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Archive | May, 2013

Free fishing and hunting licenses now available to military members

Active-duty military members who enlisted as Michigan residents and have maintained residence status can now obtain annual Michigan fishing or hunting licenses free of charge, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced this week.

To qualify, persons must be active-duty U.S. military members and, at the time of enlistment, must have been residents of Michigan and must have maintained residence status for the purposes of obtaining a driver’s license or voting. These individuals may receive, free of charge, a resident military all-species fishing license or any hunting license for which a lottery is not required.

Applicants must present proof of military status when applying for the free license. Proof of military status may include military I.D., leave papers, duty papers, military orders or other evidence verifying that the applicant is a member of the military. The licenses are available at DNR Customer Service Centers and at license retail outlets statewide.

Previously, military members paid $1 for a resident all-species fishing license or hunting license not requiring a lottery. The change is part of Public Act 21 of 2013.

Military members receiving a free fishing or hunting license must present the license, along with proof of military status, if requested by a conservation officer.

As always, non-resident, active-duty military personnel officially stationed in Michigan may purchase all hunting and fishing licenses at Michigan resident rates.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off

Spring Flowering, Weather, & Climate

 

Spring flowers are blooming weeks later than normally expected this year. Last year they were weeks earlier than expected.

Here are some comparison dates from Ody Brook Sanctuary:

Wild Flowers 2012 2013

Narrow-leaved Spring Beauty 19 March 25 April

Trout Lily or Adder’s Tongue 7 April 28 April

Large-flowered Trillium 19 April 6 May

Pussy-toes 7 April 5 May

Common Dandelion 1 April 2 May

Yellow Rocket 19 April 8 May

Spring Cress 29 March 28 April

Wild Geranium 23 April 8 May

Wood Anemone 6 April 3 May

Common Blue Violet 31 March 4 May

Trees

Serviceberry 21 March 1 May

Quaking Aspen 13 March 17 April

Red Maple 21 March 27 April

Silver Maple 13 March 15 April

 

Weather is short-term change in temperature, wind and precipitation. It is different than climate. Weather is greatly influenced by climate and can have catastrophic impacts on our lives, incomes, and ability to live in some areas. It affects human lives and the lives of plants and animals. As climate changes, it affects long-term timing and success of species to reproduce and maintain populations. It is not something observed well within a few decades. Centuries are needed to adequately track changes in climate. We can of course monitor clues and make scientific predictions that have reasonable accuracy.

Weather is short-term changes occurring hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly. With computer modeling, weather forecasters are quite good at predicting fairly accurately expected weather for 7 to 10 days. Beyond that computer data crunching provides somewhat reasonable predictions for the next month or two. The accuracy diminishes with increased predictions projections.

That brings us to climate predictions. Climate is long-term averages of weather patterns that include temperature, precipitation, and winds. Clearly global temperature is increasing rapidly and has already changed livability in some areas. With no high ground some islands are experiencing flooding while other areas are experiencing desertification. People need to be relocated. Plants and animals indigenous to those islands are dying as sea level covers land or less precipitation limits survival.

Annually weather changes are become erratic and stressing life. When flowers bloom too early, they are likely to be killed by frost later in the season. This happened last year and we noticed it with the loss of apple and cherry fruits among other things. Some flower emergence changes are resulting in blooming at times different from insect pollinator occurrence and this reduces their reproductive success.

Last week global atmospheric carbon reached 400 parts per million compared with 280 ppm being the norm 150 years ago and 315 ppm in 1958. It is clear that human caused carbon release into the atmosphere is changing climate. This is having some immediate effects but the greatest impacts will affect our children and grandchildren. Our life style and abundance has consequences for our families and nature niches. We determine how much carbon we add to the atmosphere by how we live our daily lives. Act locally and think globally.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

Posted in Outdoors, Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Protecting your landscape from wildlife damage

DIG-Protect-lawn-from-wildlifeby Melinda Myers

 

They’re cute, they’re furry and they love to eat – your landscape that is.  If you are battling with rabbits, deer, groundhogs or other wildlife, don’t give up.  And if you are lucky enough to be wildlife-free at the moment, be vigilant and prepared to prevent damage before these beautiful creatures move into your landscape to dine.

Anyone who has battled wildlife knows the frustration and difficulty involved in controlling them. Your best defense is a fence. A four-foot-high fence anchored tightly to the ground will keep out rabbits. Five-foot high fences around small garden areas will usually keep out deer. They seem to avoid these small confined spaces. The larger the area the more likely deer will enter. Woodchucks are more difficult. They will dig under or climb over the fence. You must place the fence at least 12 inches below the soil surface with 4 to 5 feet above the ground. Make sure gates are also secured from animals.

Some communities allow electric fences that provide a slight shock to help keep deer out of the landscape. Another option is the wireless deer fence. The system uses plastic posts with wire tips charged by AA batteries. The plastic tip is filled with a deer attractant.  When the deer nuzzles the tip it gets a light shock, encouraging it to move on to other feeding grounds.

Scare tactics have been used for many years. Motion sensitive sprinklers, blow up owls, clanging pans and rubber snakes strategically placed around a garden may help scare away unwanted critters. Unfortunately urban animals are used to noise and may not be alarmed. Move and alternate the various scare tactics for more effective control.  The animals won’t be afraid of an owl that hasn’t moved in two weeks.

Homemade and commercial repellents can also be used. Make sure they are safe to use on food crops if treating fruits and vegetables. You’ll have the best results if applied before the animals start feeding. It is easier to prevent damage than break old feeding patterns. Look for natural products like those found in Messina Wildlife’s Animal Stopper line. They are made of herbs and smell good, so they repel animals without repelling you and your guests.

Live trapping can be inhumane and should be a last option. Babies can be separated from their parents, animals can be released in unfamiliar territory, and trapped animals can suffer from heat and a lack of food and water. Plus, once you catch the animal, you need to find a place to release it. The nearby parks, farms and forests already have too many of their own animals and therefore they don’t want yours.

The key to success is variety, persistence, and adaptability. Watch for animal tracks, droppings and other signs that indicate wildlife have moved into your area. Apply repellents and install scare tactics and fencing before the animals begin feeding. Try a combination of tactics, continually monitor for damage and make changes as needed.  And when you feel discouraged, remember that gardeners have been battling animals in the garden long before us.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, features gardening videos, gardening tips, podcasts, and more.    

Posted in Diggin' Spring, FeaturedComments Off

Make your water work harder this year

_Car-Road-trip-tire-tips2(NAPS)—Many homeowners looking to maximize the efficiency of their outdoor water use turn to drip irrigation systems as a solution for keeping weeds, diseases, garden pests, scorching heat and high water bills at bay. Drip irrigation systems are easily set up by even a novice gardener and will deliver an immediate water savings as they place the exact amount of water slowly and evenly at the plant’s roots—where it’s needed most.

Here are some drip basics to help you save water:

1. Start by estimating the water needs of your plants. Knowledgeable and helpful staff at a garden center can assist you in determining just how much water your plants need to be healthy. Different plants will have different requirements depending on their variety and the conditions of your yard, such as sun exposure and soil type.

2. Drip systems can either be incorporated into an existing automatic sprinkler system or through a manual connection to an outdoor hose faucet. A manual hose-end connection can also be easily automated by using a battery-operated timer such as the Rain Bird Electronic Garden Hose Watering Timer.

3. For optimum performance, keep your water pressure under control with a pressure regulator. These simple devices keep your water pressure in the ideal range of within 20 to 50 psi. Drip systems are most efficient when operating at the correct pressure.

4. Include a filter in your system to prevent clogging. Drip uses smaller diameter openings than traditional sprinklers, so tiny bits of dirt and debris may clog your system if you don’t use a filter. The good news is that filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

A well-designed drip irrigation system will lose practically no water to runoff, deep percolation or evaporation. Steady, consistent watering can also lower plant stress, which leads to healthier and happier plants while lowering your water bill.

Rain Bird, a global leader in irrigation technology, offers an online step-by-step guide to drip irrigation in addition to interactive demos and a drip calculation program to help homeowners and contractors design and schedule drip irrigation systems correctly. You can check it out at www.rain bird.com.

 

 

Posted in Diggin' SpringComments Off

Road trip tire tips

CAR-Road-trip-tips1(BPT) – The weather’s heating up and that means one thing: road trips.

Before you grab the family and hit the highway, make sure your vehicle’s ready to roll. And the first place to check is actually what rolls – your tires. Often ignored – except when they are flat – tires are one of the most important components on any vehicle, and have an enormous effect on braking, steering, comfort, handling and fuel efficiency.

Car-Road-trip-tips2

Palang says the first thing to know is what type of tires you have and what they can do. “Most people have no idea and get confused because there are so many types and performance categories. By educating yourself about tires and how to maintain them, you will be able to save money and fuel, vastly improve your vehicle’s ride and handling, and better prepare yourself for the road ahead.”

According to Palang, tires are defined according to whether they are summer, all-season or winter tires. Summer tires offer excellent handling in dry and wet conditions. All-season tires are designed for varying road conditions that include moderately cold or low temperatures. Winter tires are best for conditions that call for improved cold weather and snow/ice performance.

To best match the type of tire with your driving needs, look for the performance category that meets your requirements the most:

* Ultra high-performance: Deliver superior high-speed traction and control with a firmer, sportier feel.

* High-performance: Engineered to provide crisp handling, responsive feedback and allow the tire to operate at higher speeds.

* Touring: Provides the ride and noise comfort of a standard passenger car tire.

“There’s a lot to consider when deciding on tires,” explains Palang. “You have to take into account how you drive, how far, weather and road conditions, how you want the vehicle to perform and so on. Plus, there are new tire technologies, such as the use of orange oil we put in our AVID Ascend, which creates a special compound resulting in a balance of long tread life, all-season handling and great fuel economy.”

For road trips or the daily commute, driving smart and maintaining your tires can save money at the gas station. Here are some of Palang’s tips:

* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.

* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch to prevent skidding and hydroplaning. An easy test: place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.

* Tire alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and creates unnecessary tire wear.

* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel costs by up to 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save up to 13 percent.

* Turn off your engine if you’re stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.

* Blasting off from a stoplight and then slamming on the brakes to stop uses gas at a much faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you’ll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.

For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.

 

 

 

Posted in Auto Life, FeaturedComments Off

Simple steps so save gas without driving less

Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

(NAPS)—Just because gas prices go up, that doesn’t mean your driving has to go down.

You can’t control the price of gas but you can control how much you use with some simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance.

Save Gas And Cash

Consider these simple steps to save gas without driving less:

• Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

• Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by 3 percent.

• Replace dirty or clogged air filters on older vehicles to improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

• Change oil regularly and gain another mile per gallon.

• Check the gas cap. Damaged, loose or missing gas caps let the gas just vaporize into the air.

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph.

• Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.

• Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.

• Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer multipurpose trip.

• Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

“Some motorists think they are saving money when they put off needed vehicle maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “What they don’t realize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more. Keeping your car running efficiently and modifying your driving behavior is the best way to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and keep more money in your pocket. Fuel consumption is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior and both can have a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

Learn More

For a free copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for further information, visit www.carcare.org.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Traveling with kids—be car seat smart

Protect your precious cargo: Be sure your child’s car seat is properly installed and remember to use it every ride.

Protect your precious cargo: Be sure your child’s car seat is properly installed and remember to use it every ride.

(NAPS)—Road trips with children can be daunting, but with AAA’s expert advice, your next family car trip can be both safe and fun:

• Involve your children early on when planning a road trip. Let them help decide places to stop.

• Give kids a map so they can see where you are and how far it is to your destination.

• Remember, loose items in the car can be dangerous in a crash or just a sudden stop. Keep loose items in the trunk, a console or under a cargo net.

• Be sure children are secure in the proper car seats. Each year, more than 1,000 kids die and 170,000 are injured in car crashes—but giving them the proper protection will help keep them safe.

Following these best practice recommendations will ensure your children are as safe as possible on the road:

First, remember that the backseat is the safest place for all kids under 13. Toddlers should be kept in rear-facing seats for as long as possible, until reaching the height or weight limits of the car seat, typically around age 2. Children who have outgrown the harnesses on their forward-facing car seats can use a booster seat to help position them so the lap/shoulder belt fits properly across their hips and upper thighs and across their chest and collarbone. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should remain in a booster seat until they have reached 4’9” in height, which is typically between ages 8 and 12. A child is ready to move from a booster seat to a lap/shoulder belt if the following criteria are met:

• The child can sit all the way back against the vehicle seat;

• The child’s knees can bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat;

• The lap/shoulder belt crosses the child’s shoulder between the neck and arm and the lap belt remains low across the thighs and hips;

• And, the child can remain in this position for the duration of the ride.

Before heading out on your trip, be sure that your child’s car seat is installed properly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four car seats are incorrectly installed. It’s important to read the owner’s manual for both the vehicle and the car seat before attempting the installation. Fortunately, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are available to advise you. You can find them through an AAA office, by calling (866) SEAT-CHECK or by visiting www.seatcheck.org. Another way to protect children all over the country, the experts at AAA say, is to strengthen child passenger safety laws. Learn more at www.SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com.

 

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Free electronics recycling fundraiser

Cedar Springs High School is hosting a free electronics recycling event at the school Tuesday, May 28 from 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesday, May 29 from 8 am to 6pm, and Thursday, May 30 from 8 am to 3 pm. Look for the Comprenew e-Drop trailer in the school parking lot. Acceptable items include office & household electronics (cell phones, radios, microwaves, VCRs, TVs), computer components & accessories. Almost anything with a cord or battery will be accepted. Comprenew will wipe or destroy all computer hard drives. No big box appliances, air conditioners or refrigerators. Proceeds from the recycling event will benefit Cedar Springs High School.

 

Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments Off

Tired son

A clergyman, walking down a country lane, sees a young farmer struggling to load hay back onto a cart after it had fallen off.

“You look tired, my son,” said the cleric. “Why don’t you rest a moment, then I’ll give you a hand.”

“No thanks,” said the young man. “My father wouldn’t approve.”

“Don’t be silly,” the minister said. “Everyone is entitled to a break. Come and have a drink of water.”

Again the young man protested that his father would be upset.

Losing his patience just a little, the clergyman said, “Your father must be a real slave driver. Tell me where I can find him and I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”

“Well,” replied the young farmer, “you can tell him whatever you like just as soon as I get this hay off him!”

 

Posted in Joke of the WeekComments Off

Old folks at home

(L to R):  Judy Schultz, Liz Clifford, Chris Bigney, and Russ Cole in a scene from Old Folks at Home.

(L to R):  Judy Schultz, Liz Clifford, Chris Bigney, and Russ Cole in a scene from Old Folks at Home.

Reviewed by Tom Noreen

Ever wondered what life in a retirement home might be like, but were afraid to ask? Scott and Jill Phillip’s new musical Old Folks at Home will give you a glimpse into life at the Aged Oaks retirement home. If you want to see this wonderful spoof, tickets are available at the Cedar Springs Library or Alpha and Omega Coffee and games for the 7:30 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday, May 24-25.
The show opened to a packed theatre last Friday. The audience laughed all the way through as Scott poked fun at the infirmities that come with age and mileage. Melvin (Russ Cole) still thinks he is God’s gift to women as he chases the ladies around in his walker while in Betty’s (Megan Maddox) royal allusions she portrays herself as Queen for a day taking on personages from Victoria to, well you will have to go to find out! Then there is poor Maude (Liz Clifford), stricken by a stroke she milks more laughs out of 52 words and a palette of facial expressions than Bob Hope could in a Christmas special. Glenda (Chris Bigney) tries to keep the peace as squabbles breakout. Bertie (Judy Schultz) thinks she’s a flapper as she makes eyes at staffer Corey (Sean Murphy).

On the darker side, Wendell (Jon Gamm) feels he as been dumped to die by his son, Adam (Dan Kavanaugh). Anna Ambrose as Rachel attempts to bring reconciliation to Wendell and Adam as little Johnny (Hayden Golczynski) brings joy and purpose into Wendell’s shattered life. All the time, Kathryn-with a capital K (Terri Riggle), tries to keep the home running on an even keel.

Jill’s songs range from the hilarious to the poignant. The Lutheran Children’s Choir’s makes fun of the residents in the title work, Old Folks at Home. The house roared at Stalker with Walker. On the other hand, you could hear a pin drop when Anna sang Forgive. The show closed as the Aged Oak residents got back at the Lutheran kids with their rap song, Old Folks Finale.

The show is as good as it gets, a great story line and super music. Make the time this weekend to enjoy this fantastic production. Tickets are $15 at the door or $12 in advance. Students under 18 are $6. Call Scott at 696-3746 or email phillipsba@yahoo.com to reserve your ticket or get one at the library or Alpha and Omega.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, FeaturedComments Off

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