×

Field and Forest, by Richard Gast

Brood X — the emergence has begun

Brood X is coming. In fact, by many accounts the invasion has already begun. The emergence of Magicicada septendecim, a species of 17-year periodical cicadas, the largest periodical emergence of insects on Earth. Periodical cicadas are large, fat, dark brown flying insects averaging ...

They’re back

It’s spring, and after months of being locked down, people are getting outside again. Just a reminder, though: The longer, warmer days of April are also the start of tick season, the peak of which lasts through August. Ticks commonly overwinter by “nesting” in groups, taking refuge ...

It’s just coffee, right?

Coffee may very well be the world’s most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity. It’s certainly one of them. Twenty to twenty-five million families around the world make their living growing coffee. And by most estimates, more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed ...

Maple sugaring season begins

Across the North Country, the traditional sugar-making season is underway. Most northern New York maple syrup producers get busy tapping their trees in late February or early March, in preparation for the greatly anticipated four to six weeks of sap flow generally expected to begin in mid- to ...

Including deer habitat management as part of a forest management plan 

In early fall, deer’s bodies begin converting large amounts of the food that they consume into stored fat and the deer start to put on weight. This occurs regardless of the quality of the nutrition that’s available, but in years when mast trees, such as oaks or beech, have produced an ...

Flag up! Have fun, stay safe when ice fishing

Very few northern New Yorkers believe that cold weather is a reason to stay indoors. In fact, for most North Country families, winter is fun! For kids, it’s the season of snowballs, snow forts, snowmen, snow sculptures, snow angels, sledding, tobogganing, tubing and ice skating. And for ...

Hunger: a growing problem in the pandemic

Food security. It’s a term we hear a lot these days. But defining food security can be difficult. There are literally hundreds of definitions and an even greater number of food security indicators. As defined by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, food ...

Bobcats are shy, elusive, nocturnal, successful 

In the weeks before Christmas, friends of a friend told me about a bobcat sighting they had while hiking on a trail in southern Essex County. And not long after that, a very dear friend of mine who lives in the same area sent me a couple of photographs she’d taken of a mound and scratch ...

Energy conservation and efficiency equals savings

When I ask people what they think are the two cheapest, cleanest, safest, most environmentally friendly and most reliable energy technologies available today, the answer I receive is almost always wind and solar. But the correct answers — conservation and efficiency — have nothing to do ...

Mistletoe — facts and lore

  What is Mistletoe?       A mistletoe is a flowering plant (angiosperm) which, although capable of growing independently, is almost always parasitic or, more specifically, partially or hemi-parasitic. Mistletoes grow on the branches of host trees and shrubs, sending out roots that ...

Why shop local?

For generations, small businesses were the principal employers in every North Country community. They were an economic engine, bringing in money from local, out-of-area and international consumers. They employed local workers, who in turn spent money in the local region. And they supplied local ...

Dairy cows, milkmaids and the first vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented worldwide societal and economic instability. We’re facing an astonishing loss of human life and unprecedented challenges to public health, economies at every level, food systems, employment and education. And global extreme poverty is rising ...

Invasion of the murder hornets 

They’ve been in the headlines since last December: “Giant Murder Hornets Arrive in North America”; “Murder Hornet Nest Found in Washington State”; “A Sting that Can Kill.”  They look and act like something out of a science-fiction movie or taken straight out of a Steven ...

The ladies of the orchard

New York is the nation’s second-largest apple producing state. With more than 10 million trees, our roughly 600 commercial apple growers produce, on average, 29.5 million bushels of apples annually. And they grow more varieties than producers in any other state. Among them: McIntosh ...

Gleaning can help feed our hungry neighbors 

According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, 37,227,000 Americans, of which 11,174,000 are children, are currently grappling with hunger. In other words, more than 11% of Americans are, at this moment, food insecure (lacking reliable access to a ...

Webs in the trees? They’re relatively harmless 

It’s starting to feel very much like fall around here. Days are getting shorter, leaves are changing color, temperatures are cooler (some of us have already seen a frost or two, even a freeze), air conditioners are silent, pumpkin-spiced food and beverages are available at several coffee ...

In pursuit of giant puffballs 

Puffball is the generic name for a large group of mushrooms with similar characteristics. They come in many sizes and are usually spherical or globular in shape.  Puffballs are distinguished from other mushroom groups by the fact that they lack many of the features or characteristics that ...

Plants make me sneeze

I love the summer. It’s the time of year when animals are most active; when the sun is warm and plants of all kinds are thriving; and when the first harvests start to ripen. I was talking with a friend of mine recently and asked his young grandson if he liked the flowers in my garden. His ...

An alternative to a food system in flux

In March, when Governor Cuomo signed the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, which mandated that all non-essential businesses in New York State had to close, farmer’s markets were exempted as essential retail businesses and, as such, allowed to open or remain open. But, as ...

4-H brings Franklin County Fair to the farm

I’ve heard it said that "You can’t call yourself a local until you’ve been to the Franklin County Fair." It’s the area’s longest-running tradition and one of the oldest county fairs in New York state. Unfortunately, there won’t be a Franklin County Fair this year. In fact, there ...