Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Articles written by Gerri Makay


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  • For the trees: Thank you for your service

    Gerri Makay|Nov 13, 2023

    "In addition to those who have selflessly served our country, the word 'veteran' can be used to describe someone (or something) with long experience in an occupation or skill. Let's talk about 'Veteran Trees' – trees with historic significance or those that have lived a long life of service, gracing our surroundings with natural beauty." The most familiar big, old trees are the sequoias and redwoods of Northern California. Giant sequoias are recognized by their orange-red thick bark that is u...

  • For the Trees: Tracing the roots of Arbor Day

    Gerri Makay|May 15, 2023

    "Finally, the month of May has arrived in North Dakota! And with that, many communities across the state will be celebrating Arbor Day. The entire month of May is Arbor Month in North Dakota." Arbor Day is a long-standing tradition of celebrating trees across the country, started in 1872 in Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton. Tree enthusiasts in Dakota Territory hopped on board in 1882 to plant, distributing seeds and seedlings to schoolchildren across the open prairie. Today, 151 years later,...

  • Tree Talk: Forget the snow - Let's get gardening!

    Gerri Makay|Mar 20, 2023

    As we gaze at the massive piles of snow, it appears that winter in North Dakota is never-ending! Rest assured, spring is around the corner. And with spring, the annual NDSU Extension-sponsored “Spring Fever Garden Forums” are here! Mark your calendars for Monday evenings, 6:30 to 8:30, March 20 to April 10. You can participate by watching online from the comfort of your home with your favorite toasty beverage. Topics will include the categories of vegetables and soil, flowers and fruits, biology and technology, and small spaces and trees. Pre...

  • Tree Talk: When Irish eyes are smiling

    Gerri Makay|Mar 13, 2023

    Are you seeing green? March 1st marked the meteorological beginning of spring. When I was a kid, spring clearly started on March 21st (the vernal equinox – when the sun and the equator celebrate a secret handshake), a much more likely date for closing the door on winter in North Dakota. Apparently, meteorologists rule when it comes to marking our seasons. Don’t put away the snow shovel just yet. The most familiar holiday for the month is St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on March 17th, which marks the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ir...

  • Tree Talk: Presidential tales & trees

    Gerri Makay|Feb 20, 2023

    The story of George Washington and the cherry tree tells of the time the young future President of the United States chopped down his father's favorite tree. As the story goes, George had received a hatchet for his sixth birthday and enthusiastically went about testing the useful gift. When his father discovered that his cherry tree had been damaged, he confronted George who bravely replied, "I cannot tell a lie... I did cut it with my hatchet." All ends well as the father embraces his son,...

  • Tree Talk: The Sweetest Holiday

    Gerri Makay|Feb 13, 2023

    Just when you may have reached a milestone in dominating your New Year's resolution to cut out sugar, Valentine's Day appears on the calendar. There are ways around it – you can celebrate with a card (thanks, Hallmark) or Go for the Gold, literally, with jewelry. Flowers are perfect for some. But the most iconic, sweetest way to show affection is with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Valentine's Day has a long history that evolved into the sharing of gifts and cards, but the first elaborate b...

  • Tree Talk: An apple a day

    Gerri Makay|Feb 6, 2023

    Breakfast is often stated as the most important meal of the day. On a cold morning, a warm bowl of creamy oatmeal flavored with cooked apple and brown sugar really hits the spot! That is, if you are an oatmeal fan. Many people enjoy apples in baked goods: pies, muffins, cobblers and crisps. Dried apples are a great portable snack for camping and hiking – and can easily be made at home with a dehydrator or an oven. Caramel apples are a treat reserved mostly for county fairs and the circus. B...

  • Tree Talk: It's Groundhog Day

    Gerri Makay|Jan 30, 2023

    Nearly every month of the year has its holidays – some of them to celebrate joyous religious occasions, others to commemorate historical figures or events. And then, some are just plain whimsical. Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2, the almost-midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox. This point in the calendar year has been significant for centuries, as cultures anticipated the birth of farm animals and planting of crops. German immigrants to the United States carried with...

  • Tree Talk: Snow, salt and soils

    Gerri Makay|Jan 23, 2023

    Snow, salt and soil: Not a recipe for the latest trendy dish. But it could be a recipe for tragedy on your turf and trees. As cold and snowy weather sets in many of us focus on safety precautions, as we should. We watch the weather forecast, we gauge the extra time it may take to travel, we check outside to see if we need to sweep or shovel the walk...and maybe, for good measure, we sprinkle (or pour) some de-icing salt on surfaces where ice has formed. Safety first. While safety must be a...

  • Tree Talk: Backyard feathered friends

    Gerri Makay|Jan 16, 2023

    Birdwatching has grown to be one of the most popular hobbies in the U.S. North Dakota is noted as a birdwatcher's paradise, with wide-open spaces featuring habitats that range from grasslands to prairie potholes to forests. The state is home to a surprising abundance of 376 different species! (see a checklist on the N.D. Game & Fish website) An easy method of birdwatching in the winter is to simply look out the window into your own backyard. Birdfeeders are a sure way to attract a variety of...

  • Tree Talk: Winter is here

    Gerri Makay|Jan 9, 2023

    WINTER. If this season is defined by cold, snowy weather – then it arrived nearly two months ago, long before the astronomical calendar-date of winter's start on December 21. Local weather reports warn us to protect our bodily extremities (our head, hands and feet) from exposure, to reduce the risk of frostbite. When it's bad enough outside, many of us can make the choice to hunker down inside. With the wind and harsh temperatures, how are trees on the Northern Plains able to survive? For s...

  • Tree Talk: Happy New Year!

    Gerri Makay|Jan 2, 2023

    If you are someone who feels compelled to make New Year's Resolutions, here are some simple resolutions to make you happier and healthier – and they are easier than losing some weight: Become a PLANT owner. We are months away from tending plants in our flower beds and gardens, but how about plants in your home or office? Research shows that just the presence of indoor plants can lower human stress levels. One study found that actively caring for plants calmed the autonomic nervous system and l...

  • Tree Talk: Finding solace in the season

    Gerri Makay, NDFS Community Forestry Program Manager|Dec 26, 2022

     The annual holiday season is intended to be a time for giving thanks and spreading cheer. Song lyrics tell us it's the happiest time of the year. But for many, even in a normal year, the holidays bring stress.  How can you help yourself through stressful times? Take a break. Get outside for a walk among the trees. Trees care for your peace of mind. Exposure to nature decreases mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring your mind. Trees care for your vitality. Trees absorb pollutants so you can...

  • Tree Talk: Holiday plant traditions

    Gerri Makay, NDFS Community Forestry Program Manager|Dec 19, 2022

     In addition to Christmas trees, there are other plants that have become traditional during the Holiday Season. The Christmas cactus is native to the coastal mountains of Brazil, found in lush forests that receive high amounts of rainfall and humidity. The plants grow not in the ground but secure roots in debris and decayed leaves that have collected on tree branches. While Christmas cactus has a smooth, scalloped stem, the closely-related and more common Thanksgiving cactus has teeth or a s...

  • Tree Talk: The perfect Christmas tree

    Gerri Makay|Dec 12, 2022

    One of the most iconic images of the holiday season, Christmas trees started as a German tradition and were introduced in the U.S. by German settlers. Live Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the U.S. since about 1850. Most of these trees are grown on more than 15,000 Christmas tree farms, covering 350 million acres across all 50 states. Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan are the top growers. North Dakota has growers, too – with options to cut your own Christmas tree on tree farms n...

  • Tree Talk: The quiet of Advent

    Gerri Makay|Dec 5, 2022

    There is Thanksgiving, and there is Christmas. But there is an entire season that fills the weeks between, a time meant for quiet anticipation and preparation for the Nativity. The Christmas tree is undoubtedly the most iconic image of the holiday season and many people display their tree as part of Thanksgiving décor, continuing throughout December. It's hard to wait. Traditionally, Christmas trees and decorations were put up on Christmas eve and were not taken down until after Epiphany – th...

  • Tree Talk: Time to give thanks

    Gerri Makay, N.D. Forest Service Community Forestry Program Manager|Nov 21, 2022

     Thanksgiving, for many, is the favorite holiday of the year! Food takes center-stage as tables are graced with savory and colorful sides of sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries and pumpkin pie. The meal revolves around the star of the show: turkey.  The first "Thanksgiving" was a harvest celebration enjoyed by the Pilgrims of Plymouth colony in 1621. Celebrating the fall harvest was an English tradition and the pilgrims had much to celebrate after surviving the lon...

  • Tree Talk: Dodging the deer

    Gerri Makay, N.D. Forest Service Community Forestry Program Manager|Nov 14, 2022

    In North Dakota, November is celebrated for a number of holidays including Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and another that is steeped in tradition – Opening Day of Deer Season. More than 57,000 hunters were successful in harvesting nearly 33,000 deer during the 2021 N.D. deer season. That's a lot of sausage!  Trees and shrubs are important habitat for deer, providing cover and food. Between May and August, most of a deer's diet consists of forbs and the tender growing stems of trees and shr...

  • Tree Talk: Veterans and Veteran trees

    Gerri Makay|Nov 7, 2022

    Veterans Day is observed on November 11 – to commemorate the end of WWI at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918. The day honors (and justly so) all of America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. The word "veteran" can be used in a completely different context to describe someone (or something) with long experience in some occupation or skill. Let's stretch the meaning a bit more and talk about "Veteran Trees" – trees with his...

  • Tree Talk: Going batty

    Gerri Makay|Oct 31, 2022

    "They're creepy and they're kooky – mysterious and spooky - they're all together ooky..." Halloween is filled with images of things gloomy and cryptic: black cats and cauldrons, skeletons and spiders, broomsticks and bats. Bats? Of course! They fly around at night, and like vampires, they will bite and suck your blood! Actually, bats are very misunderstood. Bats are the only mammals that can fly, thanks to the leathery wing membrane that extends between the bones of the "fingers" and another w...

  • Tree Talk: Creating vibrant North Dakota communities

    Gerri Makay|Oct 24, 2022

    North Dakota's Main Street Initiative was outlined six years ago as an effort to help revitalize communities across the state. Community leaders are inspired with a vision of "safe, healthy cities with vibrant, walkable main streets and downtowns to attract and retain a skilled workforce." At the risk of oversimplifying the daunting task of creating safe, healthy cities and towns, consider how areas with trees contribute to this very thing: • Trees filter airborne pollutants and reduce the con...

  • Tree Talk: Leave the leaves

    Gerri Makay|Oct 17, 2022

    It is part of the Autumn Ritual: Harvest the last of the vegetables and clean up the garden. Mow the yard, one last time before winter. Rake/mow/blow the leaves – but what to do with all these leaves?? If you have an open yard, North Dakota's wind may take care of most of the leaves and share them with a neighbor. Most homeowners take great pride in their homes and yards and invest time and energy to keep things tidy. (A 2005 NASA study estimated around 40 million acres of lawn in the continenta...

  • Tree Talk: Smoke gets in your eyes

    Gerri Makay|Oct 10, 2022

    October is Fire Prevention Month and local Fire Departments do an excellent job of outreach to homeowners, reminding us to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors and to take care with outside activities, as well. Many young students are treated to a visit to the local Fire Department, an opportunity to hear from firefighters and see a firetruck up-close. Some of these youngsters are inspired to fight fires and protect lives when they grow up. For those of us who live within the bounds of...

  • Tree Talk: All about firewood

    Gerri Makay|Oct 3, 2022

    There's something about sitting around an evening campfire, reminiscing about the day of hiking or hunting or simply spending time with family and friends. Any type of wood will do, just so it's perfect for s'mores. But if you are cutting or buying wood for your fireplace for a little romance or wood stove for supplemental heat, there are factors to consider. Firewood differs in heat value as well as color of flame, fragrance and sparking, depending on the species of wood. Crabapple and apple...

  • Tree Talk: Falling Needles and Leaves

    Gerri Makay, N.D. Forest Service Community Forestry Program Manager|Sep 26, 2022

     Many people pick fall as their favorite season of the year.  We welcome the cooler temperatures, the occasional much-needed rain with a little thunder mixed in, and the cheers of football season!  Fall colors exhibited by deciduous trees and shrubs are a product of shorter days. Summer sunlight triggers leaves to keep making chlorophyll, necessary for photosynthesis and the whole sugar-making process, enabling a tree to grow. But as the hours of daylight become increasingly fewer, leaves recognize the signal to prepare for winter and to stop...

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