Stories of the Week

Signs of spring abound in Ashtabula County

It is nice to finally see the forsythia, daffodils and tulips blooming all over the county. Our lawns are also waking up, and I just love the smell of freshly cut grass in the spring. It ranks right up there with the smell of freshly tilled soil or the smell of a hay field after it is cut. So what are some other signs that spring is here?

For our 4-H program, a hint of spring was seen at the Ashtabula County  Fairgrounds recently. Hundreds of 4-H members brought their animals to the fairgrounds to have them officially tagged for the Ashtabula County Fair. Another sign of spring is that turkey season is underway in northeast Ohio and thousands of hunters have been hitting the woods to scout for gobblers. When thinking of all the hunters out in the woods, one cannot forget about the explosion of the deer tick population. Black-legged ticks or deer ticks can be a carrier for the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which can be transmitted to humans and can cause Lyme disease.

I was pleased to attend the second annual Multidisciplinary Lyme Disease Symposium recently hosted at Pymatuning Valley High School. This event was sponsored by the non-profit Northeast Ohio Lyme Foundation.

One of the speakers at the conference was Dr. Bea Szantyr from Maine, who spoke about Lyme disease and provided some key prevention tips. These included  wearing light colored clothes with long pants and shirts when in tick-infested areas.  She also advocated foe being a bit “nerdy” by tucking your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks. Yep, channeling your inner Steve Urkel can help prevent ticks from getting under your clothes and attaching to your skin.  She also said to always check for ticks when you come inside from being out in the woods.  Have a tick checking buddy.

One great piece of advice was to spin your clothes on high heat for six minutes in the dryer when you come back into the house and before you launder them. This heat cycle will help kill any ticks that might be hitch-hiking on your clothes.

Lyme disease not only affects humans but also our four-legged friends.  Veterinarian Dr. Charles Curie was also a speaker at the event and spoke on the new vaccinations and treatment programs for dogs. Curie said 20 percent of the dogs they have tested in their Conneaut clinic have tested positive for Lyme disease. He said, “The dogs are the canary in the cave,” showing how rampant Lyme disease is spreading across northeast Ohio.

For information on Lyme disease and black-legged ticks, the Ohio Department of Health has a great website, which is updated frequently.

Thanks to the tireless work of Connie Moschell along with her daughters, Megan and Sara Tilton, son Jonathan Moschell, her husband, Marlin and countless volunteers for putting on such a great event.

And one final sign of spring is just the incredible amount of people I see out walking, running and biking in our communities over the past two weeks. Exercise is so important in creating a healthy lifestyle for our families.

OSU Extension was honored to be at the grand re-opening of the Ashtabula Walmart last Friday. We were pleased to receive a $2,500 donation. We will be using this donation to purchase a Smoothie Bike which will be used in our 4-H, SNAP, Local Foods and Master Gardeners out-reach programs.

To close, I would like to share a quote from author, Bernard Williams who said, “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”

Written by David Marrison, associate professor and Extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, Ohio State University Extension.