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Robins, good coffee, and winter

Robins on the lawn in January It’s not unusual at all to see robins on the lawn in the month of January. They were around on the lawn the week before Christmas. We have seem them bouncing around in the snow. We believe they have hardened themselves to our winters or they know more about global warming than we do. We think they have found plenty of warm places such as sheds, barns eaves of houses, piles of brush, inside of hollow logs. Another reason is we don’t have has many hard freezes, and this makes their food supply easier to find, and then too, they seem to have adapted themselves to our winters.

A good cup of coffee and a winter front porch Starting the morning off on the front porch with a hot cup of fresh coffee is a first class way to get any day off to a great start, The winter fresh brings vigor to the nostrils. If it gets too uncomfortable, just keep a blanket handy. Enjoy plenty of action from the birds and caws, from the crows plus color from the pansies as well as warm rays from the sun. Winter on the porch strengthens the immune system and also prepares us to be active even when it is cold outside.

Making a good cup of coffee While mentioning coffee on the porch, we remind you there is more to a good cup of coffee than the variety, blend, and brand of the coffee. Even the kind of cup you use to drink coffee has a direct positive or negative effect on the coffee. Don’t drink coffee from plastic cups because some of them can have a negative effect on the taste of coffee. Use china, Corelle or glass cups. Coffee mugs keep coffee hotter and keep heat inside the cup. These cups are easier to hold and they do not get too hot to handle, especially on the porch. Always clean the coffee pot each time you brew coffee. Perked coffee is always better than instant. Always use cold water to perk coffee and get rid of spent coffee grounds and use them in compost or around rose bushes and azaleas.

Preparing a pot of hot vegetable soup On a cold winter evening, there is nothing that can warm a person from inside to outside like a bowl of hot vegetable soup. It is easy to prepare and like a meal in a bowl. Start by boiling a pound of ground chuck or a pound of beef stew. If you use beef stew, cut it into small chunks after cooking it. Chop two large potatoes in half-inch cubes. Dice a large onion in half-inch cubes. Add a cup of canned diced tomatoes, one can of corn, one can of white corn, one can of lima beans, one can peas and carrots, one large onion diced in half-inch pieces. Boil until potatoes are tender. Add one can white corn, one can tomatoes, one can of lima beans, one can peas and carrots, one cup catsup, one packet beefy onion soup mix, one teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one tablespoon Worchestershire sauce. Add more water if necessary. Add one stick of margarine. Simmber for 30 to 40 minutes on medium heat. Serve with crackers or cornbread.

From a Carolina blue sky to a gray day in 24 hours A bit of winter weather lore as we approach mid-January. This lore says, we can grow from a day of Carolina blue sky to a day of gray in just 24 hours or less. A 45 degree day and a change in the wind direction to the north and a drop in temperature to 24 degrees. Another part of this lore says that a warm January can be very quickly turn into the mother of a storm and bring plenty of snow in the process. It only takes the north wind to change winter’s direction and plans.

Keeping birdbaths and feeders filled during winter’s cold In the earlier paragraph, we mentioned the 45 degree sunny temperature that dropped to 24 in only hours. These are the days to empty ice from the bird baths and refill with water each day when temperatures rise. Keep plenty of food in the feeders and check them each day.

Trimming back rose canes and rose hips At this time of year, roses are almost dormant and long canes can be cut back and shaped up. Remove all gray and dead canes as well as very long canes. Pull off all dried rose hips and keep mulch pulled up around rose bushes.

Winter’s longest month is halfway over A sure sign of spring is the fact that winter’s longest month is halfway over. We still have a lot of winter left. This means some snow, ice, sleet and freezes. The days of winter daylight is increasing by a minute each day which is a light at the end of winters tunnel.

Valentine’s Day less than a month away The day of hearts, flowers, candy is now less than a month away. Spend quality time this week searching for the appropriate Valentine gift for the wife, children, grandchildren, or sweetheart. The choices are almost endless including flowers, candy, jewelry, gift cards from restaurants, Walmart, hardware’s, supermarkets, Home Depot and Lowe’s. When all else fails buy Valentine’s cash cards and place currency in them.

Snow and ice pack a lot of weight As we pass January’s halfway mark, we can expect snow, sleet, ice, and freezing rain and maybe some north wind. Please remember that snow carries a lot of weight when covered with ice, sleet, and freezing rain. Keep a stiff broom handy to brush snow, sleet and ice from bushes and shrubs. Also brush icicles from over eaves and gutters on the house and especially carport to prevent damage to cars and people.

Mid-January is the time to prune grapevines In mid-January, all leaves are gone from grapevines and fruit trees and this makes it easier to see which limbs and branches need to be trimmed, pruned, and shaped up. Waterspouts and rubbing branches need to be pruned. Branches that reach upward and farther away from the trunk. They produce a lot of wood but not fruit. They need to be cut back as far as you can reach them. All branches that rub together need cutting back. A well-pruned tree produces better quality of fruit and aids in a better harvest. When pruning grapevines, cut back all long runners that stretch away from the vine and prune back runners close to the ground. Trim vines so you can see all the grapes at harvest time.

Applying dormant oil spray on fruit trees and grapevines on a calm day After fruit trees and grapevines have been pruned, pick a sunny day with no wind and apply a layer of dormant oil spray from the bottom to the top of the trees and vines. Apply until the trunk limbs and branches have a glossy shine in them. This will control many insect pests that harm fruits and also destroy harvests. Mix the oil spray with the proper amount of water as prescribed on the spray bottle. Protect your eyes with safety glasses while you are spraying. Try to pick a time when rain is not forecast for several days when you perform this task.

Hoe Hoe Hoedown “Make Room for Dad” A young woman told his father, “I’m leaving home and heading out of these hills. I am looking for adventure, excitement, and beautiful women.” said the young man to his father. “And don’t you try to stop me, I’m on my way.”

“Who’s trying to stop you!” yelled the father “I’m going with you!”

A True Fact – Most of us did not have any use from the advice of our parents until we started raising families of our own.

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Ray Baird

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