Author Archives: Anne Littlewolf

FEATHERED FEATURE: TURKEY SNOODS

(A Special Early-Bird Thanksgiving Edition of the Infinite Spider Blog)

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What is a turkey snood and why do turkeys care?

By Karen McDonald and guest writer Anne Littlewolf

I couldn't resist, how fun is the word snood? It's a great word to throw out at the Thanksgiving dinner table, for parties, or when exchanging biological insults with your friends (yes, there are those of us that do this). Today's post will be in two parts, in the first part we'll examine exactly what a turkey snood is and why female turkeys care, and in the second part we'll provide you with some holiday tips for making sure your Thanksgiving turkey is tender and moist so you don't get snoody insults.

Let's start with a few key terms. A female turkey is a hen, a mature male is a gobbler, and a juvenile male is a jake. Baby turkeys are called poults. You can see the physical differences between jakes and gobblers in the images below.

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A juvenile male turkey (Photo: Wiki Commons)

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An adult male turkey or gobbler (Photo: Wiki Commons).

  • Hens are usually brownish with buffy tipped breast feathers, while gobblers usually look almost black in color, and their breast feathers are tipped with black.
  • Jakes and Gobblers both have beards or modified feathers that dangle from their chest (they look almost like miniature horse tails). Jake beards are about 2-5" long and gobbler beards are 5-12" long. About 10-20% of females can grow beards too, but it's not common.
  • When you look at the fanned tails of a jake v. a gobbler, you'll see that jakes have longer tail feathers in the center, while gobblers have tail feathers of equal length all the way around. Check out the jake in the far right corner of the picture below, see the longer tail feathers in the middle?
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Jakes and gobblers displaying to hens (Photo: Wiki commons).

I'm not going to go into sordid detail about the anatomy of wild turkeys, there are lots of great websites that have already done that, and I want to get to the snoods. So, if you'd like to know more, check out the National Wild Turkey Federation website.

So, What Is a Snood?

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Three Sisters Gardening: Nutrition and Culture

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An example of a Three Sister's garden (Photo: Sarah Braun Flicker Sharing).

The cultural and nutritional qualities of the Three Sisters

Guest Post: Anne Little Wolf with Karen McDonald

You may never have heard of the Three Sisters, but they are a part of most of our everyday lives, and as we enter the fall season you see them everywhere. The "sisters"  consist of maize (Zea mays), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and squash (Cucurbita pepo). These three plants were staple crops of many of the Northeast Native American tribes in the late prehistoric and historic periods.  Evidence for these crops dates back to Central and South America, with histories in the more recent North American Southwest, Plains, and Eastern North America. They were transported to Europe, and Africa, where they are eaten and grown together, much as Native Americans still do in this country.

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Corn Husk Dolls and Play: A Fall Craft

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Corn husk doll (Photo: Wiki Commons).

Corn Husks Offer an Inexpensive Fall Tradition

Guest Post Writer: Anne Littlewolf

As the fall approaches, and corn crops are coming in, this is a timely post. Thanks for author Anne Littlewolf for this fun and whimsical guest post.

There is an old saying that the more complex the mind, the more important the need to play.   This is probably one of the truest axioms of our world and so let's  look at some of the traditions and treasures of toys and playing.   In this post we will revisit the incredibly versatile corn,  which you can read more about kernels and ears of corn in our previous post, and see that this amazing plant offers even more than just good nutrition. ...continue reading

 

The Natural History of Sunflowers and A Sunflower Seed Cookie Recipe

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Sunflower (Photo: Karen McDonald)

Enjoy The Delights of Sunflowers

Today's guest post is from Anne Littlewolf, our very own helpful author (when I give her enough lead time), with a touch of tag teaming from yours truly!

With wealth untold in my pocket, I'd gotten permission from Mom to go play with the rest of the kids.  We had bikes, we had energy, we had imagination, and with the vast sum of 25 whole cents in my pocket, the world was mine!   Dashing across the street to the little Mom & Pop grocery store, I roamed up and down the aisles, trying to choose between a Chunky candy bar, a candy necklace or at least a handful of Pixie Stix, but when it all came down to a final choice, a ten-cent bag of sunflower seeds (roasted and salted in the shell!) won out.  I'd learned the fine art of cracking them, extracting the seed and spitting out the shell in one swift move, never once losing a single pedal stroke on my bike.  Oh, the things that give you status when you're ten!!

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Sunflower seed and kernel (Photo: Wiki Commons).

It was, as we later learned, a wonderful snack choice.  Sunflowers are amazing plants, they're the type of flower that always makes you smile whether they're in the yard, on an apron, on wallpaper or even on a notepad, and they produce some of the best munchies ever.  The little seeds that come in the familiar black and white striped shell offer all sorts of benefits, beyond just yummy-ness!  Sunflower seeds are used in most countries as a source of cooking oil, while in America we tend to shove them into the snack food category or probably at least as commonly, bird food. I would suggest considering them for human food, and as a great addition for native pollinators and butterflies. The asters that don't make large heads are also an important part of ecosystems, and food for insects, and other native creatures. Let's learn more.

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