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August has many meanings. It means school is soon to begin for many. It also means summer is winding down and it won’t be long before the leaves begin to do their magic before the winter snows.

In many regions August is Fair month and harvest season; tomatoes and peppers ( and a myriad of other veggies) are at their peak and sweet corn is abundant. The magical sunflowers are also in full bloom – magical plants which have always had an important place for people since the very beginnings.

sunflowerred

Sunflowers have rather unique history, can bloom in a range of colors, are healthy for people and wildlife. They are the plant of choice for many young children and older adults. Discover more about these amazing plants at Koyote Hill.

Sunflowers are a sign of hope and all that is good on earth. Sure tomatoes and other garden veggies and even pumpkins have their day in the “sun” as well. But the sunflower is life, after all it is the Sun…Flower.

 

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For over some twenty years, garlic, the hardneck variety, has had a special spot in the backyard garden. There are numerous advantages for the home gardener. Homegrown garlic has a far superior taste to supermarket varieties which are normally the softneck variety which in general were grown thousands of miles away of even on a different continent. Another big advantage to growing garlic are the numerous health benefits. It is one of the healthiest garden crops around. For thousands of years now, people have used garlic as a medicinal plant as well as a culinary ingredient. Garlic is a low maintenance plant and doesn’t really require a lot of care. A little organic compost and, following the recommendations of a soil test, lime may be necessary (as well as some other minerals and additives depending on the test results). Wildlife, such as the groundhogs, deer and rabbits just seem to stay away from garlic. Nor is it bothered by insects.

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In the Beginning

I got my first garlic bulbs from an older Italian immigrant who gave me a couple basic pointers for successful growing. It was a hardneck variety called Rocambole (there are nine listed other hardneck varieties also available). Rocambole is a good choice for northern gardeners. It is exceptionally winter hardy and even laughs at the cold and snow. In northwestern Pennsylvania, some thirty miles inland from Lake Erie, early spring snow storms are rather commonplace. But the garlic doesn’t mind and will continue growing through the snow as pictured above. Garlic, in northern regions is generally planted in October and begins to grow as soon as warmer weather arrives in late winter. A few nice warm and sunny days is all it takes.

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The Scapes

Usually anytime from mid to late June or early July, the twisting scapes appear on a flower stalk. The scape is a sign that the underground garlic bulb is reaching maturity and in about four weeks will be ready to be dug. There are several uses for the garlic scape or the first garlic harvest. First the scapes are delicious in many dishes from salads, soups and stews, casseroles and pesto. And they are many of the same health benefits. The scapes can also be left to mature on the flower stalk (Note:there is no flower). The scape will swell with about 50 small garlic bulbs, called bulbils, which can then be planted later in the fall. The advantage here is that a gardener can increase the amount of garlic planted, although it takes about two years for the bulbils to reach a respectable size. Another use for the scape is a little extra income. I have never seen garlic scapes in a supermarket. But on occasions have seen them being sold at Farmer’s Markets or roadside stands. Some growers cut the scapes off as soon as they appear. The theory behind this practice is that the underground bulb will grow larger.

Garlic hung for several hours in the shade  before hung in a shed.

 

There are many online sources which sell garlic, both hardneck and softneck. Or get to know a local garlic grower and buy some of the best bulbs for your garden. Discover more about the magical scapes at The First Garlic Harvest.  Please note: this a a Yahoo Voices Web site which will be discontinued on July 31, 2014.

Or Discover more at Funny Looking but Darn Good  

 

 

 

 

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The important goldenrods are beginning to bloom in many fields and meadows. The botanical name for this important plant is Solidago, a word derived from the Latin word “solidare” which means to make whole. Goldenrods are native to Europe and parts of Asia; since the colonial days it has become a naturalized plant in North America. Today, in North America, 130 species of goldenrod have been discovered.

Goldenrods did play a role in the American Revolution. After the Boston Tea Party, the early colonist switched to goldenrod as a substitute beverage. It was called “Liberty Tea”.

The amazing goldenrod also provides shelter and food for a wide range of fascinating insects. Perhaps, the best known is the Praying Mantis. Other insects include the Gall Fly (ever wonder about those lumps on the goldenrod stems?), and the Golden Rod Spider.

It’s an essential plant for the honeybees and provides their last meals before winter weather. Other native bees and moths also feast on the plants nectar and pollen.

In mid-August the goldenrods are just beginning to put on their display along with the old time herb Boneset. This white flowering herb can often be found blooming with the golden yellow goldenrods (pictured above).

Long before Big Pharma and synthetic drugs, Boneset was widely used and could be found in many medicine cabinets. In general, it was dried and brewed into a tea to treat colds and flu.

Explore and discover these two important plants:

Sun Medicine

Boneset – The Forgotten American Herb

An August Reminder

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The herb Rosemary, a native to the Mediterranean area (think healthy diet), does not like the northern winters. But it can be potted and placed inside in a sunny window, providing fresh tasty and healthy leaves all winter. It is an attractive plant, which doesn’t require a whole lot of attention as long as there is ample sunlight.

August says: “Think about moving Rosemary inside.”

Discover more

Rosemary – The Ancient Evergreen

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wildflowers

The wet conditions in northwestern Pennsylvania over the last month have created some unique problems for home gardeners and commercial farmers. One of the more unknown problems is the lack of nectar and pollen for the bees. According to Kirk Johnson, the president of the Northwestern PA Beekeepers Asociation, the heavy rains are keeping the bees in their hives. When they are able to venture out, much of the pollen and nectar has been washed out of the flowers.

I am not so sure the pollen and nectar is missing from the Bee Plant or more commonly known as Borage. The star shaped, sky flowers open facing the ground, not facing towards the sky.  Borage is a very useful garden herb for many reasons. And high on the list is that it attracts bees, lots of bees.

boragebee

Bees are important in any backyard garden since they help increase pollination and eventually the home harvest. Borage is also useful in the kitchen and is a respected medicinal herb packed with many good vitamins and minerals.

The herb is hardy, carefree and re-seeds itself every spring. For more information on this important herb, Borage.

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The garlic scapes began to twist and turn at the end of June and soon became ready to cut and use in the kitchen. The scapes are the first garlic harvest following last year’s garlic planting. For more information and benefits of garlic scapes, click First Harvest.

Links:

Koyote Hill : A Grin and Bear it Growing Season

Wildflowers - Life

Crawford County, PAWhat is Going On

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The Trout Lily

The small trout lilies started to bloom in the woodland areas of northwestern Pennsylvania the last week of April, 2013. Their blossoms are a sure sign of spring and warmer weather ( plants know more than the late winter groundhog). These amazing, perennial  native plants also can be used in those shady and wet spots around the house. For some more insights into these woodland plants, Trout Lily.

Leeks

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The same week that the trout lily emerge, so did the woodland leeks, or ramps. Leeks have many uses in the kitchen and add a certain zest to many foods such as ham, potato soup, and chopped with hot dogs or sausage or in a salad. The wild leeks are nothing like the domesticated, garden or supermarket varieties. More information, Leeks.

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For some of the springtime events in Crawford County in northwestern Pennsylvania, GoCrawford

Learn about a Forest Conference by the Foundation for Sustainable Forest – Property Management

The Union City Dam is a well kept Secret

 

So much for an early spring as once predicted, but spring has finally arrived !

groundhog

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“Mother Nature is in charge,” Jan Woods (pictured above) kept repeating during a recent conversation. Days earlier she had won some notable ribbons for her maple syrup at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show, January 5 – 12. Woods operates Hurry Hill Maple Farm and Museum in Edinboro.

“It seems as if we are tapping the trees earlier and earlier every year,” she said. “Last year was a very abbreviated sap run because the weather stayed above freezing during the night hours and the buds on the trees were swelling. At the Farm Show everyone I talked with had the same story, the 2012 season ended on March 12 because of the warm temperatures.”

Laura Dengler also produces maple syrup and maple products at her sugar shack, How Sweet It Is. Like Woods, she attended the State Farm Show and was impressed with the crowds this year.

“I was just amazed this year at the number of people who attended,” she said.

While Dengler didn’t win any ribbons this year, she was instrumental in helping the local Maple Producers Association win a first place for their maple exhibit.

“This was the second year in a row, we took first place,” she said.

Like Woods, Dengler said the sap appears to be running earlier and earlier every year. This year some trees in the region were tapped the week of the State Farm Show because of the spring-like weather conditions. However, since then Mother Nature returned with a vengeance with cold and snow.

The NW PA Maple Association will also sponsor an Open House Taste and Tour weekend March 16 and 17 this year. For a list of the participating sugar shacks, www.pamaple.org. The Edinboro Historical Society in conjunction with the Taste and Tour weekend will sponsor the Edinboro Maple Festival. It will be held at the Edinboro Fire Hall.

Support local agriculture, buy local.

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Great Maple Syrup Recipes:

Maple Raspberry Vinaigrettecontributed by Janet Woods, Hurry Hill Maple Farm

Hurry Hill Farm

11380 Fry Road

Edinboro, PA  16412

814-734-1358

hurryhill@velocity.net

The Recipe
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup red raspberry vinegar
½ tablespoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Store in the refrigerator.
When ready to use, let the mixture come to room temperature. Shake
well before using.
Wonderful on fresh green salad, garden leaf lettuce or cucumbers,
grape tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Maple Thanksgiving Yamscontributed by Laura Dengler – How Sweet It Is Sugar Shack

How Sweet It Is

19868 Greenleaf Dr.

Saegertown, PA  16433

814-763-2777

maplecandy@windstream.net

The Recipe
Layer one
6 cups of fresh yams cooked and mashed
1 cup of maple Sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup of milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together and spread in baking dish.

Layer 2
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of maple sugar
1 cup of pecans (optional)
1/2 stick of butter
Mix together and sprinkle on top of layer 1
Bake @ 350 for 35 minutes.

Links to other rural news:

Koyote Hill

Go Crawford

Subnivia

Brush Piles

Jack Wax – Maple Syrup Candy

 

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Two important events this week: we honor those killed and those still suffering from the September 11, 2001 attacks, their families, friends and loved ones. Tuesday is a day of reflection and pause.

 

On Thursday, September 13, the PA Supreme Court begins to hear arguments on the controversial PA Voter ID laws. The court is evenly divided between three Republicans and three Democrats. The current law could earse hundreds of thousands of votes in the upcoming November elections.

Why the law was actually adopted by the Pennsylvania Republicans in both the House and the Senate under the leadership of Gov. Tom Corbett is foggy and unclear;  it would appear there were political calculations involved. Read, GOP wants to help Romney.  Several other Republican states have also adopted the Voter Suppression laws.

For assistance in helping to understand the law call 866-Our-Vote or type the number in a google search engine. More information on the requirements, here.

A good background read on the constitutionality of the PA Voter Suppression Law from The Atlanti

Health Care Etch a Sketch

Blogs to Read

Koyote Hill

Crawford County News

The Republican National Convention ended this week. It was delayed for a day over concerns about Hurricane Issac, a storm which some Republican pundits, such as “run at the mouth” Rush Limbaugh,  blamed on Obama. It also featured a major speech by VP nominee Paul Ryan which was generally panned by nearly everyone for it’s lack of factual statements. Mitt Romney’s speech was, well, expected and boorish and lacking all sorts of detail (something like his tax returns).

Fact Check Romney’s convention speech.

Then, there was the peanut throwing incident. Peanuts were thrown at a CNN employee with the taunts that the peanuts were animal feed. The peanut throwers were removed from the convention hall but not identified (at least not yet). Perhaps someday one of them will write a for-profit book like the former Navy Seal who wrote a book about the raid which killed bin Laden. He’s in a lot of trouble with military officials, who may file charges.
Then, there was also 82 year old Clint Eastwood who famously now scolded an empty chair next to the podium. His performance was rather bizarre.
Their convention was also rocked by angry Ron Paul supporters some of whom stormed out of the convention hall in protest over rule changes in delegate selection.
But overall, the convention was rather ho-hum, boring and typical GOP. Sure they cheered and clapped, the balloons dropped and the band played. But it was a weak show for one of the major political groups in the world’s leading democracy.
I was going to vote for Obama before the convention and now I am convinced he is the best choice for the USA and the world. The democrats are going to have to try real hard to have a convention as lack luster and dumb as the GOP. Thoughts, comments viewpoints?

Some Issues to Think About

Some people I am familiar with insist that Obama is a socialist and/or a Marxist. Yet, these Republican Tea Party folk can not define what constitutes a socialist or a Marxist. Why use words which cannot be defined or even refined? These same folks also insist that the American Civil War was more about states rights and not so much slavery. They will then proceed to bash the Democratic Party for it’s support of the Klan 100 years ago. Here’s a few points to think about.

Abe Lincoln – A Socialist and a Republican

Republicans and the Klan Today

White Supremacist Stampede

 

Leave a comment or express a viewpoint. Just keep it adult and mature and Thanks. Visit KoyoteHill for some non-political news and have a great Labor Day weekend.

Welcome and feel free to join in the discussion. Mature adult and intelligent comments questions will be posted, others will be blocked.

The intention here is for a free, independent discussion on the political discussion of our day. We can all learn from each other’s insights, visions and experiences. The discussion are wide open, on whatever topic from Marxism and Socialism to the 1% or local PA news or Erie County Government. (just no abusive behavior, name calling and other dumb stuff)

This blog is linked to koyotehill@blogspot.com

Anyone who wants to contribute more than just the comment section, can send text to spinksgreg@gmail.com We just need to keep it @ 400 words or so.

Here goes -

Climate Change -

As most of us already know, the Republican Party’s National Convention is about to open in Tampa. It seems almost certain that Hurricane Issac will likely disrupt the big party and that has been the focus of the news reports. Unfortunately, those in Haiti and other poor islands will be somewhat forgotten with all the attention on the GOP and Tampa.

Romney, who will soon be the official nominee of the GOP along with Paul Ryan, recently revealed an energy policy which is centered on more fossil fuels, more drilling in our coastal areas and land surfaces. Big oil companies do not have the best reputation when it comes to the environment. Where are the controls?

Besides, a vast majority of scientists claim that the use of fossil fuels is directly related to climate change/global warming. The energy plan,as proposed by Romney/Ryan, appears to disregard alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. Personally, I think it’s a backward step and a pat on the back for Big Oil and Gas.

The USA has been under a severe drought ever since spring and experienced the hottest July ever.  The drought could very possibly effect food prices, the environment and the quality of our lives and the lives of those to follow us. It should be noted that, while locally we had the heat, we also had the rains, which helped the local corn and soybean crops.

Locally, last winter was almost non-existent. Hardly, a person can recall such a timid winter; ask any maple sugar producer. The season was earlier than ever and was short lived because of the balmy temperatures.  Wonder about this upcoming winter.

What do you think, fact or fairy tale. or somewhere in between?

Some of the sources used: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/24/mitt-romney-energy-plan_n_1826681.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012

http://news.yahoo.com/romney-reveals-energy-policy-doesnt-mention-climate-change-215404921.html

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/23/159926765/romney-energy-plan-touts-oil-gas-coal-production

Why Koyote? – From: KoyoteHill..stop by for a visit. koyotehill@blogspot.com

Coyotes were important animals in Native American folklore: “In Native American folklore, the coyote is a “trickster” character who participated in the creation of the world and gave names to many of the other creatures and things of the earth. Sometimes the Coyote character was so mischievous and involved in his own trickery that he would trick himself. According to Trickster myths, this is why there are so many mistakes in the way things are in the world (Sams 89). In the Native way of thinking, Coyote medicine is in the world to teach us to laugh at ourselves and not take things too seriously. There are thousands of stories about Coyote, the Trickster.

“Coyote is playful and fun loving and is usually found to the South on the Medicine Wheel. A Navajo friend says he watched a Coyote suddenly jump up in the air for no apparent purpose except for the fun of it and then continue on the previous path across the desert. Coyote reminds us to bring the happy childlike quality into our adult lives.” from:http://www.sedonaexperiences.com/AnimalSymbolism.htm

 

About seven years, I got a dog, the best I have ever owned and called him “Yahataw” – it is the Lakota Sioux word for Coyote. Yaw, for short, brings “happy childlike quality into our adult lives” and teaches us “to laugh at ourselves and not take things to seriously”.

It has been a fun summer and catching frogs is always a fun pass time and listening to the local coyotes yelp. Sometimes it is really important to be a child again, enjoy our world and laugh at yourself. Thanks, koyote.

 

 

 

Jack Wax: The Real Sign of Spring
Jack wax is one of the popular maple syrup candies which will be made throughout northwestern Pennsylvania as winter begins to wane; it is a sure sign of approaching spring weather.
Read More

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