Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snowshoeing just requires that you put one foot in front of the other

By David Horst  sandhill7@gmail.com

Blame it on weather or maturity, but we hadn't explored the terrain surrounding our new Sandhill Llama Farm in the way we typically have other places where we've dropped roots in the past.

Abbie, Mat and Suzie embrace the cold
For one thing, we can see all of the 18 acres from the house. We know where to watch the deer pop through the fence line or the turkeys march along the edge of the hay field.

Motivated by recaptured youth, we patrolled the perimeter on show shoes in December's single-digit temperatures. The youth came in the form of two 20-something nephews who spent the Christmas holiday with us.

Abbie, Mat and Mat's girlfriend, Suzie, live in D.C. but embraced the snow and cold with childish enthusiasm -- well, at least the snow.

We equipped everyone with the smaller, modified version of bear paw snowshoes popular today. Vinyl stretched over tubular metal replaces the traditional ash frames strung with rawhide strips. They are lighter and more maneuverable.

In our yards, mow is less

By David Horst  sandhill7@gmail.com

OSHKOSH — How did tradition, professional consensus and neighborhood peer pressure arrive at the unsustainable conclusion that we should surround our homes with a monoculture of cool season grasses?

Lawn. It covers 92 percent of our suburbs. We keep it alive in this unnatural environment by soaking it with purified water and burning fossils fuels to cut back the growth we have stimulated.

Prof. Doug Tallamy, who chairs the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, suggested a standard for evaluating our yards a bit more thoughtful than making everything the same. How about we choose plants based on how many species of caterpillars they support?