August 20, 2014

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Local Columnists

American robin: Think spring
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:24 PM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist Paulding SWCD

American robins are common sights on lawns across North America, where you often see them in the spring tugging earthworms out of the ground.

Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song and early appearance at the end of the winter. Though they’re familiar town and city birds, American robins are at home in wilder areas, too, including mountains, forests and Alaskan wilderness.

An Alaskan robin can produce three successful broods in one year. On average, though, only 25 percent of those fledged young survive to November. From that point on, about half of the robins alive in any year will make it till the next. The entire population turns over on average every six years.

You have been chopped
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:24 PM


By Nancy Whitaker

If you have access to the Food Network, perhaps you have watched the show, “Chopped.” It is one of my favorite shows and features a cooking competition.

In the beginning of the show, they bring out four contestants who are usually all connected with the food industry. Usually there are chefs, food designers, cafeteria workers, firemen and anyone else who thinks they can win $10,000 with their cooking skills.

They begin each competition by giving each of the four competitors a basket of four usually strange ingredients to use to prepare a dish. There are three rounds: appetizer, main course and dessert.

It's good to be back home again
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:23 PM

By Jim Langham

John Denver’s old classic, “It’s Good to Be Back Home Again,” stirred in my heart early last week as I was finally able to walk on a trail at my beloved “get away,” Limberlost Loblolly, one of the stomping grounds of famed Indiana author, Gene Stratton Porter.

“The Lob,” as I like to refer to it, has become my refuge, source of hundreds of nature pictures, learning opportunity for birding and bird calls, classroom for lessons from nature and primarily the sanctuary where I escape to be quiet, still my thoughts and totally listen to nature and its Creator.

It is the home of the, “Song of the Cardinal,” many of which I have seen this spring. Two weeks ago I saw 11 robins in one cluster.

Buds are starting to make their appearance on the prairie docs, asters and an endless flow of wildflowers that create a floral blanket that I often refer to as nature’s private prayer shawl that God drapes over my heart when I stop on a trail.

I spy with my little eye
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:23 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Spring is almost here.  The calendar says so, even if the weather doesn’t. But Mother Nature always shows up for the party, even if she’s late.

By this time, I’m getting anxious for all the telltale signs of her arrival and thankfully, there are many.  If I don’t see the snowdrops because they’re still buried under snow, I can look somewhere else and see the spikes of crocus poking out of the icy ground.  (How do they do that?)

The plants out in the greenhouse and in our house have started actively growing again after slowing down quite a bit during the winter.  Lots of tender new leaves are popping out and some are even flowering, due to the lengthening daylight hours.

Trees: Plant for the future
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:17 PM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist

Paulding SWCD

I know as you read this topic, you will ask, “What is he thinking?” With packed, cold, heavy, icy snow lying on the ground, there seems to be no green in the coming future. But really, “What has a tree done for you lately?”

Those short and tall woody stemmed plants with leaves for needles are true wonders of nature. From the air we breathe to a 2x4 in your home’s wall, the tree has proven to be human’s best friend.

The power of a flower
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:16 PM

By Kylee Baumle

The doorbell rang one cold and snowy day last week. It was fairly early and I was still tinkering around upstairs, getting ready for my day. I peeked out of one of the bedroom windows and saw a Fed Ex truck backing out of our driveway.

I’d placed some orders recently, so I figured it was one of those that had been delivered. I also get quite a few books each week to consider for review and many of those arrive via Fed Ex. In any case, I didn’t run right down and see what it was until half an hour later.

When I opened the door, it was none of the things that I was expecting. The shiny black box with gold “FTD” lettering told me I’d received some flowers. Now who could be sending flowers to me?

Will work for chocolate
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:15 PM


By Nancy Whitaker

I admit it. I am a chocoholic. The thought of eating chocolate can brighten up my whole day.

When I think of chocolate, I still remember the five and dime stores having big candy cases filled with all kinds of wonderful chocolates. There were all kinds of chocolate covered candies such as: peanuts, peppermints, cherries, raisins, chocolate drops and nut clusters.

I remember standing there in front of the counter deciding what I wanted and how I could get the most chocolate for my money.

The calm before The storm
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:03 AM

By Kylee Baumle

As I sit here looking out at what remains of the last few snowstorms, the sky is a bright blue and all is calm. And even though it’s a mere six degrees out there, the sun shining through the window feels warm.

But, there’s another round of snow on the way and nearly everyone I talk to is just tired of it. We are winter weary. Still, we make the usual preparations for what is to come, like buying milk, bread, and eggs (because apparently French toast is what we all will eat if it’s our last meal before we get buried in an avalanche).

The cardinal and 'cheer up'
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:02 AM

By Jim Langham

This past week, I visited with a close friend from my old childhood neighborhood who was raised in the same cardinal atmosphere that I was. Her house was full of cardinals, figurines of cardinals, cardinal plates, cardinal cups, cardinal configurations, cardinal pillows, cardinal posters and a well-stitched cardinal quilt that recently brought her a first place award in an area quilt show.

There are “cardinal trees” decorated completely with beautiful red birds in the corners of her living room, one tree on each side of shelves stretching from ceiling to floor loaded with shelves of cardinal gifts.

In spite of her rich cardinal background, the beautiful bird came to life when she received a phone call concerning the deteriorating condition of her father in a nursing home.

Precautions to take while working the cold
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:01 AM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist Paulding SWCD

All of us can reduce potential frostbite, hypothermia and other weather related injuries as we work in extreme cold and wet conditions by wearing the right clothing and taking other precautions. Clothing should be at the top of your list when working outside. Also remember weather conditions and possibilities of wind, rain or snow and how long will you be outside.

And as you well know, we have had several days with below zero temperatures and bitterly cold wind chills. But, still, services have to be provided – mail, propane, fuel oil, newspaper, garbage, etc. So, farmers who have livestock, still have to feed, break ice in water tanks, or troughs, or just plain cutting wood or loading stored grain.