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Backyard Cleanup, The Spring Edition

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Apr 5, 2018


Spring is finally here! Like me, you're probably ready to get outside and start clearing your yard of any remains of winter. There are several things you can do to get your home and your yard shipshape for the season.

Inspect the Condition of Your Home

Take a walk around your home to do a visual inspection. The freezing and thawing that happens throughout winter can cause all types of damage. Are the railings of your balcony or deck secure? Do you see any broken or uneven steps in your outdoor staircase? You have plenty of time to make these repairs before spring shifts into full gear! Other things to look for include cracks in a cement patio or bricks in a patio that have been forced out of position. Repairing these items now can help you get more years out of your patio or deck.

Evaluate Your Yard for Dangers

After all of the snow melts away, it's time to look for dangers lurking in your yard. For example, you may have an exposed tree root someone could trip over. You may see a large stone in your yard that could be a hazard for someone walking along. You definitely want to remove things like this before you start your mowing duties. Areas of sunken ground can also be safety hazards, but you can fill them in to make your lawn safer and more attractive. Also, look for large fallen branches and sticks so you can remove them from your lawn in preparation for mowing. Checking the condition of your yard can prevent you from running over sticks, stones, and other objects that may damage the blades of your mower.

Clean Your Patio Furniture

Do you have a large set of patio furniture, including a table, umbrella, chairs, and a settee? Or maybe you have just two lawn chairs. No matter how many pieces of patio furniture you have, hosing them off and wiping them with a clean, soft cloth can make them look their best for spring. Cleaning your patio umbrella and chairs can prevent small spots of dirt from becoming large stains. You can get years of use out of a patio umbrella as well as your other furniture by cleaning everything each spring and summer.

Inspect Your Gutters

Look at the state of your gutters. Are there any sagging areas or places where you see clumps of leaves? Loose nails, blocked downspouts, and broken portions are other things to look for during your inspection. Making small repairs to your gutters and clearing away debris will help them to work more efficiently when the spring rains arrive. I suggest getting a friend to help you inspect your gutters if you need to use a tall ladder.

Pest Problem?

Looking closely at your lawn and its plants, flowers, and trees is a great way to determine if you have a pest problem. Of course, you need to differentiate good insects from garden pests. For instance, you don't want to get rid of the spiders you see because they eat aphids, and aphids are notorious garden pests. Keeping the good insects around can help maintain the health of your lawn.

Trim Trees and Hedges

Spring is a great time to trim broken or damaged limbs on bushes and trees. Use handheld pruners instead of hedge clippers for shaping hedges: It's easier to get the appealing shape you want with handheld pruners. Trimming your trees and bushes prompts new growth.

Getting your home, patio, and yard ready for spring can really improve the look of your property during the warm weather season. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: backyard cleanup

28 Quotes That Will Inspire You To Get Back Into The Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Mar 29, 2018


Do you find yourself gazing out the window at your backyard garden? This is a sure sign that you're ready to start planting, weeding, and watering again. I found some quotes that will help inspire you to create a memorable garden this year. Take a look!

  1. "The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies." (Gertrude Jekyll)
  2. "My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece." (Claude Monet)
  3. "Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans." (Marcelene Cox)
  4. "You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt." (Unknown)
  5. "It was such a pleasure to stick one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season." (Kate Morton)
  6. "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." (Margaret Atwood)
  7. "I know the pleasure of pulling up root vegetables. They are solvable mysteries." (Novella Carpenter)
  8. "An optimistic gardener is one who believes that whatever goes down must come up." (Leslie Hall)
  9. "A weed is but an unloved flower." (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
  10. "My extravagance is my garden; it's the first thing I look at every morning when I wake up. It gives me so much pleasure." (Ina Garten)
  11. "Gardening is a profession of hope." (Brian Brett)
  12. "One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides." (W.E. Johns)
  13. "The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul." (Alfred Austin)
  14. "I like gardening. It's a place where I find myself when I want to lose myself." (Alice Sebold)
  15. "When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden." (Minnie Aumonier)
  16. "Half the interest of the garden is the constant exercise of the imagination." (Mrs. C.W. Earle)
  17. "It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts when eating a homegrown tomato." (Lewis Grizzard)
  18. "There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." (Janet Kilburn Phillips)
  19. "My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view." (H. Fred Dale)
  20. "In the night the cabbages catch at the moon, the leaves drip silver, the rows of cabbages are series of little silver waterfalls in the moon." (Carl Sandburg)
  21. "I've always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend." (C.Z. Guest)
  22. "Gardeners learn by trowel and error." (Unknown)
  23. "Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint and soil and sky as canvas." (Elizabeth Murray)
  24. "A garden is a friend you can visit any time." (Unknown)
  25. "All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar." (Helen Hayes)
  26. "Gardening requires a lot of water, most of it in the form of perspiration." (Lou Erickson)
  27. "It's a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves." (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  28. "Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste." (Shakespeare)

If you feel inspired by these quotes, I suggest you grab a piece of paper and start drawing up a plan for what will go where in your spring garden. Use different colored pencils to map out the sections in your garden. Most importantly, get excited about springtime!

Thanks for reading. - Alan

20 Spectacular Facts About Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 20, 2018


Could a metal garage from Alan's Factory Outlet be a great way to start off your spring season?

First day of spring is today! It's nice to read those words, isn't it? In celebration of spring, I thought I'd share some interesting facts with you about this lovely season. Enjoy!

  1. Honeybees swarm more in the springtime: This is how they start new colonies.
  2. With the arrival of springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, it turns to autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
  3. In Japan, the cherry blossom is the national flower. When these blossoms open in March or April, it signals the beginning of spring.
  4. Have you noticed that the birds around your neighborhood are chirping more and singing louder these days? In the springtime, birds get more vocal to attract mates. You may even see a bird or two tapping on your window.
  5. The first flowers to appear in the springtime, or shortly before, include daffodils, tulips, lilies, irises, and dandelions.
  6. Spring begins on March 20 this year, but it's not always the same date. In past years, spring has begun on March 21, and it began on March 19 in 2016.
  7. Benjamin Franklin brought up the idea of daylight saving time in 1784.
  8. More sunlight in the springtime can boost levels of serotonin in your brain, which can elevate your mood.
  9. Shedding is another sign of the approach of spring. Horses, dogs, cats, and other animals begin shedding their winter coats in preparation for the warm weather.
  10. Many birds migrate in the springtime. Be sure to leave your bird feeders up, since many birds depend on feeders for sustenance during this time.
  11. Persephone is the goddess of spring.
  12. In Colorado's Rocky Mountains, spring now begins three weeks earlier than it did in the 1970s.
  13. Birds, deer, rabbits, and other animals have babies in the springtime so their young have enough time to put on fat and grow strong by the arrival of the cold season.
  14. Easter is celebrated in the spring. Eggs play a part in the celebrations because they represent rebirth and renewal.
  15. Maple trees begin to drip syrup in February and usually continue through April. A stack of pancakes with maple syrup sounds great to me right now; how about you?
  16. Tornadoes are most likely at this time of year.
  17. If you stood at the equator on the first day of spring, you would witness the sun moving overhead from south to north.
  18. Spring fever is a real thing. Our bodies change with the warmer temperatures by producing more hormones and craving different foods. It makes us restless to get out and go!
  19. In Japan, the arrival of spring is similar to a new year's celebration. Many Japanese start new hobbies, thoroughly clean their homes, and make plans for the new season.
  20. Contrary to popular belief, the first day of spring (aka the vernal equinox) rarely has exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

Happy spring! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Jump Start Your Garden By Starting Seeds Indoors

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Mar 7, 2018


Do you want to get a head start on your garden this year? If so, consider growing some seeds indoors, then transplanting them outside. This will allow you more time to focus on your summer plants, and you can start enjoying your vegetables and flowers sooner! This week, I have some tips for you if you want to become an expert at growing seeds indoors.

The Basics

  • A Container: To successfully grow seeds indoors, you must have the right kind of container. You may want to use individual containers and grow a single seedling in each one. Make sure each container is about two to three inches deep. Planting your seeds in individual containers prevents the roots of one plant from tangling with another and causing problems during the transplant stage.
  • Soil: Purchase soil designed for growing seeds. Before putting the soil in each of your containers, pour small amounts of water on it until it's a crumbly consistency. Next, spoon the soil into each container and pack it down to eliminate air pockets.
  • Seeds: Read the instructions on your seed packets. Some seeds need to be put just beneath the surface of the soil, while others need to be a little deeper to grow. Cover your seeds with soil and moisten the soil in each container.
  • Water: Check the condition of your soil each day. Keep it moist but not soaking wet. I suggest using a spray bottle to mist your seeds so you don't accidentally overdo it. Use liquid fertilizer to give your seeds the nutrients they need to grow.
  • Light: A south-facing window should give your seeds enough light to grow. If you don't have a window that will allow your seeds enough light, consider getting some grow lights. Having grow lights provides you with more control over the amount of light you give your seedlings.

Seeds That Grow Well Indoors

Some types of seeds are especially easy to grow indoors, including tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds, basil, cosmos, and nasturtium. These seeds germinate quickly and need very little attention, and having success growing these seeds can give you the confidence to try growing other types of seeds next year. If you've never grown any seeds indoors before, I would start with no more than ten varieties of seeds so you don't feel overwhelmed with too many kinds to keep track of.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake to avoid is putting soil from your garden into your growing containers. Garden soil may contain diseases and bacteria that can kill your seeds.

Another mistake to avoid is misjudging how much water to give your seeds. One solution to this is to make a self-watering system.

Using paper cups, yogurt cups, or even an egg carton as a container for your seeds is perfectly fine. But don't forget to poke a hole in the bottom of your DIY containers for proper drainage.

Tips for Growing Your Seeds

  • Make labels for your containers so you don't forget what is in each one.
  • When it's time to move your seedlings outside, go through the hardening off process first. For a few hours a day, put your container outside in an area with little wind and partial shade. Do this over the course of ten days to get your seedlings used to the outdoors.
  • Don't expect all of your seeds to grow. There are always a few that don't appear despite your best care. This is why you should go with several types, so you have plenty that do grow!
  • Most seeds should be planted indoors approximately six weeks before the last frost in your part of the country.

If you want to get a jump on the spring season, try growing some seeds indoors! Happy growing, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: start garden indoors

Emergency Equipment Safety Checks For Your Home

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Mar 7, 2018


If you live in a motor home some of these safety tips could apply to you.

You probably have a smoke alarm and maybe a fire extinguisher or two in your home. But just having these things isn't enough: These and other pieces of emergency equipment need regular maintenance to make sure that they work when you need them. This week, let's take a look at how to maintain these important items.

Smoke Alarm

It's important to test your smoke alarm once a month. Normally, there is a test button on a smoke alarm that you can press to test the device. If it's working, it should sound an alarm that lasts a few seconds. Also, make sure to change the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. If your smoke alarm starts beeping before then, that's a signal it needs new batteries. If your smoke alarm doesn't work even after installing new batteries, you can buy a replacement at a big-box store or often even from your local fire department. If you have a smoke alarm that is hardwired, it runs on the electricity traveling into your home, but you should check to see if it has batteries as a backup power source. These will need to be changed annually so your alarm will work even in a power outage.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Most carbon monoxide alarms have a test button just like a smoke alarm. Press the button to test the alarm each month, and replace its battery each year. If the battery is running out of juice, your carbon monoxide alarm will beep, alerting you of the issue. Pay close attention to the instructions on the package of your carbon monoxide alarm so you know when to go to your local hardware store or big-box store to replace it. I suggest that you install your carbon monoxide alarms near the bedrooms in your home. That way, if there is a carbon monoxide leak during the night, your family will be alerted right away.

Fire Extinguisher

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? If not, it's a good idea to have at least one in or near the kitchen. For the monthly maintenance of your fire extinguisher, examine the locking pin to see if it's in place. Look for any corrosion or rusting on the extinguisher. The next step is to examine the pressure gauge to see if the unit is operable. Lots of fire extinguishers used in the home have a pressure gauge with green and red areas on it. If the arrow is in the green area, then it's operable. If the arrow is pointing to the red area, it won't work. If this is the case, read the instructions to see if you can refill your extinguisher; sometimes, local fire departments will refill fire extinguishers for homeowners. Otherwise, just replace it with a new one.

Sprinkler System

If you have a sprinkler system in your home, you have a valuable extra layer of safety. The monthly maintenance of a sprinkler system involves checking to see if the water shutoff valves are in the open position. Also, if you have a water storage tank, look to see if it's full. Examine the insulation around the pipes connected to your sprinkler system to see if it's intact; this can prevent them from freezing in the cold weather. Next, conduct a flow test. Your sprinkler system should have a flow-test valve you can open, allowing water to run out for a minute or so. If your sprinkler doesn't pass the flow test, contact the company that installed it for guidance. In addition, it's important to make sure the sprinkler heads around your home aren't blocked by stacks of boxes or high shelves.

Having emergency equipment in your home can help to keep your family and property secure. The small amount of time you take to maintain these simple items could save lives. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: Home Safety Checks

Which Method Should You Use To Heat Your Home

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Mar 2, 2018


Are you in the market for a new way to heat your home? Today, you've got a lot of heating options, including electric, gas, water, and wood. This week, I'm looking at the pros and cons of various popular heating methods to help you decide what's best for your home.

Electric: Space Heaters vs. Baseboard Heaters

Space Heater

  • Pros: One of the biggest advantages of a portable space heater is that you can move it around a room to direct the heat wherever you want it. There's no installation involved, and these heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate.
  • Cons: Space heaters must always be monitored due to a risk of fire if they're tipped over. Some space heaters are hot to the touch, which is a risk if you have young children or pets.

Baseboard Heater

  • Pros: A baseboard heater has very few parts, so it needs very little maintenance. This type of heater runs quietly and takes up very little space.
  • Cons: Baseboard heaters can drive up the electricity bill, especially if they run constantly. You must avoid putting furniture and other items in front of your baseboard heaters to prevent safety issues as well as to allow the free flow of heat.

Gas: Gas Furnaces vs. Electric Furnaces

Gas Furnace

  • Pros: One pro of a gas furnace is there's just one piece in the system and it's kept indoors. A gas furnace is energy-efficient and costs less to operate than an electric furnace.
  • Cons: A leaky gas furnace can be a big safety hazard. In fact, it can lead to an explosion or a fire. A gas furnace may create poor air quality inside your home. The installation cost of a gas furnace is more than for an electric one due to the type of venting it needs to operate safely.

Electric Furnace

  • Pros: An electric furnace can be installed in a short amount of time practically anywhere in a home. This furnace runs on electricity, which is readily available in most homes.
  • Cons: An electric furnace doesn't work as effectively as a gas furnace. In addition, electricity is more expensive than gas, which can result in high utility bills.

Water: Steam Radiators vs. Radiant Heat

Steam Radiator

  • Pros: These radiators are reliable and can last for a long time with little maintenance. They can be purchased with built-in thermostats, allowing you to adjust the heat as needed.
  • Cons: A steam radiator can start to make noises as it grows older. It must have a clear, open area around it, so nothing blocks the flow of warm air.

Radiant Heat

  • Pros: With radiant heat, water runs through pipes beneath a floor. It's a clean, easy heating process with little to no maintenance required.
  • Cons: Installation of a radiant heat system costs more than installing electric heat. Radiant heat pipes are usually installed when a house is being built; renovating a fully constructed home to put in radiant heat would be very disruptive and time-consuming.

Wood: Fireplaces vs. Wood Stoves


  • Pros: A wood-burning fireplace quickly warms up a room. You can select long-burning or short-burning wood. Maintaining your chimney and purchasing wood are the only costs of this heating method. Besides all of that, I love the look, sound, and smell of a crackling fire in a fireplace. Don't you?
  • Cons: A wood-burning fireplace must be monitored to prevent stray sparks or ashes from starting a fire in the home. You must have enough space to store logs and keep them dry. It's necessary to pay to have your chimney properly inspected and cleaned to prevent chimney fires due to a buildup of creosote.

Wood Stove

  • Pros: A wood stove has a damper that allows you to control the intensity of the fire as well as how quickly the logs burn. Wood stoves use fewer logs than a fireplace, which is a money-saving feature.
  • Cons: A wood stove isn't very efficient in heating your home because most of the heat gets absorbed by the stove itself. Many wood stoves are bulky and take up a lot of space. Some wood stoves are hot to the touch presenting a safety hazard to young children and others.

I hope this information helps you find the most efficient heating method for your home. Thanks for reading. - Alan

7 Safety Tips For Winter Hiking

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Feb 21, 2018


Frozen streams and snow-covered tree limbs are just a couple of the beautiful sights in the woods in winter. Hiking in the wintertime gives you a chance to see those sights along with the deer, cardinals, owls, and other wildlife braving the elements at this time of year. But as you plan your winter hike, keep these safety tips in mind so you can thoroughly enjoy the experience.

  1. Hike With a Friend. Cold temperatures and icy trails increase the odds of accidents or injuries. If you or your hiking partner suffer an injury, the other person can administer first aid or go for help. As an additional safeguard, give a family member or friend information on your hiking location and tell them how long you'll be gone. That person will be able to contact the authorities if you don't return home when expected.
  2. Learn How to Build an Emergency Shelter. If you or your hiking partner find it necessary to stay in the woods overnight, you must build an emergency shelter. This shelter can protect you from the rain, snow, and wind until daylight arrives and you're able to begin hiking again. Even the simplest shelter design can keep you from being exposed to the elements.
  3. Learn How to Start a Fire. Spending the night in the woods in wintertime means you must find a way to stay warm. One option is to build a fire. When packing for your hike, remember to bring matches and keep them dry in your backpack. Though you can search the area for tinder in the form of dry weeds, moss, and leaves, it's a good idea to pack some newspaper or dryer lint to help you start a fire faster.
  4. Dress in Layers. This is essential for hiking in the wintertime. Long underwear, a cotton T-shirt, a sweater, and a light fleece jacket or vest are a few ideas for layers you can wear. Be sure to wear a waterproof jacket and pants to protect against snowfall, light rain, and even the drips coming from tree branches above you. Dressing in layers gives you the option of removing garments if they become wet or too hot.
  5. Stay Hydrated. You can get dehydrated on a hike even in the cold. Hiking over uneven, frozen ground can be very strenuous, so keep a bottle of water handy and drink from it on a regular basis, even if you don't feel thirsty. Drink water before beginning your hike, too, so you start out on the right foot. It's also not a bad idea to get a waterproof jacket with pockets specially designed to hold water bottles.
  6. Invest in Quality Boots. Waterproof boots are a must-have for a winter hike. You never know when you'll encounter a thin covering of ice along the trail that's hiding a hole filled with slush! Waterproof boots can keep your socks dry, which means you can walk in comfort. Nobody wants to hike in soggy socks, right?
  7. Pack Easy-to-Eat Snacks. If you want to reach a landmark or sight by a particular time, you don't want to have to stop to eat. There are many snacks that are easy to eat as you walk, like granola, nuts, peanut butter and crackers, trail mix, and beef jerky. These items are easy to hold with gloves on and have protein and fat to keep your energy up for the hike.

Enjoy the peacefulness of the woods in the wintertime, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: safety hiking tips

10 Ways Families Can Keep Active In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Feb 9, 2018


Are you and your family members getting out to play in the snow this winter? Or are you watching a lot of television and spending hours on the computer? If you want to get moving this winter, there are a lot of fun ways to do it. This week, I have some suggestions for families who want to stay active together during the cold months.

  1. Ice Skating. Ice skating gets your muscles working and your heart going, and most importantly, it can lead to a lot of laughter. Do you have access to a pond that has frozen solid this winter? If so, great! You can buy used ice skates at a store that sells secondhand sports equipment. If you don't have a nearby pond, check to see if your city sets up an ice rink each winter for the public to use. I suggest enjoying a few mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows with your family after skating.
  2. Make Snowmen. This is a traditional activity that was as fun for families 50 years ago as it is today. Get the kids and adults involved by having a competition for the best snowman. Use old hats, gloves and scarves for the competition. Be sure to put them in the front yard for all the neighbors to enjoy.
  3. A Winter Hike. Get everyone to put on a pair of thick socks and some boots for a walk through the woods. Take some time to notice the bird and squirrel nests up in the leafless trees. Try to figure out what type of bird built each nest you see. Take the family dog along with you, if you have one, so it can enjoy the winter scenery, too.
  4. Build a Snow Fort. If you aren't into building snowmen, you can opt for a snow fort. The best thing about building a snow fort with family is that everyone can have a job. Little kids can roll snow balls and pile them to start a wall. Bigger kids can push the snow down to make sure the wall is secure. Adults can lift the heavier blocks of snow to put them in place.
  5. Play a Game of Frisbee. When you think of playing Frisbee, you probably imagine a park on a sunny afternoon. Why not play it in the snow? Get a bright red Frisbee and play a game in the front yard. The slipping and sliding involved in this game is sure to cause lots of giggles.
  6. Build an Indoor Fort. Blankets, pillows, comforters, and sheets are all materials you can use to build a fort with your kids. Drape some blankets over a couple of chairs and decorate the inside of your fort with throw pillows.
  7. Make a Home Theater. Set up some chairs in rows in your living room in front of the television. Put out a buffet of popcorn, soda, chips, candy, and other movie theater fare. Let one of your kids direct everyone to their seats with a flashlight, then dim the lights and enjoy a favorite family film together.
  8. Mini-Golf. Find some old golf balls and use brooms as golf clubs. Ramps can be made with old pieces of wood, and empty vegetable cans can serve as the holes in your course. Get creative and set up a challenging mini-golf course for your family members.
  9. Freeze Dance. This easy game is played by gathering all your family together. One person gets to turn on the radio or CD player, and everyone else must dance until the music goes off. They must immediately freeze in place when the music stops, or they are out! The last person left out on the dance floor is the winner.
  10. Indoor Rock Climbing. If you have a YMCA or a fitness center near your home, take the opportunity to try the rock climbing wall with your family. This is a great exercise for muscles, helps with balance, and is challenging fun for all ages.

Whether you stay indoors or venture outside, try some of these activities with your family. Make your winter days memorable for everyone! Thanks for reading. - Alan with Alan's Factory Outlet

Topics: keep active in winter

How To Best Care For Horses In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Feb 2, 2018


'Wintertime Fun with Your Horse'

Do you own a horse? If so, you know that horses need special care during the cold weather months. Though they're strong animals that can endure low temperatures, it's a good idea to take some precautions so they stay healthy and happy throughout the cold weather season. This week, I have eight tips for giving your horse the care it needs over winter.

8 Tips to Care for Your Horse This Winter

  1. Say No to Snowy Hooves. When the snow starts to pile up, it can stick to your horse's hooves. This puts your horse at risk for slipping and injuring itself, and other health issues. One temporary fix for this is to apply petroleum jelly to the bottom of your horse's shoes/hooves to create a seal against the snow. For a more effective remedy, ask your farrier to put special pads on your horse's hooves to prevent the snow from sticking.
  2. Hydrate Your Horse. A horse doesn't take in as much water during the cold weather months as it does in the spring and summer. In addition, your horse is missing out on the moisture it takes in from eating grass. When a horse is dehydrated, it's at higher risk for getting colic. So, it's important to make sure your horse has a supply of clean water at all times. Giving it warm water may encourage it to drink more during the winter. If you want to prevent freezing, I suggest you get a heater designed to prevent a horse's water from freezing in the bucket.
  3. Create a Suitable Feeding Program. During the warm weather months, your horse eats grass, grain, and hay to maintain its weight. But, with no grass to eat in the wintertime, you need to increase the amount of hay and/or grain you give your horse to make sure it gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
  4. Put a Blanket on Your Horse. When a horse's coat is dry, it acts as insulation trapping the heat. Unfortunately, the moisture in the air this time of year can quickly cause your horse's coat to become wet and matted. One solution is to put a blanket on your horse to keep its coat dry. To make it extra special, get a blanket with your horse's name on it. The other horses in the barn are sure to be jealous!
  5. Provide Cover from the Wind. Whether you keep your horse outside all winter or let it out for a few hours a day, it needs shelter from the wind. A run-in shed is great for keeping your horse out of the freezing winds and bitter cold air as it enjoys time outdoors.
  6. Exercise Your Horse. Make it a point to keep riding your horse during the cold weather months. It still needs regular exercise to maintain its weight and keep its muscles in shape. If you don't want to ride every day, try lunging your horse to give it some exercise.
  7. Avoid Trimming Your Horse's Ears. You may be tempted to trim the thick hair growing in your horse's ears this time of year. But, don't do it. This hair helps to keep your horse's ears warm.
  8. Don't Put Your Sweaty Horse Outside. If you love to ride year-round, keep in mind your horse will sweat even in the middle of January. After removing the saddle from your sweaty horse, use a cloth to dry it or walk it around inside the barn until the sweat dries. Putting a sweaty horse outside could cause portions of its coat to freeze.

I hope you and your horse share some fun times on these cold, snowy days. Thanks for reading.-Alan

Allium Millenium Is The Perennial Plant Of 2018

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Jan 26, 2018


Have you ever heard of a plant called the Allium Millenium? Well, it's been chosen by the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) as the Plant of the Year for 2018. Some people call this plant an ornamental onion, while others say it reminds them of a lollipop. Intrigued? This week, I'm looking at the unique features of this award-winning plant, which could make a nice addition to your yard.

The Facts on the Allium Millenium

The Allium Millenium has dark green foliage and a ball-shaped cluster of florets that can be bright purple or mauve. Other species of allium can be lilac, yellow, blue, red, pink, or white. The Allium Millenium grows to be about 16 to 20 inches tall. These plants have a nectar attractive to both honeybees and butterflies. I suggest planting them near a large window looking out of your family room or kitchen. This gives your family the chance to observe the monarchs, swallowtails, and other butterflies as they pay frequent visits to your home.

Where Do These Plants Grow?

The Allium Millenium is a drought-resistant plant. They live in dry soil that's normal or sandy. If you live in a zone that falls between 4 and 9 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Map, then you're in the perfect place for planting Allium Milleniums.

Caring for Your Plant

When fall arrives, plant your Allium Millenium bulbs in an area that receives full sunlight. Since these plants can grow to be 20 inches tall, you may consider planting them next to a fence, so their long stems have some support and/or protection on windy days. These plants need very little water to grow, so if you're searching for a low-maintenance plant, the Allium Millenium may be the right choice for you.

Displaying Your Plants

One of the nicest things about the Allium Millenium is it can be combined with many other types of flowers in your garden. They look nice beside salvia, daylilies, or Shasta daisies. These plants are equally at home in a container as they are in a garden. In addition, planting Allium Milleniums is an easy way to give more appeal to a gravel or pebble walkway on your property. Of course, they'll also look nice planted outside your garden shed.

Fun Tidbits About the Allium Millenium

  • The Allium Millenium is known as an ornamental onion because its leaves emit an onion fragrance when crushed.
  • This plant repels deer, rabbits, and chipmunks with both its fragrance and its taste.
  • They are sometimes called the lollipops of the garden due to their shape.
  • Allium Milleniums are known to last a long time when cut and put into a vase.
  • There are 500-plus species of allium around the world, including onions, leeks, and chives.
  • These lovely plants are resistant to many insects and diseases.
  • "Allium" is the Latin word for garlic.
  • The Allium Millenium was created by Mark McDonough, who is an allium breeder.

One last note: If you have a lot of rabbits, deer, chipmunks, or squirrels stopping by your garden for a quick snack, plant a border of Allium Milleniums. These plants will add beauty to your garden while discouraging the activity of those pesky critters. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: Allium Millenium


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