Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Evening Bird Ramble with Great Barrington Trails and Greenways

Field season is in full swing and many birds have come and gone since May.  The Kellogg Conservation Center hosted an Evening Bird Ramble program in May in partnership with our friends from the Great Barrington Trails and Greenways, a project of the GB Land Conservancy.  

Our local experts and Appalachian Trail supporters and volunteers, the Wards, were of great help.  A fellow-birder and A.T. partner from Mass Parks/Mass DCR and his wife also attended and were great resources.  Other area birders also attended.  With such great knowledge and birding habitat at our fingertips, the newcomers to birding had a lot of guidance.
Warming up the binos

We at the Applachian Trail Conservancy's Kellogg Conservation Center are lucky to have an abundance of habitat zones for birds. We have yard, field, field edge, and forest cover, and a small wet meadow area. We started around the Kellogg Center yard with the Tree and Barn Swallows, and the common Robin, Goldfinch, Bluebirds, and sparrows.  Some in the group were lucky enough to see the Scarlet Tanager fly overhead.  As we walked the field edge habitat we were able to hear and observe several Bobolinks and the Red Eyed Vireo. As we approached the wet meadow we heard the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, and Goldfinch. 

Then walking on a mowed path toward the AT, we were treated to Bobolinks again, as well as Cedar Waxwings, Song Sparrows, and an Eastern Kingbird.

On the AT

Those that work for the ATC and AMC that went on the birdwalk were very excited to learn about all the species of birds that they may hear or see while walking the property in the future.  Attendees requested more bird walks, which we hope to host more in the future. 

Final species list circle

Thursday, July 9, 2015

1744 Homestead Tour

We recently had a family contact the Kellogg Conservation Center to schedule a tour of the historic homestead, which was built in 1744.  The family has some members that still live in the Great Barrington area.  About 20 family members from the area and beyond arrived on a recent Saturday morning for a tour.

It was very interesting to see eyes of those that spent lots of time here share their memories with those that didn't. We learned a lot of past history about certain parts of the house, barn, outbuildings and property.  

Ownership History: 
The Bacon family owned the property in 1790, and it was passed down through the women to the Warner's where it stayed until the mid 1960s as a Warner-Potts family property before it was sold to the next owners, the McGoldricks, before it was sold to Mary Margaret Kellogg.

Fun facts learned: 
-There was an outhouse between the rear barn (our current office) and the house, which wasn't an adjoined buliding.
- A lightening fireball went through the kitchen, living room, and exited through the open screen door where the well and former driveway once were.  A grandson was sitting in the living room when it happened.
-Lightening also struck the top rafter in the blue barn near a light fixture.  It traveled across the roof, down the wall following the electrical line, and to the milking parlor where one cow, sadly died (standing in liquid). You can see the scar on the beam.
-The hay stored in the barn was all loose hay, and we still have parts of the pulley system there and the system was explained in detail to them.
-The woodbox for the fireplace is intact and in our blue barn.
-The property was very windy and snow often drifted above the kitchen and pantry windows.  Both the kitchen and pantry were in the same spot, but had a different layout.
-You could see to Warner Road and across Route 41 for a long ways as there were not lots of trees.
-The current downstairs bathroom and bedroom were part of the milking, laundry, and farming storage area.
-They sold gas and farm goods along the side of the road in an outbuilding.
-The upstairs backrooms/hall were closed off in summer (too hot, and no insulation), and generally the upstairs wasn't used as much in winter as it was too hard to heat. 
-The parlor on the south side of the house was also closed off in winter (too hard to heat), but was opened for Christmas gatherings, where a fire, tree, and all the family would cram into the room and complain of how hot it was that one day.
-There is a brick oven in the wall next to the living room/kitchen fireplace.  The cookstove was in front of it.  The basement had a wood heat boiler.
-There was porch along the front of the house.
-Members of the family helped out around the farm, but often worked at their other grandparent's farm nearby.
-They recall the pond on the west side of the property being an actual pond, which is is not anymore.
-The upstairs south-facing bedroom was divided in half and the boys slept on one side, and other family members slept in the other.  The back hall/steep staircase was off-limits to kids and often closed as it wasn't insulated.
-Grandma Warner old got mad twice (once was when the grandaughter fell into Smiley's Pond, which is down the street).