Wild Ozark

Living Close to Nature, Learning Self-Reliance & Making Plant Allies in the Ozarks

Death from Above – Wasp vs Mantis

There are lots of videos at YouTube about wasp vs mantis, but they always show the mantis winning. Today I saw a wasp carrying the head of a praying mantis. I saw one yesterday, too.

I’ve found lots of info online about the mantis eating the wasps, but nothing about wasps eating them.

The praying mantis is so helpful in the garden, and the wasps are too (except they sting and hurt like hell), but I didn’t realize the two were enemies of each other!

I’d rather have the praying mantis than the wasp…

wasp eating mantis

Looks like the waps won this fight.


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A Homesteading Hermit Self-Reliant Writer’s To-Do List

I’m a self-reliant writer for the most part. I’m also a homesteader and close to being a hermit (hermitress) these days. It would take a lot more money than I make at it to delegate any of the tasks, homesteaderly or otherwise, and more time than I want to spend waiting on traditional publishing so others can do some of the writerly-related tasks for me.

How a Writer’s To-Do list Ties in with Self-Reliance on the Homestead

Seeing as how this blog is focused on nature, homesteading and becoming self-reliant, it would at first seem that the following list has strayed way off topic.

But that’s not true.

Self-Reliance means more than homesteading the land. It also, in our case, means becoming self-reliant in our finances. Right now, Rob is working outside of the homestead, and while he’s doing that I’m working toward bringing our finances to a self-reliant state by building the foundation to our business.

What Do Writers Do?

Well, we write, of course. And while we’re doing that we can’t really do anything else. But as a mostly self-published writer, there’s also the fact that I have to be self-reliant for all of my own marketing and promotion, website design, cover design, formatting and the actual publishing, ordering of copies and selling of the books.

Keeping an entertaining, interesting, and informative website is my goal not only because I enjoy doing it simply for the sake of sharing, but also because it’s a lifeline for finding new readers.

To ensure a lot of readers continue to come here from search engines, I have to keep the site functioning properly. It needs work to stay in Google’s good graces especially, because that’s where the lion’s share of my visitors originate (even if those visitors rarely leave me nice comments, or any comments at all…*hint**hint*).

Virtual Clutter

Just as I tend to collect real things like rocks and plants and books and papers and notes and… (the list goes on and on), I also tend to do the same with my virtual space. The result is that the website becomes cluttered and convoluted and pretty soon even I have to search for things I need when I need them.

So part of my to-do list involved a bit of cleanup on the website. Part of it is ordinary homestead stuff.

Having just published two new books means there is behind-the-scenes work to do for that. And just having been scheduled for two speaking engagements means I have some follow-up to do for that, which I can’t do until some of the list items are marked “done”.

A typical homesteading writer’s list?

The list is typical a lot of *my* weeks. I’m not sure how much of this is stuff other writers do, or how many other homesteaders are also writers. So there’s no telling how typical the list is. I’d like your thoughts on that, actually. Being a hermit out here makes it hard to know what others are doing and my blog cruising time has dropped off to almost nil these days.

You’ll notice I didn’t list housework… well, a certain amount of it is just a given. I’ll do what has to be done, but it’s usually at the bottom of the list and incidental. Guests beware. The state of my house is reflected in the list below, ha.

FINALLY. The list.

I’ll just post it the way I have it scribbled on my notes:

  • make coupon for 100% off PDF
  • Update Kindle versions to mention paperback
  • Update paperback version to mention Kindle versions
  • Add SmartURL’s for book at Amazon
  • redirect duplicate book pages
  • find out how to get podcasts to show up on podcast reader apps
  • assign canonical URL’s for duplicate posts I want to keep
  • update the July household ledger
  • begin working on the 2015 business ledgers
  • brush the horses and pick hooves
  • make blog post
  • make media package for speaking engagements so i can find all the info easier next time
  • send the above to the two places i have scheduled speaking to do
  • update the book page
  • find out if I can recycle ISBN no longer in use
  • vacuum seal the rest of the sugar
  • repair fence at creek crossing
  • finish weeding garden
  • get back to work on Bounty Hunter (my fiction novel in progress)

And there you have it. A typical day in the life of a homesteading hermit writer.

Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.

Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.


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Spider Stick

Anyone who has ever ridden, or rather, *driven* a four-wheeler on a tree-lined path will know exactly why this four-wheeler is sporting a lovely branch of wilted leaves.

spider stick on the 4-wheeler

spider stick on the 4-wheeler

It’s a “spider stick”. And it’s the person in front, if you’re riding double, who appreciates this little contraption most of all.

I am not *scared* of spiders, I just don’t want them on my face.

You can see some of the several webs and residents in the pics below. This wasn’t even half of them, but only the ones who stayed along for the ride. I collected these on my spider stick during one trip to the mailbox and back.

Spider 3

Spider 3

Spider 2

Spider 2

Spider

Spider 1

It is wasps that cause me to feel panic, particularly the ones trapped inside of a car with me. The discovery of such a horror will have me bailing as fast as I can slam on the brakes and open the door.

That fear must be hereditary. One day I happened across my daughter. Her car was stopped in the middle of the dirt road with all 4 doors wide open.  She was outside, frantic. My two granddaughters inside were screaming at the top of their lungs. Poor kids were safely buckled into their car seats. But Gab, being cursed with my cursed fear of wasps in the car, had bailed, leaving the kids in the car to face their fate.

No worries – we got the wasp out and no one was stung. The kids recovered, but are likely also going to have our phobia even if it isn’t inherited. Hard not to after such an experience, ha. Probably a good study for nature vs nurture.

So yes. The scariest thing is wasps, not spiders. But it’s really hard to pay attention to controlling the 4-wheeler when there’s a spider somewhere on me. I’m very grateful to my eldest son who showed me how to make the stick hold itself in place. Now I’m not trying to drive one-handed while holding the stick in the other.


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My First Sheet of Handmade Paper

So, with all the rain here, and now with the truck being broken which means until the road mud dries up some I can’t go out anywhere, I’m doing some of the other things on my creative bucket list.  I need a break from writing/editing/formatting from time to time, and *shakes head* housework is not on that list.

Yes, I do the domestic stuff when I need to, or more likely, when I absolutely must. Besides, I’ve done enough of that while confined in this house due to the relentless rainy weather. And I seem to make messes as fast as I clean it.  Today the mess is compounded by my project. As it turns out, making paper is quite messy.

Handmade Paper

Handmade paper is high on the list of things I *want* to do. After today’s trial, it appears I’ll need to do it a lot more often to become proficient.

Those little wasps make papermaking look so easy.

The other day I collected some mulberry leaves, chopped them up and put them in a large pot to cook.

Day one and the leaves were still completely unchanged by the heating and stirring.

Day two and ditto.

Day three and I gave up and threw it into the blender.

That might have been a mistake, but I’m not sure yet because I haven’t tried the pounding it into a pulp method yet.

The first mistake I KNOW was a mistake is the improper use of my improvised deckle.

Improvised deckle for making homemade paper.

Improvised deckle for making homemade paper.

The next mistake was not having a good place to turn out the wet sheet so it could press until it dried. I turned it out onto a folded sheet and covered with the other half of the sheet. That wasn’t easy to manipulate when I tried to peel it off.

So my first sheet of handmade paper was, in most ways of looking at it, a complete failure. I even wasted two of my ginseng leaves that I wanted to press into the surface of it.

But from a learning perspective, it was a useful experiment. Now I know to do some things differently next time. Hopefully the NEXT photo you see of my handiwork, it looks a lot better than the one below!

My first sheet of handmade paper. It's okay to laugh. I'm laughing with you.

My first sheet of handmade paper. It’s okay to laugh. I’m laughing with you.

 


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Why it Takes me an Hour to Drive 12 Miles to the Post Office

Today I went to the post office.

It’s only 12 miles to the post office in our little town.

6 of those miles are by dirt road. My average speed on the dirt stretch is 10 mph, but I slow down for the rough spots. So for just that portion of the trip, it already makes up for more than 30 minutes. The remaining 6 miles of pavement only takes 10 minutes or less, depending on whether there are cows, tractors, or deer in the road.

On a direct trip with no distractions, it’s about a 90-minute round trip, if you add the time spent getting the mail posted. And that’s if I only go to the post office and back.

But that rarely happens. Continue reading


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A Review Round Robin

What is a "useful plant"?

What is a “useful plant”?

Join me in a “Review Round Robin”

I’ll send you 10 Common Plants in paperback format, and none of this costs anything for you, not even postage (but you don’t get to keep the book, unfortunately – you’ll send it on to the next reviewer).

1. I’ll send you the book with postage-paid envelopes ready for you to send to the next person after you’ve read it.
2. When you’re done reading it, leave your review at Amazon.
3. Put your autograph, and possibly a little note to me, inside the front cover of the book.
4. Use one of the postage-paid envelopes provided and put all of the remaining envelopes in there with the book so the next recipient can send it on, as well.

I’m looking for 10 participants, but will happily sign on more. If you run out of autograph space, just write on it anywhere that will work. The last envelope will send it back to me and I’ll have it as a keepsake, autographed by my first reviewers!

*** Your reviews need to be honest, not necessarily nice, but at least civil if you really hated it  ***

The photos below are chapter images for each of the 10 plants. Message me (click here to go to my contact page) with your mailing address if you’re interested.

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Do Your Dogs Sing with the Chickens?

Badger howling at coyotes.

Badger howling at coyotes.

We have singing dogs. Every morning at sunrise when the rooster crows and the hens wake, and during the day when the chickens get all a-cluck over an egg laying, the dogs break into song with them.

Does anyone else have singing dogs, especially in choir with chickens?


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Rattlesnakes and Dogs don’t Mix – Snakebit dog

Timber Rattler, Madison county AR

Timber Rattlesnake

They’re not aggressive. Really.

This one just wanted to be left alone. It’s the second one I’d encountered that week, and both were relatively calm. Badger even stepped on the first one and didn’t notice until after doing it. The snake didn’t bite, just coiled up and started rattling.

This one took a long time before expending the effort to make any noise, but Turbo wouldn’t leave it alone.

Finally it struck. Turbo hopped back and I thought he’d dodged successfully. He didn’t yelp or give any sign of pain.

I figured we’d better leave before one of us did get bitten because Turbo wouldn’t stay back and the snake was becoming agitated now.

So I went back to the house and after a few hours I went outside to feed the horses.

In my peripheral I could see Turbo coming up to the gate where he normally catches up with me during feeding chores. But I could tell something was wrong. He was moving very, very slowly.

Turbo is named turbo, well, because he’s always moving around in turbo speed. His slow movement was a strong visual cue that something was wrong.

When I turned to get a look at him, I knew right away exactly what was wrong. I had a snakebit dog. His face was swollen tremendously. The snake had not missed after all.

He let me inspect him and a little bit of blood oozing from two neat puncture wounds on his snout. It was the part of his lips that cover the upper canine teeth.

This was on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday – day of bite

The first thing I did was bring him inside and put him in the kennel so he wouldn’t walk around too much. Most of all, I didn’t want him to run off and lie low for a few days, which is what seems to be the thing dogs do when they’re bitten like that.

Next thing was to give him 2 benedryl capsules, adult strength. Turbo weighs about 60  pounds.

After that I gave him about 4 teaspoons of turmeric, mixed with egg and a little bacon grease. He ate it, but not enthusiastically. He slept most of the evening and all night.

Monday – day 2

He still looked awful. That morning he felt awful too but wanted to come into the kitchen and lie on the cool terra cotta tiles. By that afternoon he felt better because when I dropped a potato on the floor, he grabbed it and wouldn’t let me have it back. He carried it over to his spot and guarded it while he rested. Here’s some pics from Monday.

I continued to give him the turmeric and also in his drinking water I gave him cleavers and spilanthes. Cleavers is good for helping the body to eliminate lymphatic fluid, spilanthes is an immune stimulating herb from the tropical countries.

Ordinarily I like to use what grows locally, but the research on turmeric for snake bite (in Middle Eastern countries) was impressive. I knew of nothing else that might work as well. Turmeric is one herb I do keep in stock, even though it’s not a local. Same with spilanthes, although I haven’t had any for more than a decade now. That tincture is some I had made more than a decade ago when I still lived in south Louisiana. Now I’m out of it and will have to try to grow the spilanthes here. Cleavers is a local herb.

Turbo wouldn’t eat the turmeric in eggs, or in any other way I tried. Finally, I resorted to making little bitty pancakes with a teaspoon added to the top of each pancake. Then I folded the pancake over to seal it in there. He gobbled those up like treats. I gave him about 4-6 tsp every 4 hours. I gave him 2 dropperfulls of cleavers/spilanthes tincture in his water bowl (approx 2 cups) each time I filled it. He drank several bowls of water during a day’s time.

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Tuesday – day 3

Turbo wanted to go outside to run and play. He felt completely better and looked a lot better too. Most of the swelling had gone down. We got a serious flood Monday night and on Tuesday he was swimming in the water and running around normally. I quit giving him the herbs on this day.

Snakebit dog 3 days later after treatment with turmeric.

Feeling MUCH better!

Wednesday – day 4

I don’t have any photos of him on this day, but his swelling was completely gone. The bite area never abscessed or had necrosis. You couldn’t even tell he’d been bitten except that the bite itself was still visible.

Summary

If I’m ever bitten by a rattlesnake, there are a few things I’ll do before getting to the hospital. Take benedryl, take as much Vitamin C as I can tolerate. (Dogs and other mammal livers produce their Vitamin C and increase production of it when they are facing toxins like snake or spider venom. Humans can’t do that.) And take turmeric and cleavers/spilanthes.

Your Experiences with Rattlesnake Bites?

If you’ve ever been bitten or treated a dog that was bitten, or brought one to the vet for snakebite, I’d love to hear how it progressed compared to this. Maybe Turbo just didn’t get a lot of venom. His swelling the first day seemed to be fairly bad, though, and he felt poorly enough to think he was pretty sick from it. But the only thing I have to compare it to are my other dogs who laid up a few days after being bitten and so I didn’t get to treat them right after it happened.

Those dogs always developed abscesses that drained about a week later. One dog lost a toe, which regrew later without the toe nail or bone, but at least filled in the space with what looked like a toe.


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Build your Herbal Armory!

Useful plants grow all around us.

My book, 10 Common Plants worth Knowing in a Long-term Survival Situation, will introduce you to ten at a time. I’ll help you make allies of them, enabling you to build your herbal armory.

  1. All-Heal
  2. Beebalm
  3. Echinacea
  4. Elderberry
  5. Red clover
  6. Red Raspberry
  7. Red Mulberry
  8. Persimmon
  9. Spicebush
  10. Witch Hazel

An Heirloom

This book is meant to be written in. I’ve given space to record your harvest locations, identification notes, place to write things that you think will be important for anyone trying to follow in your footsteps in the next generations.

If you want a chance to read the paperback at no cost, sign on for my Review Round Robin! Offer ends 7/8/15, when the round robin kicks off.

Go to the product page at shop.WildOzark or hit the “Continue Reading” button to see sample chapter  … Continue reading


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The Slow Descent of an Ozark Mountain Landslide

I’ve been observing and recording our slowly descending Ozark landslide. Leaning trees and driveway encroachment, photographed day by day.

Since the flood last Monday I haven’t done a whole lot of cleanup. The main reason for that is the landslide.

It’s blocking my path from the house to the camper and to the gate.

Landslide at Wild Ozark

6-20-15 The slide begins at the junction of the path going up and the driveway to the left.

 

So I have to go around the long way.

This landslide isn’t what you might imagine a landslide to be. It didn’t come down in one crashing announcement.

It’s tiptoeing in, sliding across the driveway one foot at a time. This creeping encroachment is how the other Ozark landslides I’ve seen looked like they happened, too.

Slow Landslide at Wild Ozark

Two days later on 6-22-15 You can see how the trees on the right are leaning and moving into the driveway.

Trees are moving too.

Today I would ordinarily be at the market selling my plants and books. Actually, it’s impossible to bring my things to market right now anyway (even if I had anything left to bring), so it’s just as well. Having to go all the way around by 4-Wheeler just to check the mail is keeping me at the house more than usual. And I’m getting a lot of work done on my book because of that. So I really don’t have any complaints.

The landslide started becoming very noticeable on the 20th, but it started long ago. This is how the landscape of the Ozarks came into being. This is why there are all those gorgeous rock bluffs and promontories. The earth simply slips away from the rock, and this hillside on our mountain is a late-comer to the process. Our hillside started it several years ago when we got about 11″ of heavy rainfall over a period of about three days. On Monday night last week we got 7″ in a period of about 7 hours,  and now this slide will hopefully close to finishing the job. I want it finished so I don’t have to worry about this particular Ozark challenge again.

This morning I actually saw a fieldstone fall from the side when I drove up to it to take this morning’s pictures. It moved less last night I think than the previous nights. We haven’t had any rain for a day or so, so that has probably helped stabilize it some.

However, the leaning tree is leaning a little more and the second leaning tree is now over and under the lines. A limb is sticking between, too. I don’t know how it hasn’t already shorted out the electricity, but I still have power at the house so I’m going to use it until it’s gone.

leaning tree 6-23-15

6-23-15 It’s leaning more today and you can see the driveway is just a bit more encroached. You can’t see that tree in the previous picture, but yesterday it wasn’t into the lines yet. Today it is over, under and between. Amazingly, we still have power!

I called the power company yesterday and they’re supposed to send someone out but they’re also supposed to call first and so far no calls. I want to meet them out there to make sure they understand the slide starts far higher than right there at the driveway so no one gets hurt because they didn’t know the scope of the problem. I also want to hear their opinions on what can be done.

Yesterday I trimmed all the branches from the 4-wheeler path to the other side so now I can ride through without feeling like I’m getting covered in ticks. That gave the spiders a nice area to stretch webs across. Ick! I hate running through spider webs.  I also moved some rocks to make my passage through the creeks easier. That helped a lot and will last at least until it rains again. LOL, then I’ll have to do that part again. Clipping the branches will have to be done again, I’m sure, too. This place is looking like a jungle.

My car won’t start and it sounds like it has water in it. The weedeater starts but has no power and won’t run enough to do any weedeating. So I’m down to swing blading my trails to the horses and chickens and right around the house. I’ll sharpen my scythe to do more later. I’ll bring the weedeater out with me when I go to my dentist appointment on Thursday and drop it off to be serviced at Cleavers. By the time I get it back the weeds will be so hardy I probably won’t be able to use it. The wheeled trimmer might work, I just haven’t tried it yet but will try it later today if the power company ever calls.

Tomorrow  after the power company comes (they called before i finished this post), I might use the tractor to (attempt to) fix the area right in front of the gate. If I do that, at least so I can bring the truck to park it by the connex. But then if the dead sycamore falls I won’t be able to get past it, so maybe it’s better to leave it out by the picnic table for now anyway.

Here’s my other leaning tree study. I watch the tip of it and the distance away from the tree next to it to gauge how far it moves overnight.

My daily leaning tree study.

My other daily leaning tree study.

 

Update 6-25-15

Here’s the leaning tree study with this morning’s pic added.

Leaning tree study

Leaning tree study

The power company came and cut all the trees that were in the lines. Now the junction looks like this.

Trees on the driveway

Trees on the driveway

And underneath all those trees, the driveway looks like this.

One of the cracks. Can't see the bottom of it.

One of the cracks. Can’t see the bottom of it.

Got this pic before they started cutting the trees.

Got this pic before they started cutting the trees.

This morning I went down to the tractor, determined to learn how to use it so I feel a little bit more able to do some things for myself here. OMG that was fun! Now I know why men don’t complain when they have to go do dirtwork. I dug some dirt with the backhoe, then scooped it with the front-end loader, and dumped it into one of the holes and smoothed it out with the bucket. Tomorrow I’ll do some more during the cooler hours.

woman working the backhoe

My view from the seat – don’t look at my hairy legs! Been too busy to shave, lol.

Turbo keeping an eye on things and making sure the 4-wheeler “stays”. I told him to “stay” but he seems to think that meant he was in charge of something.

Turbo making sure the 4wheeler stays.

Turbo making sure the 4wheeler stays.

Update 6-26-15

The leaning tree has pretty much left the picture and the driveway is following suit. It’s crumbling more and if it rains today and tonight, maybe the whole landslide will finish. Then we can figure out what to do about it.

6-26-15 leaning tree update

6-26-15 leaning tree update


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