swoosh

social icons

Gatlinburg Weather

Find more about Weather in Gatlinburg, TN
Click for weather forecast

Blog

head_about3

head_about4

head_ground_a

head_about2

September 21, 2020

Appreciating Petrichor In Any Season

Are you familiar with petrichor?  This is the earthy smell produced when rain falls.  The word comes from the Greek petros, stone, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in mythology.  Scientists speculate that humans enjoy the scent of rain because our ancestors may have relied on rainy weather for survival.

Most people find petrichor to be very pleasurable.

Rain releases a fresh, earthy scent.

Surprisingly, this common smell was not given a name until a scientific paper written in 1964.  The authors described how the smell comes from an oil exuded by plants in dry weather.  The oil is absorbed by clay-based soils.  When it rains, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin.  Geosmin is a byproduct of certain bacteria and is released from wet soil.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used high-speed cameras in 2015 to record how smells move in the air.  When a raindrop lands on a porous surface, air from the pores forms small bubbles.  These bubbles release aerosols which carry the scent.  Petrichor is more common after light rains because raindrops that move more slowly produce more aerosols.  

If the rain is a heavy one, the scent can travel downwind and alert people that rain is on the way.  Farmers often talk about smelling rain in the air.

Petrichor Described Poetically

Scientist T.L. Phipson described the phenomena in somewhat more poetic terms in 1865.  His notes refer to “the fragrance emitted by thousands of flowers . . .” that were “absorbed into the pores of the soil” and only released by rain.   

This poem by Jayde E is entitled Petrichor.

The scent of rain on dry Earth.

Churning like seawater on a stormy day.

Rising from the ground like bluebonnets on a summer evening.

Petrichor is a delight.

Wafting about beneath soft grey skies.

Traveling on the cool breeze like fairy dust in the wind.

The scent of nature.  

As fresh and invigorating as a thing could be.

A promise of new life.

A promise of new days.

A promise of more nights.  http://www.powerpoetry.org

The next time you visit Buckhorn Inn on a rainy day, we invite you to sit on one of the porches and savor the petrichor!

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 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!

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.

 

January 21, 2020

How Do Honey Bees Spend the Winter?

Our guests have been asking how our honey bees are spending the winter.  We thought that you might be curious as well.

They don’t fly south and they don’t hibernate–they have developed their own means for coping with the cold weather.  In order to stay warm the bees gather in a central area of the hive and form what is known as a winter cluster.  The worker bees gather around the queen.  The queen is at the center of the cluster.  Worker bees flutter their wings and shiver.  This constant motion generates heat and keeps the inside of the hive warm.  The worker bees shift from the outside of the cluster to the inside so they all have a chance to warm up.  The temperature may range from 46 degrees at the outside of the cluster to 80 degrees at the inside.  The cluster becomes more compact as the weather turns colder.

It takes a lot of honey to provide the energy for all of this fluttering and shivering.  A hive of bees may consume 40 pounds of stored honey over the winter.  On warm days, the bees may briefly fly out of the hive in order to eliminate body waste.

Honey bees worked all summer to build honey stores.

Hives can consume 40 pounds of honey over the winter.

Beekeepers Help Honey Bees Overwinter

The beekeepers’ role is to provide the best environment to help the bees succeed in overwintering.  Jack and Sharon prepped the hives for winter this fall.  The hives were robust with lots of stored honey for the winter.  They cleared away weeds from the hives so that predators would not have a place to hide.  They reduced the hive entrances so that mice and other small creatures cannot get into the hive during cold weather.  To supplement the honey the bees stored, they made “candy boards” out of sugar and pollen substitute.  The candy boards are placed in the top of the hive where it can easily be accessed by the bees.

They made sure the hives are adequately ventilated.  Ventilation is important to keep the inside of the hive dry.  The respiration of a hive full of bees contains quite a bit of moisture!   Bees can weather dry cold, but wet cold can be deadly to them.  Strong winds are common here, so they weighted down the outer covers of the hives.

We are hopeful that Queens Catherine and Sophia and their minions will overwinter in fine style.  We hope to be able to offer you a taste of Tudor Mountain Honey in 2020!

 

 

July 2, 2018

Guests Find Inner Harmony on Labyrinth Path

Whether you are seeking inner meditative peace, or just a nice walk, following the path of a meditation labyrinth may be for you.  The Buckhorn Inn “Rachael’s Labyrinth” is named for Innkeeper Rachael Young.  The path is constructed of local fieldstone and is encircled with native wildflowers and plants.  Our labyrinth is of the medieval style.

Walking the path of the Buckhorn Inn labyrinth is a peaceful journey.

Guest Amanda Writesman took this beautiful photo of the Buckhorn Inn labyrinth.  

Path for All Faiths

Labyrinths were in use long before recorded history.  They all feature a single path that leads into the center of a space and then back out.  Most cultures have a type of labyrinth.  They have been associated with mini-pilgrimages and walked to reinforce protection, to bring good fortune, or to overcome difficulty.  Today’s labyrinths offer the opportunity for meditation and slight concentration.  Every journey is a personal one–everyone gets something different from the walk.  The world-wide labyrinth locator http://www.labyrinthlocator.com lists 4,977 labyrinths in 80 countries, including the one at Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee!  The Smithsonian Magazine highlights six labyrinths which have been heralded for their beauty and history.

The Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France dates back to the year 1205.  According to the magazine, scholars believe that the path symbolizes “the human journey from sin to redemption”.

When you walk through the Old Summer Palace in Beijing, China, you are walking through a structure built in 1709.  The path is housed in a garden called the Garden of Perfection and Light.  The 864-acre property was intended to be a private garden for Chinese emperors, but was destroyed by the British and French forces in the 1860s.  The remaining ancient landscaping is like nothing anywhere else.

Dunure Castle in Scotland was a 13th century stronghold.  The stone labyrinth is on the beach near a park and offers walkers a wonderful view of both the sea and the castle’s remains.

Lands End, San Francisco was built by artist Eduardo Aguilera in 2004.  The labyrinth is located on a rocky outcropping overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.  The path is tucked away from view.

Do you enjoy walking labyrinths?  Please share your pictures and stories.  We would like to feature them in a future blog post.

 

 

April 9, 2018

Honeybees Benefit Tennessee Agriculture

Honeybees pollinate numerous crops.  In Tennessee the value of crops benefiting from their pollination exceeds $119 million annually.  Unfortunately, diseases and pests have caused annual losses of bees, in some years as many as 50%.  

Honey bee hives add to our landscape at Buckhorn Inn.

Two honeybee hives have been added to the Buckhorn Inn grounds.

 

We are pleased to be telling you that Buckhorn Inn is doing its part to protect and support these important pollinators.  Thanks to our son Jack, two new hives have been put up and two colonies of bees installed.  Queen Bee Elizabeth and her minions are on the left, while Queen Bee Victoria has her kingdom in the hive on the right.  Our immediate goal is to increase the population of honeybees.  But ultimately we hope to produce enough delicious honey to supply the Buckhorn Inn kitchen and to offer some to guests.  We thought you might want to learn about honey bees along with us!

Facts about Honeybees

Honeybees of such a precise sense of smell that they can differentiate hundreds of different flowers.

Honeybees produce honeycomb made up of hexagonal cells.

  1.  1.  Honeybees have six legs, two compound eyes, three simple eyes, two pairs of wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach.  http://www.benefits-of-honey.com
  2. 2.  Honeybees can fly as fast as 15 miles per hour and can travel as far as six miles.  Their wings beat about 200 strokes per second.
  3. 3.  In order to collect one kilogram of honey, a hive of bees will fly the equivalent of three orbits around the earth.
  4.  4.  The queen bee can live up to five years.  Her colony consists of 20,000 to 60,000 bees.
  5. A forager bee visits 50 to 100 flowers on each flight from the hive.  She repeats these trips all day, averaging as many as 2,000 flowers per day.
  6. It takes six to eight pounds of honey ingested for bees to produce one pound of beeswax.
  7. The only bees that sting are the worker bees.  They will only sting if they feel threatened, and will die once they sting.
  8. In the lifetime of a worker bee, she produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey.
  9. Bees overwinter by clustering in their hives to keep the queen and themselves warm.  They feed on the honey collected during warmer months and on syrup provided by the beekeeper.  
  10. Forager bees find flowers then return to the hive and share detailed directions.  In 1973 Karl von Frisch received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for cracking the code of the bees–the waggle dance.

Watch our blog and Facebook and Instagram posts for more information about our bees.  We are proud members of the beekeeping associations of Sevier County and Tennessee.  You may visit http://www.tnbeekeepers.org for information on the resources they offer.

 

January 8, 2018

Buckhorn Inn Pond Enhancements Continue

If you have been following the Buckhorn Inn on social media, you know we have been devoting much time and energy to being good caretakers of the pond on our nature trail.  This past summer we released grass carp into the pond to help us optimize the plant growth.  We also added a foundation.  The fountain not only is beautiful and provides soothing noise for visitors, but it also helps us maintain the good health of the water.  

A more recent project has been the removal of fallen trees around the pond.  Kevin Howard with Rex Howard’s Landscaping came up with a clever way to manage this work.  In Buckhorn Inn’s 80 years there have been few days when it was cold enough to freeze Buckhorn Pond enough to support about a dozen large men, but this winter was one for the records.  We had contracted with the firm to clear dead trees and debris on the side of the pond next to busy Buckhorn Road.  Rather than trying to clear this area from the roadside, Kevin had his men pile logs and debris on a heavy tarp and pull it across the frozen ice to the other side where it could be more easily loaded on trucks.  One of the fellows was assigned to sweep up all the debris from the ice–we expect him to go out for the U.S. curling team for the next Winter Olympics after all that practice!

The pond supported about a dozen men and equipment.

Our pond rarely freezes solid, but Mother Nature picked a perfect time for this cold snap!

We are so pleased with the work thus far.  The next step will be installing some beautiful plantings that will provide  screening from busy Buckhorn Road and add to the natural beauty of this space.  We will be adding native trees, bushes, and plants that will be at home in this environment.  Our spring-fed pond will become an even more special place to enjoy your sack lunch, read a book, and enjoy the quiet beauty of nature.  

Swans to Return to Buckhorn Pond

We know that many of you have expressed how much you miss the swans that used to grace Buckhorn Pond.  We have good news!  Innkeeper Lee presented John with two swans for Christmas!  The swans are coming from North Barrington, Illinois.  They cannot safely be shipped by plane until the weather warms up, so we look forward to their arrival this spring.  We are working on setting up our “swan cam” so that you can monitor the activities of this pair from anywhere!  In our January newsletter we will provide additional information on this pair and how we are preparing for them.  Be sure to read the article for additional information!

October 2, 2017

Carp-e Diem! New Denizens of Buckhorn Pond

Have you visited Buckhorn Pond?  The spring-fed pond was created after Douglas Bebb built a dam there in the early 1950’s.  The pond was designed with an ingenious overflow to protect the dam during heavy rains.  Bass, carp and perch make their home here, as well as frogs, turtles and a few snakes.  The brilliantly-colored wood duck, spotted sandpiper, heron, and other water fowl are attracted here.

The Buckhorn Inn Nature Trail features a spring-fed pond.

Buckhorn Pond is home to fish, amphibians, and water fowl.

We are responsible caretakers of our property, and invited a representative from the Tennessee Department of Natural Resources to review Buckhorn Pond and provide advice.  He told us that our water and surrounding area is in excellent shape!  His only recommendation was that a species of carp, the grass carp, could help us more easily maintain optimum levels of water plants.

Grass Carp Released in Pond

Our research revealed that the local farmers’ co-op is visited about once a month by a truck selling live fish.  We went there on “fish truck day” and purchased six 12″-long triploid grass carp.  The size was important as the naturalist told us if they were too small they could be eaten by the bass, and if they were done growing, they would not eat many water plants.

Grass carp help the pond stay clear of excess water plants.

Six grass carp were released into Buckhorn Pond.

Innkeeper John and daughter-in-law Sharon took the large plastic bags filled with water and carp down to the pier.  They “tempered” the fish by adding water from the pond to the bags until the temperatures equaled.  Then they lowered the bags into the water and let the fish swim out.  They report the fish looked happy in their new home!

The grass carp is a large, herbivorous, fresh-water fish.  It is used as a food fish in China, but in the United States and Europe used mainly for controlling aquatic weeds.  The use of these fishy friends lessens use of herbicides.  The fish live up to 11 years and eat three times their weight in vegetation daily.  They grow rapidly, as much as 10 inches in a summer.  The average length of a fully-grown grass carp is around 30″.  The grass carp are sterile and will not produce young in our pond.

For more information on stocking ponds, visit http://tn.gov/twra/article/fish-for-stocking.

August 6, 2017

Pitching Horseshoes at Buckhorn Inn

The Buckhorn Inn’s pits for pitching horseshoes are located near stop 18 on our Nature Trail.  This is the stop near the glider and St. Cordelia’s Garden.  What a great way to while away an afternoon!

Pits for playing horsehoes are located near #18.

The Nature Trail begins at the Buckhorn Inn.

History of Horseshoes

Many experts believe that the origins of the game lie in ancient Greece.  Citizens of less affluence could not afford a discus for sport.  Therefore they used horseshoes, sometimes weighing up to four pounds.  At this point, this was a distance game.  Players competed to see how far they could throw.  At some point, perhaps several centuries AD, the game evolved into one of accuracy.  The use of poles or spikes as targets

The NHPA has been the governing body of horsehoes since 1926.

Horseshoes are a game of accuracy.

became popular and the game spread around the world.  Pitching shoes was a favorite pastime of soldiers and when they returned home they introduced the activity to their communities.  Following the Revolutionary War, England’s Duke of Wellington said “The War was won by pitchers of horse hardware.”  In 1869 England created very exacting rules for the game.  The first worldwide horseshoe tournament was held in 1910 in Kansas.  The winner received a belt with horseshoes affixed to it.  Let’s hope he didn’t tumble into a large body of water wearing such a heavy trophy!  In 1914, the game became more formalized.   The “Horseshoe Guide” provided rules on scoring, stake height, shoe weight, size of pitchers’ box, and the distance between stakes.

Horseshoes Today

Since 1926 the governing body of the sport has been the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America http://www.horseshoepitching.com.  It is estimated that there are more than 15 million horseshoe enthusiasts in the United States and Canada.  To score in this game, you either must throw the shoe around the stake, or throw the shoe closer to the stake than does your opponent.  This scoring system led to the saying “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”!  

We hope to see you trying your pitching the next time you visit us at the Buckhorn Inn!