Monday and Tuesday went by very quickly. On Monday, we visited with a local farmer who manages a 600 acre organic Christmas Tree farm. Kevin Vinot is a 4th generation farmer, and he has maintained a highly sustainable and environment friendly practice. His beef cows are organically raised and sold locally, as is the Balsam Fir (Christmas Trees). He also harvests white pine and red spruce trees that have been strategically cut on his property and logged the old fashion way- using horses to skid them out of the forest. He was very keen on this practice, and therefore very aware of the clear cutting techniques (used by many larger operations) that wipe out ecosystems and destroy habitat. I was very impressed by how much he genuinely loves his work, and his enthusiasm reflected his passion for his woods. To quote Henry David Thoreau, "In wilderness is the preservation of the world". Kevin's sustainable approach to making a living emphasizes this quote, and I left inspired to start my own organic Christmas Tree Farm!
After leaving the farm, we made our way to the new trapping sight at East Port Meadway (EPM). The land here is remnants of the last ice age, with large, medium, and small boulders strewn about, also known as a glacial moraine field. These boulders are home to a healthy young forest succession of moss (very slippery!!!), paper birch, red spruce, white pine, and very dense sweet fern and english bramber. And pretty cool animals (can you name the little guy I found in the picture above?). The walking and route finding is very difficult, so setting our 100 traps required patience, a lot of red flagging (to mark our paths), and a hardened physical effort to scramble, bushwhack, slip, and slide around the slick boulders and rough ground. We managed to get our traps set for the evening, and then hiked out to our van, where we were shuttled to a local beaver pond for the sundown activity…
Now growing up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, I'm pretty familiar with beavers. I've seen them building their lodges, swimming in ponds, damning up small streams, and I've even seen them from my paddleboard when I go on the Exeter River. But in the company of the other volunteers (3 Brits, 1 Californian, 2 Iowans) who have not seen many beavers before, they were very excited to sit (very still and silently) among the reed grass and mosquitos for a glimpse of the beaver action. Two hours and countless mosquito bites later, the sun set and we finally saw 1 beaver swim out from under the lodge. I guess they know how to keep us upright bipeds waiting! Needless to say, I was happy to get back into the van for the drive home and late dinner.
This morning, we headed back to EPM, where we did the morning trap check. Out of 100 traps, about 7 of them contained meadow voles and 1 wood mouse. After resetting the traps and eating lunch, we started out on a deer transect, when the sky absolutely opened up, dropping at least 2+ inches of water in about 30 minutes. Everyone got soaked, and that kind of made the rest of the day even more adventurous. We still managed to complete 3 hare transects, and then recheck the afternoon traps. The afternoon trap check yielded 3 more small mammals- 2 red backed voles and one shrew. After releasing the animals, we all made it back to the van for the ride home, where I'm comfortably warming and drying up waiting for dinner- Shepard's Pie! So, due to the rain, I don't have many pictures from today, but enjoy the pics from the new trapping site. I'll be posting the final assignment tomorrow or Thursday, so keep on following the posts. If you have not completed all of the assignments yet (4 so far), please get going so you don't have too much to do before I get back on Tuesday of next week when it is all due!
See ya soon.