Raven Rock to High Rock Hike

On Saturday, February 4th, we were being lazy inside when I felt the need to get outside and take a walk. The temperature outside was hovering at about freezing but the air was fresh and the sky beautiful. Jeff was somewhat hesitant and slow to get a move on, but he gave in as usual when I suggested a spur of the moment hike. I wanted to go see  Hagerstown’s Edgemont Reservoir which I had just been reading about online. Apparently, engineers had deemed the dam  unsafe and  they had drained the entire lake this past July. We had not been there in years and it was hard to imagine it without water.

We  grabbed our day packs, and drove out through Boonsboro taking Rt 66 north  to Rt 64 West at Cavetown. Here is where Jeff decided to go his way (the scenic route), instead of mine, so we did a big loop which followed Warner Hollow on a gravel road from the NE, arriving downstream at the reservoir and right back onto 491, not far from where we had left it.

The Frozen Creek in Warner Hollow
The Frozen Creek in Warner Hollow

It was shocking to see the tall drainage control tower sticking up into the air at the dam end and just a small puddle of water around it,. I’ll bet the wildlife took awhile to adjust to the new habitat.

Empty reservoir with lonely drain tower
Empty reservoir with lonely drain tower

We decided not to hike there, since we basically just saw the whole thing by car. Instead we drove out to where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road a little North of there and parked on the shoulder of the road.

The first part of the trail was steep and had stones moved into place for steps in the steepest spots. Our heart rates and heavy breathing told us we needed to hike up hills more often.

Icicles were dripping down the rocks as we came closer to Raven Rocks. They looked like cave formations, with rim stone dams and bacon draperies, except clean and clear.

Icicles at Raven Rock

The rocks were large and impressive. I liked the zipper effect where one section had broken away.

Raven Rocks Zipper
Raven Rocks Zipper

We saw a couple of people and their Irish Setter out on the rocks but it was nice and quiet. I love hiking in winter. You avoid crowds and can see through the trees to the views beyond.

Raven Rocks
Raven Rocks

We checked out the rocks for a bit and then continued our climb.

View From Raven Rocks West

It leveled out  when we reached the ridge top and walking was easy. There were glimpses of the big valley to the west but no clearings to get a good view. We came to an intersection branching off to a shelter one way and a spring in the other, but we stayed straight.

Raven Rock Intersection
Raven Rock Intersection

About a mile or so in we met a hiker in full pack who was wondering how far to the shelter. We were glad we didn’t have to sleep outside tonight. Little too chilly for that. We were nice and warm while hiking along at a good clip, but cooled off fast when we stopped.

We figured the next view point would be at High Rock, where we would turn around and head back. When we got there it was full of loud people and more graffiti than I have ever seen in one place. Freshly painted. There is a road that leads right to it from the North and it is a party spot. Supposedly hang gliders launch from there and I would love to see that, but I imagine that would draw a huge crowd. We stayed just long enough to get a look at the view and got out of there.

High Rock View
High Rock View

 

White Tail Ski Across the Valley
White Tail Ski Across the Valley

We could see the Whitetail Ski Resort, in Pennsylvania, in the distance. All the snow is man made this year. We have yet to have a decent snow and I am beginning to think we won’t get one at all. Last year we had 42 inches in one storm. A foot would be nice. We might have to go out to Blackwater Falls, West Virginia for our snow fix.

Sundown on the Trail
Sundown on the Trail

The sun was getting low in the sky as we hoofed our way back along the nice level ridge. We made good time, which also kept us warm. It was only a 6.4 mile hike. There was a whole group of folks that we met on the way back who were staying at the shelter that night. Guess they would be keeping each other warm. I was looking forward to sitting by our fire again.

-Wendy lee, writing at Edgewisewoods, Gardens and Critters

 

 

 

 

Nosema and Varroa Mites Killed My Bees

Diagnosis

I mailed a small plastic container of dead bees to the ARS (USDA Agricultural Research Service) Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland on January 14 and have been waiting for the results. Our new president slowed things down by telling the ARS they could not communicate directly with the public. That made me so mad that I took part in a demonstration for the first time in my life. Thankfully, some of that nonsense has now been lifted and I received the PCR results in my e mail today.

It turns out my bees were infected with Nosema, which is a fungal disease, to the tune of 61.5 million spores per bee. They also had 5.3 Varroa destructor mites per one hundred bees. Together, they had no chance.

What I don’t know, is why the Apivar Miticide strips I applied on August 22 did not kill the mites. Hive number 2 did not get treated until Sept 29, and I removed the strips in that hive after only 37 days, instead of the 50 they should have remained, but the other 5 hives all had the strips for 53 days. It should have worked.

I have no idea why they got Nosema but there does not seem to be a good treatment for that. I am not sure what I will have to do to disinfect the two dead-out hives stacked on my porch. They are full of honey, which might possibly harbor Nosema.  I was hoping to use them to start new hives with in the spring but do not want to infect the next batch. I can do a heat treatment but am wondering how to prevent melting all the honey and wax together. I have a small greenhouse that may be able to get up to the required 120 degrees F for 24 hours but I will have to monitor it closely as beeswax melts at 144 degrees.

A 50/50 bleach water solution can disinfect empty combs and wooden ware. Maybe I will have to remove the honey from the frames so I can reuse them the combs.

Guess I will be experimenting yet again.

Who needs a science based job when my whole life seems to be an experiment?

 

Please, let the other four hives be healthy. I am doing all I can.

-Wendy lee, writing at Edgewise Woods, Gardens and Critters

 

Reeds Creek Fish Hatchery

Weekend Board Games

For the Martin Luther King weekend we drove 3 hours out to our cabin in Pendleton County, West Virginia, taking our granddaughter Vivian with us. The weather has been so dreary for the past week, with grey, drizzly skies and temperatures stuck in the 40’s that we figured we’d mostly stay inside and play games. We had been hoping for some snow to play in.  I usually prefer relaxing with a good book to board games but games geared to a six year old are easy enough to handle, in between chapters.

All day Saturday and then again on Sunday, we played board games; Community, Gathering the Garden, Snakes and Ladders, Quirkle, and Trouble. In between we all read or listened on our Kindles. I stoked the fire, tore out and rewound my old knitting,  cooked  and read a book but eventually the fog lifted, it stopped raining, and I had to get outside.

Wet  Dry Run and a Movie

Dry Run was full of water for a change, so Vivian and I headed down the hill to check out the dam we had built last year.  We had spent hours playing in the creek together, and our thrown up berm of rocks was still mostly intact. We can look forward to rebuilding the small breach when the weather turns nice in the spring. I wish the creek ran all the time but with all the limestone around here, it sinks into cave-y places pretty quick.

We kept walking down the paved road, past the big spring where the town of Franklin gets their water.  This spring never dries up and there is a cement holding pond for them to draw from. The county ran 5 miles of pipe to carry this spring water into Franklin back in the 1960’s when the Hanover Shoe Factory was built out on Thorn Spring Road, and in the flood of 1985, they had to replace 5000 feet of it, as well as dig all the rock debris out of the spring.

Our place is located uphill from this spring so we collect rain from our roof into an underground cistern for our water at the cabin. So close, yet so far away… No complaints, it works fine for our needs.

4 Wheel Drive Track
4 Wheel Drive Track

Continuing on our walk, we turned onto the  hardly ever used, dirt lane that leads to an old hilltop meadow. We branched off at a 4 wheel drive track , back towards our hill,  and then again onto the old logging road.  This scenic route is much longer, but not near as steep a climb, as our driveway.  Short legs only grumbled a little. It was a pretty long walk for her. We checked out lots of cool fossil rocks on the way as we followed the zig-zagging  log trails back down the steep hillside to home.

We Break for Fossils
We Break for Fossils

Saturday night we had introduced Vivian to the first Harry Potter Movie, which went over pretty well. She did not get too scared and we were looking forward to the second one tonight. There is no TV reception at the cabin but we enjoy watching DVD’s curled up on the couch by the wood stove. Wine and cookies work too.

Reeds Creek Fish Hatchery

Monday, after eating a yummy lunch at the Fireside Cafe in Franklin, we drove out to Reeds Creek Fish Hatchery. They grow trout to stock the lakes and rivers in West Virginia, using  (and reusing) water from a huge spring. There are long, open concrete tanks set in the ground with a constant supply of cold spring water flowing  through the thousands of  fish. The fish are grouped by size and some of them are huge. The Golden Trout are the most fun because they are the easiest to see.

Golden Trout Plus
Golden Trout Plus a Hungry Looking One

The other trout we saw were  dark, with spots, but I am not sure if they were Brook, Rainbow or Brown trout. When they see you coming they all start moving fast and jumping, expecting to be fed. Notice the dark one in the above photo with his mouth wide open. Visitors are not allowed to feed or touch the fish, but the hatchery gate is open until 3:30 in the afternoon and it is fun to watch them.  When their fins breach the surface it looks like a whole bunch of little sharks.

Fish Troughs at Reeds Creek
Fish Troughs at Reeds Creek

It looks like a great place to find dinner if you are a Heron or an Eagle and I don’t know how they manage to keep them out. When we were there we didn’t see any dogs or anybody to ask. They were probably out stocking the rivers.

It is too bad that no one has built an Aquaponics greenhouse using the water from this hatchery. It would be a great way to make use of the nutrient rich water before it joins the creek. It is probably too far to a market where they could sell the produce, though. Someone would have to do a lot of driving.

-Wendy lee, writing at Edgewisewoods, Gardens and Critters

 

 

 

 

3 Flying Ducks

The 3 Ducks Learn to Fly

Our three Mallard ducklings learned to fly over their fence this summer. They practiced short hops every morning for a few weeks, managing to get a few feet off the ground each time. Luckily the chickens did not take notes. When the ducks first managed to fly  over the top of the four foot electric fence, they circled the back pasture twice, soaring higher each pass. Then they were gone. I was worried  I might never see them again, but the drake and his favorite hen came flying back a couple hours later. As the sun started to set, I was feeling bad about the other hen being left out there all alone somewhere. It seemed like the pair had deliberately tried to lose the other hen. We were sitting out on the porch when we noticed her walking up the driveway. I went out to greet her and she flew back into the pen on her own. Lots of quacking ensued from all three of them as they reunited in the barn.

Since then, all three ducks have stayed close to home. They loved to splash around in the 20 gallon horse trough we keep inside the fence, but then they discovered the much larger water garden. Now they can’t wait to be let out in the morning for their morning bath. They waddle out through the chicken door and fly  just high enough to clear the fence, skidding into a smooth water landing.

Muddy Waters and Hard Landings

I was initially afraid they would muddy up the water garden too much but the dirty water isn’t so bad. I love watching the ducks play around in the waterfall and bobbing upside down with their butts in the air. The poor frogs have learned to scurry for cover and dive deep to hide from their probing bills. We probably had too many frogs in there anyway.

You should have seen the first time the ducks came in for a landing when the pond was frozen solid. The poor things landed kind of hard and slid clear to the end, their wings spread and feet scrambling. They had a whole lot to say about that. They kept quacking and circling the pond trying to figure out what had happened. Now, when it’s cold, they land on the lawn and walk over to check it first. They are so disappointed when they can’t have their morning swim.

Ducks In, Foxes Out

The three ducks wander around the property snuffling through the grass, talking to each other the whole time. They make a lot more noise than the chickens. I like the squeaks and mews and quacks I hear as they circle the house. In the late afternoon, they fly back into the fenced in area and put themselves to bed, tucked in next to each other on the floor of the chicken house. Every now and then I will need to herd them in, especially if I want to do chores early. They are good about waddling along in front of me as I walk them to their door.

So far, the foxes have not taken advantage of them wandering around loose.  Hopefully the ducks will take off fast enough to escape if one gets near them while they are out. The electric poultry fence has been doing a great job of keeping everybody behind it safe so far. I know the foxes are still coming around at night. The wildlife camera caught one getting zapped on the nose  when he touched the fence. That was gratifying.

Ducks Lay Eggs Too

I wasn’t really figuring on the ducks producing daily eggs like chickens, but up until last week I was getting one or two every day. The ducks lay their eggs  in a hay covered nest on the floor of the chicken house. I have to search for their new hiding place every few days and am surprised by the number of eggs they lay.  Their shells are harder than the chicken eggs and the whites clearer. My customers love when I include one or two duck eggs in a carton, especially since I have not been charging extra. In the store I have seen them for $6 a dozen, but they don’t cost me more to feed since they free range so much.

Now that I have the chickens and ducks trained to drink from the nipple waterers, the shared pen stays much cleaner. Ducks like to slurp and splash water everywhere. I think the chickens appreciate the cleaner drinking water too.

_Wendy lee, writing at Edgewisewoods, Gardens and Critters

January 19, 2017

Getting a word in edgewise through storytelling and pictures