Kettle Pond Swimming on Cape Cod

by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner

Boat Meadow Bay Beach

Boat Meadow Bay Beach

Everyone thinks of beaches when they come to Cape Cod for their summer fun. Most are drawn to the National Seashore beaches where one can see the crashing waves from the Atlantic, or on the Bay side with our breathtaking sunsets. But for Zen like swimming in little seas of tranquillity, Cape Cod also has many beautiful kettle ponds.

Flax's Pond in Nickerson

Flax’s Pond in Nickerson

Today we had a beautiful walk in Nickerson State Park. Since we can’t take our dog Harrison swimming on the bay beaches we are always looking for new places to let him swim during the summer. Nickerson is a beautiful park which has wonderful biking and walking paths.

Bike path at Nickerson

Bike path at Nickerson

Kettle ponds have an interesting geology on Cape Cod as they were formed more than 15,000 years ago, when blocks of glacier ice melted, leaving massive holes, called kettles, that filled with fresh water.
These kettle ponds are sprinkled around Cape Cod and are great places to have a summer swim. Harrison can attest to how wonderful they are….

Harrison swimming after a stick

Harrison swimming after a stick

We love to hike around Nickerson. It’s such a beautiful park with many hidden areas.

Byron in Nickerson State Park

Byron in Nickerson State Park

For afternoon relaxation many of our guests staying at the Captain Freeman Inn also enjoying relaxing by our lovely pool. It is flanked by beautiful gardens and singing birds.

Captain Freeman pool

Captain Freeman pool

Exhaling on Cape Cod and feeling very blessed!

Day Trip #1 from our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast

By Donna Cain, Innkeeper and Owner

Cape Cod is such a magical area, and we always have many suggestions when our guests ask what they should do during their stay at the Captain Freeman Inn. For those guests that are lucky enough to have planned a long stay, we have 5 great suggestions for memorable day trips off Cape Cod. Many are just a few hours away and make for a perfect days adventure during your stay with us.

Day Trip #1- Newport, Rhode Island ( 2 hours )

I think our all time favorite day trip recommendation is Newport. For those history buffs like myself, the area is full of history which includes touring many of the summer cottages of the Gilded  Age Summer Elite. It’s ironic that they called them cottages as they are grand, extravagant and large, to say the least, and all of the tours include fun stories about the families. Listed below is some of our favorites:

Front entrance from Bellevrie Avenue

Front entrance of the Elms from Bellevrie Avenue

The Elms

This summer cottage was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d’Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris.

Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost reported at approximately $1.4 million. The interiors and furnishings were designed by Allard and Sons of Paris and were the setting for the Berwinds’ collection of Renaissance ceramics, 18th century French and Venetian paintings, and Oriental jades.

The elaborate Classical Revival gardens on the grounds were developed between 1907 and 1914. They includeThe Elms dining room terraces displaying marble and bronze sculpture, a park of fine specimen trees and a lavish lower garden featuring marble pavilions, fountains, a sunken garden and carriage house and garage. These gardens were recently restored.

The Elms gardens

The Elms gardens

Mrs. Berwind died in 1922, and Mr. Berwind invited his sister, Julia, to become his hostess at his New York and Newport houses. Mr. Berwind died in 1936 and Miss Julia continued to summer at The Elms until her death in 1961, at which time the house and most of its contents were sold at public auction. The Preservation Society of Newport County purchased The Elms in 1962 and opened the house to the public. In 1996, The Elms was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Breakers

The Breakers

The Breakers

The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America.

Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century.

The Commodore’s grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885, and purchased a wooden house called The Breakers in Newport during that same year. In 1893, he commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a villa to replace the earlier wood-framed house which was destroyed by fire the previous year. Hunt directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans to create a 70 room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin. Allard and Sons of Paris assisted Hunt with furnishings and fixtures, Austro-American sculptor Karl Bitter designed relief sculpture, and Boston architect Ogden Codman decorated the family quarters.

Front entrance to the Breakers

Front entrance to the Breakers

The Vanderbilts had seven children. Their youngest daughter, Gladys, who married Count Laszlo Szechenyi of Hungary, inherited the house on her mother’s death in 1934. An ardent supporter of The Preservation Society of Newport County, she opened The Breakers in 1948 to raise funds for the Society. In 1972, the Preservation Society purchased the house from her heirs. Today, the house is designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Marble House

The Marble House

The Marble House

Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt.  It was a summer house, or “cottage”, as Newporters called them in remembrance of the modest houses of the early 19th century. But Marble House was much more; it was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport’s subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces.

Mr. Vanderbilt was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who established the  family’s fortune in steamships and the New York Central Railroad. His older brother was Cornelius II, who built The Breakers. Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society, and envisioned Marble House as her “temple to the arts” in America.

Chinese tea house at the Marble "cottage"

Chinese tea house at the Marble “cottage”

The house was designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The cost of the house was reported in contemporary press accounts to be $11 million, of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Upon its completion, Mr. Vanderbilt gave the house to his wife as a 39th birthday present.

The Gold SalonThe Vanderbilts had 3 children: Consuelo, who became the 9th Duchess of Marlborough; William K., Jr., a prominent figure in pioneering the sport of auto racing in America; and Harold, one of the finest yachtsmen of his era who successfully defended the America’s Cup three times.

The Vanderbilts divorced in 1895 and Alva married Oliver H.P. Belmont, moving down the street to Belcourt. After his death, she reopened Marble House, and had a Chinese Tea House built on the seaside cliffs, where she hosted rallies for women’s right to vote. She sold the house to Frederick H. Prince in 1932. The Preservation Society acquired the house in 1963 from the Prince estate.  In 2006, Marble House was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Rosecliff

newport-mansions-23-1

Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.

Views from Rosecliff

Views from Rosecliff

“Tessie”, as she was known to her friends, was born in Virginia City, Nevada. Her father, JamesRosecliff salon Graham Fair, was an Irish immigrant who made an enormous fortune from Nevada’s Comstock silver lode, one of the richest silver finds in history. During a summer in Newport, Theresa met Hermann Oelrichs playing tennis at the Newport Casino. They were married in 1890. A year later, they purchased the property known as Rosecliff from the estate of historian and diplomat George Bancroft. An amateur horticulturist, it was Bancroft who developed the American Beauty Rose. The Oelrichs later bought additional property along Bellevue Avenue and commissioned Stanford White to replace the original house with the mansion that became the setting for many of Newport’s most lavish parties.

Rosecliff is now preserved through the generosity of its last private owners, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe, of New Orleans. They gave the house, its furnishings, and an endowment to the Preservation Society in 1971.

Rough Pointe

Rough Pointe

Rough Pointe

Step into the life of heiress and art collector Doris Duke at her oceanfront Newport mansion. Immerse yourself in the fine art, furnishings and antiques she spent a lifetime collecting.

This is a tribute to the real camels that Doris used to keep on her back lawn

This is a tribute to the real camels that Doris used to keep on her back lawn

Doris Duke was an individual whose sense of style represented her personality and creativity. She was a confident woman who enjoyed fashion and tried new trends, but made her own rules of style. She dressed in outfits that fit with her diverse interests and lifestyle and did not always fit the standard rules of dressing. Overall, Miss Duke was a lover of quality clothing and enjoyed the pleasures of fashion that made her stand out as the confident and beautiful woman she was.There is a new exhibit at the mansion : The Personal Style of Doris Duke which examines a portion of Doris Duke’s clothing collection ranging from lavish evening gowns with exquisite embroidery to the simple silhouette of a little black dress.

(Information and pictures concerning the mansions shown above were collected from the Preservation Society of Newport‘s web site.)

For dining during your day trip to decide which mansion you would like to buy:) we like to recommend  the Black Pearls which is located on the wharf with beautiful water views. Food is always good and they serve lunch and dinner.

Day Trip #2-5 to follow on separate blogs.

Exhaling on Cape Cod and loving our life as innkeepers and being able to share this wonderful little peninsula that we call home.

 

Accolades for the Captain Freeman from travel writer Kim Grant

by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner

Cape Cod Explorer's Guide

Cape Cod Explorer’s Guide

Kim Grant, writer of the Cape Cod Explorer’s Guide recently published her 10th addition which included huge accolades from the writer about the Captain Freeman Inn.

Captain Freeman Inn on Cape Cod

Captain Freeman Inn on Cape Cod

Quoted in the Explorer’s guide by Kim Grant “this former gem has been resurrected with aplomb. Sitting proudly on the town’s oval-shaped green and next door to the iconic General Store, the inn would do it’s namesake proud. Each of the 11 guestrooms are oh-so tasteful and tranquil. Some are distinguished by luxurious baths; other by private porches. Even the most humble (what they call boutique rooms) might make other innkeeper’s envious”

Brewster General Store

Brewster General Store

Thanks Kim for the great review of our inn.

Exhaling on Cape Cod and feeling very blessed to be the stewards of this lovely building on Cape Cod.

Sunset at Breakwater Beach

Sunset at Breakwater Beach

Going “Wild” on Cape Cod

by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner

Cape Cod is known for it’s natural beauty and with that comes an unlimited amount of wildlife.  While staying at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, the Captain Freeman Inn, we like to up your chances of encountering unique wildlife. So while you are exhaling on Cape Cod to  relax your soul, we might also suggest that you take a “walk on the wild side” to see some of our unique wildlife and habitat. Listed below are some of our favorites:

Cape Cod Whalewatching

Cape Cod Whale watching

Whale tales- Many of our guests staying at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfasts enjoy a day of whale watching during their stay on Cape Cod. We usually recommend the Dolphin Fleet out of P’Town which has several 4 hour + excursions each day. Many of our guests tell us that seeing the whales up close was on their bucket list…..and most just rave about their experience. P’Town is such a unique town and is full of many other things to do after your whale watching such as biking on the bike path to Race Point beach, having lunch at the Lobster Pot which is a great place to have your old fashion “lobster eating experience”, climbing the Pilgrim Monument and shopping at the many unique shops on Commercial Street. The whale watching cruises get you very close to the whales and usually include sightings of Humpback and minke whales that frequent and feed the waters off of Cape Cod. Recent sighting of the rare Right Whale means you may even see a more unusual species. The trips are narrated by a naturalist who share the natural history of the area and teach guests about whale biology and their natural habitat.

Seal

Seal

Seals of approval- Everyone loves to see seals, and we recommend to our guests that they stop by the fish market in Chatham to see all of the seals that wait for the fishing vessels to return and the dinner that they receive when the fishermen throw into the waters their unused bait. Adorable grey and harbor seals are frequent visitors to Lower Cape beaches, where they swim, frolic and sunbathe. Blue Claw Boat Tours out of Orleans brings seal watchers to the shores of Pleasant Bay. The Monomoy Island ferry, based in Chatham, takes visitors to the Monomoy National Wildlife refuge, barrier islands off the Cape Cod elbow that are home to a sprawling colony. Recent news last summer included shark sightings since the seal habitat has become so large and makes for a nice meal to the sharks:(

Birds of a Feather- Midsummer is a perfect time to view migrating shorebirds including short-billed dowitchers, whimbreds, Hudson godwits- taking a break en route to South America. Diane Silverstein is a local expert and is a member of the Cape Cod Bird Club. Members provide free guided walks in bird friendly spots from Sandwich to P’Town. For self guided strolls look for barn swallows and Baltimore orioles at the Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary in East Falmouth, herons and terns in the National Seashore on the outer Cape, or ospreys at the Cape Cod Natural History Museum.

Osprey at the Natural history Museum

Osprey at the Natural history Museum

Not to be missed are the array of bird life that can be seen from the bird feeders in the front and rear of the Captain Freeman Inn. Guest have recently seen cardinals, finches, woodpeckers, robins of course, and chickadees.

Finch resting in our Lazy Susans last summer

Finch resting in our Lazy Susans last summer

Audubon- The Cape’s Audubon wildlife sanctuaries can be a great place to view egrets, herons and ospreys, but there is more to be seen at these properties. The Wellfleet Bay sanctuary offers walks, lectures, and kid’s day camps. At Long Pasture in Barnstable, visitors can wander the Butterfly Mosaic trail looking for unique butterflies, diamond back terrapin and pipping plovers, or maybe the threatened spadefoot toad.

Baby plover

Baby plover

On Martha’s Vineyard visit Felix Neck sanctuary to hike four miles of trails, watch resident barn owls or sample wild edibles. You can find scheduled for each at http://www.massaudubon.org

Walking trails full of nature including the trails in our Brewster Nickerson State Park, the unique White Cedar Swamp Trail at the National Seashore where you can enjoy an easy 1.5 mile walk on an elevated boardwalk with swampy trees and peat lined swamp full of unique bird life.

Ahhhhh, exhaling on Cape Cod and being amazed at all of the natural beauty and wildlife that surrounds our two inns, Brewster by the Sea and the Captain Freeman Inn.

Captain Freeman Inn on Cape Cod Captain Freeman Inn on Cape Cod[

 

Captain Freeman Inn wins the 2014 Certificate of Excellence Award from Trip Advisor

by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner

Trip Adviser Award

Trip Adviser Award

We are proud to announce that the Captain Freeman Inn recently received the 2014 Certificate of Excellence Award from Trip Advisor. This prestigious award recognizes businesses that consistently earn top ratings from TripAdvisor travelers.

Captain Freeman Inn

Captain Freeman Inn

We so appreciate all of the reviews that past guests have written on Trip Advisor and also appreciate this site for our personal travels. It’s a great site that allows travelers to get  first hand review of other guest’s experiences.

Exhaling on Cape Cod and feeling very blessed to live in such a beautiful area of the United States.

Breakwater Beach

Breakwater Beach

Sunset at the Breakwater beach which is just a short stroll from the Captain Freeman Inn.

New Cooking School Calendar at the Captain Freeman Inn

by Donna Cain

Cooking School at the Freeman

Cooking School at the Freeman

We have a fabulous time each winter during our Cape Cod Culinary cooking schools at the Captain Freeman Inn. Chef Carol will continue conducting the class. This year’s calendar is filled with some new comfort foods including bread and soups, all from the areas that we love in Europe including Italy, Spain and France.

The cooking school package includes a one or two night stay at either the Captain Freeman Inn or our sister property Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa. The package includes a fabulous breakfast each day, cooking school for two and wine tasting and dinner afterwards. We pair both red and white wines to compliment our evening meal. Guests can sample different wines and decide which one they would like to enjoy with their meal. The dinner always concludes with a wonderful dessert or biscotti that I love to dunk in the dessert wine:)

Savory breakfast the the Freeman

Savory breakfast the the Freeman

2014/2015 Schedule

November 8, 2014- France

CookingSchool-20131109-0007

In Paris the crisp fall air is filled with smells of baking bread and simmering comfort food. The flavors are amazing but the best part is that these classic dishes are simple and fun to make. We will make French bread, classic French Onion soup and French garlic sausage and butternut bisque that will transport you to Paris.

mushrooms from a previous class

mushrooms from a previous class

January 17, 2015 – Northern Italy

Winter chills mean fragrant country loaves and simmering soups overflowing with the bounty of the Tuscan hills. We will make country bread, stracchiatella, chicken and egg soup and hearty white bean and kale soup. Flavors to delight an Italian palate.

February 7,2015- Spain

CookingSchool-20131109-0028

Winter is the season for warm bread dipped in fragrant olive oil and simple but beautiful paella, the comfort food of Spain. This hearty and simple rice sauté traditionally loaded with seafood and poultry. We will honor our local seafood bounty and prepare a sausage and scallop delight with all of the seasonings of Espagna!

cookingSchool-20120114-0013

February 21, 2015- France/Provence

cookingSchool-20120114-0047

As the cold mistral winds blow across the lavender fields of Provence, learn to shape French loaves in many shapes and sizes and enjoy classic Bouillabaisse, the provencal city of Marseille’s world famous seafood soup made with our local bounty of fish and seafood.

March 7, 2015- Southern Italy/Sicily

As spring approaches the hills of Sicily we will make hearty Sicilan country bread and two wonderful soups: Ribolitta (literally bread soup)and escarole soup with veal meatballs.

April 11, 2015- Spain, Portugal and Morocco

Where northern Africa meets southern Europe the flavors of Spain, Portugal and Morocco are all influenced by their common geography and unique histories. We will make traditional flat bread with its soft pillowy texture and amazing flavors. To accompany our bread, a selection of delicate soups and hearty tagine highlighting the local flavors of the region.

Our winter classes fill up quickly so it’s important to get your reservations in early. The package price includes best available room at time of booking giving you even more reason to book early so that you can reserve your favorite room.
cookingSchool-20120114-0046

Bon Appetite and Exhaling on Cape Cod!

Brewster conservation

by Donna Cain, innkeeper and owner

For us, conservation is a lifestyle. For example, we strive to do the right things in being green at the inn, using farm to table practices and reusing things whenever possible. This philosophy took on a new twist when we lost part of a beautiful Norwegian Maple in the back of the Captain Freeman. This tree is probably about 125 years old, based on it’s size and countable rings. When we purchased the Captain Freeman our new neighbors came over to introduce themselves and laughed when they said they had adopted our tree, as the inn had been vacant for several years. The grass on the rest of our property was several feet high, but our gracious neighbors had mowed the grass around the tree and had set a bench at the base. It really was a lovely thought as their grandchildren came to visit in the summer, and they all gathered around  this tree to let the kids play in a small  pool. Since then we have lovingly restored the grounds around the inn and have also enjoyed it’s shade and respite in the summer months. This past winter we had several North Easters that brought down two large limbs of the tree.

Side lawn at the Captain Freeman

Side lawn at the Captain Freeman

We were saddened as it was evident that the tree was diseased and would probably have to be totally removed in the next few years. My husband Byron cut up some of the branches and again our neighbor came and asked if we would mind if a friend took some of the wood as he was a craftsman that made lovely bowls. We were glad to share and know that the wood was put to some good use.

This morning as we were finishing up breakfast and had a surprise visit from Craig McConchie. Criag is a talented artist who specializes in wood and glass. He brought us a beautiful round bowl made from our tree:)

Wood bowl by Craig McConchie

Wood bowl by Craig McConchie

Byron and I were both so tickled when we looked at this web site, Tobias Wood and Glass and saw all of his beautiful pieces.Some of Craig’s other pieces that can be purchased on Etsy include:

Wood bowls

Wood bowls

Stained glass

Stained glass

Stained glass

Stained glass

We had a great conversation with Craig and were delighted to learn that his grandparents use to own “High Brewster” We had heard many stories from our guests about this restaurant and inn that was renowned for their great home style meals.

High Brewster Homested

High Brewster Homested

High Brewster was built in 1738 by the Winslow family on the north edge of Lower Mill Pond. It was run as an inn for most of the past century. The Thorne family bought it in 2001 and have been restoring it ever since.

I was also excited to learn that Craig raises chickens (I have wanted to get a chicken coop for year) and honey and would be able to provide us with some fresh eggs and honey for our breakfasts at the Captain Freeman Inn.

So all in all a great day! So much fun to have a beautiful bowl to remember our beautiful tree. We are talking about what species we will replace it with ….. thinking about a Tupelo or Swamp Oak Tree.

Spring has sprung at the Captain Freeman Inn on Cape Cod

By Donna Cain, innkeeper and owner

Spring has always been my favorite season and a little sad this year as my dear mother passed away in January. She too, loved spring, and we would always walk the gardens together and comment about all the flowers that were pocking their heads up to the sky. This morning I was preparing breakfast for our guests staying at the Captain Freeman Inn, and I happened to look out the window at our raspberry patch. Sitting on top of two of the posts are homemade birdhouses made many years ago by my Uncle Al. This past fall I had our handy man Antonio repair and repaint them and we just hung them last week in our raspberry patch. To my surprise I saw a chickadee making a new nest in this house……so sweet…… my mind thought back to so many wonderful memories when I was a little girl.  I was very close to my Uncle Al who was the brother of my father. He was very handy with woodworking and also had many beautiful flowers growing in his greenhouse. I think he would be pleased that we placed his houses in our beautiful raspberry patch.

Bird house

Bird house

We started our raspberry patch at Brewster by the Sea from small plants from my Mom’s garden in the Berkshires. These particular plants are so hearty and provide us with two crops- one in July, and if the weather cooperated, one in the late fall.  Hoping we will get some nice berries this year to make our famous raspberry jam.

Raspberries

Raspberries

I am always amazed in the spring how you will be driving down the road one day and the trees will be bare and the next day everything will be green…..happening overnight! I am encouraged as these buds are almost ready!

New buds

New buds

I love fountains and am especially attached to this one as it use to be in my mom’s garden back in the Berkshires. We have placed this one near our porch where our guests enjoy breakfast overlooking the pool and gardens. Fountains make such a soothing sound….perfect for relaxing our guests.

Fountain

Fountain

This was my mother’s favorite peony. When she moved in with us at Brewster by the Sea ten years ago we transplanted it from her gardens back in the Berkshires. Last year we retransplanted it to the gardens at the Captain Freeman. So glad to see that it is healthy this spring.

Favorite peony

Favorite peony

Brewster in Bloom festivities start this upcoming weekend and I was so tickled to see the daffodils are all in bloom. These particular blooms grace our beautiful gardens around the pool.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Not quite sure which flower this is but the brilliant lavender color is a joy to see from inside the inn. I keep telling myself…..summer really is coming:)

Spring color

Spring color

Last but not least is a picture of our pool at the Captain Freeman, a boutique inn on Cape Cod. it was just opened last week, and the water is a little cold but once we get a few warm days it warms up quickly. Here is to a wonderful summer filled with laughter, sunshine and fun for all.

Captain freeman pool

Captain freeman pool

Herring run in Brewster

by Donna Cain, Innkeper and owner

We always know when spring is here as we hear all of the seagulls “squaking” with content at the Stoney Brook Grist Mill which is just behind our second inn, Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa. It’s quite a sight to see the seagulls swooping down and eating many of the herring that are jumping upstream to reach Upper Mill pond where they will spawn over the summer months.

Herring Run

Herring Run.

It was interesting to read that the herring population is very healthy and increasing every year. The article below was written last year by the “Wicked Local” There is much debate as to why the population is increasing. When we first moved here over 10 years ago it was fun to watch the kids catching the herring in their nets. When the population starting decreasing you could not get a permit to catch the herring.

Herring at Stony Brook

2007 – 22,300
2008 – 25,289

2009 – 11,062

2010 – 48,099

2011 – 37,091

2012 – 41,028

2013 – 153,262

(one wonders how they can count the actual number of herring:)

Herring in Brewster

Herring in Brewster

They won’t be packing barrels of smoked herring out of the Stony Brook Mill site like they used to 100 years ago, but maybe some day folks will be able to dip their nets in to catch the sparkling silver fish once more for their private smoking.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod reports last spring’s estimated record run of herring was 153,262 fish.

“It’s certainly encouraging to see this big increase at Stony Brook,” said noted Jo Ann Muramoto, senior scientist at the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, who oversees their work with herring. “Still it’s so, so low compared to historic records based on the barrels of fish they used to take out. I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet.”

Prior to 1903 Brewster had an official herring catcher who had to supply each town family with one eighth of barrel of herring a year. The average annual catch was 225 barrels. In contrast, in 1912, Harwich’s Herring River produced 1,200 barrels.

The official “record” only covers eight years, the formal herring counts began in 2007 but it still a good sign. The previous high was 48,099 in 2010 so this represents a tripling.

The question is, is the bounce due to the reworked (in fall 2010) culvert under Route 6A, which is now 18-feet wide instead of 4 feet, or does it reflect a general rebound of herring around the state?

“I’d like to think it’s a combination of both of those,” Muramoto said. “I do think making the culvert wider has made a difference. During the run itself a number of people including myself stood over the culvert and looked down at thousands of herring schooling to pass through the culvert whereas before maybe a dozen could move up at one time. An entire school could make it through now.”

Muramoto explained that herring seem to like to form a school before they move upstream.

“It’s probably the way they migrate upstream. If you watch at different points they seem to like to congregate in schools. This schooling pattern is pretty common,” she said.

Herring

Herring

That could be a way to reduce the chance of predation by gulls or other animals.

Massachusetts imposed a three-year moratorium on herring harvests (both alewife and blueback herring, both in the genus Alosa) on Jan. 1, 2006. That was extended for another three years in 2008 and has continued since. Connecticut and Rhode Island have also closed their herring fisheries however herring can be caught in the open ocean as a bycatch of other fisheries, especially Atlantic herring (Clupea Harengas). Most of the bycatch occurs around Cape Cod, according to a 2008 study.

“The effects of fishing at sea are not well controlled,” Muramoto observed.

Dana Condit, head of Brewster Mill Site Committee, puts more stock in the fishery shutdown than the new culvert.

“I grew up right there and I remember in the ’60’s they’d show up like this year and they would use that culvert,” Condit said. “In 1968 they changed the configuration where the fish go into the pond and they navigated that in huge numbers.”

The Stony Brook fishery was big business in those days.

“They used to sieve them out in the back of dump trucks and in barrels on tailor trucks. They took a lot of herring out of there,” Condit recalled.

Last year (2012) saw big runs of herring in the Charles and Black rivers, as well as at Stony Brook and in the Monument River in Bourne.

“This may have begun in 2012 and is continuing this year. We’ll know better when the Division of Marine Fisheries presents the results from around the state later this month,” Muramoto said. “I think 32 runs are monitored in Massachusetts. The highest numbers are on Cape Cod.”

Muramoto works with herring monitors in several towns.

“There are increases in some, others are the same,” she said. “The Herring River in Wellfleet almost doubled this year. Pilgrim Lake (in Orleans) was the same. The Mashpee River was the same but some counts were lost. The Quashnet (River) was the same. The increase for Stony Brook was one of the most dramatic.”

“I talked with construction guys from the DMF and they had wonderful numbers everywhere. It wasn’t just us,” Condit said. “A lot of runs did very well off Cape.”

The herring run generally peaks in late April and early May. Muramoto recruits 15 to 20 volunteers to do the counts. Nine counts are done each day at random times during herring season, at a designated location, each count lasts 10 minutes. Herring runs in Bournedale and Sandwich have electronic counters.

The herring do run at night, but nighttime counts have been problematic.

“We’ve tried to use a video camera underwater at night but had severe lighting problems,” Muramoto said. “We weren’t successful seeing fish.”

We stopped by the Herring run last night and Byron was able to get some great shots of the herring in the water. The pictures have an impressionistic feel and we both loved the shots so much that we want to frame some.

Herring in Brewster

Herring in Brewster

This particular evening the seagulls were flying overhead but were not swooping down for dinner…..maybe they had their fill for the day.

Herring

Herring

Many of our guests staying at the Captain Freeman Inn and Brewster by the Sea love visiting the Brewster Grist Mill. This weekend the town is celebrating Brewster in Bloom and the mill will be open for tours. They will also be selling their wonderful ground corn meal. We love to purchase the ground corn for our wonderful Captain Freeman Corn Muffins which we serve regularly at the inn.

Happy Spring!

Breakfast Chef at the Freeman

by Donna Cain, innkeeper and owner

Happy to report that our wonderful breakfast chef Nick is returning to the Captain Freeman for our summer season. Nick has a wealth of experience and not only brings great culinary talent for our guests but also is a sweet guy to boot !

Nick with his beautiful daughter Lilly

Nick with his beautiful daughter Lilly

Nick is  the world’s best Dad to Lilly. I just love when they stop in to visit. Shown in this picture with her Dad, just before her 2nd birthday.

We have created some wonderful new breakfast entrees for the summer season including a delicious home fry with sweet potatoes, turkey and peppers….what a wonderful way to start your day on Cape Cod!