Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cabin Life: The Burial Of Ed

The final resting placeIt’s been a couple of weeks packed with transition for all of us out here at the cabin.  The chickens are out of the tent, Ed is buried and Herbie is acting like he never has before.  We’re all making adjustments and getting on with life, even though the bone-chilling temperatures haven’t always made it that easy.  The chickens are getting better about laying eggs again after their days in the tent.  It took a few days but Whitey finally started laying again and Blondie has dropped a couple of eggs too.  Brownie never really stopped.

Two days after Ed died, I decided that I needed to bury him.  It had been a long weekend, with Ed passing, then me being occupied in a weekend long task.  But that Sunday night I made the effort to bury Ed. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Catnip: Cats on Drugs

ed_kanze_bobcatBeware the cat that’s imbibed a shot of catnip! Humans aren’t the world’s only substance abusers. Cats—little cats, big cats, house cats, wild cats—all fall for catnip. Listen here for a glimpse of cats on drugs in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze.

The podcast is produced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Josh Clement. “All Things Natural” has been published continuously since 1987 . It currently appears in the Bedford, NY Record-Review. Listen to past episodes by visiting Mountain Lake PBS’s Borderless North webpage at mountainlake.org/bn.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Adirondack Geology: The World Of Talus Slopes

talus screeGeological forces over millions of years coupled with the action of glaciers and weather have created massive piles of boulders at the base of towering rock walls and steep slopes in numerous locations throughout the Adirondacks.

Some of the more prominent accumulation of talus, sometimes called scree by climbers, occurs around Chapel Pond, throughout the Wilmington Notch, in the Cascades, around portions of Bald Mountain near Old Forge, and in many places near the shores of Lake Champlain. Talus is also present along the edges of some sections of rivers and larger streams that cut through substantial deposits of bedrock. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Opossum: Live Weird, Die Young

opossumOn our back porch, in a pocket of light from the window, was what looked to be an oversized rat wearing white face powder. As it gobbled down cat food, it flashed a demented crocodile grin. My mother shrieked.

This was my first encounter with an opossum.

This species, still described as “neotropical” by some sources, has been moving north since at least the 1950’s. In many parts of the northeast, opossums (frequently shortened to “possums”) are as familiar as squirrels. Yet this is no mere rodent. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Adirondack Park: Changes In The Air

Winter view from Marcy DamChange is inevitable, constantly working its influence on everything around us, including ourselves. Sometimes it unfolds slowly, like the lines on a person’s face as they age, other times it develops swiftly, like the devastation from a magnitude seven earthquake.

The Adirondack Park has never been immune to change. Whether natural, like the glaciers that once scoured its landscape, or human-induced, like the massive timber extraction of earlier times, the accumulation of these changes made the Adirondacks what we know and love today. This evolution continues today, evident in the gradual wearing down of the mountains, the successional transition of beaver pond to meadow and beyond, and forest flattened by intense windstorms.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cabin Life: Surviving The Chicken Tent

The Chickens InsideI can freely admit that I am not an expert in basically anything, but let me give you some advice:  Don’t share your four-hundred square foot anything with a dog, a cat, three hens, and a rooster.  Now, nothing against the chickens, but they are noisy.  And stinky.  And no matter what, the rooster will crow whenever he feels like it, regardless of your sleep schedule.

With temperatures predicted to be about thirty below zero without the wind chill, I decided that the time had come to let the chickens have a nice warm night inside.  Now, keep in mind that the chickens had not ever been inside my cabin.  Nor had Pico ever been separated from them by nothing more than a blanket.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep last night. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Running Silver:
Restoring The Fish Migrations of Atlantic Rivers

Running SilverEver wonder what pristine runs of migratory fish in Atlantic rivers looked like to early colonists? Some saw so many salmon, shad, alewives and other species that they said the waters “ran silver” with fish as they swam upstream to spawn.

John Waldman’s Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and their Great Fish Migrations (Lyons Press, 2013) covers the biology, history, and conservation of shad, salmon, striped bass, sturgeon, eels and the others that complete grand migrations between fresh and salt waters.

This includes the evolution of these unique life cycles, the ingenious ways that native people and colonists fished for these species, ‘fish wars’ between mill dam operators and fishermen, the ravages of damming, pollution, and overfishing, and more recent concerns such as climate change, power plant water withdrawals, and the introduction of non-native species. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cornell Lab Offers New App to Identify Birds

Merlin Cornell Bird AppYou’ve heard the question a million times: What bird is that? Now Cornell Lab of Ornithology have a new way to get an answer.   Merlin is a free iPhone app developed by the Cornell Lab to help beginners and intermediate bird watchers identify 285 species in North America.

Merlin draws upon 70 million eBird sightings to calculate which species you’re most likely to encounter within about a 30-mile radius of your location at the time when you saw the bird. The app asks five questions about size, location, and so on. Then it displays a range of photos showing birds that match your description. The app also comes with more than 1,400 photos, plus ID tips, sounds, and range maps for each species. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Adirondack Deep Freeze: Groans, Snaps, and Booms

winter-injury5When temperatures dip well below zero Fahrenheit, especially if they fall precipitously, things pop. Wood siding creaks. Frozen lakes and ponds emit ominous groans, snaps, and booms that reverberate through the ice. If soil moisture is high and frost is deep, even the earth can shift in a harmless localized cryoseism, or “frost quake” that produces a nerve-rattling bang.

If you live in a wooded area, you’ve probably heard trees popping and cracking during a deep freeze. It’s an eerie sound on an otherwise still night. Native peoples from northern regions were very familiar with this sound, and some even named one of the winter months in honor of it. The Lakota call February cannapopa wi, ‘moon when trees crack from the cold.’ The Arapaho consider December the tree-cracking time; for the Abenaki, it’s January. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Looking For Cougars In The Adirondacks

cougar trackLast week, the organization, PROTECT the Adirondacks, announced that they plan to begin a program, entitled Cougar Watch, for developing a database of Mountain Lion sightings in and around the Park. For years, many reputable individuals have claimed to have glimpsed this large member of the cat family, which has led some people to wonder whether a small population of these highly adaptable predators currently exists within the boundaries of the Blue Line.  With all the sightings entered into a publicly accessible database, it might be easier to draw some conclusions regarding the status of this reclusive feline in northern New York. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 20, 2014

North Country Winter: Extreme Snow Shoveling

ShovelingSnow01This season’s crop of unusual weather featured several stretches of bitter December cold the likes of which we usually see in January or February. Injected into the mix were periods of warm temperatures and rain, and in combination, those extremes caused problems for a lot of people—car accidents, frozen pipes, flooding, canceled events, and lots of other bad stuff. In general, though, it was the sort of stuff we North Country folks are accustomed to dealing with.

However, there is one group (of which I’m a member) that has suffered for weeks now, and it’s not over yet.  Despite enduring this lifelong affliction, I’ve never spoken to a professional about it so this amounts to a confession of sorts: I’m a shoveler. I’ll wait a moment for the jokes to clear from your head—“as a writer, you’ve been shoveling it for a long time,” and stuff like that. You’ll get no argument from me. But still, maybe I need help. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Stars Align At The Adirondack Public Observatory

Marc Staves inspects a telescope at the Adk Public Observatory in Tupper Lake (Pat Hendrick Photo)Framed by mountains and free of sprawl, Tupper Lake has always been a good place for gazing at the stars. Now the heavens just got closer.

The Adirondacks’ first public observatory is set to formally open in July in a clearing above Little Wolf Pond. Ten years in the making, the Adirondack Public Observatory is the work of a group of committed astronomers who raised $200,000 in community donations and persuaded village leaders to preserve Tupper Lake’s dark skies by toning down the lights.

On a recent summer evening, the observatory’s cofounder, Marc Staves, rolled back the observatory’s four-thousand-pound roof. A storm was on its way, but the clouds did little to dampen his enthusiasm. Closing the roof as the first raindrops started to fall, Staves introduced the observatory’s other attractions: three working telescopes bolted to the floor and a bank of computers, arranged 2001 Space Odyssey-like, in a control room next-door. Equipped with high-speed Internet, the observatory will eventually allow sky watchers to remotely aim computerized telescopes at stars, planets, comets, and other objects in the night sky and take pictures and astronomical measurements that could help identify, say, the next asteroid crashing to Earth. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Does This Fur Make Me Look Fat? Woodchucks In Winter

woodchuckFat gets a bad rap in the medical world, for good reason. Excessive body fat is linked to a litany of health risks, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.  Yet in the realm of nature, fat is a lifesaver. If certain mammals that hibernate did not get fat, they would be dead by spring.

The woodchuck is something of a fat specialist. As many an irate gardener can attest, the woodchuck’s diet consists of perishable greens. Because these can’t be stored, the animal stockpiles all the food energy it needs to survive winter in a thick layer of body fat. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

PROTECT Launches New Cougar Watch Project

CougarWatch-ArticleImageProtect the Adirondacks has launched a new project Cougar Watch to record public sightings of cougars (Puma concolor) in and around the Adirondack Park. There are regular reports of cougar sightings throughout the Adirondacks, but there has not been a publicly available repository to record these sightings. PROTECT will work to organize and map these reports and provide regular updates.

The purpose of the Cougar Watch project is two-fold. First, there continue to be regular reports of cougars across the Adirondacks. Jerry Jenkin’s Adirondack Atlas features a map of cougar sightings on page 51. PROTECT will manage a database about all reports made available to us. We will investigate sightings that include information, such as pictures, pictures of tracks, scat samples, etc. Second, if there is a cluster of reports in a specific geographic area, PROTECT will work with cougar experts to try and assess the presence of cougars. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Adirondack Fisheries: Black Crappie

750px-Pomoxis_nigromaculatus1Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), part of the sunfish family, has the same general shape as other sunfish. It is an introduced, non-native species to Lake George, but is an important prey species for largemouth bass and yellow perch. Crappie taste excellent and their aggressiveness allows for a fast and furious fight for anglers.  They are an indicator species meaning they are intolerant of water quality degradation including silt and turbidity, and can only be found in clean waters.  Besides Lake George, they can be found in The Great Lakes, the Hudson River and are generally distributed throughout New York State; but are not very common in the Adirondacks.

Crappies are pale silvery white on the belly and sides, and dark green on top.  A dark vertical bar can be seen through the eye region.  They have a high compressed, diamond shape body, like other species in the sunfish family.  Crappies have more than three anal spines, a short dorsal fin with 6-8 spines and a long base of the dorsal fin.  They have been known to hybridize with white crappie in bodies of water where their populations overlap.  » Continue Reading.


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