Ticked Off
Early one morning last summer I was getting ready for the day. I washed my face and looked into the mirror. I was startled to see a what looked like a coffee ground stuck on my left ear. Upon touching it, I realized with horror that it was a blood gorged tick. Regaining my composure, I used tweezers to remove the tick by the head and then cleansed the area with alcohol. Luckily, I caught it early and did not get sick. But I made the mistake of not saving the tick. Experts say the tick should be put into a sealed bag and put in the freezer. This is in case the you need to test the tick for specific germs.

As gardeners, hikers and people who work outside, it is so important to be extra vigilant for ticks this spring as they expand their turf and new species arrive. These creepy arachnids are fast becoming one of the summer’s biggest bummers. Experts fear a surge in the illness they carry as climate change makes a tick’s life a whole lot easier.
About a third of mature ticks carry some sort of disease, or more in some areas. The most famous and common disease remains Lyme disease, which was first identified in Connecticut in the 1970’s. Researches are warily watching an expanding caseload for two tick-related conditions: anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Antibiotics and other drugs are effective in most cases, if caught early enough, but both conditions can cause serious illness, even death. Bites from ticks infected with Lyme usually result in a telltale rash, often shaped like a bull-eye; bites from ticks infected with anaplasmosis do not.

Researches have also found more ticks carrying a bacterium, borrelia miyamotoi, which can cause a disease that resembles tick-borne relapsing fever, linked to backwoods, parasite-infested cabins.  

Experts say that a few newcomers have now been found in the U.S. That includes the Asian long-horned tick, an interloper that has a nifty reproductive trick- parthenogenesis- whereby females can reproduce without mating with males, and these ticks have the horrifying habit of attacking en masse, sometimes bleeding cattle to death.

Safety measures to avoid ticks include wearing light-colored clothing, long pants tucked into socks, using tick repellent, and doing frequent tick checks. They are wimpy little creatures; they don’t crawl very far or very fast, they don’t fly, they don’t hop but if we make spring come earlier and winter later, then we give them the gift of time.
Fat Squirrel
Apparently, I missed hashtag#SquirrelAppreciationDay which was the 21st of January. The squirrel pictured is a grey squirrel in its native habitat of Minnesota, resting in an emerald ash borer-infested tree. When ash trees go, so do the animals that rely on them for habitat, like the squirrel. I'm not convinced we need to break down all our days into 'Dolphin Day', 'Tortoise Tuesday' or 'Whales' Week'. There are just not enough days in the year for all the organisms under threat of decline or extinction, including the ash tree. Wouldn’t it be better if we made every day a hashtag#AppreciateNature day? We are all part of Nature and part of the solution to the deterioration of the habitats and ecosystems that all these animals rely upon. We must avoid contributing to the problems that are the root causes of this deterioration. Every day.
Miso Pecan Banana Bread
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup pecans
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp vanilla
4 bananas, mashed (1 ¾ cups)
Heat oven to 350. Grease 9-10 inch loaf pan. Line base with wax paper. Toss pecans with a dash of salt, oil and place in foil lined baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes. Chop when cool.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar 3-4 minutes. Beat in eggs, milk, miso, honey and vanilla until combined. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Using a spatula, stir in bananas and half of pecans. Add batter to loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining pecans. Bake 1 hour 20 minutes. Let bread sit in pan 30 minutes before removing.
Thanks for Reading
and Happy Planting!
Faith Appelquist
President & Founder