Category Archives: Country Life

Weekend Links: 03/23/17

© J.N. Urbanski

Saturday March 25th, Trout Tales: All Things Fly Fishing at Spillian in Fleischmanns.

Saturday March 25th, The Tanning Industry and How It’s Changed at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper.

Saturday March 25th, Designing with Native Plants at the Phoenicia Library.

Saturday March 25th, Childrens’ Art Workshop at MURAL on Main, 631 Main Street in Hobart, NY. Students aged 6-12 will learn about using color in art and then create their own cray-pas on canvas painting. All necessary materials and instruction will be provided and creativity will be encouraged. The cost for this workshop is $5 and sign up is available through the workshop page on the MURAL website or by calling the gallery at (607) 538-3002.

If you’re a landowner and wish to lease your land to farmers, here’s a workshop running on April 1st in Delaware County and April 8th in Otsego County, that might be useful from CADE, the Center for Agricultural Development & Enterpreneurship.

Buses converted into mobile grocery stores for low income neighborhoods: a great idea for the Catskills.

Thirteen things I learnt as a market farmer, from Women Who Farm.

Old books converted into art and sculpture.

Main Street Boot Camp

Sign up for Main Street Bootcamp, on April 3rd and 4th, a two-day conference filled with workshops, panel discussion and “side cafes” focussed on how to generate local solutions for the issues facing our business community and Main Streets. Run by the MARK Project and sponsored by O’Connor Foundation, Catskill Watershed Corporation, NY State Department of State and NYS Homes and Community Renewal, American Express, and WIOX Radio, attendees will look “for local solutions to local problems”. Join in and have your say in the beautiful setting of Andes, 110 Main Street, Andes, NY 13731. $40 fee includes food.

Weekend Links: 02/23/17

© J.N. Urbanski 1.50pm

Weekend camping resets the body clock, says the BBC.

Saturday February 25th: A group reading of Macbeth with beer at Reynolds & Reynolds in Woodstock.

Cosmik Ice Cream, maker of freeze-dried ice cream that will never melt, visits Woodchuck Lodge. In these temperatures, nothing is melting up here, but for us trustees of Woodchuck Lodge, this is lovely publicity.

Governor Cuomo pledges $8 million in state funds for Belleayre Ski Resort.

Woodstock Farm Festival looking for vendors.

The Catskills’ own Lisbeth Firmin’s talk “Painting and Prints” on March 17th at William & Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education in North Carolina.

Catskill Center is accepting applications for the Platte Clove Artist in Residence Program.

Weekend Links: Another January Closes

© J.N. Urbanski

Leave it to the inestimable Park Rangers to impress us with their louche cool and a rogue Twitter account – and those fantastic outfits. Get all the other hilarious rogue Twitter accounts here at CNN from NASA and other regional Park Service employees.

Tonight, a Scottish Weekend begins at the historical Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz.

Catskill Park Coalition Information Session at the Catskill Center tomorrow, Saturday January 28th.

Next Friday, February 3rd, The Annual Winter Hoot at the Ashokan Center.

For writers, a Museum of Linguistics is arriving in Washinton DC called “Planet Word”.

Upstate Dispatch Retro Links

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A local cocktail, Vly Creek Vodka Lemonade with local maple syrup and vodka.

My description of the most breathtakingly beautiful climb on the Catskills 35, Balsam Mountain. My first peak on my mission to hike the Catskills 35, Panther Mountain. By the way, don’t steal signs! Hikers rely on them.

My thoughts on being introduced to camping.

A spring day out to plan: a swim in Big Pond, then a visit to buy some local trout.


Weekend Links: 01/14/17

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A Call For Entry at the Center for Photography in Woodstock: CPW’s WOODSTOCK AIR is a residency program for US-based artists and critics/scholars/curators of color, working in photography. Deadline is Monday January 16th.

A Writer’s Evening at the Stamford Library, 117 Main Street, Stamford, NY on Monday January 16th at 7pm. Sign up to present your latest work.

Governor Cuomo announced plans to develop a hiking trail across New York State by 2020. The plan include “filling in” gaps between already existing trails in NYS. This amazing trail, once laid, will be the longest in the nation and connect Lake Erie in Buffalo to the Capital Region and New York City to Canada (connecting with the Capital Region).

If you’re interested in hiking the Catskills 35, join the Catskills 3500 Club. Sign up for scheduled hikes. Next week Saturday January 21st, there is a schedule bushwhack (no marked or maintained trail) to North Dome and Sherrill Mountains. Peaks that have no trail are easiest to navigate in winter when there is no foliage blocking your view.

Buy or sell your produce through Lucky Dog Farm Hub.

The first of two workshops on Lambing and Kidding at Heather Ridge Farm, 989 Broome Center Road, Preston Hollow, NY on Saturday January 21st at 11am.

Young at Art at the Roxbury Arts Group: an art exhibit for children. Opening reception at 11am on Saturday January 21st.

The Phoenicia Library hosts Invasive Plants and How To Deal With Them next week Saturday January 21st at 10.30am – a must if your land is being taken over by invasive species.

A Beginning Farmers and Ranchers training program in Oneonta, NY beginning next month.


A Cozy Winter’s Evening in Hobart

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

As winter draws closer and dusk settles at 4.30pm, the tendency is to batten down the hatches, fire up the wood stove and curl up on the sofa with a book. This is also the perfect way to get cabin fever and it’s easy to go days or even weeks without socializing. The Brits handle their cabin fever by frequent attendance down the pub. A gloomy British winter – one that extends all the way from summer’s end to the following summer – would be unbearable without a local pub. Hobart now has one, The Bull & Garland and I think we’ve mentioned here how truly authentic and cozy it is. Hobart is called the Catskills’ “book village” and it’s modeled after another British tradition: Hay on Wye’s annual book festival.

Co-incidentally, Creative Corner Books in Hobart, a stone’s throw from the pub, is hosting a jewelry-making class on December 8th from 7pm to 8.30pm. It really couldn’t get any better: a few pints, a Scotch egg, books, more books and then some hilarious wrangling with a pair of tweezers and some tiny beads – or the other way around. Run by Heather Rolland, the class will teach the basics of earring making. The cost is $15 per pair of earrings inclusive of instruction and materials.

Creative Corner Books, 607 Main Street, Hobart, NY (607) 386-2525
The Bull & Garland, 760 Main St, Hobart, NY 13788 (607) 538-3006

Fall Festivals in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

On Friday October 7th from 4pm to 7pm on Main Street in Margaretville, come and enjoy a harvest festival with a range of activities including pumpkin carving with the Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild; demonstration on how to press your own cider apples; a costume parade and contest for adults, kids and dogs.

Union Grove Distillery will be offering samples of their vodka. Stick in the Mud will have waffle dogs as well as their super fun Belgian waffles on a stick. There will be chili and cornbread for sale from local chefs. Catskill Candies and Confections will offer samples of their chocolates. The Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop will be open late and running a special bag sale.

Plein Air painter Alix Travis will be creating artwork depicting the evening’s activities. Entertainment will be provided by Ben Rounds. Stores will be open late as part of this First Friday event sponsored by the Business Association of Margaretville. Admission is free.

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Catskill Center Hosts Fall Gala

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Catskill Center is hosting a fundraising gala at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper on Saturday, October 9th from 5pm to 8pm. Find tickets here.

The Catskill Center promises an evening of delicious local cuisine, libations and musical performance by Spirit of Thunderheart, five native American drummers, Donna Coane, Debbie Fichtner, Brenda Martin, JoJo Griffin and Wynona Decker. Spirit of Thunderheart are awardees of the 2014 Native American Music Awards’ Best Traditional, 1st place and the 2015 Best Group of the Year, 2nd place. There will also be music by Skye, which is Celtic cellist Abby Newton, guitarist Lynn Hrdy, and keyboardist Selma Kaplan.

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Catskills Weekend: 10/1-2/16

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Saturday Cider Pressing: The Hubbell Family Cider Mill on Route 30 in Halcotsville, which has been pressing apples since 1878, opens its doors to the public on October 1st and every Saturday in October. The press will start promptly at **12.30pm***, so please be on time. I will be interviewing Burr Hubbell and Andrew on WIOX Radio on October 3rd at 9am to discuss the history of the Catskills apple and farming in the region. Hubbell Family Farm, 46124 State Highway 30, Margaretville, NY 12455.

***The time for the cider pressing has moved forward to 12.30pm from the originally stated 11am.***

Pony Palooza at Rosemary Farm: A pony party at the horse sanctuary with games, food, music, and ponys. There will be demonstrations with the horses; local vendors with special offerings, pumpkins and corn; horseshoes, coloring and a chance to meet, pet and maybe even hug your favorite RF horse. Tickets are $7.50 in advance, $10 at the door, with limited admission. (Note that the Tack Sale is outside the ticketed area, you may come and shop for free). Rosemary Farm Horse Sanctuary, 1646 Roses Brook Road, South Kortright, NY 13842.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The 13th Annual Lark in the Park run by the Catskill Center, a non-profit devoted to conservation and development in the Catskills, begins on October 1st and runs to October 10th. The event offers hiking, paddling, cycling, fishing, nature walks and lectures as well as cultural and educational events throughout the entire Catskill region.

And, finally, an artist’s reception on October 1st from 1pm to 3pm in Margaretville – see below for details:



Weekend Links: Food & Nature

© J.N. Urbanski 7.30am

© J.N. Urbanski

This is your brain on nature from National Geographic.

“Rewilding” the English landscape from the BBC.

The Leave It On The Lawn Campaign for soil health from the DEC.

The UK’s first food waste supermarket.

The dark side of “agritainment” by Civil Eats. “Farmers in Sonoma County—real farmers with dirt under their fingernails and aching backs—make an average of $12.21 an hour, or just under $34,000 a year. The average household income in the U.S. for small farmers (the 82 percent of U.S. farming operations that have annual sales of $100,000 or less) is $81,000. Around 85 to 95 percent of that income number comes from off-farm day jobs”.

Autumn Happenings

© J.N. Urbanski Noon

© J.N. Urbanski Noon

In some ways, Autumn is a better time for Catskills living. The region relies greatly on tourism because it remains under-developed. In order to keep our waterways clean so that New Yorkers can drink the Catskills water unfiltered, industry is heavily regulated. As a consequence of this, friends and neighbors are never more busy than they are in the summer with events and visitors. The wedding industry is booming; hairdressers, chefs, caterers, make-up artists, photographers, hotels and inns are realizing good trade in this speciality event. Autumn is creeping in and although there are still events during this time, there is a general, collective sigh of relief occurring as the business winds down. Country life remains hard work year-round though. We’re not running through sun-drenched hay fields like its a shampoo commercial, but it will be nice to play catch-up with friends and colleagues in these coming months.

The Hubbell Family Cider Mill on Route 30 in Halcotsville, which has been pressing apples since 1878, opens its doors to the public on October 1st and every Saturday in October. All are invited to come and watch apples being pressed. Details will be released closer to the time. I will be interviewing Burr Hubbell and Andrew on WIOX Radio on October 3rd at 9am to discuss the history of the Catskills apple and farming in the region.

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Catskills Weekend: Labor Day Edition

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Friday September 2nd 9 – 9.30pm: The 3rd Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers

From a high place in the Catskills, witness the 3rd Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers when from 9 – 9.30pm, we are invited to find a place with a view of a fire tower or towers on the horizon and watch their cabin light up the night sky.

Saturday September 3rd, 10am – 3pm: Tour of the Sculpture Garden at the Catskill Interpretive Center

The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center is the gateway to the Catskill Park. Located on a 60 acre site, the Catskill Interpretive Center includes sculpture installations which are chosen by jury and displayed for a year. Come and see the 2016/2017 installation and get a tour by the artists who created the sculptures (not suitable for children under 8 years of age).

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Catskills Weekend: July 30th & 31st


Saturday July 30th and Sunday 31st, Catskills artists will open their doors to the public, in a pre-arranged tour, so that you can take a peek behind the scenes in an artist’s studio. 20 artists are taking part in the tour, but four of us are without a studio. We’ll be showing in the Grange Hub in Halcotsville opposite the old Lake Wawaka Hose #1, a few steps downhill from the Holy Innocents’ Church. Artists are en route throughout the countryside between the villages of Arkville, Margaretville and Roxbury.

Interested visitors can plan their tour by going to the website and printing out the map. You can also visit the Facebook page here. Glossy, color pamphlets with all the details are also widely available locally. (See bottom of the post for artists’ work.)

The project is the brainchild of local Catskills artist Alix Travis, who was inspired to start the tour after having done similar tours herself in other communities. Studio tours are a glimpse behind the scenes to explore methods and process, swap notes and absorb the creative atmosphere. What’s special about art is that identical processes can result in wildly differing effects when they’re employed by different artists and that’s fun to watch for everyone. What’s a good process for one artist isn’t necessarily good for other artists, but it’s fun to push the envelope and experiment.

Saturday July 30th, The Oak Hill Preservation Society & Preserved Instincts presents the DOPE JAMS OAK HILL DAY Open Air Party from 4pm to 10pm. Buses will run from Brooklyn to the Catskills. 7892 Rt 81, Main St, Oak Hill, New York 12460: more details here.

Saturday July 30th an artists’ reception at Windham Fine Arts on 5380 Main Street
Windham, NY 12496. The show runs through September 7th.

Saturday July 30th: Manhattan in the Mountains continues with its faculty concert at 8pm. Manhattan in the Mountains on Route 23A, Hunter, NY 12442.

Friday July 29th, Saturday July 30th & Sunday July 31st: Drive-In Movie: Jaws at the Greenville Theatre, 10700 Route 32 Greenville, NY 12083.

© Lisbeth Firmin

© Lisbeth Firmin

© Lisbeth Firmin

© Lisbeth Firmin

Barn Door by Oneida Hammond

Barn Door by Oneida Hammond

Catskills Weekend: 7/23 & 24/16

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski


The LongYear Gallery has been showing the works of Linda Lariar, Catskills artist, since July 16th. Linda is part of the East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group. Her opening will be July 23rd, 3pm to 6pm at LongYear Gallery, First Floor Rear, 785 Main Street, Margaretville NY 12455
Gallery Hours: Sat 10am-5pm.

Spillian, the inn and retreat in Fleischmanns is having a major party on Saturday July 23rd from 4pm to 10pm: a Cajun inspired feast of music and food with entertainment from Dylan Doyle, who will be recording live for his CD, with the entire show broadcast live on local radio. Entry is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children, in advance. Full cajun dinner: $18.00. Vegetarian dinner: $15. Drinks (beer, wine, cocktails): $5. Soft drinks: $1.00.

The Painter’s Gallery in Fleischmanns presents the opening reception for Luminance by Beth Caspar, Joan Grubin, Heather Hutchison, and Laura Sue King on Saturday July 23rd. This show brings together four artists experimenting with the perception of color and the play of natural light. The result is work that appears to glow or to be luminous, created with a variety of media but without the use of artificial sources of light. Luminance is up until August 20th.

Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville holds Saturday night Pizza Nights on Saturday July 23rd.

Manhattan in the Mountains the music school in Hunter, begins its Fifth Anniversary concerts in Hunter on Sunday July 24th and continues until August 24th. Manhattan in the Mountains is a program of The Catskill Mountain Foundation and all events take place at the Doctorow Center in Hunter. Established in 2012 as a summer music festival for violin, viola, cello, and piano students ages 13 and up, MinM offers a minimum of two private lessons per week, daily chamber music rehearsals, two chamber coachings per week, and three to five hours of scheduled practice time every day.

Bebert’s Cafe is hosting live music in their cafe garden at the weekends to complement their incredible food and tea on Sunday July 24th.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski


Catskills Weekend: 07/02/16

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group have their opening reception on Saturday July 2nd at the Commons Building, 785 Main Street in Margaretville, New York. The exhibition will be up until July 31st.

Writers in the Mountains, The Roxbury General and “community friends” have arranged an installation called “Raining Poetry” in Roxbury, New York, tomorrow morning. It’s poetry written on the pavement. It’s invisible though, so you have to throw some water on it to reveal the beauty. Watering cans will be set up so you can wet the sidewalk and watch the poetry appear.

The Painters Gallery on Main Street in Fleischmanns is hosting an opening on Saturday July 2nd from 3.30pm – 6pm called Weather Reports at Sea, an installation with multiple projections by Tona Wilson.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s 9th Annual July Jamboree takes place on Sunday July 3rd from 11am – 4pm.  Award-winning veggie food trucks and booths, live music, vegan-themed tattoos done on-site by the artists from Gristle Tattoo in Brooklyn, kids’ activities including face-painting, a bouncy castle, water slide, and more! Bestselling author Terry Hope Romero will also be presenting around her new cookbook, “Protein Ninja”. Spend the day with family and friends and meet over 300 friendly rescued cows, pigs, goats, turkeys and more while benefiting our rescue, shelter and outreach work for farmed animals.

There will be a free sanctuary shuttle for this event departing hourly from the New Paltz Trailways bus station.


The Fleeting Beauty of Wild Roses

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

They’re fleeting because once the deer find out they exist, they will eat them all. All the more arresting for being a complete surprise, all the roses bar two featured in this post disappeared suddenly overnight. I had never seen wild roses before in the Catskills but, as a wise neighbour said, that’s probably because the deer got to them first. It was a joy to have them in our road briefly.



June Events in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Today Friday 10th through Sunday June 12th, the Catskill Center is hosting Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills.

Saturday June 11th, the Catskills own live radio event, Catskill Cabaradio will be hosted at the Pine Hill Center, in Pine Hill. Hosted by Elly Wininger, the event will be “an evening of music, drama, local lore, and laughs”, exploring the theme of “Food in the Catskills” with some of the region’s most celebrated and unique residents. In addition to growers, purveyors, chefs and food activists, there will be performances by a crop of regional talent including musician Chris Maxwell, poet and storyteller Margot Farrington, and young Maxwell Barnes, saxophonist. The potluck dishes are some of the best cooking in the Catskills.

Voices of Wisdom Gathering at the Blue Deer Center on June 11th and 12th. The gathering will start on Saturday at noon. People will sit by the fire and each of the two elders will speak in turn, offering the wisdom that they see is needed in that moment. The talks and conversations will be followed by a potluck dinner. The Blue Deer Center is

The 5th Annual Living History Cemetery Tour hosted by Middletown Historical Society will be held at Halcott Cemetery in Greene County near Fleischmanns on Saturday, June 18th. Tour goers will visit eight departed residents, portrayed by local actors, who will talk about their lives, loves and losses. Meet a fugitive “calico Indian;” a little girl remembering her Halcott childhood punctuated by tragedy; a farm couple whose long life together was ended by a charging bull; a young World War 1 soldier who fell to the Spanish flu. Tours begin every 20 minutes starting at 4pm. Reserve a tour time by calling 845-586-4736 by June 15th.

Straight Out Of The Ground Farm is hosting a farm dinner on Saturday June 25th for $55 a person. Make a reservation here.

Amy’s Takeaway in Lanesville is open all weekend this weekend from Friday, June 10th through Sunday, June 12th, 2016, 11am to 7pm with a special menu.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Catskills Weekend: June 4th & 5th

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

On Saturday 4th June from 10am to 3pm, the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskills Interpretive Center hosts a book fair. 5096 Rte 28, Mt Tremper, NY, 12457.

On Saturday 4th, 11am to 1pm: National Trails Day, where Catskill Center and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference will be celebrating the grand opening of the newly constructed Nature Trail at the at the Maurice D Hinchey Catskills Interpretive Center.

On Saturday 4th June at 3pm, at the Erpf Gallery in the Catskills Center in Arkville, Robert and Johanna Titus, along with Art Murphy, will be speaking about the exhibit entitled The Geology of the Devonian: the Heart of the Catskills. After the talk there will be a reception to celebrate 25 years of the “Kaatskill Geologist” in Kaatskill Life Magazine.

Saturday & Sunday 4th & 5th June, Paint Main Street in Roxbury with Catskills artist Lisbeth Firmin. Tickets available at the Roxbury Arts Group.

Saturday Night: Pizza Night at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville.

Sunday 5th June: Washington Square at Opus 40, a sculpture park and museum in an abandoned bluestone quarry in the town of Saugerties, NY, in Ulster County, about 100 miles north of New York City created by Harvey Fite, one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department. It’s a stunning monument on 70 acres that you can walk around. Admission is free on Sunday morning to anyone bearing an acoustic instrument for the picking circle.

An article from the Wall Street Journal on how to treat tick-infested clothing.

Where to stay while enjoying these events: Spillian in Fleischmanns, Breezy Hill Inn, River Run, Foxfire Mountain House, or The Emerson.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Weekend Links: 05/27/16

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Fleischmanns gains an exotic cafe; read my article in the Watershed Post.

A Memorial Weekend yard sale on Saturday and Sunday in the parking area between Arkville Bread Breakfast and Union Grove Distillery.

Fleischmanns is having a Memorial Day street fair on Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

If you come to visit, don’t forget to pack up your trash and take it with you. Last year, the Blue Hole, Peekamoose’s swimming hole was strewn with rubbish. Days and weeks later, hikers were still bagging litter on their way home. Jeff Vincent highlights this problem in his piece in this week’s Watershed Post. As a mountain guide, he regularly carries out rubbish on his hikes. This year, the DEC has issued new rules for enjoying the area.

If you have any weekend links you would like to suggest, please email

Spring Links: 05/03/16

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Spring is here and we’re seeing a start to the greening of our mountains with the help of some much-needed rain that will cool off recent brush fires. Here are some weekend links as we mountaineers ramp up for spring, no pun intended.

Support your local bookstore: Catskill Made’s blog highlights their favorite Catskill local bookstores.

A pop-up library at the Catskill Center, where you can borrow books and give them back to any Delaware County library when they’re due.

Foragers like Marguerite have been busy in the last few weeks with ramps, fiddleheads and more. Another foraging walk here.

Life drawing classes and yoga at Willow Drey Farm in Andes on Thursdays 6 – 9pm throughout May. For more information call 917-859-5397.

Tomorrow, May 4th at 11am, join us at the Roxbury Arts Center for a talk arranged by The MARK Project on the $500,000,000 grant that Governor Cuomo has ear-marked for the Southern Tier of New York State.

Catskills Culture: November Events

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s been another spectacular fall with vivid, fiery reds and yellows transforming to their final phase: brilliantly rusted shades of amber, bronze, tan, copper and gold. Tourism is the Catskills’ most lucrative business and it’s a given that many friends and neighbors fall out of touch over the summer, engaged in the reception and entertainment of visitors from all over the world. For those not in that business, summer was a time to fix up the homestead: new boiler, woodstove, siding and perhaps a window or two. Summer is our busiest time, and quiet moments snatched in between interminable chores and work in the glorious warmth of the lush summer season, are few and far between.

But, winter is coming… Winter is coming and it’s a chance to gather with everyone and entertain each other. It might get so cold that it freezes the balls off a brass statue, but our entertainment is just warming up. Join us for some Catskills culture as we kick off November with a week of art, literary and eclectic musical events.

Some forthcoming cultural events in the Upstate Dispatch sphere next week are as follows:

The Spillian Scribblers:

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s National Novel Writing Month in November and Upstate Dispatch is chronicling the life of the writer with guests on WIOX on alternate Mondays in November (2nd, 16th & 30th) at 9am. Furthermore, the Scribblers, a writers’ group that started last month after a myth-writing workshop run by Leigh Melander, will meet on Tuesday, November 3rd at Spillian in Fleischmanns. Convening In the majestic splendor of a historical Catskills landmark by a cozy fire, we read each other’s works aloud and offer comments over cake and booze. Spillian has a cash bar. If you are a writer and wish to join in, please email

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Halloween in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski 10/31/14 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 10/31/14 9am

Halloween is a treasured time at the end of summer, a time where we all get together after having been out of touch for so long, after a hectic high season in the tourist industry that sustains the Catskills. Take a ride up Route 28 and join us for these events during the forthcoming week. The Upstate Dispatch Halloween weekend will include the following:

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post included Friday night drinks at the Phoenicia Diner Lounge, but the Lounge has closed for the season. This will make the long wait for Spring even more arduous. It’s a good thing that Mike Cioffi, owner of the Phoenica Diner is working on a new bar after buying property in Woodstock. Meanwhile, we are working on a list of great bars in the vicinity of the Lounge in a new post. Watch this space for a link to the list of places to drink on Friday night. Of course, there is also our beloved Peekamoose as detailed below. Friday night drinks at Peekamoose Tap Room are everyone’s favorite way to decompress after a hard week. The bar and restaurant is further up past Phoenicia by about ten minutes on Route 28 in the town of Big Indian.

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Daily Catskills: Fall Folliage and Sunrise Picks

© J.N. Urbanski 9.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 09/25/15 9.15am

It’s been a glorious week for enigmatic pictures and it seems as if today’s the day that the colors are really popping out more vividly at us. On Friday, both a black cat and mouse scurried across my path on my morning jaunt: an ancient sign of luck. The barn on Breezy Hill Road (below) has featured as an icon of Upstate Dispatch. I’ve photographed in all seasons and in all sorts of weather: covered in snow, sunny, foggy, misty and raining. Herein starts Fall Foliage Watch and we will hiking to the top of mountains to capture some of the best of it in the next few months.

© J.N. Urbanski 8.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 09/26/15 8.15am

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Upstate Dispatch Weekend Links

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Farmer’s almanac has useful tips on pest control and the impending total eclipse of the new harvest supermoon.

Meet the farmers at tomorrow’s Cauliflower Festival in Margaretville.

The wonderful New York New Jersey Trail Conference gives us its Top Ten hikes to view the fall foliage here in the Catskills. Here at Upstate Dispatch we have our own list, coming shortly.

A Saturday afternoon writer’s workshop at Spillian culminating in dinner at the glorious 100-year old, fully restored mansion of the former Fleischmanns’ Yeast and & Gin family. Call 800-811-3351 to reserve your place.

Adult coloring books from The Writers Circle, something to bring with you when you visit the Catskills for some autumnal peace and quiet.

Upstate Dispatch gets a YouTube channel for its shorts on local food, farming, life and work for residents and visitors in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

A Catskills Weekend

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

I was honoured to have been invited to a friend’s wedding on Andes’ Willow Drey Farm over the weekend and spent a gorgeous late summer day catching up with neighbors in one of the most beautiful settings in the Catskills. (It’s technically still summer until the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd.) I already have fearsome village envy over Andes and Willow Drey Farm is not helping. It’s a stunning 65 acres of big sky country farmland with rolling hills, a grain silo, barn, lake and old-style wooden fencing throughout. See my Daily Catskill pictures here.

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Emergency Foraging

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Country life means throwing on the wellies, sprinting out of the house at 8am ahead of the town mower to save a patch of wild mint and chicory before it’s razed by the town’s enormous lateral road leveler. Their incredible new machine has an industrial rake on it and the monster takes out eight-feet-tall thistles like it’s plucking daisies.

Experienced foragers often say that roadside foraging should be avoided because of brake dust and ice-melting salt, but big buckets of mint make a natural air freshener for musty rooms and workshops. Last year, the slugs got the mint, but they didn’t this year. This summer was a banner year for chicory, which is all over the roadsides everywhere. Get it into water immediately otherwise it will quickly wilt and makes good freshly cut flowers in clear vases for guest bedrooms.

Do It Yourself: Siding for Beginners

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Last year, our new neighbours told us they were quoted a price of $40,000 to replace their leaky siding and there was a lengthy pause in the conversation, more than one sigh and some sympathetic nodding. We also need new siding. So we all had a glass of wine or two and tried to forget about it but, last winter, squirrels took up residence in our chimney along with two swarms of bees, leaving too many gaping holes to ignore and soggy wood caused by the resultant leakage. A full chimney is also a fire hazard. So I asked the question: how hard would it be just to rip it off the siding and put on some more? We found out today. Well, my husband found out and I helped. Turns out if you do all of Jillian Michaels’ exercise DVDs, you will be sufficiently forceful with a hammer, but they won’t help you with your fear of heights. My next question, as I helped rip the chimney apart, was: how do the caterpillars get in there, behind the siding? And why do we build houses with particle board covered in paper? I mean, it wasn’t even real wood under there and some of it was rotten and had to be replaced.

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Weekend Links: 06/13/15

© J.N. Urbanski 5/28/15 7.46am

© J.N. Urbanski 5/28/15 7.46am

Good news for Farm-to-Table in New York City. Lucky Dog in Hamden receives $40,000 in grant funding for its efforts. The link details some of the NYC restaurants that receive local produce. View the news release from the Delaware County Economic Development, a video by VeccVideography.

Farmers Almanac explains all those seed copters that are flying around this week.

Ever come to the country, been woken up by birdsong and wondered who was singing to you? Browse for birds by name and listen to their call from The Cornell Lab for Ornithology.

Travel the Milky Way on June 21st when Catskills Creameries open up their gates to the public.

The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown is due a visit.

Outdoor cinema in the Catskills looking for funding.




© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you have acreage, there’s no reason not to compost. Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and it can be replenished with organic material like kitchen food scraps, peelings, dead leaves, tea bags and coffee grounds. Another astonishing statistic: the USDA reported in June 2013 that it estimates that food waste in America is 30 to 40% of the entire US food supply and it goes into landfill every year. Seattle recently made it the law to compost and, here in the Catskills you can have your food scraps taken away, but there’s no reason why you can’t just make the compost and throw it in your forest or on your garden. Nature consumes all.

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Side Note: Country Life


copyright J.N. Urbanski

You’re walking your dog. You’re 100 feet away from your house and you’re hearing a low rumble.

“What’s that noise? What’s that noise?” you ask your dog. He looks at you riveted, with his head cocked to the side, thinking: “any minute now I’m going to suddenly understand what she’s saying”.

You walk slowly back your house, saying “is somebody having work done?l”

As you walk up to the front door, the noise gets louder… and you realize…it’s your hot water heater kicking on.

After a while, the fridge will wake you up at night and you will start needing earplugs like you did in the city.


Forest Management


copyright J.N. Urbanski

If you’ve bought a parcel of land with forest, there are plenty of things you can do to maintain it. You can sell trees or use them for firewood.

If you have dead trees on your property, you can tell that they’re dead now by observing that they have no leaves. Before Autumn rolls around, right about now, you can go through your forest and paint the dead ones, so that when all the leaves are gone you have a reminder of which ones are dead. This gives you time over the winter to fell, chop and season the wood. (Only paint them green if you’ve run out of white spray paint and need to get the job done today.)