"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."

— Anne Bradstreet

Hunter harvest

Last month when I had occasion to meet a Pa. deputy state game warden, he told me about the Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Like so many residents, I am conflicted about the presence of deer in our suburban yards and neighborhoods. On the one hand, I sympathize with the plight of deer that struggle to survive in developed areas that were once forested. On the other hand, I despair over the damage that they unwittingly do to our yards and parks as they feed on our young trees and other plants. In many cases, residents see no recourse but to allow a bow hunter to visit their property to cull the herds. For some, this is a difficult decision.

However, it helps to know that the venison that many hunters harvest is donated to foodbanks, missions, homeless shelters and churches throughout the state.

Since 1991, HSH has distributed 1.2 million pounds of healthy low-fat, high-protein food to some of the 135,000 people in Pennsylvania who are at risk of hunger.

For more info, call 866-474-2141.

Chainsaw chaps

Nowadays, chainsaws are common home landscape tools. There are even small, lightweight models designed with female operators in mind.

However, the concern is that although chainsaws reside in the garage beside the familiar rakes and shovels, protective clothing does not.

It is so easy to forget how terribly dangerous chainsaws are. How professionals who use them daily dress suggests that they retain an enormous respect for them, even after years of experience.

Amateur users should do no less.

Pros wear eye protection, hard hats and heavy, steel-tipped work shoes, long sleeves and sturdy gloves when operating chainsaws. They also wear leg protection in the form of pants or chaps. The $75 or so that special protective pants, or chaps, cost is well worth the expense. About 20 percent of lacerations from chainsaws on professional jobs are cuts to the legs. And these happen to pros who are skilled and experienced with chainsaws!

So it makes sense for amateur homeowner operators to invest in pants or chaps lined with a layer of Kevlar or nylon thread. Kevlar slows down major cuts in the fabric, and the nylon threads tangle in the chain as it penetrates the protective clothing and essentially stops the saw.

Bird invasions

Insect-eating birds, of which there are more than 6,000 species worldwide, annually consume 400 million to 500 million metric tons of potentially harmful insects and arthropods.

For instance, a flock of starlings that swoops onto your lawn and pecks holes in the soil are helping you control unwelcome pest insects in your yard. They seek Japanese beetle and cutworm larvae, white grubs sheltering in your lawn until spring when, as adults, they will emerge and attack your shrubs and other plantings. Invasions of starlings, while noisy and somewhat destructive, are a good alternative to pesticides and to skunks and moles that also love grubs but do much more damage to your lawn.

Do you know?

The ideal suet for the birds who visit your feeder should contain saturated fat. This is fat from animals rather than the plant-based fats that we cook with. The animal fats are metabolized slowly and provide maximum calories and energy. They do not melt in the winter sun.

Birds, even of the same species, that live in colder climates have shorter beaks than those that live in warmer areas. Their bare beaks are filled with lots of blood vessels and have no feathers to insulate them, so they are very sensitive to heat and cold.

Wood ashes collected from your fireplace can be spread onto areas of soil now or saved in a pail and spread in the spring in areas where plants prefer more alkaline soil.

For more than 20 years, local garden writer and lecturer Liz Ball has offered helpful information and advice to homeowners on enjoying and caring for their yards and the plants that grow there in her Yardening column. Direct your Yardening questions to her at lizball@aol.com.

comments powered by Disqus