May 12 2011

Photographer captures wild side in Rockford’s backyard

May 12, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Living in Rockford, one of the things we oftentimes overlook is an abundance of environmental ambience. Woodlands, for the most part, surround Rockford, and the City itself has many types of parkland within its borders. All contain an abundance of wildlife and it’s not unusual, at times, to see deer, turkeys, raccoons, etc. roaming freely in the City’s midst. Currently, in one neighborhood, a red fox vixen is raising a rambunctious brood of four kits. (Sorry—for the brood’s protection we have been sworn to secrecy by residents of the community as to the location of the fox’s den. The pictures accompanying this article could not have been taken without a powerful zoom lens.) From very shy to very bold, the kits exhibit differing personalities. They are weaned and appear to be at least two months old. At about four months of age, they will be nearly full-grown and actively hunting on their own. The kits will be fully grown by winter and able to mate and reproduce come next year. The red fox is primarily nocturnal in nature with the exception of a brood’s kits that spend much of their day outside of the den curiously exploring their immediate surroundings while cavorting with one another as “kids” do. The Rockford brood also spends much of their time in watchful anticipation of mom and dad returning with the next meal. They have an eclectic diet and will eat insects, fruits, berries, birds, frogs, snakes, some plants and seeds, and small mammals (up to the size of a woodchuck or, rarely, even a beaver). Remember the old saying, “Don’t let the fox guard the henhouse.”—needless to say, foxes love fowl, especially domestic chickens. (Good thing the City Council banned chickens or we might be overrun by the red critters!) Suffice it to say foxes, like most members of the dog family, are opportunistic and will eat nearly anything available. It’s important that wild animals never lose their fear of humans and, with this in mind, let us close with a few commonsense suggestions: • Never approach or touch a fox (or other wild animals for that matter). • Never feed a fox (intentionally or not). • Put garbage out in closed containers […]

‘Gardening by the Moon’ calendar features advice as old as mankind

May 12, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Gardeners looking for ways to grow better vegetables and flowers with less work can turn to the night skies for help—or a locally produced publication. On the Internet, there are 11 million, 800 thousand references to gardening with the moon, and local landscape expert John Venman of Venman’s Landscape and Soil Alive, 510 Wolverine (in Rockford’s industrial area) has produced a calendar to guide the common gardener through the process. Venman said he has long been a believer in natural gardening and landscaping solutions rather than chemical ones and gradually became more interested in references to gardening by the moon. He had a customer who was puzzled by a phenomenon he noted. He had rototilled his garden and gone on vacation for 10 days. Upon return, the weeds were everywhere. When he rototilled again and left for a similar amount of time, he noted the weeds were significantly less. Venman said he asked the guy about when the two occasions had happened and looked up the phases of the moon for those times. Sure enough, in the first case the man had done the work in a phase of the moon unfavorable to killing weeds and the second time he’d done it in a favorable phase. Venman began paying attention and found more examples of moon phases affecting growth cycles. Venman has a traditional background in landscape education with a bachelor’s degree in landscape design from Michigan State University. He said he developed an interest in non-chemical alternatives to landscaping when he began to suspect that chemicals are in some ways having an adverse affect on the planet and the people and animals living here. He enjoys the part of his business that helps people improve their own gardening skills, and believes the current trend toward home or locally grown food—notice the popularity of farm markets—may prove his green practices are part of a philosophy which is again waxing. Venman said a moon growing more full (waxing) is a time when energy is getting stronger. It is a time of growth, a time to plant, fertilize and cultivate soil. You can see a moon is waxing by remembering it will be “black on left and light on right.” A waning moon is […]

Rockford-area residents save 144 lives

May 12, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford area donors contributed to West Michigan’s blood supply at a blood drive at the Rockford Community Cabin on Monday, May 2. Sixty-five people signed in and donated 48 units of blood. This equates to an amazing 144 lives saved. There were no first-time donors. People reaching milestones in donation include William Craig and Kevin Ketelaar with one gallon each of blood donated, Karen Elliott reaching a milestone of four gallons, Frank Eves and Daniel Shutich have donated six gallons, Robert Langerak has donated seven gallons, and Susan Despres reached an impressive nine gallons in donated blood. Upcoming blood drives include Monday, June 6 at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe St., from noon to 7 p.m. and Tuesday, June 14 at the Rockford American Legion, 330 Rockford Park Dr. NW, from noon to 6 p.m.  

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