Friday, July 11, 2014

Hannah Fries: Learning Curve

Learning on the job.

Here at Storey, the editors get very well acquainted with the books they are working on, but they are by no means experts on every subject — that’s the author’s job. And with Storey’s wide range of informative books, there’s always something new to learn, which is good, because we’re a curious bunch.

After the jump, some interesting and unusual facts that the editors have recently learned while working on new and forthcoming books!

From The Woodland Homestead (coming out in July 2015), I learned that some trees (like spruce) are “self-pruning.” As they grow, they naturally shed their lower limbs, which die from not receiving enough sunlight.
— Carleen Madigan

I just learned from Nature Anatomy (January 2015) that 1 in every 4 creatures on earth is a beetle! And from Guerilla Furniture Design (April 2015) I learned that modern plywood was invented in Portland, Oregon, in 1905 by the Portland Manufacturing Company, which made wooden boxes.

— Deborah Balmuth

As the “gatekeeper” here at Storey, I get to see all of the books and am frequently spouting off random tidbits I’ve learned throughout the week to my family. Recently, I learned that certain types of cheese-making bacteria known as Propionibacteria digest acetic acid and convert it to propionic acid, which is what gives some cheeses their slightly punky odor. These same bacteria are at work on our bodies, too, and the resulting acid is responsible for the odor of human sweat. This is why a good Swiss or Emmental smells a little like your gym bag.
— Regina Velazquez

Emmental 015
By StaraBlazkova (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve learned all sorts of space-saving design and building tips from 50 Microshelters (September 2015). For instance, you can use the spaces between wall studs to create recessed shelving. I also learned that a floor tiled with pennies and covered with epoxy looks pretty amazing.
— Hannah Fries

From Farming Organic Small and Specialty Grains (October 2015), I learned that rye can get ergot, a fungal infection that produces alkaloids, including LSD. Many people think those persecuted during the Salem witch trials ate rye that contained ergot and produced hallucinations.
— Sarah Guare

Ear of rye
Ear of rye
By LSDSL (Own work) [GFDL  or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It takes 48,000 miles of flight to make a pound of honey (equal to about one and a half cups) and bees will visit 2 million flowers to make that same pound of honey. By the way, this bit of information is in a knitting book (Knit the Sky, September 2015), not a nature book!
 Gwen Steege

From Into the Nest (February 2015), I learned that birds have a huge variety of parenting and partnering styles. Hummingbird males, for example, don’t contribute anything to family life but the original sperm. After the act of mating, they focus on feeding themselves and fighting with other males to defend favorite nectar-filled flowers, while the females build the nest, lay the eggs, and feed the nestlings. Red-winged Blackbirds are polygamous and the eggs in a single nest can be the offspring of several different fathers. Crow couples, meanwhile, mate for life and faithfully return to the same nest year after year.
— Deb Burns

This was a favorite nugget among the vast amount of knowledge I acquired from editing The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: When rabbits are feeling spritely, they do a sort of happy dance, leaping and twisting in midair, a maneuver referred to by many rabbit lovers as a “binky.”
— Lisa Hiley

[Of course, we couldn’t leave you without visuals. The soundtrack here is almost as amazing as the dance moves, which don’t really take off until about 0:35.]

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