Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wiggin Farm - Tuttle Swamp Conservation Area, Newmarket NH

We had a very busy weekend. We spent a lot of time meeting with landscapers to have some new walkways quoted, making a lawn care supply trip to Lowes and ultimately, working on the lawn most of the day, Sunday. However, we made a commitment to try to be active outside (more than just working in the yard) every weekend moving forward, so today after the lawn was aerated and fertilized, we decided to head over to the Wiggin Farm - Tuttle Swamp Conservation Area in Newmarket, NH. It's pretty close to where we live and we have driven by it so many times, but have never stopped to explore it. Today we did and it was worth the short amount of time to get over there and walk the loop.

There's a PDF file online which has some information on this conservation area as well as a map showing the conservation boundaries and the trails associated. It is 160 acres, with 25 of them being open field. Apparently, this land was slated for 22 house lots a few years back, but the Town of Newmarket purchased the land and saved the ecosystem to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Map at Kiosk

Bridge at Trailhead

The parking area is just off from Grant Road and can easily fit many cars. When we arrived, there were multiple people walking their dogs as well as people trail running. There is a nice sign at the beginning of the trail. There's also a kiosk with a map and information. We started up the trailhead, which was essentially a mowed, grass path heading east into a very large field. Jill and I were on foot, and the munchkin was in the Kelty child carrier on my back.

 View from Near the Trailhead

Trees Across the Meadow

We had blue skies, which was great, but the temperature was a little cooler than we had expected. Since the grade was uphill, we warmed up quickly. At the field's highpoint, we came to a white bench and a small sign on the side of the trail which gave information on the farm birds that frequent the area. We found, as we continued up the trail, there were many of these signs with interesting facts regarding the insects, mammals (including moose, which I found strange because moose are rather rare this far south), amphibians and birds that lived in this habitat. At this first point where we paused, there was also an old piece of farm equipment, probably a horse drawn plow or something of that nature. I wondered if it was actually left behind on the property after the farm was abandoned or if it was placed there for decorative reasons.

First Bench on Trail

One of many signs explaining the animals that live in this ecosystem

Old farm equipment, possibly abandoned or placed for decoration

As we continued on, we passed by some foundations (for an old farm house or barn) and what I thought might be old dug well sites. On the east most side of the field, I noticed the historical stonewalls that made up the field boundaries, were well preserved and cleared out nicely.

Old foundations of possibly the farmhouse or barn that once stood on this property

Another picture of the meadow from the northeast corner

Trail heading into the woods

We finally circled back on the northern border of the field and headed west. It wasn't long before we saw that you could head into the woods on another trail if you desired. We obviously wanted to do this and headed into the forest. Right away, I noticed that we were in a small grove of cedar trees. Cedar trees are around this area, but are rare without a doubt! It was great to see so many of them and some were rather large too.

Some of the cedar trees we saw

Rocks and metal pieces at the base of a white birch tree in the woods, seemed very out of place

The trail lead us to a swamp area and a small pond. I've yet to find a name for the pond, but I imagine it does have one. I was surprised to see no signs of life, no turtles, no frogs, no birds, etc. Maybe it's just too early. The only signs of real life we saw (or rather heard) were song birds, which Lylah kept pointing out when they were singing.

Pond at the edge of the woods in Tuttle Swamp

Well maintained stonewalls

When we headed out of the woods and back into the meadow, we had a better view of the pond. I recall seeing trees in the background and noticing how nicely the colorful buds looked on the skyline. I tried my best to capture this color, but my camera didn't do a good job.

Colorful tree buds over the pond

Shot taken on the way out, moon is visible as it's late in the day.

We finally made it back to the original trail we had walked in on, which completed our loop. At that point, we took Lylah out and let her walk the last 100 yards or so to get her out of the pack. It was at that point we noticed Lylah did something she loves to do on our hikes. She threw a toy out of the pack at some point, which was unknown to us. So, I decided to do the loop one more time, double-time (and my hiking boots are not comfortable to run in!), to find her stuffed dolphin that her auntie bought her. She has ridden in the pack three times, and three times she has thrown her toys out and made us retrace our steps...but that is a post for a different day.

This conservation area is a great, quick walk. It's a great place to go for a family hike, do some trail running or walk your dog. It's pretty easy to find and is not far from any of the southeastern towns in New Hampshire. I plan on revisiting this conservation area soon to see if I can find any wildflowers this season. This was definitely a great place to end our busy weekend.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Let's Take a Vote!

Okay, so recently, we've found that Oscar, our woodchuck that lives just on the outskirts or our property, has found a new dwelling. Apparently, he has created a penthouse under our front porch steps. Obviously, to get access, he has created two holes to get under there (one on each side of the front steps). 

Now, I love woodchucks, whereas most think they are a nuisance. My wife wants to trap him (humanely of course) and "relocate" him to a place where he will not eat our flowers and need holes at our front steps. I say, live and let live! I consider him to be part of the family now. Also, I caught him guarding our front door the other day (see picture below :) ). 

So, let's take a vote. Should we keep Oscar where he is (which is what I want), or should we humanely relocate him (which is what Jill wants).

Oscar, guarding our front door!

Oscar, finding his next snack next to our front steps.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where Have I Been???

Where have I been? That's a great question! It's been almost four months since my last posting. I hate not adding content to this blog as it is one of my favorite pastimes. However, I've been busy with other things lately, mostly having to do with work and the new house. I haven't had much time to get outside and be active, participate in the online hiking community or write on this blog. I'm hoping that will change now that spring is upon us.

As I just mentioned, I wasn't able to get outside much this past winter. One of my goals was to take snowboarding lessons and unfortunately, that fell through. Jill and I were able to get up to Jackson for one night in February, which was our first night away from the baby (thanks Grammy and Grampy). Since it was only one night, we didn't have much time to do anything outside like snowshoeing or learning how to cross-country ski. Hopefully next year, we'll be able to get up there for a few nights over the winter months so we can play in the snow more!

Also, due to this winter, my running has really suffered. I've only been able to get out once a week at best, which really isn't enough time to keep my endurance up. This week, I've gone twice (and my legs are jello) and hope to maintain a minimum of three times a week through the summer...we'll see what happens. 

So what's coming up? I'm really not sure. Jill and I are going to be committed to getting outside at least once a week, whether that is a local nature walk, a hike or visiting a local farm to let Lylah pet the cows. I hope to start capturing these moments again here, as I have in the past. This weekend, we plan on heading over to the Wiggin Farm Conservation Area to see how the nature path is. If we make it, I will definitely snap some shots and share them.

Thanks everyone, for continuing to come back, even after my short break! More to follow soon...