Poison Ivy Scouting

Poison Ivy Growing Among Woodsorrel

Whenever I take a walk around our house, I keep my eyes open for poison ivy. In the past couple weeks it seems to have awoke from its seasonal slumber and is ready to take off. The sooner you can control poison ivy the better. In order to control it well, it is important to understand this persistent plant.

The old saying “leaves of three, let it be” has been most helpful for me over the years to keep from getting confused between poison ivy and other look alikes. Poison ivy is a climbing woody vine that loses it’s leaves each winter. Leaves are egg shaped with three leaves per petiole that may be toothed, lobed, or entire. Poison ivy attaches to trees and rocks with aerial roots, which may have a hairy, fibrous appearance. Leaves may take on a reddish hue late in the season. It reproduces by creeping stems, roots, and seed transported by birds. Poison ivy can thrive in many areas that other plants do not.

All parts of the plant contain resins that cause allergic reactions for most of the U.S. population. These resins cause issues if burned, directly touched, or indirectly transferred from one surface to another. Resins are continually present on the leaves, stems, and roots, even in the winter.

Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia creeper, which is a creeping and trailing vine that secures itself to objects with specialized stems call tendrils. Virginia creeper has 5 leaflets, instead of three and is not poisonous. Poison oak is another common mix up. Poison oak has three leaflets, but the leaves look very similar to a classic oak leaf. The lobes have blunt tips and hairs on both the top and bottom of the leaf. Poison oak is not a creeping weed, but rather grows upright from the soil surface. For this plant the “leaves of three, let it be” statement still applies.

Poison ivy and poison oak are responsive to glyphosate, triclopyr, and 2, 4-D herbicides, which are commonly used in poison ivy killers. Always follow the label when using a herbicide and wear adequate protective gear while handling!

     Virginia Creeper

Poison Oak (Photo Credit-School of Forest Resources & Conservation – University of Florida)

Farm Science Review 2016


Farm Science Review (FSR) 2016 will be held Sept. 20-22 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio. Farm Science Review offers farmers and other visitors the opportunity to learn about the latest agricultural innovations from experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Farm Science Review offers visitors nearly 180 educational presentations and opportunities presented by educators, specialists and faculty from Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).  Annually FSR draws between 110,000 and 130,000 farmers, growers, producers and agricultural enthusiasts from across the U.S. and Canada and offers more than 4,000 product lines from 630 commercial exhibitors. To view the full schedule of events and presentations click here.

Advance tickets for the Farm Science Review are $7 at all OSU Extension county offices, many local agribusinesses and online (click here). Tickets are $10 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20-21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.

If you plan to visit FSR for more than one day, there are many lodging options available in the London area. Some offer discounts for FSR attendance, be sure to mention it when making reservations. Golf carts will be permitted on the grounds for visitors with a documented disability or a doctor’s excuse. Privately owned carts are permitted on the grounds, but must be checked in with a $10 fee and rentals will be available from The Golf Cart Company. Call 1-800-589-8833 to make reservations or fill out the reservation form online.

Farm Science Review tickets are available until September 18th at the following Noble County locations:

Noble County OSU Extension OfficeL & H TractorAgland Co-opJones Feed, and M&M Feed and Supply

Avian Influenza Updates and Information

Avian Influenza or “Bird Flu” is a type of influenza that is specific to poultry. It is introduced into commercial flocks from migratory birds who carry the virus. Some strains of the virus are very aggressive and have the potential to greatly influence American poultry production and consumption. This is because after exposure, generally 100% of the flock perishes. Not only does Avian Influenza pose a threat to commercial poultry, but also backyard poultry. Anyone raising poultry could potentially be impacted. It is very important that poultry managers know the signs of Avian Influenza and the steps to take if exposure in the flock is suspected. The Ohio Poultry Emergency Disease Management Committee, which is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Department of Agriculture, USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, The Ohio Poultry Association, and OSU Veterinary Extension has put together a brochure to help spread the word in the poultry community. Please share it with your peers.

Brochure -Noncommerical Poultry_Page_1

Brochure -Noncommerical Poultry_Page_2

Access the printable PDF here:

Brochure -Noncommerical Poultry


Protect Your Skin before Fun in the Sun

From the time I could understand words to the time I left home it was drilled into my head to wear sunscreen. My mother would constantly say things like this as I was headed out the door somewhere: “Did you put on sunscreen?” “Do you have a hat?” “I know it’s hot, but you should wear long sleeves.” What would I say? “Yes mom. I know.”

You see, my mother was a stickler about protecting my skin because she was diagnosed with melanoma when she was 30.  She knew the worry and pain associated with being told she had skin cancer and she didn’t want that to happen to me. Moms will be moms right? Well, over the years her words really sunk in and would echo in my head, especially when I look in the mirror and find little freckles on my checks, forehead, and ears that weren’t there last year. Now that I am a mother, I find her words coming out of my mouth. “Make sure you put sunscreen on Beth.” “Does she have a hat?” “Make sure you put the umbrella up on her stroller.”

I am not a doctor. I have no association with healthcare or skin products. I am an agriculturalist. That is what keeps me alert about the dangers of sun exposure. Many of us spend our time working outside in the middle of the day when the sun is most intense. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Sometimes we can’t follow all the doctor’s recommendations for sun safety, but we should try our best. Why? Because skin cancer is the most common type of cancer there is and it can be prevented.

Check out this information published by OSU Extension from Dr. S. Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor and State Safety Leader, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Jeffery Suchy, Graduate Student and Lecturer, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering about sun exposure and protecting your skin:


Sun Exposure (Protect Your Skin)

Gardeners work long hours, often outside in the sun during peak exposure hours. Repeated exposure to the sun can cause skin damage and certain cancers. Skin damage can include dark spots, irregular pigmentation and wrinkles. Long-term exposure and repeated damage can lead to melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. Damage typically occurs through progressive exposure over several years. Limiting exposure, dressing appropriately and applying sunscreen can reduce the chances of skin damage and disease.

Gardeners should take greater precautions against sun exposure if they:

  • Have a history of skin cancers.
  • Have a lot of freckles or moles.
  • Burn easily or have a fair complexion.
  • Have blonde or red hair.
  • Have blue, green or gray eyes.

A common misconception is that people with darker complexions are not at risk for skin cancers because they do not easily sunburn. While it is true that people with darker complexions are more naturally protected (melanin blocks UV rays) from damage than those with lighter complexions, everyone can experience skin damage from prolonged exposure. Prolonged exposure and repeated damage can lead to certain forms of skin cancer and, if left unchecked, can be deadly.

Facts About UV Rays

Although they affect the skin in different ways, both UVA and UVB rays have been linked to skin cancer.

Watching for Skin Cancer

Check any skin spot that spontaneously bleeds, changes color, or changes size. For anyone working outside in the sun, it is important to check the skin on a regular basis for visible signs of skin cancer. Look for these physical signs:

  • Asymmetrical spots.
  • Irregular borders.
  • Color variations.
  • Diameters bigger than the end of a pencil eraser.

For answers to questions about the possibility of skin cancer, consult a doctor.

In order to minimize the risk of skin damage or cancer, follow these basic recommendations:

  • Stay in the shade and avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm.
  • Schedule outdoor work for early mornings or later in the afternoon.
  • When operating a mower or other unprotected vehicle, consider adding a shade canopy to the driver’s seat.
  • Put up a collapsible tent if working outside in one location for an extended period of time.
  • If possible, perform equipment repairs and maintenance in a workshop rather than outside.


To conclude this article inspired by my mother, Mom you are right. Thanks for annoying me about sun safety. I will pass on the legacy to my daughter too. I hope you readers will do the same. Remember to love your life and love your body. It’s hard to have one without the other.

Ticked Off by Ticks?

 Of all the creepy, crawly, critters I have encountered, ticks are one of the few that really give me the heebie-jeebies. They are sneaky little things that live to feed on the blood of animals. They can transmit diseases including: Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. I would like to avoid all of those things and I’m sure you do as well. So, how do we do that?

Peak tick season lasts from mid-April to mid-July and ticks thrive in areas like forests and brush. They set up camp and wait to hitch a ride on a passing animal or pant leg. Then they explore their host for a nice place to latch on and feed. If you will be spending time in this habitat, do what you can to keep ticks from crawling into secluded places on your body. Wear long sleeves, tuck shirts into pants, tuck pants into socks, wear light colored clothes so you can spot a hitch hiking tick, and apply insect repellent. To repel ticks use a formulation that contains at least 25% DEET. Even if you do all of these things, you may still have a tick by the end of the day, so perform tick checks frequently. One of the most common places to find a tick is on the scalp or nape of the neck. Pets often pick up ticks too, so check them as well before coming inside.

If you find an attached tick, remove it promptly by grasping the body firmly (using tweezers is best), as close to your skin as possible, and use steady pressure to pull it straight out. If the mouthparts of the tick separate from the body, do not try to dig them out from your skin, this could lead to a secondary bacterial infection. Disinfect the area and apply a topical antibiotic. Preserve the tick in a sealed container of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or wrapped in an alcohol wipe, in case identification of the species is necessary later. If you experience a fever or flu-like symptoms following a tick bite, seek a doctor for consultation and take the preserved tick with you.

Ohio is home to four species of ticks, three of which are medically important: the American dog tick-vector of RMSF , the blacklegged tick (or deer tick)-vector of lyme disease, and the lone star tick-vector of ehrlichiosis. The brown dog tick is uncommon and not a vector of disease, but it is the only tick that can become established inside homes with dogs.

Don’t let ticks tick you off this summer! For more information about ticks check out Ohio State’s fact sheet on ticks at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-2073 or contact your Extension Office.

Lawn Mower Safety

With the welcome of spring comes lush green grass in lawns across America. So, ’tis the season to fire up the lawn mower. For some, mowing the lawn is a necessary chore and for others, a welcomed excuse to spend time outside. For all parties it is a task that requires keen awareness and good judgement.

If you have never accidentally struck a stick, rock, or toy left out on the lawn with your mower, count yourself in the minority. Even if you meticulously scout your lawn for hazards before you mow, you can’t be sure that they’ve been eliminated. An item struck by a mower blade can be flung out the shoot before you even knew you hit it, which can cause damage to your home or worse, an unsuspecting bystander. Accidents with mowers can happen in a split second and sadly, they are not a rare occurrence.

Did you know that 20,000 people each year are injured in lawn mower accidents and an average of 75 people are killed? The United States Amputee-Coalition reports that 800 children are run over by lawn mowers annually and 600 of them require limb amputations. These accidents are 100% preventable. Follow safety guidelines and keep your family from being included in these statistics.

Follow these general precautions before fueling and starting your lawn equipment:

  • Become familiar with proper equipment operation including starting, stopping, and engaging blades and drive before starting.
  • Inspect the unit and attachments for signs of wear and damage.
  • Make sure belts, shafts and connections are properly tensioned or tightened.
  • Verify shields and guards are in place and safety features are not overridden.
  • Only refuel the engine when it is cool.
  • Never smoke when working around fuel sources.
  • Place equipment in neutral and disengage blades before starting, if possible.
  • Never operate equipment in a closed building as this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Follow these general precautions when operating any power mower:

  • Remove all litter and debris from the area to be mowed: Rocks, roadside debris and other objects can be deadly when thrown by a mower blade.
  • Only operate the unit on stable ground or footing to avoid potential slips and falls.
  • Only operate self-propelled mowers and riding mowers at safe travel speeds.
  • Do not disable safety features such as auto-clutches and shut off switches, or secure levers and switches in the “on” position to simulate operator presence.
  • Do not leave the unit running unattended.
  • Keep hands and feet away from mowing deck, blades and moving parts.
  • Be aware of bystanders, keep children and pets indoors, and if other bystanders are nearby, allow at least 50 feet of safe distance between them and the mower.
  • Do not operate the equipment when fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Only operate equipment with adequate visibility and light.

For mowing on slopes:

  • Small walk-behind mowers: Mow across slopes to avoid potential for slipping and having feet go under mower deck.
  • Riding mowers: Mow up or down slopes to avoid potential for overturns.

For a regular reminder the Amputee Coalition put together this checklist. Cut it out and post it in a place you see every time you mow, stop by the Extension Office for a copy, or access it online at www.amputee-coalition.org.


Continue caring for your landscape and enjoy your time outside. Remember to keep hydrated and to protect your skin from the sun. Stay smart! Stay safe! Have fun!

The Label is the Law

The word “pesticide” inherently has a negative connotation, after all anything that ends with “cide” refers to the death. However, pesticides are generally used to improve the conditions of an environment. They kill pests. The definition of what is considered a pest can change depending on the situation and the opinion of the parties involved. Herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fungicides are all examples of commonly used pesticides. Anti-bacterial/viral soaps, sprays, and sanitizers can even fall into this category, because they kill bacteria and viruses. Given that the applicators and users follow the directions specific to the product they are using, there is very little resulting risk to humans. These directions include proper storage, application, and treatment or use of the affected environment following application.

When using ANY type of pesticide, the label is the law and there are no exceptions. Whether the substance can be purchased and used by anyone or requires a special license, the protocol is the same. Read the label and follow the instructions. If you have any doubts about using the product correctly, do not use it. In nearly all cases where an issue arises associated with pesticide use it is a result of not following directions. These substances can be credited to improving the quality of human life in many ways over the centuries, but they are to be respected.

In general, when confronted with a situation that prompts the question, “Should I use a pesticide for this?”, I look for an alternative method that could solve the problem first. For example: Sugar ants found their way into my candy drawer. Should I use ant spray to get rid of them? -Maybe, but first let’s clean it out, wipe down the trail from where the ants were lead inside, and see if that stops them before we decide to spray.

Following the directions for pesticide use allows us to solve problems while still being good stewards. Being good stewards is important to maintaining the health and safety of our environment on all scales. So, if using a pesticide is appropriate for your situation, make sure to take the steps needed for proper safety and use.

Safety at the Fair

Around the area, county fairs have already started up, the state fair will being later this month and our own Noble County Fair will be here before we know it! As you plan to attend any local or state fair take some safety precautions to ensure safety near animals as well as any food you may consume.

General safety tips to remember include paying attention to weather forecasts and be appropriately prepared. This includes wearing sunscreen and remembering to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Additionally, wear closed toe shoes to protect your feet. Always be sure to wash your hands after petting animals and especially before eating. If you aren’t sure if hand-washing stations will be available, pack wipes or hand sanitizer. This is especially important for young children who may not necessarily touch an animal, but may come in contact with enclosures and touch their faces or put their hands in their mouth. Additionally, remember to wash your hands after playing games or going on rides.

Ask permission before petting an animal. Most likely the owner will be nearby and will let you know if it is safe to pet the animal. Some animals do not like to be touched and the owner will let you know if this is the case. They may be able to direct you to a friendlier animal. If they don’t wish for you to pet any of their animals, respect their wishes and ask another person.   Remember, the animals are at the fair to be exhibited and are not a petting zoo.

Most likely while you are at the fair you will be eating some delicious fair food or you may bring along your own. Foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months so it is even more important to follow food safety steps. The usual safety control points are not always available when eating outdoors such as refrigeration and appropriate hand washing facilities. Consider the cleanliness and employee food handling practices before choosing to eat at a particular stand. If you do bring food from home and it is going to be warm out, be sure to keep things properly chilled inside a cooler or insulated bag and don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. If you have any question if your food is still safe, throw it out. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety, especially if you have young children, older adults or are pregnant.

Teach your children to remain calm if they become separated from you while out in public and pick out a place where they can meet you if you do become separated. Lost children can be difficult to locate if their location continues to change. Look in to getting your own lost child tag you can place on your children in public or check to see if they are available where you are visiting.

The fair can be a very enjoyable place full of new experiences, but it is important to take precautions in order to stay safe and healthy!