Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Volunteer

Attack of the lady bugs

For several years we have had to endure a home invasion of ladybugs that are determined to make themselves bothersome houseguests, and this year is particularly bad. They are beneficial creatures, feeding on other bugs that damage farm crops. But indoors they drive you nuts buzzing around lights, dive bombing into drinks, and smelling bad.

Bluebirds

We seasonally have a pair of bluebirds build a nest under the eve of our house that I allow because I enjoy having them around. They are pretty creatures with an appetite for insect pests. The first sighting of bluebirds is considered a sign of Spring.

Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are easily identified by their sky-blue back and rusty colored throat and breast (they are cousins to the robins). Females are not as brightly colored as males. The birds are most often seen sitting on an isolated perch or hunting for insects on the ground.

Transplanting Trees Requires a Game Plan

There are occasions when you need to move a tree or shrub from one place to another, or perhaps you want to try your hand at moving a tree from the wild to your landscape. Successful transplanting requires planning, patience, and work.

Choosing Healthy Nursery Trees

Spring approaches, and with it will come the itch to get your fingernails dirty and plant stuff. Landscaping adds beauty and value to the home, so it’s a good investment, and you always want your investments to do well, so choosing healthy plants is important. Here are some guidelines:

Looking at Lichens

The above high rainfall we’ve had past couple of years seems to have caused a boost in lichens. Lichens are those flat light green blotches or hair-like tufts you see growing on tree bark and rocks. Like all life on Earth, lichens have found a niche where they can grow without much competition. Most older trees in our area have at least a small colony growing somewhere.

Arbor Day tree wisdom

Arbor Day is approaching for our local states (Tennessee March 6, Kentucky April 3, Virginia April 24), and it’s a worthy recognition of the importance of trees in our lives. Here in the mountains they are omnipresent, with every scenic vista tree laden. Every home is full of tree stuff, from bananas to the roof trusses, and every breathe we take has some tree air in it. What follows is some quotes and a little poetry spoken by wise people on the importance of trees.

Feel the Wild Side with Barred Owls

The most common owl that I run across locally is the Barred Owl (Strix varia) but have only seen them a handful of times. But I know they visit my woods regularly by their easy to recognize 8 or 9 note call that is remembered by the phrase “who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all”. When I hear the Barred or any owl call out, it gives me a shiver of wildness that is very satisfying.

'Browse' important to winter wildlife cuisine

“Browse” as a wildlife term is used as a noun and refers to food in the form of woody twigs and buds found on trees, shrubs and vines. Since more nutritious and palatable food is available during the growing season, browse is usually only consumed during the leaner winter months, which makes it critical in maintaining a wildlife population. Animals that utilize browse in our area include deer, elk, beaver, rabbit, mice and others.

Cold Love

With winter weather there are two distinct camps of people: those that love it and those that do not. You may have picked up in past articles that I am in the love winter camp, and cold/snow fans have actually been labeled. We are chionophiles (ki-own-a-files), those who thrive in cold winter conditions, especially in snow. It’s a Greek word that literally means “snow lover”.

Snow Stuff

I have never outgrown my love of a fresh snowfall, which takes a bleak winter scene and transforms it into a wonderland. The quiet a snow brings is both eerie and wonderful, and a walk in the snow on a moonlit night is something you simply must experience.

A lot of folks think that snow begins as rain that freezes on its way down and turns into snow. It's usually the other way around, with rain beginning as snow, which melts as it falls.

Reduce stress In 2020 by going natural: Be still and know

I don’t know the stats for our area, but on a national level, Americans are overstressed, and everyone knows this is unhealthy. The causes are familiar: fast pace of life, multi-tasking … you know the sound bites.
I’ve written in the past about studies that show that immersing yourself in natural settings can reduce stress, so I revisited the topic and found some new twists on natural stress reduction. Here are some recommendations that surfaced.