We recently visited the Nature Conservancy Park in Chaumont, NY, called the Chaumont Barrens. It's a beautiful park with a unique geography that is apparently very rare in the world. So, while the North Country has many wonderful walking trails and nature parks, this will be our first feature.
Accessibility: Medium-hard. Pets: Not allowed. Sites: Very good; many and varied. Wildlife: Very diverse; birds, amphibians, small and large mammals, insects, flowers, mosses. Others: Fossils, stone features. Best time to visit: Late spring and early summer.
This is an excellent trail for older children and adults. Parts of it were somewhat difficult to access and the trail entrance itself is off of a tiny dirt road that is easily missed by the casual traveler. The countryside is beautiful, however, and it is well worth the drive.
Here you will find a wide diversity of sites spread over a small area. There are deciduous forests, a coniferous forest, and grasslands marked by post-glacial lichens and boulder erratics. The area also lies on an ancient fault line, so there may be some particular interest for geological enthusiasts. In places, the bared limestone offers glimpses of ancient oceans in the form of fossils. Hundreds of new species of snail have been discovered here; people have purportedly seen everything from small rodents to coyotes and foxes hiding among the stone crevasses in the ground. The forest floors and meadows are littered with any number of blossoms from May through July, including yellow lady's slippers, chicory, daisies, red columbines, and the very rare prairie smoke blossoms. Since parts of the trail are low enough for a little water retention, you may also find many different kinds of animal footprints after a rainfall.
Remember to wear long pants and sleeves whenever you venture into overgrown areas to protect against ticks and other hazards such as poisonous plants. Sun screen is also a good idea; especially for this trail, which crosses wide open spaces between forested areas. Always hike in groups and bring plenty of water. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
We've noticed that, during the hottest part of the day, even our chickens go into the barn to seek shelter from the sun. Just a few short months ago, they were going into the barn to huddle against the cold.
Funny how seasons work...
We would welcome a little coolness here in Great Bend right about now, that's for sure.
You've been there before---not too hungry when you wake up, but knowing that you've got a long, hard day ahead of you and that you really should eat something to keep up your stamina through work. You look around for a quick but healthy fix. There are some options on the shelf---granola, trail mix, dried fruit. And protein bars.
Now, I hadn't had a protein bar in over five years. Back then, "protein bar" was the name given to a specific variety of foods that had the consistency of dry caulking paste and was about as flavorful as compacted poo. Since then, a whole new world of organic foods have hit the market and this country in general has become a lot more health-conscious in terms of what it's putting in its mouth. I thought perhaps the protein bars had evolved as well---into something not only tasty but healthier, too.
Turns out that this was wishful thinking at its most wishful. I chawed my way through about as fast as I could (and, yes, "chawed" really is the best word for this experience); which turned out to be not very fast at all because again, it was like trying to eat caulking paste. The flavor was supposed to be "chocolate and peanut butter." Last time I checked, neither chocolate nor peanut butter taste like childrens' vitamins (you know, the ones that are shaped like little characters from a favorite 1960's cartoon), which is exactly what this bar tasted like.
I wasn't batting too well and only looked at the package after I ate the so-called "food". At 310 grams of sodium (that's 13% of a typical daily value!), I feel like I'd be better off just throwing my head back and downing a shaker's worth of salt.
Next time, I think I'll just take the granola!
Does anyone have a recommendation for a protein bar that is actually good?
If so, we'd love to hear it!
They say there's barely four seasons in the North Country:
Winter, Mud, Summer, and Almost Winter.
It already feels like summer; the late thaw caused a lot of long-lasting mud, but the land is finally dried out. Spring flowers have already bloomed, and now summer blossoms are opening up. Buttercups, daisies, goldenrod, chicory---they are in it for the long, hot haul, though they have been appreciating the rain. Everything is pointing to a hot, wet summer.
Our big black cat, Boomie, was excited too; he brought us a baby rabbit to mark the occasion. And he was pleased as a pea, scrambling in circles and meowing. "Look what I did, I'm so good, what a hunter I am, love me!" Luckily the little bunny was all right. We took him to the edge of our lawn and let him go and, when we checked later, he was gone. Hopefully he found his way back to the burrow. What an adorable little creature he was!
You may also add some of your favorite barbecue (BBQ) sauce,
mustard, and/or French dressing to flavor
Put everything into the crock pot,
and cook all day.
*Only two roosters were harmed in the making of this dish.
But don't worry, they were mean old birds.
----- ----- -----
The real coq au vin recipe comes from the French countryside. Farm wives would put the rooster into a wrought iron pot on the stove, along with various vegetables and a bottle of wine, and would stew it all day long. That way, when the men came in from working in the fields in the evening, dinner would be all ready for them. Rooster meat is pretty tough stuff. The acid in the wine (or, in this case, in the beer and the ketchup via vinegar and tomato juice) works with the heat to break down the sinews in the meat. Ours was falling off the bone! While it still remains a little chewy, the taste is fantastic. It's also very filling---great after a long day of work.
You really don't need a rooster for this dish; you can use a regular chicken. The softer your meat, the jucier and more tender it will turn out. Don't be afraid to add vegetables or even other kinds of meat, such as bacon or salt pork, for flavor and contrast.
Personally, I like mine on a sandwich of homemade bread ala pulled pork style with some pasta salad. And, since the beer was some of our own home-brewed stuff, it goes great with a big, fat glass of that, too! Ahhh.
"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so by the divining-rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine."
Our Swedish Blues; their pen got a cleaning and we took out their "pond" in favor of a brand new swimming pool, just in time for the hot weather.
These ducks are by far the pickiest of our fowl. They don't take too kindly to change and it didn't help that they don't like anything out of the ordinary venturing into their little area, especially humans. The pond's disappearance angered them---that is, until they discovered all the delicious little bugs that were hiding under it. Then we brought in the pool and filled it; they spent the first several minutes squawking at it and avoiding it at all costs.
Curiosity saved the day. In plopped the first duck and the rest was history! They spent the next two hours splashing happily around and around in circles---something that apparently still hasn't gotten old.
He could almost be from another planet. The wind was giving him a hard time (you can see it ripped his wing), though he could still fly all right. We picked him up and brought him to a more sheltered place.
Later, when the wind had died down, we went back to see if he was still there. He was not; we wish him fair sailing from here on out.