From Frogs, Logs, Dogs, Slogs, Bogs, Hogs, and Pollywogs - It's the Methow Conservancy Blog!
Occasional posts - from the quirky to the momentous - on the life and times of the Methow Conservancy.
(What you won't find in E-News)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Behind the Scenes: The Sweetness of the Cider Squeeze

By Sarah Brooks, Associate Director  

I still get nervous before our events.  Are all the little details (and the big ones, for that matter) in place?  What will happen that’s out of my control?  What if no one shows?  What if we don’t have enough food?   What if…

Prepping for my 8th annual Cider Squeeze, it seemed I shouldn’t be too nervous.  After all, it’s a great event every year:  generous hosts Marilyn and Dave Sabold are about the nicest people you could meet, there is always plenty of tasty cider flowing from a cool antique press, the weather was set to be sunny and warm, and who doesn’t enjoy an excuse to enjoy a fall day at the Sabold’s beautiful pond? 

On Friday afternoon, however, I found something to worry about.  I went to the Sabold’s early to do a little pre-pressing to ensure we had enough cider for all the guests.  I was excited to have some time on the press—usually I work the nametag table, so I don’t get to be a part of the cider making.  All too soon, the yellowjackets arrived.  They were fierce.  No one could remember them being quite so ferocious quite so late into the fall.  I found myself seeking an almost Zen-like state of calm to work the press or the tap without making a movement too quick to cause a wasp frenzy as they swarmed the filtering screen.   Despite my focus, I still managed to get stung and ended the day with a rapidly swelling arm.

And, so, I fretted most of Friday night and Saturday morning.  What if others get stung ?  What if no one wants to press the cider because of those pesky wasps?  Here was an event wrinkle I had not anticipated.

The event began and soon enough the press was running.  I must admit that I spent much of the following two hours thinking about all the details that could go awry.  I saw lots of smiling faces and people seemed to be having a good time (and no medical emergencies emerged), but I still couldn’t seem to relax.

As the event drew to a close, Nellie Casey stopped by my nametag table to say thank you for the event.  She then proceeded to say that she looks forward to the event because even if you don’t leave with cider, there’s just something about taking a turn on that press and looking up to see another community member working with you.

And suddenly, I stopped all that fretting.  Nellie was completely right.  That’s the point of the Cider Squeeze.  It does take a whole team of people to make that sweet nectar:  people to put the apples in the press, someone strong to spin the wheel, someone else to monitor the flow, another to crank the press, others to filter and fill the bottles.  A whole crew of people—who often haven’t met before—have to work together. 

That’s a pretty perfect metaphor for doing conservation work in the Methow.  You can’t do it alone.  It takes a whole team – a whole community—of people.  And, it takes working with people you may not know for the end cause you all care about. 

So, maybe the yellowjackets were annoying and maybe it was too hot for the cream cheese frosting, and maybe the speeches were hard to hear in the wind.  That didn’t matter, because at it’s core (excuse the bad pun), the Cider Squeeze is the perfect celebration for conservation.  It is about all of us coming together to celebrate our collective work as people protecting a place we love.  And, that’s pretty sweet.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

RAPTORS up-close and personal

By Mary Kiesau, Program Coordinator

On Sept. 21, 2011, we took a fieldtrip to the Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Project site with 12 folks. Just like last year's fieldtrip, we had an amazing day seeing raptors up-close and personal and learning about raptor conservation with our wonderful guide and instructor Kent Woodruff. We highly recommend a visit to this site which is open to the public daily. The raptor project usually runs from late August through mid to late October.  Check out for details on the site, including how many and what species of birds have been counted there.  These photos were taken by Mary Kiesau.

A Sharp-Shinned Hawk at the Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Project site.

Kent Woodruff, Chelan Ridge project coordinator (works for the Forest Service) and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. The FS works in partnership with HawkWatch International to monitor and learn more about raptors migrating through the eastern Cascade Mountains of Washington. The project has been running for 15 years.

A female Sharp-Shinned Hawk, weighing in at 184 grams. A male caught earlier weighed just 91 grams. For raptors, females are always larger than males.

Ellen Lamiman holding a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

Ellen Lamiman releasing a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

By looking at the faint colors within the wing of this Cooper's Hawk, Kent can tell that it is a "2nd year" (2 year old) bird. It still has a tiny bit of brown (juvenile) feathers in it's wings.

A female Cooper's Hawk, weighing in at 453 grams. This bird was significantly larger than the Sharp-Shinned Hawk, but they are similar in that they are both Accipters. These birds are short-winged and long-tailed, and they are forest hunters. They are quick and agile, able to pursue small birds through trees and shrubs.

The views and trail to the Observation Deck.

This is known at the Observation Deck. At least two people stand here all day watching for raptors and writing down info on what they see. A plastic owl, which raptors hate, on a pole helps bring raptors in, but it's the high density of willows on the ridge that brings in "food birds" (aka song birds) which in turn brings in raptors...much more here than other places.
Kent Woodruff tells us about the beak of a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

Kent Woodruff, Chelan Ridge project coordinator (works for the Forest Service) and a juvenile Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

Placing the very calm Sharp-Shinned Hawk in the hand of Heide Andersen, our Stewardship Director.
Heide Andersen releasing the Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Celebrating Roots

No, not carrots or beets or KTRT (tho' we love them all)......Thanks to all our current and former conservators, staff, Board members, Advisory Council member and Committee members (whew!) who were able to attend our "Celebrating Our Roots" brunch at the Heath's on Sept. 4th.  It was wonderful to see so many people who have helped us become the organization we are today...and it was a gorgeous day to boot.  Special thanks to Harold & Tina for opening their home to us and showcasing their amazing conservation easement, and to Arrowleaf Bistro for the fabulous food!

Our First Post

We've been toying with the notion of starting (and maintaining!) a blog for many months now.  It seems like there is something we could share everyday - from seeing a wood duck on an easement, to the happenings at the Methow & Chewuch confluence outside our windows, to what went on at a recent county planning meeting.  Many things happen - some important and some just really cool - in the month that passes between each E-News - and we know that many of you out there would love to get more updates from us (right??).  So, here we go...launching ourselves into the world of blogging.  We hope you'll enjoy what you read and comment and share as you wish!
A juvenile Wood Duck (okay, it's not the greatest photo but it was very cool to see a Wood Duck!)