Category Archives: Muskingum SWCD Blog

Saving the Monarchs

Ashlee Kopchak

As many know, our Monarch populations are dwindling away. This is due to a number of reasons, but the majority of questions asked are focused around how we can help. There are small steps you can do in your own backyard to help. Many times people hear the word “conservation” and immediately jump to save the elephants or the sea turtles. Yes, those are important as well; but many do not know there are so many conservation practices you can do in your own backyard or community. Conservation is not just the preservation of animals, it’s also the preservation of plants and natural resources as well.

Monarchs have become the focus of the insect world due to their low populations. More and more communities are coming together to create habitats for them. Some of you may have noticed across from Ohio University Zanesville there are patches of tall “weeds” that are strategically placed. Those are patches of Milkweed; scientists have confirmed they attract more Monarchs when planted closely together in patches, like you see there.

Let’s take a step back and learn a little more about the Monarch itself. As we know, they go through complete metamorphosis, like all other moths and butterflies. This means there are four stages in a Monarch’s life cycle: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. One of the most important components of a Monarch’s life cycle is the need for a host plant; that is where you come in! Caterpillars can only eat a specific plant species and therefore the host plant is vital to the larvae life stage; in this case that host plant is a Milkweed or very closely related plant species. An adult butterfly lays its eggs on the leaf and once they hatch the caterpillar begins eating the milkweed foliage. In the caterpillar stage of the life cycle it will actually go through five molts called instar. At the end of the final instar the caterpillar will then create the chrysalis. While in the chrysalis the Monarch caterpillar’s tissues will be transformed into the adult butterfly. The entire life cycle takes about four to five weeks.

Monarchs cannot survive the winters in North America and therefore they are known to travel as far as 3,000 miles south. Like many bird species, they make a two-way migration, which is rare for any other butterfly species. Monarchs spend their winters in high elevation oyamel fir forests in central Mexico. Once they have made their way down south they gather in large clusters in the trees tops to keep warm.

In the last twenty years, scientists have estimated the Monarch population has diminished 90%. The reasons behind this decline are due to: 1. decline in Milkweeds in Eastern North America; 2. timbering, which leads to an increase in predatory insects and an increase in air pollution. and; 3. an increase in untimely winter conditions including hail, freezing temperatures, and high winds.

The best thing you can do to help protect this species is to plant Monarch gardens. You can do this by planting various kinds of milkweed plants such as butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, purple milkweed, and swamp milkweed.

Just a small amount of effort in your own back yard could mean the difference for a diminishing population of these magnificent creatures.


I live pretty far from most civilization. Fairly common around here, it’s where the gravel road meets the dirt road and then you drive a little further. The kind of place where you go to sleep with the sounds of bullfrogs and crickets and the sound of cars is disruptive. A month or two ago, I had a delivery to my house and when the city boys delivering my order got out of their truck, it was dark and quiet and I chuckled to myself as I heard one of them say “Man, I ain’t ever been anywhere this dark before.”
When I moved to my home, one of the first calls I made was to the power company. I told them to head on out and remove the giant light at the top of the electric pole near the driveway. I didn’t need it. They were shocked but I was resolute. We also removed the motion lights and we made sure we didn’t leave any lights on at night. I hate nighttime light because it blocks the view of the stars and more importantly, we didn’t have any fireflies. What? What is that about fireflies? Well, there were so many nighttime lights around our house, we couldn’t see the stars and we didn’t have any fireflies. There are lots of perks living where there are real roads and if I’m giving them up, well let’s just say that I’m going to, at the very least, need some stars.
Fireflies are dramatically affected by ALAN (or artificial light at night) and recent studies show that our North American firefly populations are under threat. ALAN severely affects the reproduction and communication of North American Firefly species and may be one of the leading causes of their decline (along with a loss of habitat). ALAN is classified into three distinct types.

  • Skyglow-the glowing haze you see over urban areas.
  • Light trespass- light at ground level spreading beyond its intended area. This occurs when you have outside lights that spread far beyond the pathway you are attempting to light.
  • Glare- this is the excessive lighting you have from large or high wattage fixtures (my power pole light is a perfect example).
    These lights affect more than just the fireflies. They disrupt the life cycles of nocturnal animals, amphibians, birds and other insects. In Florida alone, it is calculated that millions of sea turtle hatchlings die annually as a direct result of light pollution. ALAN affects their ability to find the nighttime horizon to reach the sea. There are significant questions about what nighttime light does to the human circadian rhythm as well. Light pollution has significant consequences to the plants and animals around us and there are so many easy ways to help.
  • Turn out the lights. One of the things that I noticed after I turned the lights out was how much easier it became to see in the dark. Your eyes quickly adjust to the lack of artificial light and a full moon can quickly seem like daylight.
  • If you must have light for safety, install motion sensing lights. These will come on as needed but quickly go off, leaving the area dark unless the light is necessary.
  • Use timers to shut off lights, instead of leaving them on all the time.
  • Use the absolute minimum wattage necessary.
  • If you must use lights, make sure the lights point to the ground and use shields to prevent the light from shining into the night sky.

Some non-lighting ways to help the fireflies? Fireflies need rotten wood to lay their eggs and give their larvae a place to grow. They live in leaf and forest litter, so make sure that in your zealous attempts to tidy your yard, you’re leaving (no pun intended) good habitat for fireflies and butterflies. Fireflies need the same uninterrupted space as most insects, so attempting to leave their spaces undisturbed is the best way to create firefly habitat.

Oh, and my fireflies? I’m thrilled to say that one evening, last summer (more than six years after shutting off the lights), I went out to drink a cup of tea and listen to the bullfrogs before going to bed on a balmy summer night and my backyard looked like a million flashbulbs were lighting the night sky. There were more fireflies than stars. It was magical.

Bringing Back the Rain Barrel

Lisa Crock

ZANESVILLE, Ohio – Although 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh water. Of that number only a fraction is accessible to use as drinking water. The remainder is encapsulated in ice caps and glaciers. With so very little fresh water on Earth and the demand increasing all the time, it makes sense to conserve as much as possible.

There are numerous ways to conserve water, including using a rain barrel. As far back as 2000 years ago, rainwater was collected in clay containers; they progressed to the rain barrel, which remained a common sight until the 1940’s. With the advent of modern plumbing rain barrels became unnecessary. Many people are now returning to this old-fashioned way of water conservation due to the rising costs of municipal water, use restrictions, and droughts.

A rain barrel is a container placed under the downspouts of the house’s gutters. It can consist of a simple barrel with an inlet on the top and an outlet at the bottom, or a more advanced system of numerous barrels that use pumps and flow controls. There are even adapters that can be placed on the downspout so that the barrel fills up, but then the overflow continues through the downspout and away from the foundation. Rain barrels can be purchased at many garden centers or on-line. A large food-grade container can be adapted for use. Trashcans should be avoided because they cannot withstand the water pressure long-term.

Rain barrels must have a cover or screen on top to prevent children, small animals and mosquitoes from getting in the water. Never use an open container because a child can drown in only a few inches of water. To avoid mosquito contamination, the rain barrel should be emptied in less than ten days. Simple rain barrels rely on gravity flow to work, so place the barrel slightly higher than the point of use. Rain barrels must be drained and disconnected before winter so that they don’t crack.

Harvesting rainfall helps the environment by not drawing on current water reserves and saves the homeowner money. Rainwater is naturally soft and is especially useful for watering landscapes and gardens or even washing your car. Keep in mind that some contamination can also be picked up from leaves, bird droppings, dust, other environmental factors, and roof and gutter materials. Collected rainwater should not be used for drinking water and may not be suitable for watering vegetable gardens.

Depending upon the size of your house and the amount of rainfall, a substantial amount can be collected. Approximately 550 gallons of rainwater can be collected for every 1000 square feet of collection surface per inch of rain. Even if you only collect enough to water a few tomatoes and houseplants, it is still conserving fresh water and saving yourself some money on the water bill.

For more information contact the Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District at 740-454-2027.

Eat Locally Grown Foods

By Lisa Crock:

We all eat; it’s a fact of life. What we chose to eat is up to us, whether we decide to hit a fast-food drive through on our way home or whether we head home after work to a pot roast and vegetables in the slow cooker. Why not make the choice to eat at least some locally grown food?

Growing produce yourself is one option. Nothing could be fresher than when you walk into your back yard garden, pick some lettuce, tomatoes and a cucumber, and immediately prepare yourself a salad. If you don’t have the room in your back yard, but want to try growing some produce, check into the local community garden scene. There are several community gardens open to the public, but space is generally limited so you should reserve your space early.

If you aren’t into gardening, Muskingum County is blessed to have several farmers’ markets and road-side stands that sell locally grown, fresh produce. Some markets have vendors selling locally raised meats. These markets and stands give the consumer the chance to meet the people growing the food they are purchasing. Buyers can ask questions about growing methods used, environmental practices employed, and even how to store and prepare the food purchased Through the exchanges at markets and stands, farmers are given the chance to educate consumers on the health benefits of their food and about their farming practices.

The warm weather we have had in the past week or so has me thinking of spring, and the delicious fresh food that comes with it! Some of the first things that are available are asparagus, rhubarb, and salad greens. While these items can usually be purchased at a grocery store year round, there are advantages to waiting until locally grown versions of the fruits and vegetables are available.

Most people agree that food grown locally, and in season, tastes better than food that has been shipped into our area. Compare the strawberries that are currently available in the grocery stores (that are shipped in from Florida or California) to those that you can buy locally in late-May or early-June. The local berries are usually smaller, and more expensive, but the taste difference is worth the wait and cost! Locally grown food is picked at the peak of ripeness, usually within hours of it being available for purchase. Food that is shipped in is picked before it ripens, thus reducing the amount of nutrients it contains. Less time in transport means less spoilage also.

Local food can create a sense of community and provide a social experience. I can’t go to the farmers’ market and get out in and out in under an hour because I stop to visit with everyone, even if I don’t buy their produce that day! Community gardens often function as outdoor community centers in some neighborhoods. People gather in the evenings to work on the plots, pick their produce, and visit with neighbors. I think that this sense of community is something most of us could use more of in today’s solitary, technology-driven world.

Shopping locally helps support the local economy. The funds are used by the local farmer to support their farm and possibly other employees. An economically stable farm preserves green space and keeps the land in production instead of it being developed into housing, shopping centers, or manufacturing sites.

It may be impossible to eat locally year-round in Ohio; after all, sometimes you just really want strawberries in February. But I encourage you to try to include more locally grown produce and meats in your meals this coming year. In the process you will be helping the local economy and environment.

I bought this bird feeder because it was on sale at the hardware store, now what?

We’ve all been there, meandering around the local hardware store when we spot a barn shaped bird feeder. We think to ourselves “how adorable is that thing! I need one of those to hang from the Shepherd’s Hook that my kids bought me for Mother’s Day a few years ago. It’ll be so much prettier than the dead hanging basket I usually hang there”. Okay, maybe you don’t suffer from the “petunias hate my guts” syndrome that I seem to be afflicted with, but many of us have definitely fallen prey to the impulse buy of the adorable bird feeder. But what do you do with that feeder once you get it home?
Well to begin, different birds like different foods. What birds are you trying to draw to your yard? My favorite go-to seed is the Black Oil Sunflower seed. It’s an extremely nutritious seed and it draws my favorite Cardinals, Blue Jays, Nuthatches and Titmice to the feeder. Cracked corn will bring in Mourning Doves, Sparrows and Blackbirds. Clinging birds like Finches tend to prefer small seeds like Nyjer Seed. Peanuts are a popular offering for Woodpeckers, Crows, Jays and Grackles. The Mourning Doves are happy to pick through anything that the messier of the birds throw to the ground and all birds benefit from suet cakes. Suet is made using animal fat and a variety of seeds to offer wintering birds a high energy meal that keeps them healthy and active during the cold of winter. Some folks also offer peanut butter and fruit to their winter birds but note that suet, peanut butter and fruit can quickly turn rancid in the summer heat.
“Alright” you say, “I hung my bird feeder out and I’ve been watching it for 15 minutes now. Where are the birds?” I’ve been there too. The first time I hung a feeder in my yard, it stayed full for three weeks. Not a single bird. As I stood in the yard, puzzled and staring at that feeder, I realized that the bench it looked so lovely hanging next to was a perfect place for my cat to lay and watch for birds. Location is important. A nearby tree gives the birds someplace to stage while they’re using the feeder and the higher the feeder hangs, the less likely your kitty will use it as a personal hunting ground. Unfortunately, patience is also of the essence here. Birds are creatures of habit. Why else would they fly thousands of miles to the same place every year for vacation? They need to start seeing your feeder as a reliable food source. It takes some time. You’ll know when you’ve reached your goal. Your feeder will be emptied in a day and when you trudge out in the snow to fill it, there will be a Nuthatch in a tree nearby giving you loads of grief for daring to take so long. Have I mentioned that I have a very cheeky resident Nuthatch? Don’t forget to try to offer a winter water source as well. Birds often suffer from a lack of good water during the winter, even more than a lack of good food.
The last step is making sure your feeders stay relatively clean. Birds get sick too. Seed gets moldy. Feeders can be covered in bird droppings. Make sure that you are diligent about your bird feeder hygiene and regular cleanings are a necessity. And last but definitely not least, wash your hands well when you clean your feeders as bird droppings can be a potential health hazard for you as well. For those of you thinking about purchasing feeders this year, we happen to carry some of the nicest feeders I’ve ever seen for sale. Made locally here in Ohio from kiln dried cedar, these feeders are built to last. Stop by the District office and check them out. It’s a good way to know that your dollars are staying here in Ohio and it’s a bonus that you’re helping to support your Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District so we can continue our conservation education efforts in Muskingum County.
If you want to draw in lots of birds, spend some time installing bird houses too. If you have a reliable food source and shelter, you’ll be running a bird B&B in no time. They’re pretty opportunistic little critters and they will reward you for your winter diligence by eating unbelievable amounts of plant destroying bugs during the summer. It’s estimated that a single Carolina Chickadee nest can consume 6000 caterpillars in a single season. That’s a lot of produce destroying caterpillars going into baby bird bellies and for me, a bit of sweet retribution for all the heads of cabbage and tomato plants those caterpillars have destroyed over the years.
Worried about the birds picking your berries and destroying your crops? For those of us with crops that birds find tasty, it’s a well-founded fear. The research is ongoing but is ever expanding. However, research studies over the years have found that birds vastly prefer bugs over berries, with a particular study group from the University of Basel in Switzerland releasing a report in 2017 that birds eat between 400 and 500 million tons of bugs worldwide annually. In fact, the vast majority of farmers worldwide who have engaged in professional studies report better yields with resident birds. A vineyard manager in Napa Valley, Ron Rosenbrand installed 1000 bluebird boxes at the Spring Mountain Vineyard based on university research being done at UC Berkley by Ornithologist Julie Jedlicka. His results? The vineyard has seen the near eradication of the Pierce Disease Blight since 2006, a deadly grape blight that had once caused vast damage in that very vineyard. The bluebirds eat the insects that infect the plants and their grape yield has seen a significant annual increase. Similar research is being done in the Missouri Ozarks to try to eradicate pests killing the state’s White Oak trees. Add to that the number of mosquitoes and other disease carrying insects that birds consume, which directly impact human health and contagious disease outbreaks, and you can see how critical healthy bird populations can be to our existence. In the late 1940s, the island nation of Guam saw the accidental introduction of a non-native brown tree snake. That snake thrived in Guam’s climate and the island experienced a significant decline in native bird populations over the next six decades, resulting in the ultimate extinction of all but two of their native bird species. The outcome? A 40 fold increase in the island’s spider population. I simply cannot think of a better reason to support your local bird population. Birds are great allies in the fight against bugs and seriously, who needs more spiders? So out to my feeders I go, rain or shine. My little Nuthatch neighbor will be expecting me.

April Lovejoy

Change Just One Thing

By: Lisa Crock

With the start of a new year, many of us make vague resolutions about what we want to accomplish in the coming year. Usually those resolutions are along the lines of eating healthy, exercising more, and/or staying within our budgets. By March, most of us have fallen off of whichever bandwagon we got up on at the beginning of the year. Most resolutions are too broad and vague, and we never get around to breaking them down into small, do-able steps that actually fit into our everyday lives.

What if we tried a different approach? What might happen if we decide to change just one small thing in our lives?

For example, let’s say you decide you need to drink more water for your health. At first, it might seem that the easiest way to accomplish this is to buy bottled water. Bottled water is available everywhere, including the vending machine at work, and it is easily portable. It is recommended that the average person consume 64 oz. of water daily. That equates to four 16 oz. bottles a day. Sounds doable, right? You grab a bottle on the way out the door in the morning, then get one from the vending machine at lunch time, and you fit the other two into your evening routine. This sounds like a really good idea, and one that you can actually accomplish.

Now let’s take a look at some numbers. If you stay the course and drink four bottles of water each day, at the end of the year that is 1,460 bottles of water. Those 1,460 plastic bottles – what did you do with them? According to, Americans recycle only roughly 23% of plastic. So maybe you recycled 336 of those plastic bottles. What happened to the rest? Most likely they went to a landfill, where they will stay for 400 or more years until they decompose. If they weren’t properly disposed of, they eventually make it our streams, rivers, and oceans, polluting the water and harming the wildlife that lives on and in the water.

If you buy the “off brand” bottled water, you can usually get it for around 20¢ per bottle. More recognized name brands are closer to 50¢ per bottle, when bought in multi-packs. If you grab those same bottles as singles from the vending machine, you’ll pay $1.00 – 1.49 or more. Even at its cheapest, the bottled water will cost you close to $300 per year.

Between destroying the environment and the cost to your pocket, drinking bottled water no longer sounds like a great idea. There is a better option. Buy a reusable water bottle, a bamboo or metal straw, and fill the bottle with tap water. This will cost you anywhere from $10-$50 depending upon what type and brand of bottle you buy and just pennies a day for the actual water. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, buy a filtered pitcher. Most cost around $30 and will filter 40-120 gallons of water, depending upon which filter you purchase. Sticking with your resolution to drink 64 oz. of water day you will drink 183 gallons of water over the course of a year, so you’ll need to purchase 1-5 filters per year (again, depending upon what filter you buy). Even with the cost of a water bottle, non-plastic straw, water pitcher and filters, you will still come in under $300 and you won’t be contributing to the plastic pollution problem.

None of the figures above took into consideration what you’d save if you stopped buying pop in cans, coffee in disposable cups, or flavored drinks in glass bottles. That’s another article! As we start 2019, I challenge you to change just one small thing in your life that not only betters your life, but that of the planet as well. And when you have to grab a beverage of any type while you’re on the go, please recycle the container!

Muskingum SWCD 2019 Board Meeting Dates

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

**Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

**This is a change from the normal second Tuesday because the second Tuesday in August is during fair week.

Douglas Fir

Good morning Muskingum County! Today we will be focusing on the Douglas Fir, the first of our trees that we have for sale as part of our 2019 tree sale.

Not considered a true fir and sometimes referred to as a false hemlock, the Douglas Fir is native to a large swath of the western US and Canada. It is a large tree, growing from between 50-70 feet tall. The Douglas Fir is reasonably picky about its growing location and for optimum growth should be planted in a well-drained sandy loam soil. They do not tolerate wet feet or heavy soils and should be watered during extreme drought. The Douglas Fir is one of the more popular species of Christmas Tree with beautiful dark green-blue green flattened, flexible needles that emit a sweet fragrance when handled and when cut, their needle retention is excellent. For commercial growth, they require good management, especially when young as they do not tolerate high weeds and they are sensitive to spring frost damage. Plantings should occur outside of frost pockets or areas with poor air drainage. They are a popular tree for wildlife, commonly browsed by deer, rabbit, squirrel, and mice. The seeds of Douglas fir are a good food source for a number of birds that overwinter in our area. The Douglas Fir is an excellent specimen for windbreak and soil erosion, acting as a restorer for eroded soils.

Christmas Tree Compromises

Why do I buy a live Christmas tree? Well, I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t always buy a live tree. I’ve actually owned an artificial tree for almost 20 years. I have lots of beautiful and very fragile old ornaments and I have always been afraid of weak branches allowing my ornaments to fall crashing to the ground. However, a decade ago my husband put his foot down and insisted on getting a live tree in addition to our artificial tree. He missed the smell and the tradition. What kind of Christmas memories, he asked, would the kids have if we didn’t get up one frigid Saturday morning in December and dutifully follow him across a hillside with an ax, arguing about whether he gets a fat tree or I get a more graceful, slender tree? He was right about having a live tree, although don’t tell him that I said so. There are many perks to buying a live Christmas tree.
1. The smell! Is there anything that says Christmas more than the smell of a fir tree? Well, maybe the smell of gingerbread, but since my entire existence revolves around food, nobody is going to be surprised by the fact that I am willing to go to bat for gingerbread here on the Christmas smell chart.
2. The experience. The kids do a lot of complaining about getting up before noon to drive to a farm and walk across a field. They argue endlessly about which tree we are getting. One of them usually gets hives. But every year, they want to know when we are getting the tree. If I offer the option of not having the live tree, it’s met with a mixture of disbelief and anger. So out they go, complaining merrily all the way.
3. The environmental impact. What? How is cutting down a tree good for the environment? Aha! Here it is. Christmas tree farms are a sustainable and environmentally friendly enterprise. Christmas tree farmers plant thousands of trees each year. Those trees grow for almost 10 years before they are large enough to cut. That’s a decade of benefits per tree and when those trees are cut, the tree farmer generally plants at least one more in its place. Tree farms aren’t cutting down old growth timber out of forests to sell to consumers. Think of the Christmas tree as a huge crop, like tomatoes and lettuce. You grow trees intended for harvest and reap all the added environmental benefits of having millions of extra trees growing each year. Artificial trees are made of plastic and millions of those trees end up in landfills each year. The majority of the artificial trees that are sold in the US are made in China and shipped to the United States. Even with the necessary chemical interventions required to keep live Christmas trees at their optimum, the current accepted estimate is that you have to reuse your artificial tree for a minimum of seven years for the environmental impact of a live tree to be equal to that of an artificial tree. To be honest, many of the pre-lit trees that are being sold these days don’t seem to last very long.
4. The economic impact. This is where your decisions matter to your community. Big box stores generally buy their trees in bulk from states like Oregon where there are massive commercial wholesale tree farms. They ship those trees across the US and then you purchase them at your local big box store. But when you buy a tree from a local tree farm, you’re keeping your money in your community. The family that owns that tree farm is using those funds to support their households. They’re keeping their farmland from being developed into housing and preserving local rural businesses. There is less environmental impact because your trees aren’t being shipped from thousands of miles away, and you are literally keeping the dollars you spend in your own community. The Christmas tree industry is a billion dollar industry. That’s lots of American jobs raising, harvesting, and preparing Christmas trees and that money stays right here at home.
Sure, there are cons to live trees. They’re more work. You MUST water them daily. A dry tree is a dangerous tree and live trees aren’t sprayed with fire retardant chemicals to make them safer (I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s a pro or a con). They’re messy, although they’re a lot less messy if you follow rule number one and water that tree daily. But needles drop and they have to be swept up. Some folks have famously had issues with squirrels. I will admit that although I have never experienced a single squirrel issue yet, we do get spiders occasionally. Having the tree farm shake your tree before you take it helps tremendously.
You also have to properly dispose of the tree at the end of the season. Lots of places offer recycling and removal services if you live in the city. We usually use ours as a winter garden mulch. I drag the tree outside and use the cut branches to cover some of my less hardy plants, it keeps the ice off of them and offers them winter protection. During the spring thaw, those branches go to the compost pile or are shredded into mulch for the blueberries. We use the trunk during the summer as logs for our outdoor fireplace where we enjoy roasting hot dogs over our Christmas tree while we look at the stars. If you don’t want to mess with the tree at all while the snow is falling, just lay the tree outside near the woods and let the wildlife use it as a great winter shelter. A bonus if you leave it upright next to a fence and use it to hang your bird feeders or suet cakes, the birds will adore the sheltered space and flock to its branches. I’ve never had a moment of regret about our decision to include a live tree in our holiday festivities. I look forward to seeing you at one of our many local tree farms, many of which offer a variety of activities this holiday season. We will be the family arguing loudly about whether tall or fat trees are perfect Christmas trees. Blessings to you all.

By April Lovejoy