Gardener's Grapevine 2011.08.24

Written by David Green.

What a beautiful August day Sunday turned out to be. We attended a birthday party picnic for my four year-old-cousin and it was just the right temperature, and except for a few sprinkles, it was sunny. 

My son returns to Michigan State University this week to begin his sophomore year of college—two down and six years to go. Both of my children are outdoors type people and huge animal lovers. My son is studying animal sciences and my daughter works on an Arabian race horse breeding farm between Tecumseh and Britton. She is literally outside most of the day and then plants a vegetable and flower garden, too. 

My son loves outdoor sports and working with the MSU animals. If it were up to these two, Art and I would have every animal on the earth as a pet.

Pets are wonderful. They lighten our mood and actually make depressed, handicapped, or ill people feel better. Animals can make our homes safer, warn us of danger, and even attack a person wishing to cause us problems.

There are dogs that are specially trained to detect health problems in their owners. Some dogs can tell when their caregiver is going to have a seizure. Pets can also cause some major problems in a garden also.

Animal urine can kill a plant or bush. Animals love to lie in tall plants to “hide,” it gives them a sense of security supposedly. If they lie in the wrong weeds it can give you a case of the itches! Noxious weeds seldom affect animals because of their fur, but poison ivy oil can sit on their fur and transfer to your skin. There is  nothing like a blistery itchy rash for making life pleasant.

Another great thing pets do is teach each other not so great habits. We raised golden retrievers for years and just like in human relationships our retrievers had their set personalities. Our female, Ginger, was sweet tempered and laid back and rarely got into mischief. Our male, Simon, got into all kinds of mischief and smiled at you when he was caught. Yes, I said smile. He had a crazy love of tomatoes and would strip our cherry tomato plant bare. We eventually gave up and planted one for him so we could have some of our own.

Some of Simon’s other little tricks were opening gate latches and doors and eating appliance knobs and things like Borax bleach and rat poison. (Believe it or not he lived through that! Thanks, Dr. Sell.)

Well, Simon and Ginger are in dog heaven, but they left our lab to carry on. Simon taught her all about tomatoes and she doesn’t care what kind they are. I can’t really blame her for her tomato fondness, as a homegrown tomato is really high on my weakness list, too.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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