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November 2009 Ordinances, Earth Shills, Nuts

We continue to have incidents with dogs and dog owners. It was reported on Monday that a man with seven dogs, all unleashed, were walking the Tartan Trail.

Not only is this very inconsiderate of this dog owner, but it goes against the Little Tennessee River Greenway Regulatory Ordinance, adopted by the County, and a similar ordinance adopted by the Town of Franklin, in 2002. The following is excerpted from the regulations of the County Ordinance which allows for imprisonment and fines for persons who:

•  place objects in toilets that impair its function

•  leave refuse in an exposed or unsanitary condition

•  bring refuse from home and dump on Greenway property ( including placing in Greenway waste cans)

•  allow animals in the river, streams, or ponds of the Greenway

•  bring onto the Greenway or possess any animal...on said property unless it is crated, caged or restrained by a leash at all times

•  failure to remove their pet wastes and dispose of it properly

•  to kill, injure or disturb any bird, mammal or reptile on the Greenway

•  to fish except in designated spots and in accordance with current rules

•  to possess firearms (except for law officers) or fire a gun within 150 yards of the Greenway

•  to possess any alcoholic beverages on Greenway property

•  to solicit funds or other contributions

•  to use skateboards where prohibited (in shelters, playgrounds and adjacent paths)

•  to operate a motor vehicle, except in designated parking areas, unless necessary to provide maintenance or emergency service, or motorized wheelchairs or scooters designed for the handicapped.

•  to operate any vehicle over 11 mph (bicycles included)

•  leaving vehicles that obstruct traffic or are left overnight

Copies of the complete ordinances may be obtained at County or Town offices.

Citizens have absolutely no right to create unsafe conditions for others while using public lands.

We trust the Town and the County law officers will continue their vigilance.

11/18/09 Earth Skills

Our program on the use of native plants and animals by native Americans was fun and informative. Darry Wood of Hayesville area had much to tell and show participants on Wednesday the 4 th . Time went all too fast with items left in his homemade baskets whose uses we missed.

Darry demonstrated the twisting of fibers from the inner bark of the poplar tree into cord of 2 and 4 ply, showing how each addition of of another ply created a stronger and thicker cord. One could eventually make a thick rope by this method. Dog bane fibers and animal sinew, were popular cordage fibers, but many plants have the right characteristics. Of course animal hairs and fur could be used, too.

Darry emphasized that many techniques of making ropes and cordage for nets, sewing, lashings and bowstrings have been found in the history of man for thousands of years prior to native use in America.

Colonial America had deer aplenty, plus beaver, groundhog, buffalo, elk, bear and wolf, whose furs were in great demand in Europe. Early trade centered on deerskins, used in Europe for bookbindings, leather aprons, saddles, shoes and other items of everyday use.

The term “buck” became synonymous with the value of one deer or an item made of deerskin.

Native Americans used the unique plants and animals of America in very creative ways. Every possible part of an animal, killed for food, was used in some way. Skins made clothes, moccasins, tents, and boats; bones made awls, drills, spoons, drumsticks; and animal organs were used to cure hides. Hair, fur and quills decorated clothing, masks and saddlebags.

Horn was made into handles for stone or metal knives, for flutes and decorative items and fastenings; hooves were boiled and produced a sticky substance used as a glue or binder for weapons and containers. Rendered fats made usable oils for lighting and preservation of skins and food.

Plants provided innumerable items beside food and medicines. Bloodroot made an orange dye, walnut husks a dark brown. Shredded oak bark's tannic acid became a dark black when iron was added. These dyes were used in baskets, clothing and leather goods.

 Cattail fluff was a substitute diaper for the papoose. Dried cattail stalks made torches and mats.

Rivercane was a big staple. Stacked vertically became walls for their huts or fencing; cut into thin strips could be woven into baskets and mats. Canes were hollowed out and straightened to make blow guns, some up to 12 feet long. These were used to hunt birds, squirrels and rabbits. The dart was made from a thin piece of walnut heartwood, shaved down to size and fletched with the fluff of thistle.

Darry demonstrated the delicate technique of separating the fluff from the dried flower and winding layers with cord along a dart shaft for 3 to 4 inches.

It was suggested that those with a desire to learn more about these skills attend an Earthskills Rendezvous in Georgia, held in the spring and fall. Many likeminded persons camp together at Cherokee Farms and share their skills and artifacts and campfire. Go online to Earthskills Rendezvous for further information about these events.

This concludes our Discovery Walks schedule for the winter. Walks will begin again in March 2010 on the first Saturday of each month. Watch for our schedule in January.

11/24/09 Nuts

Now that most of the tree leaves are gone we can look for the interesting pods, nuts, balls and berries dangling from the limbs.

Buckeye, walnut and hickory trees have round hard nuts. The buckeye nut is a solid structure, oddly rounded, with small bumps on its surface. When they split open one beautiful shiny nut with a flattened area is revealed. Often folks keep the nut in their pocket and rub it occasionally for good luck. They are not edible.

The Horsechestnut is an Asian relative of the buckeye. It has a thorny husk, and like the buckeyes is somewhat toxic to animals, humans and fish.

The black walnut is a greenish ball; the pit inside has smooth vertical ridges along it length. These pits do not break open easily, as those can swear to (and at) who try to crack them open for great walnut cake.

The white walnut or butternut has a more egg shape overall with the pit inside having sharp-edged ridges. The butternut tree doesn't seem to produce as many nuts as the black walnut.

The hickories usually split open in four sections and reveal a four-ribbed nut with a small point at top. A firm tap with a hammer will often crack them open for their chunks of nutmeat, if the squirrels don't get them first. Shagbark and mockernut hickories have the thickest outer husks with the pignut and bitternut hickory having a rather thin outer shell.

If you have ever come across a very prickly husk about 2 inches in diameter it was probably a chestnut or a chinquapin. The American Chestnut was once a very common tree in our eastern forests, until 1900, when a fungus bark disease, suspected from Asia, decimated them. Sprouts can still be found in our woods, but the blight takes over when the trees are hardly mature, though some do produce nuts. The chestnut forms two or three nuts per husk, and the chinquapin a single nut. Both species are edible.

Pod trees are the locusts, mimosa, catalpa, Paulownia, Kentucky Coffee Tree and the redbud. Among these pods only the catalpa is a long round pod, the others being flat pods of various lengths and widths.

Two other round seed structures are the spiny one and one-half inch ball of the sweetgum and the firm round seed ball of the sycamore. The sweetgum opens its pours and distributes its seeds before winter, the empty case making a neat ornament for the Christmas tree if sprayed gold.

The sycamore holds on to its seed ball until early spring, when it starts to break up and each seed, with its tiny hairs attached, floats down to the ground.

Have you seen some of these nuts, balls and pods along the Greenway?