Thursday, January 31, 2008

Do Animals Think - or - Reason?

Do Animals Think?

I would have to say yes. I mean I put up a squirrel baffle to keep the critters off my bird feeder. It was a tube feeder that had a tray on it — to save the dropped seeds. Smart move put a baffle over it. That is until the gray squirrel decided he was too hungry to ignore the source of his delight – black sunflower seeds. He had already ruined two tube feeders. We finally hung it by a cloth covered wire so he couldn’t chew through and drop it to the ground. This is one determined squirrel.

Okay, Baffle in place. Are you ready for this. As I watched his efforts he shinnied down the wire onto the baffle —zip, slip, smash he was on the ground. Back up the tree he scoots, out on the limb, down the wire, onto the baffle. He did this three times, now he adds a little flip at the end of the slide – a near miss he lands on all four feet on the ground. The next time he timed it perfect, as he flipped he grabbed the tray under the bird feeder and crawled back up to the feeder.

I chased him away, but he had it figured out now. Turn my back and he was back at that black sunflower seed tube feeder with a vengeance. I won, I changed feeders and moved the feeder under the eaves of the house – He has not figured out how to get to that yet – oh, did I mention I got rid of the tube feeder with the tray – this one is a straight tube feeder, no tray for him to fall to – so far so good.
I have resorted to Cheyenne pepper on the other feeders – it only works briefly the reasoning behind that is that birds do not have olfactory glands (Butch if you are listening, that is used on more then the scratch off lottery tickets that don’t win) Those are the glands that allow us to smell – birds don’t have them – but apparently after a couple hours the squirrels can also by pass the pungent odor of Cheyenne pepper. So I have added a lower tray feeder especially for the squirrels where I keep a reasonable supply of sunflower seeds just for them and what the birds can steal while they are gone. They leave the upper feeder alone unless theirs is empty. Perhaps I should try moth balls in the feeder—hmmm but I am worried about contaminating the seeds for the birds. So I’ll feed the squirrels – we have a limited truce I guess.

Yes, I do believe animals have a brain and that they think with it, some more then humans = )
Billie A Williams
Mystery/Suspense Author
Accidental sleuths solve crimes
With wit, wisdom, and chutzpah

Friday, January 18, 2008

Growing in the Dank Darkness-Healthy Eating

When it comes to surprises mushrooms are one of the big ones. There are classes at various community colleges and County Extension offices to help you be an alive and well mushroom gatherer…I’ve wondered why people would do that and not leave it to the experts. Well, where do those experts come from, people who learn how to go out and gather their own mushrooms. Duh! I still think I would feel safer buying one of those kits that you can use to grow mushrooms in your basement or something.

So your question is probably why bother? You could buy them from the supermarket of course, but as gardeners we know that satisfaction of doing it ourselves, being in control of the soil, the vitamins we feed them and the pesticide/insecticide deterrents we use if any.

Why would we care if mushrooms are part of our culinary choices? How about major health benefits.

Mushrooms, make that edible – mushrooms--the safe ones, are a right up there with other super-foods in the forefront right now such as green tea and broccoli. Did you know that the first antibiotics were extracted from fungi. Let's examine their benefits.

Mushrooms are 80-90% water, and therefore are low in calories high in fiber. We all know the health benefits of enough moisture and fiber in our diets. Now add on the fact that they are fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in sodium (especially good for those on a hypertensive diet). If that isn’t enough for you here are some other reasons to get more mushrooms into your cooking:

• Phytonutrients found in mushrooms have been at the center of anti-cancer research for decades. In many countries, medicinal mushrooms are used as an adjunct to other cancer treatments.
• Recent studies have shown that white mushrooms (the little button mushrooms usually sold in the supermarket)can reduce the risk of breast and prostrate cancer
• Mushrooms are considered probiotic, meaning that they help the body to strengthen itself and ward off illness. The nutrient riboflavin is part of mushrooms' probiotic ability. Mushrooms have a high percentage of that nutrient.
• A great source of potassium, a mineral which helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke is another benefit of the lowly mushroom. A medium portabella mushroom has more potassium than a glass of orange juice or a banana.
What do you say? Shall we grow ourselves some delicious mushrooms. If you fry them in butter with some onions just until the onions are transparent they taste like steak. Imagine steak with a bunch of healthy side benefits. Have you ever had stuffed mushrooms? You are in for a culinary treat. This woman's garden will include mushrooms and since it's winter out, 8 inches of snow overnight proves that, I can feed my gardening urge by growing some mushrooms. A win win situation wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's More Than Just Printed Words

It’s More Than Just News Print
by Billie A Williams

There is another use for the printed word besides wrapping fish, or lining the bird cage, with that newspaper that is. And only after you’ve read it of course and if you aren’t using it for fire starter for your wood stove or fireplace as you curl up with a good book. [Plug here: Small Town Secrets, ISBN 978-1-59705-766-0 released January 1, 2008 available anywhere books are sold. Wings ePress, Inc.]

How about saving a stack of newspaper to use as mulch in your garden this spring. No matter what it looks like out your window today, at least in North America, spring is right around the corner. We’re dreaming about it as we leaf through seed catalogs our order blanks filling up with all the nutrition and beauty our budgets can handle. Or as we begin cleaning and arranging, preparing to begin those seedlings that will later be transplanted to the garden.

Three alternating layers of single sheets of newspaper are adequate to aid in saving the moisture your plants will need in the hot dry July’s of your summer garden. Covering the sheets of newspapers with up to three inches of grass clippings will keep those shallow rooted plants from cooking in the sun and moisture loving plants thirst quenched. The Zink in the ink (I sound like a poet) will deter weeds while helping to maintain soil moisture and texture. You can shred the newspaper if you prefer and add it to your compost heap. As it breaks down it will add bulk and Zink to your compost.

Here is another helpful winter tip that will show spring benefits: Ease up on the use of ice melt or salt to keep your walks and driveway skid proof. Instead, use sawdust, sand, or fireplace and woodstove ashes. They provide the traction without the salt that can be harmful to lawn grass and flower beds.
Feel free to use this article as long as you leave this resource box in place.
Billie A Williams
Pens In Motion

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Winter's Garden of Verse

Because it is well below zero today in our frozen Wisconsin North Country--I turn to the garden of my books to read, and dream and muse and celebrate. January 1st was the release of my 12th mystery suspense novel with Wings ePress, Inc since 2007. As I look at the framed covers decorating my wall, I think how like a garden of printed words they are. Each cover a flower of its own ilk, yet they are all similar because they are written by me. I think I should get a rose or some other very notable flower to represent each book in my garden.

Each book is linked to a local organization or charity that I donate a percentage of my profits to, so why not also link it to a flower. Small Town Secrets could easily be linked to the daisy - the petals of which often tell the secret - he loves me, he loves me not... so it does seem perfect for my new release. The non fiction book I just published Spice Up Your Writing! Write to Entice, could be a small herb garden, or the white rose that graces this book's cover.

I do not believe that gardening is that different from writing. You plant a seed, you watch it grow. When it is full grown, you harvest it and consume the proceeds. So it is with writing a novel. You plant an idea seed, you nurture it and write it everyday until it is fully grown. You then harvest it by sending it off to a publisher at just the right moment in its development. Hopefully, it will receive and acceptance letter and I will be ready to plant the next seed.

So when the winds howl around you, grab a good book (preferably one of mine) stoke up the fire in the fireplace and read until you can plant your own seed either through the printed word or your own one woman's garden.

check out the blog tour for my new release by going to my website at and clicking on the blog tour link - when you get the date from the calendar, scroll down and click on the link to the persons blog (or click on their name) and read an interview with me. Each one as different as a wild flower garden--and you could get a cook book or some other great prize if you comment on their blog.