Q: When is lightning a danger?

A: Lightning is very dangerous. According to the National Weather Service “if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and you should seek shelter immediately.” Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm. The first stroke of lightning is just as deadly as the last. If the sky looks threatening, you should take shelter even if you don’t hear thunder.

Another tip from the National Weather Service is to use a “30-30 rule” where visibility is good and there is nothing obstructing your view of thunderstorms. When you see the lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within 6 miles of you and is dangerous. It is recommended that you wait at least 30 minutes after a thunderstorm before returning outside.

Q: Do you have any tips on how to keep a newly planted tree healthy?

A: First and foremost, you need to make sure that your tree has enough water. Once a week, the tree needs a deep watering. If rain is sparse, be sure to use your hose to water the tree, and try to reach the entire root area. Another good tip is to give the roots air, water and open space by keeping foot and other types of traffic off the soil above the roots. Too much traffic will collapse the open spaces in the soil and block a good flow of air and water to the roots.

New trees do well with mulch. Place a 3-inch layer of wood chips over the planting site. This will help prevent weeds from invading the soil and will eliminate the need to mow closely to the tree. You should also protect a new tree’s bark. If you scrape or cut the tree’s bark, it opens the trunk up to insects. And lastly, remember to keep the soil clean around your tree.

Q: What is a second cousin, once removed?

A: Most of us know what cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents are, but when you start getting to first, second and even third cousins and then add the word “removed,” relationships become confusing. Cousins (aka “first” cousins) are the children of your aunts and uncles, the people in your family who share one set of the same grandparents as you. Second cousins are the people in your family who share a set of the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same set of grandparents. Third cousins have the same set of great-great-grandparents as you, fourth cousins have the same set of great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.

The word “removed,” when used to describe family relationships, indicates that the two people are from different generations. For example, you and your first cousin are in the same generation (two generations after your grandparents), but if your cousin is once removed, it means there is a difference of one generation, such as a cousin of your mother. Your mother’s first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother’s first cousin is one generation ahead of you. Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference, etc.

Write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

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