Quack Grass

Crossword definition: European grass spreading rapidly by creeping rhizomes; naturalized in North America as a weed. Facts about my Quack Grass: Not my yard but it will be in a few weeks. I keep my grass short, as this is the only way to control this beauty. Spraying an herbicide would destroy it and everything else in my yard and the neighbor's. I would then have to hall the dirt away, bring in new dirt and plant seed or sod. All the while hoping that not one little seed of Quack grass is in the air or it's back to square one. Guessing spray and plant is not an option. Besides every spring these little tufts along with my faithful dandelions, aggravate the heck out of the crabby nosy crossing guard who patrols my corner along with the neighbor who goes into traffic to pluck dandelions out of the road. Hey, I take my fun where I can. Last but not least and only in America, This grass is cultivated in contained areas and referred to by its proud owners as an ornamental grass thus, spreading its seeds to the lawns of unsuspecting neighbors. The beauty of a weed. Man, if I only lived a little closer to those two yard freaks...

It’s Not Just The Heat - It’s The Humidity

Okay, I apologize, but really, somebody had to get that joke out of the way: Global warming driving up humidity levels, says study. 23 hours ago. Paris. Man-made global warming is driving up humidity levels, with the risk that rainfall patterns will shift or strengthen, tropical storms intensify and human health may suffer from heat stress, a study released on Wednesday said. From 1976 to present time, when the world’s average surface temperature rose 0.49 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit), global levels of atmospheric water vapour rose 2.2 percent, according to the paper by British scientists.

By 2100, humidity levels could increase by another 10 percent, lead researcher Nathan Gillett of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, eastern England, told AFP. Previously, scientists had noted an increase in humidity over the past few decades as higher temperatures sucked more water from the land and ocean surface. But it was unclear whether these changes were the result of a natural or a human impact on the climate, as the data was regional rather than global and different methods were used to make the calculations. The new paper is based on a new set of observations of humidity levels. This data was then crunched through a powerful computer model of Earth’s climate system in the late 20th century.

Gillett said water vapour was a “positive feedback”, a vicious circle, in scientific parlance - in the global warming equation. Steam is a greenhouse gas, meaning that like carbon pollution that results from burning fossil fuels, it traps solar heat in the atmosphere, thus stoking the warming effect and so worsening humidity. The ramifications could be wide-ranging, he said. The distribution and intensity of rainfall could be affected, and tropical cyclones could be beefed up, as humidity is one of the fuels for these storms. The study is published on Thursday in Nature, wich is the weekly British science journal.

Weight Shapes Diets

Anyone who has ever even thought about dieting knows to read and discuss dieting ideas and tips online or with their friends. Weight Shapes does not simply offer a free diet plan but is based upon the philosophy of dieting as part of an overall plan to set and maintain a healthy lifestyle in term of physical, mental and emotional health. Consequently Weight Shapes does not just provide you with a diet sheet and tell you what you can and can't eat, but provides you with the information and advice necessary to make the best decisions about your diet. Further, and very importantly, the Weight Shapes best diet plan for men and women gives you a level of support and motivation that is essential to your success and that is lacking in so many other weight loss plans. Underpinning Weight Shapes’s philosophy of dieting there is of course a basic diet plan, or to be more precise, two plans, the points plan and the core plan. The idea behind the points plan will be familiar to anybody who has tried dieting. Members are given a weekly points allocation depending upon their present weight and the weight they are aiming for and are allowed to eat anything they like up to this points allocation. The strength of the points system is that a points score is given to any food imaginable and there's no limit on the types of food that you are permitted but only on the quantity which you can eat dependent upon that food's points score. This is in sharp contrast to many other diets that ban some foods completely or require that particular foods are included in your diet. The points plan also provides you with a great deal of flexibility by allocating negative points for exercise. 

So, if you decide to go over your points allocation you can do so as long as you take enough exercise to compensate for the additional points consumed. The core plan was created in response to the popularity the South Beach and Atkins plans. Under this plan a wide variety of foods including whole grain foods, lean meats, fat free airy products, lean meats, and whole grain foods are classed as "core" foods and there is no limit on the quantity of these foods that you can eat, other than the provision that you should only eat these foods to satisfy your hunger rather than eat them until you are "full". Any food item that is not included on the "core" list is then allocated a score in the regular manner and members are given a weekly allowance of 35 points for these foods. There is nothing new of course in either the points plan or the core plan and many of the hundreds of diets available follow the same sort of pattern. The strength however of the Weight Shapes plan is not to be found in the underpinning diet itself, but in the need that all dieters have for information, advice, help and, above all, support in what is typically a long, and at times difficult, struggle to remove those stubborn pounds. Operating largely as a "club", Weight Shapes has gone from strength to strength over the years and, as long as it continues to provide so much more than just a diet plan, it will doubtless continue to flourish in the future. For more news, informations and advices about Weight Shapes diet plans and exercises to stay in shape please visit http://www.weightshapes.com today.

To Bee or Not to Bee a Bee Farmer

This introduction section is for the individual interested in tending bees or for a student who is doing a report on honeybees and beekeeping. To be honest this can be a fascinating hobby or a thriving business with a lot of side benefits but there is a lot of knowledge that will be needed so let's get started. There are three bee entities here, the queen whose job is to procreate the hive through egg-laying, the drones which tend to the queen, and the workers who gather the nectar and make the honey and boy do they work. If human beings worked as hard as they do productivity would be through the roof. Now beekeeping is not as simple as throwing a wood box in the back yard and hoping the bees will move right in there is a lot of thought as to how the box or hive is to be constructed, how to entice bees in when you find a swarm or when you purchase a hive, how to keep them and keep them happy, how to protect, how to extract and process honey, so you see things are starting to get complicated.

And there are pests and diseases that can attack the hive also so you will need some up front knowledge here. As a plus when you keep bees and a garden you will have a better garden with more produce because of better pollination and if a flower garden more bountiful flowers. Bees are similar to people in that if they are happy and satisfied they stay, if not they leave so making them happy is important. The hive structure must be such that the bees can maintain for the building of their combs for honey storage and the queen chamber for egg production, it must be expandable as the honey volume and hive population increase, capable of ventilation (bees set up their own fan system) and protected from weather extremes of hot and cold.

Knowing how to protect yourself and how to keep the bees docile when servicing the hives and knowing when to service the hive goes far in whether you are successful or not. Do the bees have a large enough foraging area like a flower or vegetable garden, clover fields or flower bearing trees? For an experienced beekeeper there is always room for improvement. There can be new ideas in honey processing and hive construction, new pest and disease detection and how to control procedures. What about new research in bee behavior and the work being done about routing out the bad or aggressive breeds? Then the new products being derived from honey, beeswax, bee pollen and propolis wouldn't you like to know this? Probably a lot of your knowledge was derived by trial and error, so for more profitability one can learn the successes of others who have overcome the problems associated with bees and beekeeping.

Going, Going, Gone - Finally

"Wake up love. It's sale say, at last." Despite the late night and sporadic sleep, interrupted by nightmares of things forgotten, things going wrong, there was an instant wakefulness, a mental standing to attention. We've all heard of Father Christmas 'making a list and checking it twice'... well-ll... we had made countless lists and checked them all a heap more times than just twice, and still I fretted about oversights.

All of our sale items sorted and cleaned; tentatively priced; moved here and moved there, and sometimes moved back to the first position again; until finally all were in their "order of sale"... check. Advertising of the Clearing Sale in the local paper and other rural newspapers further afield, a few weeks ago, and again last week... check. Catering organized (local Red Cross)... check. Agent's signs up on roads leading to our place and on our property itself... check.

And yet, after all that prior organization, there were still a myriad of items to be moved out of sheds, garage and our home itself, all those things that couldn't be outdoors until the day itself in case of unfriendly weather. Just when we'd thought we were so organized, and had been congratulating ourselves on all our planning and hard work, these last minute chores deteriorated into a serious scramble.

Although the sale was not due to start until 10 am, the first of the potential buyers (or was that just "lookers"?), started to arrive before 8am, whilst we were still flat out in the midst of all this final "shuffling" and arranging. Politely, but in vain, we tried to encourage them to go for a wander down the rows of farm machinery and stuff, so we could get these last items in place (without side-stepping and/or tripping over an alarmingly fast-growing number of parents, and kids... and their toys!).

Some of the earliest and most inquisitive fossickers start poking around in boxes, even as you are carrying them out... whilst other more unscrupulous types change the contents of some boxes to include and/or exclude unwanted items. This can prove disastrous for the first "re-arranger", as the same action is repeated by others, sometimes several times over until the final boxes bear no resemblance whatsoever to their original, (vendor-packed) content. Karma, maybe?

In the last hour or so before the action begins, the crowd swells to amazing proportions as the designated 'parking paddock' fills with all manner of farm vehicles and trailers, until it looks like a major auto-yard. And each side of your road in both directions, and up your driveway, all but blocking it. They are everywhere... like measles. But it is, after all, a good sign, the numbers should make for spirited bidding... you hope!

"Sale-o... sale-o", the auctioneer shouts, and as the crowds draw close around the starting point, the tray top of countless boxes and other unlikely containers of farm sundries, at last, the Clearing Sale begins. And I can take a short break and a sit down with a cuppa... inside my house... blissfully alone for just a short reprieve, far from the 'madding crowd'.

All too soon, it was necessary to be present, hovering around the outskirts, trying to keep an unobtrusive eye on other potential disaster areas, particularly of the type involving vehicles and machinery with working parts. Imagine the horror of the engine that is extremely difficult to 'fire up' or won't even start at all. Especially after being described confidently by the auctioneer, "goes like a possum up a gumtree" or perhaps, "runs on the smell of an oily rag".

So how is it possible for there to be a problem? In a word, sabotage! A seemingly innocent but close examination of an engine by a dodgy buyer, can result in a rotor being removed from the distributor or turning the ignition key on and off repeatedly (without actually starting the motor), floods the firing chamber, causing great difficulty in starting next time (when the auctioneer's offsider cheerfully tries it). Simply and speedily achieved, and the end result, of course is a decrease in value, so that the saboteur will pay considerably less, maybe even get the "bargain of the day" for what appears to be a faulty or unreliable vehicle or piece of machinery. Lucky for the buyer, diabolical for the vendor.

We are told that today's Clearing Sales commonly expect to include actual theft in the 'normal' agenda. The creativity of these thieves makes you wonder what levels of success they could achieve honestly, instead of hurting their fellow-farmer. Thankfully, the majority of would-be buyers are a happy, friendly and supportive group, as evidenced by their willingness to help each other to gather their purchases at the end of the sale.

In the meantime, the large buying group move along with the auctioneer and his assistants in a reasonably quiet fashion, compared to his loud voice chanting "...do I hear 20, 20, 20?... or 15?... come on, someone must have 15?... oh, come on!.. 10, surely 10? This is an insult!". And then the prices can go all the way up again, as the bidding starts in earnest.

It's a bitter-sweet time for the vendor, as the sale progresses. The amount many items get 'knocked down' for surprise you, both happily and regretfully. On the day, at that particular moment it's anybody's guess where the interest and the bidding will start... and eventually stop. This would be true of all auctions, but a Clearing Sale moves along at a 'bone-rattling' pace.

After all those weeks of planning and preparation, it's suddenly all over. The auctioneer has ended (somewhat hoarsely) with his thanks and last instructions about attending the temporary "office" to finalise payments and requesting a patient and orderly collection of purchases. For some considerable time after this, bedlam ensues as queues form at the 'office' and then traffic jams of all manner of farm vehicles, trucks and trailers bank up between the long lines of goods, to collect their purchases, many previously gathered together into motley heaps.

There is much dust, and maneuvering of vehicles, and barking of dogs, and shouted directions for backing up to the chosen 'heap'. More often than not, the finest traditions of mateship are witnessed, as farmers pitch in and heave together to lift and man-handle that heavy load that one man can't manage... up onto the back of that ute... or trailer. "She'll be right, mate" would be the most common phrase heard at this time. And over to one side will be a couple of low-loader semi-trailers, ready and able to be hired to take home the large machinery and maybe another with a large crane for lifting oversized and over-weighty items.

At last, the final items have been collected, and the last vehicle drives away. The silence is deafening until the birds remember to sing again, and the sheep and cows in the paddocks to discuss the day. Most shocking is the huge barren space where first of all so much farm gear has been lined up for days and weeks, and then covered in all those people and their vehicles.

Once again, that bitter-sweet feeling engulfs you. Sad to think of all that 'stash', once upon a time your treasures, now no longer absolutely necessary... now no longer yours, and yet... when you come to pack up the rest, how much easier it will be. And suddenly, you lift your head and straighten your back, and stop looking over your shoulder.