A Touch of Nature – 12/01/03 – The Herbs Place

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December 1, 2003 Issue

This is a free mailing, however, our family’s income is made entirely through internet businesses. If you find any of interest, we would appreciate you shopping with us to support this ezine:

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Hi Nature Lovers!

It’s a difficult time of year for me since I love to have open doors and windows. Instead I’m thinking how grateful I am to have tightly sealed doors and windows and a great heating system [although “great” is relative with a heat pump in Virginia].

My mind is busy trying to find all the indoor projects that I put off for such a time as this. Photo albums, computer projects, and lists of people I want to contact to spread a little joy of the holiday season.

In a recent issue of The Nature Conservancy ezine, Tom Hanks talked about his enduring love for nature. Yeah, Tom! I like to see people from the screen share their interests in real things. They are people outside of their acting roles and it’s nice to find the ones of like mind. .

Have you read about the Environmental Building Named in Honor of Robert Redford? The actor and longtime conservationist helped inaugurate the Natural Resources Defense Council’s new Southern California, one of a handful of structures nationwide built to the country’s highest environmental standards. Take a look at it.

Have a snuggly winter and get those put-off projects completed!


From eNature.com http://enature.com

Each Christmas season we hear the stories of the eight flying reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh all over the world in one night. While we have our doubts about that legend, we think that some of the real facts about reindeer are equally fascinating. Do you know why, for instance, none of Santa’s reindeer can possibly be adult males? How about what makes a reindeer uniquely equipped to come to a landing stop on an icy rooftop? Did you know that reindeer are excellent swimmers? Read on to learn some of the secrets of the world’s most famous deer.

While Prancer and Dancer and the gang are the stuff of legend, reindeer are not. These large deer live in northerly climes, in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Arctic. In Eurasia (and the North Pole) they are called reindeer and in North America more commonly caribou, but they are all the same species. The wild herds of Alaska and Canada are known for their mass migrations, while large numbers of those in Eurasia are domesticated, raised for fur, meat, milk, and as work animals. Whether you call them reindeer or caribou, one things is certain: they are physically well suited to a pull a sleigh full of toys and a right jolly old elf.

We’ve seen the pictures and we know that Santa’s reindeer — Dasher and Dancer and Blitzen and the rest — sport antlers. Does this mean that all of them (even Vixen?) are males? Not exactly — in fact, it almost means the opposite. Reindeer and caribou are unique among deer in that the females grow antlers, too. And even more interesting is the fact that the females retain their antlers from one spring till the next, while mature males shed their antlers in the fall — and are unadorned on Christmas Eve. So the creatures that pull Santa’s sleigh must be females or youngsters. The only other explanation is that flying somehow alters a reindeer’s hormonal cycle so that even mature males keep their antlers through the holidays.

The all-terrain vehicle enables humans to traverse rough, muddy, snowy, or icy terrain. The caribou or reindeer has it beat: it has an all-terrain foot. The animal’s remarkable hoof actually adapts itself to the season — becoming a sort of ice skate in the winter and sneaker in spring. The caribou of North America can run at speeds of almost 50 miles per hour and may travel 3,000 miles in a year.

Luckily, the animal is helped along by its amazingly adaptable footpads. In the summer, when the tundra is soft and wet, the footpads become spongy like the soles of tennis shoes and provide extra traction. In the winter, when snow and ice coat the North, the pads shrink and firm up, while the rim of the hoof, like an ice skate’s blade, bites into the ice and crusted snow to keep the animal from slipping. Sounds like the perfect footwear for an animal that needs to come to a flying stop on an ice-encrusted rooftop in the dark of the night!

Given its geographic preferences, a reindeer has to have a pretty warm coat. In fact, the coat has two layers of fur, a dense woolly undercoat and longer-haired overcoat. The outer coat consists of hollow, air-filled hairs that give the animal such buoyancy when it enters water that only the lower two-thirds of its body submerges. A caribou or reindeer swims with ease and good speed, and migrating herds will not hesitate to swim across a large lake or broad river. If Santa ever decides to take to the seas rather than the air, he is in good hands!


Click once a day, or a few times a week, to generate a donation to The Jane Goodall Institute’s chimpanzee conservation programs. Sign-up and request reminders on the days you’d like to click. Your click is free because sponsors make a donation to the leading nonprofit Jane Goodall Institute with 8 different programs, from Roots and Shoots aimed at childhood environmental education, to chimp sanctuaries in Uganda, Congo, Tanzania, and Kenya. Forward this email to your friends to help support even more!  Click to Care for the Primates


By Elizabeth Wells for Real Families, Real Fun

In my family, each winter we make treats for the birds in our yard. Over the years, we vary the treats and create new ones. Whether the birds you love are in your yard or in the park, consider these recipes to show your appreciation.


Chickadees are one of the birds that generally winters over with us in our yards. They will store food if they have access to a super-abundant feeder, until they are confident that the feeder will be kept filled. The cold winter weather increases the amount of energy required by birds simply to survive. Chickadees will spend up to three-quarters of the day searching for food.

They like to excavate their own nest in a soft piece of dead timber. They will even do a new one if a previous year’s chamber is unused in the same tree. If you put some wood chips in a nest box, they may “excavate” it and nest there lining it with moss and adding some hair or feathers. The female builds although the male will accompany to collect the materials.

Cold weather can be difficult for small birds like Chickadees. Birds will look for shelter among pine trees, or an unoccupied nest box left standing from the prior nesting season. They will also take cover from the winter winds in a roosting box, which can be a nest box with dowel rod perches inside to allow as many as eight birds to huddle together for warmth when it is extremely cold.

GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE- Restoring the Balance


Winter is a good time to do some indoor gardening with children. People stay indoors more and caring for a plant is easier since schedules are less hectic. Here’s a site with ideas on Gardening With Kids. Pick a project and teach the children you know a bit more about soil, seeds and plants. Make it a New Year’s resolution to educate about living plants. It’s a fascinating subject for children and hands-on is the best way to learn. For ideas, here’s a place to begin that has links to others.


Nature offers essential oils with potent properties that can be used in many areas around the home. For health, bath, beauty, and household cleaning supplies. Here’s our featured recipe for this issue:


Eucalyptus and Pine – In the bath place 10 drops of each oil or use by inhalation. Place 10 drops of each oil on a tissue. Inhale frequently. This opens the sinuses and helps clear the head of congestion. Eucalyptus is a natural antiseptic.

Read more about the benefits of these oils, find other recipes, and purchase oils.

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


Spend some family time making eco-friendly holiday items like fabric gift bags, holiday ornaments, Native American corn necklaces, and more. Keep the kids busy during Christmas break making gifts for friends and neighbors.


” Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead
where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph
Waldo Emerson


by Patricia Collier

Five pilot whales that had beached themselves in shallow water off the Florida Keys four months ago are swimming in wild waters once again. The five whales were part of a group of 28 that had stranded themselves about 12 miles from shore. Experts said they still don’t know the reason for the beachings, but some of the whales were showing signs of age. Of the original group, eight died, six had to be euthanized and nine others were able to swim away on their own.

The four remaining adult whales and one yearling were nursed back to health by 1,000 volunteers. After being hand-fed fish and given medical attention for several months, the whales were judged fit for release, and were taken back to the sea on August 10.

Each whale was coaxed into a sling and lowered by crane onto a boat. The animals were then taken to the continental shelf, an area where pilot whales frequently swim, and placed head first into the water.

” The youngest, a yearling male, started squealing as it was tipped down toward the water,” said Rick Trout, director of animal care at the Marine Mammal Conservancy.

” You could just tell, this was not a distress call, this was exciting,”Trout said. “This was a little kid getting excited.” Since then, scientists have been tracking the group via radio and satellite monitoring devices attached to their dorsal fins.

The location of four of the whales is still known, but the fifth whale’s signal was lost on the second day and has not been retrieved since. Experts speculated that she might be swimming along with the calf, or with a couple of the other whales.

The baby was recently reported to be close to the shore off Vero Beach, while two of the other whales are moving along at an even rate and the fourth whale is picking up some speed, heading away from Cuba. Officials are hoping all five will eventually join a nearby pod of pilot whales spotted 27 miles off shore.

Laura Engleby, a marine biologist for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, said two vessels, the 150-foot Newfoundland Express and a shrimping boat from the Florida Panhandle, will follow the mammals for two weeks.

At present, neither vessel has reported seeing the fifth, missing whale.” They [the boats] are equipped to capture a whale if it has problems and take it to shore,” Engelby said.

When asked how the crew had felt upon the whales’ release, Denise Jackson, stranding coordinator for the Florida Keys Marine Mammal Rescue Team said,” We all cried.”

” You feel relieved they all made it out there,” she said. “It’s successful, it’s great. But it’s a very mixed emotion.” The whales’ progress can be – DEAD LINK REMOVED – tracked online at .

Greenwich Time
www.greenwichtime.com/sns-othernews-whales, 0,2995117.story?coll=green-main-utility
Five stranded whales freed in Florida

Marine Mammal Conservancy
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.

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