Spring Birds in Northeastern Tennessee Mountains

After planting a large number of pansies in various window boxes, planters and pots, the swing beckoned and I sucomned to its siren call.  Am I glad I did!  What a wonderful few minutes to enjoy the gentle flowing of the stream from the waterfall to the pond;Koi Pond FINAL the chatter of birds in the trees, the soft sighing of the wind on the air and most wonderful of all…the first hummingbirds of the season!

I had put out food a few days ago knowing that they were due to arrive any time!  And I knew they would be very hungry!  So they were!  One made a dive bomb from a nearby tree straight for the feeder coming to a screeching halt a short distance from the feeder and then quickly changed direction to make a two point landing on the ring circling the feeder.  He drank without taking a breath for about 30 seconds!  Then he flew off to another tree.  Soon his mate came racing to the feeder too. There were about 3 of them so I’m hoping to have quite a few this year.  Time to hang the other two feeders to attract even more.

Love enjoying meals outside with the hummingbirds as they whiz by making such a racket for such a tiny bird.  And the chatter when they are vying for food…good thing they aren’t bigger or we’d have to be afraid of them!  LOL

Up in the nearby tree a goldfinch was singing his heart out.  Chattering away at the top of his lungs.  When I looked closer I noticed a female sitting nearby on the same branch completely ignoring the male.  He hopped down to be closer, but he turned his back while he told her why she should choose in and not that upstart in another tree.

The male kept up a multinote song and chatter but the female although she sat and listened to him, didn’t seem that interested.  After about 10 minutes she jumped down to a lower branch, the male followed still singing at the top of his voice.  A few minutes went by and the female jumped to another lower branch.  Again the male followed and stared straight into her face giving the full power of his song, but to no avail.  After a few minutes, the female flew rapidly to a far away tree leaving the male singing, but not so strongly or loudly.  He was heartbroken!

The turkeys are also being very busy with mating rituals.  There are two toms with a flock of about 30 hens in a field at the edge of the Iron Mountain Inn’s property and sometimes I will see a hen running down the driveway looking for the rest of the flock.  Turkeys certainly are awkward runners…..!Image

Last night was the first whip-poor-will.  Started his call right on time…9:00 p.m.!  But last night there were 3 of them calling to one another across the trees.,  It will be interesting to see if as time goes by we are down to one as last year.  I’d love to see them, but since they only come out at night and are very small I doubt if I’ll ever be able to see one in person,

The trees are rustling just outside the door.,.It sounds like a car is coming up the gravel driveway, but I’m not expecting anyone and the cats aren’t on high alert so it’s just the trees waving at the sun and enjoying this beautiful warm sunny day.

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Autumnal Beauty

Having lived in New England, I know about spectacular fall colors.  Now I live in the mountains of NE Tennessee and except for the sugar maples, the colors of fall are equal to those of New England….and we don’t have the traffic jams of Vermont and New Hampshire.

So, come,, share the magic of the mountains during the next 10 days and you may catch the peak!Image 

Rooms available at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B in Butler, TN and we even have on-line booking so even if you get the urge to travel in the middle of the night…go to our website and book your room!  Can’t wait to see you!mountains

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Naturalist’s Rally

Just down the road from the Iron Mountain Inn B&B, past Watauga Lake and up scenic highway 19E scenic is Roan Mountain State Park which encompasses 2,006 acres of southern Appalachian forest at the base of 6,285 foot Roan Mountain, Tennessee. Park elevation ranges from 3,000 feet in the valley to around 3,700 feet on surrounding ridges. Rich hardwood forests allow for a great diversity of life and a wide range of outdoor activities. Park guests have opportunities t, tour a century old farmhouse, join rangers and naturalists for educational programs, and enjoy mountain music concerts.

On February 16th, there is going to be a Naturalist’s Rally at the Park.  The following is the schedule:

 Join us for a winter celebration of the Roan Highlands: their grassy balds, balds of green alder–a relic shrub from the Pleistocene, their birds and rare & endangered wildlife. We’ll meet Saturday morning, February 16th at the Roan Mountain State Park conference center. Bring the kids!

Nora Schubert, the Roan’s expert conservation biologist, will present a program on her years of research on the highlands’ golden-winged warbler, rare faunal habitats, and easy tips on gathering location data. Heading up to the ‘Hump’ from 19E—and wishing you had a four-wheeler for part of the trip? Here’s the lady to tell you all about it.

Nora, whose life began in Missouri, brings a naturalist’s love to all she does.

Jamey Donaldson: We all associate that name with goats munching the Canada blackberry on the grassy balds. Yes, Jamey is creator of the Baatany Goat Project, but he is also ETSU’s much sought after botanist for the latest word on rare Appalachian flora. Aside from an update on the 2013 goat browsing season, Jamey will present his recent work on the Roan’s green alder with highlights of its botanical history.

During Lunch:

Foster Levy, ETSU’s Honors Director, will give a short status report on Hemlock trees in the Park area. Will they be shading the trout pools in the years to come?

Lisa Huff of the TN Natural Areas Program will give us a short update on invasive plants. These invaders have arrived at Carver’s Gap!

Nora Schubert approaching Grassy Ridge


Hike # 1

Richard Knight, author of The Birds of Northeast Tennessee, will lead a birding hike in Hampton Creek Cove.

Hike #2

Marty Silver, a Warriors’ State

Park legend with wildlife and children, will lead an animal tracking hike down near the Doe river. Marty is the expert on the habits and habitats of the Roan’s animals.

Hike# 3

Jerry Greer, acclaimed Blue Ridge photographer, will lead a photography hike through the beautiful winter woods west of Twin Springs. Copies of his recent Blue

Ridge Parkway will be available.

Hike # 4

Jamey Donaldson, will lead a hike to the alder balds on the Roan. Dress warm for this one!


Meet at Conference Center 9:15AM

Nora Schubert: Rare Fauna 9:30


Jamey Donaldson: Alders 11:00

Lunch: City Market goodies 12:00

Elizabethton’s City Market will present a sumptuous selection of sandwiches for everyone’s taste along with platters of cookies and brownies. Cost is $7.50 and must be reserved in advance.


1:PM Meet on lower field left of the Park’s cabins entrance; leaders will be at the car lineup.

More Info: David Hall

423-772 3500 davetree@charter.net

Wildflowers and wildlife inhabit the hollows and ridges of the Roan foothills in abundance. From Dutchman’s-breeches to deer, trillium to turkeys and bee balm to black bears there is always something to discover.  The Appalachian Trail and famous Rhododendron Gardens of Roan Mountain can be accessed at Carver’s Gap, an 8 mile drive from the park. A naturalist is on hand year round to provide programs for visitors to the park and special groups.

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Beautiful Day in the Mountains

After a rainy damp start to the day, the clouds are blowing off Iron Mountain and there is blue sky and sun casting shadows on my deck.  Hooray!  It’s going to be a great day and weekend.  

I feel sorry for those in the Northeast.  Having lived there through a number of super snow storms, I know what they are going through.  And that is one reason when I built the Iron Mountain Inn I put in a 15,000 watt generator which comes on automatically if the power is off for more than 30 seconds.  And it will run the entire Inn for 4 days or more!

But tomorrow February 9th is Charles Darwin Day at the Grey Fossil Site.  The following is the schedule for the day.  Sounds like some interesting lectures.

The schedule for Darwin Day includes:

 10:00 “Darwin, the Bible, and Public Response to Evolution: From the Scopes Trial to the 21st Century,” presented by Dr. Joseph Baker, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, ETSU.

• 11:30 “Lunchtime Evolution Discussion,” led by Drs. Blaine Schubert, Steven Wallace and Jim Mead, Dept. of Geosciences and Natural History Museum, ETSU. Topics include human evolution, transitional forms, scientific creationism, intelligent design, and more.

 1:30 “What’s in a Name? Fifty Fun Ways to Name a Fossil,” presented by Dr. Mick Whitelaw, Dept. of Geosciences and Natural History Museum, ETSU.

• 3:00 “Stellar Evolution and Its Impact on the Evolution of Life,” presented by Dr. Don Luttermoser, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, ETSU.

Activities for all ages will be held throughout the day, which includes lessons on the following topics, human evolution and why humans are primates, how natural selection works, and understanding geologic time and evidence from the fossil record.

For more information, call the ETSU Natural History Museum at (423) 439-3659 or email info@grayfossilsite.com.

And book a room at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B or Creekside Chalet so you can relax after your visit to the Museum.

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Clothing and Morning

What a sunrise over the lake with the mountains in the background! Why couldn’t I find my camera???!!! But it’s in my memory….for the moment.

Although I love laying in bed snoozing, waking, thinking, when I get up as soon as I wake up, I find that the day always turns out better. Better to get up and get going before the negative thoughts can enter.

And when I put on my workout clothes, pick up the cat mess to toss in the garbage outside, feed the birds, I’m ready for the day. Workouts started back in December when I was visiting family and friends who are workout fanatics. So I’ve gotten into the routine – it’s good, but I haven’t lost any weight, but I feel better.

Morning is the time to get things done. Many years ago I used to get up at 5, dress, go to the barn to feed and work my horses for an hour, then home, change clothes, head to the office, work till midday, go to gym, change clothes, work out, change clothes, back to office, then back home to change clothes to head to barn to feed horses and clean stalls. Back home, dinner and for the last time of the day, change into bedclothes.

That’s a lot of time spent getting into and out of clothing. My great-grandmother used to change her clothes throughout the day…but not to ride, muck stalls or work. She dress and then would make morning calls, change for luncheon, rest, rise and dress for afternoon calls, home to change for dinner and then bed. How times have changed!

But since it’s early in the am today, time for me to head off to the gym. Have a good day whoever is reading this and let me hear from you.

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Keeping the Wolf From the Door

With times being tough, I thought it would be fun to share some recipes from a book How to Cook a Wolf published in 1942 by the well known food writer, M.F.K. Fisher .

Just the chapter headings make for good reading: “How to Be Sage Without Hemlock”; “How to be Cheerful Though Starving”, “How to Boil Water”, “How Not to Boil an Egg”, and “How Not to be an Earthworm” up to XXL Chapters total.

Ms. Fisher’s writing style is down to earth, sensible and should be required reading for everyone who spends time in the kitchen or who plans meals for a family.  One of her pet peeves is “a balanced diet”.  Her idea is that “[balance] is something that depends entirely on the individual. One man, because of his chemical set-up, may need many proteins.  Another, more nervous perhaps (or even more phlegmatic), may find meats and eggs and cheeses an active poison, and have to live with what grace he can on salads and cooked squash”.  Her mantra is “balance the day, not each meal in the day.”  And haven’t we begun to come back to this way of thinking?

Don’t we now talk about so many grams of proteins, so many units of carbohydrates, etc to be eaten in 5 smaller times a day rather than 3 big ones at set hours?  Grazing we are calling it today.

But now for one of her recipes which I have enjoyed myself!

Kidneys in Sherry

  • 2 TBLS butter or good oil
  • 1 sweet onion minced
  • 1 pair veal kidneys
  • Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • Watercress
  • Toast, rice or whatever

Wash kidneys and cut into little pieces.  Brown the onion in the fat and add the meat. Add seasoning (s/p, fresh-chopped parsley or basil or whatever herbs you have in your garden that you like).  Add the sherry and simmer five minutes.  Serve very hot with the watercress as garnish (I also used chopped scallions).

My mother made a variation on this recipe with mushroom soup.   After fixing the kidneys as above, she mixed them with mushroom soup and we had it on rice.  We thought it was delicious … partly because we didn’t know what we were eating.  It just smelled so good that we were hungry when we got to the table.  And it was always served with frozen peas.  I still enjoy this “comfort food” on cold evenings in winter.

One of the reasons for writing this book was due to shortages caused by the war effort.  And one of the recipes was called A Pleasant Tooth Wash from a book printed during the First World War.  According to Ms. Fisher, it is “an agreeable and cheap and generally adequate substitute for the various bottled washes we have been educated to consider an intrinsic part of our daily toilets”.  So, in the effort to help my blog readers “keep the wolf from the door” here is a recipe for

Mouth Wash

  • 2 ounces borax
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 1 teaspoon tincture of myrrh
  • 1 teaspoon spirits of camphor

Dissolve the borax in very hot water.  When it has cooled, add the other ingredients and bottle.  A little pink coloring can be added if your children demand it.

And that’s it for now.  Hope you enjoy these recipes – let me know if you try them.

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Valentine’s Day

A great start to Valentine's breakfast
Valentine’s Trifle

Here at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B we are waiting for guests to join us for the Valentine’s weekend celebration.

Lots of romantic surprises, lots of fabulous breakfasts, lots of romance and love all month.
Jetted spa tubs with candles, soft music and lots of bubbles!  Even your own rubber ducky! 
Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, perhaps?  Bedside chocolates and snacks, of course. 
Terry robes to wrap yourself in.
Add an in-room massage when you book the Equestrian Room! 
Soak in your private jetted tub or relax in your steam shower!  Romance and relaxation don’t get much better than this!!
Our goal is stated in our  logo….”Pampering Perfected” and once you arrive atop the mountain at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B, your wish is our command!  Just think, no beds to make, no dishes to wash, no meals to prepare – it’s all done for you!  After breakfast, just leave the table and enjoy your day.  Let us take care of all the details to make your special romantic getaway memorable.
You can reserve on our website: www.ironmountaininn.com or give us a call (423-768-2446) to alert us if there is something special you want for your lover – we’ll try to provide it – just don’t wait too long.  And don’t forget, we cater to special diets!  Just let us know.
Looking forward to sharing the magic of the mountains with you and perhaps at the end of your visit, you may not want to go home!  Seems to be a common comment!
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Winter doldrums

Here on the East Coast (including the mountain south) we’ve had enough of winter already!!   I was unable to have guests at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B due to not being able to get up or down from the mountaintop!  Once up there, it was beautiful but just take a look at the picture of all the snow!

Iron Mountain Inn

No having breakfast on the deck

Since that picture was taken, I have been to Colorado for 10 days where we had Indian summer in Littleton and Boulder while they had 8′ of snow in the mountains. While I was away, Butler, TN had over 14″ of snow!  Managed to miss that thank heavens!

Then home again for a short change of clothes (and a storm) before heading to the PAII B&B Conference in Charleston, SC.  Visited friends on Mt. Pleasant Island, but then had to cross the river to the Conference Center.  Took me 2.5 hours to go 4 miles due to icing conditions on the road, sleet coming down and everyone sitting while we were taken off the bridge one at a time.

Once over the bridge, I sailed along on clear roads to the Conference.  Amazing.

But while waiting, I turned off my engine, had a fresh orange I had with me and read part of the Autobiography of Mark Twain I have on my wonderful Kindle, a Christmas gift from my daughter.

Love the Kindle!!!! Read it while waiting in traffic (we have lots of bridges under construction hereabouts); read it while working out on the treadmill (makes the time go so much faster); and easy to read in bed.  I’ve downloaded a number of books to make sure I don’t run out if I’m stuck for a loooonnngg time someplace. The last bridge took over an hour to get across.  Guess this is stimulus money at work….??

It’s also nice when traveling not having to carry dozens of  books.  Just keep the Kindle in a side pocket of my purse so I’m ready to go.  I also love the books on tape I get from the library.  Just wish they had a better selection – the Johnson County library tends to stock John Grisham and Stephen King type books.  But they are getting better and I have listened to some wonderful books over the past 25 years of never going in the car without one!

Iron Mountain Inn view

Enjoying an afternoon in the mountains

Now I’m just waiting for spring to arrive so I can enjoy the views and peace and quiet of the mountain top.

Give us a call and come share the magic of the mountains with us.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Iron Mountain Inn Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bet'cha can't eat just one!

Every Friday, the Innkeeper of the Iron Mountain Inn B&B in Butler, TN bakes batches of these cookies to keep the bottomless cookie jar filled while guests are about.  Of course, she has to be careful not to eat too many herself!  They are addictive and are only available at the Inn.

Sometimes the wonderful fragrance of cookies drifts about the Inn during the week if the guests have been especially hungry after a day hiking on the nearby sections of the Appalachian Trail , swimming or fishing in Watauga Lake just down the road, or taking a horseback ride into the mountains on one of Dogwood Springs Ranch’s gentle horses.

The innkeeper does not give out this recipe – she says she will leave it in her will to her granddaughter who has been learning to bake these cookies with her “Granny”.

But chocolate chip cookies are not the only chocolate “goodie” served at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B!  On Sundays, the smell of freshly baking chocolate croissants wafts about the Inn. How about one of these with a hot cup of cocoa , coffee or tea?  Afternoons were made for memories like this!

Come, share the magic of the mountains in northeast Tennessee, “the quiet corner”

Iron Mountain Inn chocolate croissants

Just smell that yeasty dough!

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