Posts filed under ‘BLOG Roundups’


When you think of wild animals, which one scares you most?

A cougar? 

A wolf pack?  A grisley bear? 

A badger?  (Go Badgers!)

What scars me most is a white tail deer.

That’s right – Bambi strikes fear in my heart.

I’m not alone.

A 1992 USDA national survey targeted deer demolition as the most widespread form of wildlife damage. A 2001 report by Cornell Cooperative Extension estimated that deer cause $2 billion of damage a year in the U.S. 

That breaks down as:

$1 billion in car damages

$100 million in agriculture crops damages

$750 million in timber industry damages

$250 million in metropolitan landscape plantings

These estimates are conservative, and I notice they don’t mention damage to ecosystems, where deer Hoover up every native plant on a forest floor.  At least 98 threatened or endangered plants are browsed by white-tailed deer. (Don’t you love those delicate spring flowers like shooting star, trillium, bluebells, and trout lily?

So do the deer.

And no economic value has been calculated yet for the increase in Lyme disease that is transmitted by ticks that spend part of their life cycle on deer.

I don’t even want to think about the young trees I have either planted or valued that have been buck rubbed to death in the past few years on our land.

What I can’t help thinking about right now is what happened a few weeks ago to the two promising apple trees we have been nurturing since spring 2010.  (See my post Three Little Twigs. )  I grafted those trees myself.  We planted them with care and have kept them protected (we thought) by enclosing them in chicken wire cages.  They made good progress through their first two growing seasons.

I don’t know why the deer left them alone so long.

And I don’t know why the deer decided now to rip those cages out of the ground, fling them many yards away and then eat every single branch down to a nub.

Winter is coming, and that means food is getting harder and harder to come by for wildlife that does note migrate or hibernate.  To survive the winter, white-tail deer must eat five to six pounds of browse each day – that adds up to 600 pounds of buds, twigs and bark. 

So I’ve been doing a little internet research that I’d like to share.  Here are some sites that may help you in the endless battle to keep the exploding deer herd from eating everything you love.


This is a very complete account of deer habitat and food habbits that details a variety of methods to protect your plantings.


A Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article on how the growing herd of browsing deer change the landscape of forests, croplands and homesteads and shaping both the physical and cultural landscape.


This is an article from Connecticut Gardener by Pamela Weil and it includes lists of plants that are less likely to be chosen by hungry deer.  Some plants are just asking for trouble – for example, tulips, hosta and daylily are deer candy.


This fact sheet was prepared by the Maryland Cooperative Extension and details popular deer repellents with their active ingredient, mode of action, longevity, trade names anc relative costs.


This University of Nebraska-Lincoln article is a bit academic, but it makes an interesting point that planting native flowering plants near young trees you are trying to protect can give the deer an alternative food source.


This Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station-New Haven article by Jeffry Ward details what plants deer are least likely to love.


This fact sheet from Colorado State University Extension covers management strategies from fencing to planting choices with charts.


This sheet covers the six basic deterrent methods for controlling deer depredation.

So, are you dealing with deer damage?

What do you do?

And stay out!

November 1, 2011 at 12:09 am 5 comments


A lot of things happen to you when a parent dies.

You may find yourself dealing with their lifetime accumulation of possessions which can give you unexpected insights into your parent’s life.  As we are cleaning out Doug’s dad’s house, I keep asking myself –

What the heck was he keeping all this junk around for?  And I’m realizing that if someone had to clean out my house, they would be asking the same question about me.

Major Motivator!  I’m going to ride this revelation.  (more…)

May 13, 2011 at 12:01 am 3 comments


There are so many ways to approach living simply, and all of them seem good.

Choosing a minimalist path in our current economy is just going with the flow and finding the fun in frugal.  Environmental issues all involve slowing the speed with which we are burning through the resources of the planet.  And peace of mind is easier to achieve with fewer material acquisition and maintenance issues crowding our consciousness.

That being said, it’s not easy to break materialist habits and jettison possessions.

Here are some sites that offer inspiration and practical advice on how to live happily with less. (more…)

August 31, 2010 at 12:12 am 2 comments


We did not paint our barn (see my post Don’t Paint — Gray is the New Green ) because it is sided with 1-inch slabs of white oak, which has weathered to a silvery gray and will not rot.  But we do have to paint our house in town, which is not made of oak and has proven itself very willing to rot in more than one area.

We also have to paint the old windows that we have found for the barn so they will last, and that has meant using paint, starting with a coat of good primer.

Yesterday was one of those crazy days where we  spent the morning fixing up our house in town to sell next spring and the afternoon restoring the old windows we are putting into the barn on our land.

Both projects involved priming. (more…)

August 27, 2010 at 12:35 am 6 comments


The most e-mailed article in the NYT yesterday wasPaul Krugman’s “Who Cooked the Planet?

He calls 2010 the year in which all hope of action to limit climate change died, and notes that ironically the first half of this year has been the “hottest such stretch on record.” He blames the pipeline of funding from the big energy companies to anyone who can be bought to refute findings all legitimate scientists unanimously support – that the climate is warming, and the consequences will be dire.

Also on the most e-mailedlist is Thomas L. Friedman’s “We’re Gonna Be Sorry.”

Friedman says, “Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.” (more…)

July 27, 2010 at 12:30 am 6 comments

Six Sites to See Great Straw Bale Projects

Straw is a natural material that can be sourced very locally.

Isn’t it great to see examples of straw bale construction popping up all over the world?

I can make such a grandiose statement because I have found a really cool application of straw bale construction in England.  The other sites chronicle projects in Kentucky, Montana, Arizona, Maryland and Wisconsin.


The BaleHaus was designed at University of Bath’s Centre for Innovative Construction Materials.  This project kicks down the door of our preconceptions of what a straw bale house looks like.  They are determined to dash the common public misconceptions that straw bale is not durable, and only for hippies. (more…)

July 16, 2010 at 12:11 am Leave a comment


Food comes from the soil, but where does soil come from?  That’s what I’m learning in my first reading assignment of the Training Program for Master Gardener Volunteers.  (The University of Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener Program provides extensive, free horticultural training to people,who in turnshare their training for gardening-related projects that benefit the community.  How cool is that?)  This is a nation-wide program.  Check it out in your area.

Being called dirt should be the highest form of compliment, and should be used only when we want to describe something essential yet ephemeral because soil is easy to destroy and is formed a lot more slowly than we are using it up. (more…)

March 9, 2010 at 12:17 am Leave a comment


Obi-Wan Kenobi called Mos Eisley a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but I’ll bet that’s just because they hadn’t discovered any sodium bicarbonate on Tatooine.

We are SO lucky to have plenty of baking soda on Planet Earth. 

According to Planetgreen, there are 17,000 petrochemicals available for home use – many of them for cleaning.  But all you really need to start the new year with that sparkling fresh feeling is a couple of common materials. (more…)

January 5, 2010 at 10:04 am 4 comments




During World War Two, 20 million Americans planted victory gardens to free up produce and the means to transport it for the war effort.  In their own back yards, they produced up to 40 percent of the vegetables America ate.

We can do them one better.  We can build greenhouses  to cut down on greenhouse gases.

Winter is the perfect time to check out these sites for the nuts and bolts you need to make your own greenhouse dreams come true.

...Our greenhouse. We'll start growing good things this spring!

Whole Tree Straw Bale Winterproof Greenhouse Design

I’ve got to start with a link to a project summary by Roald Gundersen of  Whole Trees Architecture.  Roald has several claims to fame.  His firm was recently featured in the New York Times.  Whole Trees is going to build a whole tree house on our land in 2012.  And  my daughter works for Whole Trees. She is designing our house.  Someday we may  have a Whole Tree greenhouse similar, but not as big as the one in this link.  Doug and I designed our first greenhouse as part of our timber frame barn before we had met Roald.  Anyone thinking about building a greenhouse should consider the whole tree approach.  There is nothing greener.

Quick and Dirty

This is a very quick and dirty (and I mean that in a good way) set of very clear instruction about how to toss up a greenhouse and get growing from Las Pilitas Nursery, a native garden center in California. This looks a great way to get growing.

Hoop House for $50

This is another photo documentation of building a green house fast fast fast!

There really is no reason to put off building a greenhouse next spring.

Built Out of Used Doors

Leave it to Mother Earth News to find a greenhouse built out of used windows and storm doors.  I see so many doors and windows flying by in Craig’s List, and if you have a ReStore in your town – you are in business.  Reuse is much more green than recycling, and creates a unique structure, often a beautiful as well as practical one.

Comprehensive Guide to your Conservatory

And while we are turning to Mother, here is another great article of theirs on building an add-on greenhouse.  It’s a snap, says Mother, to build your own attractive conservatory from low-cost new and salvaged materials.  This article is very comprehensive.  A good place to begin your research.

Variation 2 on the Used Doors Theme

Greenhouses made of reused doors and windows can be a lot more funky than the example above.  Check out this one.  This is what I mean about really unique and beautiful.

Get Grounded in Greennhouse Building

A compendium of greenhouse building info from West Virginaia Unviersity Extension Service.

This covers just about everything.  It’s good background, but you will need to read further before you get out your tools and begin.

Hobby Greenhouse Picture Gallery

The Hobby Greenhouse Association is a nation-wide non-profit group of about a thousand gardeners who share ideas.  It looks like there is a lot to learn here, and they have a great little gallery of photos showing many inspiring variations on the theme.

Big Hoop House under $400

If greenhouses work in Alberta Canada – they will work anywhere.  This link lays it all out how  an Alberta gardener made a 12’ x 32’ hoop-style greenhouse for under $400.  Nice clear photo illustrations.

A Greenhouse with Good Bones

Here is a link to building a site where a greenhouse structure is used for many agricultural purposes.  It’s got a good solid foundation, and looks like it could easily be sized down for home use.

December 18, 2009 at 8:26 am 2 comments


Who is going to suffer the most from environmental degradation?


woodleywonderworks-flickr credit woodleywonderworks-flickr

Who is going to have to take over what ever green programs are being implemented today:


If kids don’t learn what’s going on in the environment and care about it today –

we can kiss tomorrow goodbye.

Here are six good green websites for kids I’ve come across while trolling what’s out there.  Ive  arranged them in pairs:  a couple each  for young kids,  middle grades and teens.

1.  WebRangers

Web-RangerThis is the National Park Service’s site for kids of all ages.   This on-line Junior Ranger program is tailored for kids of different ages.  It  includes puzzles, stories, and projects.  It works like  scouts in that you complete activities and earn badges.  You can play games and track your progress.  So far there are 92,202 registered WebRangers and 4,031 have earned their WebRanger patches by completing all the activities.  I am tempted to become a Web Ranger myself.  I would learn a ton about our national parks.  If you’ve been watching Ken Burns PBS series with your kids, steer them to this site!

2.  eekOworld

This site is put together by PBS, so it has wonderful visuals and special effects.  It’s aimed at kids 6-9, and it’s wonderfully interactive. Kids can create and care for their own EekoCreature, then explore EeekoHouse for conservation ideas.  The site is hosted by a creature who is kind of a flying chimpanzee with a grating voice, but there are many voices I find irritating on cartoon shows that kids seem quite engaged by.  I would guess it works.

3.  EEK!

Eek!This is a very cool site from my own state of Wisconsin!

An electronic magazine for kids in grades 4-8, it offers kids many choices to surf around and learn more about the great outdoors.  For example, Go to  Our Earth , from there to Global Warming Is Hot Stuff , where kids can read about the greenhouse effect, what might happen as the world heats up and the site ends suggestions about what kids can do, including conserving electricity, reusing and recycling.  Looking to the future, kids can click on Get a Job , and learn more about the life of a park ranger, a wildlife biologist or a hydro-geologist.

Tell any young artist or writer you know that EEK is on the lookout for kid’s nature artwork and stories about the outdoors. Here’s the link.

4.  Super Natural Adventures

Super-Natural-Brothers“The more you learn about the world, the more you are going to want to take care of it!” say Ryan, Will and Michael,  three American brothers, ages 11-14 who live in Costa Rica and have created their own amazing website.   Their mission is to get kids psyched about nature.  They are launching Operation Planet Earth and are recruiting every kid who watches their adventures.  This stuff is irresistible.  Even if we don’t all live in or travel to exotic locals, their basic message is compelling.  And who could tell kids better than other kids?

5.  TUNZA for Children

Despite the name, this United Nations site has a lot of good material for teens.  Among other things, this site has a great link to Movies on Children and Climate Change.

And it has a really compelling 27-page downloadable pocket guide called The New Climate Deal.  This cuts to the chase, but with a very “we can do something about this” spin.  And if we can’t do something about this, why am I typing and why are you reading?

6.  I Buy Different

This site pulls together the very real connection between teens, shopping and protecting the environment. is part of Be, Live, Buy Different—Make a Difference, a national campaign from World Wildlife Fund  and the Center for a New American Dream. The goal is to help young people learn how they can make a difference by buying differently. For example, did you know that if just one out of every ten middle and high school students each bought just one recycled notebook this year, they would save over 60,000 trees, conserve 25.5 million gallons of water, and stop 5,250,000 pounds of global warming gases from being released?

October 6, 2009 at 7:40 am 2 comments

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