Summer on a Shoestring

June 14th to June 18th

Early this week Corrie, JiYoung, and Cole roughed it out in C1, doing the seedling/herb inventory in transects and permanent plots (pictured below). Kikang trained Gavin on how to measure soil respiration at the same time.

We have found some some “bear-tivity” in our stands. At C7, they were most interested in our beer cans that top the minirhizotrons. Minirhizotrons are clear tubes we place into the ground to look at roots. Nat Cleavitt, Tim Fahey and others have used them in another study to look at root injury associated with soil freezing in the Hubbard Brook (click here to see their paper published in 2008). The minirhizotrons work in such a way that you insert a camera down the length of the tube to view the roots that come into contact with the side of the tubes. They can viewed over time to see changes underground, or in our case hopefully see new root growth as a response to fertilization treatments. We use soda and beer cans (washed and with the tops are cut off) taped to the top of the tubes so they keep light and water out. So who knew bears preferred Pabst Blue Ribbon? Luckily the tubes are not disturbed more than the cans and foam being ripped out (we put foam insulation inside them to help dissipate heat). Btw, at C1 we also had one laundry basket (used to collect leaf litter) casualty. It was upturned, with some good sized teeth marks. This is why we have replicates within plots! Well not the only reason, but anywho…

This week we also had a stellar leaf litter sorting training sesh with Cindy Wood. She hails from Bethlehem, NH and traveled all the way to Bartlett to teach us how to identify leaf litter that has been sitting in laundry baskets for a field season (it’s much more difficult than fresh litter right off the tree!). We learned that the littler hairs on the back of a yellow birch and white birch can be used to distinguish the two from each other (yellow birch hairs go parallel to the main vein, where white birch they are perpendicular, talk about tedious work). We also learned that the two species can hybridize a lot so if you can tell the species from the shape of the leaf that is the quickest way to ID them. Thanks to her excellent examples, the crew has been sorting up a storm! We are making our way through our litter sorting duties for the summer.

Thursday and Friday the crew spent working at Hubbard Brook, and Jeffers Brook (in Woodsville, NH). We had an ambitious plan to complete the trenching, soil sampling, and seedling/herb inventory at these stands, so of course it rained hard!

This afforded us the chance to spend some time with Nat Cleavitt and the veg crew over in Hubbard Brook sorting litter samples. They even helped us identify our unknown species from our Jeffers Brook veg surveys, those girls know their plants!

Luckily we have a dedicated crew and still finished most of the tasks on our list. Gavin and I finished the last trench at JB. It was interesting that 2 of the 8 trenches at JB we found earthworms (in plots 3 and 4). Plot 3 had the most abundant number of them. Over a dozen in one trench, if I remember right. We find this interesting as ecologists doing a nutrient cycling study because earthworms can greatly influence the physical and chemical soil environment. (Check out this paper by Bohlen and others that describes earthworm impacts on C and N storage in forest soils or  this one by Li and others that describes their impact upon microbes in the forest soil). We also heard some loons and bull frogs calling as we finished our last trench, something we don’t hear often at our stands.

After a long week in the field, on my way back to Bartlett that Friday night I came upon a bad motorcycle accident on the hairpin turn on the Kank. It was bike week in Laconia, so there were lots of bikers out enjoying the beautiful (but sometimes dangerous) seasonal by-ways we have here in NH. Unfortunately with no helmet law, bad accidents can be worse. Thanks to Ruth sending her first aid kits along to the field crew, I had one in the back of my car and was able to help out some of the hurt cyclists. The crew and I talked about safe-driving on these long and winding roads, and we all hope that the injured parties are on their way to a good recovery.

On a lighter note…

Menu Items from the White House

This week we are happy to share with you two recipes that Gavin’s mom was delighted to share with the crew! (In her words, “I can’t believe I’m swapping recipes with Gavin!”. We thank her, because they produced some delicious meals!

Minestrone Soup

Brown 1 lb sausage or hamburger(look for lean), drain and then add two
chopped onions and 2 cloves garlic finely chopped.  Save time and only
brown the meat and add the onions and garlic later.

Add 8 c water, 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 3 tsp beef bouillon, 1 tsp
Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 2 medium carrots sliced and
pared, 2 stalks celery chopped, 2 potatoes chopped.   Bring to a boil
and then reduce heat and cook till veggies are tender.  (15 minutes or
so) Add 15 oz can garbanzo beans(or sometimes called chick peas) 9 oz
can green beans, 1 small can kidney beans, and 4 oz pasta( optional)
and cook till pasta is cooked.

Strawberry Shortcake

6 servings, 4 for dinner servings

2 quarts Strawberries
1/3 to 1/2 c sugar   depending on how sweet you want it.
1/2 pint whipping cream

2 c flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c shortening(white crisco)
2/3 to 3/4 c milk

An hour or more before eating, wash berries and shake gently dry.
Remove caps and slice add sugar and stir every once and a while to
bring the juice.   Put in the refrigerator.

Whip cream with electric mixer hand held or stand, and add 1 tsp
vanilla and 1/2 c sugar.  Beat till whipped cream.  The cream should
hold a peak if the beater is removed.   Put in refrigerator.

Mix all dry ingredients, cut in shortening with fork or pastry blender
Mix in milk.  Either put into 8 or 9 inch cake pan, or use 8 inch
square pan.  OR you can roll them out.   Bake at 450 for 12-15
minutes.   You do not want these too brown or raw.  Make these up
fresh just before serving.

To serve cut in 4 pieces, split each piece and fill with strawberries
and cream  OR split whole cake in half horizontally and fill with
cream and strawberries and then put top on and repeat.   I do not do
it this way, because it is not as good soggy as leftovers!


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