A Touch of Nature – 05/15/03 – The Herbs Place

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May 15, 2003 Issue

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A Touch of Nature



Our house is finally moving along. Everything was held up waiting for the dirt moving guy to get the septic tank and drain fields in and also to get the dirt moved back in around the house [from digging out for the basement]. Now that the dirt’s level, they can put the scaffolding up to do the porches which means they’ll then be able to shingle the roof and also get the windows and siding on. I think we’re going to get in this year after all [grin].

Do you have a teenager interested in nature and wondering what to do for the summer? The Sierra Club Student Coalition leads week-long training programs for high schooland college students who want to become environmental leaders. Participants learn nitty-gritty organizing skills, hone their public-speaking abilities, and discuss various ways to get involved in their communities. Find out more.

Have a nature moment – every day!



Chimpanzees kept at the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark are showing a preference for the organic fruit now being offered to them.

"The chimpanzees are able to tell the difference between the organic and regular fruit," keeper Niels Melchiorsen told an Organic Agriculture reporter. "If we give them organic and traditional bananas, they systematically choose the organic bananas."

In addition, the chimpanzees eat the skin of organic bananas, but peel the regular ones before eating them, according to Melchiorsen.

Studies conducted in recent years have shown that rabbits, chickens and rats also prefer organic food. Organic food expert Shane Heaton said animals may sense that organic food has less pesticide residue and more nutrients.

Approximately 10% of the food the animals in the Copenhagen Zoo are given to eat currently is organic. The Zoo intends to make one-third of the food organic by 2005.


You’ve probably heard of invasive plant species, such as Kudzu, but there’s more. When colonists came to the New World they brought plants and animals with them.   Sometimes domesticated animals like cats, dogs and horses become wild or feral.  Feral animals can cause problems for native plants and animals. 

A species is a group of plants or animals that are alike and can produce offspring under natural conditions.  Nobody knows how many different species of plants and animals there are on the Earth. That’s because there are a lot of places scientists haven’t been and some life is very small and hard to find. But still, every year scientists discover new species.

Species can be native to their habitat, that means they occur naturally.  Exotic species are not native to an area.  Sometimes an exotic species will overwhelm native species, when this happens the exotic species is called an invasive species.

Exotic species can harm native species by competing for resources.  They can upset predator prey relationships and they can overrun a habitat. Many exotic species are introduced intentionally. Read more.


BIRD FACT: Flickers

Male and female build the nest for 5-12 eggs. The male incubates at night. Eggs hatch in 12 days. Both parents pump predigested food down gullets of babies. In three weeks they graduate to pulped insects and a week later, they leave the nest to follow parents in finding food. As fledglings [babies that have just left the nest] they forage on the ground for ants.

by Paul Recer, Associated Press Writer

When in the mood for romance, a female finch ignores fancy feathers and melodic songs. She goes for the guy with the vivid colored beak, a sure sign of health and vigor among the finches, according to a new study.

Zebra Finch researchers in England and France experimented with the diets of male birds and found that increasing the content of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that plays a key role in disease resistance, caused the beaks of zebra finches and European blackbirds to take on a strong, reddish color. And when females were given a choice of mates, they almost invariably preferred the males with the brightly colored beaks, the authors report in papers appearing Friday in the journal Science.

Jonathan W. Blount of the University of Glasgow, first author of the paper on finches, said the vivid color of the beaks is clear evidence that the male birds have strong and healthy immune systems. By picking males with brightly colored beaks, he said, females are selecting mates who are more apt to be free of disease and parasites.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Spring has finally arrived and so have the songbirds! Providing a safe place for birds to feed and bathe is part of the stewardship involved in being a diligent habitat gardener. The most common threats to visiting birds are window strikes, predation by their furry foe, the domestic cat, Felis catus, and avian diseases. Surprisingly, more birds are lost to cats than to the host of diseases that can afflict bird species. .

GARDENING WITH NATURE – Restoring the Balance


When you hear the word butterfly mentioned it’s immediately connected with the word nectar, since nectar is the primary source of food for butterflies.. However, additional elements are needed for some butterflies to survive. Read more.


Imagine having two pairs of wings that could beat independently of one another, allowing you to perform amazing aerial acrobatics such as hovering, flying backwards and pivoting in tight circles in mid-air stunts that are difficult, if not impossible, for even the most advanced military aircraft.

If this were your daily ritual, you would be among the fastest, most effective aerial predators and the glimmering jewel of the insect world the common green darner dragonfly, also known as the mosquito hawk. .



Enjoy making your own things? Are you creative and interested in saving money? Make your own household cleaners, deodorizers and bath and beauty products with essential oils and household supplies. Have a party with a supplies fee and let others join in the fun! Kits are available with step-by-step instructions.


you can "wing it" and use recipes and tips provided by other users of essential oils. Essential oils are powerful when it comes to germs and dirt! It’s a wonderful feeling to smell clean and not worry about the toxins you’ve absorbed through your skin from chemical cleaning solutions. Get tips and recipes.

"GREEN" INFO- Making It a Way of Life!

Read the labels. Many household products contain ingredients which are hazardous to human health and the environment. Some chemical ingredients to avoid/ Trichloroethylene – used in polishes, aerosols, and waterproofing. Nitrobenzene – found in polishes. Xylene – found in cleaners. Methylene Chloride – found in cleaning and polishing solutions and paint strippers. Formaldehyde – found in cleaning solution, disinfectants, and building materials. Chlorine – found in bleach and scouring powder. Ammonia – found in glass cleaners and all-purpose cleaners.

Avoid Aerosols. Many still contain ozone-depleting CFC’s. Alternative propellants, such as butane and propane may affect the heart and central nervous system.

Buy phosphate-free, biodegradable soaps and detergents. Phosphates are directly related to algae blooms which impact water quality. Use soap products such as Ivory Snow, adding Borax to the wash to help suspend the soap. As an alternative to chlorine bleach, try adding washing soda to one cup of lemon juice. Use Murphy’s Oil Soap directly on colorfast products as a stain remover. Sunshine Concentrate is a laundry detergent and stain remover and much more.

Avoid Dry Cleaning. Dry cleaning uses toxic chlorinated solvents. If it’s necessary to dry clean, air clothes outside for a few hours before bringing them indoors. If there is a noticeable odor from your clothes, change cleaners, as they may be using an excess of solvents.

Buy water efficient appliances. Operate appliances when they are full to reduce energy demands and save water.

Avoid commercial metal polishes. They contain phosphoric, sulfuric acids, and ammonia. For silver flatware, boil it in backing soda and salt. Using a paste of baking soda and water, polish silver and stainless steel. For brass, use equal parts of salt and flour, with a litter vinegar. A mixture of lemon juice or hot vinegar and salt will polish copper. Polish chrome with a little rubbing alcohol and white flour.

Shampoo carpets carefully. The residue from commercial solvents has been linked to respiratory infection. Steam cleaning is safer, and for freshening and light cleaning, try sprinkling corn starch and then vacuuming. Use alternative cleaning solutions. Use Bon Ami instead of scouring cleansers containing chlorine. For tough stains, use half a lemon dipped in borax and rub. Murphy’s Oil Soap and Borax is good for general cleaning. For a glass cleaner, first use alcohol to remove wax residues left from commercial glass cleaners. Follow up with a mixture of 50% white vinegar, and 50% warm water.

Dispose safely. Almost every home has it’s share of "under the sink" toxins.. Dispose of these items safely, during designated household hazardous waste disposal days. Call your County Solid Waste Coordinator to find out when such events are conducted.


"And I brought you into a plentiful country,
to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof;
but when ye entered, ye defiled my land,
and made mine heritage an abomination."
–The Holy Bible, Jeremiah 2:7


by The Associated Press

Marine biologists and federal officials rescued seven endangered manatees that became trapped in man-made wells and reservoirs in a desperate search for deeper water in sun-scorched southern Chiapas state, authorities said on Sunday.

Every year, manatees swim down from the cooler waters of the Gulf of Mexico and spend their winters in lakes and lagoons in northern Chiapas, said Carlos Guichar, director of the Beaches of Catazaja zoo.

But higher-than-normal temperatures and a lack of rainfall dropped those water levels to under three feet this season. The seven were so desperate for deeper water that they swam past the mouths of rivers and into adjoining man-made wells and reservoirs, Guichar said.

Fisherman discovered the manatees trapped in four separate locations and called authorities. Scientists and federal agents caught the manatees in huge nets and transported them to other lagoons with higher water levels, Guichar said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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