Archive | September 2019

Killing Frost

Tonight we are supposed to get our first killing frost.  I hurried to harvest as much of the cold sensitive crops as possible.  Here are some beautiful rainbow chard leaves I picked today.  As I was cleaning them for dinner, I thought the colors were so pretty they should be shared.  Chard is a fairly hardy plant.  I hope to get at least one more harvest of these in October, if it doesn’t get too cold.  These even look nice in the kettle.  Sadly, much of the color is lost when the leaves are cooked.  As I write this I’m eating the chard with a little salt and butter.  So good!

The tomatoes did very well this year.  I rescued the last few that have hope of ripening.  A few green ones will go to the chickens.  They love tomatoes.  I got several large purple sweet peppers this summer.  These smaller ones managed to mature to the right color even if they aren’t very big.  The pumpkin crop was a disappointment.  The pie pumpkins and little decorative ones developed several fruits, but the large field pumpkins died.  Not sure what happened there.  Maybe the squash bugs killed them.  There was an abundance of bugs this year.

I also picked several bouquets of nasturtiums and marigolds.  Once touched by the frost, the lovely blooms will all wither.  I always miss my summer flower gardens when the season is over.  Next year I will try starting seeds indoors in the spring.  That should give me earlier flowers.

 

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Early Eggs!

Here are the first eggs from my Silver Ameraucana pullets hatched 4/22/19.  The birds were 21 weeks old when they began laying.  Because there is a variation in the shell color between the eggs, I believe they were laid by two different birds.

Seeing these eggs in September is very exciting for me.  The silver color of Ameraucana chickens is notoriously slow to develop.  Last year the baby hens didn’t start laying until December.  They were 8 months old.  That is a long time to wait for new eggs, especially when you are paying to put the lights on in the coop at 4 am every day.  Hens need at least 12 hours of light to lay.  Here in Maine we get a lot less than that during the cold months.

Here are photos of some of the young hens.  I suspected the pullets might lay earlier than their mothers because their little brothers matured earlier than my past generations of Silvers.  Some baby cockerels started crowing at 3 months, well ahead of schedule.  When I found these eggs yesterday I was over the moon.  Finally, hens that start laying when they are supposed to.  Yay!

Donnell Pond Reserve, Hancock Co., ME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Donnell Pond Maine Public Reserved Lands in Hancock County near Sullivan are part of over 15,000 acres of barely touched wilderness.  There are many walking and ATV trails through the forest and several mountains to enjoy in addition to crystal clear Donnell Pond.  Above are two views that comprise a near panorama of Schoodic Bay from Schoodic Beach on Donnell Pond.  On the right is the foot of Black Mt and on the left, the base of Schoodic Mt.  The beach is unbelievable, with coarse yellow sand that extends into the water as far as I could see.  Even with the cloud cover and chill of early September in the air, I was tempted to take a dip in the pond.

This year for our annual mini vacation, we decided to stay between Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Peninsula.  Our home away from home was a lovely Airbnb in Sullivan. The post and beam house was right on the ocean with a gorgeous view of the bay. This is the sunrise over Flanders Bay from our bedroom window.
The first day of our stay, we climbed 1049 ft Black Mountain. It’s a good thing the sky was overcast because the climb would have been too hot for us otherwise. As it was, we got fairly sweaty by the time we reached the top. The trail is moderately steep and sometimes crosses bare rock faces or scrambles over boulders. We started at Schoodic Beach, passed through a thick oak and pine woods, then began the ascent. The tree species changed to fir, spruce, maple and beech as we gained altitude.

Many of the beech on the mountainside are afflicted by Beech Bark Disease that has been destroying the species statewide. The trunks become riddled with cankerous sores until the trees are killed. A scale insect accidentally imported to Nova Scotia from Europe in the late 1800s has spread through most of the eastern seaboard.  The insect opens wounds on the trees which are then invaded by a fungus.  The fungus kills or severely weakens the tree.

It is so sad to see the stands of silvery-barked beech that once provided nuts for the wildlife now reduced to standing rotting wood.  I hope some of the trees develop natural immunity to this scourge before all the beech are lost just like the chestnuts.  There is evidence that certain beech trees do have immunity and over time these trees should become prevalent in the woods.

Nearing the summit, the forest changes again to include large fields of reindeer moss (a lichen) and other lichens and mosses.  This year these plants are doing particularly well due to the abundant rainfall.  Another plant to benefit from the excess moisture is the fungus.  Mushrooms popped up all along the trail.  The most abundant were bright yellow species.
This small dead maple leaf was surrounded by tiny white mushrooms. I’m not a fungi scholar so I don’t know the names of the various mushrooms, but I do like the great variety of their shapes and colors.  The forest floor was also covered with laurel and wild low bush blueberry and cranberry. I enjoyed a few late season berries, yum.

The summit provided spectacular views of the surrounding area and also a pleasant breeze off the ocean, welcomed by two perspiring hikers.  We somehow missed a connecting trail at the top that would have taken us over to a small mountain pond.  There is always next time to see that.  We descended through impressive cliffs made of slabs of granite.  In places the stones formed natural steps.  The trail back to our car was relatively flat and passed through a lowland boggy area.  Cedar, spruce and maple towered overhead.  Moss and mushrooms lined the way.

The Black Mt trail is only one of many in this reserve.  Next door to the Donnell Pond Unit (as the State Forestry Service calls it) is another unit, the Tunk Lake Reserved Lands with more mountains, streams and ponds.  This area of Maine is particularly beautiful.  It is also not heavily used.  The scenery is very similar to Acadia Park without all the crowds.  We did not encounter a single soul during the several hours we spent around Black Mt.  Passing through the reserved lands is Black Woods Road, a designated scenic bi-way linking the towns of Franklin and Cherryfield.  This drive along Rte. 182 is well worth the time.

There is even a ghost story associated with the highway.  Back at the turn of the last century, it is reputed that a newlywed couple were traversing the road at night.  Their horse was frightened and their wagon went off a long drop.  To this day there are reports of motorists at night encountering a woman in white standing in the road who disappears.  Although I’ve driven that way many times both during the day and after dark, I’ve never met the ghost.  I have seen many miles of old growth forest and idyllic waterways.