Friday, October 9, 2009

Walnut harvest articles

October is harvest time for walnuts. Below are the articles we have done in the past about harvest.

September 28, 2007 Walnut harvest
October 10, 2008 Walnut harvest 1
October 17, 2008 Walnut harvest 2
October 24, 2008 Walnut harvest 3
October 31, 2008 Walnuts to market

Other related articles about growing and caring for walnuts are:
June 19, 2009 Walnut husk fly
June 12, 2009 Coddling moth
February 20, 2009 Walnut tree removal
April 18, 2008 Walnut pollination
October 19, 2007 Walnut varities

Articles with recipes and nutrition about walnuts:
August 8, 2008 Walnut oatmeal burgers
October 5, 2007 Nutrition in nuts
April 20, 2007 Flavored nut recipes


Friday, October 2, 2009

Marriage related articles

Marriage is not a happily ever-after once the "I Do's" are said on the wedding day. Here is a list of our former columns that will help in working to make any marriage one step closer to to the ideal marriage most couples only dream about.

March 6, 2009 - Overcoming Winter Blahs
February 27, 2009 - Loose Change Date
January 9, 2009 - Marriage Bible
September 19, 2008 - Marriage takes three
August 15, 2008 - Margin or overloaded lives
July 4, 2008 - Marriage maintenance
June 27, 2008 - The Don't song
March 28, 2008 - Date your mate
July 13, 2007 Romance

Keep your marriage a priority to help it last your lifetime.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Boulder Creek Falls

Boulder Creek Falls in Whiskeytown National Park.

This week we received a letter from the current publisher of the Red Bluff Daily News, Greg Stevens. He begun his letter thanking us for our “valuable contribution.” Then went on to say they had “financial difficulties” and would “no longer pay for local columns,” but hoped that we would still “continue to contribute” them.
We do a lot of volunteer work for non-profit organizations but draw the line when it comes to for-profit businesses. So this will be our last column for now.
This week we hiked to Boulder Creek Falls in Whiskeytown Park. It was a lot of fun.
We researched the park’s website to find the directions to the trail. There are two ways to the falls. One starts about 2.5 miles past the Carr Powerhouse on South Shore Drive. That way is about 2.75 miles long one way, and has an elevation change of 1300 to 2250 feet, or 950 feet total change. The trail is a steady uphill climb and is rated “moderate.”
The falls can also be accessed by a trail that starts at Mill Creek Road. This trail is one mile in length one way and has an elevation change of only 80 feet. It is also rated as “moderate.” This is the trail we hiked.
Mill Creek Road is located about .5 miles from Highway 299 off Carr Powerhouse Road. It is a fairly rough jeep track that rapidly climbs the side of the hill for about two miles to the trailhead.
The park guide recommends a four-wheel drive vehicle, but we found that is probably not completely necessary. Any vehicle with good ground clearance, such as a pickup should have no trouble. The road is closed after the first winter storm and reopened in late spring.
There are two trails leading from the parking area. The trail on the left, which goes uphill, is the correct trail.
The first part of the trail climbs rather steeply for a short distance but then is mostly level for the rest of the walk. With a few exceptions, it is nicely shaded for the whole route.
After crossing the creek the trail proceeds to a fork. The right side goes to the falls and the left side goes back down to the South Shore Drive. The trail to the falls follows right along the creek to the base of the falls.
The falls are impressive this time of year with a considerable water flow. There is also a path of steps going up the side of the hill to an overlook where the entire 81 feet of the falls is visible, plus the 28 feet of cataracts above the falls.
It was not so difficult as to leave us exhausted, but was a good walk just the same. We thought it was on the easy side of the moderate rating. This would be a good family hike.
Farewell for now. Maybe we will see some of you in town from time to time.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Civilization Game

Original “Civilization” game along with newly made cards.

Our family has played a game called “Civilization” for years. It is a little complicated and takes about five hours to play, but is one of our favorites.
One problem with the game is that it is worn out. We wanted to replace the parts that were the most worn, such as the cards. But the game has been out of print for many years. We looked at online auction sites and while there are few available the price is prohibitive. Additionally, while the game was still being made, an add-on game was produced, called “Advanced Civilization.” It is also out of production today, and is even more expensive.
Finished pieces can also be obtained from independent internet suppliers. But they are fairly expensive. Plus, we think half the fun of a new game is making it yourself.
We wanted to get a copy of “Advanced Civilization” and replace our worn out pieces. The best way to accomplish both of those objectives for us was to make it ourselves. All the art work necessary for the various cards are available online at:
All the additional information necessary for the game to work, such as the rules and various player aids are also online.
A game board expansion was made for this game but that is also no longer available. But we were able to locate files for this online too. All that remained to do was to print everything out.
Printing the cards came first. The files we got for the cards required that we create a document in a word processor and place the card images on it. We also had to create a separate document for the card backs.
Civilization uses multiples of individual cards so we had to print several of each one. Some of the cards came with lines on them to help with the cutting out while other did not.
For the one that did not we devised a template to help. That way we could get them all evenly sized. Previously we had purchased a corner clipper at a craft store. Using that gave the cards a finished look.
The cards come in two shapes: square and rectangle. The square cards we laminated with clear self-adhesive contact paper. We used the corner clipper on the rectangle cards but that made it difficult to use contact paper. So in its place, we sprayed them with clear craft varnish. It is not as bullet proof as the contact paper, but they should hold up well enough.
Printing the map is another story. We actually have not done that yet. It is larger that a standard 8.5 by 11-inch paper, so it requires additional software to split the file up into paper-size chunks before it can be printed out. Once we figure this out we plan to attach it to a foam board for stability.
Meanwhile the game is playable with the original game board. We are all set to play again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mill Creek Falls

Mill Creek Falls in Lassen Park.

This weekend was the “Fee Free” weekend at the local national parks. We are always looking for ways to save a little so we decided it was a good time to go up to Lassen Park for a hike. Also the weather was beautiful so what more could we ask for?
Mill Creek Falls trail is considered a “moderate” trail. We rate it a little more difficult than that. The total elevation change is about 300 feet, but the trail goes up and down over the whole length of it so the actual climbing is probably much more.
The falls are very nice this time of year. There is enough snow melt to keep the water levels up to a point to produce considerable water flow. Two streams come together to form the falls: East Sulphur Creek and Bumpass Creek. We were surprised to find out that Mill Creek Falls is not really on Mill Creek. Mill Creek actually begins downstream where East Sulphur Creek meets West Sulphur Creek.
The trail starts at the north end of the campground just inside the park on the Highway 89 side. There was a little confusion for us on finding the trail. There is a nice description of the trail on a post right next to a very substantial looking asphalt path. We found out that is the path to the campsite, not the falls. The falls trail is a rather narrow dirt track that takes off downhill to the left of the signpost.
The walk to the falls goes through nice forest terrain. Depending on the description, the trail is either 4.7 or 3.6 miles long round trip or somewhere in between. There are some open areas covered with wildflowers, as well as a lot of mature forest.
From the trail we saw a young deer fawn. It walked off as we approached but we got a good picture. There were also numbers of pine tree seedlings just coming up from the ground. Many seeds were still stuck to the top needles of the seedlings.
We continued on the trail up and down until it comes out to an overlook of the falls. The falls are 69 feet high, the tallest in Lassen Park. The water falls into a deep ravine. From the overlook it certainly seems to be a lot more that 69 feet deep!
For those that are interested, there is an additional spur of the trail that runs out to the top of the falls. It is said to be a great place to rest on the boulders and have lunch, but just a little farther than we wanted to go at the time.
When we got back from out hike, we checked out the new visitor center and amphitheater. The visitor center is a large building which houses a café, gift shop and display areas.
Our day was enjoyable and we would recommend the falls as a “must see.” Just be in good shape before you go!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walnut husk fly

Husk fly trap hanging on rope lowered from walnut tree to check for flys.

In our last column we talked about coddling moth and what a pest it can be to walnut growers. Another insect walnut farmers have to watch out for is husk fly.
The husk fly is an actual fly that lays it’s eggs in the walnut husk. The eggs hatch and small maggots emerge to eat the husk. They do not actually eat into the nut itself, just the husk. But when they eat through the husk it turns all black and mushy which stains the nut a dark brown or black.
Also nuts with husk fly damage are more likely to have moldy nut meat. Either of these conditions makes the nut unmarketable. Therefore controlling them is important.
As with many insects if left alone, husk fly will build up numbers year after year until they will attack nearly every nut in the orchard. They were first noticed about 40 years ago, when substantial portions of the crop were being destroyed by the pest. Some growers lost over a third of their crop before adequate control measures were put in place.
Husk fly have only one generation per year. The adult fly deposits eggs into a nut husk. The eggs hatch and the maggots feed on the nut, eventually dropping to the ground and forming a pupa where they stay until the next year.
Unfortunately they do not all come out at the same time. The generation emerges anywhere from the first of July to the end of September.
Treatment of the flies must be done consistently to be effective. Most sprays only last a couple of weeks so repeat applications are necessary.
Usually an insecticide is mixed with fly bait, such as molasses, and then sprayed on the trees. Because bait is used only every other row needs to be treated. The flies are monitored using a yellow sticky card hung in a tree. They are attracted to the card with a lure and caught in the glue. They can then be counted to see if it is necessary to treat the orchard.
Recently a method has been developed to more accurately time the spray. The flies caught in a trap can be divided up by sex. Then the females are checked to see if they have any eggs. If they do, then the farmer knows it is time to spray.
Controlling insects is not the only thing walnut farmers do in the summer. Irrigation is another big task.
Walnut trees use a tremendous amount of water this time of year. That water has to be constantly replenished to keep the trees from stressing.
Some crops can tolerate a lack of water for a period of time. That is not true for walnuts, however. There is no time that walnut trees can go without water and not be damaged.
We use sprinklers on three-inch aluminum pipe that have to be moved every day. It runs into a fair amount of work for the farmer, but the trees like it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coddling Moth

Coddling Moth trap is lowered from tree on cord to check for moths. Then it is raised to about 20 feet to catch moths.

Insects are a big concern for walnut farmers at this time of year. The Coddling Moth is one of them.
They usually have three generations each growing season. The first overwinters from the previous year, surviving between cracks in tree bark or debris on the ground. They come out as moths in early to mid April, mate and lay their eggs on or near the developing walnuts. The larva hatch out and eat their way into a nearby walnut.
The second comes out in early to mid June, mate and lays their eggs on what are now mostly full-sized nuts. The larvas again move to a nut and eat their way in. The third comes out in late July or August, and because of the shorter days and cooler weather in September and October, usually remains as a larva until spring. Some warmer growing areas can have a fourth generation, but that is rare in Red Bluff.
If left uncontrolled, Coddling Moth can cause extensive economic damage to the crop, even to the point of making it unmarketable. Fortunately a lot of scientific research has been done resulting in various control strategies to help keep damage to a minimum.
Most moth control is done by spraying an insecticide on the trees. The idea is not to kill off the flying moths, although any that are around will be goners. The real strategy is to coat the outside of the walnut husks with the insecticide. This will kill the moth larva when they eat into the nuts.
One problem with this method is the insecticides only last 10 to 15 days before they become ineffective. That means timing is critical. If sprayed too early or too late some larva will be missed.
Through research it has been determined that it takes a specific number of day degrees for a Coddling Moth generation to be completed. If the spray is applied at a certain point in that day degree cycle, the generation can be suppressed.
It takes a fair amount of monitoring and attention to get an accurate total of day degrees. Here in Red Bluff the Davis University of California extension office monitors this for farmers.
One of the newest control measures is called mating disruption. The idea is that if we can prevent the moths from mating, then there will be no eggs, thus no damage.
When mating, the moths find each other through a pheromone scent given off by the female. The disruption occurs from a number of “puffers” or aerosol cans located throughout the orchard that emits Coddling Moth pheromone. These automatically dispense a puff of pheromone at predetermined intervals through the night during moth mating time. With the orchard saturated in pheromone, the moths cannot find each other to mate. This method is new but it shows great promise.
The cost is currently why most farmers are not using them. They are waiting for mass production to kick in and the price to come down to an affordable level.