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Smart Preparation Makes Winter More Enjoyable The winter winds may be harsh, but those who live

in snowy, cold climates know there is still charm to be found in the season. When you’re relaxing in front of a warm fire or enjoying a rich meal with a gathering of friends, it’s easy to forget the wintry weather just outside the door.

But to keep winter weather concerns at bay, a little Page 14 2011 October 7

preparation can go a long way. As the flakes start to fall, it’s important to get outside and ensure that your home is safe for you, your visitors, neighbors and passersby. While these tasks likely aren’t at the top of your fa- vorite winter activities list, they will save you from bigger headaches as the season progresses. And if you take a smart approach to them, you’ll be able to get back inside sooner, to enjoy the snowy scene in the warmth of your home. To make your winter weather chores faster and more effective, follow these tips for snow removal.

Impr Homeovement

* Dress for the weather and the task. If it’s cold enough to be snowing, staying warm will be a priority. However, there’s more to consider than just wrapping yourself in scarves and lay- ers of sweaters. The tasks you’re taking on are highly active, so you want to make sure that you won’t overheat under the layers. Choose breathable clothing, like cotton or breathable syn- thetic insulation layers, to wear under

your coat, so that you’re not sweating out in the cold. Additionally, avoid loose clothing or things that dangle - they can easily get caught in equipment, causing injury. Tuck in scarf ends or use a neck gaiter instead.

* Choose shoes that prevent slips.

This isn’t a job for your ordinary pair of sneakers. Falling snow and sleet get slippery fast, so it’s important to wear shoes that will keep you on your feet. Shoes with deep treads, made of a material that grips well are the best option. If your winter boots are worn from years of use, it’s time to invest in a new pair that will make working outside more pleasant and safe. * Let your equipment do most of the snow removal work. Shovels can work well for doing occasional touch ups, but when you have a lot of ground to cover, the job is faster and less physi- cally demanding when you use a motorized snow thrower. The type of machine you’ll need de- pends on the size of the area you need to clear and the snow load in your area. Husqvarna makes both single-stage, which is best for moderate to heavy snowfall, and dual-stage snow throwers, which can take on the heaviest snow falls. The single stage ST 121E is ideal for smaller spaces because of its compact size and easy maneuverability. If you have more ground to cover and heavier snow, the 1827EXLT, a dual-stage machine, makes clearing long driveways and other large spaces fast and essentially effortless. And with a new trac-drive system, the 1827EXLT can operate on tougher terrain and more extreme conditions. * Don’t let it sit. It pays to act quickly when it comes to clearing snowfall. Of course, you want to avoid driving on any snow that’s accumulated on your driveway or where you park - doing so will pack the snow down and eventu-

ally create icy ruts. But clearing snow early and often on walkways is equally important. If your city is experiencing blizzard conditions with big snowfall totals, it’s a good idea to clear your walks throughout the storm, which will help you avoid dealing with packed-in, heavy snow. Once you’ve got everything cleared, add salt or sand for extra traction and a bit of melting power - just be sure it’s safe for pets and people and won’t destroy any plants adjacent to where you’re spreading it. There’s no denying that there are some headaches that come along with winter. But if you find smart ways to cut down on the time you spend laboring outside, you’ll be able to enjoy the season as you should - inside your cozy home with friends and family.

- ARA Content Surefire Tactics to Fill Your Backyard With Birdsong This Winter

Shorter days, dropping temperatures and dealing with snow and ice can give many people a serious case of the winter doldrums. Most of us won’t be able to fight winter blues with a tropical get- away or a spa weekend. But there is an easy, convenient way to give yourself an emotional boost during the winter, and do something good for nature at the same time: feed wild birds. More than 65 million Americans have tried bird feeding, accord- ing to a recent Census Report. Bird feeding is an easy and enjoyable hobby for people of any age, ability and skill level. Whether you’re new to bird feeding or a seasoned pro, here are some tips to help you enjoy a successful, mutually beneficial relationship with your backyard birds this winter:

Figuring out feeders The type of feeder you use is important. To attract the greatest number of species, you’ll need to provide different types of feeders and feed choices. Hopper and platform designs are always popu-

lar, but whatever feeders you use during winter should have a few features in common: * A wide cover over feeding ports, perches and dispensing trays will help prevent feed from being buried by snowfall. The cover should extend several inches over the feeder edge to ensure protec- tion from all but the worst storms.

* Place feeders in sheltered locations out of severe winds. Placing feeders close to the house, or using window feeders, both offers the birds more shelter and gets them closer for great viewing. You can also place feeders near protective cover like hedges. * Bigger is better for winter feeding. Large capacity feeders mean

you’ll have to brave winter weather less frequently to refill them. Keep ‘em clean

Birds appreciate cleanliness when it comes to their feeders. Because natural food sources are scarce in winter, your feeders will attract hungry birds. It’s important to clean them regularly to keep them free of mold, mildew and other unhealthy conditions that could foster disease.

Backyard with benefits Here’s some steps to make your backyard even more beneficial to

birds: * Consider adding a heated bird bath. Birds have difficulty finding

fresh water in the winter. * Leave bird houses and nesting boxes in place through winter to act as shelter for roosting birds.

* Choose bird-friendly landscaping that includes sheltering ever- green plants, and plants that provide fruit for a natural winter food source.

Give birds a boost with food high in fat, nutrition and energy With insects and fruit harder to find naturally during winter months, most birds will thrive on seeds. Suet, solid fat rendered from beef, venison or vegetables, is also good for birds, and provides much needed concentrated energy. Serving suet used to be a messy affair, but bird feed producers like Cole’s Wild Bird Products have made the task much easier for the server and even more beneficial for birds. Cole’s offers several mess-free ways to serve suet: * Suet Kibbles are high potency and offer birds the berry flavors

they love. Cole’s formulation also incorporates dried insects for increased stamina. Serve it in a sunflower feeder or mix with your favorite seed to attract warblers, woodpeckers, bluebirds and nut- hatches.

* Suet Nuts combines nourishing peanuts and berry suet. * Suet Pearls feature sunflower meats buried within energy-packed

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suet. You can serve them separately or mix with seed. Your seed choices should be high-quality and tailored to provide birds with the biggest energy bonanza possible. Sunflower is a great seed option for winter because it’s rich in oil, which attracts birds and provides them with plenty of energy. Cole’s Oil Sunflower is the highest-grade black oil sunflower seed, it’s over 99 percent pure and cleaned four times to ensure you get more seed and fewer sticks. Peanuts are another high-energy

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option. Choose hulled varieties that are whole - and more nutritious than peanut pieces. They’re especially attractive to titmice, nuthatch- es, wrens and woodpeckers. Once you’ve invested in good seed and the right feeders, don’t

overlook the importance of storing it properly. Store in airtight con- tainers in an area of your home where the seed won’t be exposed to extreme temperatures. Never store seed outside as this can attract pests and predators. This winter, boost backyard birds’ energy levels and serve up the right seed in the right feeder. You’ll enjoy winter bird-watching and the birds will benefit from the extra energy. Be patient, it may take a few weeks before the birds discover newly placed feeders. While you wait, be sure to keep the feeders full. Eventually, the birds will come. For more information on Cole’s Feed visit www.coleswildbird. com.

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