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December Newsletter

Tree of the Month

Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca var. densata)

This Christmas type evergreen, native to South Dakota, is a natural hardy western variety of the White Spruce. Its dense square needles are bright green on long branches called sterigmata, developing thick cones up to 2 inches in length that hold light tan seeds. The pyramidal structure and thickness of branches make it an excellent choice for farmstead windbreaks and winter protection, and it provides a great nesting place for birds. It is fairly drought resistant but has a shallow root system and prefers moist loam soils with a moderate PH level and needs access to full sunlight, so spacing is highly important when considering them.

Looking for a fun addition to your holiday snack table?

Try this Feta Hazelnut Cheese Spread from the NDSU Windbreak Cookbook!

Cheese Ball

8 oz. Tomato Basil Fetta Cheese

4 oz. softened Cream Cheese

2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 c chopped Hazelnuts

1/4 c shredded Colby jack Cheese

1/8 tsp minced Garlic

Combine Feta and cream cheese until blended. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Serve on crackers or celery and enjoy!

Find more great recipes from The Windbreak Cookbook HERE!

Flora Facts

- Pollinators in winter -

Monarch butterflies are the only pollinator in North America that migrate to warmer climates. This means that everyone else spends their winter in a stage of dormancy or undergoing metamorphosis. The Swallowtail butterfly for example spends its winter as a chrysalis or cocoon while bumble bees will burrow into the dirt and leaves of an undisturbed area and produce glycerol (a kind of natural Antifreeze) to keep themselves from freezing. All overwintering pollinators require an overwintering site, which can be made of rocks, logs or branches and growing vines, compiled in such a way that they protect their winter dwellers from the elements. So, if you feel bad about that little pile of leaves, yard debris, and old potted plants that haven't been moved or cleaned up yet, just tell yourself you are leaving it for the overwintering pollinators!

Conservation Book Nook

This month at the Ellendale school Library our feature is all about Bats!! Did you know that bats can pollinate more than 500 species of plants and save farmers across the US $23 billion annually in pesticides and crop damage?

Have a look at the title Little Red Bat by Carole Gerber to explore the winter hibernation habits of bats and other animals of the forest.

Animals deal with seasonal changes in a variety of ways. Red bats are the only bat species that can migrate or hibernate to protect themselves from cold winters. As the weather is getting colder, the Little Red Bat has a decision to make. She questions other forest animals about how they will spend the upcoming winter as she tries to decide whether to stay or go.

The Conservation Corner

Submitted by Jeremiah Ulmer, NRCS Soil Conservationist, and Tokina McHarry, James River SCD Education and Outreach Manager

The James River SCD is honored to have Miller Grain and Cattle Inc. as their 2022 Achievement Winners for Dickey County. Alan along with sons Brett and Craig run an integrated organic cattle and grain operation of over 8,000 acres in western Dickey County. They utilize EQIP, CSP, and CRP to implement conservation improvements where needed. In addition to an extensive grazing system, they have planted over 8,000 feet of trees. Cover crops are also used on a regular basis throughout their cropland.

Alan stated his family is most proud of how their grassland acreage has responded and improved through their use of rotational grazing and water developments. The Miller’s are an outstanding example in our area of a family who wants to pass their land on to future generations in the best condition they can. Again, congratulations! The Miller’s were honored at the 84th Annual Meeting of the ND Association of Soil Conservation Districts Nov. 20-22 in Bismarck.

Several programs are available through NRCS - Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).

CSP: The Conservation Stewardship Program provides financial assistance for conservation performance, so the higher the performance the higher the payment. A producer can receive financial assistance for conservation practices they are already doing plus try some additional enhancements. If one is interested, come in and we can have a discussion to see if this program will work for the operation.

EQIP: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is the best program for practices such as windbreak renovations, no till, and cover crops. If you have livestock, some common practices are pipelines, tanks, wells, cross fences, and prescribed grazing. Financial assistance may be available to help you adopt these practices to improve the quality of your farm or ranch and address your resource concerns. You can sign up any time throughout the year.

After you let the NRCS staff know you are interested, they will set up a time to meet you out in the field to discuss your resource concerns and visit about your needs. They have begun meeting with interested producers this fall and will continue into next spring and summer. If you call in with interest in June of 2023 about wanting to sign up for a grass seeding, the earliest you would be able to seed that grass is the spring of 2024. With these programs, there is a planning, assessing, and ranking process, and it is ONE year behind. The programs pay a flat rate, in which the rate varies every year.

With NRCS programs, you are able to hire your own contractors, or do the work yourself, as long as you follow NRCS design as well as the NRCS standards and specifications of each practice. EQIP is a voluntary program that offers financial assistance to install conservation practices to improve water quality, soil health, and grassland productivity, reduce wind and water erosion, and others. A variety of practices are available through EQIP including livestock wells, pipelines, tanks, cross fencing, well sealing, precision nutrient management, cover crops, windbreak renovation and replanting, pasture and hay plantings, seasonal high tunnels, no-till and a number of other practices.

Dates to Remember:

December 14 - SCD Board Meeting, 8 am, CBS’ Ellendale.

December 26 – Christmas observed, Office Closed

January 2 – New Year’s observed, Office Closed

For more information contact the James River Soil Conservation District and Ellendale NRCS office at 349-3653, ext. 3. Our field office is in Ellendale at 51 N. 1st Street. Also, remember to visit the James River Soil Conservation District Facebook page and our websites for more information – and The NRCS is an equal opportunity employer, provider and lender.

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