If you're a backyard orchardist and garden enthusiast here are three recipes to keep your fruit trees pest free, kill weeds, and repel cabbage worms. Best of all - the ingredients are right in your kitchen or available at a garden center.
'Bug jugs' protect fruit trees by trapping apple maggots and moth larvae. The weed control recipe is a safe herbicide that controls vegetation around young trees and kills garden weeds. And the third recipe for garden dust effectively controls cabbage worms and larvae. These recipes are safe to use around kids, pets, and pollinators.
Insect Traps for Fruit Trees
Fruit trees need special care; pruning, dormant oil, weed suppression and pest control. Here's a solution that's a safe and effective control to protect fruit from pest damage.
clean gallon jug
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 banana peel
enough water to fill the jug 1/3 full
Tape the cap to the bottom of the jug (for easy disposal because the jug will be full of gross, dead pests). Place the banana peel inside the jug, add the remaining ingredients.
After the blossoms are set hang one jug per inch of tree diameter. Use wide twine or a soft cloth tied through the jug's handle to hang them. Don't use thin string or fishing line because it cuts into the tree's protective bark.
Eradicate and control weeds use the following recipe, It's is very effective and with a few precautions it's safe to apply.
Every third spoonful of food is dependent on pollinators. That's why it's important to honor them.
Here are some Bee Facts:
One bee produces 1/12 teaspoon of honey in it's lifetime
40% of invertebrate pollinators, primarily bees and butterflies, are facing extinction
Bees pollinate as many as 170,000 plant species
The majority of pollinators are wild, including over 20,000 species of bees
87 of the leading food crops worldwide are dependent on pollinators
Pollinators affect 35% of global agricultural land
In the last 50 years agricultural production that's dependent on pollinators increased by 300%
A New Type of Hive
Here in Iowa the winter took it's toll on honey bees. Some beekeepers lost 90% of their bees.
We're using Apimaye Hives. These bee friendly, Langstroth style hives are insulated and have a great winter feeding system. The top feeders are easily opened without disturbing the bees or causing heat loss to the hive. Because the Apimaye hive is so well insulated the bees are building brood faster than in past years.
You Can Make a Difference
Make every day World Bee Day by protecting pollinators, use bee friendly products and supporting local honey producers.
Bee expert Reed Johnson of The Ohio State University, with support from the Almond Board of California, determined the cause of bee deaths in about 80,000 colonies brought in to pollinate almond trees.
The deaths and deformed brood were caused by a combination of fungicides and pesticides. Each product was deemed "safe" for honey bees.
However, when combined, these products turned lethal. 5% of the bees brought in to pollinate the 2014 almond crop died.
Murphy's Law of Farming states that, 'The minute your chicks arrive in the spring so will a cold front'. Making a protein tub brooder keeps chicks warm and healthy. A protein tub brooder is a more efficient solution than hanging brooder lights, and a protein tub brooder keeps the heat where it should be; surrounding the chicks. They also create a draft free area with plenty of ventilation.
For years we started chicks under hanging heat lamps. The electric bill reflected the inefficiency.
It's important to have more than one protein tub brooder in case the light in one of them burns out there's another warm area for the chicks.
2 *100-watt incandescent bulb or low-wattage heat lamp ( 1 for each bucket)
* Rough Service incandescent bulbs NOT LED or compact fluorescent
Black permanent marker
sharp knife, jig saw, or drill with 4” hole saw
Wash the protein tub or protein tub.
Flip the protein tub over and trace the outline of the brooder light in the center of the bucket's bottom.
Use a sharp knife or jig saw to cut along the outline. Cut the opening slightly smaller than the outline so the brooder light sits securely on top of the bucket.
Next use a jig saw or drill fitted with a 4” hole saw to cut 3 openings, evenly spaced, around the outer edge (which will become the chick's access to the brooder). Cut the holes an inch above lip of the protein tub. It's important to cut more than one entrance to prevent crowding at the opening. Multiple entrances improve ventilation.
Flip the protein tub over. Hang the brooder lamp from a lightweight chain. The chain is for safety, it prevents the lamp from falling inside the brooder. The brooder lamp should fit snugly on top of the protein tub with the lamp and wire guard sitting inside.
Use a 100 watt incandescent bulb or a low-wattage heat lamp in the fixture. Do not use a compact fluorescent or LED light - they do not generate heat. NEVER use a high wattage heat lamp and Never use a heat lamp with straw!
Spread pine shavings throughout the brooder area, both inside and outside the protein tub, to a thickness of 3 inches. Nestle the buckets into the shavings so the chicks can easily enter and exit the protein tub brooder.
Place feed and water outside the protein tub brooder. The chicks will eat and drink freely and go inside the bucket when they need to warm up.
Before your chicks arrive turn on the lights so that it's a comfortable temperature; 95 degrees the first week, reduced by five degrees each week following. Reducing the temperature is as easy as changing the bulb; a 100 watt bulb (or low-wattage heat lamp depending on the temperature) the first week or two. Change to a 75 watt bulb as the outside temperature warms up. Use brooder lamps until the chicks feather out and the outside temperature is comfortable.
Making a protein tub brooder is an efficient way to keep your chicks warm and healthy. This type of brooder is economical and easy to make. A protein tub brooder will last for years.
On our organic farm getting the chicks off to a healthy start is the key to their successful transition into the pasture. We've experienced fewer losses with better growth rates after making this brooder a part of our poultry plan.
Iowa currently has over 10,000 factory farms. A new bill presented in The Iowa House of Representatives, House file number 203 by Sharon Steckman (D-53). proposes a moratorium on new and expanded factory farms.
State senator Claire Celsi (D-21) is introducing companion legislation in the Iowa State Senate.
In Iowa over 750 waterways are impaired due to factory farms and chemical run-off.
Show support for this bill by telling your state representatives that Iowa's environment, and your family's health, is a priority.
Here's More great news...
The Rodale Institute is a pioneer for organic farming methods. They are opening the Midwest Organic Center at Indian Creek Nature Center in Marion, Iowa this summer. They will have an outreach and education center. The Rodale Institute is a great resource for organic farms and farmers transitioning to organic practices.
There are 723 organic farms in Iowa, ranking it 5th in the nation.
It’s April first again. Much to the dread of the family, I love April Fools Day. I dish out pranks pretty well, but I don't enjoy being on the receiving end.
A few years ago I decorated a piece of styrofoam to look like a cake. It looked good enough to eat.
After dinner I asked Cookie to cut the cake for everyone. Goober, our young son, got forks, napkins, and plates.
He instructed his big brother on how to cut the cake. He pointed out which piece he wanted. As cookie was cutting he looked up at me, "The cake is “really tough”. He cut through the first piece, and cried out, “It’s a fake!” Younger son examined his slice, then he burst into tears. My fatal error that year was that I didn’t have a real cake to backup the fake one.
I still laugh about it. As a matter of fact, I’ll be laughing again this year. Cookie is heading back to Vietnam on Tuesday. So, on Monday, April Fool's Day we're celebrating his birthday.
I have styrofoam ready.
“April 1 This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.” Mark Twain
NIMBY stands for Not In My Backyard. Well, if not in my backyard, then in whose backyard should confinement feedlots go?
Construction at Walz Energy is starting up again. Energy is a misnomer, it's actually a giant feedlot. They are marketing themselves as an energy company, though. Last spring I wrote about the 10,000 head cattle feedlot in Monona, Iowa. This is a LARGE CAFO facility with plans to feed 10,000 head per cycle, with two cycles scheduled per year.
Public hearings expressed great concern about air quality, water quality, and the impact on neighbors. The Walz family operates a small feedlot at the same location. In the summer the stench is over powering and triggers my gag reflex.
Your right to extend your fist ends where my nose begins...
Believe me, the stench of 10,000 cattle in a feedlot will definitely extend beyond the feedlot's reach and hit your nose.
The liquid manure storage lagoon has a capacity of nearly 39 million
How Much is 39 Million Gallons?
59 Olympic swimming pools
The moisture from a 1 inch snowfall over 14,364 acres
750,000 gallons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second, 39 million gallons equals 52 seconds of water flow over Niagara Falls.
In the fall of 2018 the project was shut down and a fine imposed after water quality in Bloody Run Creek was impacted by run-off.
Remember, Iowa's waterways are some of the worst in the nation. Iowa's creeks and streams are polluted with nitrates, chemicals, and animal waste.
Does the Iowa DNR care to prevent further contamination of waterways in the state?
Despite opposition construction is resuming. This spring Walz Energy will submit a revised nutrient management plan (NMP), The DNR requires that a public notice be published, giving ten days to review the NMP and request a public hearing.
Joe Sanfilippo, supervisor of the DNR's environmental field office in Manchester, Iowa say's he is impressed with the contractor, “I think they will be capable of properly bringing the project forward.”
What Can You Do?
Today this facility is in my backyard, in the future, a similar facility might be in yours.
Express your concern with the DNR, local authorities, and environmental groups.
Money talks, vote with your dollars. Don't support CAFO's.
Stop buying conventionally raised beef, pork, and poultry.
The cost is MUCH higher than the price in the checkout line.
If you're concerned about genetically modified foods wait until you hear about genetically engineered livestock.
Gene editing for farm animals is on the horizon.
What's gene editing?
It's changing the DNA, inherited traits, or sexual development of livestock through gene manipulation.
Here's a quote from Mitch Abrahamsen, chief commercial and science officer for Recombinetics, “Today in the marketplace, we have a castration-free swine project.”
Swine will be naturally castrated or gene editing will create hogs that never reach sexual maturity.
“Our goal is to put multiple edits in an animal,” says Abrahamsen. “I'm interested in using editing to knock out the germ cell, or testes...”
Recombinetics already has commercial deals with Hendrix Genetics, DNA Swine Genetics, and Semex, a Canadian dairy AI cooperative.
The team that's working on gene editing has a plan to market gene edited animals so that consumers will embrace the new traits without objection. Recombinetics doesn't want the negative stigma that GMO technology has. In other words the spin will be on disease free livestock, less methane producing digestion, and humane animal husbandry (no need to castrate pigs - they're testes free).
In my opinion, I'd rather have livestock that's mechanically castrated than livestock whose genes are altered to render them testes free. If you'd like more info check out Successful Farming Magazine, November 2018 or click this link
Try organic, grass-fed meat - It's healthier and better for the environment.
Americans spend 43% of their food budgets eating out or getting take-out.
In 1985 it was 41% - BethKobliner
Change what you eat.
What if for one month you got the entire family involved in meal planning, shopping, and food prep.
Give the kids a cookbook and let them choose the menu and write the shopping list.
When my sister and I were kids we enjoyed, Betty Crocker's Boys and Girls Cookbook. We made fun, easy recipes.
Our boys loved Roald Dahl's books. They recreated the recipes from Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes cookbook.
Your family will share delicious meals and quality time together. Cooking at home is healthier, less expensive, and fun.
Avoid health risks by avoiding chain restaurants
Beef with a Side of Antibiotics-
Two burger chains, Shake Shack and BurgerFi, serve beef without the routine use of antibiotics. These are the only two restaurants to earn an “A” on the Chain Reaction scorecard. This is the fourth annual scorecard released by six major consumer and environmental organizations. 22 of the top 25, including McDonalds got an “F” grade because they don't have a policy restricting antibiotic use in their beef.
Public health experts warn that the widespread use of antibiotics in meat production is rendering antibiotics less effective by creating drug-resistant bacteria. Click here for the report
Over 50% of the environmental impact of producing beef involves growing the corn used as feed. (hint, hint...buy grass-fed beef instead of grain fed) source: -Successful Farming, January 2019
There will be a 50% increase in food demand by 2050 -FAO
By 2030, 62% of the crops used the most in any nation's diet will originate from some other country. -International Center for tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Meat Recalls According to a report by U.S. Public Interest Research Group, recalls of beef, pork and chicken rose by 83% over the past five years. More than 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die from food-borne illness every year.
Today it seems like everyone is prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them. Cell phones, GPS, four wheel drive, and accurate weather forecasts give a feeling of safety. A false sense of security blankets our instinct to avoid dangerous situations.
Because we farm - we're weather dependent. We plan for worse case scenarios like feeding hay when equipment won't start, frozen waterlines, power outages, etc. There's a basic plan for just about every weather event.
When the windchill falls below zero the cattle are fed along the timber. The trees make a great windbreak. Bales of hay and straw are unrolled for feed and bedding.
Planning ahead is essential, the livestock depend on us.
Sometimes, when it comes to running errands or grocery shopping, we aren't as diligent and get caught off-guard.
Without moonlight to guide us, our path was illuminated by farmyard lights. We walked through the hills. We parked the truck on the side of the road. It was a surprisingly pleasant evening for a walk, temperatures near 30 degrees, very little wind, the drizzle was nearly over. We watched our footing carefully, a layer of ice covered the ground. As we walked I remembered reading about The Children's Blizzard of 1888.
The Blizzard of 1888
After weeks of bitter cold temperatures a moderate warming was a welcome relief on the prairies. Temperatures approached near 45 degrees on January 12, 1888. Farmers ventured out to replenish supplies of hay and visit town to conduct business. Children, lightly dressed, walked to school. They were eager to see friends, play outdoors, and enjoy the comparatively balmy weather.
In 1888 twenty-two weather stations, overseen by the Signal Corp, monitored weather data and relayed the information by Western Union to sixty “Flag Stations” throughout the prairie states to keep pioneers informed. On this day the message to fly the “cold wave” and “blizzard” flags never reached the volunteer flagmen. Warnings never came or arrived too late for the settlers of the Dakotas and Nebraska. They were caught off guard.
In the Dakota Territory the lunch hour had just ended. Children were at their desks when the wind began to howl in an eerie wail. A dark cloud descended rapidly from the northwest. Within minutes the sun disappeared, by all accounts nightfall had arrived. Ice crystals blasted the clapboard buildings. The wailing wind was deafening. Snow swirled in through every crevice. Gale force winds gusted to nearly eighty miles per hour.
Pioneers that lived through the blizzard of 1873, and the 1880 “snow winter,” where thousands of cattle froze to death on the prairie, had never seen a storm arrive with such speed and violence.
Visibility on this January day was so poor you couldn’t see more than a few inches ahead. Folks on the prairie were snow blinded by the blizzard, many died within a few steps of their homes.
Many teachers released school and sent their students into the storm. The children became disoriented and couldn’t find their way home. In other schoolhouses teachers kept their students inside. When the supply of coal, school books, and desk were exhausted they surrounding cold stoves praying for rescue. They clung together for warmth.
Parents anxiously awaited the arrival of their children. Rescue parties searched schools and bare prairies. Hope of finding loved ones faded as the temperature fell and the storm raged on. Mothers stood in doorways calling out for their children. With their voices exhausted they rang cow bells or beat pots. They hoped the sound would direct their children home. The wind chill fell to 30 degrees below zero.
Farmers watering their cattle or out gathering hay from their stacks got caught by the storm. They knew from experience to get under the storm; visibility is better close to the ground. They crawled to find shelter.
In Minnesota a large number of farmers died when they became disoriented after securing their livestock. They couldn't find their houses which were just steps from their lean-to or dugout barns.
Iowa fared better, the storm didn’t rage here until dusk. Chores and errands were done for the day. In Keokuk, Iowa the temperature plummeted 50 degrees in eight hours. Company B, Second Regiment from Davenport, Iowa was headed to Des Moines to escort William Larabee in his inauguration parade. Company B, trapped by the storm, did not arrive.
The Weather System
The weather term for such a storm is anticyclone. Winds spiral inward toward the center of low pressure in a counter-clockwise pattern. The lowest air pressure was over Iowa and Nebraska. Higher pressure over North Dakota and Montana caused a vacuum effect over the mid-section of the country. Cold rushing air created great friction and static build-up. Snow thunderstorms raged across the plains. A phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire caused static build-up. The air was electrified. Sparks emitted from people's fingertips and caused hair to stand on end. The shocks were so fierce the pioneers refused to add fuel to fires.
Children buried themselves in haystacks, huddled together in darkened classrooms, or froze to death on the prairie while searching for shelter. This was the fate of those caught in the blizzard.
On Friday, January 13, 1888 skies were clear, the air was bitter cold. Relieved students and teachers were grateful to be found alive. One teacher, who had ventured outdoors with her seven students found safety inside a haystack. They were alive, barely. Another teacher acted swiftly when the storm tore the school's roof away. Tying a makeshift rope out of torn cloth she tied her students together. Walking in a line, eyes frozen shut, they hit the side of a building and were saved.
Other unfortunate children got caught in the storm and were found frozen to death.
It's estimated that two hundred fifty fatalities littered the prairies, most of them children. Countless survivors of the initial storm succumbed to infection when frostbitten limbs were amputated. Others perished from pneumonia. It's estimated that this storm claimed five hundred lives.
That was then, This is now
When our truck wasn't able to compete with the ice we packed our gear and started walking. We talked about survival skills and common sense ideas…like staying home.