Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lost In The Woods? Don't Use This!

Have you heard this...
Moss grows on the NORTH SIDE of a tree so if you are lost you know where north is.

Here is some really good moss growing on a tree at House In The Wood.

Tree right outside the office.

And is actually growing on the EAST side of the tree trunk.

Sooo...find north using a DIFFERENT method like the north star or the sun that rises in the east and sets in the west.

House In The Wood is operated by Northwestern Settlement

copyright Valerie Wright at House In The Wood 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

HA! Squirrel-Proof Feeders

This is who is suppose to be on this feeder...
The White Breasted Nuthatch visits a lot.
 And this who else visits...
Say what! I call these my "Furry Birds"

House In The Wood is operated by Northwestern Settlement.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Hidden Neighbors

It's not until the leaves drop that you REALLY know who has been living next door to you. Take a look at who I found...
Bird Nest-one of the marsh birds in a bush. It is made of grasses.

Bird Nest in a tree branch-maybe a ROBIN, they use mud.

Known as a Dray--this is a Squirrels nest. So many of them!

Another Squirrel nest--you can tell because they use leaves in their nest.

Another bird nest in a bush--this one made of twigs.

House In The Wood is operated by Northwestern Settlement

Friday, November 29, 2013

Still Looking for that ISON Comet

I am still trying to see that comet. It just went around the sun (comets are made of dust and ice) and there was some concern that it wouldn't make it back seems that it did. So beginning on December 1, I will be looking out of my east facing window just before dawn to see what I can see.
From Sky and Telescope--my fav star site. 
Go to for more information on the comet and exactly where to look for it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Getting Ready for Winter-Our Beavers

Our Beavers have been VERY busy getting ready for winter. Notice the new mud on top of the lodge and the twigs and branches further out in the water. The mud came from the bottom of the lake--notice the dark colored leaves. The mud will dry and fill in the holes between the branches and twigs so that the lodge is sealed tight for the winter--no wind will be able to get through those cracks. The twigs and branches in the lake will freeze into a solid sheet of ice and allow the beavers to slip UNDER the ice in the winter to nibble on the branches. This way they can stay toasty warm all winter.
BEAVER LODGE in the foreground and GOOD STUFF to eat in the lake.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stars and Comets

There is suppose to be a few comets up there (ICON and Lovejoy) but I haven't been able to find them! But I have seen some of my favorite winter constellations--Orion, Taurus, Sirius part of Canis Major, and the Pleiades. I have also had a good view of some of my year around favorites--the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major) and Cassiopeia.

Orion, the hunter Constellation
For monthly FREE star charts that show what can be seen in the sky, go to

House In The Wood is operated by Northwestern Settlement

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Touch Me Not but if you don't...

The TOUCH ME NOT plant with the beautiful orange-yellow flowers is found near bodies of water--it likes wet feet. Its an interesting plant--fun to play with and a powerful medicinal plant.

The green seed pods (long narrow and fat when ripe) explode when you touch them. I can spend hours lightly touching the ripe pods just to see them explode sending their bright green seeds in all directions.

The leaves are strong medicine for the itchiness of bites and stings. I usually grab a few leaves when I accidentally brush against STINGING NETTLES and smear the leaves all over the area that stings. Conveniently, at camp, they grow right next to each other. I also have been known to gather the leaves and puree them in a blender, put them in a baggie and then freeze them. Between the cold and the touch me not leaves, it is very soothing. Although when I was doing research, Wikipedia says "although controlled studies have not shown efficacy for this purpose" which I believe means that it doesn't work. You can try it if you get a chance--even if it doesn't work, it won't hurt you. 
For those of you who like the Latin name--Impatiens capensis! It is also known as Jewelweed because when the leaves are held underwater, they sparkle in the sunlight.

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All rights reserved 2013 by Valerie J Wright

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wild Edible Plants at House In The Wood

This was a lesson we did with the recent Rowe Elementary School 5th/6th graders at House In The Wood. We have a few wild edibles that are ready in the Fall like rose hips, grapes, hickory nuts and elderberries. We also have some that are ready in the Spring and Summer like raspberries, blackberries, chamomile, and various greens like lambs quarter. We also have various mushrooms at camp that are edible like the giant puffball.
Elderberries make jam and fruit wine.
 Elderberries are found on a bush. During the summer the bush has tiny white flowers. It takes a lot of elderberries to make either jam or wine as they are very tiny. they don't taste very good until they have been processed into something else like jam or wine--they need the sugar.
Wild grapes grow on vines over trees and bushes.
Wild Grapes can be eaten off the vine--they taste pretty good--but there is a large seed and very little grape. Suck off the grape meat and spit out the seed. You must be careful when harvesting grapes as they grow all over our Buckthorn trees and the berries look similar. One will make a tasty jam and the other will give you a bad case of diarrhea!
Rose hips from the rose bush.
The fruit of the rose known as a "Rose Hip" is often found in commercial herbal teas and it is a good source of vitamin C. I have only seen them made into a tea. When I taste them, they taste a little like citrus but they are mostly seed. I think that if they were just boiled in tea water with a little honey they would taste just fine. I will try it late this week.
Puff Balls located in the forest near the Bird's Nest.
Giant Puff Balls are edible. Slice them and saute them in a pan full of garlic and butter and you have a pretty tasty treat. There is NO other mushroom that looks anything like them so it is fairly safe to harvest and eat them. We did not do it because by the time we had a moment to harvest them, they were brown and ready to produce spores--no longer edible.

For more information on House In The Wood go to
All rights reserved 2013 by Valerie J Wright

Saturday, November 2, 2013

And the Seasons, they go Round and Round--its Fall Again.

Hummingbird visits the office feeder for a sip.
WOW...time really does fly! My last post was Spring and now it is late Fall.
...the HUMMINGBIRDS have already left after stoking up for the long flight further south of the United States,
...the BATS have already left for their warm caves (55 degrees year around),
...the WOODCHUCKS are already in their burrows for the winter, fat from a summer of eating well,
This Chipmunk is looking for nuts to take back to his burrow.

...the CHIPMUNKS have finished scampering around for nuts and we haven't seen them for the last few weeks so they must be snug in their underground burrows for the long winter, How do I know it will be a long winter? See below for information about the WOOLLY BEAR.
...the AMERICAN COOTS are gathering on the lake for the last leg of their journey to more southern states like Kentucky or even as far south as Florida,
...the RED WINGED BLACKBIRDS have left, but wait, after almost a month of not seeing or hearing them, I just heard them again. This must be a small group resting here on our lake from their trip starting further north.
A CONFUSED Woolly Bear caterpillar!
...this WOOLLY BEAR caterpillar is confused! Most woolly bear caterpillars have a brown stripe in the middle with two black stripes on each end. Folklore claims that the brown stripe is a predictor of the winter weather. A wide brown stripe means a mild winter and a thin brown stripe means a hard winter. I am not sure what THIS caterpillar is forecasting.

Looking northeast across the bay at House In The Wood.
 ...the trees are blazing with the bright colors of fall,
 ...the acorns and hickory nuts have fallen,
 ...the plants have spread their seeds,
 ...and the leaves are drifting down with every breath of wind.

For more information on House In The Wood go to
All rights reserved 2013 by Valerie J Wright

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Still Winter Here

I saw this herd of deer feeding in last year's corn field near House In The Wood.

On the other side of the hill were a few Sandhill Cranes just back from the south. On the same hill was the perennial sign of Spring--the Robin!

It is coming!

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all rights reserved 2013 Valerie J Wright