Sunday, February 23, 2014

More Oswego Country Barns

There was such a positive response from a previous issue on Country Barns And Other Stuff that I thought I would do a follow-up for you.

It was fun driving around the Countryside looking for old barns that might be photo-worthy and there were so many of them that it was hard to decide which ones to include in this issue.

George Van Steenbergh using a sidebar
A friend of mine, Cathie (Van Steenbergh) Cich, grew up on a dairy farm on Potter Road in Mexico, NY. Her father, George Van Steenbergh, used to own the now Behlings Orchard in Mexico, New York. These three black-and-white photos are courtesy of Cathie Cich.

The Behlings purchased the dairy farm from Mr. Van Steenbergh in the early 1970's, and have been using it to grow apples, pumpkins, and fruits and vegetables. Several dairy farms in our community are now being used for growing other products such as Christmas trees, or they have been broken up into smaller parcels for the construction of new houses.

Hay is a very important crop for farmers. They use it to feed the animals and it's also used for bedding for the animals. Farmers would use a side bar to cut the hay (see first picture above). After the hay was cut and dried, another piece of equipment would be hooked up to the horses (gentle giants) to rake the hay. And the families always prayed for no rain after they cut it so it would dry properly. The two most important factors of haying was timing and weather conditions. The nutrient values in the hay are much higher earlier in the season. Plants put most of their energy in the plant early in the season which provides starches, proteins, and minerals.

Thanks Cathie for sharing your photos with us.

More barns in winter. . .

A few weeks ago I was on my way to an appointment when I drove by the farm below. The sun was shining the sky was a bright blue, no clouds in the sky, but I didn't have my camera with me. If I had the time, I would have gone back home right then and there to get my camera, but I didn't want to be late for my appointment. So a few hours later when I got home, I asked my husband if he wanted to go for a ride to get some photo shots for my blog post. The first thing we did was travel up the road to get a picture of this barn. By then the clouds moved in and the sun was fading in and out of clouds. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't going to get the shot I wanted with the bright blue sky in the background. When I got home and loaded the pictures on the computer, I was really surprised to see how nice the photo came out. The dark clouds on the horizon really adds to the drama of the picture.

1.  Ft. Leazier Road, Mexico, NY
I guess you can compare photo opportunities to life. . .when you think something looks really great or is going to be wonderful, if you wait long enough or it changes for some reason, sometimes it's just better than what you originally thought it was going to be.

2.  Kranz Road, Mexico, NY

3.  County Route 28, Town of Richland

4.  State Route 13, Town of Albion

5.  Barn converted to residence

6.  County Route 26, Town of Amboy

7.  County Route 26, Town of Amboy

8.  County Route 26, Town of Parish

9.  County Route 23, Town of Constantia

10.  Redfield Street, Constantia

11.  Lower Road, Town of Constantia

12.  Redfield Street, Constantia (horse is looking out the door on the left side of the barn)

13.  Lower Road, Constantia

Hope you liked your tour of some of our Oswego County Barns.

Feel free to leave a comment. . .

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Are We There Yet???

Tree Sparrows soon to be heading north
to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
Sometimes we can be as impatient as children riding in a car. Yes, we're (some of us) anxiously waiting for Spring. And others are still having fun in the snow--- shoveling being one of the regular outdoor activities.

Well, in a few weeks spring will be here and then we'll be complaining about the dirty piles of snow, the rain, the freezing rain, and mud. Lots of mud. All this snow is going to have to go somewhere when it melts. Some areas might see flooding especially if it melts fast and doesn't have time to seep into the ground slowly. Some areas will welcome it because of past droughts. And most people will be glad to see and hear the sights and sounds of spring.

Canadian Geese on the Oswego River, Phoenix, NY
I would say that we haven't had a very extreme winter here in Mexico, New York. Our snowfall is about average. Probably somewhere around 150" to date. We don't get all our snow at once. It will snow, melt some, snow some more, settle, and sometimes there is a thaw in there, then more snow. We've missed out on most of the larger snow storms that fell in Watertown and Adams, NY.

Here are snow totals as posted by Jim Teske (from the Syracuse News Channel 9) for this season through the end of January. Notice the snow totals for Redfield, NY - 284"! I heard that they have now reached at least 25 feet! We're about halfway between Oswego and Redfield so I'm guessing we had about half of what they got - 150+/-". And those totals do not include the February totals.

It won't be long now before you will see the first of the migrating birds returning to the area. Actually a few people in the area have seen robins. Many of the male bird species return back to the area before the females to scout out for nesting sites. One of the first birds to return to our Central/Northern New York area are the red-winged blackbirds and the male bluebirds, and then after them the robins, orioles, hummingbirds, and the wood warblers. Millions of birds will fly through the Country, and some might stop in your backyard for water, fruit, berries, seeds, bugs, and a rest. Some might stick around for a few days or so and then continue on their journey further north. You might only see some species for a few minutes never to see them again. People think that birds fly south for the winter because it's too cold up here for them, but it has more to do with the length of the day, and what food supplies are available.

Here is a link to a Spring Migration Chart. Select an area on the map and click on it and it will show you some birds that frequent your area and their expected date of arrival. Depending on the species it might just pass through your area and head further north. There is also a search box on the upper left corner of the page in which you can type in any specific bird if it's not listed on the pages. You can also click on any bird on the page and it will show you a map of that bird's migration route.

Onondaga Audubon Derby Hill Bird Observatory. Northern Oswego County, and specifically Mexico, NewYork, is a designated site for the spring migration of many bird species. It is most noted for the hawk migration. We have a area in our township called Derby Hill Bird Observatory. This is one of the most important areas in the Northeast United States for watching the hawks in their spring migration. This area is located off the southeast corner of Lake Ontario. Because most migrating hawks fly in the thermals they use less energy. The thermals do not occur over large bodies of water. When the birds are flying north in the thermals they come to Lake Ontario and follow the shoreline northward. Derby Hill is at the eastern end of the Lake and from this point the birds will head north. At this observatory site there are two hawk lookouts, a north and a south, depending on which way the wind is blowing. There is also a separate platform for watching migrating waterfowl and wetland species.
Immature Bald Eagle

The hawk watch season starts the beginning of March and runs through the end of May. April is the best month with the most sightings, and up to 20,000 Broad-winged hawks can be seen in a single day. The average count of raptors for the season is over 40,000.  If you have the chance to visit our area from March through the end of May you might want to stop by to see if you can catch some glimpses of these great hawks.

They have been counting and recording their numbers since the early 1960's. Since 1979 a professional hawk counter has been employed. The data has been entered into a database maintained by the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

Here is the link to the database: Hawkcount. When you open this page, select Derby Hill from the drop-down box in the center of the page where it says "Select Count Site", then click on "Go to Site" on the right of that box. As of today's date of 2/16/2014, there are no numbers in the database because the count hasn't officially begun. Here is some more information on Derby Hill Observatory: What is Derby Hill?

American Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles in Oswego County. We had heard reports of people seeing Bald Eagles on the Oswego River in Phoenix, NY. Lake Ontario had a lot of ice around the shoreline, and at one point there was an ice jam in the river at Oswego and the Eagles were coming up the river looking for open water to fish for food. We drove around hoping to photograph some and spotted a few on the other side of the river in trees. There have been several reports of people seeing them in that area along the river. My husband, Ted, did manage to get these two pictures of the Bald Eagle and the Immature Bald Eagle. We had seen some others there, but they were either on the move or too far away for us to photograph them.

Lead Poisoning in Bald Eagles. I recently read an article the New York State Conservationist (Feb 2014) by Kevin Hynes. In this article he describes how eagles will hunt for rodents and other small mammals, and will eat carrion (dead carcasses) from deer that have been discarded by hunters. This happens when the water areas where they usually fish are frozen. The Department of Conservation (DEC) has been finding dead eagles every year in winter and early spring. The cause of this might be from fragments of lead bullets. It is stated in the article that solid copper bullets might be a better choice for hunters. Here is the article in its entirety. Lead Poisoning in Bald Eagles

Three squirrels (two on the feeder, one on the ground) and a Cardinal waiting patiently for his turn.

Male Northern Cardinal

On a closing note I would like to mention the Snowy Owl Irruption. An irruption is a dramatic, irregular migration of large numbers of birds to areas where they usually are not found. Several of my friends have spotted these magnificent birds, one of the largest owls in the world (I have not seen any this year, but have seen some in previous years). If you want to see them you have a likelihood of finding them either on the ground, on a pole, on top of a building or sitting on something else like a hay bale. You usually are not going see them in trees. They like open spaces. Where they live in the tundra there are no trees growing so they are used to flying very far to locate food. Their primary food is the lemming which are about the size of a hamster.

Here are some news links to the Snowy Owl Irruption:
National Geographic: What a Hoot: Snowy Owls Make Rare Southern Appearance Owl Invasion (this site also show a map of where the sightings have occured)

PBS- Nature: Magic of the Snowy Owl (video limited to US & territories). This is a wonderful video on the Snowy Owls (long, but well worth it 53 minutes): PBS Video: The Magic of Snowy Owls

One of my photographer friends, Eric Dresser (from Eric Dresser Photography) had the opportunity to photograph some of the Snowy Owls this year and he gave me permission to share some of his photos with you.

Thank you Eric Dresser. Here is a link to Eric's website if you would like to see more of his images: Wildlife Photos by Eric Dresser

*     *     *      *      *      *      *      *      *  

And on the horizon. . . .Spring is not too far away!

Hope you enjoyed this issue of my blog. 
Feel free to leave a comment, and
Thanks for taking the time to read it.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Flowers For Valentines Day!

"All You Need Is Love. 
But A Little Chocolate Now And Then Doesn't Hurt"
-Charles M. Schulz

I thought I would brighten up your week by sending you some flowers for Valentines Day.

I absolutely LOVE the daylilies! Or the Latin name of Hemerocallis.

Pineapple Daiquiri

Daylilies got their name because their flower only lasts one day and then it drops. But there are so many blooms and branches on this plant that it will flower for you usually about three weeks. And if you have different varieties that bloom at different times during the summer they will last you quite awhile.
"Ditch Lilies" on left

I got into daylilies about eight years ago. I didn't know that much about them and I thought they came in just two colors: the orange that you see along the roadside and yellow. Another one of their nicknames that I used to refer to them by were Tiger Lilies. A friend of mine calls the tall orange ones that you see along the road "ditch lilies". When I first used that term in front of my husband he did not like it. He is rather fond of "ditch lilies". So occasionally I have the need to tease him and I'll refer to them as those "ditch lilies". I do like the "ditch lilies", and we have some clumps growing around the yard.

A friend of mine, Diane Crandall, introduced me to the dayliles. Diane had been growing them for a long time and has many varieties. When I stopped by her house one summer she showed me all her rows of daylilies and I was in Love! They were beautiful. Some are early summer bloomers, mid-bloomers and late-bloomers, and in between all those times as well. Also, some are re-bloomers too. Re-bloomers mean that they will bloom once, rest for a time, and then bloom again later in the season. This will depend on your hardiness zone whether or not they re-bloom for you. Because of our hardiness zone of 5a-5b my daylily re-bloomers usually do not re-bloom except the reliable yellow Stella D'oro. 

People's Choice Daylily

Daylilies have other traits as as well. Some are fragrant, some have an extended bloom period, and others open in the evening. They come in miniature and dwarf varieties as well as very tall selections. Some  can have ruffled edges on the petals edges (that can be referred to as pie-crusting), and other daylilies can have extra large flower blooms. 

Daylilies are easy to care for as well. The rootstock is like a tuber and will grow just about anywhere as long as it gets sun. And the more sun it gets the more prolific the blooms. Usually they require at least four hours of sun to bloom well for you. They will not bloom in deep shade. They will bloom in some shade, but they will not produce as many blooms. They will bloom in any soil, clay or sand, but the better the soil the more reliable your plant will be. You can use compost to enrich your soil if needed. The only time you need to fertilize these plants is in the spring. If you over-fertilize your plants they will probably produce a lot of foliage, but few or no flowers.

They will grow well with other plants and perennials. Some varieties of daylilies will grow into large clumps so be careful where you plant them if you don't want them to crowd out other perennials. Sometimes even though you think they might be on the small side because of their name, that's not always the case. An example of this was a variety I purchased called Little Wine Cup. I thought it was a miniature because of the name, but that was not the case. It turned out to be a miniature bloom (less than 3"). The plant is actually pretty tall 18-24" and it has a huge root/tuber. I still like it though even though I had to move it from it's original location. 

Siloam Double Classic
Dalilies do better when they are well-watered. If you have a dry year regularly watering them will help with growth and blooms. I think that's why my daylilies did so well this past year because we had a lot of rain in spring and early summer. They don't mind a good rain or soaking, but they will probably rot if planted in a swampy area that doesn't dry out. 

Quatro Daylily
Daylilies can be planted any time during the growing season. For our zone that is usually Memorial Day through early October. If you transplant them you will have better luck in the spring or early fall which gives the roots time to get established before the ground freezes. Newly transplants will do best if they are watered daily for the first week. Most new transplants will not flower the first year. If you have seeds from daylilies, you can plant them and they will probably come up, but they may not be the same as the parent plant. The original parent plant was probably cross-fertilized for certain characteristics such as color, strong stems, disease resistant, etc. And it takes patience to plant them from seed too. It can take up to three years before you see a bloom on them. If you get a root division as a starter plant your plant will look like the parent plant and won't take as long to get established and bloom.

If you have a large clump of daylilies that have not bloomed well for you it could be that they are too crowded and need to be split up. The best time to dig them up is when they have finished flowering. Dig the entire clump up with a shovel and split it into small clumps or segments. You can get quite a few divisions from one clump so if you don't have room for all the new divisions pot them up and share with a friend. If you purchase daylilies from a mail order source they usually come in a small clump or single sprouts with a single growing point.   
Pandora's Box Daylily with Astilbe

If you order daylilies from a catalog (or even online) the color may not always be exactly the same as the image source you viewed it from. Varying degrees of color occur in the printing process of catalogs and also computer monitors color screens vary as well. A few times I was a little disappointed with some of the daylilies I purchased from a catalog because the color was not the same. So be prepared for that possibility. And this is true for any flower/seeds that you order from a catalog or online. I have had good luck ordering daylilies from a company called Gilbert H. Wild and Son. I found their prices to be very good, and the root divisions are very successful. They also guarantee their plants. Here is a link to their site if you are interested: Gilbert H. Wild and Son. Or you can call them and ask them to send you a catalog (toll-free 1-888-449-4537).

Ruffled Apricot
I might caution you though that daylilies are not deer resistant. As a matter of fact the buds are like candy (or chocolate) for the deer and they love them. They won't eat the foliage, but they love the flowers and the buds. I have had success using a deer repellent spray. I just have to apply it more often than what is recommended on the label.

If you don't have any daylilies in your garden you might want to try some of these easy plants. They will reward you with their ease of care and with over 60,000 varieties you should be able to find something that will fit in with your garden display!

Link to : US Hardiness Zone Map

- Sending you Flowers, Hearts & Valentines -

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Country Barns and Other Stuff

Well, it's Ground Hog Day! and Super Bowl Sunday! Two big events on one day. We lucked out! I'm sure you've heard enough hype on both of these subjects so I won't bother to add any more drama to these categories.

I thought I'd start this issue off with a few little anecdotes. The first one was when my husband's cousins were coming to visit from Alabama. They had never been to New York State before and were so excited to be coming up north. They were looking forward to all the Skyscrapers that the State is so well known for. Well, driving north when they entered the State from Interstate 81 they were surprised to see farms with cows, barns, and trees. They couldn't believe that New York State wasn't entirely made up of the big city and all its lights. They were also surprised when they visited Lake Ontario. The day we took them to the Lake it was pretty windy and the waves were rolling in pretty high. The waves were so high that they thought it could have been an ocean.

2. There was a barn between the silos,
but collapsed a few years ago.
Another little anecdote happened when our daughter was attending the University of Buffalo. She had several friends that were from across the State and one of them was from New York City. She said that he loved the campus because of the 'forests' that surrounded it. They weren't really forests, but he had not seen that many trees before. One weekend he came up to our house to visit and my daughter took him for a ride around the countryside. He just loved it with all the trees, farmland, and animals. After awhile he was a little curious because he didn't know what those round, tall buildings were with the dome roofs on all the farms. My daughter asked him to point out what it was that he was unfamiliar with- he pointed to a silo! He had never seen a silo before!


While thinking of some things to write about this winter, I thought it would be nice to share with you some barns and other country scenes from our Oswego County, New York. Some of these barns are very old and some are still in use. Some older ones are dilapidated and close to falling down. I've done some simple photo enhancements on some of the pictures to bring out the barns beautiful characteristics.

Oswego County is mostly a rural area with benefits of a great agricultural community. Our County produces milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt. The Chobani (Greek) Yogurt plant first opened in the United States in 2005 in New Berlin, New York (south of Syracuse)  by a Turkish immigrant named Hamdi Ulukaya. He opened the plant in a Kraft Foods plant that was being closed. This plant has benefited the dairy farms across the State and even into Pennsylvania. To make Greek yogurt it takes three times more milk because it's so dense. It takes about 3 million gallons of milk a day to make 1 million gallons of yogurt.

We also have horse farms, sheep, goats, beef, and poultry farms.


Other products of our agricultural industry include crops of corn, soybeans, hay, and oats. We also produce onions, lettuce, potatoes, corn, beans, peppers, and tomatoes.

We have a ethanol plant in the County, south of the City of Fulton. A brewing company closed leaving the plant vacant. After several years it was purchased by Northeast Biofuels. They had problems in the design of the plant and were unable to rectify them so they filed bankruptcy. Sunoco purchased the plant from Northeast Biofuels. They purchase corn from more than 50 Central New York farmers.

In addition to the above products we also grow cranberries, pears, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and apples (if you haven't seen my blog post on the new apple varieties you can read it here Fall Arrivals and Departures). Blackberries grow wild in this area.


Another element that helps our agricultural industry is a certain type of soil that is located in part of our County. It's called muck. Muck is a rich, black, organic soil where onions flourish. The New York Bold Onions are grown in muck. The New York Bold Onion are grown by a Consortium  of 14 farmers in Oswego County.

The "yellow cooking onion" or "pungent yellow cooking onion" grown in New York State has a high phenolic content and antioxidant and antiproliferation activity which inhibits liver and cancer cell growth. This research was done by Cornell University Associate Professor of Food and Science, Rui Hai Liu, M.D. (





Some speciality products from our County include the production of maple syrup, honey, fruit juices, apple cider, and Christmas Trees (blog post on Christmas Trees).


Related Links:
Greek Yogurt a Boon for New York State (The New York Times January 12, 2012): Greek Yogurt

How Rural Chenango County Became Greek Yogurt Capital: The Story Behind Greek Yogurt (The Syracuse Post Standard July 3, 2011): The Story Behind Chobani Yogurt

Onions? Sweet Corn? Which is the Fairest in New York State? (Syracuse Post Standard April 11, 2007): Onions? Sweet Corn?

Location of Barn Photos: 1) US Rte 11, Pulaski (opposite High School); 2) Tubbs Road, Mexico; 3) Hurlbut Rd, Mexico; 4) Oswego River Rd, Town of Schroepel; 5) North St., Mexico; 6) Kenyon Rd, Mexico; 7) Pople Ridge Rd, Mexico; 8) Pople Ridge Rd, Mexico; 9) Valley Rd, Mexico; 10) Hanson Rd, Mexico;  11) Hurlbut & Green Rd, Town of New Haven; 12) Biddlecum Rd, Town of Schroeppel; 13) Bradshaw Rd, Palermo.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to our Countryside! 
Feel free to drop me a note . . .