Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow: Nature’s Fertilizer?

winter corn fieldWhere agriculture is concerned, dairy is king (or is dairy queen?) in Northern New York. But with the kind of winter we’ve had so far, I wonder if we shouldn’t start producing other crops, ones particularly suited to our region. How about we raise snow peas? Or iceberg lettuce?

OK, so I’m indulging one of life’s most futile activities, griping about the weather, but for farmers, foresters and gardeners, there is an upside to all this snow. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Exhibit Of Stoddard Winter Photos Opens

Campfire sceneThe Chapman Museum’s new exhibit of 17 original Stoddard photographic prints features a mix of winter images from Glens Falls and Lake George to Saranac Lake.  Subject matter includes both winter activities as well as scenic snow landscapes in the Adirondacks.

One highlight is a rare photograph of a winter camping scene that Stoddard hand-colored to reproduce as a color print.  Others include images of hikers snowshoeing on Saranac Lake, ice fishing, snow covered street scenes in Glens Falls, and views of Lake George’s shoreline. The exhibit is a small sampling of the museum’s collection of over 4,000 Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs that document Glens Falls and the Adirondacks in the late 19th century. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Growing Local Greens In Winter


winter greens trial - Willsboro 3-2012With the cold weather we’ve had lately it’s hard to imagine that anything could be growing in the unheated high tunnels around our region. While some growers do let their tunnels rest over the winter, others keep them in production, growing crops of cold hardy winter greens – how do they do it?

The first step is to use a full-sized high tunnel. You might think that a smaller tunnel would be easier to keep warm but in fact, the opposite is true. The large volume of air in a high tunnel acts as a buffer, warming up quickly on a sunny day and cooling down more slowly than the outside air at night. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Science of Snowflake Shapes

TOS_snowflakesWho hasn’t marveled at a lacy snowflake coming to rest on a jacket sleeve? Do you wonder how it could survive the fall to earth in one piece, or if it’s really true that no two snowflakes can look exactly alike?

A snowflake begins high up in the clouds, not as a snowflake but as a small particle of dust, salt, or ash. When a cloud cools below 32°F, some specks of water vapor freeze onto the particle. As it moves through the cloud, the particle absorbs additional water vapor, building up microscopic layers of ice. When water molecules freeze, they bond together in a way that forms a six-sided ice crystal. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Adirondack Snowshoe Hares in Winter

TOS_HareHomeFor the past 14 years, my Winter Ecology students and I have spent a lot of time outdoors, studying the preferred habitat features and winter foods of snowshoe hares. We’re likely to find hare tracks hopping in and around lowland conifers near wetland edges, and then again at higher elevations, where the forest transitions into fir, birch, and spruce. Where we won’t find them, at least not very often, is in broad bands of open, leafless hardwood. On the rare occasions that we find tracks in this habitat, they have almost always been single strands of widely spaced prints – suggesting an animal that’s really moving! » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Blobs on Ice: Jelly Fungi Add Color to Winter

RSCN5706They look like blobs of shiny tar, a melted lollipop, or a crayon left in the sun too long. They come in vivid colors from orange to yellow to white to black to pinkish. They have a disconcerting ability to mimic human body parts, such as ears and tongues, with Daliesque artfulness.

Jelly fungi.

They got their name because their tissues have the texture and consistency of, well, jelly. In some cases it’s more like rubber. The various species often carry imaginative common names: witch’s butter, snow fungus, jelly ear. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Adventures in Snow Shoveling

BuscoPlowAdkAlmAbout a year ago on these pages, I shared a secret “illness”—snow shoveling—that has been with me since childhood. Besides the interesting and very funny comments that followed on Adirondack Almanack, personal emails arrived from those similarly afflicted. I did mention that more would come in the future, so here goes. Shoveling and keeping a 1500-foot path open for a decade of winters was the highlight of last year’s piece. That probably can’t be topped, but there is more insanity to report. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mystery Middens: Red Squirrels In Winter

TOS_squirrelIn the woods behind our house, there’s a pile of cones and gnawed apart bracts – easily two feet deep and twice as wide – built against the trunk of a tall hemlock. We’ve watched over consecutive winters – when the newly discarded bracts stand out against the snowy white backdrop – as the heap continues to expand.

This pile, called a midden, is the work of a single red squirrel. Red squirrels are active year round and generally easy to spot – and even easier to hear as they scold passersby in their high, chattering voice. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Seed Catalogs: Reading Between the Lines


seed catalogsIt’s January and my dining room table is covered with seed and garden catalogs. I you’re a gardener and you’re not getting catalogs, something is wrong! Most have toll-free phone numbers and websites, so just let them know you’d like a free catalog and you’ll be set for life.

If you have high speed internet and like to surf the web, the online catalogs have a lot of information and links, but I enjoy having the catalogs around the house, and I’ll often grab one to flip through as I drink a cup of coffee or wait for my toast to brown. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Meadow Vole in Winter

meadow voleNew Years is a time when many people contemplate shedding those extra pounds gained between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For numerous forms of wildlife, late autumn through winter can be a protracted season of weight loss, however, this is the result of shortages of food during these bleak months, rather than any conscious effort to become trim.

For the meadow vole, a weight loss phase of its life begins in mid autumn, causing this common rodent to lose more than a quarter of its body mass. This natural reduction in the intake of food is triggered by a specific decrease in the amount of daylight, known as photoperiodism, and typically occurs regardless of the availability of items to eat. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Subnivean Zone: Life Under The Snow

TOS_under_snowEvery animal must develop its own way of dealing with winter. Migrate, hibernate, or insulate; these are common strategies. For a few small mammals, survival depends on the snow itself, and the deeper the better.

The subnivean zone is the area between the surface of the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. The word subnivean comes from the Latin “sub” (under) and “nives” (snow). Mice, voles, and shrews retreat here for protection from cold temperatures, bitter winds, and hungry predators. Food is right at hand: grass, leaves, bark, seeds, and insects are free and unfrozen. Under the snow, these tiny mammals create long tunnel systems complete with air shafts to the surface above. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Solstice Will Be Marked With Meteors

TOS_WinterSolsticeEvery year, I eagerly await the winter solstice, which this year falls on this Sunday, December 21. My anticipation is driven not from an affection for winter, but a hunger for sunlight. I want the ever-shrinking days of autumn to be over and done and the slow, steady march towards late-evening sunsets to begin. So really it’s not the winter solstice I await, so much as being on the other side of it.

But this December I’ve decided to pay attention and learn more about the day itself. Turns out to have been a good choice, as this year’s solstice proves to be more interesting than most. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The View From Pottersville This Morning

Pottersville (Shannon Houlihan)


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How Beavers Survive Adirondack Winters

TOS_BeaverOne fall a young beaver, probably a two-year-old kicked out by its parents, built a small lodge in the old mill pond below our house. On cold January days when temperatures were below zero, I looked at the snow-covered lodge and wondered if the beaver was still alive. But when the ice melted in late March, it was swimming around again.

Mortality rates are higher among young, lone beavers than established adults. Winter is especially daunting: no sooner had the mill pond beaver taken up residence, than it had to prepare for months of cold and food scarcity. How did it survive? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stock Up: Local Vegetables in Soups and Stews


winter vegetablesCookie baking season is here, but before I bring out the sugar and butter, I’m going to cook up some healthy soups and stews for the freezer. My garden potatoes are starting to sprout so I plan to make a potato soup using my own onions and garlic, as well as the corn I froze in September.

I’m busy, so I like to make a big batch of soup or stew and then freeze it in pint-sized canning jars to get a lot of meals out of the one effort. These single-serving sizes are easy to grab on my way out the door in the morning and then heat in the microwave for a warm lunch at work. » Continue Reading.



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