Letters to the editor are my favorite part of the newspaper. They don’t cost anything to have printed. It’s especially nice when they are positive and make you feel good when you read them.

Joyce Huseby is a guest columnist for the Paulding County Progress.

The opinions stated are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

 

 
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