Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Information Dump from the Big E

After a crazy busy weekend including going to the Big E aka. The Eastern States Exposition, there is a lot going on, but very little time to write about it. So today I am going to talk about some of what we found at the Big E.

First and foremost was the information we got from the local Department of Natural Resources. If you live in Massachusetts or the surrounding states you are probably already aware of the problem of invasive beetles. If you aren't take a moment to read about them.

First is the Asian Long-Horned Beetle.
Massachusetts has an eradication and information program and has a significant number of resources on recognition and control. http://massnrc.org/pests/alb/

The Asian Long-Horned Beetle tends to destroy hardwoods which is obviously a fairly major concern for an area like Massachusetts that has a decent sized logging industry. It is also a concern for people who heat with wood because when you heat with wood you need hardwoods to do so. Due to these concerns and to try to stop the rapid spread of these invasive beetles the nearby states and Massachusetts encourage only buying firewood locally and not transporting wood.

Second is the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle.
This one just got to Massachusetts, and was found near us. Massachusetts started putting up traps before any were confirmed found in our area. Hopefully they can be prevented from spreading because they also are a major destroyer of hardwoods. For the same reasons the biosecurity measures taken to deal with the Asian Long-Horned Beetle are also rewarded by helping contain the Emerald Ash Borer.

In both cases you can help by getting the Outsmart App which has been put out by MassWoods.net to help combat these invasive species by having full intelligence on their presence and movements. You can find more out about it at http://masswoods.net/outsmart. Please, if you care at all about having woods look into it. If you don't care about woods, remember you need those for building houses, and many other things that affect your day to day life.

The other really interesting local thing we found out about is the Massachusetts Master Gardeners. This is obviously a resource that is very interesting to us due to our grand inexperience in growing. They actually had some information about why our tomatoes were splitting. Remember this picture on the Right? It turns out the tomatoes aren't being eaten, they are splitting. They are doing so because of inconsistent watering! All we need to do to prevent that is to water at the base of the plant and do so a consistent amount every day. Now when dealing with on and off rain bursts that makes it harder, but as long as we maintain a fairly consistent ground water level it should help the tomatoes grow without splitting constantly. The woman we spoke with from the Master Gardeners was very helpful and actually recommended a few resources that are local to us that will be helpful in our homesteading beyond just normal gardening practices.

Other things we found out about were more pertinent to us in specific and less overall. First was locating a company that does solar electric with a different financing structure that would allow us to actually pay it off in a reasonable amount of time, and with reasonable payments. Whether or not this will work out remains to be seen. Even if it doesn't actually save us anything over 30 years, as long as it doesn't cost us significantly more it is worth while for us. Why? Well, we really like the concept of using fewer non renewable resources. We use such a small household electrical footprint that most solar electric companies basically consider it a luxury for us. We are interested in moving to solar anyway because of a few reasons. First is that we want to support the increase in renewable energy sources. Second is that where we live, our electricity comes from a coal fired plant that uses Pennsylvania coal. There are a lot of people talking about so called "Clean Coal" but at base, coal is a killer. It is a killer where it is burned and where it is mined, so by reducing our dependence on it we can hopefully make a step towards less poison in our local environment.

Second was locating a snow thrower that can actually handle our driveway, and is (sort of) in our price range. If we can get the financing for it while it is still on major discount, we will be able to safely afford the monthly payments, and it will cost less than buying a plow or having someone plow for us. The down side? Days it snows I have to be up 2 hours or more early depending on the snow depth. We will see if financing works out, and if it does that is a MAJOR stress off our plate. I will just need to learn how to do shearing pin repairs on a snow thrower since those are apparently something that will go with a gravel driveway.

A whole lot of data, and not a lot of action right at this moment. But as with a lot of how we do things, research and information first. Everything else comes in its own proper time.

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