OUTSIDE

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.

Wise Men Wisdom

You may wonder why this article is about the Wise Men now that Christmas is over. While it is a popular Christmas card manger scene to put wise men in the picture along with shepherds and angels, they actually showed up at an unknown time and place after Jesus’ birth, so the topic is still timely.

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The Christmas Stocking Tradition

Christmas is probably the most tradition packed holiday there is, and over the years I’ve enjoyed chasing some of them down to find their origin. One I’ve gone after is the Christmas stocking, which in present day has become a large, usually ornate sock shaped bag that is hung up on Christmas Eve so Santa can fill it with small toys, candy, fruit, and such.

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The Christmas Tradition of Advent

My church celebrated the beginning of Advent December 1st by carrying out the “hanging of the green” tradition of decorating the church sanctuary for the Christmas season. Our pastor explained the meaning of the Advent tradition, which was good because while I had heard of it, I didn’t really know what it about. I’m all about old traditions, and so it sparked my own research on the subject, which I thought I would share.

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Christmas tree care tips

Those that hold to the tradition of using a real tree enjoy the smell and feel of a natural product that comes from a renewable resource. Buying one can also help support small family farms, so it has many positives. On the downside, a Christmas tree is a living thing that requires some extra care to be sure it doesn’t dry out and pose a fire hazard. Here are some tips from the National Christmas Tree Association on keeping your Christmas tree fresh and green as long as possible.
- When you get the tree home place it in water as soon as possible.

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The Roots of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the high holidays of the US, involving traditions of being with family, eating a bountiful meal of traditional foods, and hopefully taking time to give thanks for what we have been given. You know the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving involving Pilgrims, Native Americans, feasting and all that, but history is always good to review occasionally, as you often learn something new.

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More Mountain Speech

I’m still studying a book called Smoky Mountain English, which is a dictionary of mountain dialect. I was blessed to be around my grandparents quite a bit growing up and heard a lot of phrases and word pronunciations that aren’t used much today. But some of it is still hanging around and I find myself using it without thinking about it, which my granddaughters find puzzling. So what follows is my latest list of words in the book that I personally have heard used sometime in my lifetime. I’m sure you will find many familiar as well if you’re from around here.

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Top Wildlife Plants

Wildlife feed on a variety of food sources: woody plants, weeds, herbs, grasses aquatic plants, and cultivated plants. How each plant is used by wildlife is useful information for hunters, farmers, or anyone interested in wildlife and their habitat.

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Persimmons are ripening in East Tennessee

Folks who would like a taste of some wild food ought to get out and hunt persimmons this time of year. They are abundant in our area and easy to find in fencerows and woodland edges.
There are many varieties of persimmon trees in tropical areas of the world, but only two in the United States. The one growing in our area is called "common persimmon" (Diospyros Virginiana), or "possum tree" by some.

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Local Rivers Were Early Interstates

Back in the early and mid-1800s the industrial age and a growing population created a demand for raw materials to make products, especially from wood and metals such as iron and lead. Our area had metal ore deposits to produce pig iron in locally owned furnaces fueled by charcoal and coke. Pig iron needed to be shipped to big cities like Chattanooga where it was refined and made into metal products such as tools and farm implements.

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Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs can make a nuisance of themselves by gathering around the house in large numbers. They usually do this in the autumn in preparation to move into protected areas to over-winter. While they do not cause physical damage to the house, they may stain walls and curtains with brown fecal matter.

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Mast years are good times for wildlife

Many species of trees have “mast years,” when their seed/fruit production is extraordinarily high. Mast refers to tree seeds that are a food source for wildlife. It comes from the old English word “maest”, referring to tree nuts that have accumulated on the forest floor.
Hard mast includes all of the nut trees, including oak (nine local species), hickory (four local species), walnut, beech, chinquapin and hazelnut. Soft mast includes the fleshy fruits like dogwood, sassafras, blackgum, blueberry, blackberry and cherry.

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