During most of the 1930s, the Great Plains region of the United States was devastated by drought and high winds. This area became known as the “Dust Bowl”. Howling winds also whipped up the topsoil of over-farmed land creating “black blizzards” that were so thick and blinding that daylight seemed more like dusk. It is estimated that these “black blizzards” displaced over 300 million tons of topsoil from the prairie area. These horrendous storms also forced 2.5 million people to migrate west only to encounter extreme disappointment and discrimination.
Why did these storms happen?
The U.S. Government during WWI encouraged farmers to support the war effort by planting wheat to feed the soldiers overseas. In order to increase food production, farmers in the Midwest dug up the buffalo grasses that had held down the prairie soil for thousands of years through their extensive root systems.
With the invention of the farm tractor, farmers could plow up thousands of acres of grassland and plant wheat. Livestock grazed on the rest of the land destroying the natural system that had preserved soil on the prairies.
When a drought occurred, the deep roots grounding the prairie grass, were gone.
One powerful windstorm after another swept across the “Dust Bowl”. The dry topsoil rose in towering clouds and rolled across the land, blotting out the sun sometimes for days at a time. These “black blizzards” made life almost unbearable.
People developed “dust pneumonia” and suffered with pain and difficulty breathing, causing many people to die. Dust drifted like snow so residents had to clear it with shovels. Sometimes people had to dig out their whole homes. It went through the cracks of even well-sealed houses, leaving a dusty coating on food, skin, and furniture. Dust and sand also damaged car engines and farm equipment.
Cows and other grazing animals ate the dust-coated grass which created “mud balls” in their stomachs leading to death.
One major “black blizzard” occurred on May 11, 1934. The storm was two miles high and traveled 2,000 miles to the East Coast blotting out views of the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol. Sailors 300 miles into the Atlantic Ocean reported dust ½ inch thick on the decks of their ships.
This nightmare lasted almost 10 years when, finally in 1939, the much needed rain came, bringing hope to the prairie. A federal program encouraged farmers to utilize new farming methods that would protect topsoil from eroding. Consequently, Americans should never have to experience the horror of “black blizzards” again.
Be sure to remove any leaves, dead plants, or other plant debris from the garden. You don’t want to draw pests to your soil or leave diseased plants to compost in your garden over the winter, potentially damaging your soil.
September is a month where many annuals will begin to dry up. When this starts to happen, let them. You can collect the seed pods they produce and store them for next year. Be sure to allow the pods to dry out fully before storing. Also, be sure to store them in a cool, dry location to keep the seeds intact.
English ivy drastically reduces mold indoors. It’s a good plant for your desk at work and near your bedroom window.
According to folklore if wooly worms are more black than brown this indicates a harsh, cold winter, while more brown than black points to a mild winter.
Nicknamed the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World”, Indiana has a total of 31 covered bridges in just 450 square mile.
Forks were first introduced in Italy in the 11th Century. These spiked spaghetti-twirling instruments were seen as an offense to God because they were "artificial hands" and as such were considered to be sacrilegious.
Besides being a wrestling champ, Abraham Lincoln was also a licensed bartender and opened up a bar called “Berry and Lincoln” with his friend William F. Berry in New Salem, Illinois.
Herbs such as parsley, rosemary, chives, thyme and marjoram can be dug from the garden and placed in pots now for growing indoors this winter.
White pines normally shed old needles in the fall, usually beginning mid to late September. The yellowing and dropping of these interior needles is normal and should not cause concern.
Researchers have found that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage. This lack of sunlight beginning in the fall months has more to do with the extra weight gain than all the pumpkin spice lattes.
If you really want to drink tea like they do on Downton Abbey, you will add your milk last. Inferior china cups were inclined to crack when hot tea was poured into them, but the finest china was much stronger and didn’t crack. So putting the milk in last became a way for the upper class to show they had the best china. Milk in last also lets you judge the strength more easily—too much milk can ruin the perfect cup of tea.
A group of squirrels is called a “scurry” or a “dray”.
A woodpecker tongue is up to 4” long depending on the species. It wraps around the skull when it is retracted.
August is the best time to dig and divide perennial flowers in your garden (such as hosta, lily, daylily, ornamental grasses, and bearded iris). Use a spade to lift the plant from the ground being careful not to damage the root ball. When the clump is out of the ground, use a large garden knife or spade to cut it into smaller pieces. Then, replant the smaller pieces or divisions as soon as possible.
Chrysanthemums, popular fall flowers, are available in two general categories: florist and garden. Florist mums are ideal for gift giving, but if you want color for your flower border, make sure you purchase garden mums that are tough enough to tolerate outdoor conditions.
Stop pruning perennial herbs such as tarragon, lavender, sage, oregano, and thyme at least one month before your last expected frost. Pruning encourages new growth that won’t have time to harden before cold weather hits.
Dead-head annual bedding plants and perennials to encourage them to flower into the autumn and stop them self-seeding.
Use colorful plastic golf tees to mark the location of dormant plants like spring bulbs or perennials.
Clean your grill without chemicals or a lot of elbow grease by using half an onion. Onions have natural antibacterial properties and help deep clean the grates. First, get the grill nice and hot to burn off any remaining food. Next, cut an onion in half and pierce it with a long grill fork. Scrub.
Keep critters away from trash cans by mixing 2 tablespoons dish soap, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, and 1-quart warm water. Spray liberally over cans. Raccoons, especially, hate the smell of many spices and oils, including mint and cayenne pepper.
1. It's not too late to plant a vegetable garden in July and August for a fall harvest. Late July is the time to sow seeds for some late crops, like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. In August you can begin to sow seeds for lettuces and peas every couple of weeks for a late harvest.
2. Fireworks date back as a tradition of Independence Day as early as the first anniversary in 1777.
3. Kiwis and papayas contain more vitamin C than oranges.
4. The “dog days of summer” refer to the weeks between July 3 and August 11 and are named after the Dog Star (Sirius) in the Canis Major constellation. The ancient Greeks blamed Sirius for the hot temperatures, drought, discomfort, and sickness that occurred during the summer.
5. On July 5, 1946, the world’s first bikini was unveiled in the famous Piscine Molitor swimming pool in Paris. The bikini was modeled by showgirl Micheline Bernardini.
6. The best way to remove a tick is with a pair of fine-point tweezers. Grasp the tick’s mouthparts (where it has attached to your skin) and gently pull the tick out with steady pressure.
7. Richard Stockton, a lawyer from New Jersey, became the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to recant his support of the revolution after being captured by the British in November 1776 and thrown in jail.
8. The first modern Olympic Games were held in the summer in 1896 in Athens, Greece.
9. Did you know that watermelons are not a fruit, but a vegetable? They belong to the cucumber family.
10. The first European known to have visited Indiana was French Explorer Rene’-Robert Cavalier sierur de La Salle, in 1679. After LaSalle and others explored the Great Lakes region, the land was claimed for New France, a nation based in Canada.
June 24 is Midsummer Day and is traditionally the midpoint of the growing season halfway between planting and harvesting.
Voles are vegetarians eating stems and blades of grass. They are considered rodents.
Moles are small mammals that feast on insect pests, grubs and soil organisms including earthworms.
All vegetables, including warm-season plants, can be planted.
June has its own beetle named after it. The June beetle or June bug is normally only found within the months of May and June.
Indiana makes more popcorn than any other state in the United States.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth’s handbag is used to relay secret and silent messages to her staff. Moving it from one arm to the other means her aides will politely end a conversation.
High heels first became popular in roughly 10 B.C.
Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios are actually seeds not nuts because seeds have a separating rind or shell and interior kernels.
The Antarctic Polar Desert covers the Antarctica continent—roughly 5.5 million square miles. In comparison, the Sahara Desert covers about 3.6 million square miles.
Ever wonder what the Empire State Building, The Biltmore and 35 current state Capitals including Indiana’s have in common? All were constructed from the highest quality limestone in the United States found in Bedford, Indiana, known as the “Limestone Capital of the World”.
Bedford limestone is a geological formation primarily quarried in south central Indiana between the cities of Bloomington and Bedford. It is rock that was formed from calcium carbonate deposited over millions of years as marine fossils decomposed at the bottom of a shallow inland sea which covered most of the present-day Midwestern United States during the Mississippian Period (335-340 million years ago).
Discovered by the Native Americans, Indiana limestone became a popular building block with the opening of the Richard Gilbert Quarry in 1827. For most of the century the limestone quarries were the primary industry of south-central Indiana. By 1900 Indiana limestone represented 1/3 of the total U.S. limestone industry which increased to 80% by 1920. During this time as demand for limestone increased, stone carvers from Ireland, France, Germany, Scotland and Italy settled in the Bedford area where there were once nearly 40 stone mills that produced 12 million cubic feet of Indiana limestone.
As the trend went from limestone to other building materials such as brick, granite and concrete, the industry faded. Today there are 9 active quarries that produce 76,000 cubic meters of Indiana limestone each year. Bedford limestone was officially designated as the state stone of Indiana by the Indiana General Assembly in 1971.
What makes Indiana limestone so special?
The limestone is soft and easily worked and can be removed in massive blocks. Once quarried, the rock dries and the surface becomes harder and more resistant to weathering. Limestone is considered a “freestone” which means that it has no preferential direction of splitting. Indiana limestone is known for the tight grain, beauty and durability. It is ideal for finely detailed carving.
Next time you stroll by the statues and buildings of Washington D.C., take a little pride in knowing that Indiana limestone created the foundations of some of the United States’ most amazing monuments.
April SKI Tips
In your garden hide miniature compost piles all over to reduce the times spent hauling clippings and leaves. Also, buy an extra set of tools and a lightweight garden cart to avoid frequent trips back to the tool shed for forgotten items.
Set out cabbage and broccoli transplants in early April.
Keep pests such as aphids, mites and whiteflies off roses, geraniums, hibiscus and other plants by spraying them with a combination of 1 quart of water and ½ tsp. of liquid dish soap. Reapply every 2 weeks for best results.
Hummingbirds can fly forward, backwards, shift sideways and stop in mid-air while reaching speeds up to 60 mph.
Trim the flower off tulips as soon as the bloom has faded allowing energy to be directed back to the roots, rather than wasted on seed development.
Side effects of dehydration include muscle cramps, fatigue and lowered endurance, reduced muscle strength, headaches and poor focus, increased risk of heat stroke. DRINK!DRINK!DRINK!
The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.
Humans are the only animals on the planet to shed tears as a result of their emotional state.
Landscaping should be rejuvenated every 10-15 years as most plants are at a maximum potential.
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket to keep mosquitoes away.
Current and former staff members have contributed to our newsletter over the years. Now the articles are available to view here on our blog