Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Centennial Cranberry Farm

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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

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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!

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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

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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......