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Soon these pullets will be laying eggs

Right about now spring chickens are no longer the cute, fuzzy bundles they were just five weeks ago. Just like human children, they have begun maturing — at first by bits. Now they look like mini adult chickens.
    So it’s a good thing most chick purchases are not for cuddly cuteness but for modern homesteading.
    For now, new chicks are still dependents, requiring extra attention food, shelter and water. Chicks must maintain a body temperature of at least 90 degrees when brought home, with diminishing temperatures after that. They are pullets, the proper name for hens of this transitioning age, no longer chicks but not yet laying.
    Novice chicken farmer Susan Nolan of Lothian has six chickens in her developing flock, two Barred Rock, two Red Stars, one Andalusian Blue and one New Hampshire Red.
    From now until early fall, she gives them two heaping scoops of feed a day. Just like the kids at home, the chicks are messy eaters, leaving more on the ground than in their bellies.
    By early June, they can leave the shelter of Nolan’s home to live in their own residence, the coop.
    Around September, they’ll be feeding Nolan and her family approximately three to five eggs a week per chicken.
    Read more on raising egg hens at:
www.bayweekly.com/node/17991.

Honor the holy day. Then celebrate the holiday.

Memorial Day is both a holiday and a holy day.
    On the far side of war, it’s the holiday beginning summer’s season of outdoor living, welcomed with barbecues, crab feasts and pool openings. I’m eager to plunge into that season this week or next, weather permitting. Imagining you are too, all of us here are preparing Bay Weekly’s indispensible Summer Guide to tuck inside your June 8 paper.
    On the near side of war, Memorial Day is a holy day. Dating back to the Civil War, it began as Decoration Day, when a mourning nation decorated the graves of its lost sons with the flowers of spring.
    World War I gave Memorial Day a great boost. America entered the Great War, its working title, 100 years ago, calling 4.7 million into service and sending four million men to fight along war-weary French and British soldiers.
    All must have feared what American poet Alan Seeger predicted:

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air —
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

     The feelings of one of the 4.7 million, Illinoisan
A.L. Dixon, survived the century. I read in his own hand ­lonely, newsy letters he sent to my grandmother’s first cousin, Miss Cora Smith, during his 18 months of ­service. Safe from the German barrage, spared by spinal meningitis and influenza, Dix served an easy war as a quartermaster sergeant in Camp Taylor, Kentucky. But of course he did not know that going in.

December 13, 1917
    Me thinks we will soon see France and I hope so, just to get this over with. I have taken out $500 insurance and Mother may find herself rich some day soon …

April 19, 1918
    There are three stars in the home service flag now and I am some what proud of it — there will be a chance of some of us boys in the Dixon family getting shot I think. I can’t say that Mother is proud of her best soldier sons, but they are all insured for $40,000 and she had better wish us good luck in this scrap.

November 4, 1918    
    The flu was sure bad here and some few of our boys “kicked off.” It failed to land me this time so you and others will still have to keep on sending letters to Camp Taylor and trust the Huns to get me when I go across.

    Then the war was over. Dix and his brothers were lucky. Others were not. America suffered 306,000 casualties.

December 31, 1918
    There are lots of the oversea boys here in camp all wounded and all quartered at the base hospital, they must make me bawl every time I see them for some are in bad shape and one can see just what war means.

    Of the 306,000, 53,402 died in action. Among them was the poet Alan Seeger. An early volunteer with the French Foreign Legion, he kept his rendezvous with death on July 4, 1916, nine months before America entered the war.
    Disease, including the war years’ terrible flu, and other causes took 63,114 more lives.
    The War to End All Wars did not live up to its billing. Since 2001, 6,886 American warriors have died according to http://thefallen.militarytimes.com. The ­Religious Society of Friends’ count is higher.
    Memorial Day seems to serve a lasting purpose.
    In this week’s paper, we continue our remembrance of World War I, introducing storyteller Elloise Schoettler, who you can hear in person Saturday, May 27 as she recounts Unknown Stories of 64 World War I Nurses from Maryland at Chesapeake Beach’s annual Stars and Stripes Festival.
    You’ll also learn what Dix meant by three stars in the home service flag. For that, turn to Crofton Library’s Blue Star Memorial: One of an All-American Chain of Monuments to Peace, also by Diana Dinsick.
    Honor this holy day. Then celebrate the holiday.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Ridley Scott is more interested in philosophy than chills in this latest sequel

Leaving Earth in search of a habitable planet, The Covenant carries a crew of married couples plus 2,000 colonists and a few trays of embryos. While the crew and passengers hypersleep, android Walter (Michael Fassbender: Assassin’s Creed) cares for the ship.
    A disaster ends the crew’s slumbers.
    The crippled Covenant’s luck improves when the crew finds a habitable planet nearby. Shall they take a look?
    The one voice of dissent is Daniels (Katherine Waterston: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), a just-made widow who is second in command. Her objections overruled, Daniels reluctantly accepts a mission to see if this mystery planet is suitable for humans.
    The team finds the planet perfectly habitable yet deserted. The only being they encounter is David (also Fassbender), an android from the ship Prometheus, who has made this empty Earth a lab for his experiments. The crew’s curiosity about the missing Prometheus is tabled when xenomorphs show up to eat them.
    Where is the thrill? Director Ridley Scott, creator of Alien, seems to have forgotten the elements that made his 1979 film a triumph: tight plotting, interesting characters and a realistic threat that was not easily escapable. Today’s Scott is more interested in philosophic debates. It’s difficult to take his weighty subjects seriously as murderous xenomorphs pop up. Dialog is so silly that the audience giggled through talk on the meaning of life, the purpose of survival and the quest to discover our origins.
    Adding insult to injury, we must wait nearly an hour for the aliens, during which time, Scott fails to develop his characters so that later none of their deaths have impact. The one bright spot is Fassbender, who gives both androids distinct personalities and wants.

Poor Sci-Fi/Horror • R • 122 mins.

Death by herbicide is the first step toward no-till farming

This spring, Chesapeake Country meadows turned from green to the color of straw. It’s been a strange sight and one you’ll see more of in coming years. No, it’s not a symptom of climate change. It’s a step in no-till farming.
    No-till farming offers many advantages over conventional farming.
    Plowing, disking and cultivating destroy soil structure and organic matter and cause soil to compact and to lose moisture, thus requiring ever more energy and more powerful equipment. Turned soil is exposed to wind and water erosion. Dormant weed seeds, which infest our soils, are exposed to sunlight, which can give them the push to germination in a few seconds.
    No-till farming, on the other hand, promotes the accumulation of organic matter. With more organic matter, soil needs less fertilizer, keeps its moisture, avoids compaction and is protected from erosion. But the first step, conversion from conventional to no-till, requires greater dependency on chemical weed killers called herbicides.
    The quick spring change from green fields to gold means the vegetation was sprayed with Gramoxin. Gramoxin is a restricted-use herbicide used to kill either annual weeds or a cover crop of winter rye or wheat. The applicator must be certified to use Gramoxin.
    A more gradual change of color over seven to 10 days suggests the chemical herbicide was glyphosate, pioneered as Roundup by Monsanto. This chemical is used most on peren­nial weeds.
    Weed killers in agricultural use generally have a short lifespan. They are applied in ounces per acre and decompose by light, heat and microbes. As no-till promotes the accumulation of organic matter, there is an increase in microbial activity, which helps keep soil productive.
    In no-till farming, the only soil disturbed is a thin slice where both the seeds and fertilizers are injected into the soil. With less soil disturbance, the weed population diminishes with time, thus reducing the need to apply weed killers in the future.
    The immediate advantage is most noticeable during drought years. No-till crops are more drought-tolerant because the soil retains more water.
    It takes about three years before farmers begin to measure the full benefits of no-till farming. As organic matter accumulates, there is less fertilizer needed to optimize crop yields. With less soil compaction, the roots of crops are able to penetrate deeper for water and nutrients.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

On these, you did your part

A couple of recent stories have given us just the response we like to hear: You loved them.
    Every Wednesday afternoon, we wash our hands of the next day’s paper, just as I’m doing today on the paper of May 18, 2017 — which happens to be one of which we’re all proud.
    When our work is done, yours begins. For newspapering is a partnership among those who make it — writers, editors, photographers, designers, ad reps, advertisers — and those who read it. We and You.
    A newspaper without readers isn’t even fish wrap.
    Our interdependence is just as real on a personal level. Each of us sends our weekly contributions out into the world as foundlings. What will happen to the story we’ve spent so much time on, which belongs to people about whom we’ve grown to care? Will you take it into your heart as we did? We depend on you to finish the story.
    Ask Diana Beechener, Mick Blackistone, Audrey Broomfield, Jackie Graves, Sarah Jablon and Kathy Knotts, all writers in this week’s paper. That’s what they’ll tell you. (Dennis Doyle we granted a rare week off.) Even Bay Gardener Francis Gouin thrives on your interest and questions.
    Or how about that page Alex Knoll or Betsy Kehne wrestled with to make it call out to you?
    One of those pages is why I’m smiling as I write. That’s our May 5 two-page spread of people and their dogs promenading with SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
    Appealing as that page looks, bringing it to you is no walk in the park. Just on our side — for I’m not even going to try to imagine all SPCA puts into this annual event — four Bay Weekly humans and one Bay Weekly dog, turned out for the Walk for the Animals. Audrey Broomfield and her husky Misty took the early shift, starting at 7:30am. She and Alex Knoll and son Jack engaged walkers, while Karen Lambert shot photos. From camera to page, Betsy Kehne took over, straining to arrange the montage that had us all wishing we’d been there to see the fun in person.
    By 5pm Wednesday, May 3 we’d put that particularly challenging paper to bed, emailing it to our printer in Virginia, which is a high-tech story of its own. Early Thursday, May 4, 20,000 copies were trucked to us and waiting for their delivery drivers.
    What happened then?
    Did all those people and their dogs put a smile on your face? I’d still be wondering — except that Lou Carter, a woman with her heart in SPCA, phoned to say she was thrilled. What she had to say, you’ll read down the page in Your Say. Because of talking with Lou, I’m smiling, too.
    Our May 11 story, The Magic of Song, reaped another kind of reward. All week, emails from fans of that story’s hero, Jeanne Kelly of Encore Chorale, have been flooding my inbox. Clearly, the impresario of elder song has built quite the network, for each one sang her praises.
    Standing on the wings of appreciation is writer Diana Dinsick, without whom that story would never have been.
    Encore Chorale had been a faint blip on my editorial radar screen for quite some time. For years, we’d reported in 8 Days a Week the Chorale’s regular releases reaching out to singers and announcing concerts. Fans had encouraged us to do a story.
    The spark that turned a good idea into a story came early this spring, in the Chorale’s announcement of its May 13 concert at DAR Constitution Hall. Ah-ha! I said, and opened the line to writer Dinsick, herself a Daughter of the American Revolution. The story that pleased all those readers came to be because Dinsick made the calls, did the interviews, listened to performances, researched the science, wrote the story and endured my editing. Now she’s smiling, too.
    That satisfied smile is usually what happens when we hear from you (unless we’ve made a mistake!).
    The advertisers who bring you Bay Weekly want to hear from you, too. Remember to say, I saw your ad in Bay Weekly!

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Mack the Lab is Maryland’s chief apiary sniffer

Cybil Preston and her bee dog Mack the Lab are official heroes in the state of Maryland.
    Like all heroes and superheroes, Mack rose from a troubled past. He was a puppy in a dissolving family where three small children took up all the time the mother had to give. Preston came to the rescue, sensing Mack had the brains to pick up new skills. He did.
    Preston, Maryland’s chief apiary inspector, needed a new sharp-nosed dog to continue the nation’s longest — and only — canine apiary inspection program. The most famous of the five dogs who held the Maryland job was Klinker, who was featured in a National Geographic segment before retiring in 2014.
    Bee dogs, as the apiary inspectors are known, can sniff out a killing disease. The American foulbrood bacterium kills both pupae and pre-pupae in bee colonies. It spreads in a vegetative form as well as through spores, which means if a hive is infected, any tools used even, potentially, the hive itself may have to be destroyed.
    American foulbrood gets its name from the country in which it was discovered and its foul smell, “like chicken manure,” Preston says. The human nose can detect the scent only if the hive is opened, Preston says, “while Mack need only walk past.”
    He stops and sits to signal an infested hive.
    Mack works only in the cold, below 52 degrees, when bees are dormant, so he isn’t stung. One sting on the nose taught handler and dog that lesson. Mack works on the Preston family farm in his free time, at his master’s side, sidetracked only by a game of Frisbee.
    Quick, cost effective and extremely accurate, bee-sniffing dogs are a key part of Maryland apiculture and agriculture, keeping bees at work pollinating crops.

Mack’s sensitive nose helps Maryland’s chief apiary inspector Cybil Preston find bee hives infested with American foulbrood.

This mother-daughter comedy is good for a few laughs

Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer: Inside Amy Schumer) is a train wreck. Fired from her retail job and dumped by her boyfriend, she’s reduced to posting selfies on Instagram. Her digital success has not earned her friends, so her only willing companion on a non-refundable trip to Ecuador is her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn: The Banger Sisters), the one person who has never told her no.
    A bit of a shut-in who still takes care of Emily’s agoraphobic man-child of a brother, Linda reluctantly agrees.
    Emily’s delight gives way to annoyance at her mother’s overprotectiveness and prudish travel rules. Convinced an adventure will chill her mother out, Emily forces her to experience “the real Ecuador.”
    They are promptly kidnapped.
    Alone and terrified, mother and daughter team up to overcome their captors, the unforgiving jungle and their own strife. Are they doomed to be a cautionary tale for other tourists?
    Crude, funny and shallow, Snatched is much like Emily’s character. Director Jonathan Levine (The Night Before) pushes for laughs that are increasingly outlandish. A slapstick sequence involving a tapeworm would be more at home in an Adam Sandler film.
    Schumer has made a career of playing drunken messes, and her role here is no exception. It’s a funny character, but one that becomes successively frustrating the more outrageous her antics become. In her previous film, Schumer had something to say about the pressure women feel to fulfil a “cool girl” archetype. In Snatched, she has nothing to say.
    Hawn is a bright spot as Schumer’s uptight mom. She gamely throws herself into even the most ridiculous gag, wringing laughs out of some truly lame material. It’s good to see the comic legend back on the screen, even if she deserves better material.
    The movie’s real problem is its portrayal of Latin populations. The native people Emily and her mother encounter are either maniacal criminals or simple folk. It’s an insulting portrayal and one that reeks of racism.
    Cultural ignorance and appropriation aside, Snatched lands many of its jokes. When Schumer rambles like the world’s most awkward fish out of water, it’s downright fun.

Fair Comedy • R • 91 mins.

With resident rockfish season, ­fishing becomes catching

Trophy rockfish season ends Monday, May 15. On Tuesday, May 16, the second Chesapeake Bay rockfish season begins. At the change, the size limit changes from one fish of over 35 inches to two fish 20 inches or larger, only one of which may be longer than 28 inches.
    Legal fishing areas are limited to the main stem of the Chesapeake from the Hart-Miller Island Dike south to the Maryland-Virginia line plus Tangier Sound and Pocomoke Sound; and the Chester, Choptank and Patuxent rivers and their tributaries. No rockfishing in other rivers, tributaries or creeks, bays or sounds. The geographical limits protect rockfish that continue to spawn in these waters into June.
    Making the transition to angling for resident fish, which will now mostly measure under 30 inches, will mean shifting both equipment and technique.
    This time of year begins light tackle heaven. As rockfish forage in shallower water, they can be pursued on medium-weight spin and casting rods. With the spawn mostly done, patterns emerge as to where the fish can be found.
    As the average size fish will now be about 23 to 24 inches, in tackle drop down to hooks 5/0 and under, leaders 20 to 25 pound or less and lures six inches and under.
    More specifically, trollers should begin dropping back to six-inch sassy shads on their bucktails and parachutes as well as using smaller spoons and swimming plugs. As waters warm, fish begin holding deeper, so additional weight may be needed to present the baits at the necessary depths.
    Chumming, chunking and bottom fishing produce better, as stripers form larger schools, hold in one location much longer and start the post-spawn feed. Alewife, menhaden and bunker (all the same baitfish under different names) continue to be the prefered bait for rockfish. Shore-bound anglers can also rely on bloodworms — jumbos if they can be found — to tempt better-sized fish.
    For now, shore-bound angling is limited to locations that border the Bay proper, among them Sandy Point, Matapeake and Point Look Out state parks. Note that Jonas Green Park and Romancoke Pier, both popular fishing areas, will not be legal until June 1.
    Resident rockfish will now also begin holding on structure such as bridge piers, jetties and along the deeper (five to 10 foot) points and rocky shorelines. This will make them accessible to jerk baits such as Bass Assassins, BKDs, Rapala X-Raps, Rat-L-Traps and similar swimming plugs. At first and last light they will be susceptible to top water baits in the areas along these same structures.

Feed new plants or warm the soil

Like air, soil is slowly warming. When soil temperatures are below 60 degrees, soil microorganisms are rather inactive and plants have fewer nutrients to absorb. As the soils warm, the microorganisms become active and more nutrients become available.
    The conventional gardener can readily solve this problem by side-dressing with a water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Gro or by sprinkling calcium nitrate, ammonium sulfate or a complete fertilizer near the plants and cultivating it into the soil. This practice will stimulate the plants into early growth. Never allow granular fertilizers to remain on the surface of the soil if you want your money’s worth, for some of the nitrogen will be lost into the atmosphere.
    The solution to cool soil is more complicated for organic gardens, where growth depends on the microorganisms in the soil digesting the organic matter and releasing nutrients.
    Organic gardeners can solve the problem by blending blood meal or fish oil with the soil prior to planting. Another method is to cover the area one to two weeks before planting with a sheet of clear plastic, anchoring the edges of the plastic into the ground. The clear plastic will provide a greenhouse effect and warm the soil. At planting time, remove the clear plastic and cover the row to be planted with black plastic strips 12 to 18 inches wide. Using a sharp knife, cut an X and transplant through the plastic, which will help keep the soil warm and smother weeds.
    I rely on soil test results in making fertilizer recommendations. However, testing is done at room temperature, so soil may contain adequate amounts of nutrients that may not be available in cool soils. This is why water-soluble starter fertilizer is recommended when transplanting in early spring. Water-soluble starter fertilizer provides instantly available nutrients that early spring-planted crops need for optimum growth.
    If you are transplanting plants grown in peat pots, tear away the top of each pot before planting. Allowing the tops of the peat pots to protrude above the soil will result in water being wicked away from the root ball. Plants can die of drought despite the soil surrounding the peat pot being moist. I prefer tearing away the entire peat pot to ensure that the garden soil makes direct contact with the root ball.
    If you are transplanting plants grown in plastic pots or cell packs, examine each root ball before planting. If the roots cover the entire outside edge of the root ball, crush the root ball to disrupt the root system. By crushing the root ball, you will be forcing new roots to grow into the garden soil. Allowing the roots to remain undisturbed often results in delayed establishment or stunted plants.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

Bats have a colony of mothers

Who knew that bats make excellent mothers? You and I do, thanks to Maryland Department of Natural Resources bat biologist Dana Limpert, who speaks highly of the brown bat.
    “They take excellent care of their young. If a baby falls out of the roost or is injured, the mother will recognize its calls and rescue it.”
    Myotis lucifugus is small, about three and a half inches with a wingspan of nine to 11 inches and weighing less than half an ounce. Their name comes from their long brown fur. Brown bats live throughout Chesapeake Country, especially near water for drinking.
    A female bat gives birth to one or two pups every spring, late May to early June, with twins common hereabouts. During pregnancy and after birth, mother and pups reside in a “maternity colony” that can range from five to several hundred of the winged mammals. Think about a Yaya sisterhood on an animal level.
    Babies not yet able to fly attach themselves to mom immediately after birth and feed on her milk for the first few weeks. When momma bat gets hungry, she leaves her pups in the colony cluster and goes out to hunt for bugs. Upon return she licks faces, recognizing her pups by scent and call.
    In a month or so, pups join their mother in catching and eating bugs.
    Recent developments in gene identification have shown that all members of a colony are related. Colonies live in tree trunks, caves and barns. Eventually — in the fall for females and a year later for males — the pups leave their mothers’ sides to start their own families. The mothers will rejoin their male counterparts in forming a bigger colony to mate, hibernate and begin the cycle anew.
    DNR wants to know if you see bats to help in population studies and preservation of the species, which is under fungal attack: https://tinyurl.com/DNR-bats.