Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor


Southern New Hampshire Life - Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Ice Fishing & Bob Houses 2014

With the extreme cold temperatures we have been experiencing recently, ponds and lakes have frozen over throughout the state.  Many souls brave the extreme temperatures to install temporary housing on NH’s bodies of water; within the course of a few weeks, hundreds of small structures dot the lakes and ponds throughout the state.bobhouses13113c

Bob houses, portable “shanties,” as they are called by those in the know, are wheeled or pushed onto ice-covered bodies of water by die hard fisherman and their friends and followers each winter. No one knows for sure where bob houses got their name. There are various theories: they could be named for the bobsleds that some used to bring their shacks out onto the ponds, or because “bob” is an old fashioned term for short or small (as in bobtail or bobbed hair), or because your shanty will be bobbing in the water if you leave it out on a lake too long.

Statistics show that 25% of New Hampshire fishing enthusiasts enjoy going out to fish regardless of the cold weather. Fishing on one of the state’s many lakes and ponds is a great winter pastime. While some people fish out in the open, many bring a plastic tent, the true (and experienced) fisher folk bring shacks out onto the water bodies. These shacks can be crude plywood constructions, or they can be small well-constructed shed-like houses that have carpeting, electricity, stoves, and even heaters and televisions. There are stories of some shanties that not only have lighting, but have crystal chandeliers. Chatting with friends and downing cold drinks (that don’t need any artificial refrigeration) is a great way to while away the hours while you wait for a pull on your line. After drilling holes in the ice with your auger, you can sit back and relax until the active cold weather fish – perch, pike, crappie, and others – tug your line to get your attention.

Bob Houses on Lake Potanipo

The bob house and ice fishing season is from ice-in, usually in December, to ice-out, usually in mid-April. Lakes under State trout and salmon management have an official season of January 1st through March 31st. But don’t venture onto the ice without checking with locals to make sure the ice is thick enough to support you and whatever you are bringing with you. All bob houses must be removed from lakes and ponds by April 1st, but of course, if it’s unseasonably warm, remove it – or lose it – before the ice cracks under the weight of your home and/or vehicle. Every year there are tales of lost houses….

There are a lot of friendly get-togethers among bob house fishermen and women, and they have a lot of fun out on the ice. For the more serious sportsman, there are dozens of competitive ice fishing tournaments across the state, but the one that attracts the most participants is Meredith’s annual Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. As many as 6,000 anglers compete for dozen of prizes, including $ 50,000+ in cash prizes.. This year Derby Weekend will be February 8 – 9. For details, visit the Meredith Rotary Club website.  For details of other ice fishing tournaments, click here.

If you want to try bob housing, check out the New England Sportsman’s extensive ice fishing website. The NH Fish and Game Commission has a good site with the regulations everyone should observe.

On the other hand, if you want to try to convince someone to come in from the cold and give up ice fishing, you may want to show him or her this short video.

Bob Houses and Ice Fishing

About this time every year in New Hampshire, the number of waterfront properties increases dramatically. Within the course of a few weeks, hundreds of new structures dot the lakes and ponds throughout the state.

What causes this great housing increase? Bob houses! These portable “shanties,” as they are called by those in the know, are wheeled or pushed onto ice-covered bodies of water by die hard fisherman and their friends and followers each winter. No one knows for sure where bob houses got their name. There are various theories: they could be named for the bobsleds that some used to bring their shacks out onto the ponds, or because “bob” is an old fashioned term for short or small (as in bobtail or bobbed hair), or because your shanty will be bobbing in the water if you leave it out on a lake too long.

Bob Houses on Lake Potanipo

Statistics show that 25% of New Hampshire fishing enthusiasts enjoy going out to fish regardless of the cold weather. Fishing on one of the state’s many lakes and ponds is a great winter pastime. While some people fish out in the open, many bring a plastic tent, the true (and experienced) fisher folk bring shacks out onto the water bodies. These shacks can be crude plywood constructions, or they can be small well-constructed shed-like houses that have carpeting, electricity, stoves, and even heaters and televisions. There are stories of some shanties that not only have lighting, but have crystal chandeliers. Chatting with friends and downing cold drinks (that don’t need any artificial refrigeration) is a great way to while away the hours while you wait for a pull on your line. After drilling holes in the ice with your auger, you can sit back and relax until the active cold weather fish – perch, pike, crappie, and others – tug your line to get your attention.

The bob house and ice fishing season is from ice-in, usually in December, to ice-out, usually in mid-April. Lakes under State trout and salmon management have an official season of January 1st through March 31st. But don’t venture onto the ice without checking with locals to make sure the ice is thick enough to support you and whatever you are bringing with you. All bob houses must be removed from lakes and ponds by April 1st, but of course, if it’s unseasonably warm, remove it – or lose it – before the ice cracks under the weight of your home and/or vehicle. Every year there are tales of lost houses…

Bob Houses, Lake Potanipo, 1/13

There are a lot of friendly get-togethers among bob house fishermen and women, and they have a lot of fun out on the ice. For the more serious sportsman, there are dozens of competitive ice fishing derbies across the state, but the one that attracts the most participants is Meredith’s annual Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. As many as 6,000 anglers compete for dozen of prizes, including $ 40,000+ in cash prizes,  and boats, trailers, and other  fishing gear give-aways . This year Derby Weekend will be February 9-10. For details, visit the Meredith Rotary Club website.

If you want to try bob housing, check out the New England Sportsman’s extensive ice fishing website. The NH Fish and Game Commission has a good site with the regulations everyone should observe.

On the other hand, if you want to try to convince someone to come in from the cold and give up ice fishing, you may want to show him or her this short video.

The NH Farm & Forest Exposition

Southern New Hampshire is home to many farms and woodlots, large and small.  In addition, many homeowners include gardening or part-time farming among their hobbies. As there’s not much a farmer or gardener can do outside this time of year, it’s the perfect time for the 30th Anniversary Farm and Forest Exposition! This year the Expo will be Friday and Saturday February 8th and 9th at the Center of New Hampshire in the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

Many programs are geared to full-time farmers, but there are many sessions that are directed to backyard gardeners and homeowners as well. Some presentations will cover farm management subjects like keeping farm animals healthy, running a farmer’s market, farm labor laws and regulations, the locovore movement, and how to adjust crops in a time of climate change.  Others have a wider audience in mind, such as programs on rain gardens, small-scale maple sugaring, growing plants from seed, the care and feeding of your chainsaw, beekeeping, and how to resurrect a declining barn.

Speakers will be experts in the farming, conservation, and restaurant fields, including Margaret Hagen of the UNH Cooperative Extension Service, well-known for her informative segments on WMUR-TV news.

The NH Farm and Forest Exposition is co-sponsored by the UNH Cooperative Extension Service, the NH Division of Forests and Lands, and the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food.  The Expo’s hours will be 9 to 5 on Friday and 9 to 4 on Saturday; admission is $ 7, with free admission for people 15 and under. The Radisson is located at 700 Elm Street in Manchester.

For full details see the NH Farm and Forest Exposition website.

First Night Portsmouth

The First Night tradition began in Boston in 1976 and has since spread throughout the country. In New Hampshire, Wolfeboro in the Lakes Region and Portsmouth on the Seacoast are the state’s two official First Night celebrations.  First Night Portsmouth is organized by Pro Portsmouth, a local nonprofit group.

First Night includes activities for both children and adults.  Events start around 1PM with ice sculpting by the North Church.  Indoor programs for younger participants begin at 4PM with puppet shows, magicians, storytelling, and face painting in several downtown venues.  At 5PM, the Pontine Theatre will present “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”  Portsmouth 1212

Musicians will be in various locations throughout the area.  Local singers will be featured at the Middle Street Baptist Hall starting at 5PM.  T. J. Wheeler & Company will be at North Church from 8:15PM.   At South Church there will be a chili cook-off and gospel and folk music.  The Randy Armstrong Trio at Temple Israel will feature world fusion jazz.

The Seacoast Repertory Theater will host comedian Mike Michon and psychic/illusionist Roderick Russell.  The NH Theater Company is offering “The Play’s the Thing” – with theater games, comedy Improv, and other entertaining pastimes.

Outdoor activities will be centered around Market Square, with a street dance on Pleasant Street beginning at 5PM, fireworks at South Mill Pond at 7:30PM, and of course, the Countdown to Midnight in the Square.

The First Night Portsmouth’s website has full details about the events and locations.  You will need a First Night Portsmouth 2013 Button to gain entry to the indoor activities; they may be purchased online by clicking here, or at the Portsmouth Hannaford’s, People’s United Bank branches in the NH Seacoast area and in Dover, Durham, and Rochester, and at the Flower Kiosk on Main Street.Portsmouth Xmas Tree

Most downtown streets will be open to traffic; but Pleasant Street from State Street to the Square, Church Street (next to the North Church) and Parrot Avenue (from Richards to Junkins) will be closed.  The parking garage at Hanover Street will offer reduced rate parking starting at 4PM.  There will be a free shuttle for all First Nighters, which will transport celebrants between the various event locations.

First Night Portsmouth will be an afternoon and evening of fun-filled activities for all ages.  Don’t miss it!

Hospital Rankings

When relocating to a new community, the quality of medical care is often an important consideration.  Hospitals are an important factor, especially for families with young children or for older individuals.  Thankfully, to assist you there are several organizations which publish the standings of hospitals online.  Please note: the organizations which maintain these sites are continually evaluating hospitals, so the rank of an institution will probably fluctuate up and down over time.  Southern NH Medical Center

The Hospital Safety Score site is sponsored by The Leapfrog Group, an independent not-for-profit organization that was founded by some of the country’s leading employers and private healthcare experts over a decade ago.  They try to promote quality care by promoting transparency and value-based hospital incentives.  The Hospital Safety Score rates medical facilities by evaluating 26 factors of patient care. The website tabulates scores like a report card, rating hospitals from A (best) to F (worst).  The site has a section explaining how the score was determined and how potential patients should use it.  At the time this blog was published Portsmouth Regional was rated “A,” Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, Parkland in Derry, and Exeter were rated “B,” and Elliot in Manchester  and Cheshire Medical Center in Keene were rated “C.”  For details, go to this site and click on the hospital’s listing.

HealthInsight’s “National Rankings for Hospital” tabulates its rankings from hospital care in four areas: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care. It covers over 4,500 institutions, many more than The Leapfrog Group’s site.  To check on their rankings, click here.

Medicare.com, the official U.S. government website for Medicare,  includes a “Hospital Compare” webpage feature which can be used to find all the hospitals within 50 miles of a town and then allows you to compare them with each other.  To use their hospital compare feature, click here.St. Joseph's Hospital

U. S. News’s list of the best hospitals in the country is on US News’s health website.  They have identified three New Hampshire hospitals as meeting their criteria for strong performance within the state (in Concord, Dartmouth, and Dover); they are listed on the “Best Hospitals in New Hampshire” pageU. S. News selected several Massachusetts hospitals as among the best in the country; they can be accessed by clicking here.

Consumer Reports has a hospital rankings site, but it is only accessible to subscribers of Consumer Reports Online.

And lastly, this is a link to a USA Today article that discusses some of the most popular hospital ranking systems and explains why a hospital may rank differently in each one; it counsels that potential patients shouldn’t pick a hospital solely on its standing in one of the rating systems.

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If you are considering a move in or to Southern New Hampshire, please give me a call so I can assist you with your search for your new home!

– Steve Russo, Connecting People with Homes in Southern New Hampshire and North Central Massachusetts.  Steve Russo

Website: www.SteveRusso4Homes.com

Facebook page: Steve Russo, Realtor

Unique Shopping Opportunities: Wilderness Creations in Dublin

Wilderness Creations is the place to go for rustic furnishings for your home or cabin. They feature handmade pieces crafted by New England and other American woodworkers, everything from spoons and cups to chairs, tables, beds, and desks. There is something for every room in the house.  Wilderness Creations 1

The store also includes rustic-themed bedding and lighting, books on cabins and log homes, and playful chainsaw figures of bears.  A recent addition to Wilderness Creations is barrel saunas – easy to assemble kits made from Western Canadian Red Cedar.

If you can’t find exactly what you want in their showroom, they will be happy to arrange with an artisan to make a special creation just for you.  A tour of their website will give you many decorating ideas.
Wilderness Creations 2

Wilderness Creations is located at 1327 Main Street (State Route 101) in Dublin.  They are open Tuesdays through Sundays.
Wilderness Creations 3

 

The Keene Pumpkin Festival

The celebrated Keene Pumpkin Festival starts Friday, October 19, with store windows along Main Street displaying pumpkins carved by pumpkin carving artists. The main day is Saturday, October 20.  The Saturday festivities start at 8:30AM with the Great Pumpkin Mile Race and wind down after the 8PM announcement of the pumpkin count.  In between those times, Main Street will be decorated with thousands of pumpkins carved into everything imaginable.  This year Keene is challenging Highwood, Illinois to see which town can display the most lit gourds; they are hoping to go over 32,000.  So don’t go empty-handed!  Last year over 16,000 pumpkins were contributed by visitors from 34 states – from as far away as California, Washington, and Florida – and from eight foreign countries, as near as Canada and as distant as China and Australia.

The revived Pumpkin Festival is a great community affair, with 42 nonprofits offering food in the Food Court and around the downtown area. Everything from fried pickles and chicken wings to pizza, burgers, and of course, pumpkin woopie pies will be available.  Main Street will be closed to traffic.  There will be live music and great crafts for sale from Noon to 8:30. If you’re truly public-spirited stay around for the Pumpkin Dump Derby cleanup at 8:45PM.  For more information about this year’s Keene Pumpkin Festival, see the Festival’s website.

UPDATE:  HGTV filmed Pumpkin Wars about the Keene-Highwood rivalry and their 2012 pumpkin festivals; the video of the show is available on their website.   According to The Keene Sentinel 29,381 lit pumpkins were on display on Saturday night; unfortunately not a new record, but Keene did beat Highwood Illinois, according to the Union Leader.  Next year’s Pumpkin Festival will be on October 19th. Check out the Festival’s website for updates as they become available.

Fall Foliage in New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s fall foliage season is a great time to explore our surroundings.  A leisurely drive in the country is often the best way to discover some of the most colorful vistas anywhere. 

Here are some guides to help make your exploring memorable:    

The state government sponsored Visit NH: Foliage pages are updated weekly with detailed reports on how colorful the foliage is in the Merrimack Valley, the Monadnock Region, the Seacoast, and other areas of New Hampshire.  

New Hampshire.com sponsors a “Foliage Meter” which graphically shows how much the leaves have turned in the various regions of New Hampshire.  It also recommends foliage tours in each area with maps illustrating the routes to follow.   

About.com’s New England Travel section lists several websites with tips on where to go and what to do to enjoy the fall foliage season in New Hampshire.  

Yankee Magazine’s Foliage site not only has a map of current conditions; it also has a map showing when and where the foliage should be at its peak based on previous years.  Scenic drives, “The Top 25 Foliage Towns” in New England (including several in New Hampshire) and other features are also included.  

If you are interested in why leaves change color, check out the explanation on the Weather Channel’s website.   

Just about any country road will be festooned with color this season – it’s a great time to enjoy nature.  Take the time out to take a drive and drink in the natural beauty of New Hampshire.

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Thinking of moving to colorful New Hampshire?

Check out my website and facebook page and give me a call.  I’m always ready to assist you with your home buying needs.

– Steve Russo, Prudential Verani Realty

Cell:  603-321-9895     Office:  603-888-4600 ext. 1103

Schnitzelfest

The 10th Annual Schnitzelfest will be held Saturday September 29 in Hillsborough.  Come taste some of the most authentic Deutsch dishes this side of the Atlantic, overseen by German-born John Heer and his wife Judi of Hillsborough’s well-known German John’s Bakery. Schnitzel is the highlight of the festivities, but there will be plenty of bratwurst, knackwurst, German pretzels, sauerkraut, wieners, and German potato salad. Beer and wine will be readily available, so you can raise your stein to the oom-pah band and the Wunder Kinder Choir.  Desserts featured include kuchen, apple strudel, and schnecken.  Crafters will be selling a wide variety of souvenirs and gifts.  This festival is sponsored by the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce.  Schnitzelfest will be held rain or shine from Noon to 5PM on the 29th at Butler Park, at the corner of West Main and Central streets in Hillsborough. Admission is free. Check out the Schnitzelfest’s website by clicking here.

The Andres Institute of Art

Whenever lists of the “100 best places to live” are being compiled, among the criteria for ranking is always access to cultural institutions. Southern New Hampshire always ranks high in such lists for a number of factors. In the area of cultural resources, Southern tier residents are fortunate to be not far from celebrated art museums in Manchester and Hanover.  But there is another art collection in Brookline, unique in many respects and deserving of a visit.

The Andres Institute of Art was founded in 1996 by local benefactor Paul Andres and well-known artist John Weidman.  Its collection of over 70 metal and stone sculptures are distributed over 140 acres on Bear Mountain in Brookline.

Sculpture parks are always welcoming – and this one is unique, as each sculptor chooses what natural setting on the mountain will showcase his or her creation best.  No matter how large the number of visitors, at the Andres Institute there is never a crush to view a particular artwork, as they are spread over miles of hiking trails on the hillside.  A map showing the trails with levels of difficulty is available.

During the year, the Institute sponsors several interactive art programs; they have a Facebook page and newsletter to keep people in the know about upcoming activities.

Every fall, the Institute invites a select number of artists from around the world to come to their studio to create works for their collection. During this time, the public is invited to view the artists while they work, interact with them, join guided tours of the collection, and attend the unveiling of the newest artworks on October 7th.

The Institute, open from dawn to dusk, is at 98 Route 13 in Brookline; admission is free.  For more information about the Andres Institute of Art and the 14th Annual Symposium, including a map of hiking trails, visit the Institute’s website.