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April 26, 2018

Wildlife: Mast is a critical wildlife food

Last week a caller to my radio show (8-10 a.m. Saturdays on WVLY-AM 1370 Wheeling, online at www.wvly.net) asked that I explain the term “mast.” It’s a great question, especially this time of year.

Fruits and nuts of trees and shrubs are collectively referred to as mast. Fleshy fruits and berries are soft mast; nuts are hard mast.

Crab apples, grapes, cherries and even poison ivy berries are sought by a variety of birds including turkeys, grouse and woodpeckers. Sweet, fleshy persimmons began ripening about two weeks ago. Birds take them on the tree while coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks and opossums gobble up those that fall to the ground.

The flat football-shaped seeds that pass through these mammals’ guts are recognizable in their scats. Hard mast including acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, and beechnuts trigger a competitive feeding frenzy among squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bears, turkeys, mice, jays, woodpeckers and nuthatches.

Acorns, the fruits of oak trees, are the most important mast in Eastern deciduous forests. Where oaks are common, wildlife usually thrives.

Here on the ridge, we’ve had a bumper crop of black walnuts. For weeks my wife and I have been collecting walnuts and crushing them with the car to remove husks.

On cold winter nights we’ll crack the nuts and save the meat for snacks and baking.

To share the wealth, I offer a few walnuts and hickory nuts on a tray for the birds.

Scott Shalaway: www.drshalaway.com, sshalaway@aol.com.

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Wildlife: Mast is a critical wildlife food

ElectroVine: Power cord disguised as a house plant

electroVine
Go green with a plant-like power cord.
Artificially Natural

Power cords are notoriously unattractive cables that snake around on your floor looking disorderly. You can try to hide them, but the unruly animals soon emerge, untamable. Kickstarter project ElectroVine figures that if you’re stuck with a power cord, it might as well look like something else entirely.

The ElectroVine is exactly what it sounds like, a six-foot extension cord that looks like a string of ivy. It’s like the cable section at Radio Shack crashed into the fake-plant department at Michaels. The cord features 26 clusters of fake leaves that can be adjusted and moved around.

The cord can be used outside or inside. It definitely makes sense as an exterior cord that can blend into its surroundings. Using the ElectroVine as an interior cord, however, invites a certain sensation of surrealism. You can make it look like your lamp or laptop is powered by a house plant.

Though ElectroVine has been honored as a Kickstarter staff pick, it’s slow to catch on with the general crowdfunding public. It has nearly $4,000 in pledges towards a $13,000 goal with only 12 days left. There are still plenty of early-bird options to pledge $35 for a cord. The standard pledge price is $40.

Perhaps the world isn’t ready for an extension cord that cosplays as a vine. Perhaps people are looking at it and figuring they could DIY something similar with a trip to the hobby store. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that ElectroVine is making a real effort to improve the appearance of extension cords, which is a truly noble cause.

The ElectroVine may spawn a whole new aesthetic for extension cords. Here’s hoping someone comes up with cords that look like snakes, tentacles from Cthulhu, or fluffy cat tails. It would certainly make the nest of cords behind my computer desk a lot more fun to look at.

electoVine leaves
A closer look at the leaves.
Artificially Natural

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ElectroVine: Power cord disguised as a house plant

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