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Almanac Archive, January 30, 2012

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Quote of the Week
"In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth"
--Rachel Carson

Conservation Calendar

Matha's Vineyard Farmers Roundtable

Thursday, Feb 2, 2:30 to 4:30 pm, at The FARM Institute, Katama.
Join the Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative and Brad Mitchell from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation in a roundtable discussion of issues relating to government and local agriculture. Please RSVP at mvyouthleaders@gmail.com. For more information, contact the MA Farm Bureau at 508-481-4766, email the MVYLI (above), or see their website.

Land Bank Walk

Sunday, Feb 5, 1:00 pm, Chilmark.
Land Bank staff lead a guided walk at Waskosim’s Rock Reservation in West Tisbury and Chilmark. The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours. Rain or shine, dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes or boots. For directions and more information, see website or call 508-627-7141.

Polly Hill Winter Walk

Saturday, Feb 11, 10:00 am, at the Polly Hill Arboretum.

Tours run for a little over an hour. Meet at the Visitor Center and dress for the weather. Free. For details, see website or call 508-693-9426.

FARM Institute Winter Programs
Now through March 16:
Little Farmers (Ages 5 - 7)
Wednesdays, 3:30 - 5:00 pm.

Collect eggs, visit the sheep and make a healthy snack. $15/session, call 508-627-7007 x103 to register.

Farmers in Training (Ages 10+)
Fridays 3:30 - 5:00 pm.

TFI's longest running program, FIT is a great way to end the week! Come to the FARM to help with chores, oxen training and working with the animals. $15/session, call 508-627-7007 x103 to register.
Sunday Projects, 1:00 - 2:00 pm.
Tackle farm projects every Sunday, including giving animals new bedding, moving & stacking hay, mucking stalls or moving livestock fencing. Children 10+ may be dropped off without a parent, but adults are encouraged to participate.

In Season Recipe
Quiche, Fresh from the Vineyard

Fresh from the Vineyard, by Virginia Jones, features recipes that take advantage of our bounty of local produce, meats, and seafood. Proceeds from sales of the book (see VCS website for locations) will benefit both VCS and the Island Grown Initiative, two organizations that – in very different ways – have helped promote and sustain local agriculture.

Ginny’s book is frequently more about learning a different approach to cooking (or just looking at your regular approach in a new way) than it is a catalog of recipes, and her entry for quiche is a good example of this strength. There’s a recipe in there all right (her take on Quiche Lorraine), but it’s far from dogmatic. Instead of a list of ingredients you may not be able to find this season, and most likely don’t already have in the fridge, what you get are suggestions for possibilities with just enough specifics (and words of encouragement) to make sure it comes out well in the end.
Now, something for the experts seeking a new challenge: The quiche entry reminded me of an interview I heard recently with Chris Kimball, host of the PBS show America's Test Kitchen, where he applies the show’s problem-solving, mad-scientist approach to the near impossibility of making a professional quality pie crust.The secret ingredient: Vodka, and a lot of it (well, relatively speaking – half of the total ¼ cup of liquid). For a creative, but much more rigid approach to cooking (for example, you’ll need a food processor, but don’t dare add the liquid to it!), see Kimball’s recipe and related interview here.
Monday, January 30, 2012

Local News

Next Winter Walk: Sunday, Feb. 12 at Featherstone

A stoic eagle on a snowy day

Join VCS on Sunday, February 12 at 1:00 for an exploration of one of the Island’s most ecologically important interior woodland habitats. The walk will launch from property owned by the non-profit Featherstone Center for the Arts, founded in 1980 to develop community through promotion of the arts. The arts center sits amidst what the Mass Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has identified as Core Habitat, consisting of “the most viable habitat for rare plants, habitat for rare animals, and natural communities.” In general, the interior woodland habitat consists of oak and pitch pine forest, as well as grassland, and is host to a diversity of bird species (including the Scarlet Tanager) and rare invertebrate species, such as the Imperial Moth.
The walk will be guided by Richard Toole, with additional flora and fauna observations (with a focus on bird diversity and habitat) from Margaret Curtin and Wendy and Robert Culbert. As with our other walks, expect about two hours, and cider and cookies will be available following the trip. And as always, it’s free! Please park at Featherstone and look for the VCS flags or signs. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on leash.
Featherstone owns 6.5 acres dedicated to the arts center itself, and the MV Land Bank owns another 18 acres, including the front pasture (leased for agriculture), and manages trails for the public. The creation of the Featherstone property was made possible through the cooperation of the previous owners of Featherstone Farm, Mary and Bill Stevens. The property abuts the 234-acre Southern Woodlands Reservation, also owned and managed by the Land Bank. A portion of that land was once the public Webb’s Campground. Last year, the Land Bank received permission to explore a plan to site 40 low-impact campsites there.
The Southern Woodlands is one of the last large, undeveloped parcels of land in Oak Bluffs. (Continued here, 2nd column, for more on the history and ecology of this property)

Stranded Marine Animals: Who Ya Gonna Call?

IFAW volunteers carry a dolphin stranded at Wellfleet. Photo by Christine Hochkeppel for the Cape Cod Times.

Over the New Year’s weekend, an Atlantic dolphin (along with a gray seal) was found on Lobsterville Beach; both animals had died before being discovered. It may be entirely coincidental, but the sad finding seems noteworthy in light of the unusually high number of dolphin strandings occurring this month in Cape Cod Bay. This, from A.J. Cady of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, gives a sense of the scale:
"In just the last 12 days, at least 85 (and probably over 100) dolphins have stranded on our shores.  They've come in waves as large as sixty at one time, and as small as a single lonely animal struggling to survive long enough for us to carry it to clear water. The numbers are staggering.  At least fifty dolphins have died before we were able to reach them. . . . we've rescued and released twenty four stranded dolphins.  Of course, not every release is successful, but as of today at least twenty one of those dolphins are still swimming free.  "
Friday’s edition of Cape Cod Times reports on the travels of the rescued dolphins, many of which have now made it to open water off the coast of Maine, and describes the electronic tagging methods used by the IFAW to monitor them. For a broader account of the strange string of strandings, see this piece in the N.Y. Times. It’s a story that, emotionally, defies categorization: uplifting, from the effort of volunteers to coordinate and do grueling work on short notice; tragic, given the suffering and death of highly intelligent animals; and confusing, as no one knows why they’re even there in such huge numbers.
If you find a stranded dolphin (or any other marine mammal or sea turtle) here on the Vineyard, contact Dave Grunden, Oak Bluffs Shellfish Constable, at 508-693-0072, or Bob Prescott, Sanctuary Director of the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, at 508-349-2615. If they’re not available, or if you see dolphins swimming dangerously close to the shore, call the IFAW stranding hotline at 508-743-9548.

Other News

The Wonders at your Feet

Simple sand, magnified over 250 times (Images by Gary Greenberg)

Professor Gary Greenberg has developed a technique to electronically combine images taken through a powerful microscope at many different focal lengths to recreate amazing 3-D photos of individual grains of sand. The above is just one of three of his images included in a short article in the Daily Mail. Even more images can be seen at Greenberg’s website – not only sand, but other wonders of nature, including flowers, fruits, sugar crystals, and the human body.
Pesticide Residue and Colony Collapse Disorder: One of a Thousand Cuts?

For those following the mysterious and troubling disappearance of huge numbers of honeybee workers from North American hives, recent findings from researchers at Purdue will be of interest. As co-author Greg Hunt puts it, bees are most likely facing "death by a thousand cuts." However, their research does shed light on a plausibe mechanism of action for one of the more likely contributors (excessive pesticide use) to CCD: a talc powder used to help coat seed with pesticide is routinely released into the air when cleaning out seeding equipment. For more, see this summary in Science Daily. (The original paper is also available online.)

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Copyright (C) *2012* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.