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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Whole Foods 5% Day to Support Conservancy

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Come join us tomorrow at Whole Foods Columbia, to raise money for the expansion of the Howard County Conservancy.

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Every dollar spent there will have 5% donated to the Conservancy building fund. Matched by the France Merrick Foundation.

I will be there. So will Ranger the Owl. I think Ranger will get more attention than me, but that’s OK.

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The Conservancy has raised over 60% of what we need to make the expansion a reality. Ground breaking is scheduled this fall.

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If you have never been there, you really don’t know what you are missing. It is one of the most enchanting sites, that does so much for the citizens of our county.

So, come spend some money. And, stop by and say HI.

W3AO Field Day 2016 Never A Dull Moment

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So, what do you do to make Field Day for Amateur Radio operators more interesting? Put it on a site that recently had a drive by tornado? Add a warning for a young black bear in the area? Have both generators not work because of battery problems? Have the replacement generator experience power surges to 150 volts which fried a few power supplies? Have the tent supplier substitute two small tents for the one you ordered?

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The reason we operate this exercise, is to show we can be responsive in the event of a local or national emergency. We certainly had our share of excitement this year.

How did we do? We don’t know yet, but it should be great, since we put so much effort into fully embracing the activity. This year they added a new bonus category. Social media promotion. We created a Facebook page and uploaded quite a bit of video and photos to show how much effort (and fun) went into field day.

We also were encouraged to add the younger set into our Get On The Air (GOTA) station. Which had many, many little ones making contacts after simple coaching.

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All in all, it was another perfect weekend. Weather cooperated. Lots of new visitors learned how we use radio to supplement the other communication devices, in the case of emergency. Rather important for us these days. As we definitely had communication problems in west county last week, with downed telephone wires and damaged cell towers.

Thanks also to Howard County Office of Emergency Management, who loaned us a generator.

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A Near Miss

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Yesterday was a day for our “history” books. Having a tornado on the ground for 20 minutes, that passed only 1 mile or so north of us. Not a fun middle of the day activity. Trying to decide if we should head for the basement as the wind whipped fiercely outside our doors.

We were lucky. Minimal damage.

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Four trees down along the property line. Three in a group. That just missed taking out one of our small towers in the side yard.

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About an hour after the storm, we were out there chopping wood away from the guy wires. If we didn’t relieve the pressure, we could have had a tower come through our bedroom window.

Not great. But, we were lucky. No power outages. No damaged buildings.

Our local radio friends. Had some serious damage. W3LPL had a tower come down. He was in the direct path of the storm. Just last Saturday he had his annual open house, with his antenna tour.

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Saturday.

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Today. Not just antenna damage. But, a tower down.

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We can’t get down his road to see if he needs anything. Their phones are messed up, and their cell service seems to be affected because we couldn’t get coverage out there. He was interviewed today on the local TV station, saying that they were lucky the tower fell away from the house.

Mother Nature is simply scary. In the blink of an eye, you can have a major mess to deal with.

As I said, we were lucky. And, I want to give my appreciation to the crews out there trying to put massive amounts of power lines back into service.

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Everywhere we went today, during our multiple trips to the landfill, and surrounding areas (we had some weird detours trying to get there and back), we encountered dozens of trucks and workers, lifting wires and poles, cutting trees and clearing debris.

Burntwoods Rd this afternoon had at least 15 trucks trying to piece back together the poles taken out.

Hopefully, all will be calm for this weekend’s Amateur Radio Field Day. More on that in the next few days. As for now, we are just happy we have minimal mess.

Just Fiddlin’ Around

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With the Fireflies. At the Howard County Conservancy this Thursday night, weather permitting. The Conservancy always has this event in late June. It is one of the most popular evening family events.

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Look at the children’s craft area from a few years back.

The treat. Bill Wellington.

Telling stories. Playing music that gets you up and dancing.

Bring a picnic. Some good salads, dips, bread, cheese.

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Relax on the grounds. Meet some new friends. The event is from 6-9 PM and it’s only $10 a car.

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There’s even room to play a little catch up on the farmhouse lawn.

ISO @mdsbest Wineries

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What makes an exceptional winery? Do we have any here in Maryland? I hear people say there aren’t any good wines from Maryland. Obviously, they aren’t looking in the right places.

These days we have many very good options to find viniferous grapes being grown, blended and bottled, to make very, very good wines. I just spent some time looking at this year’s Comptroller’s Cup wines, from the latest competition (not sure what the difference is between Comptroller’s Cup, Winemaker’s Choice, and Governor’s Cup, but we seem to have many different competitions).

It prompted my husband wanting to take a trip to Boordy. Maryland’s oldest winery.

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I actually wanted to go to Old Westminster, but they weren’t open during the day. They won the latest competition. For their Malbec.

We will get there sometime soon, as we haven’t been visiting for the past year or so.

As for Boordy, it was OK. Not great. They used to have a very good Chardonnay, but the latest vintage didn’t impress. We drove there to try the Albarino and the Viognier. Personally, Black Ankle makes a better Albarino and Big Cork, a much better Viognier.

It’s summer. White and pink wine season for us. Since I am a “locapour”, championing local wines, I try to stock my beverage refrigerator with light wines that do well in the heat of the summer.

In our experience so far, Black Ankle, Big Cork and Old Westminster are our closest wineries producing outstanding wine. And, right up there. Elk Run.

If you are into local foods, expand a bit and try local wines. You may be pleasantly surprised these days.

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Sum-sum-summertime

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We are only a week away from the official start of summer. Tell that to my garden, that is still giving me lettuce and asparagus.

At least we are transitioning into summer with our CSA delivery this week.

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This is our second week with garlic scapes. Which I love. Last week I made pesto which has been melted on pasta, and used with shrimp to make a meal. It may get slathered on cod tomorrow night. I will make another batch from this week’s haul, and freeze it in ice cube trays. To brighten up next winter.

As for the peas. I absolutely love getting fresh peas and shelling them.

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They have to be eaten or frozen almost immediately.

The greens are being replaced with summertime vegetables. But, no, there won’t be tomatoes for a few more weeks. Be patient. The ripe, fresh, flavorful tomatoes are coming. Just not there yet. If we get a few more weeks of warm weather, we should be there.

I saw my first blossoms on the zucchini today, and there are blossoms on my tomato plants. Summer is just around the corner, here in Howard County.

Strawberry Social

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Yesterday I attended the annual volunteer appreciation party up at the historic farmhouse on the Howard County Conservancy grounds. I have been volunteering since 2010 and have made it to most of the annual Sunday afternoon appreciation parties.

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The farmhouse is only open for viewing a few times a year. If you wander around outside though, you can find the viewing portal that will show you under the siding original logs.

The volunteers get together to celebrate the end of another busy season. All of the field trips are done. There are the monthly programs still, and of course, summer camp. Still, the crazy field trip schedule has wrapped up. Some weeks, there were field trips every day. Some days, more than one. Without the dedicated volunteers this would not be possible.

The social is simple and fun. Strawberries from Baugher’s Orchards and Farms in Westminster. Vanilla ice cream from Hoffman’s. Lemonade and iced water. Time to mingle and relax. Followed by a short series of presentations including the big reveal of the volunteer of the year.

Some highlights this year. Gwen Morrison, honored for volunteering at 50, yes, FIFTY field trips. Sometimes twice a day. Our requested commitment is a minimum of three in fall and three in spring. The naturalists usually can do more than that, but think about the commitment in hours (2-3 hours for every trip) to be there for dozens of trips. Way to go, Gwen. We worked together this year on BioBlitz at Belmont, one of my favorite activities.

This year’s winner of the Carol Filipczak Volunteer of the Year award was Bob Grossman. Bob is one of those faces seen over and over at all sorts of programs and field trips. He definitely deserved being recognized for everything he does.

There were other fun awards too. Like Rookie of the Year. Guys With Trucks (you have to go ask about that one, I love it). Parking Kings. Jump In. And more I can’t recall right now.

The dedicated drop in gardeners were recognized. For their willingness to wait out rain, over and over and over again, in May. Just when you need to get the gardens in shape, Mother Nature kept sending showers and storms on them.

One other special award to staff this year. Tabby Fique, the land manager, who was the education manager when I started volunteering was honored with one of Alice Webb’s paintings, of the farmhouse, for her 10+ years on staff. To most of the visitors, Tabby is the owl whisperer.

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She was Ranger’s original handler when he came to the Conservancy in 2010. Many people who come to Wine in the Garden were greeted by Tabby and Ranger.

Congrats to all the volunteers who were recognized this year and in years past. I can’t emphasize enough how much rewarding and fun this non profit is, for the volunteers and staff. A great place to work, to help, to visit and to support.

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Thanks for another fun year. Now, we’ve got to get in gear for the arrival of the Fiddlers next week, and hopefully there will be fireflies.

Oh, I almost forgot. We all got little packs of milkweed seeds to sow, wherever we can find a spot that may be a good habitat for the monarch butterflies. And, anyone new got their magnet for their car, to show our volunteer pride.

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