History is Not Boring discussion

Nature Historically

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) It seemed as if there was a fair amount of discussion, off topic, about trees & nature, so I thought I start a proper topic for it here.

message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) James wrote: "The bark beetles are devastating forests in a lot of North America - healthy trees can resist them fairly well, but drought weakens them and the beetles then kill them. There are major stretches in..."

Letting the areas burn is Mother Nature's way of cleaning up to give it a new start. It's terribly sad to see, but we need to realize that this is a natural process. Not allowing fires to burn harms a lot of species. Some trees can't reproduce without a good fire.

Unfortunately, man has to get more involved in newly scorched areas now. Invasive species such as Japanese Honeysuckle, Multifloral Rose & Garlic Mustard are among the first to repopulate such areas. They choke or stop new trees from growing, so we need to get them under control. Not an easy task.

I have a small woods on my property, about 5 acres. I'm trying hard to get these invasive species under control & it's almost impossible, even in such a small area. If I spray at just the right time of year with a broad leaf herbicide, I can knock back a lot of it. Japanese Honeysuckle & Garlic Mustard both leaf out & grow while most other plants are dormant. I still have to go in & pull out a lot by hand. I spent a couple of hours doing that last night. It's disheartening. I've been at it for 1.5 years now & still have a LOT to do.

There is no way we can do this to large areas. Well, maybe we can, but I don't want the government spraying tons of herbicide. Their track record with such things is very poor. Ever read Silent Spring? Plain scary &, believe it or not, while they've gotten better, they still pull stunts such as Rachel Carson describes.

message 3: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Yep, I think we all learned (or the national park service should have) about letting things burn sometimes when Yellowstone burned so massively in the 1980s.

message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments Could be worse, Jim. It could be kudzu.

message 5: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Down here, y'all, it IS kudzu!

I must say the weirdest play I've ever been to was a production of Medea where the set was pretty much entirely made of kudzu.

message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) We're too far north for Kudzu, thankfully. That & Multifloral Rose are two of the Ag Dept's bad mistakes, too.

Back in Maryland, we had Mile-a-Minute weed, which is also very nasty. It will even choke out Japanese Honeysuckle! It's a real thin, light green vine with lots of tiny thorns on it. Thankfully, it's still confined to MD & central PA. I'm not sure where it came from, but I wish we could send it back.

In trying to kill Japanese Beetles, for no known recorded reason, the Ag Dept almost wiped out a town in Michigan in the late 60's by spraying pesticide over it from a plane. Dogs, cats & people got sick & died from this helpful hand.

Pretty scary track record.

message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments I keep thinking that one day, some bright Clemson grad student will come up with a viable commercial application for kudzu. Then i realize there isn't any such thing.

message 8: by Marian (new)

Marian (gramma) | 98 comments Maybe someone will invent a way to convert it to a substitute for gasolene?

message 9: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments A few years ago I was visiting Iguacu Falls on the Brazil Argentine border. Besides the famous water falls, they also have some beautiful and extensive jungles.
I mentioned to my tour guide how beautiful some of the plants were; she replied they were bamboo trees and unfortunately they were choking off the native species.

message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Bamboo is bad. There was a house near where we lived in Maryland where a small patch was planted 20 odd years ago across from Foard's Farm store. Mr. Foard rented the place out & I noticed the patch had gotten huge. He said it was about impossible to keep under control. He'd cut it with the lawnmower only to have it come back up & often the cut ends were so sharp they'd pop his tires. He had some words about it that aren't repeatable.

There are a lot of different kinds & some of them can shoot runners underground for 25' or more before they emerge. It's tough to kill, too. It is pretty, but when I planted some for a screen, I buried 55 gallon drums on their sides & planted inside them. I had to water them a lot in the summer, but the bamboo didn't spread.

The Maryland Extension office has a good, quick run down of it. I have a copy on my website,
down at the bottom in the gardening section.

message 11: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (last edited Feb 27, 2009 10:26AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
I hope you meant no such thing as a commercial application for kudzu! 'Cause the Clemson Tigers are our local team!

*squinty glare* from the ex-Clemson grad student (not in Ag, though!)

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I heard about someone pursuing your idea a while back. This is one of many web articles on the subject: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/...

It seems they haven't made much progress.

message 13: by Will (last edited Feb 28, 2009 05:53AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments Kudzu: Like it or hate it, it grows on you. Is it true you have to close the windows at night to keep it from growing into the house? No? Another myth debunked.

The leaves and blooms are edible, I'm told. The vines are useful for baskets. It's pretty. What's the problem? Chokes off the trees? Yeah, there is that.

I had ivy growing on my willow tree trunk. I thought it was pretty. The willow died and, too late, I realized the ivy killed it. It was such a beautiful tree hanging its willowy swaying limbs over the waterfall and pond. darn

message 14: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments I take it then that Kudzu in not native to the South?
How did it get here?

message 15: by Will (last edited Feb 28, 2009 11:32AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments They imported kudzu from...Indonesia? Someone know? It was promoted as ground cover for erosion control and feedstuff for cattle. It thrives in the southern climate; takes over everything.

I have Virginia creeper, which grows quickly and climbs all over everything--fences, the house, up the trees, but it doesn't seem to kill anything. Doesn't need water in this arrid high dessert, and keeps the place cool and green in the middle of the dessert where most yards are gravel and/or dirt. I love it. It has to be kept trimmed, though, or it will climb in through windows, really, and up under shingles, etc. I have an arbor it won't cover, though; for the life of me I don't know why. It gets better every year but it's slow. If I didn't want it to grow there, it would be all over it.

message 16: by Marian (new)

Marian (gramma) | 98 comments Kudzo was imported from Japan. When it was first used for erosion control, everyone celebrated because yes! it did control erosion. (And a lot of good agricultural land is lost to erosion every year)There are folk & fairy tales about good things that get out of control & turn into bad things & Kudzu could star in all of them. So far, cold winters have kept it south of the Ohio river. But watch out for global warming!

message 17: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
I think it was imported from Japan after World War II, as ground cover to prevent erosion.

"It takes over everything" is putting it mildly, Will!

message 18: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments Regarding kudzu being converted to a gasoline substitute, i've been told that since it's not a very starchy plant it doesn't convert well to alcohol.

Regarding bright Clemson grad students...A Clemson coed was at Myrtle Beach on spring break and met a couple of guys from out of state. She asked one of them, "Where do y'all go school?" and he said "Yale." So she said, "WHERE DO Y'ALL GO TO SCHOOL."

message 19: by Jim (last edited Mar 13, 2009 06:26AM) (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Multifloral rose was thoroughly tested by our government to make sure it wouldn't spread like Kudzu before being recommended for erosion control in more northern climes. They knew it could spread by runner & branch, but they didn't want it spreading by seed. They fed the seeds to three different species of birds & found that it was digested - no danger. So they recommended it & some states, like WV, planted it along their roads extensively. It's great animal cover & very pretty in the Spring with lots of small, fragrant white flowers.

Unfortunately, all three species of birds they tested had gravels (croups). Song birds don't have those. A Multifloral Rose seed eaten by a song bird stands a much better chance of germinating. It's now all over & very tough to kill. Even if you do kill it, the seed beds under a mature plant can continue to produce for many years.

One saving grace is that Multifloral Rose, like Japanese Honeysuckle, both keep their leaves all through the winter in moderate climates like MD & KY. It can be sprayed with a broad leaf plant killer late in the Fall or early in the Spring when the native species are dormant. That's a very narrow margin, but has been helping me considerably. Still, it's been almost 2 years that I've been trying to reclaim a mere 5 acres of woods & I have a long way to go.

message 20: by Will (last edited Mar 01, 2009 06:09AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments A bit off the subject, maybe, but about converting to gasoline:

Almost any plant can be turned into ethanol/alcohol, which will burn in internal combustion engines. What makes it viable or not is how much energy is required to convert it. Sugar cane in Brazil works well enough for their purposes because it converts easily--it's rum. Corn takes 9 gal. of fuel to make 10 gal. of ethanol (borboun). Switch grass, which is often mentioned, would require more energy than corn to convert.

There are so many sources of energy, which aren't food, I don't know why we are working so hard at staying behind the curve and continue to depend on internal combustion engines. Electric motors are as powerful, despite the common misconceptions. It's not power that's the problem; it's the batteries to store and transport electrical energy that's holding us back. Electricity is easy to make but hard to make portable.

We now return you to your previous programming.



message 21: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (last edited Mar 01, 2009 01:02PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Tom wrote:Regarding bright Clemson grad students...A..."

Yeah, and my father, while a grad student at Iowa, was once asked by an another grad student where he was an exchange student from.

He said he was from North Carolina.

She nodded her head.

You'll find idiots everywhere.

(Sorry - just gotten the "you're female and from the South so you MUST be an idiot" assumption too many times, personally! Including at Cambridge, where one instructor told me he dreaded having me in his class because he saw I was from South Carolina; he was sure I'd be stupid and he wouldn't be able to understand anything I said. I got one of the better grades in the class, and I don't actually have a Southern accent.)

message 22: by Tom (last edited Mar 01, 2009 04:12PM) (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments Susanna: just to be clear, it was a Clemson joke, not a Southern joke. I grew up in Columbia watching Gamecock football (but graduated from Furman)....

message 23: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Ah. I'm more familiar with the "Honk if you're for Carolina; Moo if you're for state" ones! (Most of my family is from North Carolina. And some of them went to Carolina, and some went to State! Heh.)

I also graduated from Furman, but did grad school at Clemson.

I remember one of my friends from England came to the U.S. for the first time and landed in Columbia. And was thoroughly nonplussed to hear everyone shouting "Go Cocks!" It was an autumn Saturday. Snort.

message 24: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments Cool...class of '89? History '94.

message 25: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments To get back to the subject of the thread... some folks apparently think they've found the [site that led to stories of the:] Garden of Eden in Turkey. The author of the article is trying to push his forthcoming novel so take it with a grain of salt. The idea is interesting, though. Basically, there's an archaeological site that is pre-agricultural revolution. The theory is that it was some sort of cult site, and that the population pressure from so many hunter-gatherers led to the development of agriculture. Again, grain of salt, but it's an interesting idea.

message 26: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
History '90.

Tom - I agree - very interesting theory and a LOT of salt!

message 27: by James (new)

James The variation people from New Mexico often get is the assumption that it's either part of Mexico or its own country. People contact the state tourism bureau asking things like what language is spoken, what the currency is, what shots they need - they got one letter from a teacher in NYC asking for posters or other souvenirs she could put up in her high school classroom as part of a unit on foreign countries - and she was a geography teacher. A lot of people seem to think Texas borders directly on Arizona, too. Kind of funny - in square miles, NM is the fifth largest state in the country, and Arizona's sixth. (1 through 4 are Alaska, Texas, California, and Montana.)

I went to a restaurant once in Northampton, MA, that billed itself as serving authentic New Mexican food (a subset of Mexican food, you could say; it's distinctive.) I knew I was in for a disappointment when all the decor was Native-American-themed. The server asked whether we wanted chips and salsa, and I thought maybe it would be okay, but what she brought was potato chips and seafood cocktail sauce. The closest thing to actual Mexican food in that town was Taco Bell.

message 28: by James (new)

James Jim, you're right about fire being nature's way of cleaning up and rejuvenating the flora - if the forest's healthy, though, and it's allowed to burn when it burns (sorry, Smoky, but over 90% of forest fires are caused by lightning, not careless people), then the ground cover stays limited enough that it can burn off without reaching the crowns or killing mature trees. The fires in Yellowstone were so devastating because so much stuff had grown up due to suppression of fires that they did wipe out everything - when the trees are dead due to bark beetles, they go up like torches too. At that point the best way to deal with the issue may be to use controlled burns to clear out the dead stretches so new growth can start. Gotta watch those controlled burns, though - about ten years ago, a forest service supervisor who'd been urged to postpone a controlled burn because the wind was too strong for it to be safe ordered the burn to be done on schedule, it got out of control (of course) and destroyed a lot of the town of Los Alamos. Not long after that I took a job with the state health department, and ended up sharing a small office with a woman who was coordinating relief efforts for the people who had to evacuate and lost their houses and everything in them in the fire. She had a souvenir of the fire on her desk - it was an egg; it looked like an ordinary egg, but somehow the heat had rendered it rock solid. A lot of the people who were made homeless by the fire developed serious symptoms of PTSD, although they'd gotten out of town just ahead of the fire.

message 29: by Will (last edited Mar 02, 2009 07:45AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments My father owned a KOA campground in Roswell, NM for years and told me stories of those questions, James. "Will we need a visa?" I didn't believe him so he pulled out a scrapbook filled with letters to prove it was true. That doesn't include the phone calls.

I had friends who lost their home in that fire.

message 30: by James (new)

James Yes... once when some relatives from Ohio came to visit, they showed up with several loaded guns in their car - we asked why, and they said those had been in case they were attacked by bandits or Apaches. I could just see that - Geronimo ambushing people on I-40.

message 31: by Will (last edited Mar 02, 2009 07:56AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments My cousins from New York were disappointed when they arrived in Oklahoma the first time to not see us with feathers, buckskins and war paint, but they were children. We're talking adults thinking New Mexico is a foreign country.

I was in the Carribean, St. Thomas I think, when an American couple by the pool, in conversation after asking where I lived, commented, "You seem so American."

They'll never convince me that Turkey was the Garden of Eden. I'm convinced it was Lebananon. Northern Lebanon is the most incredible agricultural land imaginable. It's the Old Phoenician area, the cradle of civilization; hard to tell that now, though.

message 32: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
I am reminded of the calls that the ticket office for the Atlanta Olympics took from New Mexico - one of their operators at least told them "New Mexico or Old Mexico, it's still Mexico" and they'd have to go through their Mexican bureau!

message 33: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments A few years ago I used to work at the Ansel Adams gallery in Monterey California.

I took a call from a man in Toronto Canada. As we were about to hand up, he said "You speak English so well". I thought perhaps he was reacting to my Spanish name (Manuel) I said thank you??? "we all speak English well"

He said "Oh, arent I talking to Monterrey Mexico?"
I told him it was Monterey Calfornia.
He then asked "But isnt Ansel's famous picture called
Moonrise, Hernandez Mexico?"

I told him he was several hundred miles off to both questions.

I also remember the case Susanna mentioned about the Atlanta Olympics. Apparently the caller had to go to three different supervisor levels before she could convince anyone New Mexico was a US state.

message 34: by James (new)

James We're going to take a vacation in Atlanta soon, checking out the area because we're considering moving there. Sounds as if we should be ready for people to ask us what we think of the U.S.

message 35: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments Be prepared for nasty, nasty, really bad, awful, wretchedly ugly traffic in Atlanta. Only worse than that. I think that's the last city i would voluntarily move to in the South...and that's even if you include Florida.

message 36: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
I think the only place I may have seen worse traffic than Atlanta is Miami. Maybe.

message 37: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments What a strange coincidence...Miami just happens to be #2 on my list of "cities in the South that you'd have to pay me quite large sums of money to induce me to move there." Again, assuming you consider Florida to be in the South.

message 38: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Well, part of Florida is in the South, I think. Probably not Miami, though!

message 39: by Will (last edited Mar 03, 2009 09:09AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments Miami would be in what, the north? Northern Cuba, maybe? I visit Ft. Lauderdale area - Hollywood Beach - occasionally, and the Keys, but never Miami...well, the airport if I must.

In my part of Albuqerque, NM, they planted chinese elms in the 50's as they did in many parts of America during the building boom after WWII for returning GI's. We get "snow" of elm seeds in late spring and the seeds find hiding spots to sprout and grow up through roses, hedges, corners of buildings, etc. They've gotten so big it's very expensive to have them removed, and they are pretty and give a lot of shade, but they're a pain. I have one next to my house that's at least 85 feet tall and about the same in breadth, some of it overhanging my house. We also have cottonwoods. I love trees, but they can be a nuisance, too...and expensive.

message 40: by James (new)

James We've heard about the traffic in Atlanta. One of the considerations on our list, if we move there, is finding a place to live where all the places we'd need to go on a routine basis - my wife's work (my office is at home), grocery shopping, etc. - would be close by so we could avoid that traffic as much as possible. A couple of the factors that led us to look at Atlanta are the presence of a number of good inpatient/residential mental health facilities where my wife could work (she's a clinical social worker) and a good VA hospital for me.
Our daughter and grandkids recently moved to Florida, but she's staying away from Miami - she wants a safer, quieter place for the kids - so they're out in the Keys.

message 41: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments Does anyone else have a problem with Canada Geese?

After the downing of the passenger plane into the Hudson due to bird strikes, I was astounded to learn these pests are everywhere.

I first started noticing them a few years ago.
They are kind of attractive birds and very lovely to see them in their "V" formations at the start and ending of their day.
But they dont seem to leave the area anymore. They get quite large and poop their green droppings all over the walking trails and lawns.
They dont just stay on the ponds and rivers either, they like to fly from one green area to another, consequently any large lawns are prime targets.

Our cemetary has become a mess, and in a town full of golf courses, you can imagine what they do to the greens.

message 42: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Miami, I think, is sui generis.

Furman, where I went to college, has an enormous problem with Canada Geese, Manuel. They won't leave the lake!

The biology department is helping them whittle down the resident bird population to something sustainable, in an attempt to make the lake itself rather healthier. Hope it works. (They are keeping the black swans Alex Haley gave them, though.)

message 43: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments Here in Monterey, the city has hired someone to go into their nests around the lake shores and remove some of their eggs.
So lately Ive noticed Canada Goose families with a father, mother and only two babies.

message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I've heard folks say Canadian geese are scarce, bemoaning their loss on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where the flocks used to be huge & goose hunting was a good income. Never understood it. Look inland a ways & there are plenty.

Canadian geese can tear up pond banks & trim a lawn down to dirt pretty quick. We had to spend a lot of time & money cutting back the banks on the new pond (we dug it in the mid-70's) to put down stone because they'd undercut the banks so badly. Walking where a large flock has been is not only disgusting, but down right slippery.

message 45: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments Here they look like such big, plump birds. I wonder if they make good eating? Perhaps in our recession economy, someone might gather them and harvest them for protein and feathers?

message 46: by Manuel (last edited Mar 13, 2009 01:25PM) (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments Lately I've also noticed a different kind of "road kill" which I had never seen around here.

A few weeks ago I was driving to work and noticed a beautiful red fox dead on the side of the road. I got a little sad because I had never seen one. A few days later I noticed another dead fox on the road in a different area of the county.

Somehow I thought they were endangered, lately I just discovered they were introduced to California in 1975. Apparently they really like it here and are thriving.

message 47: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) There are plucking plants on the Eastern Shore for getting their down (the short, under feathers) for pillows & such. The larger feathers aren't much good except for crafts & grinding up into pig's feed, that I know of.

The bird itself is good, if you like goose. My mother-in-law could cook it well, kept it moist. It dries out easily. Most folks don't seem to like it after all the fatty chicken from the store that they're used to, but anyone who likes free-range chickens probably would.

It's illegal to shoot them except in season & when they're in the air, but quite a few folks use a .22 to fill the freezer every year. Like deer, human predation doesn't seem to have whittled them down much in the past few decades.

message 48: by James (new)

James Hmmm! Seems as if those red foxes must be competing with the coyotes for the same ecological niche. Maybe there's enough around to eat for both of them.

I've lived places where I've had to go to some lengths to keep my pets safe from coyotes (like 29 Palms, Camp Pendleton, and Yuma), and I understand the problems farmers and ranchers have with them, but I still admire coyotes - they're so smart and adaptable. When I saw a news story about coyotes showing up in New York City, I couldn't help thinking, "good for them..."

I wonder whether foxes and coyotes can interbreed the way dogs and wolves can (or various big cats, or brown bears and polar bears)?

message 49: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
They be tough ghetto coyotes!

message 50: by Will (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments "sui generis"?? I know it's Latin for species-genus. Lawyers use it in criminal cases but I have no idea what it means for Miami. Call me stupid.

We had a case of a fox and dog or coyote in Oklahoma years ago, I read long ago. Looked funny; didn't live long.

We re-introduced wolves, partly to keep coyote populations down.

Canada Geese are great to eat. There was a great movie years ago where they told a recipe was something like: Marinate it in wine, baste it in gin, pour borboun over it ... and then drink the gravy.

I mentioned to my editor, recently, that I was training myself to not say "Democratic party" but "Democrat Party". He responded, "Yes, like Canada Geese, they not Canadian; they have no citizenship or passports."

Uh, yeah. I've always said, "Canadian Geese."

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