Friday, December 30, 2005

Hops Around. Hops Around. Get Up and Get Down.

A while back (a long while back) William Dowd’s Hops To It post got us thinking about doing a nice piece on the history of hops in New York and the Adirondacks; Especially now that the Beer Hawkers have returned to the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Over at the Northeast Hop Alliance, there is a nice recent NY hop history. While hops was a staple crop of New York farmers in years past it, only last year was the first beer brewed with all New York hops.

Hops, once a leading specialty crop in New York state, suffered from plant disease and insect pests. Prohibition in the 1930s also helped spell the crop’s demise, and 50 years ago, production ceased.

The last beer made entirely from New York-grown hops was brewed in the 1950s.

In the Adirondacks hops were an important supplemental crop for many farmers and hop picking provided income to many women and children as well. In Merrilsville George Lamson hired local women to pick his hops every year – Mrs. Henry Fadden wrote a poem about her hop-picking experience:

I went picking hops and though I worked with a will,
I had to go back with my box half filled.

To find my house in disorder, my dishes unwashed.
The children were sleepy, my husband was cross;

And because I didn’t get the supper before I swept the floor,
He kicked the poor dog and slammed the back door.

And said that if I would leaving picking hops alone,
He would give me a job of picking stone.

His advice was unheeded, I refused with disdain,
And resolved the next day to try it again.

Convinced if only I would do my best,
I could pick hops as fast as the rest.

But the weather was cold and I almost froze.
My fingers were numb and cold were my toes.

Thus for five long days I labored and toiled,
My work was neglected, my temper was spoiled.

And though you may think my experience funny,
I am resolved in the future to let the men earn the money.

The last reference I could find regarding the growing of hops in the Adirondack region was a 1949 notice of the arrival of “400 pounds of Bavarian beer hop roots” in Malone where “local growers hope to revive a once-flourishing New York industry.” Unfortunately, the importers were not mentioned by name, and how the experiement went was never revealed.

And who knew? Hops are good for you!

And while we’re at it:

Alan over at Gen X at 40, has our region on his mind – he’s looking forward to a trip to the Adirondacks, and at his Good Beer Blog, he has spotlighted Saratoga’s He’Brew 9 and declared his pick for Best Pub of 2005… drum roll please… is…..

Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George

Have a great new year!


Suggested Reading

The Homebrewer’s Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare, and Use Your Own Hops, Malts, Brewing Herbs


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Weather in the Adirondacks Isn’t Looking Good

This summer’s weather has been great but now we are apparently going to pay for it. Hopefully the rivers will not rise and if they do, it won’t be catastrophic like in was back in the day.

NYCO offers the latest on this winter’s chances for a big, big, big, snow and Baloghblog is taking steps toward that end. And now “AccuWeather.com meteorologist Ken Reeves is predicts “a very cold winter” for New York – after average winter temperatures last year – contributing to an estimated 50% increase in winter heating oil charges.” Storm Digest has some not so friendly things to say about our coming weather situation. The Post Star, as usual, waffles.

We ordered a new exterior door, are closing up our drafts, and buying some extra socks.

It’s worth planning for the inevitable winter power outage and hoping we don’t have another year without summer.

It looks like it’s a good time to buy more Zone 4 Hardy Perennials.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Farms and Factory Farms, CAFOs, CSAs, HANNYS, and Co-ops

Friends of Rural New York have been following closely the recent Lewis County spill, larger that the Exxon Valdez, of cow sewage into the Black River. Big fines may be on the way, but the real crime is that the DEC and local officials permitted a 3 million gallon toxic dump so close to the river. The Adirondack Almanack supports local farms and agrees that its time we made a clear distinction between factory farms:

That is a giant factory where thousands of animals are permanently kept, never feeling the sun on their backs or munching a blade of grass. A CAFO (Contained Animal feeding Operation) can generate thousands of pounds of manure a day, suck up hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, and throw in various chemicals to “sanitize,” promote decay and boost milk production. What do they do with all that poop? Well, after it’s settled in nasty lagoons around the neighborhood, where it decays and festers for a while, they suck it up into these huge tankers and spew the putrid mix wherever they can, the closer to the CAFO the better, because it’s quite expensive to haul all that fetid effluent way. En route, the neighbors are blasted by the stench, the noise and the dust for days on end.

And local family operated traditional farms. To those ends – a list of local farmers markets from the USDA, and a regional map from the Farmers Market Federation of NY. Finally, we need to take responsibility for our own food choices – two of our favorite choices are the Honest Weight Food Co-op (when we get down to Albany) and a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) projects. HANNYS [pdf] (Hunger Action Network of New York State) has recently released two reports. The first “gives detailed stories of nine New York CSA’s that have reached out to include low-income members” and the second “is a report based on the results of Hunger Action’s statewide survey of CSA farmers. Findings include the fact that CSA’s keep $2.6 million in our state’s economy every year and protect over 1,100 acres of farmland” [pdf].


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Adirondack and Lake George Watershed Invasive Species

Take note Minutemen! The Top Five Terrestrial Invasive Plants for the Lake George Watershed as identified by the Lake George Land Conservancy “because of their ability to be especially detrimental to the health of our public lands roadsides waterways and backyards.” As reported in Adirondack Journal (August 20, 2005) (pdf):

Common Reed
Garlic Mustard
Japanese Knotweed
Purple Loosestrife
Shrubby Honeysuckle

A free training on invasive plants will be presented by the Lake George Land Conservancy on 9 to 1, September 24, 2005 at Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve in Fort Ann.

Ward Stone had an excellent discussion of invasive species on his WAMC program In Our Backyard this week. Here’s two links he offered:

New York State Invasive Plant Council
New York Flora Atlas

And why we’re at it:

New York Endangered Species
New York Protected Native Plants
New York Native Flora Association


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