back woods

West Virginia “Mountain Time” Life Style

A fellow blogger,  Dan Wall at Northeirthanthou.com  and his Alaska blog, has gotten me thinking that maybe I have become a true native of West Virginia if only for the fact that I have fallen deeply line with what he calls “Native Time”. He recently brought up the topic in a post about how the native people of Alaska have a slower, less formal passage of time. I have had this same experience when I moved to West Virginia. I lived on Boulder/Denver time and was always on the look out for some thing different and exciting to do. I was rushing from work to the next party or shopping trip or concert. Then I moved and experienced  what I will call “Mountain Time” I know there are other places all over the country that fall into this “Mountain Time” description. It seems that here in the “Mountain State” the feeling does not end when you head to town.

New River Gorge Bridge fall folage 2002

New River Gorge Bridge fall foliage 2002

Things here just make you slow down. I think much like other mountain communities is starts with the terrain and lack of basic services. You must understand that when I moved here in the early 1992 I had neighbors who did not have in door pluming. My husband did not have cell service while driving major interstate highways. We lived with out power for two weeks almost every winter and no one really complained or ran to town looking for a hotel. We drank well water and melted snow for washing dishes when the pump went out. These living conditions are typical for thousands and thousands of people who live in the rural areas of our state. When you live out of cell service and you internet is still dial-up in 2015. You just live to far from town to not live slower.When getting out of your driveway in winter takes two or three days, you are on “Mountain Time”.

The people of West Virginia  have learned by living in this rough environment that just a simple task can become a monumental challenge. For example, my experience with the BarnWood Builders lost the production company money. In the end, the barn wood that I now have at my house was to hard to truck out of the hollow where the barn sat. The producers tried in vain to hire a tractor-trailer to haul the wood out and not a single company would take a truck with in 8 miles of the barn. There was no where a truck that size could turn around, there was no place to park a truck unless blocking the gravel road.

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

So unless the wood got sold to, or given to, families like mine who have pick up trucks and strong backs, the wood was out of reach. In the end the majority of the wood from the barn burned on site, it was just too much work getting it out.  It just takes more time to do everything when you are living in terrain like this. Nothing is flat, everything grows some kind of poisons vine or is topped with a huge tree. The creeks flood and rivers are too deep to drive through.

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

I also think that part of  “Mountain Time” is that people who generally live a hunter/ gather/ agrarian life styles have a broader picture of time. They look at their  lives as part of the a seasonal plan rather than a monthly or day-to-day plan. When you are look at how crops are grow…(really think about how slow plants grow) your mind is not focused on today or tomorrow but what will happen in three weeks. If you are a hunter or trapper it could take months to harvests your game and you are look forward in 3 month jumps of time. Then when the work needs done you still have to fallow what the seasons allow you to do. It is a system that works very in tune with the weather and seasons. In the heat of an August day you would never expect a West Virginia farmer to attend an afternoon meeting… He is busy getting his hay or corn in. He will work his fields until 7 or 8 at night. You would never expect my husband home for a mid day meal during deer season. He has spent hours hiking into his favorite hunting spot and spent hours planing and tracking a buck. If I am lucky he will be home about an hour after dark around 6, if not later if a nice buck needs dragged home. I am never surprised any more when school is cancelled because of rain. I have had feet of water in my barns and driven through water that ran on the floor boards of our truck just to make sure my family and farm was safe.Tom and I have given aide to ATV riders who crash into trees or rolled over in the woods. Making a short horse trimming trip into an afternoon adventure as we waited for emergency responders to arrive for total strangers. It is all part of the experience and it all takes time… and usually it is not about the clock but being in the moment.

Twisted grape vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

Twisted grape-vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

So, if you are lucky to live on “Mountain Time” you will see Tom and I up at 4:30 tomorrow morning dressing for a morning of turkey hunting. We will then head home around 1 to a midday meal that we share once a week with my older sons family.Then if the weather allows we will be tiling and planting the garden until about 3 pm.Then naps and up again for dinner and tile work until 10 pm.This all depends on the turkey tomorrow… so who knows if my schedule will work out at all and if I will even be on time for any of it because I live on “Mountain Time”.

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

 

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Categories: back woods, Barnwood Builders, Country life, deer hunting, Hardwood forest, Hunting, rural life, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Look at a Modern Paul Bunyan and the Wood Choppers Festival

Living in a state where natural resources drive the economy, we see more than our fair share of loggers, forester, natural gas and oil drillers and coal miners. Many of us live off the land in more ways than one. Our families work farms, fall timber, mine coal, manage natural gas lines and wells. We hunt, fish, forage, farm and garden to support this way of life. Many live in tiny towns and hamlets that are lost to cell phone service and  are more than an 30 minute drive to a shopping mall. It is in here in the Appalachian Mountains that the WORLD (yes, I do mean World) converges every year over Memorial Day weekend to see who is really the best at their chosen forest craft. The Wood Choppers Festival is a way for anyone interested in forestry, logging, milling and history to enjoy the company of over 150 men and woman who call the Logging life style a passion.

Competitors prepare for the Spring Board competition

Competitors prepare for the Spring Board competition

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wood Choppers Festival  held in the remote town called Webster Springs, West Virginia. This festival is full of axes, saws and fun that show cases the very best of the logging world. Contestants travel from all over the world to spend the weekend competing and sharing their love. The front man in the above photo is a world champion in this event (Spring Board) and travels here every year from Australia. Many of them come from Canada and Europe to see who can really be a modern Paul Bunyan.

Christopher Powers with a Paul Bunion sign at the 2014 Wood Choppers Festival

Christopher Powers with a Paul Bunyan sign at the 2014 Wood Choppers Festival

 

This is for any one who does not know the American Folk Tail character Paul Bunyan and for those who remember seeing this as a kid. I think it is funny that in the song “Paul Bunyan” playing throughout the video Paul is only  6′ 3″ and the man in the above photo is the tallest competitor at 6′ 5″ and a leaner version of Paul.

 

The final day begins with an ax tossing contest and continues through out the afternoon with the standing log, Hot saws and the two-man cross-cut saw contests. Then after the competition many of the choppers visit with the fans, share hardy hand shakes and spend time telling tall tails to one another. At end of the long day the winners of the “World Titles” get announced  and awards are given.

Ax tossing at world finals 2014

Ax tossing at world finals 2014

Spring Board comperitor from New York state at 2014 wood choppers festival

Spring Board competitor from New York state at 2014 wood choppers festival

Winner of Spring Board competetion 2014 Mike Cogar of Webster Springs, West Virginia

Winner of Spring Board competition 2014 Mike Cogar of Webster Springs, West Virginia

Standing Log Chop 2014

Standing Log Chop 2014

 

Australian World Champion wood chopper

Australian World Champion wood chopper

Single man cross cut saw  competition 2014

Single man cross-cut saw competition 2014 Mike Cogar of Webster Springs, West Virginia

cross cut saw finals 2014 Webster Springs, WV

cross-cut saw finals 2014 Webster Springs, WV

 

3 cut Hot Saw competitor

3 cut Hot Saw competitor

 

Christopher watching with some of the competitors

Christopher watching with some of the competitors

 

 

Jack and Jill contest 2014

Jack and Jill contest 2014

Norwegian competitor signing a piece of wood for Christopher 2014 age 5

Norwegian competitor signing a piece of wood for Christopher 2014 age 5

 

Today the over all world Champion was actually a local young man from Webster Springs, West Virginia, Mike Cogar. He comes from a long line of wood choppers who were born and raised in the mountains here. Just like Tom and his Grandfather the love of the woods passes from one generation to another.

Thomas Benton Powers logger in Pocahontas county West Virginia

Thomas Benton Powers logger in Pocahontas county West Virginia

 

Thomas A Powers sharing his love of the woods with Christopher T Powers the 7th generation to call West Virginia home

Thomas A Powers sharing his love of the woods with Christopher T Powers the 7th generation to call West Virginia home

 

Mike and his world-renowned family(both his father and grand father are world champions also) have been major supporters of this tiny town and this competition. It was such a pleasure to met them and share a day with all the wonderful people of this mountain town. It was wonderful to learn more about what it must have been like for my husbands grandfather who worked and lived in the timber camps at the turn of the century. Working with more axes then saws and trying to cut the big timber down to size.The spirit of Paul Bunyan is alive and well here in the woods of West Virginia.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, family fun, logging, natural resources, Photos, Webster Springs, West Virginia, Wood Choppers Festival | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Wild Turkey, and our the dinner table

  Turkey season in West Virginia starts on the first week of May and runs through to the end of the month. My Husband started hunting the timid birds as  teen with some success, but  had taken many years off from hunting them recently. With more time to pursue hunting, Tom thought it would nice to see if turkeys were still in the area. Within  two trips to the woods he brough home this. A nice gobbler that was not to old to eat and enjoy.

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with years first wild turkey

Then  my husband teased our older son Cody  “you need to see if you could keep up with the old man” and get one for himself. Well in “show up  my dad style” my son also got his turkey the very next day. Two large gobblers in two days what a great weekend.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 So early friday morning I got my first lesson on wild turkey cleaning, processing and cooking. With the help of family friends, we were able to get a quick lesson on cleaning a turkey.Ken suggested that we “NOT CLEAN” the whole bird. “You will only need to clean the whole bird if you are not going to roast it” he stated.Ken also suggested that we only “remove the breast and thighs of the bird to eat and leave the rest.” So by mid morning,working on the tail gate of our pick up, my husband and I removed the parts of the bird that we planed to eat. We also removed the tail fathers and wings for crafts with natural fathers. By skinning the bird instead of plucking it, the entire process took less than 20 minutes we had no feathers to remove and no entrails to clean up. The meat was fresh and clean and ready to eat or freeze quicker then I could drive to the local store to buy meat.

  With the meat removed, washed and frozen. I started the process of looking and asking friends about their favorite Wild Turkey recipes. Wild Turkey is extremely low in fat and moisture and can easily be over cooked. So, with this in mind I went to the National Wild Turkey Federations web site for help…at www.nwtf.org/tips_adventures/recipes.php. They have a nice collection of recipes and Tom and I chose one for Turkey cutlets.

 The process is very simple and the list of ingredients is short, almost everyone will have these items in their home. All of these items can switched out with store-bought organics… making a 100% organic main course

2 whole wild turkey breasts

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/3 bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing ( I use Wishbone)

1/4 of a pound real butter

First take the wild turkey breast and cut slices across the grain of the meat about 1/4 of an inch thick. The slices will vary in size, some  large and some small. I also cut the tender strip of meat that is on the back of the breast and removed the tough tissues  from its middle section before cooking.  

Place all the these pieces into a  gallon zip lock bag adding enough zesty italian salad dressing to cover the turkey and mix dressing  into the  meat to cover every piece.

Let sit in refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Turkey cutlets after  marinading for 3 hours

Turkey cutlets after 3 hours in marinade

heat 3 teaspoons butter in large skillet and roll cutlets in remaining ingredients of flour, salt and pepper mixture.

Fry cutlets over low heat until turkey is firm and is easily picked up with a fork. This may take more time for larger cutlets and short time for smaller ones.

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Wild turkey rolled in coating mixture

Turkey cutlets cooking

Turkey cutlets cooking

 Brown them slowly on both sides( low to low-med heat) adding butter as needed. I remove the first batch to a paper towel covered plate, putting them in a 200 deg oven to keep warm, as I fry the next batch of turkey. Two breasts easily feeds 4 to 5 adults and we have found that the kids love these home-made turkey tenders also.When serving the cutlets if they are not cooked to long, we omit any sauces. But, if you like to dip chicken/ turkey in a  sauce we used honey mustard, and it was very good.

The flavor of the turkey is mild, yet more buttery then domestic turkey,  cooked this way it has become a family favorite. As of this weekend, we have eaten every bite of the 4 turkey breasts the boys brought home this spring. My family will have to wait until next year to have this dinner again, and that is a long time coming. Now I may just have to get my gun out and get my own next year.

Happy hunting and cooking, hope to have another Wild Turkey recipe posted soon.Wild Turkey Pot Pie… this one is our own family creation. I just have to redo the spices and type up some thing our family already loves.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, country cooking, Hunting, organic foods, West Virginia, wild food, Wild turkey, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back Woods Wonders in West Virginia

      Treasures found in the back woods of West Virginia.. photos and notes on the things we have seen and found on our trips into the Appalachian forest.

Snail on river moss, cleveland, WV

Snail on river moss, Cleveland, WV

     My subject is one that is near and dear to my heart. This post allows me to  shows off some of the photos I have taken over the years that we have lived in the Mountain State. West Virginia is abundant with wildlife and the scenery is both  mysterious and enchanting. Many times it has  reminded me of all of those fairytale and fables written about the woods. My personal favorite to use as an example is the story of Hansel and Geritol who get lost in the dark woods. Here in our forgotten state where technology still takes a back seat to wildness I have found my love and my gingerbread house hidden in the woods.

    Growing up in Boulder,Colorado, we saw deer, rabbits, coons, and occasionally a fox. Impressed and fascinated with every thing nature had to offer I read and studied our local wild life.I wanted to know more and see more. This passion to understand wild life, its conservation, and how to live a more natural life became building blocks of who I wanted to be as an adult. Maybe watching to many episodes of “Grizzly Adams” had something  to do with my life choices. I wanted to marry “Adams”, I wanted to be in the forest with him, living off the land, eating wild game, making dinner over a fire. I wanted to have friends who were trappers and miners.  I wanted to save people from the cities from getting lost in the wilderness. I wanted a Buck Skinner life, a Pioneer woman.

Funny how a young persons dreams of life can foreshadow  reality. After years of working towards my dream, I have almost reach this goal. I married a wonderful man who loves the woods as much as I do. Tom is a person who sees the value of all of the things the hard wood forest has to offers. We are a family who supports conversation with an eye towards the sports men who donate millions every year to protect what it is that they love. We live conventionally and not in a rustic cabin with no running water, but we do spend almost every free time we have working with or around animals, wild life, and trying to live off the land. I still dream of a small cabin with a wood stove and a hand pump for water  but that will be a vacation cabin out in the woods someday. 

Mary Conrad cabin Jacksons Mill. Jane Lew West Virigina

Mary Conrad cabin Jackson’s’ Mill. Jane Lew West Virginia

Codys' proud catch of the day

Cody’s proud catch of the day

Tom and I have been lucky over the years.  We  have been able to share our love of the outdoors  with our kids. Cody now 22 and is  an avid outdoors man himself. He often surprises us with his skills with a compound bow and fishing pole. This was a rather good day of fishing at Holly River State Park. The fishing was excellent with many caught and released that morning. I was lucky to get a few put in the freezer for later use.

Cody with his native and brook trout

Cody with his native and brook trout

Early morning Sun on Stone Coal Lake

Early morning Sun on Stone Coal Lake

     Most of our adventures, we are up long before daylight and we return only after a long day. Fishing, Hunting, Hiking ,Ramp Digging all take lots of daylight hours to accomplish.  While on a long drive to a secret fishing hole I stopped the car and took these photos. The sun had just risen over the trees and began its climb into the sky to burn off the fog that is ever-present in the winding hills of West Virginia.

Morning mist on Stone Coal Lake

Morning mist on Stone Coal Lake

Locus tree nut pod

Locus tree nut pod

Spring Wild flower

Spring Wild flower

    With Christopher being so young we try  to keep things simple and interesting at the same time. We spend many hours looking for hidden treasures and wonders of wild life that he at four years old he can understand. We spend many afternoons looking closely at the ground or at his eye level. He loves hunting nuts, seed pods, berries, and flowers. His education about respect, understanding and love for the mountains begins here… with a snail, flower, and nut. It is in the peace and beauty of a stream that he learns about pollution and how it hurts the environment, how it kills fish and makes the family unhappy. He is able to understand that much at about nature at four, and it is important that he does.

toms favorite trout stream. Webster County West Virigina

toms favorite trout stream. Webster County West Virginia

     While in the woods my family forages and hunts. We eat many of the wild plants and animals that nature provides for our use and we expand the collection every year. This year we have adding the foraging of Mushrooms and Fiddle Head Ferns to our list and will at some point in the future add Wild Hog to our diet.  It is always a delight to find and eat wild plants and animals. Here is one of my favorite edibles and things to photograph…. wild colorful mushrooms. Some of the mushrooms photographed here are very poisonous.

collection of Wild Mushrooms

collection of Wild Mushrooms

  I am not sure what it is about fungus that fascinates me, but I always have time to photograph a new style or color.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 I also wanted to include pictures of the deer and turkeys and other animals that we see and hunt in West Virgina. But many of the photo I have taken are actually after the hunt is over and are trophy shots. Some readers find these offensive and I will refrain from sharing those photos. I now realise that I do not have many good photos of the live animals themselves. I hope to remedy the situation over the next few months, so that a post like this is full of good photos of live animals in their natural surrounds.

   Funny what we take photos of isn’t it ? I never realised that I loved seeing deer in our back yard but never took a photos of  them?  These are  my most current deer photos, they are not overly well shot, but you can get the feel of how friendly they can become over time.

what a group of friends a Boy( Chris) a mule and a calico cat

what a group of friends a Boy( Chris) a mule a calico cat and white tail doe

This deer is comfortable to seeing Mini the Mule in her pasture but when we came to visit, she was curious about Christopher and they looked each other over for a long time.

White tail Doe looking at Christopher

White tail Doe looking at Christopher

Fall Follage in Fayettevill,Wet Virginia

fall foliage in Fayetteville,Wet Virginia

  These are the woods that I  love and depended on for my “dream come true”. It still surprises me that I am able to live a life where I am part of nature on a daily basis. The woods have taught me so much about being true to myself and a strong individual. Yes, I love my computer and internet but they are only tools that I use to share my love of the outdoors with you. It is in the woods that I find my peace and my connection with the universe. These woods nourish my body and my soul. It took  almost 45 years to get here to this place where I was living true to my heart.I now realise that my dream of child hood is coming true, that I am a woodsman’s wife, a Pioneer Woman, a Mother and a Steward of the Woods. I am strong and free and able to rejoice in the mountains and streams of  Wild Wonderful West Virginia.

Sharing with a wordless Wednesday blog hop.

http://www.craftyspices.com/hops/wwhop

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, deer, Hardwood forest, photo review, Photos, State Park activities, West Virginia, wild food, wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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