November 2011 Newsletter

MOUNTAIN TALK

News From Them Thar Hills!

Volume 2, Issue 9, November 2011

Is Your Abode Prepared?

As Fall sets in we realize that old man Winter is waiting in the wings. With Winter’s arrival comes all of the trials and tribulations one comes to expect… and others we never see coming. As the temperatures drop everyone and everything wants to find a warmer place in which to seek shelter. This includes all of the rodents and creepy crawlies that we all work so hard to keep out of our homes. They, too, want a warmer place in which to sit out Winter’s cold breath in relative comfort. This can make for a crowded domicile. For most, stowaways are not welcome.

There are a few things you can do to avoid this Winter-time migration. Sealing off all entry points is a good start. These can range from openings about the size of a quarter to the cracks around your windows and doors. Not only will this keep out many of nature’s residents but it will increase your home’s efficiency as well. Unlike many things you can do to accomplish efficiency, this one is pretty cheap!

Unfinished basements and crawl spaces are a weak point for many homes. Spiders are helpful in keeping other insect populations under control. There is the problem of their laying egg sacs with the resulting hatching of copious amounts of baby spiders. That and my wife would rather not see a spider… EVER! There are a dizzying array of poisons that one can spray or spread about to keep the creatures at bay. There are non or less toxic alternatives that work as well.

Another thing to consider with Winter’s inexorable encroachment are all things water related. Disconnecting water hoses from outdoor faucets is a must! If the interior pipe leading to the faucet is not drained then covering the faucet with a styrofoam cover, or some suitable proxy, is a good plan. Be sure and drain your hoses, roll them up and store them away. UV radiation is still present in the winter and will continue to degrade your water hoses, weakening their structure and shortening their useful life. When storing in an covered, outdoor locale, you might consider connecting the ends of the water hose together. As a farmer I have occasion to use my rather sizable collection of hoses. It is a bit irritating to hook one’s hose up to the faucet and turn the water on only to have about a million ants shoot out of the end of the hose covering every thing I was going to water with angry, biting fiends! Did you know that this, and dirt particles, are probably the number one reason those hose end attachments, the ones that have assorted spray patterns, fail? You’ll never get that flotsam out of there. If your hose ends have been left open, it’s a good idea to briefly flush the hose out prior to using hose-end attachments.

Unless you plan on draining all of your pipes and putting anti-freeze in your toilets you will need to leave you heat on with a setting between 40 and 50 degrees. Besides a tornado, nothing has quite the destructive potential to the inside of your house as unrestrained water.

If you find yourself too busy to get everything done, you can always give us a call, email or text and we will cheerfully get the job done for you!

The Mast is Down!

No, there’s no trouble with my sailing yacht (I wish!). The mast of which I speak is the nuts and fruits of certain forest trees, especially when it refers to hog feed. Of course, not only hogs eat the forest mast but so do squirrel, deer, turkey, bear and countless other of natures’ inhabitants.

According to the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) the forest mast yield this year is poor to very poor. So what about the poor, little animals, you might ask? Not to worry. They also like lawn grass and landscaping, and just about anything else that is sitting around your home.

I have noticed a plethora of turkey about this year. They are everywhere! We have a big tom with a harem of 8 hens in our front yard everyday for most of the day. There is another flock in my cow pasture. Flocks everywhere I drive, some eating the grass along the road.

We had a doe with a fawn living at our place but the doe hasn’t been around for a few weeks. Bow season claims another, I suppose. The fawn, past the spot stage, has taken to hanging with the turkeys. Any port in a storm. There is also a large herd of deer that makes the rounds through my place a night. They gleaned the tops from my radish and beets we are growing for the cows and pigs, as well as the tops of the carrots. The reports of bear are also sharply up, beginning back in summer. And, to the chagrin of at least 3 of our clients in the Richard Russell Hwy. area outside of Blairsville, wild hogs are also making a most un-welcome appearance. They can tear through pasture and landscape plantings with ease. They love the grubs and various other invertebrates found in the soft soil around plantings, ponds, gardens and in pastures. They can also learn to love baby lambs and calves, as well as the young of more exotic animals such as alpacas and llamas. Love to eat, that is.

As far as the deer, bear and hogs go, the bear is the most dangerous, the hog the most destructive and the deer some where in-between. Hogs are probably the toughest to get rid of. According to the DNR, trapping and hunting, especially with dogs, is the best way to eliminate the problem, with a combination of the two being the most effective. While some reading this may find these ways distasteful, you probably haven’t experienced them ripping apart your land. Did you know these critters are a non-native invasive species? They also cause beaucoup dollars in crop damage every year! There is no limit on the number one may take when hunting them and no closed season. The following is an excerpt from the DNR website:

“Damage caused by feral hogs has been reported in many Georgia counties.

Hogs compete with over 100 species of native wildlife for important and limited

natural food supplies, including hard and soft mast (especially acorns). The

native competitors at risk include high profile, high demand animals such as

deer, wild turkey, quail, black bear and ruffed grouse.”

Since they compete heavily with deer, hogs can be extremely detrimental to deer management programs. They will destroy quail and turkey nests and consume their eggs. In addition to consuming supplemental feed on some private intensively managed areas, wildlife feeders often are damaged or destroyed by feral hogs. Feeding also can contribute to the spread of diseases among hogs and between hogs and native wildlife. Hogs also destroy, eliminate and prevent the re-establishment of valuable native plants and animals including threatened and endangered species. All of the above reasons are why hogs are not desired on public lands in Georgia.

So, if you leave food outside for the cats and/or dogs or you have a lot of birdseed out, you might get a visit, and some consequential destruction, from one of natures’ many hungry guests. Of course, they might just visit you anyway. One can only hope it will be an enjoyable experience!

Peeper Update!

Did you get to make it up and see the leaves at peak color? No!?! Well, not to worry. While the peak is just past prime, there are still many wonderful views and visions to behold. Them thar hills still have a cornucopia of color to perceive. While all of the poplars stand naked, ready for winter’s onslaught, the maples are still rife with color, albeit partially undressed. The oaks are full of leaves and filling the hillsides, and your ocular cavities, with the splendor that will all too soon fall to earth and be blown away.

Hurry and get up here before the vivacious view fades into a memory too soon forgotten, swept aside by the travails of the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. I know that you are busy, as am I. At least I get to view the grandeur as I hurry from work to the field then home, thankful for the work and the beauty while mindful of the insignificance of the worry and fear that surrounds us all.

…a note from Cindy

The sad secret of the Mountains

The North Georgia Mountains are a wonderful place where most of the people are kind and the beauty of nature is all around.Unfortunately there is a situation here which is not so wonderful. A couple of weeks ago Beka and Junell (whom many of you know) were at one of our clients homes that rents on VRBO.This particular side of the mountain is mostly all vacation rentals with a few full time residents and in an area where bear and coyotes are quite common.The girls were cleaning the cabin and outside they find 2 puppies. The people who rented the cabin had been kind enough to put out some food for these starving and malnourished pups.So, the girls call me because they do not know what to do and I know that with the cold weather coming in, the age of the pups and the fact that the wildlife is prevalent in the area the odds are that these dogs will not make it.I told them to bring me the pups and I get on the phone making calls to everyone I can think of who may want another dog. You have to understand that if you live here full time the odds are real good that you have taken in a dog or cat or two.We have so many stray animals here it makes your heart sink.The reason here is twofold, one is because many of the local residents do not spay or neuter their animals and as I am sure you have witnessed most domestic animals here are not on leashes.The other problem is that people will come up from the city and drop their animals.It makes me so angry that I wish someone would drop them in the forest and see if they can survive.

In April of this year we lost our 2 best friends 2 weeks apart due to age and health reasons. While I was still not quite ready to take in pets, I knew that it would just be a matter of time before some lonely staving animal would walk into our lives. Sure enough, we now have 2 pups who have stolen our hearts and taken over our house!Thank goodness we had the room and wherewithal to take care of them.

BUT…Many animals here are not so lucky. The shelter is full and there is just no place to put all these abandoned animals.

SO, the next time you want to do something kind consider donating to our local shelter or donating items to one of their 2 thrift stores and if you have room in your house and heart maybe you would even consider adopting.For your information the Mountain Shelter is located at 129 Bowling Gap Circle which is located off Hwy 76 going on the East side of Blairsville. Their web site is www.humanesocietymountainshelter.org. In fact, I know of someone who is trying to find a home for a house cat that was left at the home after the owners moved out.

And in case you are wondering the pups are now named Pearl and Ziggy.Their breed is a Heinz 57 and they are great!

Bovine Broadcast!

Many of you have asked about little Norman after our initial story on his troubled beginnings. Thus far, things have turned out pretty well for old Norman.

My best cow, Blackie, has allowed Norman to sneak some drinks. Blackie had a beautiful calf, Maggie, a couple of months after Norman’s birth. She had the largest birth weight of any calf I’ve had to this date. At first Blackie resisted Norman’s attempts to nurse. Being the crafty little devil, Norman figured out that if he waited until Maggie was nursing he could run over and sneak a teat from the back. This strategy has served him well. Blackie has a bag nearly as large as a Jersey milk cow so, with adequate nutrition, she can support two calves.

Norman is almost 7 months old and starting to exhibit bully behavior. That means it’s about time to calm him down. He has put on a good bit of weight and size. He’ll definitely make a fine steer. He’s still pretty sweet, mostly. He likes to be scratched and petted but mostly he eats and tries to push the other calves around. The pushing will subside somewhat  when we relieve him of his testicular burden.

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