Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adirondack Family Activities: Asgaard Farm Kidding Season

AsgaardFarmsKids_newSigns of spring are finally starting to surround us with songbirds arriving and bulbs pushing their way through the ground. At Asgaard Farm and Dairy, owners Rhonda Butler and David Brunner, have a different barometer for measuring the change of seasons. Since mid March about 75 baby goats (kids) have been born with more due in the upcoming week.

When I visited last year I spoke with owner Rhonda Butler at length about the spring births and was delighted to find out there are many opportunities to visit the kids and even attend a birth. The goats at Asgaard are bred through their natural cycle. Though larger dairies use artificial light to manipulate the goats to breed off-season, Asgaard continues to follow the natural season. The doelings (mother goats) are bred in the fall and give birth in the spring with the kids drinking the doeling’s milk. After being weaned, Asgaard Farm uses the milk for their various cheeses and goat milk soaps. Some of the kids are culled after the season and harvested for their meat to produce Chevon or sold as pets or to other working farms. Asgaard maintains a milking herd of about 50 goats that are expected to produce about 100 kids. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Marketing Local Farm Products to Adirondack Innkeepers

innkeepers and farmersCornell Cooperative Extension is hosting two workshops in the Adirondack Region in April, designed to bring accommodations together with farmers with products for sale. The project’s goal is to give innkeepers and farmers a chance to meet, get acquainted, encourage transactions, and, finally, to promote these opportunities in the future in a systematic way.

Each Innkeeper will take home a gift basket that could include jams and jellies, processed meat and grain products, flowers and produce in-season, or any kind of product or information on agritourism or services from New York farms. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Bunny: Cottontail Rabbit or Varying Hare?

Chocolate Easter BunnyThe cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) is slightly smaller in overall size and has smaller hind legs and feet then the varying hare, also known as the snowshoe rabbit (Lepus americanus).

Even though both of these lagomorphs can travel a fair distance with a single hop, the cottontail’s running style is slightly choppier and less graceful when compared to the smoother and more powerful bounding of the varying hare when it needs to move fast.

Also, the cottontail has a pronounced white, rounded tail which contrasts with its gray coat of fur, and which helped earn this creature its common name. Because the tail of the snowshoe is the same color as that of its body, and is held closer to its back, this small, rear appendage is difficult to notice. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cabin Life: A First Syrup Season

First DripI love my dog Pico.  But there are times when he can be extremely annoying.  Like right now, he’s licking my elbow and won’t stop.  I lifted my arm up off the table but he just jumped up on me to keep on licking.  I don’t know why he is doing this or what I could have possibly gotten on my elbow to make him want to lick it so bad.  He’s just a little weird sometimes.

I noticed another oddity out here this week.  I tapped a few maple trees so I could make a little sap this year.  Last year, I was all primed to do the work, but then maple season came and went in a week in February, and I was caught off guard and left with no syrup.

This year is a test run.  I bought some taps and used a few old milk jugs as buckets.  Trying to do it on the quick and cheap, I’m really only expecting a couple servings of syrup.  I don’t have the equipment or the time right now to handle a big production, but now that I know what I’m getting into, I can make a bunch of syrup next spring. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Maple Sugaring: Do New Tapping Strategies Hurt Trees?

sugaringOur sugarhouse is within walking distance of an elementary school, so we’ve given tapping demonstrations to hundreds of school kids over the years. At the part where someone drills a hole in the tree and it sort of bleeds, the next question is invariably: “Does tapping hurt the tree?”

The stock answer is no, as long as you don’t overdo it: use the smaller “health” spouts, follow conservative tapping guidelines, give the tree a year off if it looks stressed. As proof that sugaring is sustainable, we point to some of the trees in our sugarbush that have been tapped for close to a hundred years and are better off for it. Better off because we thin out the trees around them, giving the chosen trees extra light, water, and nutrients.

Their increased vigor, when compared to the maples in unmanaged sections of the forest, is plain to see.  But the sugarmaking being practiced today in many commercial bushes – including our own – is not the same sugarmaking that was practiced even 10 years ago. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adirondack Family Activities: NYS Maple Weekends

Sap-DripThere are a variety of places that a person can visit to see maple sap collected, especially this weekend (March 23-24) as maple producers join together for the second of two New York State Maple Producers Association Maple Weekends.

According to New York State Maple Producers Association President Dwayne Hill, the organization has grown to 575 members and helps to educate the public about the production of maple products. Hill stresses the importance of increasing the number of maple producers in New York State. He sees the world dependence on maple products rising, which he believes is partially due to maple being a natural sweetener. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Adirondack Cooperative Economy Offers ‘Adirondack Bucks’

First_ADK_10_Buck_noteThe Adirondack Cooperative Economy (ACE), an organization with a mission to build local economies by encouraging trade with and between individuals and local businesses has begun circulating Adirondack Bucks, a currency similar to Ithaca Hours. Established last September, the Adirondack Bucks project has grown to include 19 local businesses and organizations.

Adirondack Bucks, available in 1, 5, 10, and 20 ADK Buck amounts, can be used to exchange goods and services with participating friends, neighbors, and local businesses. The currency is backed by the goods and services of its members. ACE is hoping to create an online trading system in the near future. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adirondack Traditions: Spruce Beer?

Adirondack Bottling WorksA new era of alcoholic beverage production is dawning in the Adirondacks. You can drink locally-brewed beer from any one of several micro-breweries, or imbibe vodka distilled from potatoes grown in Gabriels and filtered through the high-quality quartz crystals known as Herkimer diamonds.   “Drinking local” has a long tradition within the Blue Line. Today, let’s consider the honorable history of Adirondack beer. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Adirondack Fish: The Northern Pike

pikeBeneath the ice that covers our many lakes during winter, there exists an arena in which fish prowl their surroundings for something to eat and attempt to avoid being eaten by a larger predator. One species, when fully grown, that never has to worry about being attacked and gulped down by another creature of the deep is the northern pike. This sizeable, torpedo-shaped beast reigns at the top of the food chain in most lakes and larger ponds scattered throughout the Park. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cabin Life: Apples and Honey Bees

bee cropWell, I survived Winter Carnival, along with another monster snowstorm.  So far this winter, I’d say that I’ve gotten between four and five feet of snow, most of it coming in two big storms.  Luckily, I had a friend with a plow help me out this time, so I’m not having to hike in to the cabin.  There’s no way I’m moving that much snow again.  I’d rather hike than shovel.

Last week I house-sat for some friends of mine who live in Saranac Lake.  It was glorious to have running hot water, fast internet and unlimited electricity.  Out of the three though, I would still take hot water over the other two. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Local Maple Producers Sought for Research Project

sugar2The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) 2013 Maple Research Project is in search of maple producers for research on improving sap yields and maple business profitability. The deadline to respond is Friday, February 1.  NNYADP-funded maple research is designed to support the idea that Northern New York can double its maple income to more than $10 million, based on a survey by Cornell University Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell.

Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Maple Forest in Lake Placid, says research data from maple tap spout-and-dropline combination trials at the Uihlein forest since 2010, and from similar evaluations conducted at Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy, NY, in 2011 and 2012 have shown promising results for improving yields by as much as 100 percent in some cases. A dropline is the length of tubing that runs from a spout on the tap into the tree to the lateral line that collects sap. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fort Ticonderoga’s Garden and Landscape Symposium

nardozzi-0016aThe King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga is presenting its second Garden and Landscape Symposium: “Enhancing Life through Gardening” on Saturday, April 13. The day-long symposium, geared for both beginning and experienced gardeners, provides insights from garden experts who live and garden in upstate New York and Vermont. This springtime event takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open by pre-registration only.

The walled King’s Garden was originally designed in 1921 by leading landscape architect Marian Coffin. The formal elements – a reflecting pool, manicured lawn and hedges, and brick walls and walkways – are softened by a profusion of annuals and perennials, carefully arranged by color and form. Heirloom flowers and modern cultivars are used to recreate the historic planting scheme. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saranac Lake: Charlie Green’s Market

Oil painting by Nancy BrossardA man from England, who came to Saranac Lake to cure a respiratory illness in 1922, and ended up operating a grocery store for 60 years has turned out to be a well loved and fondly remembered citizen of the village – and the subject of an art exhibit!

The Adirondack Artists Guild, of which I am one of 14 members, has a gallery at 52 Main Street in Saranac Lake. It’s an old, three story building from the last century, situated between the Sears parking lot and the Waterhole. We knew all along that prior to being used as an art gallery that it had been a bike shop, maybe another short-lived business or 2, and before that a grocery store. The old striped awning on the front of the building, replaced a couple of years ago, had “Greens Market” on it in white letters. So a year ago, when we were planning our 2013 schedule, someone suggested we should do a special exhibit in honor of Charlie Green – the man who operated the grocery store. I wasn’t too excited about it. I had not lived here then – I knew nothing about the man or the store.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

CATS Protects 319 Acres in Willsboro

The owners of 319 acres of farmland and woods in the Champlain Valley have taken steps to protect the property in perpetuity and open it to the public for hiking and cross-country skiing.

Dick and Leanna DeNeale donated a conservation easement on their property to Champlain Area Trails (CATS), a nonprofit organization that has created twenty-three miles of hiking trails in the Champlain Valley since 2009. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

High Peaks Happy Hour: 2012 Annual Report

Whether measured as 9,375 square miles or as 6.1 million acres, we can vouch for the fact that the Adirondack Park is huge. We covered most of the main roads in the park, visited nearly 120 bars and clocked over 5,600 miles since we began our project in January, 2011, to find the best 46 “High Peak” bars in the Adirondack Park. The farthest distance traveled one way was 110 miles to Cranberry Lake. Many others were very close to that distance in any direction. Pam, a self-proclaimed excellent driver, logged most of those miles while Kim served as navigator, photographer and chief note taker. » Continue Reading.