Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bouncy Bird

There's a funny little bird I see around the barn now and then. First saw one maybe 3 or 4 years ago. He walks along and, when he's about to reach with his hind leg, he bounces on his leading leg. It's an absolute riot. It's like he's dancing along.

From a distance and not paying much attention I'd thought it was a killdeer. But then a few weeks ago I scared one up along the driveway and thought wait a minute! That doesn't look anything like a killdeer! Actually...doesn't behave much like one either. We have killdeer all around the barn and they're *very* territorial. Go anywhere near them and they run around frantically screaming like little nutbags.

Having a better up close look I got out the field guide to the birds and...I'll be. It's an...

American Woodcock

I've never seen a woodcock out in the open before! I hear them all the time. They're very shy birds. I've seen them take flight in the woods. I even ate one once. It was delicious. Although it would take quite a few of them to satisfy any kind of appetite!

Now this just amazes me. Find the woodcock!

Hover your mouse over the image to find the woodcock!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Taxes and Swallows

Right on time.

The scout swallow was in the barn first thing yesterday morning, 15 April. That just amazes me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Minor Obsessions

I have a couple of minor obsessions. One of them is Limestone, Maine. And, to a lesser extent, Caribou, Maine.

A couple of years ago I'd looked at some property near Limestone and it was then I found Limestone was the home of Loring Air Force, a Cold War SAC base. Being a native New Englander I had a passing acquaintance with Loring. At least I knew there was a big bomber base in Maine. And we all knew the (sometimes daily) weather reports from Caribou were really meant to inform people going to the base.

But there were many things I didn't know. A few facts which gave rise to my interest. For example, Loring Air Force base was the 2nd largest SAC base (over 14,000 acres!). Had the highest fuel capacity of any SAC base and, most interestingly, secret of course at the time, the largest weapons storage capacity in all of SAC.

At one time the arch hangar at Loring AFP, one of the largest in the world, was the largest arched roof structure in the United States. Six B-52s could simultaneously park in the double cantilever hangar. Both of these structures are still standing.

Loring had not just one, but two runways. Three miles long!

Loring was closed in September 1994. And here's what I found fascinating, sad, but fascinating. The base closing was a catastrophe for the region. At its peak the base population was over 10,000. The base provided another 1000 civilian jobs. And yet another 12,000 lived in nearby Limestone. The population combined I think was somewhere around 22,500.

When the base closed the population of Limestone dropped to almost 2,000. That just amazed me. Teachers. Service stations. Furniture stores. Appliance stores. Hardware stores. Pizza shops. IGA Foodliner. All of them just...vanished. Almost overnight. And of course that put even further pressure on the remaining population, now having to travel to Caribou or Presque Isle just to find a hardware store. And you can just imagine what happened to real estate.

Today the old Loring Air Force base is the Loring Commerce Center, which has been largely successful, with tenants providing almost 1000 jobs and the rest of the region is agricultural use. Farmers. Mostly potatoes. But apparently the region is also the largest producer of broccoli in the US. I had no idea!

I just found the whole thing fascinating. So I read their papers now and then and I see one of their more prominent tenants, Sitel, announced in February that they're moving to Caribou. Those people have worked really hard to make all that work and I think that's probably going to hurt.
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