Posted on

How Christmas Trees Became a Holiday Tradition

A man walks past the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center before sunrise on Dec. 5, 2019, in New York City.

A man walks past the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center before sunrise on Dec. 5, 2019, in New York City. Gary

The Christmas tree that was lit up at New York City’s Rockefeller Center on Wednesday night — a 77-foot, 12-ton Norway Spruce — and the one lit up at the White House on Thursday night may be unusually large, but in other respects they will be merely two in countless trees bought this month. Many people who celebrate Christmas have already decorated their own evergreens to enjoy for the month of December.

Here’s a look at the history of the tradition of Christmas trees — both real and artificial — and how they became a holiday tradition.

The Origins of Christmas Trees

Records of using greenery to celebrate the holidays predate widespread use of the phrase “Christmas tree.” Rural English church records from the 15th and 16th centuries indicate that holly and ivy were bought in the winter — hence the British carol “The Holly and the Ivy.” Private houses and streets were also decorated with greenery at this time, according to Judith Flanders’ Christmas: A Biography. Flanders posits that a precursor to the Christmas tree can be seen in the pole that parishes would decorate with holly and ivy, like a winter Maypole; one account describes a storm in London that knocked over a poll that’s described as “for disport of Christmas to the people.”

A lot of myths surround the origins of Christmas trees. One legend says that Martin Luther, who catalyzed the Protestant Reformation, believed that pine trees represented the goodness of God. Another myth popular in the 15th century tells the story of St. Boniface, who in the 8th century thwarted a pagan human sacrifice under an oak tree by cutting down that tree; a fir tree grew in its place, with its branches representing Christ’s eternal truth. Some versions of this St. Boniface legend say he cut down the new fir tree and hung it upside down, which is believed to have led to the tradition of trees being hung upside down to represent the Holy Trinity — sometimes with an apple wedged at the point instead of a star. All of these stories may have helped the Christmas tradition spread.

But the real origins of Christmas trees appear to be rooted in present-day Germany during the Middle Ages.

In 1419, a guild in Freiburg put up a tree decorated with apples, flour-paste wafers, tinsel and gingerbread. In “Paradise Plays” that were performed to celebrate the feast day of Adam and Eve, which fell on Christmas Eve, a tree of knowledge was represented by an evergreen fir with apples tied to its branches. Flanders finds documentation of trees decorated with wool thread, straw, apples, nuts and pretzels.

The oldest Christmas tree market is thought to have been located just over the southwestern German border in Strasbourg in Alsace (which was back then part of the Rhineland, now in present-day France), where unadorned Christmas trees were sold during the 17th century as Weihnachtsbaum, German for Christmas tree. Flanders says the “first decorated indoor tree” was recorded in 1605, in Strasbourg, decorated with roses, apples, wafers and other sweets, according to her research.

Demand for Christmas trees was so high in the 15th century that laws were passed in Strasbourg cracking down on people cutting pine branches. Ordinances throughout the region of Alsace limited each household to one tree in the 1530s.

How Christmas trees got popular in U.S.

References to Christmas trees in private homes or establishments in North America date back to the late 18th century and early 19th century. Flanders mentions a reference to a pine tree in North Carolina in 1786. In 1805, a school for American Indians run by Moravian missionaries sent students “to fetch a small green tree for Christmas.” Similar examples pop up in the first half of the 19th century in the Midwest and further West, such as the German immigrants in Texas who decorated trees with moss, cotton, pecans, red pepper swags and popcorn.

                       

But the image of a decorated Christmas tree with presents

 underneath has a very specific origin: an engraving of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children gathering around a Christmas tree, eyeing the presents underneath, published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. The premier women’s magazine in America back then, Godey’s Lady’s Book, reprinted a version of the image a couple of years later as “The Christmas Tree.”

Illustrations of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children gathered around their Christmas tree helped popularize this tradition in the U.S.

Illustrations of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children gathered around their Christmas tree helped popularize this tradition in the U.S. Getty Images

“This single image cemented the Christmas tree in the popular consciousness, so much so that by 1861, the year of Albert’s death, it was firmly believed that this German prince had transplanted the custom to England with him when he married,” writes Flanders.

The tradition of gigantic Christmas trees in public spaces seems to be an American one that dates back to the late 19th century. The electricity lobby pushed for the first “National Christmas Tree” at the White House as a publicity stunt for the glories of electricity: a nearly 60-ft.-tall balsam fir tree covered in 2,500 light bulbs. A 20-ft.-tall Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center first went up in 1931 when the building was still under construction; by putting so many people unemployed during the Great Depression back to work, the tree became a symbol of hope.

The changing Christmas tree

In December 1964, TIME magazine heralded a new Christmas trend: fake trees.

The Polyvinyl versions looked more realistic than ever before, and they made up about 35% of the $155 million Christmas tree business in the U.S., according to an article headlined “And a Profit In A Polyvinyl Tree.”

Fifty years later, artificial trees still dominate the Christmas tree industry. Of the roughly 95 million American households with Christmas trees in 2018, 82% of the trees were artificial and 18% were real, according to a Nielsen survey. The reasons for this ratio are many. Climate change has made trees more difficult to grow. Farmers planted fewer trees during the Great Recession, and in general, trees take 7 to 10 years to grow. And there are even shortages of the farmers who grow them, as they age out of the business. Artificial trees are also hailed as having a lower environmental impact than buying trees, when the transporting them to retail outlets is factored in.HEALTH

But the National Christmas Tree Association is appealing to those same environmentally conscious consumers by arguing that real trees support local economies — they are grown in the U.S. and in Canada, while many plastic trees are manufactured in China — and that real trees are renewable resources and recyclable, while the artificial kinds could contain some non-biodegradable parts.

Five decades ago, a professor in Montreal who was hard at work trying to develop a longer-lasting real tree explained to TIME the larger philosophical argument for preserving the tradition of real Christmas trees: “We live in an artificial environment. The Christmas tree is one of the few things left that is natural.”

Posted on

Mother of Modern Thanksgiving

Planning to fill up on turkey, mashed potatoes and—of course!—the all-important pumpkin pie tonight? Be sure to save one of your Thanksgiving “thank yous” for Sarah Josepha Hale. Hers isn’t a familiar name, but perhaps it ought to be—it’s because of her that Thanksgiving is now a regularly celebrated holiday, and a scrumptious one to boot.

Thank her for Thanksgiving

Making Thanksgiving a consistently celebrated holiday was just one of her many accomplishments. With her influential standing as editor of the quintessential magazine guide Godey’s Ladies Book, she was able to make a lot of positive change, both in her community and across the nation. And all the while she wrote dozens of books and poems, including the classic, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Sarah Hale
The many accomplishments of Sarah Josepha Hale

Lincoln is often credited (rightly) for issuing the proclamation that officially made Thanksgiving an annual federal holiday, but it was Sarah Hale’s relentless, decades-long campaign full of letters and appeals that pushed the idea from thought into reality.

Cherchez la Femme

Hale also published recipes, spreading the Thanksgiving spirit through one of the most compelling of subjects: food. It is because of her recipes that traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, potatoes, and pumpkin pie are holiday staples today.

Hale's influence

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on

Edible Weeds

eat the dandelions

I nstead of trying to get rid of t hose lawn and garden weeds, harvest them for free homegrown meals.

All too often, homeowners and gardeners wage war in their lawns and gardens against the plants that grow incredibly well there, but that aren’t intentionally planted. And many times, the justification for these battles all comes down to the words we use to describe them.

When we buy and plant packets of common flower, vegetable, or herb seeds, we spend a lot of time, energy, and water in our efforts to get those seeds to germinate and grow, and take pride in our green thumb and homegrown food supply.But when a plant that we identify as being a weed is found growing in our lawn or garden, out comes the trowel and hoe (or for the ruthless and impatient gardeners, weedkillers such as RoundUp), and we may spend the entire growing season keeping these opportunistic and resilient plants at bay, in order to have neat and tidy garden beds and uniform lawns. And it’s too bad, really, as many of the common garden weeds are not only edible and nutritious, but can be a great homegrown (and free) addition to our meals.

Part of the resistance to eating plants that we believe to be weeds, in my opinion, is that we are conditioned to only consider the items we find in the grocery store as food, and not things that the rest of the neighborhood sees as unwelcome invaders in lawns and gardens. And unless we’ve been exposed to eating plants that are seen as common garden weeds, and had them prepared for us, we’re probably not likely to try to eat them on our own. Once in a while, we might come across dandelion greens or purslane for sale in the produce section of the grocery store, or the farmers market, but for the most part, many common edible garden weeds aren’t available anywhere else except for our lawns or garden beds. And that’s a shame.

Although the edible weeds that you can find in your yard might be different ones than the ones I find in my yard, due to weather, soil conditions, and geography, here are some of the most common garden weeds that can be used for both meals and medicine:

1. Dandelion

The quintessential garden and lawn weed, dandelions have a bad reputation among those who want grass that looks as uniform as a golf course, but every part of this common edible weed is tasty both raw and cooked, from the roots to the blossoms. Dandelion leaves can be harvested at any point in the growing season, and while the youngest leaves are considered to be less bitter and more palatable raw, the bigger leaves can be eaten as well, especially as an addition to a green salad. If raw dandelion leaves don’t appeal to you, they can also be steamed or added to a stir-fry or soup, which can make them taste less bitter. The flowers are sweet and crunchy, and can be eaten raw, or breaded and fried, or even used to make dandelion syrup or wine. The root of the dandelion can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute, or added to any recipe that calls for root vegetables.

2. Purslane

edible weeds: purslane

Purslane can often be found in moist garden beds, lawns, and shady areas, where it lies close to the ground and often goes unnoticed. This humble garden weed, however, is a nutritional powerhouse, and is outrageously rich in in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. It can be a great addition to a salad or stir-fry, or used to thicken soups or stews. Purslane is a succulent, with a crispy texture, and the leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked to add a peppery flavor to any dish.

3. Clover

Edible weeds: red clover

Other than the occasional four-leafed clover hunt, this common lawn weed goes mostly unnoticed, even though it is becoming popular as a lawn replacement altogether. Clover is an important food for honeybees and bumblebees, and clover leaves and flowers can be used to add variety to human meals as well. Small amounts of raw clover leaves can be chopped into salads, or can be sauteed and added to dishes for a green accent, and the flowers of both red and white clover can be eaten raw or cooked, or dried for tea.

4. Lamb’s Quarters

edible weeds: lamb's quarters

The young shoots and leaves of Lamb’s Quarters (also known as goosefoot) can be eaten raw in any vegetable dish, or sauteed or steamed and used anywhere spinach is called for. The seeds of the Lamb’s Quarters, which resemble quinoa, can also be harvested and eaten, although it takes a lot of patience to gather enough to make it worthwhile as a main dish.

5. Plantain

edible weeds: plantain

This common lawn weed (not to be confused with the tropical fruit also called plantain) is not only a great medicinal plant that can be used topically to soothe burns, stings, rashes, and wounds, but is also a great edible green for the table. The young leaves of plantain can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, or sauteed, and while the older leaves can be a bit tough, they can also be cooked and eaten as well. The seeds of the plantain, which are produced on a distinctive flower spike, can be cooked like a grain or ground into a flour, and are related to the more well-known psyllium seeds, which are sold as a fiber supplement and natural laxative. Note that this is a medicinal plant, so be careful with it.

6. Chickweed

edible weeds: chickweed

This rather unassuming garden weed can be harvested and used for both food and medicine. Chickweed leaves, stems, and flowers can all be eaten either raw or cooked, where it adds a delicate spinach-like taste to any dish. The plant can also be used as a topical poultice for minor cuts, burns, or rashes, and can be made into a tea for use as a mild diuretic.

7. Mallow

edible weeds: mallow

Mallow, or malva, is also known as cheeseweed, due to the shape of its seed pods, and can be found in many lawns or garden beds across the US. The leaves and the seed pods (also called the ‘fruit’) are both edible, either raw or cooked, and like many greens, are often more tender and palatable when smaller and less mature. The older leaves can be used like any other cooked green after steaming, boiling, or sauteing them.

8. Wild Amaranth

edible weeds: amaranth pigweed

The leaves of the wild amaranth, also known as pigweed, are another great addition to any dish that calls for leafy greens, and while the younger leaves are softer and tastier, the older leaves can also be cooked like spinach. The seeds of the wild amaranth can be gathered and cooked just like store-bought amaranth, either as a cooked whole grain or as a ground meal, and while it does take a bit of time to gather enough to add to a meal, they can be a a good source of free protein.

9. Curly Dock

edible weeds: curly dock

Curly dock (also called yellow dock) leaves can be eaten raw when young, or cooked when older, and added to salads or soups. The stems of the dock plant can be peeled and eaten either cooked or raw, and the mature seeds can be boiled, or eaten raw, or roasted to make a coffee substitute. Dock leaves are rather tart, and because of their high oxalic acid content, it’s often recommended to only eat them in moderation, as well as to change the water several times during cooking.

Remember to steer clear of eating plants foraged from near roads; they may be tainted with pollutants. Also do not eat plants that have been treated with garden chemicals.

[Disclaimer: This is not meant as a field guide, so before you start eating the weeds out of your lawn or garden, be sure that you’ve positively identified them as an edible plant, and know how to prepare them. Unless you know for sure, steer clear of plants that grow outside your yard, in places where they may be sprayed or treated, or in places that neighborhood dogs and cats use to do their business.]

Posted on

Funeral, Sympathy and Memorial Flowers for Men

Choosing a Flower Arrangement for a Man’s funeral or Memorial service

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you decide on the perfect choice of flowers. While most flower varieties are suitable for a man’s funeral, there are some that are considered as more neutral or a masculine choice. Below we have listed some of the more popular choices for a man’s funeral or memorial service.

In addition to the type of flower and the choice of arrangement there are also colors that are considered more appropriate for men, colors viewed as more masculine. Usually primary colors or neutral colors are considered the best choice. Softer colors like pink, lavender and light blue are often considered as feminine.

While this has been written as a guide, there are no firm rules. Often the best choices are the favorite colors of the departed, or his favorite flowers. For example, for a sports fan you might choose the colors of his favorite team and include a personal item in the arrangement that was special to him. For a gardener you might choose an arrangement that includes his favorite flowers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call. We are always happy to assist you to choose the perfect floral arrangement.

Our Most Popular Funeral flower Choices for Men

All Rose funeral flower tribute with more than 12 dozen roses.
Our #1 choice for men. Roses are a perfect choice for men, and red is a masculine symbol of love. This traditional all rose tribute is the most often chose flowers for a man’s funeral.
Traditional white gladiolus arrangement This traditional gladiolus arrangement is one of our most popular floral arrangements. There are many masculine colors that you can choose from making this an excellent choice for man’s funeral or memorial or as sympathy flowers.
All Rose funeral flower tribute has more than 12 dozen roses
traditional white gladiolus arrangement

Flower Ideas for Men, Dad

Traditional red white and blue The combination of blue, white and red flowers in this traditional basket arrangement is a striking choice for men. This is an excellent choice as a sympathy arrangement or for a funeral, memorial or graveside placement.Celebration Vase of Flowers This large vase is a bright masculine choice, especially for a celebration of life.
Colorful round Memorial Flower WreathThis popular memorial wreath is often ordered for masculine memorials, it features grouping of Bold colors that can be substituted for his favorite colors.
Traditional red white and blue flower Basket
Celabration Vase of Flowers
Colorful round Memorial Flower Wreath
Posted on

Floral Friday – The Color Yellow

The official color of joy and sunshine, Yellow is a color proven to make you smile. In the floral world we see yellow in all of its shades, from bright lemon to muted mustard to buttery cream.

Of a the colors on the spectrum yellow is the most difficult for the human eye to take in, meaning that all the versatile shades of yellow will stand out in your design. An all yellow bouquet will make a punchy bold statement and yellow sprinkled throughout an arrangement will bring the eye to that pop of color. Summer is an excellent time for a vast selection of yellow product offerings. Go and spread cheer with yellow!

c008c4f6a2c a fc
The Golden Hour
Posted on

How to Make Succulent Cupcakes

These Succulent cupcakes are a fun to way treat anyone who loves succulents! Imagine inviting the kids to help and creating memories as well as delicious cupcakes! o!

How to Make Succulent Cupcakes:

Green, yellow, pink food color (I used McCormick)

{Video} How to make succulent cupcakes!

Begin by baking cupcakes and allow to cool to room temperature. Prepare your buttercream.

Now you can tint your frosting for the succulent cupcakes. I did 3 shades of green; a light, medium, and dark tone. I prepared a dark pink (mauve) and a yellow, then left a little buttercream white. Place all frosting in pastry bags fitted with coupler sets.

How to make a Barrel Cactus out of buttercream!

Barrel Cactus Succulent Cupcake

Tips: #352 with dark green frosting, #225 with yellow frosting, #3 with white frosting

Begin by piping out a tall center tower of frosting. (You can also place a mini cupcake or donut ball on top of the cupcake. Now hold the #352 tip flat against the tower of frosting and apply pressure as you move up. Release pressure at the top and quickly pull the bag away. Repeat.

Now grab the bag with white frosting and the #3 tip. Right on the edge of the green frosting apply a dot of frosting and quickly pull away. These white dots represent the needle on a barrel cactus. I made mine farther apart on the bottom and grouped them closer towards the top. Do this around the entire cupcake.

Finish with a yellow flower on the top of the frosting cactus.

Short Spiky Cactus Succulent Cupcake

Tips #32 with light green

Pipe out a small mound of frosting in the center of the cupcake. Starting at the base of the frosting, squeeze a row of tiny star shapes all the way around the cupcake. Once you have one row of spikes, continue moving up and around the cupcake until you reach the top.

Green and Pink Spiky Cactus Succulent Cupcake

For this version, you will prepare your frosting a bit different. I added both green and pink frosting to one pastry bag. Press an empty pastry bag into a tall kitchen glass. Spread some pink frosting along one side of the bag and then fill in the bag with green frosting.

With the #32 tip, pipe out a small mound of frosting in the center of the cupcake. Starting at the base of the frosting, squeeze a row of tiny star shapes all the way around the cupcake. Once you have one row of spikes, continue moving up and around the cupcake until you reach the top.

Desert Rose Succulent Cupcake

Tip #104 with light green and medium green frosting

Starting at the center of the cupcake, pipe a small mound of light green frosting. Now hold your tip at the base of the mound and apply pressure, moving over the top of the frosting mound. Rotate your cupcake 1/3 way around and repeat. Rotate cupcake another 1/3 way around and repeat. It should resemble the tighter inner petals of a rose. Now, starting at the base of the frosting, apply pressure and move upward slightly over the frosting and pipe another petal. Repeat a few more times and then switch to the medium green frosting. Repeat with the petals around until you almost reach the edge of the cupcake. Now hold the tip against the cupcake and pipe around the entire flower. This is optional but can help create a cleaner edge around the base.

Easy and fun succulents!

After making a few of each design, you will have a strong grasp on how to execute them in different ways.

{VIDEO} on how to make thee fun succulent cupcakes!

Try with different colors and add different tips… the sky is the limit! These Succulent Cupcakes are a really delicious way to impress friends and family.

Posted on

Strawflowers

Color Combinations

While the common name of strawflower doesn’t paint a pretty picture, you will understand the name once you feel the coarse, straw-like flowers. The showy petals of this plant aren’t even petals at all, but modified leaves called bracts. These bracts serve to protect the tender flower parts within until they are ready to open and be pollinated—hence their coarse texture and resilient nature. The showy blossoms can often be found in a variety of colors, most commonly warm tones of yellow, orange, and red and sometimes shimmering pink and white. The flowers are held above narrow, green foliage that is often covered in dense hairs. These hairs protect the plant from drying out, making strawflower a suitable plant for dry growing conditions.

Strawflower Care Must-Knows

If you are planning on growing strawflower plants from seed, it is best to start a little earlier than usual. Generally, the ideal time is 6-8 weeks before the final frost date in your area. At this point seedlings can be placed outdoors in well-drained soil. Hailing from tough areas in Australia, they can occasionally be found growing in very dry areas, sometimes even in pure sand. If they are planted in too fertile soil, plants can become overly lush and floppy. However, if planted in containers, plants will appreciate occasional fertilizer to help encourage continuous blooms. When it comes to watering, it is best to keep plants on the drier side as too much moisture will lead to rot.

For the best and brightest colors and the most floriferous display, be sure to plant in full sun. This will also help to prevent flopping and weak stems, which is important when growing cut flower varieties since these types can become quite large. Because the blossoms on strawflowers often look good even when fading, deadheading is not necessary but can help encourage a fresh set of blooms. If left on the plant in warmer climates, the flowers will help reseed and encourage a new generation of plants. If you are planning on cutting strawflowers to dry and use in arrangements, simply cut stems and hang upside down to air dry.

Annuals For Drying

Dried Flowers on coat hanger

Air-dry annuals in bunches upsidedown.

Many annuals are beautiful when dried. Among the best flowers for drying are hollyhock blossoms, zinnias, and cosmos dried in sand or silica gel (found at craft and hobby stores); love-lies-bleeding, prince’s-feather (Amaranthus hybridus var. erythrostachys), cockscomb, and plumed celosia hung upside down and air-dried; and snapdragons dried in silica gel. Most of the ornamental grasses, including hare’s-tail grass (Lagurus ovatus), quaking grass (Briza maxima and B. minor), foxtail millet (Setaria italica), and squirreltail grass (Hordeum jubatum) dry perfectly by hanging bunches upside down in a dry room, but they must be picked when fresh. Don’t forget the leaves of dusty-millers, which are elegant when pressed and dried.

Many annuals can be air-dried by gathering them in bunches and hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated place. Hanging them on a coat hanger works well.

Instructions:

Boxed Marigolds

Drying petaled flowers requires adifferent technique.

1. The classic way to dry flowers is to gather them in small bunches and hang them upside down in a dry, airy place out of direct sun. You might try suspending the flowers from coat hangers.

2. Many-petaled flowers such as zinnias and marigolds often dry best in a desiccant powder like silica gel. Lay the flower heads on a layer of desiccant, then sprinkle more powder over the flowers to cover.

Timesaving Tip: Some annuals will dry perfectly when simply stuck in a bottle. Flowers to dry this way include starflower, statice, globe amaranth, and love-in-a-mist.

More Ways to Dry Annuals

On Wires

Flowers that feel dry and papery are very easy to preserve. The strawflower, for example, has petallike bracts that are firm and brittle. To dry, simply clip the bloom from the plant just beneath the head (the stem doesn’t dry well). Select flowers that are just beginning to open. Right after picking, insert a 20-gauge wire through the stem end of the flower head; stick the other end of the wire into a foam board. Let dry for 3 weeks.

Upside Down

Another flower that’s easy to air-dry is the globe amaranth. Cut the stems when the flowers are just starting to show color and hang them upside down in a dry area for about 3 weeks. Dry baby’s breath, fernleaf yarrow, silver-leaved artemisia, liatris, ammobium, statice, celosia, ‘Victoria Blue’ salvia, hydrangea, and long-stemmed roses in a similar way. These flowers will dry best if you also follow these tips:

  • Cut stems at bouquet length
  • Cut flowers in mid-morning
  • Pick flowers at their peak
  • Put them in a vase of cool water if you can’t hang them to dry right away

In Silica Gel

Some flowers, such as dahlias, zinnias, feverfew, delphiniums, snapdragons, and daisies, dry best in silica gel (found at craft and hobby stores). Place flower heads face up on a 1-inch bed of silica gel crystals in an airtight container. Also, gently shake crystals over flowers, covering completely. Seal container. Leave for two days to one week, checking often to avoid overdrying (flowers will become brittle).

Posted on

What to do with Easter Chicks

The adorable, fluffy chick soon hits its gangly adolescent stage, and quickly thereafter advances to full-grown hen or rooster. Then what?

They are so cute! And children’s squeals and pleas are difficult to discount. Annually, thousands of baby chicks and ducks are purchased as Easter gifts. Yet, the adorable, fluffy chick soon hits its gangly adolescent stage, and quickly thereafter advances to full-grown hen or rooster. Then what?

If it is too late – if the deed has already been done – there are do’s and don’ts to consider.

– Do keep the babies watered, fed, warm and protected, instructs tractorsupply.com. Chicks will quickly outgrow a cardboard box and need clean, fresh shavings for bedding.

– Don’t release into the wild. Animal shelters may not take chickens or ducks, only unwanted Easter rabbits, so some individuals believe that to release them is most humane. However, inhabitat.com says these are domestic species and do not have the innate instincts to fend for themselves. They will quickly become prey to house cats, predatory birds or nocturnal creatures such as raccoons, foxes and opossum.

– Do find out zoning laws. Countryside magazine in April pointed out that since chicks and ducks are considered livestock, there may be neighborhood or city rules regarding raising them in residential areas.

– Do plan to have a secure coop with a roost/hen house where “fully-feathered” (mature chicks) and grown chickens and ducks can move around as well as feel safe, instructed Countryside. Even if planning to allow free range in the backyard, a coop is needed as their protection against nighttime predators.

– Do wash hands immediately after handling, as live poultry, especially, may have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their feathers, feet and beaks, even when they appear healthy and clean, cautions tractorsupply.com.

Chickens and ducks often live for several years – generally five to eight, according to Countryside. Consider the long-term commitment.

If impossible to care for, seek through social media farming sites, or by word of mouth, a rural dweller willing to add the critters — free of charge — to their own broods.

Posted on

How to Care For Peonies

image

 

It’s best to buy…

When they are fresh cut and still in bud stage, because it allows you to enjoy the full blooming process. If you get peonies that are already fully open, they will look gorgeous but will only last a few days at most.

Once your peonies are purchased…

1. Quickly process the flowers. Don’t worry if the leaves appear a little limp. They just need some water to perk up!

2. Peonies will usually arrive wrapped in paper. Carefully remove and put the paper wrap aside.

3. Fill up a clean container or vase with at least 3″ to 4″ of room temperature water.

4. With sharp floral shears, cut at least ½” to 1″ off each stem at a diagonal and quickly place it in the water. You’ll want to make sure you remove any foliage that falls below the water line.

5. After you’ve cut each stem,  recommends re-wrapping the paper around the peonies. Depending on your container, you can wrap around the whole vase. This is not necessary, but wrapping around the peonies keeps them upright and enables them to hydrate better.

6. You can remove the paper wrap after 3-4 hours.

7. The rate at which the blooms open will vary and depend on a variety of factors. Some peony varieties (e.g., coral charm) open quickly, while others may take a few days to start. The temperature of the room they are kept in will also affect how quickly they open: warmer room = faster open rate.

8. You’ll want to keep an eye on the water levels as peonies can drink quite a bit of water so you may have to re-fill the vase often. Also, you’ll want to clean and refill the vase and re-cut the stems at least every 2-3 days to maximize vase life.

If you’ve already cut and put the stems in water, don’t worry you can still slow down the process. If you have a fridge big enough, just place the whole vase inside (making sure to keep them away from fruits and vegetables).