Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just for the fun of it

okay, okay this is really different than what this place is all about but it's time to have some fun. The lion kangaroo pictured above was spotted near Union City. Rumor has it that a certain state agency is stocking the animals to control the piegon population (and I heard that from a very good source, who heard it from his mother's best friend)
Regardless, check out the link below, it's pretty amazing.
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

The Great Land Grab, a Broken Promise.

A little history I thought I'd mention which seems to be mostly forgotten.
The Kinzua Dam was built in 1965 as a flood control project along the Allegheny River near Warren, Pennsylvania. The land flooded for the project was taken from the Seneca Nation despite a lawsuit filed before the US Supreme Court by the Quakers. The land was given to the Nation as part of the 1794 Treaty of Canadaigua signed by representatives of George Washington and Chief Cornplanter. His picture is at the top of this post.
The action forced the Seneca from thier ancient homeland, and the last reservation in Pennsylvania, to Native lands in nearby Salamanca, New York.
Johnny Cash sang, among others, a protest against the land grab, As Long as the Flowers Shall Grow, which was written by Native American folksinger and composer, Peter LaFarge.
Kinzua is a beautiful and popular place with a sorid sort of history. Entire villages, farms, churches and cemeteries are now under water for the flood control project, which has formed the deepest inland lake in the state of Pennsylvania.

Canadohta Lake Ice Fishing Tournament

VanTassel's Timberland Bait Shop will have their second annual Canadohta Lake Ice Fishing tournament February 14th and 15th this year. I spoke with Gerry, the owner, this morning and there's plenty of ice.
The tournament opens at eight in the morning on Valentine's Day and closes on the 15th at 5p.m.
The cost is only $10 and for people under the age of 12, $5. Entry forms can be obtained at any business at the lake and the tickets are good for the entire two day event, headquartered at the public boat launch.
That is where Gerry will be for most of the tournament serving up free hot dogs and sloppy Joe's Last year, there were about 160 anglers, who came from throughout the tri-state region; it was a great time with an almost festival-like atmosphere. It was cold but sunny last year. I'm not a 100 percent certain who provided the smoked whitefish but it was some of the best.
There will be 50-50 tickets, special awards and prizes, and monetary awards for the biggest and heaviest fish caught (same as last year), northern pike, muskie, walleye and bass.
Gerry can be reached at the bait shop at 814-694-3474 or on his cell at 814-887-8369.
Scenic Canadohta Lake is a great fishing place; a good get away place.. There are cottages to rent and plenty of places to eat.
Photo:Angelers decorate a sled used to haul equipment on the frozen lake.
Photo: Gerry VanTassel (left) stands with Centerville, Pa resident, Terry Miller, who caught a prize winning 20/3/4 inch walleye during last year's ice fishing tournament.

Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009

Friday evening and the storm is still howling out there. The only other sounds are the whines of snowmobile's going down the road, which are getting pretty tricky tonight. A friend stopped by earlier this evening and said they were down to one lane in spots.

So I am working on trying to improve this blog, lay out and stuff like that. And catching up on some other sites. Any suggesstions for this page, just let me know. Thanks

A wild snow storm - again

January 30, 2009

We had a powerful storm beginning on the 28th in the afternoon. It didn't really settle down until yesterday. There was a lot of snow, maybe some 20 inches when it was over. Walking up to the beechwood pile this morning, it was waist deep and some of the drifts were even upwards of six feet deep. It took some digging to find the wood pile.
If the weather reports are accurate, we should get some snow and more cold this afternoon and tonight, and then maybe a little warming until late Monday when another storm is expected with more “significant” snowfall.
Some sections of the country got hit pretty hard with ice and snow and there are places where the ice knocked out all the power and they say it won't be restored for a couple weeks. At least I still have electric power and can still find a woodpile in the woods. It's a pain but it's there. The wood we brought down here is all but gone now.
So is much of the garden. The compost bin is barely visible (photo) and it looks like the fence is taking a beating.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Forget that Groundhog, Maple Syrup Tells the Story

January 26th, 2009 and 53 Days till Spring

Last year, I just checked an article I did last year at this time and noticed the maple syrup runs began about this time in January. Don't think that will happen this year, it is still way too cold.
According to some of the people interviewed, who have tapped trees for decades, the season normally didn't begin until late February, even March, and some recall as late as April.
On a related note, I have been hearing about snow amounts in various locations in the county measuring about 180 inches and temps as low as minus 17. I know I've shoveled about that amount and you have to wear ten pounds of clothing to prevent frostbite. By contrast, at the Erie Airport, the latest figures I saw were 86 inches of snow so far to date.
Last year I went to the local maple associations' open house. It was a good time (all free) and there are a lot of free samples. This year it will be held the weekend of March 15-16 from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. More information can be viewed at the Web site for the Northwestern Maple Association.
Forget the Groundhog next week, when you see the maple syrup buckets up, it's a real good sign the winter is breaking. The sap flows when the daytime temps get above freezing with nigh time lows below freezing (well, that's what the producers like and it makes the best syrup).
Photos:the outhouse at Dotteyville last week (no time to read)
Photo:: beer drinking lawn chairs in another season

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Canadohta Ice Fishing, Panther, and Book Swap

Jerry VanTassel called the other day. He is the owner of Van Tassel's Timberland Bait and Tackle Shop at Canadohta Lake. For the second year in a row, he is sponsoring an ice fishing tournament at the lake which is scheduled for February 14 and 15.
I was there last year and a lot of angler were on the ice was good and a lot of fish were caught and the food, free by the way, was just excellent. I must have copied the wrong number down to get back in touch with Jerry but I'll have additional details in a couple of days. But if you like ice fishing, this is a good tournament.
A second note from the Canadohta area. The photo was taken by a trail camera this past summer. It appears to be a large wild cat, maybe a panther. The photo was taken not far from the Canadohta Ice Skating Rink. The photos posted are the one's taken this past summer.
I wouldn't worry about the big cat during the ice fishing tournament.
One final note about Canadohta the book swap happens even during the winter months every Sunday from 11 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. The swap is held at the Canadohta Laundromat just past the roller rink. When the good weather comes in May, the swap is held at Hawthorne Park next to Sally's Place. Basically, bring a book and take a book, but no one really will say anything if you don't have a book to trade.
There are literally thousands of books and every title imaginable from cooking, romance novels, fiction and children's book. It's a great program. And again, I wouldn't worry about the big cat, they are secretive and stay away from people. But it's still neat to know something like that still lives in the area.
Finally, should have an update from the local beekeepers. I received a nice email from Charlie Vorisek, whose president of the local beekeepers association, the other day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama and Memorial Day

Yesterday, was an amazing day in American history and that is likely an understatement as millions gather in DC to witness the inauguration of Barak Obama as the 44th president. The ceremony took place against the backdrop of the Martin Luther King holiday the day before.
Obama's inaugural address was one of the best. The new Commander-in-Chief touched on many noteworthy and important issues and values But what caught my attention was his emphasis on the sacrifices of our veterans throughout our history. It was their dedication which has given us the freedoms we enjoy and our way of life.
I couldn't help but to think about our horrific Civil War; over 620,000 soldiers died in that bloody event, blood which made January 20th, 2009 possible. There were even more atrocities, many of them unknown, during that era and huge tracts of land were laid to waste.
One of the worst massacres during the war happened on April 12th, 1864 at Fort Pillow in Tennessee on the Mississippi River. The Union fort, defended by 262 black troops and 295 white troops was attacked by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest with some 2,300 troops.
The Confederate troops stormed the fort and in cold blood executed all but 62 black troops who were serving in the Union Army to defend the status of the Union. It's not a pretty picture, nor was Forrest's future. He eventually became the Grand Wizard of the white terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan.
A second image during Obama's speech that I recalled was one of the first Memorial Day ceremonies shortly after the war in Charleston, South Carolina. An old horse racing tack was converted into a prison for Union soldiers. Hundreds died or were executed and thrown into a mass grave.
On May 1, 1865, after formal hostilities ended, thousands of freed slaves, honored the Union troops digging up the mass graves and giving them a more dignified burial. It was a solemn event, which included the children of the freed slaves who were enrolled in the new free schools, who carried armfuls of flowers and sang the song “John Brown's Body”. The free schools and one of the organizers of the first Memorial was James Redpath, a northern abolitionist and ardent supporter of John Brown who owned a tannery and farm near Meadville, PA in a place called New Richmond. (There is a really good museum today at the former Brown farm – fascinating place).
So, perhaps, Obama's speech will give a new meaning to Memorial Day this year. We live in a nation soaked in the blood of our fellow countrymen and all of our veterans from all the wars regardless of racial origins. There are events we should never forget. There's a lot of people who died so we could live in the greatest nation on earth.
The photo is from a cemetery near Canadohta Lake and is the lonely graves of a civil war veteran whose name was faded and could not be read.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Momentous Day

Inauguration Day - Today is historic and a great day for America and the global community. Hopefully, the new President will bring the greatness back to this country, will restore our leadership position in world affairs, and improve the quality of life for all of us.
The last eight years have not been happy or good for many Americans except for the super-rich, arms dealers, and war profiteers. As a nation, we stand on the brink of a second Republican Great Depression and it's not looking very pretty out there. Good riddance to the past regime.
W. may be a good person and all but he was a horribly ineffective leader, as were many of the Republican in Congress.
But that is past now and we can look forward to a better future.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bee Garden thoughts in January

More than a foot of snow fell yesterday and the temps were still well below freezing. The only hint of springs seems to be the garden and seed catalogs in the mailbox, well, and the dwindling wood pile outside.
So, it was odd to think about the bees during the dead of winter, or more accurately, the lack of bees during the summer.
In the past, I have done some work with the northwestern Pennsylvania Beekeepers Association ( want to hear from you Charlie). The bee articles seemed to trip a lot of triggers with people. It was a common comment to hear people mention they just weren't seeing bees like they use to see in flower and vegetable gardens.
There's a mystery illness called CCD, short for Colony Collapse Disorder, which has been fatal for hundred of honeybee hives locally and in the wild. Others have mentioned dwindling numbers of wild bee populations as well.
The bees are important for a lot of reasons particularly for pollinating food crops. Bees mean more productive veggie gardens and less bees means less produce.
But for the hunters and nature watchers, less bees means food shortages for our wildlife. Bees are essential for wildlife food crops such as wild apples and berries.
While there is a lot of ongoing research being done (PennState is one of the leaders)), there is no apparent single answer. Rather the disappearance seems to be a combination of factors; a virus, mites, pesticides, lack of habitat, lack of adequate food supply (nectar and pollen).
A bee garden could be a big help in saving our bees and in helping their populations recover. A bee garden relies on many clumps of our native wild flowers which bloom throughout the season. Avoid mulch or the black plastic ground covers. Many of our native species like to tunnel in bare dirt to build nests and lay eggs. A couple old logs or branches also provides a good habitat for some of the species. I know it can rain a lot but some of the bees need water and mud. So a small water source is a good idea.
Stay away from using pesticides. They kill everything, not just weeds and nasty aphids.
I always plant an herb called borage, also known as the bee plant. I have tons of bees on these plants all summer, particularly honeybees and the big bumblebees. There is no one around here with beehives anymore so I think the honeybees are feral and must live in the woods here on top of the hill.
If anyone wants some more info, I can send it along, just ask. In the meantime, I'll be getting in touch with the beekeepers association and see if we can get some good updates from them. It is a good organization and a good starting point for anyone who wants to get a hive or of my projects someday.And thanks to Charlies Vorisek, of the organization for the picture of the honey bee on a wildflower.
One sad note to pass on. Jeff Peterson, who many of us know, died yesterday. Jeff was 48. He was a good person. I'll miss him.
In the meantime, Go Steelers! Stay warm and have fun in the snow. I just might try to build a snow fort this week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The brutal winter and the deer dance

January 18, 2009

This has been a brutal winter; cold, snowy and a lot of wind. This past week saw temperatures hardly above zero. It's about 61 days till the first day of spring.
Couple updates since the last post. The section of the local newspaper which I wrote for on a weekly basis, Crawford County Neighbors, shut down. The last issue was the last Friday of November. Since then I have been out of work, like a lot of other people. Finances are starting to get tight and there is no work in sight.
Perhaps, we are on the brink of the second Great Depression. Hope not, but it doesn't look real good. Here in northwestern Pennsylvania, it seems every day brings more plant closings and more layoffs.
I am continuing to write some, mostly on Perhaps, I can make a few bucks on that Web site. At least it keeps me in practice. I am also checking out a few other sites to see what might happen.
The one bright spot is that Obama is set to become the 44th president this Tuesday. He has a mess on his hands with the economy and no one believes things will be able to turn around shirt term. But, the common belief seems to be, he is the right person to lead the country out of this quagmire.
Deer season which opened the first of December was pretty good in this neighborhood with several nice bucks taken during the two week harvest. There are still some nice bucks which remain. So I would suspect next year will be just as good, if not better. The snow was very deep throughout the hunting season and it was difficult to even walk in the woods. Would have been a good year to have a pair of snowshoes.
One other hunting note—all of us have been seeing some nice flocks of turkey. One flock must number almost thirty birds.
Today are two major playoff games which will determine which teams meet each other for Superbowl.
I am going to post two photos; Mike doing a little dance with Jeff's seven point buck out in the driveway. Jeff got the deer in Hatch Hollow and he wanted to save the head mount. So we got the head after we picked up the rest of the deer from the butcher.
Mike (well and Jeff too) has been spending a lot of time here and helping out quite a bit with wood splitting and snow shoveling. We always seem to have a really great time whatever is happening, even when I win at rummy (course he beats me all the time at chess). It's good to have close friends like that.