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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.

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Little Fat Red Caterpillar

On August 20, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a hike at Dodge Point Reserve in Newcastle, ME.  Previously I blogged about this place, a wonderful spot for getting away from it all.  The land was once a tree farm and has an abundance of old growth oak trees.

As we walked along through the forest, we noticed that something was hitting the leaf litter on the floor.  It sounded like rain.  The weather was bright, sunny and around 85F, not a rain cloud in sight.  After searching for a while to find the cause of the pitter patter, I realized it must be droppings from caterpillars munching on the plethora of oak leaves above our heads.  We were both amazed at the vast number of insects that must be at work up there to produce a constant rain of droppings.

After walking a bit farther, I came across this bright, plump bug on the path.  I took photos since I’d never seen a caterpillar like this before.  After some poking around on the Butterflies and Moths of North America website, the identification was fairly certain.  The little blob is Heterocampa umbrata, or the White-Blotched Heterocampa.  Apparently they come in red or green versions.  The peculiar long face and funny beady eyes are the best identification.  This species feeds on–oak leaves.  I assume the pink spud dropped to the forest floor to prepare for pupation since it appears well grown.  It will hatch out as a rather drab moth.  All the looks are in the caterpillar stage, for sure.

Here’s a link to the butterflies and moths website:  https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Heterocampa-umbrata

Rooting Lilac

There is a lovely late lilac that perfumes my entire yard this time of year.  Long after the other lilacs have finished, this one is going strong.  The fragrance is so powerful that only one spray of flowers is necessary to scent an entire room.

I would love to have more than one plant so I can space them around the property.  Usually lilac is easy to propagate by digging up the rooted shoots that emerge around the base of adult plants.  This particular lilac sends all the shoots off the main branches.  I decided to try potting some shoots to see if they would root.

Lilac is rooted from new shoots, not year-old wood.  Choose the new, green growth right after the plant ends blooming.  As you can see, my late lilac is beginning to fade so I figured the time was close enough to harvest shoots.  I cut several about 8″-10″ long.  I stripped all the leaves except the ones at the tip.  Roots will emerge from the nodes where there were once branches.  I trimmed the shoots to leave a node at the bottom of the shoot and one extra along the length.  This gives the plant two chances to root.  I also trimmed most of the area of the remaining leaves.  The plant puts a lot of energy into maintaining leaves so reducing the leaves will allow the plant a better chance to root.

To increase rooting, the shoots show be dipped in rooting hormone.  I was fresh out of this, so I substituted by dipping the shoots in honey then rolling them in cinnamon.  Both these substances are natural antiseptics.  They should help to head off growth of fungus until the shoots start to form roots.  After coating the entire length of the shoot that would be under dirt, I used a small stick to form a hole in the potting soil, then inserted the shoot in the soil to cover the highest node intended for rooting.  Finally, I gave the shoots a good drink and covered the entire pot in clear plastic.  The plastic will retain humidity, helping the shoots to keep hydrated until they root.  With any luck, I will have some baby late lilacs to plant next spring!

 

New Baby Fig

My beautiful four-foot high fig tree died because it got too chilled during winter storage so I bought a baby that arrived a few months ago.  The the tree was about a foot high.  I potted it and put it in the south window of my kitchen.  After a month or so the baby had established roots and started to sprout leaves.  Then it did what figs do, it set tiny fruit.

I figured the fruit would wither and die on such a small plant.  But, no.  They are getting larger and more fruit are setting!  It is so exciting to think of growing fresh figs right in my kitchen.  I’m considering making this into a bonsai tree so it stays small and can grow in the house.  It is one of the smaller-sized cultivars so perhaps keeping it in the house will work.  The lengths I’m willing to go to just to have fresh figs in Maine!

First Brood in the Incubator

And we’re off!  The first brood of Silver Ameraucana eggs went in the incubator on 4/1.  I expect chicks to start hatching on 4/20, or even a bit earlier.  These Silvers always seem to start a day early.  Can hardly wait for the first little peepers!  Chick hatching season is one of my favorite times.

Here are some of the moms and dads of this year’s eggs.  There are a total of 20 hens and 3 roosters in my breeding flock.  Fingers crossed that I get some nice babies from these birds.

Blue Eggs

Just wanted to share the beautiful eggs my Ameraucana pullets are producing.  They started laying in late December and average four to eight eggs per day.  We have twenty hens.  Only the oldest are laying right now.  More will come online by the end of this month and by the end of March they all should be laying.  That will be just in time to start collecting eggs for setting.

I’m really liking some of the egg color.  My ideal is a robin’s egg blue.  I raise Silver Ameraucana, a variety that has had a lot of trouble with egg color.  The shade is often too pale and too green.  I have my fingers crossed that a good number of the younger pullets will lay nice color.  I’d like to have as many hens as possible for breeding.  So far there are four or five of the oldest pullets producing good blue color.

Personally, I like the variety of shades represented above.  They look lovely as Easter eggs, no dyeing required!  My customers who buy eating eggs really enjoy the brightly colored eggs, as do my young granddaughters.  They are fun for everyone!

Crescendoe Gloves

These gloves were found on a recent trip to a local thrift shop.  They carry only an inside tag identifying the lining as 100% silk and giving a WPL number that corresponds to Crescendoe Glove Co.  The gloves appear unused and were in their original plastic sleeve.

They are made of fine, thin, cream colored leather with hand crocheted detail.  The size is not marked but they measure 6.25″ around the palm and would be a size 6 or Small.  They are 10.5″ long.  When worn they would cover about half way up the forearm.  The material is Crescendoe’s special washable leather.  This pair of gloves is as supple and wearable as the day they were made.c4

WPL numbers were changed over to RN numbers starting in 1959.  These gloves can be dated to that year because of the confusing use of an RN number for a WPL number.  The last WPL number issued was 13669 in 1959.  For some reason Crescendoe used this odd label.  I suspect it was a temporary problem, probably fixed within a few months.  Because the gloves appear very clean, unstretched, and still contain this lightly applied label, I believe they are unworn.

Crescendoe Gloves were a division or brand name of Superb Gloves, both companies being located in Johnstown, NY.  Superb registered the Crescendoe name in 1942.  Johnstown and nearby Gloversville once formed a center for glovemaking in the US.  The area had many tanneries.

In the 1800s glovemaking became a cottage industry in this region.  The leather was processed and cut out in factories by men and the gloves were sewn together in homes by women.  By the early 1900s, glove stitching also moved to the factories.  A booming industry grew up in the area and continued into the final quarter of the last century.  As fashion moved away from the daily wearing of ladies gloves, the industry died.  Just a few glove manufacturers remain.

Crescendoe was a very popular brand from the 1940s into the 1970s. The wearing of fine, dressy gloves when going out was de rigueur for a fashion conscious woman. The right glove “made” a lady’s outfit, especially for evening. The use of gloves was also good hygiene and it protected hands from the weathering effects of sun, cold and wind. I bet chapped hands were less of a problem when glove wearing was common place.

Crescendoe ran a very successful advertising campaign in fashion magazines. This illustration from 1954 by Rene Gruau highlights the attractiveness of the gloves. The company touted their product’s ability to slim the hands. Gruau was a famous fashion artist of the time. Use of his artwork represented an impressive investment by the company. Rene Gruau’s work can be found in museums today and he is acknowledged as a major contributor to haute couture.

image by 1950s Unlimited  link to use

The significance of small discoveries in thrift shops, at yard sales, auctions and secondhand shops always amazes me.  This pair of gloves was lost, jumbled amid a motley collection of worn-out hats, gaudy scarves, old hosiery and cheap fake-leather wallets in a bin.  I knew when I saw them that they were something special and I was right.  The gloves are listed in my eBay Phoenix Farm shop.