Why Was Iowa The “Lumber King of the World?”

Tenting in Iowa's forests.

Enjoying Iowa’s forests.

Iowa is one of the states with the fewest trees, yet in the late 1800s we were the Lumber Kings of the World!  And,

tree rings

Notice the tree rings on this wide board from New Hampshire

Clinton, Iowa’s minor league baseball team proudly retains that name – Lumber Kings!  Why?  Read The Green Gazette (9-29-2019, Living L-09 and 10) to learn about Iowa’s forest industry, where you can camp today in quiet forests and how lumbering put Clinton, Iowa, on the map.

Why Do Millipedes Always Lose Races?

Two millipedes

Millipedes are ancient creatures

Many people discovered one of the oldest types of animals in their yards and homes this year.  Millipedes. Usually common they have been especially visible in this humid rainy summer and fall.

Millipedes have been around for millions of years doing the world a service. Biologists call them detritivores, which simply means they eat bits of decaying leaves, grass, feces, and other organic matter found nearly everywhere. Scientists call dead material of many origins detritus. To millipedes it’s dinner.

About 12,000 species of millipedes live around the world on all continents except Antarctica. They range from about a quarter-inch to several inches long and most are brown or black. All have two pairs of legs on each body segment. Since they have many segments millipedes have enormous numbers of legs stretching down each side of their body.  That doesn’t make them speedsters. Millipedes creep along.

Few animals are as harmless as millipedes. They can’t bite or sting. When threatened millipedes roll up in a ball and play possum, but normally they avoid predators by hiding in detritus or under rocks and logs. Snakes, amphibians, and birds enjoy snacking on them.

Millipedes are sometimes confused with centipedes, but they are distinctly different.  Millipedes are sluggish consumers of dead plants while centipedes are swift predators.   Both enter homes through cracks and holes in the walls or gaps in doors and windows.   Caulking is an effective way to keep them outside.

Millipedes may seem creepy to some people but they have survived for millions of years recycling dead plant material into humus. They deserve our respect.

Millipedes curled up

Can you count the millipede legs?

Answer: Millipedes take so long to lace up their shoes that the race is over by the time they finish.

Are You Prepared for a Power Outage?

Note: The below references to companies are Winding Pathways’ own experiences with quality products.

What Are Common Causes of Power Outages?

Usually, people lose electric power because of a tornado, hurricane, blizzard, or a windstorm that blows down trees. We were surprised that Pacific Gas and Electric planned a deliberate outage to prevent sparks from igniting a forest fire like the terrible one that destroyed the town of Paradise. CA, last year.

Interviews with impacted residents on the national news made us realize how unprepared many people are for the loss of electricity. Californians flocked to gas stations and grocery stores to stock up on fuel and food.

Preparation is Best

Lantern

This powerful lantern runs several hours on the battery.

Humans are addicted to the flow of electrons we call electricity.  Winding Pathways encourages everyone to prepare for times when power is not there. Several previous blogs detail how families can prepare to ride out an outage in relative comfort

Preparation is neither hard nor expensive. Check our past blogs for detail but here’s the short list of simple items to keep on hand in case the power goes off for a few days:

Basic Items to Consider

Food:   A few days’ worth of non-perishable food beats not eating. Dehydrated meals keep nearly forever and canned goods also have a high storage life. When a blizzard approaches people flock to grocery stores to buy milk and bread. Neither is needed. And, milk will spoil if not kept cold. Keep powdered milk and crackers on hand just in case.

Light:   Flashlights help people find their way around on dark nights, but they’re not too useful when lots of light is needed for reading or preparing a meal. Modern LED lanterns are ideal for general lighting. Our Milwaukee lamp was made for construction workers but throws out plenty of light and runs all night on one rechargeable battery.  We keep a few batteries always charged. Many brands of lanterns are on the market. We recommend that people keep one in the closet to help on dark nights.

Fuel and backup heat:   Rather than waiting in line at a gas station when power might go out, simply keep some gas in storage in the garage. Be sure to add a gas stabilizer to it.  We rotate our gas in spring and fall by simply pouring the old gas into the car’s tank and then filling the can with fresh gas. We keep ten gallons in storage. Anyone living in a cold climate needs to have a backup plan in case the power goes off. Keeping pipes from freezing is important.  See our earlier blogs for tips.

Water:   Usually municipal water still flows even if the power goes off but it’s always a good idea to keep several gallons of clean water in storage just in case.

Readers can also go to the American Red Cross and ready.gov  for excellent information on preparedness kits.

Modern people rely heavily on electricity but sometimes we have to make do without it.

Important items to have along.

Solar chargers help keep people connected when the power goes out.

Simple preparation makes waiting out an outage comfortable and easy.

What Would You Do on Your First Time Alaska Adventures?

Guest Blogger Paula Lelansky

My husband and I recently returned from an Alaskan vacation.   This is a beautiful place to add to your bucket list! One of the first things I noticed was the clean, fresh air, and then the seemingly unspoiled beauty of Alaska! No matter where we were – in town, the forest or at Denali. The views were breathtaking.  Traveling through Denali National Park, we were able to see that “the mountain was out.” This is the locals’ term for being able to see Mt. Denali in all its splendor without cloud cover.

Traveling the White Pass trail to the Summit, blazed by workers in the late 1800s, we marveled at the harsh conditions with which they must have dealt.  Taking a kayak paddle near Hoonah, we watched a humpback whale right in front of us – spouting and breaching!  We were saddened at seeing the devastation caused by the McKinley wildfire – one of three throughout Alaska this summer.

Sailing near Hubbard Glacier, with its beautiful hues of green and blue, we watched as it “calved” – a chunk of the Glacier falling off.  Visiting at a dog sled camp and holding the puppies lifted our spirits!  Taking a hike through the Tongass National Rainforest, the serene beauty took my breath away.  We were enveloped by so much beautiful plant life in the forest. Fireweed, Devils Club and Horsetail, both with medicinal benefits, were abundant. Many different types of mosses, beautiful old towering hemlock and spruce trees, and muskegs (bogs) enchanted us.  At a river, a black bear was attempting to catch salmon.  After failing, she and her cub decided to follow the river downstream.

The experiences we had in Alaska will always stay with us. I’m ready to go back and spend more time exploring!

A mention about climate change.  Due to the extremes in Alaska, climate change is most noticeable there. Glaciers and permafrost are melting rapidly. Hotter temperatures carry into the autumn. Unfortunately, logging in some areas is being considered. A warning to us all to be more mindful of how we live and use resources.

Is Greta Thunberg Wrong?

Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish girl, overcame challenges posed by autism to sail across the ocean and encourage people everywhere to work to reduce damage to the atmosphere and resulting climate change. She is inspiring, but is she wrong?

Greta’s commitment reminds us of the youthful energy of the late 1960s that led to great progress in environmental protection and civil rights. It is our hope that she’s energizing both young and older people to make our planet’s future safer and fairer.

After Greta spoke at the United Nations critics attacked her for advocating governmental action worldwide to reduce emissions yet didn’t say much about individual action.

Is she wrong? Absolutely not. This young woman crossed the ocean in a sailboat to avoid burning fossil fuel. She advocates government action while demonstrating personal actions to keep carbon out of the air.

Winding Pathways encourages homeowners to heed Greta and enhance the health of the atmosphere, water, and land by living lighter on resources. Here are a few steps we all can do to follow the inspiring actions she advocates:

Reduce Emissions

  • Replace the lawn, or part of it, with native plants that don’t require mowing.
  • Use a battery-powered, cordless lawnmower to mow the lawn less frequently and to grow higher. This allows, roots to penetrate deeper into the soil and absorb rain.
  • Insulate and caulk the house. Few actions are as inexpensive as insulating walls and attics, and caulking holes and cracks that let cold air in. These simple steps cut fuel use.
  • Many towns have built safe, pleasant bike trails. Try commuting and shopping by bike instead of by car.
  • Fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles and is toasty warm. Wearing a comfy fleece outfit enables turning the thermostat down a few degrees.

Keep Water on the Property

  • Replace the lawn, or part of it, with native plants that don’t need irrigation or chemicals.
  • Mow less frequently, allowing grass roots to penetrate deeper into the soil.
  • Install rain barrels. They harvest rainwater handy to use to irrigate garden plants, fill chicken waterers, or wash hands outdoors.
  • Install a rain garden to channel downspout water into the ground instead of to a storm sewer.
  • Avoid lawn and garden chemicals. Most lawns and gardens do just fine without them.
  • Compost kitchen waste. Vegetable peels, corn cobs, coffee grounds, and even many paper plates and cups readily compost into humus that lawns and gardens love.

Greta’s right. Governments should take action to reduce emissions. So should you and I in our everyday lives.