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Gold panning has been one of my favorite hobbies since I was a kid! Most of the time, it requires a lot of hard work, but it is easy to learn, and the rewards are awesome - it is also a blast!
Now, you can't just go to any river or area and find gold. It does take a little bit of knowledge and time. Usually, the best places to find information about gold-bearing areas and prospecting in your area is your local and national clubs. You don't have to join a club, but I would highly recommend it. Most of them can offer advice, equipment, and give you access to club-owned claims. They even have monthly outings, which will help you get started on finding gold. So let's talk about the equipment and tools you are going to need to get started. I would consider these to be essential for anyone who is just starting out. You are going to want:
- Gold Pan
- ½ Classifier
- Small Garden Trowel
- Small Prybar/screwdriver
- Sniffer Bottle
- 5 Gal bucket
Alright, so we've got our basics now. I would recommend you start in an area with a stream. Water isn't a necessity when panning for gold, but it makes everything ten times easier. You will also want to make sure that you are not going to be on someone else's claim and/or private property - get permission in advance if needed. Once you get to the water, you will want to scan the stream for areas where the water would have slowed down. Gold is heavy, and when the current of the stream slows down, the gold settles to the bottom. Things I look for when panning are big rocks, eddies, or cracks. Start by digging in these areas or scraping out cracks. What you are looking for is hard, compacted soil, gravel, and clay. This is where your gold is going to get stuck.
Once you find this type of material, place your Classifier over your pan. As you are digging and scraping place material into your Classifier and gold pan. If you want to make things easier, you can put your Classifier on top of your 5-gallon bucket and scoop it into the bucket. I have a rule when I gold pan, and that is to never fill my pan more than two thirds full. If you add too much material, it makes it more challenging to pan properly
and causes you to lose gold.
For a beginner, I would say start with about a third until you get the hang of it. Now that we have some material in our pan, we will want to submerge our pan and Classifier in the stream. Make sure the Classifier is over your gold pan and give it a rough shake. This will cause all the smaller materials to drop out the bottom and into your pan. Take some time after to carefully inspect your Classifier for large nuggets that might not have made it through, and then set it aside.
Now you are going to grab your pan with both hands and shake it side to side. You want to agitate the material so that the gold drops to the bottom of the pan. Slowly tilt your pan forward, allowing the material to slide to the edge of the pan, but not out. Any gold should be at the bottom of the pan at this point. Take one hand, scrape any larger material off the top of the surface, tilt the pan back flat, and give it another shake. Tilt your pan forward once again, this time dip the pan in and out of the water three to five times, allowing the lighter materials to wash off. Repeat this process until you have about half a cup or less of material.
At this point, you should see quite a bit of black sand and possibly some gold. To separate the gold from the black sand, fill your pan with a small amount of water and shake the material you have left in your pan into one spot. Give your pan a gentle swirl, letting the water go over your material. It will create a tail of black sand, leaving your gold at the tip. Grab your sniffer bottle and suck up the gold into the bottle keeping it safe. That's it! It takes technique, but anyone can pan for gold!
The most diverse group among plant classifications is angiosperms. These are plants that produce a flower. There are 300,000 different species of flowering plants. The first flowering plants are believed to have diverged from conifers about 120 million years ago. The reproductive organs of angiosperms are the flowers. For these flowers, the male reproductive element is the stamen, and the female is the pistil. When the two meet, a seed is produced.
Pollinators are the animals that transfer pollen from one plant to another. There are about 200,000 animals that act as pollinators worldwide. They are responsible for pollinating approximately 75% of the plants grown for food, beverages, and medicines. Flowers developed over time to attract different pollinators. For example, Magnolia trees evolved before bees, and therefore depend on a beetle for their pollination. The structure of their carpel is harder than in most flowers to allow it to withstand the damage the beetle’s mandibles could cause. The beetles are attracted to the protein-rich pollen that the magnolia produces.
When you think about pollinators, you probably think about bees. They are by far one of the top pollinators worldwide. The flowers that attract bees are full of nectar. They have brightly colored petals that are often blue or yellow, smell sweet, are open in the daytime, or have a landing platform. You may find it surprising that the largest pollinators (by size) are lemurs! Found on Madagascar, they are the primary pollinator of the Traveler’s Palm trees (ravenala madagascariensis). These trees can be up to 40 feet tall. As they reach in with their face and snout to get the fruit of the tree, they are covered in pollen, which they then transfer to the next flower.
When you are growing flowers, it is essential to know how the plants are classified by their growth cycle. Annuals are plants that only have a one-year life cycle. They tend to bloom longer than perennial plants and go to seed. They can self-seed and come back the next year, but it is not reliable. Perennial plants return more than two years in a row. They are further divided into herbaceous and woody plants. Herbaceous plants have a green stem and die back to the ground each year, while woody plants have woody stems that remain above ground. Trees and shrubs are considered woody perennials. These plants don’t flower as long as annuals, but they can survive for many years.
Biennials are plants that have a two-year life cycle. The first year they are a green plant and the second year they grow flowers and produce seeds, and then they die. Foxgloves and Hollyhocks are examples of biennials. Some plants are perennial in warmer climates and annuals in colder climates. If you live in a colder area, they may come back depending on winter conditions.
Without going into the scientific naming process of plants, many commercial plant growers are cultivating plants that are hybrids, and they are often sterile. In some cases, creating a non-reproducing version has been necessary to allow some invasive plants to be grown in a typical garden setting. However, as beautiful as these are, they could deprive wildlife of some natural sources of food. There has been a lot of push towards growing natives plants for your native wildlife.
Flowers, to me, are the reward of gardening. When I plant flowers, it feels like I succeeded. Hopefully, your plants will reward you with a beautiful flowering this year!
Meditation can take on many forms, from simple Grounding all the way to Transcendental meditation. Every kind of meditation is designed to help you relieve stress and focus on the now. I was always told that depression was looking back, and anxiety was looking forward. That is not always so, but that concept helps remind me to focus on the now.
Grounding meditation is when you notice the things holding you up and the air flowing in and out of you with each breath. Let your thoughts move through you without judgment and without fixating.
Another form is Focused Meditation, where you try to focus on just your breathing. Gently let wandering thoughts go and return focus to your breathing. Eventually, you will stop even thinking of your breath and find yourself in a place of peace, where nothing is running through your head - just the quiet of the now.
Insight Meditation is when you use the practice of meditation to develop qualities in yourself. You set an intention of what you want and focus on it throughout your practice.
Body Scan: This is when you focus on your whole body - the sensations, the feelings, the tightness, or discomfort - and slowly move your focus from the top of your head to your toes. It can do wonders to help your muscles relax without moving at all!
There are so many more, what kind of meditation do you like?
“I freaked out and bought a bunch of heirloom seeds. They’ll be here in a few days.” I told my perplexed wife, who, although well-intentioned, does not have a good track record with plants. She asked the obvious: “Why did you freak out?,” and, “What’s an heirloom seed?”
The freakout started when I realized just how dependent my family and I are on the supermarket and the national supply chain. The 2020 shutdowns and disruptions have had a ripple effect that will take time to fully understand. It caused processing plants to shut down and farmers to dump thousands of pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to restaurants and businesses that were affected by the nationwide COVID shutdown. My own company, Neural Balance, was even backordered for a time on our product while we worked out supply chain issues and provided for additional safety measures.
My freak out peaked when I realized that if farmers and food distributors could not survive or stay in business to grow and distribute crops, it would be entirely up to me to feed my family. Toilet paper we could learn to live without. Food was another story. After all, how much-canned food and puddin’ can one family hoard?
It made me think of the promise and the power of the seed. Consider the tiny mustard seed. Matthew 13:31-32 says “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
In this precious stage of life, what is now much smaller than a Tic-Tac might one day be a mighty tree providing shelter and life to an abundance of living creatures or, it might be an Old Colossus Heirloom Tomato weighing in at nearly two pounds and becoming part of a tomato bisque soup to be enjoyed by your family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Some of these seeds will even burst forth with herbs and plants such as the beautiful passionflower, the cornerstone of our patented herbal/mineral/vitamin blend, Anandanol.
I received my package a few days later and was surprised to find that 50,000 assorted heirloom seeds and a packet of instructions all fit in a medium-sized padded envelope. And again, I was struck by the fact that these tiny seeds had the potential to feed my family and many of my neighbors for generations to come. This leads me to my wife’s second question… “What’s an heirloom seed?”
Heirloom seeds are a glimpse back into history, the result of generations of faithful farmers who passed down seeds from generation to generation. Heirloom seeds are non-GMO, non-hybrid, and have been time tested to offer great taste and resilience. And, while seeds harvested from most of the fruits and vegetables available in your typical grocery store may not produce and certainly will not produce consistently, heirloom seeds are quite the opposite. Plants grown from heirloom seeds will produce consistent yields, you may harvest seeds from the plants you grow and, if properly cleaned, dried, and prepared, those seeds can be used the following season or stored for future use.
Some companies who sell heirloom seeds even offer variety packs that contain seeds that are suited for your region. As we are in hot and humid Florida, one of my choices included the “Arkansas Traveler,” a tomato known to thrive in areas that other tomatoes would find too harsh.
From the simple seed to the mighty tree to the tasty fruit, we are reminded that all life, in all stages, is precious and has potential.
Proper depth, temperature, and water are all it takes to awaken these small, dried miracles and cause their potential to begin to burst forth. Keeping them alive and causing them to flourish is a whole different conversation. Hopefully, I will be back next year with updates and baskets that overflow!
Gabriel Williams is CEO of Spectrum Research Group. An 18-year veteran of the natural products industry, Gabe is a husband, father, and purveyor of unsolicited advice.
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