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Autumn Continues and more.
November 10, 2008

I'm still adjusting to the time change as sunsets are now before 5:30 PM.

Tuesday is "Veterans Day" in America and "Remembrance Day" in Canada.

A special day set aside for us to honor our Veterans.

Because of these men and women, I am able to write this letter and you are free to read it.

To our Veterans, past and present "Gardening For Wildlife" offers a great big

Autumn's colors have stayed longer this year than in typical years.

As you know, length of day dictates the changes in trees, but weather plays a huge roll in the quality and quantity of fall colors.

Things like rain (or lack of), sun, clouds, and temperatures are what make or break the fall colors.

The weather this past week offered one fantastic ride as we had a record breaking stretch for November.

Four days in a row with temperatures at 70 degrees or above.

Windows open and pretty much the rest of fall clean up was taken care of.

Thursday gave us the chance to visit "Meijer Gardens".

We enjoyed the sculptures and the nature walk along that borders a wetland and wooded area.

There is something special about a natural setting like that.

It can seem so primitive and wild, yet so serene and beautiful.

As you might imagine, the wetland/water way had plenty of activity going on.

The ride ended with a sudden drop in temperatures Friday evening and through the week end.

Much of the week end was rain or rain and snow mix.

It is November after all.

Late season nature walks still offer plenty of critter and bird action.

Some animals are busy stashing food for winter, some are grazing full time to add weight.

We know many birds migrate, but some mammals do as well.

Yes, bird activity is still every where you look.

Listen for the woodpeckers.

Jays can be very loud this time of year.

Juncos are welcome guests to many of our yards.

Deer can be very active this time of year, be careful out there

If I didn't know better, I might think it is spring with all the robin singing going on.

Last week's warm weather even brought some butterflies out of hibernation for a few days.

Look around you.................

Breathe in the intoxicating sights and sounds and smells that this time of year offers.

Keep an ear and eye open while you are getting your yard and gardens ready for winter.


We have a couple of Fall Favorites to add to this week's letter.

Judy in NE Ohio.

I love all the obvious things about fall but one thing came to mind today as I was doing my last cleanup outside, seeing many of my gardens take on a skeletal look! I was reminded of the etch a sketch I had as a kid and how I would spend hours creating what I thought was a masterpiece, then in one swift shake I would start with a clean slate.

That is how I saw fall today in my yard. I could see things I need to move, "shovel" prune or where I want to put something new next year.

Thanks Ron for letting us jot down our thoughts!

You' are very welcome Judy. I like the "etch a sketch" description.

Joyce, just an hour's drive -northwest of Duluth, MN.

Yes, fall, my favorite season. The wonderful colors, the earthy smells, cool crisp days. Walks in the woods, crunching on the crisp leaves with every step, watching a bald eagle in a leafless tree, waiting for prey.

I really don't mind the time change- I figure it is time to take a rest, enjoy cozying up by a fire, cooking up comfort foods. There is of course preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, planning next year's garden, and new things to plant. I do enjoy putting a few jigsaw puzzles together on one end of my dining room table between times of having guests over for the Holidays. I also have new bird houses to make, among other wood projects and gifts to make.

Before you know it, it's March and time changes again.

Bald eagles, how cool. You have the right attitude Joyce, right down to the planning and jigsaw puzzles.

Thanks ladies for the fall favs.

Thank you everyone for paticipating and thank you for all the kind words.

You are the best readers a guy could have :-)

Look more more favorites and reader activity later on.

I was going to write about something else, when this subject came to my attention.

As you know, I work at a large garden center that has a wild bird department as well.

This past week when a shipment of bird seed came in, something caught my eye.

Grain weevils or commonly known as corn weevils were present in some of the feed bags.

I know that insects or pests hitch a ride with our bird feed, but when it is that obvious...........

Corn weevils can live for several months and each female can lay over 200 eggs.

In no time, you can have a weevil infestation.

Corn weevils are wingless, but have 6 healthy legs and can find their way to your pantry if given the opportunity to do so.

Corn weevils and other pantry pests can quickly ruin many food items.

What you can do to deter these insects is to keep your feed and seed in a tight container and preferably in a garage or shed.

As cooler weather hits, insects will slow down or go dormant for the winter, but bring them in where it is warm and you may have a situation on your hands.

Insects are a part of life and a part of your bird feed, so it doesn't mean the seed is old.

If there is an infestation at the mill or wholesaler, they may fumigate in non toxic ways by using carbon dioxide, hydrogen or other means.

Still, tiny live stock finds the way to our bird feed.

The insects and insect eggs come with the packaged product and migrates from there.

You can look for damage in clear bags and packaging, but paper bags make it more difficult to do so.

Always buy from a reputable retailer and look for some tell tale signs.

Are there insects walking or flying around?

Look for webbing and pupating larvae on the bags.

Dust collecting is a sign of old bags or seed cakes.

Now, birds appreciate the free protein, but the stealthy critters can do a number on your cereals and pancake mixes.

Open boxes are an invitation, but adults will also chew holes through bags and boxes.

You may not see the insects when you bring a bag home, so you open the package and leave it near the back door or some other convenient location.

Eggs hatch and pupa turn into adults.

Before you know it, you have a war on your hands.

You can keep small amounts of feed in the freezer or nuke a batch to keep inside, but leaving an open bag inside is asking for trouble.

By smart.

While on the topic of corn and bird seed, here is another issue.

The economic slowdown may have a positive effect on bird feeding products.

The price of oil has dropped like a rock and you should gradually see a drop in what you pay for feed.

However, expect some retailers to keep the price up to gain on profit margins.

The big push to produce bio-fuel really stuck it to us folks that enjoy feeding birds.

With government subsidies in hand, farmers and corn growers went whole hog into growing corn.

Now that the price of oil and gasoline has dropped, growing corn doesn't look so appetizing to many farmers.

Subsidies or not.

It is possible that farmers may go back to growing wheat, sunflowers, safflowers and other products where some money can be made.

There is some rumbling folks.

While bio-fuel is a great idea, not a lot of thought went into the idea.

To produce grains for bio-fuel, you need fossil fuel to run the machinery.

Look at the land that is lost to wildlife habitat.

What about the millions of gallons of water used.


Corn requires a lot of feed to produce well.

Third world nations are feeling the pinch.

People are going hungry as surplus corn is turned into fuel and less wheat is grown.

Where is the right or the honor in that?

If we kept our cars maintained properly, we would save more money spent on gas then there is ethanol fuel added to the gasoline.

If all of our corn was converted to ethanol, it would make a dent of around 10% in fossil fuel consumption (there go my corn flakes) in the United States.

The carbon burned by bio-fuel isn't as efficient as they want you to believe.

Am I against bio-fuel or alternatives?

No way.

We need alternatives.

But, there must be other avenues to explore without sticking it to the rest of us and the wildlife that lives on the land.

Farmers deserve to make a good living, without them where would we be?

God gave us a brain to think with and the land to provide food, homes and for enjoyment.

He also intended for us to be good stewards of the land.

Maybe, just maybe, we'll see a small break in bird food prices.

Could there be a silver lining to this mess?

I better quit before I start looking for my orange crate to stand on.

Keep your eyes and ears open and continue "Gardening For Wildlife".

Well, It's time to fly for now.

Hopefully next week I'll get back on track.

Until then, here is your positive thought for the week.

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer

An amazing quote from an even more amazing individual.

You are an amazing person also.

You can do something and you can do it better than anyone else.

Continue to move forward.

Become the best you, that you can be.

The best you............................

Now that, should put a big smile on your face.

Continue doing something and continue with your smile.

Be sure to wear your smile and share your smile.

Continue doing that something that you can do and that you do so well.

Until next time my friend.

"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 recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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