Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Centennial Cranberry Farm

Print Friendly and PDF
Centennial Cranberry Farm, Paradise, MI
Thinking about craisins for my oatmeal got me thinking about the Centennial Cranberry Farm up on Whitefish Point.  Whitefish Point is only about 45 minutes north of Birch Lodge on M 123, so we followed the sign pointing off M 123 and went for a visit.
Lake Superior Dune, Whitefish Point MI

The farm is located on a natural cranberry bog adjacent the dunes along Lake Superior's south shore.  It truly feels in a world of its own, with only wild lands bordering it to the west, it seems an outpost.

Cranberries, Whitefish Point, MI

Currently there are thirteen acres of improved fields planted with cultivated strains of cranberries.

Centennial Cranberry Farm was founded in 1876 by John Clarke, the great-uncle of the current owner Loren House.  He had visited the area while working as a fisherman in  1873, and felt that the berries here could be cultivated and turned into a business. 

We met Loren in the gift shop, and were disappointed to learn that the hot dry summer had devastated the crop.  So few berries were produced that they had not been harvested.  He graciously let us wander through the cranberry fields, and told us about the video, equipment and old photos on display for visitors.

For harvest, the fields are usually flooded by pumping water from a small lake bordering the fields, which allows the berries to float to the top of the water as the mechanical harvester threshes the berries off of the vines.

  A boom is then deployed on the water to collect the raft of berries, which are then scooped up a conveyor onto a truck.  The berries are then shipped to Wisconsin for further processing.

Loren said he is thinking of retiring, and is hoping the grandsons will continue to farm the bog, but he is a little uncertain they will continue the business.  I hope they will---this is really a fascinating place to see.   It made our visit with him kind of like the cranberries--a little bittersweet.

Vintage photos and harvest photos curtesy of the Centennial Cranberry Farm....oh and Bill thinks he might make a cranberry farmer.....

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Snow at Birch Lodge

Print Friendly and PDF
Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI
We woke up this morning to our first snow.  It got down to 26 degrees, and as I walked out the door, the frozen leaves crunched beneath my feet.  We will be closing for the season at the end of October, and this snow made me realize how soon  winter will be here.  But there  is always  something special about the first snow....so I took a few shots to share.  

There was a skim of snow on the fire pit, which had a fire ablaze only two nights before, with guests enjoying the night sky..

Boats, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI
The boats too, have been pulled out of the water, and looked ready for the winter.

I walked on down toward the beach, admiring the frosting of snow on the maple leaves.

 Someone once said you know you live in the U.P. when you have to shovel your lawn before you can rake it.  Too true!

My feet were beginning to get cold and wet by the time I made it down to the beach.  The snow here made interesting patterns on the sand.
It made me think of a dusting of powdered sugar.  Which reminded me of the gingerbread I had made yesterday........ My Great-aunt Hannah's recipe, and an old family favorite. I made some coffee and we feasted on our treat.  Now there is....those who loathe puns stop here...
'S no more gingerbread!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trout Lake, MI Salmon Run!

Print Friendly and PDF
Salmon, Carp River, St. Ignace, MI
A couple recently staying with us had grown up in the area, and knew it well.  They were regaling us with stories including fishing for salmon during the salmon run each fall, and they said salmon might be seen right about now.

We had heard tales that Big Trout Lake (aka Carp Lake) will occasionally yield a salmon or two, but we found this hard to believe.  Our electrician also said he remembers pulling salmon and pike out of the area ditches as a boy.  So when things got a little slower, we went salmon hunting--with a camera.

Carp River, Trout Lake, MIThe Carp river flows out of the south end of Big Trout Lake.  A quick look below the on Huckleberry Rd.  certainly yielded no fish.   Nor did the bridge over the Carp at M 123.   So we decided if necessary to go on downstream all the way to it's mouth on Lake Huron,  northeast of St. Ignace.

Carp  River, Trout Lake, MI
The next stop for us downstream was at the access off of East Lake Rd.

  I didn't really expect to see much, but Bill said "Look, THERE!".  Yup.  There was a lonely salmon, biding it's time in a pool in the river.

Salmon,  Carp River, Trout Lake, MI
    I thought there will be more downstream, even though we were probably past the main run.   So off we went.

We stopped at the bridge over the Carp River on the Mackinac Trail, north of St. Ignace.  Walking downstream, Bill spotted some more swimming against the current upstream.
Salmon Run, Carp River, St. Ignace, MI

  The further downstream we walked, the more there were.

  At one point a shallow area of gravel and stone formed almost a rapids that they fought to get up.  Very amazing to watch.

That these were late comers was evident by the number of tracks and dead fish on the waters edge.

We decided to check out the mouth of the river, but found it was too deep to see any fish.

 But I always enjoy looking out on the big lakes, and it seemed a fitting end to our quest... next year this is where it will all begin....again.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Summer Night At Birch Lodge

Print Friendly and PDF
Sunset, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI
This summer some of our guests invited us to join them on the lakeside.  It was a beautiful evening for a fire.

  We had grilled out and spent the evening watching the sun go down and the moon come up.

Sunset, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

One of our guests commented on how the very lake seemed to catch the quiet,
 and settle down for the night.

My only thought was that we ought to do this s'more......

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Colors Birch Lodge 2012

Print Friendly and PDF
Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

The nights have been dipping down into those low 40's and with some sun and day temps getting up into the 50's we have been able to see some color developing on the trees.

  I thought because of the dry summer we might not have much color this year.... but that is not so.

 (I know I already did the blog on mushrooms, but looking at the leaves on the woods trail to the beach I came across this too too perfect photo opportunity!)

 The trees may be a real treat this year if these early indications continue to develop.   I hope the rain will abate and give us a few weeks of real fall glory. 

 Every morning there is more color, and I think that by the end of September it should be beautiful.

  So those of you who are wondering when to come up and do the fall tour---Start making plans!

 The air is crisp so pack a jacket and some gloves, bring the camera, and come on up!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall Mushrooms at Birch Lodge or the Fungus Among Us

Print Friendly and PDF

We have had quite a bit of rain in the last couple of weeks.  This seems to have given rise to an abundance of mushrooms and fungi this fall.

  I have broken out the mushroom field guide, but after reading about the many nuances of mushroom identification, I won't pretend to be able to identify them. 

I thought it would be interesting to figure out if any of these are edible.  Assuming that I did identify them properly, I found that mushrooms seem to fall into edible, non-edible, poisonous, poisonous to some people, and dubious categories. 

I also learned that the morel mushroom commonly consumed as a spring treat is poisonous to some people and it is urged to sample it carefully until you are sure your system will tolerate it.

 It is further recommended that it is to be eaten only in moderation and not consumed over long periods of time.     I think I will keep on picking my mushrooms at the market...I am sure Bill with breathe a sigh of relief here.

So, I will just enjoy their colors and variety.  There are mushrooms on trees, on stumps and through the woods and lawn.

 I seems no matter where you look there they are.  Some are quite pretty and flower like, others are not so pretty and look like....well you judge.....

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seeburg Juke Boxes at Birch Lodge

Print Friendly and PDF
Seeburg Jukeboxes, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake MI
Well, guests escaping the hot weather at Birch Lodge will now have some COOL music to go with the cool breezes.  The 1962 Seeburg console (LPC-1) juke box we played in the Birch Bar before it broke down last year has been repaired.  Even better, the 1953 Seeburg Selecto-O-Matic 100G that we vfound stashed in the corner of one of the old lodge rooms has been repaired and restored. 

1953 Seeburg Selectomatic, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI
Seeburg Select-O-Matic 100G
We wrestled both boxes onto a trailer and hauled them down to Jenison, MI where John Reed of New Play juke box (www.newplayjukebox.com) worked his magic and returned both machines to action.  The Select-O-Matic when originally produced had clear plastic columns on either side of the speaker that had animation.  Bar owners almost immediately began complaining because patrons would break them while "nudging" the machine if their quarter got stuck.  The chrome columns on our machine were designed to survive such treatment. 

Add caption
What brings the Birch Bar past alive in this sense is that the column on our machine below the coin slot had a big old dent in it.  New Play would have replaced it but we had John bump it out and leave ripples - more "authentic."  Besides, Bill won't feel as badly if the juke box needs some nudging  so that he can retrieve one of his quarters(!)

We had some fun rummaging through and loading the Select-O-Matic with old 45rpm records we found stored in the lodge, and the Console box was already loaded.  I'd like to write some more, but the Birch Bar is calling me to sit down and listen to "String of Pearls," "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," "Mac the Knife," and "A Pretty Girl is Like a Memory" . . . Six for a Quarter!!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

American Burying Beetle in Michigan

Print Friendly and PDF
American Burying Beetle
Last night I went into our laundry to get some clothes out of the dryer.  When I stepped in I noticed a smell....I thought there must me a dead mouse somewhere, maybe in the barn next door.  Sniffing my way over to the shared wall, I noticed a bright orange and black colored beetle in my laundry box. 

I thought "But it isn't as big"....thinking back to those other beetles I met a couple of years ago.  I called to Bill, and he scooped the guy up with a dustpan, and tossed it outside---by the way, it gave off a very unpleasant odor....like a dead mouse.  I think the odor in the laundry was from this guy!
(Not Bill--the beetle).

So here is the story of my sighting of the American Burying Beetle, (photo above by Ohio Dept of Natural Resources) which is very rare in Michigan.
We were living over at Blush Lake, in the Big Island Lake Wilderness Area southeast of Munising, MI at the time.

 I was walking along  a path cut into the slope along the west side of the lake, when I noticed a rodent carcass.  It was in the spring, and it was a biggish rodent, smaller than a squirrel, but bigger than a mouse, with few identifying markings.   Always curious, I looked closer, and poked at its bushy tail with a stick to move it out of the leaves and get a better look.   Then it happened....the carcass began to MOVE.   The whole darn thing wiggled and tossed, and flipped over on the hillside in the process.  Then I saw two BIG orange and black beetles, I haven't seen anything like them since I worked down in Mexico--where there are lots of big bugs.  Shocked the heck out of me to see anything like this in the north woods.  (Oh, and I am very familiar with many varieties of dung beetles, and that is sure what they weren't. )   Anyway, in a flash they had burrowed into the ground and were gone. 

Fast forward a year, and we picked up a book on endangered species in Michigan.  Paging through it I saw those beetles.   I mentioned them to the folks at the Forest Service, but no one ever followed up.  So I more or less forgot about it until last night.  
Roundneck Sexton Beetle

Certain that I could not see something that rare twice, I looked up orange and black beetles online and learned that there is a similar beetle called the Roundneck Sexton Beetle, nicrophorus orbicollis ( photo from wikipedia by Michael Oliver)  which is smaller.  I a convinced this is what I saw in my laundry.  But now I am even more certain that what I did see at Blush Lake was the American Burying Beetle.  THEY WERE BIG. 

So there is my story and I'm sticking to it.  Perhaps you may think I have a Beetle in my bonnet, but at least I don't have one in my laundry box.....