Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home

It's hard to believe my wonderful experience in Nova Scotia is now over! The last couple nights were pretty busy so I apologize for not updating my blog then. On Thursday night, we went beaver watching. You had to sit very, very quietly so the beavers would not realize they were being observed. We were fortunate and saw at least 3 beavers! It was really interesting. Christina told us that if they noticed us, they would slap their tails on the water and then they would most likely not be seen again. She said if they did this, it would be so loud it would sound like a gunshot. We were pretty quiet so this didn't happen to us. The last picture I took there was of the beaver lodge and then....somewhere my camera must have fallen out of my pocket because I lost it. I am still hoping that Chris or Christina come across it. I am sad to lose the camera but most especially my memory card. I was so careful with it~I'm not sure how it happened. :(

Friday was our last full day and we spent the day hiking at Keji Seaside Adjunct. We hiked for about 5 miles. We saw seals there and while we were really on the lookout to see a porcupine, we did not see one. After our hike, we headed "home" for dinner and began to pack to head home.

We took a group picture on Saturday morning and headed to the airport. It was sad to say good-bye to everyone but it was also nice to be home.

Thank you to Earthwatch, the Henry Greenwalt Earthwatch Educator Fellowship, Michelle, Jennifer, Chris, Christina, all the friends I made, and Mrs. Trogdon for making this trip possible. I am extremely grateful for this experience.

~Andi Webb

Friday, April 6, 2012

Survival Skills

Chris shared some very important survival skills with us today.
PLAN
Protection, Location, Aquisition, Navigation
  • Protection~If there has been an accident, check to see if everyone is okay. Apply first-aid if necessary. Assess how far from rescue you are. Seek shelter, especially if there is severe weather. Try very hard not to panic. Many people panic and do not think about common sense things that can help them survive. Doing your best to stay calm can help you survive a dangerous situation.
  • Location~If you are abandoning a vehicle, leave a note with the time, date, your strategy (if you're leaving the car, state where you are headed), etc. Also, leave something on the roof of the vehicle to help rescuers locate you. For example, you could make an X on the top of the vehicle with rocks.
  • Acquisition~Fire, water, food Solar still (Gather all the green vegetation you can find and dig a hole. Put greens all around it and some sort of water container inside. If you have plastic, cover the top with it. The sun can  heat the greens and create condensation. The water can collect in your container for you to drink. Socks can be used by putting charcoal from your fire in it, pour water in the sock into it and the charcoal will serve as a filter. Food~Try to find nuts, berries, fish, etc. We learned various ways to try to obtain food.
  • Navigation~Follow a stream if possible or a path if there is one. A stream can lead to a river, a river can lead to a larger body of water, etc. If you have a map, try to figure out where you are,
  • If you stand with your back to the sun, you will always be facing north. If you point your watch toward the sun with the time it currently is, bisect the angle of the time it currently is by 12:00 and you will have north/south. Acute angles are south and obtuse are north. If your back is to the sun, it is the opposite.
We learned ways to trap an animal for food, ways to start a fire, etc. We also learned that there are many things you can try to use to help you survive a tough situation. If you are in a vehicle accident in a remote area and you leave your vehicle, take anything from your vehicle that you can use for survival. A hub cap can serve as you container to collect water, a cigarette lighter can help you start a fire, etc.









We also picked up all of our Longworth traps today and did a little more work on habitat piles. We're pretty sad that today was our last day in the field. :(

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Better now....

I'm feeling better now so I can add a bit about our day today. We caught 2 voles and 1 was in my trap. After releasing the vole this morning, it was recaptured this afternoon in Kenta's trap. Poor thing! It had a long day.

We also did an observation walk this afternoon and had to write down any droppings we saw, evidence of animals, sounds we heard, etc.

I believe most of us are getting sad that our time here is coming to an end. We only have 2 more full days here. I can honestly say it has been wonderful and I've had the time of my life. I've met some absolutely wonderful people and we are talking about planning a reunion already! I've also learned so much from Chris and Christina. I love Nova Scotia and I love Earthwatch! Thank you!

A vole today, moving trees, Phew....

It's hard to believe that today was our last full day in the field. We are collecting our traps tomorrow and then we have a talk with Chris that I'm excited about. We are going to learn about survival skills in the wilderness. I think it will be fun. I'm really sore today from moving trees so this blog is going to be short so I can rest some.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A mouse today....

We just got back to the house after a full day in the field. We spent the morning checking our traps that we set out yesterday. The only trap that caught anything was actually mine and it was a white-footed mouse! It was so cute! Since Kenta had not had a chance to go through the process of taking one out of the trap, he did it for the mouse. He was nervous but did great! I named the mouse Minnie because it was a girl. When I released it, it sat still for a moment and then ran away.

After this, we set up grid areas and looked for deer poop. We found some but we found quite a bit of snowshoe hare poop. We had to crawl on the ground on our hands and knees looking for poop. I found vole poop, too!

After lunch, we spent the afternoon moving dead trees and branches to create habitat piles as we did before. Collecting these and putting them in piles clears part of the forest for animals to move easily but also creates an area they can live in.

After the habitat piles, we checked our traps again. Kenta's trap had a vole in it. It was his first time releasing an animal. So far, my traps have caught a vole, lemming, and mouse.

Sweet Minnie the Mouse!

Getting the mouse out of the trap



It's a girl! She's not being hurt here. She's being held by the nape as a kitten would be by it's mom.

Minnie and me!

Christina is holding deer poop in her left hand and deer and hare poop in her right hand. She is also holding deer hair I found during our grid search.

Susan lifting a big tree!

This is a vole that was originally caught last year. We know this because when the animals are caught, the scientists snip a tiny bit of their hair. It does not hurt them and helps the scientists to know if they've caught the same animal more than once. They are consistent with where they cut the hair also.

We went to the grocery store on the way back to the house. I wanted you to see items in English and French. Hmmmm....Can anyone tell that I love chocolate?

This is a tree I moved by myself!

All the Earthwatch members get to sign the Robin's Nest that is in the field near where we work. This is where I signed!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Beginning of Week 2

We went to a managed forest today that had a Christmas tree farm. The farmer, Kevin, talked to us about how the land had been in his family for 7 generations. He sells many things from his farm but he does it in a very earth friendly way. While he does sell lumber, he sells it in a way that he can keep a certain amount of the forest growing all the time. He raises cattle and they are completely grass fed, which is the best way to feed cows and creates the healthiest meat for people to eat. At Christmas, he has a hay ride, hot chocolate, and cookies for people there to buy a Christmas tree directly from his farm. Visiting the Christmas tree farm was one of my favorite things so far.

After this, we went to another area and put our traps out again. It was hard work! We have to go back tomorrow to check them.

This is the Christmas tree farm. Kevin uses no pesticide at his farm, which is absolutely wonderful. He told us that by growing these trees in an area surrounded by forest, they have very little problems with bugs. He said that on the occasion that they do have problems, they bring in other bugs, such as ladybugs, to help control it so that they can take care of the problem naturally.

It's hard to believe it but this little tiny tree is about 2 years old.

This tree is about 4 years old. They will grow up to be Christmas trees. They are balsam firs. I asked Kevin if it was better to have an artificial tree or a real tree. He said that even though you cut down a real tree, the whole time it is growing, it is producing oxygen. After using a Christmas tree, you can grind it and put the remains out to add nutrients to the soil, you could lean it against your fence and put bird feeders in it, or you could simply create a habitat for animals. There are many good uses that can come from a Christmas tree.

Cows and their manure

Kevin is in the background explaining some cool forest facts. He was very interesting and a great farmer.


You may not be able to tell here but it started snowing again today.

Everyone is placing traps out again.

This is a small tree that has been pruned so it will grow to have the shape many people like for their Christmas trees. They do not naturally grow this way and have to be cut during different time periods so they will retain the Christmas tree shape and have the area at the bottom we put into a Christmas tree stand.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

We've had a busy weekend! On Friday night, we went to a local restaurant and played a quiz game with the locals. There was even a group of teachers from the area there. It was fun!

On Saturday, we went into the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. We also had to stop by the airport to drop off Paula, one of our team members who stayed one week. She was the only team member who was not a teacher. She is a therapist. I guess the leaders of our team figured a group of teachers needed a therapist!

While in Halifax, we visited the farmer's market. It is a really neat place and it was very busy. They sold produce, apple cider, flowers, various foods, and much more! We had lunch at the farmer's market and walked along the oceanside. Halifax is a pretty interesting city but many places were closed due to the time of year we are here. It's not their busiest season yet. We had dinner in a really interesting restaurant and our waitress wore a kilt!

On Sunday, we went to Kejimkujik National Park. We walked for a little over 6 miles through the forest and Chris told us all about the Hemlock trees there, as well as other trees, and about the animals that inhabit the forest. We also set up grid areas and looked for deer poop! The data collected today can be compared to data that has previously been collected.

We've had a pretty full weekend and are about to embark on our 2nd week here. Our schedule includes setting more small mammal traps (called Longworths), visit an organic farm to learn about sustainable forest management, study our data, look for more animal droppings, and more.

Some interesting things you may like to know about our trip that are just fun facts:
  • When we are working in the field, there are no bathrooms. We must use the forest!
  • 7 people (now 6) have been sharing 2 bathrooms for over a week and we're still managing to get along well so far! Let's hope that continues!
  • Chris is an excellent cook. The meals here are fantastic. Chris cooks most of our dinners. Christina usually takes care of breakfast for those who want bacon and eggs and she makes lunch for us to carry with us into the field. We even have dessert! Yum!
  • We're all doing things we've never done before so it's exciting.
  • Lycos (the dog) is a Greek word for wolf.
Nova Scotia is a beautiful place and I'm learning so much.