30 March 2007


The organization that I work for is proud to refer to itself as a "liberal institution." It is proud of being "progressive" and "inclusive." However, the fact is that this liberal institution is one of the most intolerant organizations that I know.

I just overheard my boss talking on a conference call. -Before I get much farther, let me say that he is the embodiment of the place that I work for. He's from within the system, and is considered an excellent manager by the organization's administration. Why? Because he is a yes man. There is something that I like to call the "Cult of [institution's name]" and he completely buys into it. That is, he blindly embraces EVERYTHING that his bosses tell him to do...

So back to the story: My boss was on the conference call talking about a group of employees. The group had been asked to attend a town meeting-style event about how to make our organization more effective. Well, at this meeting they expressed their ideas on the topic. Some of their ideas indicated a dislike of current policies, and my boss was not happy about this. His reaction? "They showed a complete lack of professionalism." Later he said that "they [the employees] need to keep their opinions to themselves." I couldn't believe my ears. Hadn't he requested that these employees come? Wasn't a critique of practices the point of the meeting? The bottom line is that my organization, even though it claims to welcome constructive criticism, does not want criticism for any reason. They demand complete submission from their employees. Ironically, my employer is an educational organization that lists free thinking, creativity, and personal expression among its most important goals.

29 March 2007

More Crocuses!

On Monday, 26 March A.D. 2007, the first of the Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' began to bloom. Most of them were blooming by Tuesday, and all them were blooming by Wednesday. The flowers are pretty, but they don't match those of Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch'.

I'm hoping to get some pictures of the 'Blue Pearl's this afternoon. If all goes according to plan, I'll have them posted sometime tomorrow.

The Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant's are still a few days from blooming. They are quickly gaining in size, and I can't wait for the show!

Weather wise, the days have been consistently warm. I think that snow is gone from our farm, but there was still a little left at my father-in-law's place. (He lives next door) I'm going to say that the last of our snow melted on Monday night. Using that date, the seasonal weather statistics are as follows:

Through 29 March A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 87
Days with complete snow cover: 64
Total snowfall: 47 inches (120 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)

As a side note, our maximum low temperature is usually between -10° and -15° Fahrenheit (-23° to -26° Celsius). My first winter here, I believe that the maximum low was -16° Fahrenheit. Last year I believe that it was -11° Fahrenheit.

26 March 2007

Spring Beauty

With the flowers in bloom, I borrowed my office's digital camera for the weekend. The crocuses are Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch'. There are also a couple of pictures of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis). For some reason, these have not done well. I planted ten corms in October, but only five have produced foliage. Two of these are blooming, but not very profusely. Does anyone know anything about snowdrops? Will they slowly increase in vigor, or will they weaken in subsequent years?

23 March 2007

A Convenient Lie

Lately, one thing that has been driving me nuts is the Republican media's offensive against global warming. Every time I've turned on the radio, I've heard a Rush Limbaugh type talking about how: (1) global warming is not a big deal and (2) humans have nothing to do with it. The assault began after a number of reputable organizations conceded that the opposite is true. The fact is, the Republicans came up with "A Convenient Lie" to try to save face.

I don't know what these idiot Republicans are thinking. They remind me of:

- the Catholic Church when it locked up Galileo
- the state of Tennessee when it outlawed teaching evolution
- Michael Jackson when he denied having plastic surgery

I'm not doing a good job of expressing what I'd like to say. The bottom line is that you Republicans better watch out, because I elect you, and I am pissed.

Something a little different...

"The only way to live sustainably is to live like a hippie in a hut at the edge of the woods."

I'd love to do it, but I don't think my wife would go for it.

I posted the picture of the brookie because I want to talk about fish. I just wrote an article for my local paper about the trout found in our area. I love trout, they are my fish. When I was a kid, my dad would take me trout fishing in north Georgia. We'd catch dozens of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Most of them were "wild" fish with incredible coloration. In fact, the most beautiful colors I have ever seen were on a young fish I caught in an Appalachian stream. It was gorgeous...

When I was a kid, catching a Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) was the Holy Grail of trout fishing. Brookies were native to north Georgia, but had become very rare. The fact is, those incredibly beautiful rainbows had displaced them.

I caught my first brookie on a trip to northern Pennsylvania. I was about 12, and we were visiting my step-dad's family in McKean County. I went fishing in a small stream and caught a number of beautiful brookies. It was an experience I'll never forget...

Fast forward more than a decade. Now I live in the Finger Lakes, and I can fish for trout regularly. The only problem is that there still aren't any brookies! From what I can tell, there are three reasons for this:

1. 19th century deforestation (causing erosion and silting)
2. Straightening of streams (habitat eradicated)
3. Introduction of non-native species (Brown Trout)

What really pains me is that there are two streams within a couple of miles of my home that used to (pre-settlement) support Brookies. Now these streams are almost entirely devoid of fish. One of these days I'll take a picture of them and post it, but know that they should look like this:

I encourage you to support land restoration efforts and seriously consider whether continued land development is worth the price. Look into joining Audubon, the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, or any organization dedicated to environmental protection.

Yeah, I know I sound like a socialist-environmentalist, but I'm not. I'm a gun-toting, property tax-hating, big business-opposing, freedom-loving-environmentalist.

...and they're two very different things.

22 March 2007

What a difference a week makes.

Since my last post, Spring left and is returning again. Last Thursday, it started snowing here in the Finger Lakes. It didn't stop until Sunday. We got 9 inches of snow and the Springtime feel was ruined. However, hope springs eternal. Yesterday the temperature climbed into the 40s. The snow began to melt and it will be gone by the end of today! There are crocuses popping up through the snow and I'm beginning to feel good again. (Except for the fact that I still can't stand coming to work)

Through 21 March A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 82
Days with complete snow cover: 64
Total snowfall: 47 inches (120 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)

14 March 2007

Weather update and more!

Through 14 March A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 75
Days with complete snow cover: 57
Total snowfall: 38 inches (97 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)

Wow. For the first time since mid January there are bare spots outside. In fact, there's very little snow left on the ground. On Monday, the temperature climbed into the 50s. It got into the 60s yesterday, and the grass began to show. By the end of the day today, the snow was limited to shady places and areas where there had been drifting.

Perhaps the most exciting thing is that the first Crocus is blooming! Last Autumn I planted four Crocus species in our yard. As of today, a Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch' is blooming. It's exciting to see how quickly they've emerged! There are at least two more that should be blooming tomorrow...

Now that the snow has melted, I'm working like crazy to get the farm in order for Summer. This year I have a number of projects I'm working on:

1. First of all, I live on an old vineyard. While I won't be keeping all of the grapes, I am trying to revitalize a small block of them. Consequently, my first project this Spring has been to prune back the old vines.

2. I ordered 500 pine and spruce trees in January. I need to have their planting areas ready for when they arrive in May.

3. One of my interests is raising livestock. For the past two years I've been clearing parts of the vineyard to create pastures. Now is a great time to clear because the weeds have not begun to grow.

4. My favorite garden plants (other than bulbs) are shade plants. I would like to create a bed on the north side of my house for Columbines, Dwarf Crested Irises, Anemones, Solomon's Seal, Forget-me-nots, Bleeding Hearts, and Trilliums. This is a substantial project, but one I look forward to...

While Spring is a busy time of year, it is also a happy time of year. For me, it's full of excitement for the upcoming growing season!

09 March 2007

Weather update

Through 9 March A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 70
Days with complete snow cover: 54
Total snowfall: 38 inches (97 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)