It is amazing to think that just a little more than a year ago, I was taking the plunge and joining Purdue Extension in Clay and Owen counties.
Since last August, I have learned a lot, met many amazing people and have found great pleasure in my career choice.
To highlight the past year, I thought it would be nice to talk briefly about some of the unique things that have been brought into my office, called about, or that I have seen while answering client questions.
One of the questions that came into the office quite frequently in May, June and July was issues involving galls on trees.
Galls can be unsightly, ugly objects on the leaves and stems of your trees.
Some of the ones we are more familiar with are the Maple Spindle Gall and Cedar Apple Rust.
Galls generally are caused by insects and are the house for their growing offspring.
Maple Spindle Gall in particular is caused by a mite, Vasatest aceriscrumena.
It will cause your maple leaves to have thin, elongated bladders arise from the upper portion of the leaf.
Cedar Apple Rust is the bright orange gelatinous galls with tendrils flowing out of it on Cedar trees in the spring.
For these galls to become gelatinous, there needs to be spores in the air from infected apple, crabapple or hawthorn trees.
A few individuals had questions about alternative agriculture. They were interested in starting their own aquaponic facility, a fishery, or raising and showing alpacas.
I was able to help locate information about these topics and put them in contact with specialists around the state who were more than happy to get involved.
From these questions, I found out there are actually more than 20,000 alpacas in North America.
There are a total of 22 natural basic colors found in alpacas ranging from black to white with many different shades of brown, gray, tan and creams.
Just like any animal species, the price for an alpaca can vary from $10,000-$30,000 plus for a high quality female and $1,000 for a gelding.
A high quality herd sire can be as much as $60,000.
Helping clients who have questions about livestock and alternative agriculture is great, but some of the more intriguing questions can come in the form of insects that are brought to the office to be identified.
Some of the insects, which have made their way to my desk, include Boxelder Bugs, a Wheel Bug, an Earwig, and a Horsehair Worm.
Each of these insects has unique characteristics that help identify them.
The Wheel Bug, for instance, has a gear shaped protrusion from its head while the Boxelder Bug is red and black with a yellow dot on its back.
Likewise, the Horsehair Worm is a long, slender worm that looks exactly like a string of hair from a horse's mane or tail.
Not all the questions that came to my office this past year dealt with identifying a problem or an insect.
Some were just to find out a little more information about a specific topic like how to obtain building plans for farm structures, how to become a Private Applicator for pesticide in Indiana, and how to become a Master Gardener.
Questions like these can be asked anytime at the Extension Office or even at the Nature Day, that will take place Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Clay County Fairgrounds, from 9 a.m.-noon.
During that day, you can find numerous booths that focus on things like water quality, forestry, invasive plants, bats and gardening.
There will also be activities for kids, including making a birdhouse.
A presentation will be given at 11 a.m., by Mark Booth about raptors.
There is something for everyone that day, so I hope to see you at this free event.
Presentations and programs like Nature Day, along with client questions and site visits, is what makes being part of Purdue Extension in Clay and Owen counties a great career.
Thus, I look forward to seeing what questions might be posed in the coming year. If you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Sept. 6 -- Holiday. Extension Offices closed,
* Sept. 8 -- Venison Workshop, 6-9 p.m., Parke County Fairgrounds. $15, RSVP by contacting 1-765-569-3176,
* Sept. 9 -- Local Food Fair, Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, 5-7 p.m.,
* Venison Workshop, 6-9 p.m., Morgan County Fairgrounds. $15, RSVP by contacting 1-765-342-1010,
* Sept. 11 -- Nature Day, Clay County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-noon. Free. Raptor presentation at 11 a.m., and
* Sept. 13 -- Ag Outlook Program, 8:30 a.m., Clay County and Owen County Extension Office. Please RSVP by Sept. 10, to 448-9041 in Clay County, or 1-812-829-5020 in Owen County.