Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kinnelon Critter File: Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys in Paterson, NJ originally uploaded by Brooklyn Bridge Baby.
It certainly seems appropriate for Thanksgiving to share with you another installment of the Kinnelon Critter File. This time, it's the story of Wild Turkeys.

I bet you've noticed groups of 5 to 8 turkeys - sometimes more - foraging about through the forested areas, perhaps even trekking through your property.  Earlier in the spring, I remember seeing an all-white turkey.  I haven't seen her lately, but I'm sure she's about somewhere.

Per Wikipedia, Wild Turkeys are native to North America.It seems that in Kinney's time [i.e., early 1900s] the turkey population was as low as 30,000.  Today, it is closer to 7 million birds.

Wild turkeys are omnivores, occasionally eating frogs and snakes. [I thought they only consumed nuts, grubs, seeds and berries...]  Another interesting fact:  did you know that turkeys' "heads and necks are colored brilliantly with red, blue and white. The color can change with the turkey's mood, with a solid white head and neck being the most excited."  I think this refers primarily to male turkeys.

Another source of Turkey tidbits is Cornell University's All About Birds: Wild Turkey summary which includes a recording of turkey calls. 

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wished the Turkey were the national bird over the eagle? He considered turkeys more noble...

With that, I hope you consume your domestic turkey with renewed respect and appreciation for the Wild Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Technorati Tags: Tags:  

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kinnelon Critter File: Swans

Other than admiring their grace and serenity in watery settings, I know very little about swans. We are fortunate, though, in the Kinnelon, NJ area to have many to admire.

I counted approximately ten on Fayson Lakes recently, and two on the Taylortown Reservoir next to the Boonton Avenue and Fayson Lakes Road soccer field.  I was delighted to notice a growing family on Woodland Lake in Pompton Plains, too.

The three that delight me the most live on Lake Kinnelon.  I share them with you here, as well as what I've recently discovered about swans.

Swans took on a more romantic aura after reading E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan this spring with my daughter [thanks to her teacher, Dawn Winkler].  From that book, we learned about Trumpeter Swans, the "largest native North American bird, if measured in terms of weight and length, and is (on average) the largest waterfowl species on earth."  We started paying closer attention to the swans in our vicinity, wondering about the eggs being laid and hatched and the viability of the cygnets. 

We didn't think ours were Trumpeters, but we hadn't had much of a chance to inspect them closely enough to reach any kind of scientific determination.

Until we decided on a beautiful late September weekend to take the Lake Kinnelon hike and came across the swans at the far north and shallow end of the lake.  Needless to say, we got out of the car, camera in hand and made sure to capture these critters digitally.

Thanks to the photos, we've been able to determine which swans ours are.

In addition to Trumpeter Swans, there are also Tundra Swans and Mute Swans in the U.S.. Trumpeters and Tundras are native, whereas Mutes were introduced from Europe.  Based on the orange bill color and body posture, we have determined that the swans in our area are Mute Swans.

Despite its name, the swan makes noises.  "Although quieter than some other species, it is by no means mute. Among its vocalizations are a loud snort when annoyed, shrill trumpeting when really angry, and an aggressive hiss. They are the most territorial of the swans and two males will fight viciously if one intrudes on another's turf. Nesting territories can cover 4-10 acres and are reoccupied by the same pair year after year. In breeding season they can be quite aggressive to people approaching the nesting area, and their large size makes them somewhat dangerous in this situation, so it is best to avoid them at that time" says FeatherSite.

Earlier, I mentioned that Mute Swans aren't native to the U.S..  In fact, they were introduced to this country in the late 1800s from Western Europe, mostly in the Hudson Valley and Long Island sections of New York State primarily for decoration, to enhance water properties and zoos.  

Possibly a far stretch, but I wonder whether Francis Kinney might have acquired his own pair of Mute Swans?  Perhaps these are the descendants?

According to the Columbia write-up on Mute Swans, "Mute swans are herbivorous aquatic foragers. An individual adult swan consumes 3-4kg of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) per day.  The remainder of their diet includes a small proportion of terrestrial plants, algae, insects, fish and frogs.  In their native lands, mute swan feeding habits aid other waterfowl’s foraging as they stir up vegetation deep in the water that smaller waterfowl, such as ducks, cannot reach.  If left unprotected, medium-sized predators, such as mink and raccoons, will take eggs and cygnets.  Adults are not usually preyed upon unless they are injured or sick."

Early Autumn view of St. Hubert's Chapel.
The different sites referenced above touch on the destructive nature of Mute Swans and the need for concern.  Although I envy Fayson Lakes its large swan population, Lake Kinnelon's population seems better controlled. From what the Smoke Rise Beach life guards have said, we owe thanks to the lake's snapping turtles which prey upon the eggs and cygnets [baby swans]...  The current Lake Kinnelon swan family consists of the parents [cob and pen] and possibly a youngster from last year's clutch as it is all white with orange beak [adolescents are grey with black beaks]. 

Do let me know if you notice other swans or other types of swans nearby.

[Last weekend, we visited the Central Park Zoo and came across a black-necked swan from South America.  I'll share that with you in a separate post.]

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fish, Food, "Green" and Beer - All Reasons For The Smoke Rise Blog

One of the reasons for writing a Smoke Rise blog is…to give ourselves an opportunity to answer questions. Questions for which we are really curious to know the answers. 

For instance: What are all these trails just beyond our backyards and where do they go? Where can you get good beer? What does being green mean in this place, here where we live? How do you fish Lake Kinnelon and other close by bodies of water? Are there good restaurants nearby, and what are they, if any? 

Some of these questions we have attempted to answer or are in the process of answering in the previous articles of this Smoke Rise blog, but there are others we will need your help to answer, and we think those answers are out there and you know what they are. 

So I am going to ask some of these questions and hope that you who read the blog will answer them either in the comments section or as guest contributors, with full articles of your own. 

All right then, all of you expert fishermen, how do you fish the lake? What gear do you use? What bait? What lures? Do you troll or cast from a boat? Do you fish from the shore? What time of day do you fish?  What do you catch and where?  Tell us about fishing our lake.  Do you eat your catch? Be specific and give us details. 

I myself, after not having fished since I was a boy, have been taking my 6 year old daughter, Emma, to the docks by the beach to catch sunnies, the occasional perch, and bass (the biggest was 4 lbs) on light spinning and baitcasting gear with nightcrawlers and Mepps spinners. Emma and I have our best luck after 6 PM during the spring, summer, and early fall. We don't get up early enough to get out there for morning fishing. 

My daughter always asks us if we can eat a big bass should we catch one, but she relents if we do, and we release all of the fish we catch. My daughter’s friend, Miles, caught a 6 lb channel catfish this summer, and I probably would have kept that fish had Emma caught it, and deep-fried the fillets up with a batter coating just like my folks did when we spent summers on the Mississippi river 40 years ago

On the subject of eating and food – where do you go out to eat? There certainly does not seem to be an embarrassment of good places to eat within, say, 20 minutes, but we have liked our own Village Inn, which is convenient and friendly, as well as The Station Restaurant, in Mountain Lakes, Yuki Japanese, formerly Sushi, mainly for takeout sushi on Rt 23N just up from Boonton Ave, and in Denville, the Heritage Grill, which serves really very good food in somewhat downscale (for the food) family style restaurant décor. Café Metro in Denville is also good, especially if you are into the whole grain macro-biotic thing. 

We have visited many other restaurants which shall remain as nameless as they are undistinguished (or worse). 

And while we are on the subject of food efficiency, and straying to carbon footprints and, generally being “green,” what do you do? 

Of course we recycle in Smoke Rise and Kinnelon.  That is, we separate cans and bottles and paper from garbage and put them out separately. 

Green can mean a lot of things: Lower energy usage and a lower carbon footprint. Saving money.  Keeping our wild areas free from trash and pollution. 

But what does it mean to be green here?  Do we take our own bags to the grocery store (as you may have to for BJs or Costco)? 

Some of us are moving to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), which, I guess, pose their own problems (they contain mercury which is a hazardous material and needs special disposal). 

We all are aware that gas, oil, propane, and electricity have spiked in price recently, though gas has since dropped a bit, but most people we know have attempted to cut back on energy usage of all kinds just because of the eyepopping increases in the bills alone.  Are some of us using wood-burning stoves? 

Tell us what you do and what you think. 

Also, does anyone have old photos of Smoke Rise, Kinnelon and the area showing our buildings, roads and landscape as they were in the past, perhaps 40, 50, or even a hundred years ago? How about copies of the 1904 and 1857 maps of the area, that is the ones on display at L'Ecole on Kiel Ave? We’d like to scan, digitize and post them. 

Also, what questions do you have, that you would like answered?

Come on in, the water's fine.

 ~ Ted

Technorati Tags: Tags:    

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indian Cliffs Trail Hike

Imagine this view.  It's what greets you when you take the Indian Cliffs Trail hike:  an uninterrupted view of the Split Rock Reservoir. Talk about a breathtaking view from which you can see forever!   


Here's how to get there. Essentially, begin as you did for the Split Rock Reservoir Trail Hike, by parking at the end of Beechwood Lane [west of Red Oak Lane] and then proceeding on foot.  The trail head - located between lots #20 and #21 - leads to Mountain Road trail which runs from North to South [and is most probably the extension of Mountain Road in Smoke Rise]. As the description reads "this is basically an old woods road which is quite wet in spots during the wet season." Mountain Road trail is marked with blue blazes.

As you head south on Mountain Road, you will notice a trail to the right, marked with red blazes - not as obviously marked as the white trail toward Split Rock Reservoir which is further south. However, it definitely looks like a trail [in fact, we headed off in that direction when we first went off toward Split Rock thinking it might be the trail.  We back tracked when we saw NO white blazes.] 
The view from the bottom on Indian Cliffs!
Proceed then to the right [west] and slightly up hill [north] and then quickly to the left [west] again.  The trail is narrow and winding, and becomes increasingly steep as you climb up to Indian Cliffs.

In many ways, this trail is a lesser trail.  You walk one person at a time, and the falling leaves obscured much of the trail.  We almost missed the left/west turn part.  If it hadn't been for bumping into Bjorn Walbritt and his family - ironically and serendipitously, the first subscribers to this blog - we would have headed back into Smoke Rise!  [I can't even describe how eerily wonderful it is to bump into people in the woods who not only offer directions, but also tell you they recognize you because of The Smoke Rise Blog!]  Thank you, Walbritt Family!

So, together - a party now numbering 11 - we headed up toward Indian Cliffs.

Tom Kline had warned me that he had noticed bear scat along the trail [also see these bear scat photos].  We were prepared with an air horn and lots of noisy kids.  Personally, I was happy to have added company - just in case! 

After enjoying the view, we continued on, following the trail down to Split Rock Reservoir level, from the north side of Indian Cliffs. We quickly transitioned from broad vistas and rocky outcroppings to forest and towering trees.

In many ways, this is the ideal trail because of the extremes of terrain.  At forest level, we were able to admire the base of the dramatic rock formations as you can see from the photo above.

Some other surprises:  we encountered this tree, in what seemed to us to be the middle of the wilderness, covered with carvings from the 50s, 60s and 70s.  It made us wonder what kind of stories this place had to share.

From the tree, we continued a bit west [with Bjorn's help] and quickly encountered the Charlotteburg road which we took a left on [i.e., South] and continued on to meet up with the White/Split Rock Reservoir trail to proceed back to our starting point.

However, as we trekked South along the Charlotteburg road, we came across multiple vestiges of abandoned cars... rusted fenders, rotted out back seats, lone engines, wheels and a few tires.  We joked that we had almost come up with enough parts for a full car...  According to Tom, this is where cars stolen from Newark used to be driven to and then torched.  Maybe there's a connection between the car parts and the carved tree?  Hmmm.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Didja Know? Francis S. Kinney's "Cottage" Life

Continuing with Cornie Hubner's Didja Know? series, here follows his article about Cottage Life, relating to Francis S. Kinney's house and property in what is now Smoke Rise in Kinnelon, NJ. [Note "?" are mine - I couldn't locate a resource online to explain the reference.]

When the 80 room "Cottage" was built, a little over 100 years ago, the Kinneys learned that "horsepower" really meant horses.  Evidence of this recognition is apparent in the luxurious stable they provided - now our Inn.  Carriage and farm horses occupied spacious stalls in the area that is now our cloak and reception rooms. The prize herd of Brown Swiss Cows in the ell, now the Cauldron Room - appropriately - just off the Bull Pere [?].  The present Ball Room was a very low ceilinged truck and wagon barn over which was the tremendous hay mow.

The original carriage barn stood between the "Cottage" and what is now the Stable Complex.   The coach [i.e., carriage], surrey, landau and several two passenger carts [the sports cars of the day], were housed here.  An open stone barn for farm equipment and the brick blacksmith shop, whose busy farrier was the maintenance expert for the entire estate stood nearby.

[The horse stables as they look today... Note the center piece which must have been a fountain.]
In 1916 the new brick stable and carriage houses replaced the original barn.  Sixteen commodious hardwood stalls duplicated those in the picture book stables of the horsey set of the County 400s [?].   Massive brass hinges and blanket holders together with ornate cast iron grills added a regal appearance to the spotless setting.  The lazy drowsy drone of the few privileged flies could be heard from the flagstone shaded quadrangle courtyard where weary riders languidly enjoyed a lively melodious serenade from the fountain in its center.

A zinc lined grain bin provided rodent free storage for grain.   Several modern apartments on the second floor of each building were occupied by the special skilled workers and their families.  A modern machine shop in the Carriage House was needed to maintain the "Cottage" and modern mechanical equipment needed for the 25 miles of gravel roads and bridal paths.

A full time messenger made a daily trip to Butler by buggy.  He shopped for the Chef's special needs, visited the hardware store and express office and waited with an amiable group of townspeople until the 10:30 mail was sorted.  For years the mail was trucked from the station, by a venerable pensioner in an antiquated child's express wagon.  The distance was short and this method of transportation continued for many years until the load required a larger vehicle.

[Photo caption: An American Fiefdom as described by neighbors and descendants of the 80 adherents and workers who operated and maintained the unique Baronial enclave.  Cornie 3/87.]
The townspeople were occasionally treated to a live edition of a Currier and Ives print, when one of the family arrived in an Irish Trap with the coachman in picture book costume.  Patent leather boots, white trousers, bright green gold buttoned jacket and high hat adorned the figure that sat immobile while the master visited and the townfolk stared.  Matched pairs with more sedately garbed coachman guided the surreys that made regular trips to and from the Depot.

Sometimes a private railroad car was parked on a siding opposite the North Gate. This was the site of a Saw Mill, powered by the Pequannock River where the harvested Chestnut and Oak trees were processed and shipped.  Long since abandoned it served as a station where the several wagons picked up guests for the gay, scenic trip to the "Cottage."

All hands were kept busy with picnic trips to Green Hill, Kitty Ann Tower, New Pond and fishing adventures with wily trout at Kent Brook.  Hunting, horseback riding on the well kept trails and lake boating, fishing and swimming provided a full day's entertainment.  Some poaching neighbors reported that they had even stumbled upon segregated "skinny dipping."

A dramatic change became apparent when a chain driven "Simplex" transported the Kinneys to St. Anthony's Church.  It was piloted by a liveried French Chauffeur [society's coddled professional] who also guided the gigantic Pierce-Arrow and directed the mechanics maintaining the other horseless vehicles that were now taking space in the Carriage House.

The Stable Complex remained unchanged until the mid '60s when five stalls were built in the stone barn and six in the newly constructed wooden barn.  Interest in the Riding Club reached a peak then and continued until the mid '70.  The stables owned and operated by John Talbot is now managed by Donna Weatherbee, who can be contacted for available stalls and riding instructions at the office in the Stable or by phone.

NOTE:  The Smoke Rise Riding School is now managed by Ann Mitchell. For more information, visit the Smoke Rise Riding Club at Smoke Rise Farms.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kinnelon's Semi-Annual Pancake Breakfast

Have you been to the Kinnelon, NJ Semi-Annual Pancake Breakfast?  The most recent one just took place this past October 19th at the Kiel Avenue Firehouse and it was a blast.

We love pancake breakfasts, particularly when they take place at the Kinnelon firehouse.  It's always a fun event that we start looking forward to the minute we see the large signs strewn about town in strategic locations...

Before moving to Kinnelon, we had never been to a pancake breakfast. Perhaps it was because our daughter was too young.  Now, it's rare for us to miss them.  Next one:  late March 2009.

Where else can you be guaranteed so much amazing kid-fascinating entertainment, including an opportunity to climb all over those magnificent fire trucks?

In anticipation of writing this blogpost, I learned the following from the two women responsible for making this event proceed as smoothly as it does, the Fire Auxiliary President, Maribeth Smialek, and Vice President, Nancy Tsinkelis:

+ A Kinnelon pancake breakfast makes use of approximately 220 pounds of pancake batter.

+ Workers start mixing the batter at 6am to be ready for the official breakfast start time of 7am.

+ Over 200 pounds of some of the tastiest sausage I have ever eaten is cooked. [Next time, I need to find out what brand of sausage...]

+ This year, Nancy pre-packaged the utensils in individual packets. Very classy and efficient.  She put together 1700 sets and any not used for this event are ready for the next.

As you can see from the photos, many people get involved helping out with the pancake breakfast, and not just adults.  Kids get into the act, too, as well as entire families.

At the pancake station, for example, a mom, dad and son did the honors.  I didn't get their names, but they were terrific, and the mom made the best Mickey Mouse pancakes you have ever encountered [my daughter consumed hers before I was able to photograph it].

Now, as I've only been to Kinnelon pancake breakfasts, I'm not really qualified to compare them to those of neighboring fire departments.  

I would expect them to be at least as much fun, and for the sake of research [the main Butler firehouse is named the Kinney Hose Company No. 1], I will attend an upcoming Butler NJ pancake breakfast.

However, what I do know is that this pancake breakfast brings together a terrific crowd of kids and grownups from Kinnelon NJ, and when we leave [after stopping by the Bake Sale table], we inevitably can't wait for the next one.

Pictured here with Lisa's son and my daughter are Kinnelon Volunteer Fire Auxiliary Vice President, Nancy Tsinkelis, in red and President, Maribeth Smialek, in stripes.

Thank you and see you at the next Kinnelon Pancake Breakfast!

N.B.:  Per the Kinnelon Volunteer Fire Company website, this past pancake breakfast served 619 meals.  Not bad!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Must Read Book: The Age of Conversation 2

Cover art created by David Armano.
There's a  book I recommend you read.  It's titled "The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It?"  It's is available for purchase from

I acknowledge up front that this book is off topic to this blog.  It has no direct relationship to Kinnelon or Smoke Rise.  However, it's one you might appreciate if you regularly read blogs like the The Smoke Rise Blog as it has to do with the sort of conversations that take place through blogs and social media.

There is a local relationship, though, because two local bloggers - my friend Steve Woodruff in Boonton and myself - have contributed.

And, it's for a good cause.  Proceeds from the sale benefit Variety, the children's charity [our goal is to raise at least $15,000].

Let me put this amazing project into perspective.

This book results from an unique global collaboration involving 237 authors from 15 different countries, all shepherded by my friends Drew McLellan in the US and Gavin Heaton in Australia.  Each contributor wrote a one page chapter that falls into one of eight topics relevant to social media and how it is shaping society, marketing, politics and business.

+ Manifestos 

+ Keeping Secrets in the Age of Conversation 

+ Moving from Conversation to Action

+ The Accidental Marketer 

+ A New Brand of Creative

+ My Marketing Tragedy 

+ Business Model Evolution 

+ Life in the Conversation Lane -- Bringing it all back to the individual 

My chapter belongs in the Business Model Evolution section. It is titled "Don't Be Myopic About Social Media."   The Age of Conversation - Why Don't They Get It? offers more perspective on who and what inspired my chapter.

The book is available in 3 versions - hardback, paperback and e-book - and is guaranteed to provide perspective, and help you appreciate and challenge assumptions about this Age of Conversation.

BTW, the first Age of Conversation, involved 104 authors and generated $15,000 for Variety. Age of Conversation 2 is even better given so many talented contributors.

If you'd like to learn more about this book, read It's Here!!! Age of Conversation 2. Now Available...

Thank you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...