I’ve always had an interest in any kind of animal, but especially wildlife. As soon as I learned to read, I read about wild animals. I’ve also been a birdwatcher since I was five years old. I even got chickadees to eat out of my hand as a kid. So beginning today I will feature a different specie of wildlife that makes West Virginia its home.
The Northern Cardinal, the state bird of the Mountain State
Did you know that the female cardinal also sings? It is one of the few female birds that do sing.
Male Cardinals were named by early settlers to the Carolinas. The bright red plumage reminded them of the Catholic cardinals that wore red attire. Female cardinals are more of a drabby olive color.
Cardinals have expanded their territory northward over the last several decades probably due to people offering sunflower seeds in the winter at their feeders. Birds that have thick beaks like a cardinal tend to be predominately seed eaters. They also feed on insects and berries. The young while still in the nest are fed by the parents and their diet is mostly insects.
The female cardinal usually lays 3 or 4 eggs in a nest lined with soft grass or hair, in thick shrubbery or brush about 3-10 feet from the ground. The eggs are bluish to greenish white with brown, purple or gray spots. The eggs hatch in about 12-13 days. The female in nearly every case incubates the eggs by herself. The young leave the nest in about 9-11 days. The parents can have 2-3 broods per year.
These beautiful birds are residents year round in their territory. They do not migrate.
One of my favorite photos. My great great great grandfather, Hayden Wilson, (with the beard and powder horn), and other relatives and men from the hills of the Lost River, West Virginia area. Taken before 1898.
These biscuits always turn out for me. My granddaughters love helping me with making them. They are great with sausage gravy, made into egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches, or just with melted butter and jelly.
So a couple of weeks ago, Emily, Allie, my mom and I decided to trek to Backbone Food Farm in beautiful Garrett County, Maryland for their annual Shiitake mushroom inoculation weekend. We went last year and had a great time. Growing my own mushrooms has always been on my agenda for things to try. It really isn’t that hard to do and is a lot less complicated than I was thinking it would be. Max Dubansky, the owner of the farm, showed us last year how it’s done. First, holes are drilled into oak logs that are freshly cut. Fresh cut is important because the sugars in the green logs are what the mushroom spawn feed off. Second, you take about a peanut sized amount of spawn with your fingers and pack it into the holes in the logs. Max had spawn he had purchased from a company. The spawn is mycelium and smells very earthy and feels damp and a little spongy.
After the holes are packed with the spawn, the logs are brought to a table where the people in that area take a brush and cover the spawn with hot wax.
The logs are stacked and have to be kept moist for the next year! After about a one year period they are soaked in water for 24 hours. Once removed from the water, they will start to sprout the shiitakes!
It was a definitely a fun process and each year we have met people from all over the US.
I’m Cyglenda Miller and this is my blog, West Virginia Mountain Mama. First, let me give you a little background info about me – My dream as a young girl growing up in Western Maryland was to own a farm and to live a simple, satisfying life. My dream became a reality when I turned 25 years old. My husband and I bought a small farm in the Potomac Highlands of Wild and Wonderful, West Virginia. Here we have raised three children – two daughters and a son. Fast forward to the present, and what seems like a blink of an eye, my kids are now adults. (Oh, how did this happen!) My oldest daughter is the mother of two daughters, Emily and Alison. They are definitely the apples of my eye and of course they do no wrong! Emily, Alison and I share the love of doing so many things together here in the mountains of West Virginia. Cooking, crafting, gardening, genealogy and preserving our home grown goodness always keeps us as busy as a bee. Stay tuned as we share adventures of our fun filled, simple life!