Hauser Creek, Seven Years Later

 A view of Hauser Creek from atop the Back Forty, March 27, 2018

A view of Hauser Creek from atop the Back Forty, March 27, 2018

I have not written about Hauser Creek in a long time but this blog has been percolating in my mind since the first of the year and especially the last few days. Some of you might remember back in 2011 Hauser Creek underwent restoration by the State of North Carolina as part of the Clean Water Act. For the most part we have been pleased with how the project turned out because it didn't take long to notice a glut of wildlife drawn to the bottom land. 

Before 2011, I cannot remember a time when beavers were an issue on the farm. That changed in 2013. We started noticing small dams on the creek. No big deal, but it did bring to mind what can happen when one intervenes with Mother Nature. I wasn't too concerned at the time because the State was regularly monitoring the project and they were aware of beaver activity. However, with each passing year the presence of beavers and their destruction has gotten increasingly significant as shown in the photos taken today and yesterday. The photos aren't pretty, sorry!

So I've been reading up on beavers and here's what I learned. They are known as "nature's architects." Beavers are one of the few animals that actually modify the environment to suit their own purposes. In the process, they create a new environment - a wetland. Beavers are attracted to slow-moving streams that have muddy bottoms and plenty of trees or shrubs. Bark and leaves make great beaver food. At one time, beavers were nearly extinct, but they have made a huge comeback. Yes, right!  

You cannot stop a beaver from cutting trees and building dams. A beaver family will cut down as many as 300 trees a year and can gnaw through a good-sized one in 15 minutes. At the farm, this is a real problem because hundreds of native trees were planted in the conservation easement. They all taste good to the beavers! Beavers want their home flooded, and that is exactly what they have done to Hauser Creek which has currently spilled out of its banks and flooded the creek bottoms downstream. I wish the State would have intervened more aggressively when the beavers first showed up. Trapping is sometimes used but not in this case, for reasons I don't know why. No chance the beavers will just up and leave because I've read they are territorial and once established they form tight family groups that are hard to get rid of.

So, I'm not too excited about the creek these days. Having the bottom land flooded makes it near impossible to navigate part of the farm and keep it maintained. Yes, I have asked myself if this project was a good idea after all, and I'm not so sure.... Of course, the State has been notified. Maybe someone will see this post.

 

Spring Soiree at Hauser Creek Farm Coming in May

 Yarrow at Hauser Creek Farm

Yarrow at Hauser Creek Farm

Spring officially arrives in 7 days although it sure doesn't feel like it this week! I wanted to let you know about an event at the farm coming in May. Please save the date for Thursday, May 10, 5 o'clock pm until. It will be prime peony time so make plans to come and get a bunch just in time for Mother's Day weekend. Peonies are priced $3.00 per stem. Open to all! Munchies and beverages available. Please feel free to bring a dish to share if you want to stay awhile and eat a potluck meal. Come on down!  

October: Here's to Fall at Hauser Creek Farm

 Field flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Field flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Hello, October. Fall is definitely in the air around here and the farm is blooming! If you have a minute, take a look back at my post from May which included a photo similar to the scene above. These flowers were sown in early spring and they peaked around the middle of May. By late July this whole area was invaded with weeds and the flowers spent. I haven't kept good notes this year but I think it was the last week in July when I bush hogged it down, thinking at the time that maybe I might get a second bloom. Sure enough! Only this time around there's sulfur (aka orange) cosmos in the mix which is perfect for autumn. Many of the perky blooms have gone into mason jar centerpieces that I've put together for various functions off-farm. I enjoy simply resting my eyes on this scene when I'm working, and it's been a haven for busy bees and butterflies.

 Bucket of fresh-picked flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Bucket of fresh-picked flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

In keeping with the spirit of autumn, I recently bought a bushel of wine sap apples and have been plowing through them baking all sorts of pies, and this French-themed apple lavender frangipane, which I love! Frangipane is a type of rich pastry cream typically containing ground almonds except in this case I used almond flour. Check out the recipe, below, which I adapted from relishmag.com. If you do not have lavender sugar, no worries. Simply use regular granulated sugar, and vanilla extract can be used in place of lavender extract.

 Lavender-infused apple frangipane with fresh borage flowers for garnish

Lavender-infused apple frangipane with fresh borage flowers for garnish

Prepare the crust: Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium-size bowl; cut in 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (cut into pieces) with a pastry blender. Add 2 tablespoons ice cold water or just enough to make mixture come together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. 

Roll out the dough placing the plastic wrap underneath the dough as you roll. Roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan. Lift dough using the edges of the plastic wrap as a guide and flip it into the pan. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Press the pastry into the pan, folding edges over if necessary to fit even with the rim. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

While pastry is baking prepare the frangipane: Combine 6 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup lavender sugar in the bowl of a food processor; top with cover and process until combined. Add 3/4 cup almond flour, 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 egg, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon lavender extract, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Spread mixture in the pastry shell. Peel, core, and thinly slice 2 large apples; arrange apple slices in a pretty pattern on top of the frangipane. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes or until puffy and golden. Let cool completely before serving. Serves 8.  

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