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.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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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