New England Trip 2012 – Day 10 – Chatham to Woods Hole, Cape Cod MA
With the first clouds of Hurricane Sandy beginning to appear off to the south of our location, we decided that it would be a good idea for us to begin heading back north to Ottawa. We had spent two nights at the Queen Anne Inn in Chatham. Since their cook was getting married on the weekend, that meant that, with the family and friends coming in for the wedding, the proverbial “No Room At The Inn” would apply and we would need to be packing anyway.
So, as our loose-knit plans were formulated over breakfast, we decided that we would drive to Woods Hole to see that part of the Cape, visit some of the Woods Hole Oceanographic properties, and then drive north towards home. When I had entered University in the 60’s, I had wanted to become an Ichthyologist and Oceanographer, not a common course selection on the Canadian Prairies, at the time. If I had pursued that line of study further, Woods Hole might have been my end point, so going there had greater interest to me than just the scenery.
As those who follow my blogs know, I like to photograph fire hydrants with their many different shapes and color combinations. This particular morning was no exception even though the fire hydrant that I decided to photograph, was wearing its green camouflage colors and trying to hide among some foliage :-).
As we drove along, it was interesting to see the various churches that had pumpkins for sale and we often wondered how many of them might disappear overnight, perhaps many, perhaps none. The greatest pumpkin choice that we saw along today’s route was on the front lawn of the West Yarmouth Congregational Church – plenty of sizes and shapes to choose from.
Not too much further along the highway, we came to a commercial cranberry bog. It was the first time that I had been at a cranberry bog at harvest time so it was really quite interesting to see what they were doing and to talk to the folks selling the berries (I unfortunately misplaced the name of the farm and people so hopefully someone reading this will be able to supply that information again).
When the cranberries are ready for harvesting, they can be harvested by a dry method for the roadside trade or wet-harvested for the commercial juice and packaged cranberry market. To harvest them for the dry berry roadside market, a multi-tined scoop is used to separate the berries from the plants and then humans get to do the tedious job of picking out unripe berries the leaf and branch debris before selling the berries to the happy customer.
In order to harvest cranberries using the wet method, the cranberry bog is flooded with water and then specialized equipment is used to shake the plants and separate the cranberries from the plants. Since the cranberries are hollow, they float to the surface of the pond, thus enabling the farmer to harvest them from the surface of the pond with a large vacuum-like hose.
At this particular operation, there were three connected bog areas so, once one had been harvested, the water was pumped over to the next bog area. Once there is enough water covering the plants, the shakers are brought into action to separate the berries from the plants.
In order to know where they have already been, the operator of the equipment pushes poles into the soft bog to mark where they have been and then can line up for the next pass.
After they have plenty of berries floating on the surface, the ‘vacuum’ truck is moved into position and berries and water are sucked from the surface and pumped into the truck.
The ducks and Canada Geese love the cranberry bogs but apparently they are not the farmer’s friends!
The weather was great and I think that I could have sat there all day watching the harvest underway but our destination was Woods Hole so off we went again.