Tree Plumbing

If you paid attention in health class you know that our body needs to move materials around to function properly, such as oxygen. The transportation system is the bloodstream, which utilizes red blood cells as a bucket brigade, going to the lungs via veins to pick up oxygen, and carrying it to various body locations via arteries. A tree has similar needs and uses a liquid transportation system.

Fallen Baby Birds

Sometimes you find an immature bird that has fallen out of the nest, which can happen in the spring when the birds are old enough to move around in the nest but too young to fly. Their flopping about sometimes puts them on the ground and in serious trouble. So what to do?

Lyre-Leaf Sage: Blue in the Grass

If you drive down the road right now and see patches of blue in the green hayfields and pastures, it’s liable to be Lyre-leaf Sage. I have a lot of it in my fields for the first time that I can remember, as does my neighbors. It’s always been around, but I normally only see it along roadsides and field edges. It is in the same family of plants as the herbal sage used in cooking and such.

Carpenter Bee Blues

From personal observation and talking with others, it seems to be a good year for carpenter bees, as there are plenty of them. Usually when I get asked about them it’s how to get rid of them.

Conservative Consuming Creates Cash

Earth Day was April 22nd and it continues to be an annual reminder that we humans impact the planet’s resources in negative ways. And since our population continues to grow and most resources are finite, it would behoove us to save some for the grandkids on down the road. Doing so includes a personal reward of conserving both resources and money. Here are some ways to do it.

Faucet Fix: Many modern faucets include aerators, which simply add bubbles to the water to increase its volume. If you have old ones, aerators can be added so you use 50% less water.

Tick Season Never Ended

Since I’m in the woods a lot it’s reasonable to assume that I would have more ticks get on board and use me as a meal. But for the first time that I can remember I pulled ticks off every month of the year, including the winter months when they are normally dormant. That’s not right people! All of them have been the smaller deer tick, which are harder to see and feel crawling around. Now that your family is outside more with the warmer weather, best start body checking yourself and the kids. Since it’s good to know your enemy, here is a rundown on the tick lifestyle.

Poke Salad, a Mountain Tradition

A family tradition my mom kept was to seek out young poke sprouts in the spring and make poke salad, a king of cooked green. Back before grocery store chains and refrigeration, country folk came out of winter craving a fresh green to eat, and poke was one of the newly sprouted plants that were sought out, along with “creesies” or spring crest.

Planting by Moon Signs

In an earlier article I discussed the use of astrological signs to know when to plant garden and farm crops and have kin that still hold to them. Another method is using moon signs, or more properly moon phases to tell not only when to plant but also when it’s a good time to kill unwanted vegetation. In researching the subject, I have found no scientific backing for using the Zodiac or body signs, but planting by the moon may have something to it. The moon exerts strong influences on the earth, such as light, gravitational pull, and magnetism.

Planting by the Signs

My grandma and grandpa Roark were really into doing farm activities according to the signs, be it planting crops, killing weeds, or dehorning cattle. And their preference was to go by a system that used human body part signs to tell when to do things: plant root crops when the signs are in the head and kill weeds when the signs are in the bowels. I grew up hearing this stuff and had no clue what they were talking about, except that they always used a calendar given out by one of the local banks that indicated what the signs were on a particular day.

Experience the Powell River at the April 20 Regatta

Powell River at the Regatta

An opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Powell River is coming up on April 20, when the fifth annual Powell River Regatta will take place in Claiborne County near Tazewell. This 12-mile float will let you compete (if you wish) for cash prizes in various age groups/genders and canoe and kayak styles (single or double). If you don’t want to compete, you can still get some exercise while enjoying some memorable scenery. Blue heron, ducks, kingfisher, and even ospreys and eagles have been seen during past events, and spring wildflowers will be in full swing.

Speaking Mountain

Speaking Mountain

If you read my stuff much, you know that I am unabashedly proud to be mountain bred. I love our southern Appalachians mountains. The terrain, the climate, the plants and animals, the culture and history, all blend together to form a unique place to live.

Finding Old Home Sites

Something I like to do when hiking in the woods is to look out for old house sites. It’s maybe not as grand as finding ancient ruins in Rome or South America, but it’s still historic evidence that someone was here during an earlier time and impacted the land. It’s still archeology, just more recent, say within the last 200 years. Like ancient ruins, usually the only manmade structures remaining are stonework, such as chimneys, foundations, and retaining walls.

When is Spring?

In our area Spring seems to be a crap shoot with all the cold snaps in between warm ups. And when I looked into it, I found that there is more than one opinion of when Spring begins, and so here is a rundown of the possibilities.

Overlooked Pollinators

You’ve all heard that much of our food requires pollination, and honey bees are the well-known heroes, making sure we all get to eat. And so they are, but there are other unsung pollinating heroes that are overlooked, and one of them is our native Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia Ligaria).

Hickory History

Native Americans and European pioneers were a tough bunch to be able to eke out a living in the American wilderness. Nothing symbolizes that toughness more than hickory, a common tree of great strength and versatility. It goes back a long way as a revered and useful plant.

Winter Birds Commonly Seen at Feeders

A favorite winter pastime of mine is to maintain a bird feeding station, observing the visitors, keeping a list of birds that show up each season. I know a lot of folks do the same, so I thought I would share a partial list of the most common birds that drop by my yard and tell a little about identifying them.


Biodiversity is a big deal in ecology circles these days. The dictionary defines it simply as the variety of living things in a particular area or region. Opinions on the importance of biodiversity vary, but to me the loss of any plant or animal species means something’s wrong, and rightfully raises some concerns.

The Green Things of Winter

Compared to the other seasons, winters seem pretty colorless, with the leaves off the trees and laying brown on the ground. But through closer observation you can see plants that remain green through the winter, and seeing or perhaps even identifying them can brighten up a winter hike in the woods. What follows are some of the more common green plants you will find in our area.

Be Still

I may be writing this for myself, because I am a bona fide Type A person. I’m always engaged in some activity, making lists to check off, mind constantly engaged in problem solving or accomplishing some goal… pretty much from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. And worthy things do get done for church, family, and job. But there is a potential cost to all this in the form of exhaustion and burn out, unless you take time and get away to a quiet place and be still for a little while.