August 27, 2014

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Local Columnists

The woes of a turkey
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:52 AM


By Nancy Whitaker

I love Thanksgiving and everything about it. Being thankful to God for our blessings, a big turkey dinner and seeing family members is all a part of this special day.

We all know the stories about the first Thanksgiving and how the Pilgrims celebrated. In November, 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford wanted to have a feast, so he invited the colonists and their Native American allies, which included the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit.

Let's get the party started
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:33 AM



By Nancy Whitaker

If you are like me, you will find any excuse to “have a party.” I remember when I was little, I would sit my doll (I only had one) on a chair up to a little table, set out my little tea set and serve myself and my doll water. To me that was having a party.

When I started school, there were all kinds of little parties to celebrate the different holidays. I remember being in grade school and having Halloween parties. What fun it was to get dressed up in a costume and parade around to the other classrooms.

'Tis The Season
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:33 AM

By Kylee Baumle

For over a week now, I’ve seen Christmas decorations and heard Christmas music in a handful of stores. I’m not irritated by it like some people are, maybe because I’m a procrastinator extraordinaire and anything that attempts to jump-start me at such a major event on the calendar is probably a good thing.

The garden year goes by a slightly different calendar, dictated by the weather and daylight hours. For those of us who live up here where the four seasons are distinctly different from each other, the growing period pretty much comes to a halt after a hard freeze.

The Eastern Kingbird
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:32 AM


By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist

Paulding SWCD

This time of year, nature creates some of the most beautiful array of colors and blending variations of the color chart. The Nature Center is alive with bird activity this fall, as I am noticing a dozen or so Eastern Kingbirds.

Well named, kingbirds are highly territorial and aggressive, and are often seen badgering crows, raptors, and any other large bird that overflies their domain. I witnessed this because they chased off some sparrows, as it looks like the sparrows were too close.

Christmas shopping in September works best for me
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:31 AM

Christmas shopping in September works best for me

By Joe Shouse

I admit that I do not enjoy Christmas shopping. Hearing all the commercials about the upcoming Black Friday sales that have turned into Thanksgiving Thursday sales – and I’m still not excited. I do not plan to cut short the family feast or set the alarm for the middle of the night in order to save a few dollars. I did that several years ago when I was younger and more energetic and I am not so sure I saved all that much. So today, a little wiser and still broke, I feel my rest is more important than a bargain.

Snakes are gone for now
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:58 AM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist, Paulding SWCD

Working on the wetland area this fall has gotten me to wonder, where have the snakes gone? Now, I am not wanting to see any, because those creatures just give me the creeps!

The blessing of unexpected apples
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:38 AM

The blessing of unexpected apples

By Jim Langham

What a precious unexpected provisional gift from the Giver of Gifts a few days ago. I was driving down State Line Road north of Dixon and my eyes caught the glimpse of a pile of discarded apples in the field.

Instinctively, based on childhood vibes, I turned around and went back to what we always called a pile of “cut ups” had been discarded in the field.

When I was a child, we salvaged everything; often, I would sit by the kitchen table and cut off bad spots of apples with my grandma as we saved what would often become a great Dutch apple pie or apple crisp. We would core and save the good parts, even if was only a fourth of an apple.

Penny for Your Thoughts
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:35 AM


By Nancy Whitaker

What kind of things did you do as a kid? We’re so mature now and so much wiser. We now have real and different issues to deal with and decisions to make, now that we are all grown up.

Sometimes when we enter adulthood, our lives become too busy, too controversial, too fast-paced, too boring, too exciting or just plain mediocre.

Leaves: The gift that keeps on giving
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:35 AM

Leaves: The gift that keeps on giving

By Kylee Baumle

Few would dispute that we’re experiencing one of the most colorful fall seasons in recent history. I see comment after comment on Facebook and  Twitter talking about it and numerous photos provide the visual proof to the rest of the world that the trees and shrubs are about as gaudy as it gets here in northwest Ohio.

I’ve been asked just what it is about this fall that makes the colors so much more vibrant than in those past.  The process that produces color in leaves is called senescence. Changes in both day length and temperature trigger its beginning, and the trees stop producing chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their characteristic green color.

Without chlorophyll, the green disappears and the yellows and oranges, which were there all along, remain. Red color is another matter and the mechanism for its appearance is not entirely understood.

Though some red is present in certain leaves, it is mostly produced as a stress response, and serves as a kind of sunscreen for the leaves.  It allows them to remain on the tree a little longer, perhaps so the tree can continue to gather nutrients to help it through the winter. We don’t really know for sure.

Why one year’s colors are superior to another’s is related to that season’s weather.  The season’s rainfall (or lack of it) plays a part, but when we have an autumn that has cool nights without frost combined with sunny days, we get the most vibrant shades of color.  That’s exactly what happened this year.

The winds of the past week have done a pretty good job of stripping the trees of their colorful array of leaves and those of us with a fair number of trees on our property are left with an equally colorful carpet on the lawn floor.

Fallen leaves can be a good thing for our gardens and even the lawn itself, but you can have too much of a good thing. Too many larger leaves, and smaller plants get smothered and fungus grows.  I’ve seen it happen in my own garden.  So what’s a person to do with all those leaves?

Open burning isn’t allowed in most areas and for health reasons it isn’t advisable to burn leaves anyway.  The smoke contains carcinogens. And burning them would be a waste of a perfectly good organic material that can be used to enrich our lawns and our gardens.

Personally, we chop the leaves with the mower and add them to the compost bin.  Chopped leaves will decompose faster than intact ones and by the time spring rolls around, we’ve got some pretty good stuff to add to the soil.  We also use some of those chopped leaves as mulch in the fall, placing it around trees and shrubs.

Fallen leaves are important to the ecosystem in other ways.  Have you ever noticed the ladybugs present in large numbers under the leaves when you clean them from your flower beds in the spring? That’s where they’ve spent the winter.  Other insects do the same.  Some butterfly caterpillars will wrap themselves up in leaves in the fall and stay there until spring.

Consider these things when you’re cleaning up your yard and your gardens this fall.  Use them for good and leave some of them for our insect friends.

Read more at Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at and on Facebook at Contact her at

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 1:40 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Halloween is now behind us, but Thanksgiving looms large and so do the pumpkins. Everywhere you look, you see the orange orbs, on front porches, in the groceries, and some are still sitting in the pumpkin patch.

But, not all are carved as Jack-o-Lanterns. Not all will end up on your plate in a few weeks. (Mmm...pie!) Some are grown just for the sheer joy and competition of growing them. I’m talking about the quest for the largest pumpkin ever grown.

This is serious business among those who grow the giants. There are seeds called ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’, ‘Silver Bullet,’ and some are a number indicating size (in pounds) coupled with the name of the grower. For example, 1725 Harp seeds are seeds from a pumpkin that Christy Harp of Massillon, Ohio, grew to a record 1,725 pounds to win the competition in 2009.