This morning I’d like to share a fresh (at least to me) look at Essex, New York’s industrial past. This vintage postcard titled, “A Lake View, Essex, N.Y.” (and allegedly published between 1907 and 1915 was recently available for auction on eBay. Sadly, I was overbid in the final seconds of the auction, but I’ll continue hunting for another copy of this revealing document.
I’m surprised by how incredibly immense the Essex Horse Nail Company’s building complex appears, especially in proportion to the other buildings in the historic photograph. I was unaware that such a large structure stood where Alan Wardle’s Nail Collector’s House, a singular, brass clad cottage, nestles today. (I admit this oversight despite the fact that I’ve often witnessed the old stone foundations that define the tree-shrouded promontory that inspired Steven Holl’s bold architectural.) And I’m intrigued by the treeless shoreline north of Rosslyn (perhaps looking south from the Wilder House lawn?) I’ve collected other historic photos demonstrating that most of the land north and west of Rosslyn were treeless fields (and orchards, so not exactly treeless, I guess), but I find the opportunity to witness views —now altered with trees and construction — ever enticing. And lastly, I’m reminded that their was a small dock house on/near the waterfront now home to Cabins by the Lake. I have other historic images that indicate that this dock house was part of a boat and automobile refueling station, though it’s not 100% clear whether or not that’s the case when this photograph was made.
You may have noticed that my blog posts are sporadic. Sometimes a post almost writes itself, exploding into the blogosphere as if channeled from the universe itself. Other times lengthy lapses betray my distracted dithering. Today’s soggy sentiments fall into the latter category.
Nevertheless, it’s a shame that more than two years have come and gone since Essex neighbor and friend Dianne Lansing sent me that sorrowful photograph of our boathouse succumbing to Lake Champlain’s bullying. Shame on me!
Here are a few excerpts from my exchange with Dianne during the 2015 winter/spring.
Dianne Lansing: All those mallards are hoping you will turn on your bubbler as the ice is closing in on them and they really don’t want to leave. I was surprised to find them in my yard under the oak tree eating acorns a couple of afternoons. Never knew that could be part of their diet…
Geo Davis: What a wonderful (and horrifying) photograph of Rosslyn’s boathouse! Thank you for digging it up and passing it along. Did you take the photograph? Do you recollect the back story? Normal spring flooding? Is this what prompted George McNutly’s mid-1980s boathouse rebuild (when LCT’s crane barge, Miss Piggy) assisted?
Dianne Lansing: Glad you liked the photo… I don’t know if I took the photo or David [Dianne’s husband, David Lansing] did. Probably me but I don’t remember any of it. Don’t recall seeing the boat house in such disrepair. I’m pretty sure, however, that it was ‘normal’ spring flooding as I don’t recall any other event that would have caused the roof to collapse. I’m glad you have restored it to its former glory…
Geo Davis: Thank you! A wonderful gift and ominous warning to always act as responsible stewards of that quirky little building. I’ll credit both of you, and we’ll let posterity sort it out.
While it pains me to see Rosslyn boathouse underwater (and collapsing!), it’s a reminder that we’ve made some headway over the last eleven years. There’s never any guarantee, and I’m well aware that flooding could bring the pretty boathouse to her knees once again. But I’m optimistic. After all, it beats worrying!
Thanks again, Dianne, for this bittersweet illustration of Rosslyn boathouse’s wet-dry-wet-dry heritage. Fingers crossed that we won’t repeat history any time soon.
I wrap my digital arms around friend, neighbor, artist, and gardener extraordinaire Catherine Seidenberg for this memorable birthday gift. Thank you!
Catherine’s whimsical black and white watercolor of Rosslyn’s front facade offers a chance to reflect on the past decade Susan and I have spent reinvigorating this quirky property and an invitation to daydream about its future. The matched tree hydrangeas are a nod to a pair of similar (though far older varieties) hydrangeas that flaked the entrance columns before we excavated the front of the house. The older plants were transplanted with an excavator and now thrive astride a gate in the garden behind the carriage barn. The view to the right of the house, beyond the stone wall, reminds me of photographs of Rosslyn in the 1800s when the rolling hills beyond the carriage barn and ice house were far more open than today, a sea of apple orchards and green pastures dotted with grazing sheep.
[Sometimes a post is born, neglected, orphaned, left unpublished in blog purgatory. Sadly this is one such case, despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed this painting daily from its perch above the fireplace in my study. The following update reminded me that Catherine’s painting was never properly celebrated, so I conjoin the two newsworthy items here to showcase the multidisciplinary creativity of artist Catherine Seidenberg.]
After two years assisting with Rosslyn’s vegetable and flower gardens Catherine moved on to new challenges. She notified us this past spring that she was returning to ceramics, and would be spending much of this year in Keene, NY as the Craigardan artist-in-residence.
HARVEST PLATE RESIDENCY For ceramic artists who wish to participate in Craigardan’s delicious celebration of the farm, the food, and the plate. 9-month Winter residency. The 2017 Harvest Plate Resident: Catherine Seidenberg (Source: Craigardan)
If you’re in the Adirondacks (or near enough to swing through Keene, NY) I encourage you to meet Catherine in mid-September.
Slide Talk: a conversation with harvest plate resident, Catherine Seidenberg (Friday, September 15, 2017, 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM) Meet artist-in-residence Catherine Seidenberg, view her ceramic work and learn about her beautiful processes. Catherine is our summer Harvest Plate Resident, crafting all of the tableware for the fall benefit event, Dinner in the Field. (Source: Craigardan)
Susan and I are looking forward to the fall benefit!
I’m slowly catching up on a backlog of game camera photographs from last winter. Today I’d like to share new bobcat images from January 2017, though I’m not 100% certain when the handsome cat prowled our meadows because I failed to reset the time/date stamp when I installed the camera. (Note that the default date shown in the images is incorrect.)
Unfortunately these more recent bobcat images didn’t turn out quite as nicely as those from last winter’s bobcat sighting (see best photo below), but the cat sure does look robust and healthy.
It fascinates me to think that these toothy predators occasionally visit us, and yet I’ve never laid eyes on one in person. Some day…
2016 Bobcat Visitor
If you missed last winter’s bobcat sighting, then here’s the highlight photograph.
This handsome bobcat (Lynx rufus) was photographed with game camera in one of our meadows… I can’t believe that this sly feline has been slinking around in our back woods/meadows, and yet I’ve never one spied him/her. Not even a footprint. (Source: Bobcat Sighting)
More Local Bobcats
Bobcats in our area like rocky hills for dens and sunning places, woods and meadows for hunting rodents and rabbits, swamps for hunting Muskrats, and frozen ponds, for patrolling edges where small rodents may appear. They can live fairly near people but generally avoid getting too close to us. Perhaps because they’ve evolved a fear of tool-wielding bipedal mammals, they are most active at night and dawn and dusk…” (“Lynx rufus: Our Resilient Bobcat”)
I present to you a rather well captured (and equally well preserved) photograph of The Ross Mansion (aka Hickory Hill) circa 1910. It’s always a joy to come across another Essex photo postcard, especially when there’s a direct connection to Rosslyn. In this case, the link is that The Ross Mansion in the photograph above was originally built for, and owned by, William Daniel Ross’s brother, Henry Howard Ross.
This relationship was clarified for me six years ago by Tilly Close, Henry Howard Ross’s great granddaughter.
H.H. Ross [Henry Howard Ross] who built Hickory Hill was the son of Daniel Ross (who was married to Gilliland’s daughter Elizabeth). Henry’s brother, William D. Ross… built your home. — Tilly Close (Source: Hickory Hill and Homeport » Rosslyn Redux)
I touched on this relationship here as well:
I recently happened on this antique postcard of the Ross Mansion (aka Hickory Hill) which was built by the brother of W.D. Ross, Rosslyn’s original in the early 1820s. Hickory Hill still presides handsomely at the intersection of Elm Street and Church Street. (Source: Hickory Hill and Rosslyn » Rosslyn Redux)
And lest I conclude without giving you a glimpse of the pristine back side of the postcard above, here’s the clean but unfortunately information-free reverse of The Ross Mansion postcard at the top of this post.
And the description, notable primarily for the approximate publication date.
CAPTION: THE ROSS MANSION, Essex, New York.
DATE: Not dated but circa 1910.
SIZE: 3 1/2 x 5 3/8″. Both sides are shown enlarged in the scans.
CONDITION: This real photo postcard is in good condition with wear at the corners. The reverse is age toned, as expected. (Source: ebay.com)
If you’ve come across interesting photographs of The Ross Mansion (likely titled Hickory Hill), Rosslyn (aka The Sherwood Inn, Hyde Gate, W.D. Ross Mansion, etc.), or any other vintage/antique Essex, New York artifacts, please let me know. I’d love to see what you’ve found. Thanks.
It’s Tanglefoot time again. Actually, we’re late — really late! — due to this rainy, soggy summer. But better late than never, especially since I’ve begun to spy the first tent caterpillars of the 2017 season.
First a quick refresher. A little over a year ago I explained how to use Tanglefoot and I explained why holistic orcharding benefits from this goopy ritual.
It’s a messy installation process, but it seems to work pretty well… Applying Tanglefoot to fruit trees a messy but relatively straightforward task. Better instructors have already explained application, so I’ll defer to their able guidance rather than overlook something important. (Source: How to Use Tanglefoot (And Why Fruit Trees Need It))
That post includes the excellent advice of “better instructors”, but I wanted to follow up with a quick visual instructional to show you how to apply Tanglefoot. Consider it a supplement. Quick tips.
How to Apply Tanglefoot
In the previous post I discuss using plastic film to wrap the tree trunk, but four years into our Tanglefoot adventure, we’re still using paper/cardboard wraps.
Following is a quick video / slide show intended for orchardists, fruit tree hobbyists, or basically anybody who wants quick and easy instruction for how to apply Tanglefoot on young (i.e. slender trunk) trees. Many thanks to Jacob for letting me photograph his hands during installation.
I hope you find the video helpful. We’ve been extremely satisfied with the results year-after-year, and we’re happy to recommend Tanglefoot (and confident in our recommendation) for other fruit tree growers. Good luck!
I’m excited to report that we may finally be able to enjoy Rosslyn peaches, nectarines, and even a few pears and apples this summer. For the first time since we began planting an orchard, several trees have matured enough to set fruit.
Holistic Orcharding: Mulberry fruit ripening in June (Source: Geo Davis)
Holistic Orcharding: Mulberry fruit ripening in June (Source: Geo Davis)
Those bright red mulberry will darken as they soak up sun and begin to sweeten. They’re still pretty mealy (though the birds don’t seem to mind at all!)
The photograph at the top of this post shows a couple of small pears. A couple of pear trees set a pear or two last summer, but they dropped (or were eaten by critters) before I ever tasted them. Most of the pear tress are still fruitless, but a couple small green and red fruit are looking promising.
For the first, our peach trees are setting fruit. Heavy winds and rains have resulted in steady fruit drop, but I’m guardedly optimistic that we may actually be able to sink out teeth into a few fuzzy, nectar-sweet peaches soon.
The peaches are the most fruitful of all the trees at this point. In fact, a couple of trees are so laden that I’ll probably begin thinning fruit as they grow larger, culling the runts and least healthy fruit and leaving the best.
The photo below on the left offers a wider perspective on a fruitful peach, and the photo on the right shows a young and almost equally fruitful nectarine tree.
Holistic Orcharding: Young peaches in June (Source: Geo Davis)
Holistic Orcharding: Young nectarines in June (Source: Geo Davis)
The three nectarine trees are 3-4 years younger than the peaches, so I’m curious why two of them are already setting fruit. The third nectarine tree has never been very healthy. Dwarfish and sparsely branched, leafed, I’ll try for one more summer to help it along. If it doesn’t begin to catch up, I’ll consider replacing it next year.
Like the apricot that I replaced this year…
We’ve struggled with apricots. Few of our apricot trees are thriving, and one died last year. We replaced it this spring with the Goldicot Apricot above, the only variety that seems to be adapting well. I can report good new growth so far on the transplant, but another apricot has died. Both are lowest (and wettest) on the hill, so I plan to address the drainage this fall. Perhaps the heavy clay soil and high spring water table is simply to much for the apricots to withstand.
Unfortunately it’s not all good news in the orchard. We remain committed to our 100% holistic orcharding (thanks, Michael Phillips!) mission, but we’re still playing defense with Cedar Apple Rust and other pesky challenges. I’ll update on that soon enough, but there’s another frustrating pest that provoked my frustration yesterday.
Ive you look just below center of this photograph you’ll see where a large branch has been snapped right off. It was laying on the ground below. Also plenty of smaller branches and leaves chewed.
The two apple trees which were targeted by the deer were planted last spring. They’d both established relatively well, but they were short enough to offer an easy snack. We keep the trees caged during the fall-through-spring, but we had just recently removed the cages to begin pruning and spreading limbs (see red spreader in image above?), so the trees were easy targets.
And there’s worse news.
That’s a young persimmon tree that we just planted a couple of weeks ago. It was a replacement for a persimmon that arrived dead from the nursery last year (another drama for another day…)
Not only did the deer browse the persimmon, but it ate both leads, presenting a serious hurdle for this transplant. Not a good situation. I’ll pamper this youngster in the hopes that one of these blunted leads will send up another lead, or—more likely, but far from guaranteed—a fresh new lead will bud and head skyward. Fingers crossed.
This morning I spied a Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) or three in the vegetable garden. Here’s a fuzzy snapshot of one Colorado Potato Beetle contentedly munching away on young eggplant leaves.
Do you see the yellow striped beetle? It’s approximately center frame.
Here’s a closeup of another Colorado Potato Beetle once I flicked him/her onto the ground.
Despite the fact that these pests are aren’t questionably distractive to the vegetable garden, I find it difficult to kill such a beautiful creature. Somehow it’s easier to squish a slug that it is to crush this handsomely striped beetle.
Despite my aesthetic misgivings, I dispatched each Colorado Potato Beetle and made a mental note to doodle or perhaps watercolor one. Or two. (See above.)
Damage: They defoliate potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Prevention: Straw mulch and row covers. Remove and crush larvae and adults.
Enemies: According to Cunningham, the Colorado Potato Beetle appeals to lots of predators including: “ground beetles, spined soldier bugs, and two-spotted stinkbugs, as well as birds and toads.” She offers plenty of additional options for gardeners interested in introducing/encouraging predators.
Companions: Bush beans ostensibly discourage Colorado Potato Beetle infestations, as do garlic, horseradish, “tansy, yarrow, and other Aster Family plants…”
I’ll start by hunting, doodling, and crushing. And then I’ll hustle up on installing our straw mulch (we’re WAY behind!) and adding some companion plants. Fingers crossed.
Just when a couple of dry, sunny days had begun to feel familiar, even normal, the rain returned. It came down in waves upon waves. Streams and rivers swelled, the driveway became two coursing torrents, and the vegetable garden turned to soupy mud.
And then slid deeper.
But… as cocktail hour yielded to dinner hour, the deluge ceased, the fog lifted, and the setting sun bathed Vermont’s Green Mountains in alpenglow.
One trail cam. One location. Three months, give or take. Deer. Coyotes. And the transition from winter to spring in the Adirondacks’ Champlain Valley.
The perspective, situated near a fence opening at the transition of scrub forest and meadows offers a glimpse of the dance between ungulates (white tailed deer) and native canids (Eastern coyote). From awkward youngsters to healthy adults to slightly mangy elders, this short series of photographs taken with a relatively unsophisticated trail cam illuminates the springtime interplay of two increasingly ubiquitous species in our local ecosystem.
I hope you find it as interesting as I did!
Oh, yes, there are a couple of human spottings in the video (slide show) above. Who are they? Unfamiliar to me. And unclear what they were were doing wandering this fence line…