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Hikers and campers will soon be headed into the great outdoors in droves for some much needed wilderness therapy after a long, snowy winter. Of course, there's nothing like a wildlife sighting or two – perhaps a moose ambling along the trail or a hungry gray jay sneaking off with some picnic lunch - to feel at one with nature.

But what if you come across a bear?

According to Todd Hollett, a provincial government wildlife technician, if a bear approaches you, "Stay calm and give it space, ensuring that it has an escape route. Back away slowly, while speaking calmly and firmly. Never run or climb a tree, as this may evoke a predatory response. Avoid eye contact so as not to challenge the bear. Always be extremely careful around a bear with cubs. If a bear attacks, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Fight back, making lots of noise as you do. If you have bear spray, use it."

For more of Todd's bear safety tips, plus all the facts you need to know about the two bear species that roam our province, see "Where The Bears Are" in the May 2014 issue of Downhome.

If you see a bear in or around your community, or become aware of a habituated bear, call your nearest Conservation Officer at your local Department of Natural Resources Office.

    Central Newfoundland, Gander Office: 709-256-1450
    Avalon Peninsula, Paddy’s Pond Office: 709-729-4180
    Clarenville Area, Clarenville Office: 709-466-7439
    Burin Peninsula, Winterland Office: 709-279-3980
    Bay D’Espoir Area, Bay D’Espoir Office: 709-882-2200
    West Coast, Corner Brook Office: 709-637-2409
    Northern Peninsula, Roddickton Office: 709-457-2300
    Labrador Region, Regional Office: 709-896-3405


Did You Know?

    Canada is home to roughly 60% of the world’s polar bears.

    Polar bear fur is transparent and pigment-free with a hollow core that scatters and reflects light, similar to snow and ice.

    Adult polar bears can stand 3 metres (10 feet) tall when standing on their back legs.

    Adult black bears have a calorie intake requirement of about 20,000 calories per day to help build up winter fat reserves.

    Largest black bear ever recorded: 399 kg (880 lbs)

    Largest polar bear ever recorded: 1,002 kg (2,209 lbs)





Reminiscing
March 31, 2014 marks a sombre anniversary in Newfoundland and Labrador. On that day 100 years ago, the sealing vessel SS Southern Cross disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. The disaster took more lives in a single sealing accident than any other in the history of the province – yet no evidence of what happened on that fateful March night ever surfaced.

The ship, bought and sold several times since it was built in 1886, was a Norwegian whaler and an Antarctic explorer before it saw its first Newfoundland seal hunt as one of the Baine Johnson fleet in the spring of 1901.

On March 12, 1914, Captain George Clarke of Brigus and his crew of 173 young sealers from Conception Bay left St. John's for the Southern Cross's fourteenth hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On their way home, with a full load of pelts, they were seen by the crew of the SS Portia about five miles off Cape Pine at 11:00 a.m. on March 31. At the time, a snowstorm reduced visibility almost to nil. The captain of the Portia hailed the Southern Cross, which had no wireless communication onboard, with the ship's horn. Captain Clarke returned the gesture, indicating all was well. But sometime after the Portia sailed away, the Southern Cross and all 174 men onboard vanished without a trace.
Discovery
Here in Newfoundland and Labrador we get some wild weather, and that means wild seas.

In the April 2014 issue we have a story about harnessing the power of those waves. Lord's Cove, and its active seas, are now home to the College of the North Atlantic Wave Energy Research Centre.

Of course, that all relies on waves, which can be beautiful in their power.

We've collected some of our favourite reader-submitted wave photos for you. Click this link to see the awesome power of the Atlantic Ocean.
Discovery
Hear from one woman who says climate change has already transformed her way of life in this video created by Melva Williams at a Digital Storytelling Workshop in Rigolet, Nunatsiavut.

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From the Archives
Staff from The Gaff
Dear Downhome; Mike Shufelt and I are collecting stories about the Gaff Topsail, the old railroad community located on the Gaff Topsails, and we need your readers' assistance in identifying the railroad workers in this photo. This group shot was taken at "The Gaff" in 1960 by Ed White, a Frontier College labourer and teacher who was working with the CNR ballast and lift gang. We have the names of his students, perhaps not all those pictured here, and would like some help in matching these up.

The names we have for the men who worked there and attended classes through Frontier College are: Sonny Croucher, Stanley Rowe, Stan Best, Len Vivian, Jacob Vivian, Ches Smith, Vic Green, Joe Cramm, James Barrett, Eric Barrett, Selby Croucher, Albert Holloway, Max Peddle, Frank Peddle, Cliff Ryan, George Thomas, Andrew Gushue, Eric Prosper, Charles Snook, Pleaman Wheeler, Lester Warren, Francis Webber, Junior Sutton, Arthur Burke, and Walt Little.

Any help in identifying the others will be useful.

Floyd Spracklin
Corner Brook, Newfoundland

If anyone can help in this project, you may contact Floyd by e-mail at floyd.spracklin@nf.sympatico.ca, by phone 709-634-5712, or by regular mail by writing to Floyd Spracklin, 10 Ingrid Avenue, Corner Brook, NL, A2H 6P2.


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Elliott Family Reunion
Dear Ron; We are having an Elliott family reunion August 8-10 for all descendents of Thomas Elliott, who was the first settler of Port Albert in 1883 (then known as Little Beaver Cove). Thomas had three sons - Herbert, James and John - and four daughters: Rachel married Joseph Bennett; Rhoda married Gideon Day; Jennie married a Pelley and later, an Ackerman; and Margaret married George Mercer. They were my grandparents.

There may be many relatives who we do not know about, and I would like for anyone who has not received an invitation to contact me. I would appreciate your help.

Margaret Mercer
Port Albert, Newfoundland

Descendents of Thomas Elliott, the first settler of Port Albert, who would like more information about the family reunion planned for August may contact Margaret by telephone at 709-241-3271, via e-mail at sidmercer@nf.sympatico.ca, or by writing to her at General Delivery, Port Albert, NL, A0G 3R0.


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A Puzzling PictureImage
Dear Ron; I've been a Downhome subscriber since last July when I revisited Glovertown, near Terra Nova National Park. My first time in your picturesque province was back in 1983 when I began my park warden career in Terra Nova. I worked there six months before I returned home to Cape Breton. I went back to Terra Nova in 1994 to work for another nine-month term before I transferred to the Quebec lower north shore in 1995.

The reason I'm writing is to respond to the letter written by Rev. Walter Sellars from Ottawa, in the June 2008 issue, asking about the picture on the puzzle he found in a second-hand store. Seeing the photo while leafing quickly through the magazine, it seemed to me I had seen this scene before. What triggered my memory is the two Canadian flags (one at the small wharf; the other near the cabin on top of the hill). I could be mistaken but it reminded me of Park Harbour Warden Station, located in Terra Nova National Park. The station used to be manned by seasonal wardens and it was also used for boaters to drop in for information or in case of emergency.

Gerald Bourgeois
Via e-mail

Thanks for your letter, Gerald. I have no idea where this puzzle place is (pictured below), however we've also heard from two other readers offering opinions. Irving Saunders of South River, Newfoundland, thinks it's a cabin located on either Joe's Lake or Crooked Lake just north of Badger on the Trans-Canada Highway; Richard Carroll of Gander also says it's a cabin that can be seen from the TCH, but that it's located at Paul's Lake, between Badger and South Brook.


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Dolly's Tolerance On YouTube
In the March 2008 issue of Downhome, I really enjoyed your article in the "Notes from Home" section about Dolly's Tolerance, the airplane built by Ivan LeDrew. I'm sure many of your readers enjoyed this story as well, which brings me to the reason I'm writing: A video of the Dolly's Tolerance in flight can be viewed online. Just search the phrase "Murphy Rebel airplane amateur built floatplane landing."

B. Myles
Via E-mail

For anyone interested in watching the airplane video, it's on the YouTube Web site at the following page: http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=HPBU45-7U7o.


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Teacher and Class Reunion
Dear Ron; We are traveling to Newfoundland this summer to spend some time with my family in St. John's. My wife is looking forward to her first trip to one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada. Her parents are coming with us for a week to reminisce about their time spent in St John's in the 1950s as a newly married couple stationed there with the Canadian Air Force. It is their first trip back and most likely their last!

While Mr. Harry Hillman (my father-in-law) was in the Air Force, Mrs. Verneal Hillman taught at the Holloway School in 1954-55. I am including some pictures of the school and the Grade 3 class that she taught. I don't believe that the school is still there, but we thought it might be nice to see if some of her former students want to be reunited with their old teacher.

Stephen McAllister
Edmonton, Alberta

If any readers were in Mrs. Hillman's Grade 3 class at Holloway School in 1954-55, and want to see her while she's visiting St. John's, you may contact Mr. Frank McAllister at 709-726-7428, or e-mail him at ranger66@telus.net to arrange a get-together.


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Seeking White Pudding Recipe
Dear Ron; Well another subscription was just placed with your wonderful newsy magazine that I prefer to call a book, as there is so much enjoyment inside those covers. Although I am not a Newfoundlander I feel like one; I have been married to one for 17 years and I love your wonderful province! My husband is from Mary's Harbour and we usually go home every other year.

I am looking for the recipe for white pudding and I hope someone in your reading audience will be able to help me with this request. It is one of my husband’s favourites and I would like to surprise him.

Betty Cumby
Via e-mail

If any readers can help Betty with a recipe for white pudding, they may e-mail her at dan.cumby-betty@sympatico.ca.


This Christmas, Downhome is challenging you to get crafting! Here's one fun, festive (and down-right mouthwatering!) craft to get you started this holiday season. Send in a photo of you with your Christmas Candy Tree creation, for a chance to appear in an upcoming issue of Downhome!

You will need:
3 cups royal frosting
Icing sugar
Assorted candies
2 small Styrofoam tree-shaped cones
Plastic wrap
Christmas mug
Candy stick
Craft glue
Small bowl
Water
Green food colouring
Shredded coconut
Aluminum foil

Royal Frosting
4 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp meringue powder
6 tbsp water

Combine ingredients in large, clean mixing bowl and blend for seven min. at medium-medium-high speed. (Note: Ensure that mixing bowl and beater are completely free of any grease or residue before adding ingredients, as frosting is easily spoiled.)

Decorate Tree
Make royal frosting using the recipe, above. Keep covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying out. Working from the top of one Styrofoam cone, spread a large amount of icing down the side. Stick candies to the icing (refer to photo for pattern). Repeat steps until cone is covered with candies. Work quickly, as the royal frosting dries fast and the candies will not stick. Put cone on a plastic wrap-lined plate to dry overnight.

Create Base
Cut the top off the second cone and wedge the wide bottom into mug; secure with frosting. Gently push candy stick into centre of decorated cone (you could make a “drill hole” using a pencil the width of the candy stick, to lessen strain on stick). Remove stick and push into centre of cone in mug (again, you could use the pencil). Put glue in the hole in the mug. Place candy stick in glue and let dry.

Plant Some Grass
In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of water and a few drops of green food colouring. Add ½ cup coconut and stir to distribute green colour. Spread on a piece of foil and bake at 200°F for 20-30 minutes, checking frequently until dry.

Put it all Together
Pour glue into bottom of hole you made in decorated cone and place cone over candy stick. Prop up if necessary until set. Fill mug with coloured coconut. Adorn handle of mug with ribbon.

Alternate design: You can also create this craft without using the mug, the candy stick and the second cone. Decorate one cone with frosting, green spearmint leaf candy and red licorice laces to resemble a Christmas tree. The finished cone can be placed on a foil cake plate, wrapped with basket wrap and given as a gift.

Ross Traverse has been a horticultural consultant to gardeners and farmers in Atlantic Canada for more than 40 years. His columns appear every month in Downhome magazine.

If you have a question for Ross, email him at downtoearth@downhomelife.com. If you would like to purchase a copy of Ross’s Book, Ask Ross Traverse About Gardening, click here.

Problem Potatoes
I’m emailing you for my dad. He grows all his own veggies. He has a couple of gardens, but he has a problem with one of them. The garden had red soil. He plants potatoes there but they grow only one year. The next year when he plants potatoes again they wont grow. Nothing will. He’s tried small seed but it won’t grow. Potatoes will only grow there about every second or third year. Do you know what the problem could be? – Joni Noseworthy

A: Potatoes can be grown in the same ground year after year but you do need to improve the soil. First of all, organic matter should be added every year in the form of well-rotted manure, compost and/or peat moss. This is dug into the soil before planting. You also need a source of nutrients for the potatoes. This could be in the form of commercial fertilizer. I would recommend a formula like 6 -12 -12 with magnesium. If seaweed is available, this can be used as the source of nutrients.

It is important to have seed potatoes that have been certified disease-free. They can be purchased at garden supply shops. It is a good idea to pre-sprout the seed potatoes before planting. This is done by spreading out the seed in a single layer in a tray in a well-lit area. You do this about three or four weeks before planting. The seed pieces will develop sturdy sprouts and then you are sure that you have a sprout in each piece that you plant.

After the potatoes come up and grow about 6 inches, more soil is placed around the plants. This is to prevent the new potatoes from turning green. At that time the plants are usually side dressed with additional fertilizer.

Black Knot and Damsons
I have a relatively young damson tree and last year it bore fruit for the first time. The tree also had black knot, which I removed and burned. Is there any preventative treatment that might discourage this growth? – Geoff Winsor

A: The only control for black knot on damson trees is to remove the black knots to keep them from spreading to other branches. As far as I know, there are no chemical sprays that are effective. You should inspect the tree every spring and fall for any sign of black knot. Black knot occurs on the wild pin cherry, so if you can you should eradicate them.

Blueberry Bushes
I have quite a few blueberries growing in my garden, maybe 10-15 gallons. I’ve noticed that every year the weeds seem to be taking over. I have thought about burning to improve the blueberry yield, but the plants are fairly close to my house and my husband is reluctant to do this. Is there any kind of weed control product I can purchase? If I don’t do something soon I will lose all these plants to weeds. I would appreciate any help or advice you can give me.
Genevieve Squire

A: If you had a brush-cutter or whipper-snipper, you could cut back the blueberry bushes tight to the ground instead of burning. This will encourage new growth and in the second year you will get increased blueberry production. It will also make it easier to clear out the weeds. During the summer, the weeds can be spot sprayed with Round-up, but you must be careful because it can also kill the blueberries. If there are any evergreens, they have to be manually removed.
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