Thursday, October 18, 2012

In crawled a crab!

Our 6-year-old son first met a hermit crab a few years ago when we were on a beach vacation. We went to a hermit crab race, the crabs were offered for purchase after the race. Understanding the hazards of a pet impulse purchase, we took our saddened little boy home with the promise to research hermit crab ownership.

Fast forward. On a beautiful sunny day in September we took our son to a local Town Day. Armed with his well earned allowance money we told him there would be an opportunity to purchase something from the fair. Who would have ever thought there would be hermit crabs for sale.

Happy with the condition of the crabs and after a brief conversation with the vendor we allowed our son to take home his first hermit crab "Pinch Pinch."

Having owned Pinch Pinch for the past couple of months, we are finding hermit crab ownership to be a wonderful window into nature.

We learned very quickly that you must have a proper "crabitat." The starter habitats that often come with a newly purchased hermit crab are not adequate enough to keep a hermit crab alive and are too small. We purchased a 10 gallon tank, temperature and a humidity gage, a day and night heating lamptimer, repti fogger to help control the humidity, substrate, toys and salt water.

When considering a hermit crab it is important to know:
  • hermit crabs need a constant temperature of at least 75°F and a constant humidity level of at least 70% ,
  • hermit crabs molt! Ours is currently in a molt and has not surfaced out of his substrate for the past couple of weeks. It is very important to provide adequate substrate for a hermit crab to properly molt and dig,
  • chlorine is harmful to hermit crabs. You must use chlorine free water,
  • hermit crabs are nocturnal and,
  • hermit crabs can live 15 to 30 years in captivity if cared for properly.
I was bothered by the information I read regarding hermit crabs being forced into painted shells for sale. The crab we purchased came in a painted shell. The vendor told us that the shells were hand painted and offered to the crabs to choose. It is interesting to note that our crab quickly chose a natural shell that we offered him once he became settled in his new home. It is important to do your research and find a suitable supplier. You can also find hermit crabs who are up for adoption.

If you are considering a hermit crab there are two wonderful sites that we have been using. Jam packed with information from adopting a hermit crab to the wonders of molting, these two sites are perfect for hermit crab owners.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Pavilion in the Woods at Longhaul Farm

On a recent trip to New Hampshire I stumbled upon a wonderful organic farm named Longhaul Farm. This farm was complete with a New England specialty shop offering a wide variety of products from local farmers and artisans. In addition to being an organic farm, it offers Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). As I was poking around, the farmer approached me to introduce himself. We had a wonderful conversation and I learned all about the Farm and discovered a hidden treasure, its Pavilion in the Woods!

The Pavilion in the Woods offers a unique dining experience to the public. Whether its a Farm Dinner complete with local farm to table foods, a BBQ or brunch the experience is amazing. Set in the woods the pavilion is spacious and offers a rustic building for inside dining as well. When we arrived we were excited to hear a local band playing, a camp fire blazing and a very festive atmosphere.

We settled in and chose to try the local ribs and shrimp. The food was fresh and delicious. Sides were amazing, the salad had nasturtium from the garden offering a peppery flavor. The kids loved roasting S'mores after dinner. The dinner was BYOB but they offered locally brewed sodas, I tried the Blueberry and it was delicious.

As we gathered around the camp fire we got to meet people local to the area which was a real treat. Feeling close to nature and full of the local flavors of New Hampshire we left the dinner as happy campers.

Longhaul Farm will be offering public events in the winter. "Snowshoe, Walk, Hike...and Real Food Lunches" will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from January 1 to March 16.  "Full Moon Dinners and Moonlight Hikes" will be held monthly.

If traveling to the Squam Lakes region of New Hampshire, The Pavilion in the Woods at Longhaul Farm is a unique dining experience not be missed.

Longhaul Farm at Squam Lake

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Hampshire Nature Discoveries

New Hampshire offers a diverse landscape to explore. From rocky coasts to the White Mountains known for the most rugged mountains in New England, New Hampshire offers endless opportunities to get into nature. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft.

Science By the Sea: Seacoast Science Center and Odiorne Point State Park
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
Nestled in the Squam Lakes region, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is by far one of the top nature centers I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It is well maintained and represents nature in New Hampshire in a variety of ways.

The center is perfect for children and adults. With its wide open meadows, marsh boardwalks and my favorite, interactive natural history exhibits where native animals such as black bears, bobcats and birds of prey reside.

The mission of the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is to "advance understanding of ecology by exploring New Hampshire's natural world." They go above and beyond achieving their mission.

General admission includes travel around The Gephart Exhibit Trail featuring live native New Hampshire wildlife and hands-on exhibits. There are daily life animal presentations and a beautiful garden. The gift shop features local New Hampshire artisans. Admission can include a cruise around the Squam Lake, a comprehensive guided cruise that teaches about the wildlife, ecology and natural history of the region. If you are a member of your local nature center, zoo or aquarium check to see if your membership allows for a reciprocal benefit. We were able to receive 50% off our admission.

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm

Not far from the Squam Lakes region is a little town named Tamworth. Tamworth offers a majestic view of Mount Chocorua, the most photographed mountain in America. Its a picturesque town offering dramatic mountain views from many locations. Lake Chocorua, White Lake, flowing brooks and rivers, trout streams and ponds all contribute to the natural beauty and scenic vistas. But perhaps a hidden gem that many may not know about is the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm.

For an understanding of the agricultural way of life in New Hampshire from 1790 to the present this farm/museum is a must see. It offers people the chance to visit a working farm with sheep, goats, cows, steers, oxen, chickens, turkeys, lambs, pigs and horses. Walk into the 1830’s garden and view the historic crops and vegetables. Take a leisurely 6/10 mile hike on the Trail, a low impact experience offering spectacular views of Remick Farm, Mount Chocorua, and the Ossipee Mountain Range. My son was able to milk a goat and brush the pony. You can fish in their pond which also is used to harvest ice during the winter. We were able to view where they store the ice.

Admission to the Remick County Doctor Museum admission is $3 for adults children ages 4 and under are free.

Remick County Doctor Museum and Farm

The Mount Washington Weather Discovery Center

Located in North Conway, the Mount Washington Weather Discovery Museum  is worth the stop when heading into the White Mountains. The Discover Center offers an interactive experience to its visitors. The air cannon, flow tank and wind room really illustrated the fact that Mount Washington is home to some of the harshest weather conditions in the world. Watching and feeling the effects of 231 mile an hour wind in the wind room was a highlight. There is an opportunity to speak with the hardy observers living and working in the summit weather station through a twice daily live video link.

The Mount Washington Weather Discovery Center
If traveling to New England and New Hampshire is in your itinerary, add these three places to your trip! Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thinking About Joining a CSA?

As I sit in the early morning listening to the chorus of birds outside I realize that Spring is such a busy time of year in nature. There is such a flurry of activity that I find myself putting together a rather lengthy to do list!

If you have been thinking about buying shares in a CSA, now is the time to do your research and join! Over the last two decades, CSA's (Consumer Supported Agriculture),  have become more readily available. Local farmers offer the public "shares" of their seasonal crops. A share typically is offered weekly and is usually a box of seasonal produce. The CSA that I joined offers bakery items and eggs in addition to vegetables. CSA's have grown to include other options. Wine, cheese and even fish are now available. If rolling up your sleeves and picking your own vegetables interests you there are also CSA's that offer the option to work on the farm that is supplying the CSA. The summer/fall growing season is usually the most popular CSA to join. More and more farmers are including CSA's all year.

There are many benefits to joining a CSA. You are supporting local farmers, you get to receive fresh local food and if you have children it is a great way to engage them in eating locally. Having a CSA share is like getting a present once a week!

Local Harvest has a great database of CSA's for wherever you may live. Have fun and enjoy!
Happy spring!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Exploring The Winter Night Sky

Last year around this time, I posted about going outside to embrace winter. I live in New England and we experienced one of the most harshest winters on record. This year, a whole different story. Many days have been mild, reaching mid 50's! There is no snow, no ice and it seems like spring instead of winter.

Confused about having no snow and no opportunities to enjoy snow activities, I had to think of something to engage my eager children. We decided to look to the sky and we got to see first hand how beautiful a starry winter night can be!

We began our journey by taking a class called "Moon Magic." It was offered through our local Audubon Society. Each family received a moon journal and we learned a bit about Astronomy.

Check your local Audubon Society for a class or your local science museum, they offer great programs and opportunities to learn more about astronomy.

Finding the right App:
Considering there are 88 official constellations, identification can be a challenge. I downloaded and tested a few different App's. I recommend one of the following:

Star Walk for iPad (Vito Technology Inc.,):
For just under five dollars, Star Walk is one of the easiest astronomy Apps available. I love how it functions as a personal planetarium! The digital compass allows you to recreate the sky on your iPad and you can even view how the sky will look in the future!

Moon Atlas (Horsham Online Limited):
If you are interested on focusing on just the moon, Moon Atlas another App for under five dollars does the trick. It has the ability to provide details in a very interactive way. It gives information on the moons phase and angular sizes and craters.

If you are looking for a free App, there are two that I found worth the download.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (Concentric Sky):
With decades of photos taken from Hubble and crystal clear images, Astronomy Picture of the Day showcases daily images and information.

Planets (Dana Peters):
I love its simplicity. Being able to view planets from both a 2D and 3D perspective. Perfect for young kids!

Once you have taken a class, visited a planetarium, downloaded an App, bought a telescope, you are ready to explore.

Tips for Exploring:

Find the darkest place:
Go to a place with the least light during a night that is free of clouds or fog. Spend some time letting your eyes get used to the dark. Look for the first star you see, a familiar constellation.

Bring your App or a star map:
If you do not have access to an App. You can google your local star map and print it out. If you are in the Boston area. The Museum of Science has a great map that they update regularly.
Keep your eyes adjusted to the night light:
Bring along a dim flashlight.

If you are interested in using a telescope, I purchased and can recommend the Zhumell Zenith 60x600 . Great for beginners and for children.


For children:
The Stars a New Way to See Them by H.A. Rey
Written by the author of Curious George, this book is just perfect for little ones and newbies alike!

For Adults:
The National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky
I love any reference book by the National Audubon Society and this guide lives up to the Society's reputation of producing excellent easy to use guides.

Happy exploring!