Atlantic Lobster

Lobster

Giant Lobster on display in the Natural History Museum in Halifax

If you look at Nova Scotia on a map, it looks a bit like a lobster claw. The people who lived here a long time ago considered lobster a common meal because there were lots of them around and they were easy to catch. But now a nice big lobster can cost about three times as much as a chicken!

Did you know that a lobster may live up to 100 years and can grow to be almost as long as you some of you are tall (3 feet)! But a lot of lobsters are caught in the traps and eaten when they are about 5-7 years old.

Lobsters start out as eggs the size of a pin head. When the eggs hatch the little squiggly creatures float up to the top and wiggle around and grow up there for a few weeks, and then those that don.t get eaten by hungry fish, settle back down to the bottom.

As they grow, their hard outside gets too small and they have to keep squeezing out of it. They eat everything they can get their claws on once they get out, sometimes they even eat their old shell. This happens a lot the first few years, then slows down to only once a year.

Did you know that sometimes a lobster can drop a claw or a leg if they are in trouble, and it will grow again!! Another interesting thing about lobsters is that their teeth are in their stomach!! They chop up their food (fish, crabs, clams, mussels, sea urchins and sometimes even other lobsters) into pieces with their claws and put it in their mouths, and then it goes into their stomach which has a surface like your molars and it gets ground up.

I am not a fan of eating lobster, but if you are brave enough to try, here’s how to do it.

When preparing boiled lobster, it is essential that the lobster be alive when it is placed in the pot. The lobster’s natural colours are blue, brown, and green. When cooked, their outer shells will turn bright red.

To prepare boiled lobster, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about 1/2 cup of coarse salt for every 4 L of water. Sea water may also be used.

Drop the live lobster head first into the boiling water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. allowing the lobsters to cook for 15 minutes if they weigh less than 1/2 pound/375 g, or 20 minutes if the lobsters are large. Remove the lobsters from the water and plunge them into cold water for several seconds to separate the meat from the shells. Drain, cool and serve.

Every part of the lobster is fully edible, including the delicate-tasting liver and the bright red eggs found in female lobsters. The one exception is the greenish sac found inside the body at the back of the head.

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Blueberries

blueberriesNothing like a blueberry right off the bush! And so good for you.

The ones that grow wild are low growing bushes with smaller berries but they are all taste. High-bush blueberries have much bigger berries and grow on taller bushes which make them much easier to pick.

When you have have a few buckets full, you’ll want to make a blueberry pie!

Fresh Blueberry Pie

1 pie shell with a fairly thick crust
enough blueberries to fill your pie shell

Bake the pie shell and let it cool. Pile blueberries into your cooled pie shell.

1 cup blueberries (this is in addition to those you put in your pie shell)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch

Cook blueberries and water in saucepan for about 2 minutes. Sieve mixture if you want (you don’t have to). Combine sugar and cornstarch and stir into fruit. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Pour the glaze on very slowly to allow it to seep through to the bottom of the berries.

Let stand for 5-6 hours.

Eat it all up, as it doesn’t keep very well (:

And of course, you have to read Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey!

Coal Mining in Nova Scotia

minersconveyorCape Breton is an Island that sits at the top of Nova Scotia. It is connected to the rest of mainland Nova Scotia by a thin man-made causeway called the Canso Causeway. The causeway took three years to build and was completed in 1955. It was built of granite that was blasted from nearby Cape Porcupine and dumped into the sea. It is a beautiful island a bit like the highlands of Scotland, which is perhaps why so many Scots settled here.

The French military first obtained coal in Cape Breton by prying it out of the cliffs with a pickaxe. The first proper coal mine in Canada was opened in Port Morien in 1720 by the French. This was because Fortress Louisbourg needed a readily available supply of coal. Over the many years since then there have been over a hundred different mine operations in this area.

The earliest tools used were probably crowbars, to help pry the coal from the rock outcrops. Later, when the first shafts were sunk, the miners used picks and wedges. During the 1800’s, they started to use hand augers or hand drills to make holes six feet deep which they filled with a charge of powder. This would break up the coal and make it much easier to get out.

The miner had to not only be strong, but he must also be courageous. Each day they went down the mines, they lived with the threat of death and frequently they were the victims of tragedy. When tragedies happened, however, the coal miners looked out for one another and were prepared to go down to find their trapped fellow workers.

Some of the dangers inside a mine were explosion due to coal dust igniting, the collapse of the walls and roof of the tunnel called a “bump”, explosion or asphyxiation from bad gas (methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide) that sometimes was trapped in with the coal and would leak out and fill the tunnel, and since most of the mines in Nova Scotia reach out under the sea, drowning from flooding. Coal miners were also often afflicted with lung diseases from breathing in coal dust. In Nova Scotia there have been ten major mining disasters and hundreds of people have died as a result of mining coal.

There are also environmental concerns with mining. Coal is not a renewable resource. Once we have pulled the coal out of the earth, burned it to produce electricity or steel, it is gone. We cannot make more. Although coal is more plentiful than oil and gas, it will eventually run out. Burning coal also produces carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming and acid rain.

PROJECT: Locate Cape Breton Island, Sydney, Glace Bay, Port Morien (first commercial coal mine in Canada), Springhill (site of three major mining disasters on the mainland).

FIELD TRIP: A wonderful museum that provides a remembrance of the early days of coal-mining: Coal Miner’s Museum, Glace Bay, Cape Breton.

BOOKS: Boy of the Deeps, written and illustrated by Ian Wallace, Douglas & McIntyre, c1999 (picture book), Out of the Deeps, written by Anne Laurel Carter and illustrated by Nicolas Debon, Orca Book Publishers, c2008 (picture book).

FILM: There is a CBC film called Pit Pony (1997). If you cannot find the film, you can read the book it is based on Pit Pony, by Joyce Barkhouse. In this story, some of the ponies used in the mines came from Sable Island.

View coal mining while serenaded by coal miners, Men of the Deeps.