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A New Year Begins, So Should You
January 06, 2014

A belated Happy New Year.

Thank you so much, for your many Christmas Blessings and well wishes.

Thank you for the Happy New Year wishes too.

As you may know, parts of the Midwest and into Ontario, Canada experienced an ice storm a couple of weeks ago.

Ice storms can be very dangerous

Not just for driving and walking, but the loss of power and downed power lines.

At least 250,000 homes, in a swath of Michigan alone were without power.

Some homes up to eight days in the cold and dark.

We were blessed enough to go unscathed.

Five miles away from us, my mother in law's senior complex was without heat and light for a few days.

She spent some time with us.

A very needy 89 year old woman and a special needs daughter is more than a full time job. Christmas was indeed a challenge.

Especially for My dear wife, Karen.

Ice storms can also leave some dramatic images in nature.

Pictures never show the whole image, but I am sharing a few images with you this week.

Up to 3/4 of an inch of ice fell in many locations.

I am going to show a young Cottonwood tree completely bent over.

Paths I usually walk, blocked by ice covered brush and field shrubs.

Even a picture or two of trees and other images.

It's a new month, don't forget to clean off your bird feeders and always remember fresh water.

For new readers, if you can't remove and clean feeders, a good spray of rubbing alcohol works to kill of germs and cooties.

Alcohol dries fast and no harmful residue to hurt your birds.

The cold and snow puts your feeder birds into a feeding frenzy.

You will also notice this before a storm hits.

Birds are ultra sensitive to barometric pressure.

They know something is coming and gorge themselves.

If at all possible, offer good stuff high in fat and protein.

Feed like raw peanuts, black oil sunflower seed, and even Nyjer thistle for finches.

Suet is a good thing too.

I have found that many blends or mixes are filled with stuff the birds don't eat.

This ends up on the ground and costs you more in the long run.

If you can only offer one food, go with Black oilers.

All of your desirable feeder birds will eat this, including finches.

Unfortunately, so do House sparrows, but Starlings can't.

(There are an abundance of House sparrows this winter.)

If you feel the need, toss some cracked corn out, or put up another feeder that offers white millet and cracked corn.

It is always cheaper to mix your own.

The holidays are over, and winter has set in for most of us.

No need to sit around bored, waiting for spring.

There are many things to do.

Gardeners, did you make notes of your failures and successes from this past growing season?

Before you spend good money on seeds and plants, go over your notes (even mental notes).

What worked well, and what didn't.

Is there a reason you keep trying the same flowers in the same location with lousy results?

Maybe you need to give up on that plant, or simply relocate it.

Face it, sun lovers fail in the shade and shade plants fry in the sun.

Plant that require lots of moisture don't belong in the farthest corner of your garden where it is more likely to be neglected.

Plant like plant needs in the same location.

An example might be this: to plant your high maintenance plants close to the house where they will get more care and water.

Plant your drought tolerant plants furthest away, if that area gets less attention.

Why waste time and money on something that is bound to fail..... again?

Go over the reams of seed catalogs and make a wish list.

Go ahead, wear out the pages.

Unless you have unlimited finances and garden space, you will gradually pair down your list.

Only the "Gotta Have" will make the cut.

Study to make sure they will grow in your region.

Not simply hardiness zones, but look for heat zone tolerance as well.

There is a big difference.

Are you a hibernator?

I mean stay in until the snow melts kind of person.

You can always work a jigsaw puzzle or do word search.

I find that some down time can be spent with a good book.

Me, I like to learn so the books I read will hopefully teach me something or remind me of something I may have forgotten.

There are several good books on gardening and birding.

A few even put both together.

Learn to plant more for wildlife and birds.

Create habitats that are not only appealing to your eyes, but for your birds and other wildlife like toads, butterflies, insects (for the birds), bees and so on.

It brings a whole new level to gardening.

You will also discover that many native plants require less attention and will actually perform for you.

You may not be the sit inside all winter type of person.

I know I'm not.

I must go for walks or the very least, shovel the snow for as activity.

You know, for something to do.

Well, there is plenty to do.

Visit a museum.

Karen took our oldest daughter, and grand kids to the public museum this past Friday to enjoy the display on dinosaurs.

(I was at home waiting for a repairman.)

Everyone had a good time.

Entertaining and educational at the same time.

Check out art museums or a local botanical garden.

Keep your body and your mind active.

Check out upcoming home and garden shows.

Our Creator gave us both to use.

Even dreaming is a gift from God.

(Somewhere in this mess, is a path. The last picture shown, is a young Cottonwood tree bent over from the weight of the ice.)

Many small communities and even large cities have some kind of a winter fest or festivals during the cold months.

Indeed, in the great white north, many towns and cities have learned to embrace winter.

Large cities like Montreal, Canada focus on winter.

Northern Michigan for example, (and other states) is peppered with little towns and small cities where one town, or another, always seems to have something going on.

Chili cook offs, beer making contests, bowling with frozen turkeys, frozen fish toss. bonfires, dog races.

Pond hockey tournaments, snow softball tournaments, and other winter activities for participants and spectator alike.

The list and possibilities is almost endless.

Festivals aren't just to make money, they are to get people out and about.

To keep active, meet new people, and experience a whole new side of life.

Winter doesn't have to one big boring and gloomy season.

Well, I've rambled on long enough and is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Happy New Year and God Bless.

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.

Booker T. Washington

I would've loved to have met Booker.
An amazing man, especially for his time.

Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said,
‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you,
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".

Matthew 5:43-44

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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