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August 3, 2020

Pittman Center Has Become A Bee City!

Our community of Pittman Center has joined communities across the country to call attention to an important issue.  Affiliates of Bee City USA  are working to protect pollinators.  So far 111  cities have signed up to raise awareness, establish and enhance habitats, and celebrate the efforts of volunteer leaders.

Pittman Center leaders are working to support our pollinators.

Honey bees are busy at work in Buckhorn Inn flower and vegetable gardens.

Honey bees and other pollinators are facing threats at increasing rates.  According to Bee City USA http://www.beecityusa.org one of every three bites of food that we eat is thanks to insect pollination.  In fact, 90% of all plants and trees rely on pollinators for the survival of their species.  That is why we must be concerned with bees disappearing because of loss of habitat, diseases and parasites, and inappropriate pesticide use.  Some experts estimate that U.S. honey bee populations are declining at an annual rate of as much as 44%.  

Pittman Center Approves Resolution

In May 2020 the town of Pittman Center approved a resolution naming the town an affiliate of Bee City USA.  The town’s Tree Board will oversee the Bee City USA program.  The town will host at least one educational event or pollinator habitat planting each year to showcase the community’s commitment.  There also are plans to create or expand a pollinator-friendly habitat on public and private land.  The Tree Board also will create and adopt an integrated pest management plan.  This plan will be designed to prevent pest problems, reduce pesticide use, and expand the use of non-chemical pest management methods.  

At the Buckhorn Inn, we are delighted with this new program.  This is the second summer for our honey bee hives.  We report that Queens Violet and Catherine and their minions are healthy and happy.  You can watch them at work in our vegetable and flower gardens.  When the nectar is flowing they are especially busy in St. Cordelia’s garden.  We hope you have a chance to watch them at work.

July 27, 2020

Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains

Have you seen elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?  Our area is home to nearly 200 of the magnificent animals.

The best time for elk viewing is early morning or late evening.

Bull elk look imposing with their full rack of antlers.

Elks are awe-inspiring creatures.  The males can weigh up to 700 pounds.  The females fiercely defend their offspring and may charge challengers.  For a few weeks during the fall mating season, the males, with fully developed racks, bugle and fight to get the attention of the females.  The females gather in groups, called harems, on the edge of the fighting fields.

Large herds of elk once roamed along the Appalachian Mountain Range from George to Canada.  But, due to overhunting and habitat destruction, the species disappeared from the region in the 1800’s.  The National Park Service determined it was appropriate to bring back a native species that had been eliminated from park lands.  A small herd of  25 of the animals was reintroduced to the park in 2001.  As part of the experiment, the animals were outfitted with radio collars.  In 2002 another 27 animals were brought to the area.  This reintroduction has been very successful and today the population flourishes.

Best Places to View Elk

The elks have become celebrities, attracting many visitors each year.  Most of the elk can be found in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern area of the park.  They may be active on cloudy summer days and before or after storms.  But the best time to spot them is early morning or late evening.  The Park Service reminds you to enjoy the animals from a distance and use binoculars for close-up views.  In fact, approaching within 150 feet, or any distance that disturbs the animals, is illegal in the park.  To avoid fines and arrest, do not enter the field.  Remain by the roadside, please. http://www.nps.gov

Please send your pictures to [email protected]  We would love to share them with other guests!

July 20, 2020

Bees Beard to Beat the Heat

Honey bees often beard in warm weather.

Our honey bees beard on the outside of their hive.

One of our guests pointed to our honeybees clustered on the outside of the hive and said it looked like a “beard”.  They wondered why the bees would do this.  We have an answer!

“Bearding” is the term which refers to bees accumulating at the front of the hive.  They appear calm and fan their wings in unison.  They are likely to do this on hot and humid days.  By clustering outside they provide more space inside the hive to keep the temperature and humidity within acceptable ranges.  Raising brood requires temperatures between 90 and 97 degrees F.  They remove their own body heat from the hive to lower the temperature.  They also use their wings to push cooler air into the entrance, lowering the temperature even more.    The proper humidity is necessary for nectar to evaporate and become honey.

Bee keepers sometimes confuse bearding bees with those getting ready to swarm.  But if it is a hot and humid day, chances are good that they are merely bearding.  Bearding bees also face the same direction as they fan.  This helps cool down the temperature of the hive. 

Healthy Bees Beard

According to Kelley Bees http://www.kelleybees.com/blog   Bearding is a sign of a strong bee colony that is in good health.  It is an indication that the hive contains a good number of bees and that they are preparing for winter by keeping the honey at the correct temperature.  

Bees may beard for weeks during the hottest part of the summer.  The workers are very skilled at temperature control.  Worker bees may also spread water on the rims of cells to set up cooling by evaporation.  They can create air currents by fanning their wings.  And they adjust the temperature by expanding and contracting the size of the cluster.  

We help the bees by providing a source of fresh, clean water.  A hive of bees can use as much as a liter of water in a day!  We also have painted the hives white so that the sunlight will be reflected, not absorbed.  

We are fascinated by our honey bees and are glad that our guests are interested as well!

July 13, 2020

Celebrate Summer with Pesto

Fresh goat cheese in rustic style

This is the time of summer when the basil in our garden here at Buckhorn is ready to pick.  Combining it with dairy creates the perfect appetizer for a summer evening out on the patio.  This recipe is from the 1988 edition of Easy Entertaining with Marlene Sorosky.  I have made it many times and served it with a variety of crackers.  A good wine pairing might be an Australian sauvignon blanc.  The green, herbaceous notes of the wine complements the pesto flavors and the bright acidity will act as a palate cleanser.  This recipe serves 16.

 

 

 

 

PESTO

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 cups (about 2 ounces) basil leaves (note:  if you blanch them a few seconds in boiling water and then plunge in ice water the basil leaves will retain their emerald green hue)

2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup olive oil

 

CHEESECAKE

11 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

¾ cup ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces)

8 ounces goat cheese

3 eggs, at room temperature

½ cup sour cream

 

To make the pesto, mince garlic in a food processor.  Add basil, cheese, and walnuts and process until ground.  Add oil and process to a thick paste.

 

To make cheesecake, butter an 8 ½” springform pan.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix together cream cheese, ricotta, and goat cheese until well blended.  Mix in eggs until thoroughly incorporated.  Add sour cream and process until well blended.  Pour into springform.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.  The top will be golden and the center will still jiggle.  Remove to rack and cool completely.  When ready to serve, remove sides of pan and spread pesto evenly over the top.  Sun dried tomato strips make a lovely garnish.  Sit back and wait for the compliments!

May 29, 2020

Smoky Mountains Are Home to Amazing Creatures!

The Great Smoky Mountains are home to 150 types of land snail.

The land snail’s shell is beautiful in both design and color.

The Great Smoky Mountains contain a myriad of flora and fauna.  Some of you may have seen this little critter we photographed and posted on our Facebook page.  We were eager to learn more about it.  And just in time, the May issue of Smokies Live hit our inbox.  This is a publication of the Great Smoky Mountains Association and contains well-researched articles on a myriad of topics.  One such article is “Permanent Camp:  Land Snails”  http://www.smokiesinformation.org.  Thanks to George Ellison for this interesting article.  And we appreciate the beautiful illustration by Elizabeth Ellison.

The article identifies land snails as terrestrial gastropods in the phylum Mollusca.  Worldwide, there are more than 100,000 members of the land snail species.  About 150 of these can be found in our very own National Park!  Land snails are fascinating to watch.  They move by muscular contraction.  The taller of their two sets of tentacles have eyes on their tips.  The shorter set enables the snail to smell.

Where Can You Find Snails in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Just about everywhere, according to the article.  They prefer moist, shady conditions.  The article quotes Dan and Judy Dourson (authors of Land Snails of the Great Smoky Mountains).  “The base of large diameter tree species such as black and butternut walnut can sometimes yield high numbers of land snails.”  

The Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) is a nonprofit that supports the preservation of the Park.  They offer many resources to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the Park through education, interpretation and research.  Membership in the GSMA includes subscriptions to their print magazine and electronic newsletters.  Members also are entitled to shopping discounts at visitor center stores.  We encourage you to consider membership in the GSMA and join us in becoming stewards of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

May 18, 2020

Why Are They Called “Salads”?

Today we picked a mix of beautiful greens for salads for our dinner guests.  The bowl of colorful greens had us wondering about the origins of this dish.

Fresh, beautiful greens are the start of many delicious salads.

These greens only need a drizzle of a flavorful dressing.

The word “salad” comes from the ancient Latin word “sal” for “salt”.  In ancient times, salt was an important ingredient in dressing.  You might be surprised to learn that ancient Romans and Greeks enjoyed raw vegetables with dressing.  Typically the vegetables would be dressed with vinegar, oil, herbs, and salt.  “Salata” literally means “salted herb”.  The dish became more complex over time.  In the 1700’s chef’s began to create composed salads with layers of ingredients.  

Today any entrée or side dish that is composed of a mixture of ingredients and intended to be eaten cold is a salad.  Some recipes are world famous.  Master chefs of the International Society of Epicures in Paris voted Caesar Salad as the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.  The Cobb was invented at the Brown Derby restaurant in 1937.  Crab Louie began appearing on menus at the turn of the 20th century.  Nicoise features garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers, and lemon juice.  It is named for the city of Nice, France.  A private party for the pre-opening of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 13, 1893 led to the first serving of Waldorf Salad. http://www.whatscookingamerica.net

The recipe below could be the start of your own famous salad!  Fresh mixed greens and vine-ripened tomatoes.  Just add a drizzle of lemon basil dressing and you will enjoy a taste of summer.

Lemon Basil Dressing for Salads

 ¼         Cup     Diced onions

1          Tbl       Minced garlic

1          Tsp      Dijon mustard

½         Cup     Fresh basil leaves

1          Tsp      Salt

½         Tsp      Pepper

1          Tbl       Sugar

¼         Cup     Mayonnaise

½         Cup     Lemon juice

Combine the ingredients above in mixing bowl of food processor.

Add slowly while processing:

1 ½      Cups    Combined Olive and canola oil

Chill and serve over salad greens.

Yield: About 2 cups

May 11, 2020

National Park Begins Phased Reopening

Saturday, May 9, 2020 marked the first phase of the reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This phase, expected to last about two weeks, includes some popular destinations.  The Park will open Newfound Gap, Little River, Cherokee Orchard, Laurel Creek, Cades Cove Loop, Lakeview Drive, and Deep Creek Roads.  The restrooms and picnic areas along the roads will be open as well.  However, visitor centers and campgrounds will remain closed for this period.  The phased-in reopening follows guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local public health authorities.

We understand that the LeConte Lodge and Cades Cove Riding Stables will open on May 18.  The Cades Cove Campstore and Smokemont Riding Stables are set to open on May 23.

National Park Encourages Safety

The National Park is a treasure in our own backyard.

Visitors can once again marvel at the beauty of the National Park.

The foremost priority in the reopening is the health and safety of employees, partners, volunteers, visitors, and local residents.  Park managers will monitor all activities to ensure that they comply with public health guidance.  Park authorities stress that visitors must practice social distancing.  Saturday’s reopening drew visitors from far and wide.  Park spokesperson Dana Soehn reports that she saw license plates from 24 states in one parking lot.  Soehn asks that visitors make choices to keep themselves, and Park staff, safe.

After the two-week period, Park management will decide whether to reopen secondary roads and campgrounds, and later, to lift all restrictions.

We view the Park as our treasure, and we are so glad that visitors may once again seek comfort and solace by viewing the wonders of nature.  We encourage our guests to hike early in the morning, before other hikers arrive.  The Park Service website http://www.nps.gov/grsm is a wonderful source for information.  The site has the most current information about facility openings, service hours, and access.  They also have released a new video highlighting tips for a safe Smokies visit.

If you haven’t been hiking for a few weeks, a walk around the Buckhorn Inn nature trail is a good way to get back in shape.  We look forward to seeing you outdoors!

 

April 23, 2020

Covid-19 Safety Precautions at Buckhorn Inn

You may have missed our glorious Spring at Buckhorn but you don’t have to miss Summer. Innkeeper Lee Mellor

So many of our guests tell us that Buckhorn is their “happy place,” a place where they feel safe. We intend to do all that we can to insure that never changes.

We have always taken cleanliness seriously at Buckhorn Inn, but we established additional measures to protect our guests and our employees as soon as the threat of Covid-19 became apparent. During the time we have been closed, we have institutionalized these changes following guidelines established by the CDC.   All accommodation and public areas have been meticulously cleaned and sanitized.

  • Re-opening  We re-opened on Friday, May 1.  Although lodging establishments like Buckhorn are considered essential services and were not required to cease operations, we did so because we thought it was the socially responsible thing to do.  We have been so touched by the many phone calls asking us when we will re-open and expressing concern about the inn and about John and me and our staff.  We are lucky to have such kind and loyal guests.  None of us or our families have been affected directly by the virus in terms of our health.  Our county has not been so nearly affected as have others for which we are so grateful.
  • Social Distancing  Social distancing will probably be with us for some time.   We are learning to refrain from our usual hugs and handshakes and we have even had to give up elbow bumping.  There are differing opinions about the effectiveness of masks, but if you want to wear one please feel comfortable doing so.  We think we can recognize most of our guests even if they are in disguise!   
  • Buckhorn is a big place with 30 acres of beautiful property for you to explore.  We have gardens, a nature trail, labyrinth, and a pond for you to enjoy.  We have set up a badminton net for two.  At this time, we are only making available accommodation that offers private entrances, decks, views of the grounds and the mountains, and  a self-contained heating/air conditioning system.
  • Food Service  All personnel engaged in the preparation and service of food at Buckhorn are accustomed to employing professional levels of hygiene, including handwashing and health and safety standards as mandated by the State of Tennessee.  Our food service operation and our accommodation are inspected regularly by the Sevier County Health Department. Our record is exemplary.  However, management will monitor these procedures even more closely in the days to come.
  • Dining We have a large dining room which can be combined with our library, so that social distancing can be maintained at mealtimes.  Staff serving in the dining room wear masks and gloves. Breakfast is included in all accommodation rates and can be taken in the dining room between 8:00 and 9:30 am or delivered to your accommodation at no extra charge.  Hearty picnic lunches are available every day at $10 per person.  On June 18, we returned to our nightly dinner service, although seating is now limited to 24 guests to accommodate social distancing.  Guests can also pick-up their dinner “to-go.” 
  • Housekeeping Services  Through the foreseeable future we will modify our daily housekeeping service.  Instead of our customary full service, we will provide clean towels daily, remove trash and replenish amenities like coffee, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, etc.   On departure, we will clean and sanitize each accommodation.  Soft furnishings, for instance bedspreads, comforters, blankets, mattress pads, linens, will be washed and sanitized as each guest departs.  In this way, each arriving guest will be assured of perfectly clean accommodation.
  • General Cleaning  We use products with the components necessary to clean and sanitize to the standards recommended by the CDC.  Public areas will be cleaned and re-cleaned throughout the day, paying particular attention to areas such as doors, door handles, counter tops, stair railings.  
  • Health of Our Staff   We will monitor the health of our staff closely.  Should any staff member show any signs of illness, he or she will be asked to remain at home and receive paid time off for that period.

We will adjust our protocols as the situation in regard to Covid-19 develops, following guidance from our local, state and federal authorities and relevant health organizations.

  • Reservations and Cancellations  Debbie is in the office from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm and eagerly awaits your phone calls–even if it is only to chat–but she is also happy to take reservations (865 436 4668).  You can also reserve online and you can send an email to [email protected]   
  • Questions?  We are here for you.  When you are ready to return to these mountains and to experience their healing power, Buckhorn will be ready for you.  Until then, stay safe.

Lee and John and the Buckhorn Team

March 30, 2020

The Lure of the Spring Vegetable Garden

Like many of you, we have been itching to get into our vegetable garden.  Our raised beds have been calling to us!  We already have transplanted a few plants and put in some early spring seeds.  We hope that by the time these vegetables are ready to harvest, you will be dining with us at Buckhorn Inn!

Vegetable Transplants

We transplanted some Redarling brussels sprouts plants.  The Burpee catalog http://www.burpee.com describes them as “marvels of flavor, serenely balancing bite and mild sweetness”.  The purple-red buttons will appear in our menus steamed, broiled, or roasted.

We started our 2020 vegetable garden.

One of our beds is planted with brussels sprouts and pole beans.

Seeds in the Vegetable Garden

We sowed a lettuce blend this year.  We will be growing six varieties of loose-leaf and crisphead lettuce:  Lolla Rosa, Royal Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Little Caesar, Matchless Butterhead, and Salad Bowl.  These varieties are slower to bolt when the weather turns hot.  The various colors and textures are sure to make beautiful salads for our dinner guests.

The Prizm Hybrid kale will offer a rich and sweet flavor for salads when young, then add a nutty flavor to soups when more mature.

Do you like okra?  We do too!  This year we planted organic Red Velvet okra,  The 4-5′ tall plants will have red stems and will produce scarlet-red pods.  We can’t wait to use these tender pods in soups and stews.

This year we are trying Pusa Rudhira Red carrots.  This variety is very high in beta-carotene and lycopene.  So it is nutritious as well as beautiful and delicious!  This carrot was created to provide healthy and hardy vegetables for India’s subsistence farmers. http://www.rareseeds.com

Pole beans have been strong producers in our beds.  This year we are growing green Kentucky Blues, yellow Monte Gustos, and purple heirloom Trionfo Violetto.

Our Oregon Sugar P0d II snow peas will become favorities.  This variety stays compact, an important quality for raised bed gardening.

We planted a few hills of Country Gentleman sweet corn.  This is a shoepeg type corn.  Therefore the kernels will be in a zigzag pattern rather than in rows.  This variety is touted to be one of the best heirloom sweet corns.  We love sweet, milky, tender white corn!

Please let us know about your garden plans!  We love to talk veggies.

 

March 25, 2020

Time to Think of Spring

Spring brings daffodils to Buckhorn Inn.

We are welcoming spring to the Buckhorn Inn.

Spring is coming to eastern Tennessee.  The trees are flowering and, on warmer days, the honey bees are venturing out.  We thought you might enjoy a few of our favorite poems about spring.  If they inspire you to write your own, please share them with us!  One of our favorite poetry sites is http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com

Spring Pools by Robert Frost

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect

The total sky almost without defect,

And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,

Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,

And yet not out of any brook or river,

But up by the roots to bring dark foliage on.

The trees that have it in their pent-up buds

To darken nature and be summer woods–

Let them think twice before they use their powers

To blot out and drink up and sweep away

These flowery waters and these watery flowers

From snow that melted only yesterday.

The Wind Sings Welcome in Early Spring by Carl Sandburg

The grip of the ice is gone now.

The silvers chase purple.

The purples tag silver.

They let out their runners

Here where summer says to the lilies:

“Wish and be wistful,

Circle this wind-hunted, wind-sung water.”

Come along always, come along now.

You for me, kiss me, pull me by the ear.

Push me along with the wind push.

Sing like the whinnying wind.

Sing like the jostling obstreperous wind.

Have you ever seen deeper purple . . .

This in my wild wind fingers?

Could you have more fun with a pony or a goat?

Have you seen such flicking heels before, 

Silver jig heels on the purple sky rim?

Come along always, come along now.

A Light exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring

Not present on the Year

At any other period–

When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad

on Solitary Fields

That Science cannot overtake

But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,

It shows the furthest Tree

Upon the furthest Slope you know

It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step

Or Noons report away

Without the Formula of sound

It passes and we stay–

A quality of loss

Affecting our Content

As Trade had suddenly encroached

Upon a Sacrament.