Thursday, February 5, 2015


As a family, determine how you will arrive at a shared vision for the future of your property. In talking with your family members, remember that the vision you create for the farming future of the property must be grounded in reality. For example, a family that inherited a 20-acre parcel of open land might imagine a pastoral scene of grazing cattle on a hillside



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Getting Rid of Fruit Flies With Diatomaceous Earth

My friend John is a serious Worm Inn fan. Back in the fall, he upgraded from the standard model to the Worm Inn Mega.
Bigger system, more worms, more processing power…but also more trouble if something “goes wrong”!
In John’s case, this came in the form of a fruit fly invasion.
Needless to say, he was at least thanking his lucky stars for that zippered lid!
Anyway – sometimes necessity can be a real mother!
Er…I mean the mother of invention! lol
After unsuccessfully testing out various fruit fly eradication strategies, John finally hit on something that (strangely) seems to be working really well.
Diatomaceous earth!
Here the run down in his own words:
Several weeks ago, I put probably a foot or more of shredded paper on the top. On top of this I added a apple cider trap that was sitting on a layer of cardboard. I was pretty excited about that because there were well over a hundred flies in it…probably 500 or so if not more. But it was in there for several weeks, and the flies were still coming.
So one night I remembered you talking about DE, and I have some. I took the fly trap out, and added probably 2 cups worth of the DE directly to the top of the shredded paper and cardboard. I left it alone. Within an hour or so I walked by and counted over 50 flies that were clearly dead or flopping around on their death bed. I was very amazed.
I also know that those are just the ones I could see. I saw a few that landed on the DE on the shredded paper and then fell in between cracks of all the paper. I left it zipped up the entire time. If I walked by the bin, I would hit the screen top to knock any flies into the DE. It has been nice knowing that all the flies eventually land on it and get coated, unlike the apple cider where not all of them would drink from it.
After about a week I noticed it looked damp and so I finally dumped them and just scattered the top again with a fresh coat of DE. I looked in today, and noticed there are only maybe 25 flies give or take. I am ready to open the bin up and start actively vacuuming again.
So I have been fighting thousands of fruit flies for more than a month before DE; and then within a week of adding it, I feel like I can finally win.
Really interesting stuff (and thanks very much to John for letting me share it here)!
While it’s hard to say if DE offers an “all in one” solution for getting rid of flying pests, it does at least appear to offer great potential when used as part of a multi-pronged eradication strategy!
I’m sure some will wonder if there is any chance of harming your worms with DE. Well, the good news is that this is very unlikely. As John touched on, the material becomes ineffective as it soaks up moisture, so the chances of it doing any harm down in the (moist) worm feeding zone are pretty slim.
I’m definitely looking forward to future updates from John (and anyone else who tests this out)!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tracing Similarities And Differences In Our DNA


What percent of their genes match yours?
Another human? 100% - All humans have the same genes, but some of these genes contain sequence differences that make each person unique.
A chimpanzee? 98% - Chimpanzees are the closest living species to humans.
A mouse? 92% - All mammals are quite similar genetically.
A fruit fly? 44% - Studies of fruit flies have shown how shared genes govern the growth and structure of both insects and mammals.
Yeast? 26% - Yeasts are single-celled organisms, but they have many housekeeping genes that are the same as the genes in humans, such as those that enable energy to be derived from the breakdown of sugars.
A weed (thale cress)? 18% - Plants have many metabolic differences from humans. For example, they use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide gas to sugars. But they also have similarities in their housekeeping genes.

Why Were Genes Used In This Comparison, and How Do They Relate To DNA?

Genes are the fundamental units of DNA function. In DNA terms, genes are discrete sections of the DNA sequence that are part of much longer DNA molecules. They provide the biochemical instructions for producing all of the components of biological organisms. Some genes specify visible physical traits, while others govern metabolic processes. Most traits, such as the shape of your face, require the actions of many genes.

Why Are We So Similar?

The DNA of these species is so similar because the basic organization of life is widely shared, with the largest differences found between plants and animals, or between tiny single-celled organisms like yeast and large multicellular organisms like ourselves. The similarities reflect a common ancestry that appears to be shared by all life on Earth.

Are People Really Identical?

Even though humans share 100% of the same genes, the instructions contained within the genes are not entirely identical. Each person is unique. People have different hair colors, facial structures, and other traits. These differences between individuals result from very small differences in their DNA sequences. DNA also contains many so-called "housekeeping genes" that control important metabolic processes. As you will see, some of the differences in these genes can cause illness.

Although the DNA of any two people on Earth is, in fact, 99.9% identical, even a tiny difference can have a big effect if this difference is located in a critical gene.

Secrets of the groundhog revealed


Groundhog facts
CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons
Behold the mysterious groundhog. We know them as prognosticators of spring and muses for cult movies, but these furry creatures from the pantheon of giant rodents have other secrets to reveal. Here we tell all in 22 sentences.
1. The groundhog (Marmota monax) is one of 14 species of marmots and is closely related to squirrels: “They are giant ground squirrels is what they are,” says Richard Thorington, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
2. While most marmots are gregarious and love company, groundhogs are loners; the "monax" in their name is Latin for "solitary."
3. Groundhogs go by several aliases, including woodchuck, whistle-pig, forest marmot, and land beaver.
4. A woodchuck can’t chuck wood – the name doesn’t have to do with wood, rather it is thought to have its roots in Native American language.
5. As “true hibernators,” groundhogs go into a dormant state and can reduce their body temperature to 41F degrees and slow their hearts to about five beats a minute.

6. To survive winter during hibernation, they feast all summer on plants … like your garden … which is why groundhogs, cute as they may be, are not adored by all.
7. Along with vegetation, they also eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects, snails, other small animals and bird eggs.
8. They can reach 24 inches in length.
4. They weigh between 12 and 15 pounds.
7. They’re impressive builders; a groundhog’s burrow can extend up to 66 feet long, with multiple levels, exits, and rooms. They even have bathrooms.
8. And they can really dig: A single groundhog can move over 700 pounds of dirt when making a burrow.
9. Their dens are important for other animals too; red foxes, gray foxes, opossums, raccoons, and skunks often take up residence in homes built by groundhogs.

10. Although they conform to their name by staying primarily on the ground, groundhogs are also decent swimmers and can climb trees!
11. Like other members of the rodent family Sciuridae, groundhogs have exceedingly dense cerebral bones and can survive blows to the skull that would likely be fatal to other mammals of the same size.
12. Unlike other sciurids, groundhogs have a curved spine, as do moles.
13. Mom groundhogs have one litter per year of two to six babes, which are called kits or pups.
14. Groundhogs are very clean, which may be one of the reasons they are resistant to the diseases that periodically decimate large numbers of wild animals.

18. When not feeding or burrowing, groundhogs will stand erect and be on the lookout; when sensing danger, they emit a high-pitched squeaky whistle.
19. They have great timing and know exactly when to wake up from their fall/winter slumber; if they miss the short mating window, babies born too early won’t have enough food, those born too late they won’t be able to gain enough weight for winter.
20. Artifacts found in a groundhog hole led to the discovery of an important archeological site in Pennsylvania.
21. Groundhog Day comes from the German Candlemas Day, but the original shadow-caster was a hedgehog; German settlers in Pennsylvania found groundhogs plentiful, and thus, it’s Groundhog Day not Hedgehog Day.