22 December 2008
15 December 2008
I amused myself by observing the squirrels on the hill beside me, chasing, and was just remarking to myself at how quiet their movements were in these damp conditions when a flash of yellow and a snarling sound interrupted my rodent reverie. What's this? A nice red bushy-tailed fox, and me with a loaded gun, albeit somewhat atavistic. How interesting...
I shot the fox with my New England Firearms "Sidekick" .50 cal muzzle-loaded rifle.
I have big plans for the pelt, which is in perfect shape.
13 December 2008
05 December 2008
The Pheasant Hunt
By Victoria Tidball and Danielle Riegel
We were in a car riding toward the one and only pheasant field. We were very excited. Then we stopped and got our gear ready to go, and went. Miss, the dog, was also excited. The breeze was cold and the thorns scratched us terribly and in pain we went on. Right away our Dad shot one. It's head was blown off. Then we saw another across the field. We ran after it. Miss was ahead of the gang. We missed the shot. We went along and found a bird nest. It was too high. We kept walking. Our Dads were walking in the woods as we were walking in the field. We walked towards the car. And all of a sudden another pheasant came out of the bushes. Our dads tried to shoot it. Then we went home. That was our trip. The end.
16 November 2008
He will be tender and tasty.
01 November 2008
Southern Zone Bear Units Added
New regulations expand bear hunting to 13 additional Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), which include parts of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Wyoming, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, Broome, Chenango, Madison, Onondaga, Oneida and Otsego counties.
The new regulations are effective immediately and will allow hunters to pursue bears in these areas during the bowhunting, regular, and muzzleloading bear seasons in the Southern Zone. An updated map of New York's bear hunting seasons is available on DEC's Black Bear Hunting Seasons web page. A map and boundary descriptions of WMU locations can be found on DEC's Wildlife Management Units web page. Details of the specific changes for the Southern Bear Range are included in the complete press release on this topic.
Bear hunting areas in the Southern Zone have been expanded to better manage the growing bear population in that area.
"In recent years, the bear population in central and western New York has grown in number and expanded in distribution," DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. "Hunting is an important component of a comprehensive bear-management program that also emphasizes safety, education efforts and responses to individual problem bears. Expanding the bear hunting area is a continuation of efforts to manage bear population growth and range expansion."
20 October 2008
My daughter Charlotte, who is six years old, wanted her first hunt badly; so rather than chase squirrels, I opted for a fall turkey hunt, given Thanksgiving is just around the proverbial corner. We headed for our woods, down to "the gully," where a logging road cuts down one side of the gully and up the other, switch-backing on the western side. Many of the leaves from maples, tulip poplar, beech and oak are already down, which makes for crunchy walking. On the other hand, everything walking in the woods is crunching, so if one listens long and hard enough, one can eventually blend in and be relatively unnoticed. This is especially true if there are 3 foot berms on each side of the logging road.
So Charlotte and I were still-hunting along the logging road in the gully, and before too long, we could hear rustling in the leaves that sounded too big and vigorous to be a squirrel. We stopped and knelt, conferencing in a whisper about the sounds. Could it be turkeys digging through the leaves looking for beech nuts and acorns? Charlotte thought "maybe." So, we scratched the leaves ourselves and I did my best vocal imitation of a hen turkey. Lo and behold, a turkey answered, and we had confirmation...they were close, and it sounded like a lot of them.
I glanced at my watch after noticing the low sun casting beautiful slant-y golden light on the tops of the trees, 5:15 PM. I whispered to Charlotte that I surmised that the turkeys were headed to one of their roosting areas, a draw with big old beech trees at the bottom. I asked if she wanted to try to intercept them. She was game, so we crept along the berm, me calling, Charlotte scratching leaves.
We got to a point where the logging road was about to crest and we were going to lose our berm. We knelt again to conference, but just then, we heard a cluck, looked up , and there was turkey poking its head over the berm briefly. The rest, as they say, is history.
We hope to see the Stedman et al. family, the Tantillo et al. family, and the Winchell et al. family at Thanksgiving.
06 October 2008
Wineries win Lake Friendly Farm Award
by Debra J. Groom / The Post-Standard Monday September 29, 2008, 12:09 PM
Hosmer Winery, Long Point Winery, Canoga Creek Farms and Switzer Farm have received 2008 Lake Friendly Farm Award.
Farmers receive this special award when they incorporate practices that conserve and protect their local water resources. Lake-friendly farming can include tree planting along streams, conservation of wetlands and manure handling practices.
These four wineries are all located within the Cayuga Lake Watershed area -- where agriculture is very important to the community culturally, economically and ecologically.
28 July 2008
We tried a bit of trolling, but the recreational boating of the weekend had chopped up so much vegetation that it was nearly impossible. We switched to drifting and casting. Before long, Wade had boated a perch and a nice chain pickerel. Within an hour, Laura had boated a nice pickerel also, and a smaller "hammer handle."
We were drifting the navigation channel, out in front of the state park and working our way south towards Canoga Creek. Wade hooked a nicer perch, a keeper. I boated a couple of pickerel. And then, Laura hooked into a bruiser.
We watched her fight this fish. Both Jeremy and I quickly ascertained that we were clearly out of the 3-4 lb pickerel class. The tension rose, instructions were helpfully peppered at Laura...drag settings, reeling instructions, etc. Then we saw a flash of the huge fish as it bulled under the boat. She fought for long minutes more until it began to tire. Slowly she horsed it to the side of my boat. Jeremy was leaning over the edge, ready to help land it...he looked over his shoulder with a surprised look and exclaimed "Its a huge catfish!" He reached for it and it dove again. Now we were all quite engaged and invested in boating this strange and unusual Cayuga Lake trophy. After a few valiant misses, Jeremy finally managed to gill it, and hoisted above decks. It was a leviathan.
Congrats Laura and Wade! Come back fishin' any time.
After picture taking and all of the fun, we fished a bit more in the channel, and then headed for the mouth of Canoga Creek for a large mouth Bass or two. But the group was pretty satiated with having caught the Channel Cat, (According to Wikipedia, realistically, a channel catfish over 20 pounds (9 kg) is a spectacular specimen, and most catfish anglers view a 10 pound (4.5 kg) fish as a very admirable catch. Furthermore the average size channel catfish an angler could expect to find in most waterways would be between 2 and 4 pounds) and our bass fishing resulted in just on beefy Rock bass, along with enjoying a good summer's eve sunset over Canoga Creek Farm and Conservancy. Stats? 5 pickerel, 2 perch, 1 rock bass, and one 30 inch, 12 pound Channel Catfish.
23 July 2008
But first, Robert turned me on to this little gem:
The Cayuga Flora Part I: A Catalogue of the Phaenogamia Growing Without Cultivation in the Cayuga Lake Basin By William Russel Dudley: ""
Now, to the Phragmites... Robert inquired as to whether he could do a survey of my portion of the Canoga Marsh. He was intrigued by the fact that the above referenced Flora accounting hints that Phragmites were "abundant" in the Canoga Marsh at the time of the survey, whereas now it is a pretty mono-typical cattail marsh...what happened?
21 July 2008
11 July 2008
09 July 2008
"Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful FARM LAND sometimes seek to champion them by saying that 'FOOD PRODUCTION belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the AGRICULTURAL heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of FARM LAND and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method."
-adapted from Teddy Roosevelt’s A Book-Lover's Holidays in the Open, 1916
The original quote follows:
Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the 'the game belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method."
30 June 2008
Lake Trout were the species de jour, though we did boat one undersized landlocked Atlantic salmon.
Capt. George inquired about the globs of aquatic gunk that accumulate on the trolling lines this time of year. He called them "spinner fleas." This is an example of good dissemination of mostly correct information, though the technical name for the phenomena he is referring to is "Spiny and/or Fishhook water fleas," Bythotrephes spp and Cercopagis pengoi respectively. The range of these invasive species is highlighted in the map red below...notice the Finger Lakes region :
In case Capt. George is unavailable, there are other Finger Lakes guides.
22 May 2008
USDA/NRCS and NYS DEC experts recently (5/20/08) assessed the warm season grassland establishment project at Canoga Creek Farm and Conservancy.
Their assessment was generally positive. They said "Overall the site looked very good as far as establishment. There was excellent wildrye throughout. There were differences in stand establishment and survival with the poorest along the Southern side of the field. The planted and/or volunteer clover which overlapped the warm season grasses is posing serious competition as well as golden rod and other broad leaf weeds. On the North and West side of the field there was some dense rows of warm season grasses... some of it had little weed competition but the farthest area to the North had an excellent stand of warm season grasses. We also noticed more little bluestem on the North side which may have been due to how the seed was planted. Most of the weeds are broadleaved so that an application of 2,4-D is possible and would improve the stand. This would be a good year to do this to insure a vigorous stand of warm season grasses which may then have a chance to maintain itself with future encroachment of broadleaf forbs."
The team also noticed the prairie cord grass and Canada blue joint that was planted by Ducks Unlimited and Cayuga Lake Watershed volunteers is still growing on the edge of the field in the wetland margin.
I am particularly intrigued/encouraged by the following in their brief report/assessment:
"On the North and West side of the field there was some dense rows of warm season grasses... some of it had a little weed competition but the farthest area to the North had an excellent stand of warm season grasses. We also noticed more little blue stem on the North side which may have been due to how the seed was planted."
The reason this is of interest to me is that the areas described on the field are not in the conservation easement area, but were planted at the same rate as the rest of the field. The difference, from a management perspective, has been that, given those areas are not in the easement and therefore not restricted as to use, I have been practicing classic "timely mowing and/or grazing"...basically taking a cutting of hay as appropriate on these areas. I am not ready to assert direct causality but think it warrants further consideration.
As I am attempting to convert my entire farm (160 acres) to organic, I am particularly interested in methods of establishing this warm season planting without the use of chemicals. Would there be interest in a scientific trial here? Half of the field hayed/mowed, half treated with chemicals? I think there may be some value in exploring this.
At any rate, I appreciated the focus being on establishing the warm season grasses first, and then managing as habitat for associated wildlife secondarily as appropriate, when there is sufficient establishment. I believe the southernmost swath of the field was not planted to warm season due to excessive rills, so what is there is predominately volunteer or drift. The upland pond and drainage areas were planted to clover for erosion control...should there be changes in these areas (also not planted to warm season grasses)?
I was also very happy to hear about the prairie cord grass and Canada blue joint survival/growth. A group of volunteers who "sweated" (sweat?) on a hot day planting will be pleased to hear of it!
For an interesting discussion of ag practices, grasslands, and birds, try here.