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Friday, May 30, 2014

Septic System Landscaping

Researching alternative septic systems for our lake association, I came across a nice twp-page brochure, Septic System Landscaping, put out by the Lake George Association.  We had a mound septic system installed on our own property several years ago and decided to populate it with wildflowers, rather than having to mow (ugh!) grass.  It's worked out nicely.

Some good wildflower seed vendors:
American Meadows
Eden Brothers
The Vermont Wildflower Farm

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Monday, May 26, 2014

True Forget-Me-Not

True Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides)
These are flourishing on our property here on the lake.  Very appropriate for Memorial Day.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Symbol of Everything that Exists in Nature

(Amelanchier canadensis)

"It's a symbol, that tree, of everything that exists in nature."  At least, to the late photographer Edward Steichen.  And as I gaze upon the second efflorescing of our Shadblow today, I agree with him.

Click here for Edward Steichen on his Shadblow tree.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Common Wintercress

Common Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris)

Flowers have 4 petals and 6 stamens.  Leaves have 5 rounded segments.  Member of the mustard family.  Young leaves can be used in salads.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtle  (chelydra serpentine)

This guy was spotted on my neighbor's driveway Saturday. I heard a lot of belly-flop type splashes on the shore of the lake last year, but always suspected it was a mink.  It may have been this guy.

The Common Snapping Turtle is the state reptile of New York.  They've been known to live for over a half a century, though the average lifespan is closer to 35 years.  This adult has a carapace (upper shell) roughly 1-1/2 feet long.  Snapping turtles are omnivores that typically eat frogs, fish, vegetation and decaying matter, though they have been know to eat birds caught off guard.

They prefer fresh and brackish water and like to bury themselves in the mud with only their nostrils and eyes protruding.  Their eyes protrude somewhat like submarine periscopes, enabling a quick surprise attack with their powerful beak-like jaws.  They are cold tolerant and can remain active under ice. While they can be nasty on land if provoked, in the water they are docile and will usually take a quick exit away from any oblivious swimmers.  Like a Grafton hermit, they savor their independence and prefer to live alone.  They are mostly nocturnal, active at night.

While they've rarely been know to bite humans, they can be lightning fast and it's not wise to provoke them -- watch this video I found on YouTube, especially carefully around the one minute mark.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reflections on Lake Salamanders

Reflections on Lake Salamanders
Taconic Lake
April 21, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Soul Fire Farm

Soul Fire Farm - Grafton, NY (credit: Soul Fire Farm Facebook page)

Every once in a while, something about the Plateau surprises me.  For example, when I first moved to Grafton, I was surprised to learn that there were two Buddhist establishments within five miles of where I lived -- the Grafton Peace Pagoda (Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji order) and the Rahob Dharma Center (Tibetan) in Petersburgh. I didn't see that coming, but I love it.  I've attended services at both and felt peace.  I like that Jun Yasuda and Rahob Rinpoche are my neighbors. Diversity really is a good thing.

This week, I was reading the Grafton Community Library Newsletter, which I receive via e-mail and an upcoming event caught my eye:

Tips and Techniques for Growing Beautiful, Natural Vegetables in Grafton Soil
Saturday, May 17th @10:30 AM
Some people say that you can’t grow good vegetables in our rocky soil up here in Grafton. Farmers Jonah Vitale-Wolff, Leah Penniman, and Capers Rumph would beg to differ! They are the energy behind Grafton’s own Soul Fire Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown family farm, community resource, and vessel for education that provides vegetables to over 40 families each season from their 2 acres through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In this free, interactive presentation they will tell us about their farm and let us in on the secrets of growing abundant, natural vegetables comparable to top quality local produce without any chemical input. Bring your questions!

I wish I could attend this event, but I have another commitment.  Nevertheless, I did some web surfing and discovered the Soul Fire Farm website and the Soul Fire Farm Facebook Page.

Then, I surfed a bit more and discovered this wonderful video filmed at the Soul Fire Farm right here in Grafton.  Pretty good song, as evidenced by over a quarter of a million YouTube hits on it.

Till I Met Thee
Cody ChesnuTT
Filmed at Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY