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Posts Tagged ‘new hampshire’

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Photo: Scott Hess/Flickr
Guinea fowl, which like to forage for ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, beetles, spiders, and more, can help protect your family from Lyme Disease.

In our family we have had reason to worry about deer ticks. Nearly everyone has had Lyme Disease at some point or at least found a tick attached and taken Doxycycline just in case. We’re always on the alert for stories about the latest vaccine research or new preventive sprays. I myself wear long pants and socks all summer.

What is the long-term solution? Some people promote expanded deer hunting or experimenting with ways to keep deer from reproducing. I like this idea from New Hampshire: guinea fowl.

A great radio show called Living on Earth has the story.

“Some homeowners in the thick of tick country are turning to guinea fowl to control ticks. Living on Earth’s Jenni Doering reports from Exeter, New Hampshire, about one family’s experience with these tick-eating machines. …

“More than 40,000 new cases of Lyme were reported in 2017, and climate change could make it even more common. A recent study found that a temperature increase of just 2 degrees Celsius could result in a 20 percent increase in Lyme disease cases in the U.S. Luckily, there are proven ways to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease: wear long sleeved clothing, use repellents, and do a thorough tick check after you’ve been in the woods. …

“JENNI DOERING: Suzy and Hazel Koff live an enchanted childhood.
On a warm July day the 6 and 3 year olds run through the sun-dappled forest in their New Hampshire backyard. … Their mother, Sarah, says this is how they spend their summer.

“KOFF: We love going outside playing in the woods. We have this great big yard that they play in and we have a sandbox out here and slack line and all sorts of things; we like to make fairy houses, and we like to garden together. …

“DOERING: But in the Northeast, where there are woods, there are ticks. A lot of them.

“KOFF: I was so, just, overwhelmed by the ticks in our yard. … I’m such a big gardener, there’s no way I was willing to spray anything on the lawn or use any sort of chemicals at all, so I thought I would try this biological control. …

“DOERING:  Enter the guinea fowl. Native to Africa, guineas are rather awkward, football-shaped birds with a tiny head, and a voracious appetite for ticks. And unlike chickens, guinea fowl won’t peck at your garden greens. So Sarah decided to give them a try.

“KOFF: Yeah, I just went on Craigslist. … As soon as we started letting them out they were immediately interested in pecking, pecking and pecking. So yeah, they were just sort of tearing up all the bugs! … They’re not pets. They’re sort of wild animals that you just have. … I haven’t seen any ticks on the kids since we’ve let the guineas go roam around. …

“DOERING: A small 1992 study on Long Island backs up Sarah’s observation.
Researchers placed guinea fowl into tick-infested areas and found that they significantly reduced the adult tick population within the enclosures. But Howard Ginsberg, a research ecologist with the Department of Interior, points out a problem with timing.

“GINSBERG: Most people get Lyme disease during June and July when the nymphs are out, and the nymphs are in the woods. The adults, which are the stage that’s targeted by these birds, [are] out in the fall and spring, out in open areas like people’s lawn. …

“DOERING: A single female deer tick can lay as many as 2,000 eggs, so removing adult ticks does appear to reduce local Lyme disease risk overall. Fortunately, even if a tick latches on to you, Ginsberg says time is on your side.

“GINSBERG: Lyme disease, that bacterium requires something like 24 to 48 hours with tick attachment before it’s transmitted. So if you do a check every day when you get back from the woods and remove ticks, you have eliminated the possibility of Lyme disease fairly substantially. … The best way to remove a tick is to just take fine tweezers, just grab as close to the skin line as possible, and slowly pull it straight out.

“DOERING: Then, take some rubbing alcohol and clean the bite thoroughly.
And get that tick safely out of your life by flushing it down the toilet.”

Meanwhile, the search goes on for long-lasting solutions to the Lyme Disease problem.

More at Living on Earth, here., where you can also listen to the audio version.

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Photo: Jason Moon / NHPR
These large stones come from the foundation of an early 17th century garrison house near Durham, New Hampshire’s Great Bay. Sea-level rise is adding urgency to archaeological digs.

I’m losing count of the ways that melting glaciers and global warming are beginning to affect our lives. This story comes from New Hampshire, which some readers may be surprised to learn has a border on the ocean. As glaciers melt and waters rise, parts of that border are washing out to sea.

New Hampshire Public Radio’s Jason Moon “joined a [University of New Hampshire] researcher for a hike to see a centuries-old archaeological site that is literally washing away.

“UNH anthropological archaeologist Meghan Howey has a map. It was made in 1635 and it shows the location of garrison houses that once stood near Great Bay in what is now Durham. Garrison houses, in case you’re wondering, were a sort of fortified log cabin built by early colonial settlers in New England.

“But Howey says even though we’ve had this map for almost 400 years, until recently, no one has actually gone out to find the sites. To look for what may have been left behind. …

“Howey and a team of volunteers discovered the location of one of the garrison houses on that map – the remains of a structure where some of the earliest Europeans to ever be in this region lived, worked, and died.

“But that exciting discovery came with some sobering news.

“We reach the end of the forest, where a steep bank drops to a narrow strip of sandy beach. Howey points to the ground beneath our feet.

“I realize that she’s not showing me what’s here, so much as what’s gone. Most of the land where the garrison house once stood has been eaten away by the rising tidal water of the bay.

“ ‘Like quite literally washing away,’ says Howey, ‘and it’s gone, whatever the artifacts were with it – they’ve been, over the years, just washed away.’

“Just one corner of the garrison house’s foundation remains on solid ground. A few feet away, Howey points out a couple of bricks submerged in the shallow salty water. She says the bricks were likely part of the garrison house’s chimney and could date back to the 1600s. They are what remains of an archaeological site that’s largely been lost.

“ ‘Yeah it’s gone. It was a pretty depressing find,’ says Howey. …

“In a new report, she combined sea-level rise projections from climate scientists with the location of historic sites on the Seacoast. She found that as many as 1 in 7 of the region’s known historic sites are at risk.

“But even that number could be a low estimate because it doesn’t include sites like this one, which weren’t known until Howey found it just last year. …

“In many cases, saving historic sites like this from climate change just isn’t feasible. So the best Howey can do is to document what’s here before it’s gone — an archaeological race against time.

“ ‘I feel a great sense of urgency especially after finding these sites are washing away,’ says Howey, ‘there’s a part of me that feels I’m 20 years too late to the problem.’ ”

More here.

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Is the New England cottontail no longer in trouble? I guess, as David Abel suggests at the Boston Globe, it depends on who you talk to.

“The threatened New England cottontail — the region’s only native rabbit, made immortal in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail [by Thorton Burgess] — appears to be making a comeback.

“Federal wildlife officials [are] removing the cottontail from the list of candidates to be named an endangered species. It’s the first time any species in New England has been removed from the list as a result of conservation efforts. …

“Wildlife officials said the bark-colored rabbits, which have lost nearly 90 percent of their dwelling areas to development, are benefiting from an increasing effort to protect their habitat. …

“The rabbit, which has perky ears and a tail that looks like a puff of cotton, has been the victim of development that has wiped out most of the region’s young forests. … Unlike its abundant cousin, the Eastern cottontail, the New England species relies on the low-lying shrubs of young forests for food and protection from predators, such as raptors, owls, and foxes. …

“Some environmental advocates worry that the federal government may be acting prematurely in removing [New England cottontails] from the list of candidates for endangered status …

“It has never been easy to galvanize concern for the cottontails, given how much they look like the nonnative Eastern cottontails. Those rabbits, brought to the region by trappers in the 19th century, have flourished because they have better peripheral vision than the native bunnies …

“ ‘People think they’re everywhere,’ Scott Ruhren, director of conservation for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, said of the local cottontails. ‘But like every species, they are important and deserve a place on the New England landscape.’ ” More here.

Update January 10, 2019: More good news at EcoRI, here. If zoos can do more this sort of wildlife restoration, they will go a long way toward justifying their existence to opponents.

Photo: Mark Lorenz for The Boston Globe
A New England cottontail bred in a refuge in Newington, N.H., was penned Thursday in advance of its release.

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I have written a few times about young people who commit themselves to a life of farming. At National Public Radio, Jennifer Mitchell explains why Northern New England states like Maine are particularly attractive to beginning farmers.

“On a windy hillside just a few miles from Maine’s rocky mid-coast, it’s 10 degrees; snow is crunching underfoot. Hairy highland cattle munch on flakes of hay and native Katahdin sheep are mustered in a white pool just outside the fence. Not far away, heritage chickens scuttle about a mobile poultry house that looks a bit like a Conestoga wagon.

“Marya Gelvosa, majored in English literature and has never lived out in the country before. ‘Just a few years ago, if you’d told me that I was going to be a farmer, I would have probably laughed at you,’ she says.

“But Gelvosa and her partner, Josh Gerritsen, a New York City photographer, have thrown all their resources into this farm, where they provide a small local base of customers with beef, lamb and heritage poultry. Gerritsen says their livelihood now ties them to a community. …

” ‘It’s very fulfilling work,’ Gelvosa says, ‘and noble work.’ …

“In Maine, farmers under the age of 35 have increased by 40 percent, says John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: ‘Nationally, that increase is 1.5 percent.’

“And young farmers are being drawn to other rural Northeastern states as well, he says. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were all hotbeds of activity during the previous back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. Many of those pioneers stayed and helped create farming and gardening organizations that now offer support and encouragement for new farmers. …

“Sparsely developed states like Maine still possess affordable lands, which savvy young farmers with a little money — and a lot of elbow grease — are starting to acquire.” Read all about it here.

Photo: Josh Gerritsen/Donkey Universe Farm
Marya Gelvosa and Josh Gerritsen run a small farm on Maine’s rocky mid-coast, providing their local community with beef, lamb and heritage poultry.

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In high school, I had a small part in Thorton Wilder’s play The Skin of Our Teeth. As arch and self-conscious as it is, there are phrases that stick with you for your whole life. Even my sister remembers phrases, and she wasn’t in it. One of my brothers had a small role in a different production and remembers the ad-libbing part where a key actor supposedly has fallen ill, and the stage manager and all the cast and crew come out on the stage, and one of the ad-libbers says, “It must have been the chocolate matzohs.”

Among the phrases that stick for a lifetime are: “We came through the Depression by the skin of our teeth. One more tight squeeze like that, and where would we be?” and “Pray God nothing happened to the Master crossing the Hudson River!” and “Sabina, you let the fire go out!” and “The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks!”

The dogs were sticking to the sidewalks because there was an Ice Age going on, complete with woolly mammoths. … I know.

Anyway, there are those of us who to this day express how cold it is by exclaiming, “The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks!” It’s that kind of weather in New England lately. Suzanne’s family went skiing in New Hampshire near Mt Washington when I saw on twitter that the temperature at the top of the mountain was minus 81 degrees. That’s what my husband calls Type 2 Fun, the kind of fun that is only fun in retrospect, when you can tell the story.For more on The Skin of Our Teeth, click here. And here is one of my more recent wintry photos. Sunny but bitterly cold.011114-tree-branch-Concord

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Suzanne’s friend Sara Van Note is heading off to Central America to research a story, but before leaving, she filed this report on a wasp that is being used to fight the emerald ash borer.

“A swampy forest in the floodplain of  the Merrimack River is one of the first places in New Hampshire where the dreaded emerald ash borer was discovered. These days, Molly Heuss of the New Hampshire Division of Forestry and Lands knows just how to find the tree-munching beetles lurking in green and black ash. …

“In recent years, the emerald ash borer has chewed its way through tens of millions of ashes across 24 states and two Canadian provinces, and counting.”

So scientists have decided to use a parasitic wasp to combat the menace.

“The parasites are descendants of wasps brought to the US from China, where the borer is also from. And they are very tiny. ‘About the size of a pin,’ says entomologist Juli Gould, of the US Department of Agriculture in Massachusetts. …

“The borers themselves were discovered in North America in 2002. They probably got here by stowing away in shipping crates. Scientists here knew nothing about them at the time, so Gould says they began working with colleagues in China to find a way to control the bugs.” More here.

Using the parasitic wasp is a last-ditch effort, and other scientists worry that the wasp could end up doing other things that are less desirable. That’s always a possibility, as Erik pointed out the other day when I showed him an article in the Providence Journal about a local effort to beat back a winter moth infestation. The article said that the parasitic fly Cyzenis albicans dines only on winter moths, so no worries. But Erik was skeptical. The best laid plans of mice and men …

Photo: John Cameron
Mountain Ash in New Hampshire

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With increasing numbers of Americans experiencing food insecurity, it seems like an appropriate time of year to be grateful that at least there are many goodhearted people managing food banks and community meals and doing what they can.

If you know of anyone in New England who could use the help just now, or if you want to volunteer or donate, this partial list may be a good starting place.

Rhode Island

http://www.rifoodbank.org
“The Rhode Island Community Food Bank works to end hunger in our state by providing food to people in need. We envision a day when all Rhode Islanders have access to nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Massachusetts

East
http://Gbfb.org
“The Greater Boston Food Bank’s mission is to End Hunger Here. Our objective is to distribute enough food to provide at least one meal a day to those in need.”

West
https://www.foodbankwma.org/
“We are fortunate to live in such a special part of the country, allowing for the growth and harvest of a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. As this harvest season comes to an end, we have received more than 266,800 pounds of fresh produce — including potatoes, lettuce, carrots, apples and squash — donated by local farms this year.”

Vermont

http://www.vtfoodbank.org/FindFoodShelf.aspx
“If you are looking for a place to have a Thanksgiving meal or to volunteer to help cook, serve or clean-up, download our list of Thanksgiving meals.”

New Hampshire

http://www.nhfoodbank.org/
“Need Food? We Can Help. If you are in need of assistance, use our search to locate the nearest food pantry or soup kitchen to you. Search by your town or county, or view all of our partner agencies.”

Maine

http://www.foodpantries.org/st/maine
“There are several food pantries and food banks in the Maine. With help from users like you we have compiled a list of some. If you know of a listing that is not included here please submit new food pantries to our database.”

Connecticut

http://www.ctfoodbank.org/
“The mission of Connecticut Food Bank is to provide nutritious food to people in need. We distribute food and other resources to nearly 700 local emergency food assistance programs in six of Connecticut’s eight counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham.”

harvest

 

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