Saturday, August 17, 2013

Amy Ivy: An August Garden Report


DSCN4621Early August was the peak of the gardening season in northern New York. In spite of the challenging start to summer we had with the endless days of rain and cool temperatures, many gardens were able to put on a huge spurt of growth in mid-July when the sun finally appeared. Most crops are later than usual and production is down but plants that survived the first half of the summer are making up for lost time now.

Tomatoes are the most popular crop in home vegetable gardens and this has been a particularly difficult year for them. I was just about to call my eight plants a total loss in early July when the sun came out and they finally put out some new, vigorous growth. My plants still aren’t much to look at but they are setting fruit. The lower leaves are spotted and turning yellow from a common disease, Septoria leaf spot, which is widespread this year. It weakens the plant but usually does not kill it and you can still get a decent harvest. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Fred Kerslake’s Great Pig Circus

PA31892 FK Ad Buffalo“That’ll do, pig.” It’s a line I’ve heard more than once from my wife and business partner, Jill (we’re always razzing each other about something or other). It is, of course, the famous line near the end of Babe, a movie we both enjoyed. We’re also fans of Arnold from Green Acres, and of the pigs who played leadership roles in George Orwell’s allegorical novel, Animal Farm. You can see a theme developing here―a bunch of very smart pigs who, in fantasy worlds, did all sorts of things that a reasonable person knows a pig can’t really do.

Can’t really do? Not so fast. Yes, Orwell’s pigs were the smartest animals in the barnyard. Arnold could get the mail and understand English. Babe could herd sheep as well as any sheepdog. But in the real world, the North Country once had something to rival them all. I give you Fred Kerslake’s pigs. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cabin Life: A Good Year for Jam

The JamWell, the fall-like weather continues, reminding me every day that winter is coming.  But there are still signs of summer besides the humidity to remind me that it’s only August.

For instance, we just finished up our second batch of jam.  The first batch was straight blueberry, and we got ten small jelly jars full.  This second batch was blueberry-raspberry, with a few random blackberries thrown in just for the heck of it.  This batch made twelve full jars, and it looks good. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Local Farms, Local Food:
The Price of Homegrown Eggs

EggsEggs vary in price and nutrition, but are a delicious locally grown food across Northern New York. I’m fairly passionate about eggs. On our small family farm, we raise our own. Our hens feed on plenty of grass, seeds, and other herbaceous material around the farm, plus insects and kitchen scraps.  We supplement with some commercial feed.  The coop is enclosed in a spacious fenced-in yard that’s half grassy, half forested, but our clever birds regularly escape and truly free-range around the farm.

We are addicted to our fresh eggs, rich with flavor and yolks so deeply orange the hue is startling to the uninitiated.  I am a firm believer in the benefits of consuming eggs from true free-range laying hens.  Take note: commercial claims of “free-range” do not guarantee access to the natural smorgasbord listed above (although the hens likely have more space and your conscience can relax about the “humane” treatment). » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cabin Life: The New Chicken Coop

The GirlsIt’s another beautiful summer night with fall weather.

We had a bit of a milestone out here at the cabin this week.  The chickens are no longer residing in a large box on the porch, but instead are enjoying their new digs and much larger coop.

While it’s not quite done, it is habitable and since there are no building codes or inspections for small wooden boxes, I figured the girls could use the room to stretch their wings. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wild Center FlavorFest Focuses On Local Food

7798671182_0f435c4cbfTo taste the salty bite of prosciutto in Italy, the smoky crunch of a German wurst or the hoppy flavor in a beer brewed by Trappist monks you need to pack your bags, fly across the Atlantic and remember your passport. On Thursday, August 15th you can skip the flight and come to The Wild Center for an all-day food festival and pick up a passport that will let you travel freely from one great Adirondack taste to the next.

Your passport will allow you to taste Adirondack delicacies like local cheeses and meat, seasonal vegetables, maple rhubarb crisp and homemade ice cream, and locally brewed beers. The tasting stations, catered by Adirondack Artisan Catering and located throughout the Center’s campus, will focus on the best food and flavors found in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Adirondack Farmers’ Markets and Low Income Consumers

Chestertown farmers Market 2012Each year, millions of dollars are wasted in uncashed food assistance program checks  representing dollars that could be benefiting low-income consumers, local farmers and the physical and economic health of our communities. These lost opportunities make it very important to effectively communicate information about these programs to consumers and farmers.

Four government programs offer payment options beyond the usual cash, check or credit card to eligible low-income consumers at farmers’ markets. Those options are: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Amazing Grace Vineyard Summer Concert Series

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Summer in the Adirondacks is not only about the beautiful wild outdoors, but can be a mixture of cultural activities while enjoying nature with artists and musical entertainment. For the fourth year, Amazing Grace Winery is pairing its fine Champlain Valley wine with local musical talent for a casual evening under the stars.

Established in 2008 in Chazy, Amazing Grace produces cold hardy varietal wines and fruit wines and has a recently expanded 1,400 square foot winery/tasting room as part of its small farm vineyard. In addition to tours, tasting and  musical events the vineyard hosts a bimonthly Farmers’ and Craft Market the first and third Sunday in July and August.

“We have tried to keep the summer concert series affordable,” says Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery owner Mary Fortin. “Most of the performances are free though we do raise money for various local charities like The Food Shelf. People don’t have to donate, but we do ask. We also do charge an admission for the annual musical.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Supporting Local Dairy: Look for the Code, Buy Direct

RachelZumbachGoatTedraMcDougal725During the years in which I’ve been paying attention to North Country agricultural news, I’ve noticed that when a headline announces a story about “farming” it’s most likely to be about dairy farming. I suspect this narrow definition of farming stems from the general history of farming in the Northeast which for more than a century was focused primarily on dairy production.  Nowadays, traditional family dairy farms often struggle to make ends meet and the news is not always uplifting.  In terms of “buying local,” how does one support the North Country dairy farms?

We want to make sure our dairy farmers are making a viable living, and buy their products, but how can we know where our regular “store-bought” milk is coming from? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cabin Life: A Banner Year For Small Fruit?

First StrawberriesI love it when a few moments of laziness lead to something good.  I had weed whacked all around the big fire pit and hammock a couple weeks ago, but there was one section of lawn that I just buzzed through quickly, and I did a poor job on about a ten square foot area.  Last night as I was moving some junk wood into the new wood rack, I caught a glimpse of some bright red in the slightly overgrown region:  two wild strawberries.

Only one of the very small strawberries was ripe, so after taking a couple pictures of the first strawberries of the season, I popped the ripe one in my mouth.  That was the first strawberry I’ve had in quite a while, and man was it delicious.  There was enough flavor packed in that little pea-sized berry to make all the rain worthwhile. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cabin Life: ‘Awash In Babies’

The Four GirlsIt’s been the kind of week where I am just awash in babies.  This is not a bad thing, although it is a far cry from my normal lifestyle.  I’m sitting on the patio of my brother’s house in Orlando, Florida, waiting for my niece and nephew to wake up.  Their official greeting of spit-up all over me was warm and gracious, if unconventional.  But trust me when I say that the two month old twins are too cute to be upset with.

The other babies I’ve been seeing a lot of lately are my chickens.  The four of them are staying in Amy’s garage while I’m out of town, but I got to spend plenty of time with them before I left.  Amy took her seven larger chicks plus one very tiny chick and put them in her new coop.  That left my four little girls to themselves in a heated cage.  Once I’m back, though, the girls will be my responsibility. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Adirondack Food: Time for Strawberries, Festivals

strawberriesfromgarden2_newThough we have had more rain than sun over the last few days, strawberries are starting to ripen and pick-your-own fields are planning on opening to the public over the next couple of weeks. Festivals are set to gesture in summer with all things strawberry. Rulf’s Orchard in Peru is holding their 2nd annual Strawberry Festival on June 29 with a petting zoo, vendors, strawberry shortcake eating contest and wagon rides to the U-Pick patch. Raquette Lake is whipping up fresh strawberry shortcake while Crown Point will host its 9th annual celebration of those delicious red berries.

According to Alexandra Roalsvig, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Long Lake, the June 29th Raquette Lake Strawberry Festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors coming to the area to connect with summer friends, while supporting a worthy cause. The summertime dessert will be served starting at 11 a.m. at the Raquette Lake Fire Hall. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Eating Local: Farmers Market or CSA?

Chestertown farmers Market 2012Our region offers a plentiful range of opportunities to buy locally produced food.  Every May I write about the opening of the farmers markets in Northern New York. Each year Adirondack Harvest spends the better part of a week tracking down all the farmers markets in the North Country. We update days, times, locations, market managers, websites, and contact information.

For 2013, we’ve compiled a list of 65 markets across 14 counties. That’s up a bit from 2012, but not a lot. The market numbers are leveling off, probably due to a couple of factors. One reason is that the farmers are already selling at as many markets as they can handle. The other may be the rise in community supported agriculture (CSA) farms.

Both farmers markets and CSAs have been gaining in popularity as the local food movement continues to grow, but which one is right for you and your family? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ausable Grange Hosting Young Farmers For Summer Solstice

Ausable Valley Grange HallThe Greenhorns, a grassroots organization for young farmers who celebrate the historic grange movement, is planning a Grange Summer Solstice Revival at the Keeseville Grange Hall on the shore of the Ausable River in downtown Keeseville on Saturday, June 22  and Sunday, June 23rd.  The event will include a hay-wagon  tour of local farms, and an evening of history, poetry, music, dancing, and local food to celebrate the summer season.

The Grange, also known as the Patrons of Husbandry (Pof H), was founded in 1867 as a fraternal order for farmers as a venue for socializing, education and fellowship. Founded along the lines of fraternal organizations and labor unions, the first major phase of Grange activities revolved around protecting family farmers from exploitative railroad monopolies and middle-men in the period following the Civil War. The grange successes included regulation of the railroads and rural mail delivery; they also advocated for suffrage for women (women had an equal votes in the Grange). In 1910, the Ausable Valley Grange elected Nellie Thompson, one of the first woman masters. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cabin Life: A Rock in the Garden

The Water BarrelDespite the half inch of snow we got earlier this week, spring is rolling along.  I jerry-rigged a rain barrel, and I like not having to rely on small supply of drinking water to take care of the garden.  The thirty-five gallon barrel has a spigot on it and I set it up right next to the garden.  Unfortunately, I do not yet have the barrel set up properly.  I have a gutter that runs along the front porch, and a five gallon bucket that sits under the end of the gutter.  When we get rain and the bucket fills, I take the bucket a few feet to the barrel and dump the water in the top.  It’s not the best design, but it’s working well.

My tray of seedlings is doing OK, even though I forgot to pull them inside the other night during a frost.  Luckily all the seeds that had sprouted survived, but I have a few trays with nothing growing in them.  The carrots, spinach and tomatoes better get their acts together. » Continue Reading.



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