January 20, 2018

Archives for September 2011

Wolgast Tree Farm Remembers Rich Guadagno – Wildlife Biologist & Flight 93 Hero

 Like so many people who will be observing the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks and remembering the thousands of lives that were lost, Wolgast Tree Farm would like to share our memories of one person in particular who died as a result of the attacks: Richard Guadagno.

 Rich was one of Len’s wildlife students when he taught wildlife ecology and management at Cook College – Rutgers University.  Len has always taken immense pride when his former students took the learning opportunities he presented and then through their own hard work and character, cultivated those experiences so they blossomed into fulfilling and meaningful wildlife careers.  Rich certainly fit that bill.  Rich was an excellent student, hard worker, fun to be around and a consummate wildlife professional who was respected by all who knew him.  He had an extraordinary curiosity of the world which vented itself in a wide range of interests: gardening, cooking, fishing, stained glass artist, classical guitarist (who then went on to build a guitar himself), taxidermy, astronomy, furniture building, and more.  Yet for all his accomplishments and his many interests at which he excelled, he was not one who was obsessed with making sure you knew what a great person he was.  Self-effacing, sincere, forthright, caring and the definition of a nice guy, he truly represented the best that the wildlife profession, this country and humankind had to offer.  

Tragically, on September 11, 2001, Rich was a passenger on Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, PA.  He had been in New Jersey to celebrate his grandmother’s 100th birthday and was on his way home to Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California where he was the refuge manager.  A trained federal law enforcement officer, Rich undoubtedly was among the passengers who charged the cockpit to get the plane away from the hijackers.  Ten years later, as we think of his life and the overwhelming pain from that day, we are deeply honored to have known Richard and carry his memory with us, and still shake our heads in disbelief and disgust over his death.   We wish his family and all who suffered the loss of loved ones on that day our deepest sympathies.

Hurricane Irene’s Aftermath At Wolgast Tree Farm

It’s been over a week since Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey and although many areas are still dealing with serious problems caused by the storm, and now even more rain, Wolgast Tree Farm was very fortunate to come through virtually unscathed. 

Honeybees bringing nectar & pollen back to the hive after Hurricane Irene.

Our bee hives stayed upright and “the girls” (worker honeybees are all female) were out and about looking for pollen and nectar by 10:30 am Sunday the day after the storm.  

To our amazement, none of the trees that line our driveway blew over.  

Cutting a blown over tree for firewood

Some of our maple trees that we’ve tapped in the past to make maple syrup lost many branches, and one had the top broken off completely, so syrup production will likely be lower in 2012.  

One cherry tree by our house had blown over, but missed power lines and other structures so it wasn’t a big deal.  We cut it up for firewood.

White pine seedling with "donut hole" around its base.

So far, the only storm-related problem with our Christmas trees involves the seedlings we planted this past spring.  The heavy rains saturated the soil and that combined with the severe winds to whip the seedlings around which created “donut holes” around the base.  These openings are a problem because the roots are more likely to lose moisture when its dry, and during the colder months the roots can be exposed to freezing.  Both can stress the seedlings and hamper growth.  We’ll need to walk the rows and check each seedling for any gaps and close the ones we find. 

Rains from Hurricane Irene caused our Shiitake mushroom logs to fruit.

One tiny positive that came from Irene was that the rain she brought caused many of the logs we inoculated last year with shiitake mushroom spawn to fruit.  Sautéed in butter and garlic, or prepared a zillion other ways, shiitake mushrooms

Headed for the frying pan!

are a tasty treat. Having produced them ourselves brings a sense of satisfaction, and puts a little twist on the adage of making lemonade when life hands you lemons.   

Wolgast Tree Farm feels very lucky to have made it through Hurricane Irene with so little damage, and we keep in our thoughts the many others who had, and in many cases continue to have, great difficulties as a result of the storm.  We hope everyone is safe and that life gets back to normal as soon as possible.