On the Cusp of Change

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Musings, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, Wild Ozark Products, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal, Writer's Journal on by .

Writer’s Journal Entry

The end of one season and beginning of another is a liminal period, a sort of ‘tween-ness’, and I love those spans of time the most.

This time of year always sends me inward. It’s hard not to become antisocial. Today I was able to immerse, almost literally, into the earth. I followed my bliss as I crawled around on the forest floor planting ginseng seeds and taking pictures.

Yes, I got filthy dirty and full of ticks, too. Being dirty doesn’t bother me. I actually feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m in bad need of a bath. It usually means I got a lot done when I’m walking around in that condition. The ticks, on the other hand, I could do without. However, I’m willing to take the good with the bad.

Most of the photos I took today are going to be used in my current work in progress.

Into the Ginseng Wood

The first in a series of many photo essay collections

My first two books on ginseng were self-published. Mainly, that was because it’s hard to get a niche book published traditionally, and the information in those books were timely and I wanted them available as soon as possible.

This Nature Journal book is a book I want to have traditionally published because I won’t be able to do it justice in print by going through Createspace and I can’t afford to have it printed professionally on my own.

So I have a few projects on the table right now, with this one stealing the majority of my attention. Also waiting to be worked on some more is the Forest Companions Card collection, which is the collage project showing ginseng and each of the companions.

I’m also still doing the FAB tutorial at my Listen website, which takes a couple of days for each lesson. I can’t get ahead on it because I only have those two days a week to spend on it, so I’m doing them right before they’re posted each weekend.

Other projects that have been moved to the back burner include my collection of flash fiction, the plant spirit cards (which has actually kind of morphed into the Forest Companions anyway), the next novel I wanted to start (based on my Bounty Hunter short story), and any other fiction I had planned to do.

I’ve decided to give myself over fully to my work with ginseng – and there are so many things I want to do it’s hard to restrain myself from starting one new project after another. There’s a calendar I’d like to produce, too. The priority right now is at least getting the outline of the Nature Journal book and the photos chosen so I can start the query process on it. Here’s another one of the tentative pages from it. This is from the chapter Before the Unfurling Begins, which moves from early through late spring:

snow in the wild ozarks

One of the images of the time period before unfurling of the ginseng and companions.

Anyway, this is where my creative mind has dwelled for the past few weeks. I love this time of year.

Ginseng 2014 – More Monster Ginseng Roots from Arkansas

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Ginseng, Nature, Plants, wild ginseng, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .

ginseng with red berries in late july

Monster Ginseng Roots

These monster ginseng roots from Arkansas were submitted by a digger in the Ozarks. He assured me he’d planted all the berries in the same location and only took a portion of mature plants. They broke the tops from the rest to keep them from being harvested in another sweep by other diggers.

Have any photos from 2014 you want to share? Email them to me. I’ll keep your identity and location anonymous or only list the state if you allow. My addy: madison(at)wildozark(dot)com.

I’m also collecting prices from various locations, so if you know what the roots are going for locally, let me know and I’ll add it to the page.


Blog posts at Wild Ozark by Madison Woods: American ginseng

Category: American ginseng

Blue mushrooms and corpse flowers

This entry was posted in Fall color, Herb Walk in the Ozarks, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .
20 Sept 2014 by Madison Woods

Nature Journal Entry

Yesterday Rob came home from working on his deer stand with a pouch full of various mushrooms. We like to look them up and see whether they’re edible or not.

mushroom find at wild ozark

For the most part we don’t try them even if all the information we find calls them edible, because there’s just so many that look like them that *aren’t*. The consequences of a mistake could be very painful, to say the least. I’m only confident in my ability to identify the morels, so all the others are still just speculation.

He found a treasure trove of what we think are oyster mushrooms. Sure wish I knew those for sure because they’re supposedly delicious. Lots of puffballs, and a few others of various colors, size, and shape.

One took the cake though. A blue mushroom! I mean so blue that it stained my fingers as if I had dipped them in ink. I’d never seen such a thing before. When we looked it up we found that it has no poisonous look-alikes and is supposed to be delicious. Or at least edible, since *delicious* is a subjective term, don’t you think?

so of course I had to saute it and give it a try. Since I’d never eaten this particular wild food before, I only sampled one bite. Just in case *edible* turned out to be a subjective observation, too. After a couple of hours and no strange visions or violent cramps I determined they were indeed edible, although they didn’t fit my definition of delicious. However, the novelty of eating a blue blue blue mushroom was interesting. The shroom turned green when it was cooked, which was another identification feature, according to the information source.

blue mushroom

Ummm….yum? Not so much. But at least it didn’t cause any side effects.

Corpse Flower

corpse flower

Not fungi

The other day on the mountain Rob and Zack saw some Indian Pipes. I hadn’t seen those in years, so I got Rob to bring me up there to get some pics of them. At my fiction blog I have a post about how these flowers inspired one of my flash fiction stories. I have a weakness for the strange and unusual life around me and it does inspire some strange and unusual stories sometimes!

100-word Flash Podcasts

I’ve started a podcast series using my collection of flash fiction stories. You can find them here at my fiction blog. They’re available through iTunes, as well, but I’m not sure yet how it works. Tonight I’ll see if I can find them there. FYI, some may contain language, violence, or mature situations and sexual content but the iTunes ought to alert if one does since I have to check a box to indicate that when publishing. The one about the corpse flower is suitable for all audiences: http://fantasy.wildozark.com/podcast/corpse-flower/

Sunlight in grass

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Ginseng, Herb Walk in the Ozarks, Madison Woods, author, Musings, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal, Writer's Journal on by .
15 Sept 2014 by Madison Woods

Nature and Writer and Photography Journal entry

I’m compiling a photographic journal of ginseng – which will include photos of the plant itself throughout the year, companion plants, habitat and look a-likes. This will be a bigger collection of photos than the previous two books on ginseng. At this time I’m not planning to self-publish it because I’d like to see it in hard-copy form with glossy pages and professional layout. I suppose after a while if I’ve had no luck with the traditional route of seeing this done, I might settle for doing the best I can on my own. (If you’re interested in knowing when this book is available, join our monthly mailing list: .)

Today while sorting and organizing photos I found I didn’t have a good shot of the wild strawberry leaves that look so much like ginseng yearling leaves. Grabbed my hat and a plastic bag for the camera – it had been raining and was only sprinkling by then, but a downpour would really be a bad thing to have to deal with!

Found good ones of both out on the trails beneath the cedars. It just rained a little but the camera was still safe and dry inside the bag. Photos after a shower always makes for really nice color on the leaves!

I’m not going to post the photos from today because I’m afraid at least some of them need to be unpublished entirely if I want a publisher to consider my proposals with the book. Blog posts count as “published” when it comes to stories being submitted to contests and magazines, so I’m assuming the same holds true for photos. And I’ve posted so many of them in the past… I hope it doesn’t affect the odds, but it’s too late to worry over it now. What will be will be.

However, here’s a nice pic of some grass. I’m not just posting grass because it seems unimportant for inclusion in the book, I’m posting it because I liked the way the sunlight was collecting on the seed head:

grass in the light at wild ozark by madison woods

One of my granddaughters was here yesterday. She’s almost 4 and has quite the aptitude for recognizing plants. She came with me to take a few pictures down the driveway (which is when I took the above photo) and once I showed her a dogwood, she showed me plenty more, skipping all the things that were *not* dogwood. So she definitely knew the difference. I sense an herbalist in training here. Or a botanist. Or who knows, but I sure hope she continues to find plants fascinating like me.

Homestead Journal: Shagbark Hickory Syrup

This entry was posted in Homestead Journal, Homesteading, Nature, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .

Photo of a shagbark hickory tree trunk. The link takes you to Dave’s Cupboard, where this idea for the syrup originated.

Homestead Journal Entry 13 Sept 2014 by Madison Woods

Shagbark HIckory Syrup

My husband comes up with some tasty ideas for things to make here on the Wild Ozark homestead. Last time it was home roasted coffee. That was so successful it’s now one of our homestead standards (except for right now because we’re out of home roast and have to use store bought).

This time the idea was shagbark hickory syrup. It is a syrup made from the bark of the tree. Yes, the bark. Not by tapping, as you might at first think.

Skeptical? I was too. This is how the bark of a shagbark hickory looks. If you click on the pic at the top, it’ll take you to Dave’s Cupboard, which is where we got the recipe. Rob was looking up recipes for hickory pie (like pecan pie but using hickories instead) and he stumbled on this site.

We gathered nuts the other day before the cool front moved in with plans to make things from them when the weather turned all drizzly.

hickory nuts from wild ozark

Fresh hickory nuts. Hard to beat the squirrels to them!

We gathered bark, too, because the idea of making syrup from it sure did intrigue. Yesterday eve Rob made the syrup and, like the coffee, it was so delicious it’s going to become another must-have in our cupboard!

I’d like to get enough made to give away for Christmas gifts and possibly add it to our online store. Here’s the link to the recipe if you want to try making some, too.

The solar flare must have done me in

This entry was posted in Musings, Tech Journal on by .
Tech Journal Entry 11 Sep 2014 by Madison Woods

My husband informed me that the flare won’t reach us (earth) until tomorrow so I’ll have to find something else to blame for the crash. Maybe a terrorist with something against ginseng crashed it ;)

No telling what really caused it, but my website was crashed when I woke this morning.

First thing I do every morning is check email and website stats – if the coffee is done. If no coffee is done yet, I make coffee. Priorities, you know. Anyway, ordinarily there’s about a 100 overnight visitors at my website, mainly reading about ginseng.

In the middle of the night last night my daughter texted me. I wasn’t sleeping, even though I should have been, so it didn’t wake me. My mind must have awakened me just so I’d be there to receive that text message. My phone doesn’t make a noise, I just happened to notice it notifying me.

Their power had gone out apparently and she wondered if it had anything to do with the solar flare. Our power had blinked, but came right back, but that happens from time to time during stormy weather and it didn’t bother me. I reassured her the world would keep turning and let her know I was going back to sleep. Which I hoped translated to don’t text me again about the power outage until decent hours tomorrow. It was after midnight.

So when I looked at the stats this morning they were flat-lined since 0300, which is highly unusual for my website. Then going to visit the site itself led me to an error page. Perhaps I place a bit more importance on my website functionality than some do, but this site is the lifeline to my book sales and online store. It’s responsible for letting more than 500 people a day know there are books to buy. And it took me quite a bit of work and time to get to this point of reliably being able to reach an audience at all. So I worry when something goes wrong.

Anyway, I could see that the last normal traffic flow happened around 3 am, which is probably when, if the solar flare was going to cause issues on the daylight side of earth, it might have done so. I think the servers that host my website are in Hong Kong. So perhaps the solar flare did get me. At any rate, I was able to restore a backed up version of it so all is well and functional now and stats have returned to normal activity.

How was your night last night? Did the solar flare get you too?

old shed

Nothing to do with solar flares, this is just a pic of our old shed I liked.

Homestead Journal: Wild Plum Jelly

This entry was posted in Homestead Journal, Homesteading on by .

A couple of weeks ago I picked a few cups of wild plums and made a couple of jars of jelly. Only two jars, but it was a worthwhile experiment. The wild plums are so tart they’re pretty much impossible to enjoy as a fresh fruit, and they’re small besides. But that same quality makes them ideal candidates for my favorite jelly substitute.

I love mayhaw jelly most of all. Every time I go south to visit relatives I always try to remember to buy a few jars from the lady who sells them from her house in Livingston, LA. Mayhaws should grow where we live in Arkansas but I just haven’t had time to find out. I know they grow on dry land because I’ve seen huge, fruit-laden trees at Poverty Point. Ordinary hawthorns grow just fine here, too. Not sure how long it takes mayhaws to produce fruit, but they’re on my list of trees to grow one day.

In the meantime, our wild plums will be a tart and tasty substitute.

Eldest son brought a nice bowl full of them the other day and today I finally got around to making the jelly. Next year I’ll know ahead of time how good it is, so I’ll make even more if I can recruit enough pickers to help gather them from the trees.

wild plum jelly from wild ozark

A little cloudy because I squeezed the fruit, but next time I’ll know better. Beautiful color, though!

Nature Journal: Flowers, Fungi & Ginseng

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Nature, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .
Nature Journal Entry 06 Sept 2014 by Madison Woods
A Post about Flowers, Fungi & Ginseng

I almost didn’t bring my camera with me the other day when we went out to check the game camera. Luckily I second-guessed myself and did run back into the house to grab it before we left.

Cardinal Flowers

I’ve never seen such a stand of cardinal flowers before. Usually I see one or two along the creek side but this is the first large group I’ve witnessed. They are beautiful. The upright photo makes a very nice phone background, btw.

The cardinal flower is a lobelia. The botanical name is Lobelia cardinalis. I use the seeds another variety of lobelia to make antispasmodic tincture (Lobelia inflata), and it is one of the strongest medicinal herbs I know. The flowers on that one are tiny. It’s a plant wouldn’t ordinarily capture anyone’s eye because it’s just an unremarkable in appearance even in flower. Unfortunately it doesn’t grow in large amounts here and the only places I’ve found it at all are not so easy to get to as these beauties on the creek side.

Tiny Mushrooms

Mushrooms always catch my eye, no matter how tiny. These were about the size of pin heads, the kinds of pins that have the multicolored tiny balls on the head to make them a little easier to hold. The black stems are little thicker than hair.

tiny pinwheel mushrooms photo by madison woods tiny pinwheel mushrooms photo by madison woods

Ginseng Update

Most of the berries have fallen from the ginseng plants now. The leaves on some are beginning to yellow a bit. It may be hard to find them in the woods at all now if the area where you’re looking has been passed over by diggers already (and most have been). Usually someone who plans to return to that area to dig again will take off the leaves of any remaining plants so no one can easily find and dig them.

I’m collecting prices from volunteers around the digging parts. If you have information, please leave it in the comment section over at the 2014 Ginseng Prices post.


Fall is Nearing

Plenty signs that fall will soon arrive! Red leaves on some of the sumac and most of the sourwoods are sure indicators. Goldenrod is beginning to bloom profusely and hopefully the ragweed is nearing the end of it’s pollen season. The angles of the sun’s rays are longer now, and I can see them so I know it’s beginning to affect the plants, cueing them in to begin preparations for the long sleep ahead.

Have you seen any signs where you live? What’s the first signal that the seasons are changing that you notice? For me it’s the light. It’s hard to explain, but the light and shadows look different, even if it’s still very hot outside.

2014 Ginseng Root Prices

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Ginseng, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, wild ginseng, wild-simulated or virtually-wild ginseng on by .
updated 25 Sept 2014 by Madison Woods

What are ginseng root prices this year?

As I lurk around the forums I’m collecting unofficial reports on ginseng root prices this year. If you have information from your neck of the woods to share, please list it in the comment section.

  • Iowa – fresh ginseng root $220/lb
  • Kentucky – dried ginseng root $700/lb (roots legally procured in Arkansas, at least, should not already be dry…)
  • Arkansas, Harrison – $550/lb on 9/25

If you’re a buyer and want to list your contact info in the comments, feel free to do that as well.

ginseng books by madison woods

This photo takes you to my Amazon Author’s page. Come on by and give it a “Like”! You’ll find the “Sustainable Ginseng” and “A DIY Ginseng Habitat” books there, and the “Look Alikes” article there too. All of this and more can also be found at our online store: http://shop.wildozark.com :)

More Ginseng Posts

Pictures of ginseng roots

Here are a few pics of some incredible roots dug by “Anonymous” in Arkansas on opening day. If you have pics you want to share, please send them via email. I won’t list your name or location but if you’d give me the state, that would be nice info. For pics, my address is madison(at)wildozark(dot)com.

See more pics.


SEO and WP Web Design – Satisfying Passions

This entry was posted in Business Journal, Writing on by .

Business Journal entry 01 Sep 2014

SEO and WP Web Design a creative form of art, too

I’m an all-around creative soul. I love being in Nature. Being in the forest, even with ticks and snakes, satisfies a part of me nothing else can. When I am in contact with the fertile earth, I’m happy.

sunburst sunset

But there’s another side to me who loves the creativity of working with the internet. I can sit in front of the computer digging deep into graphic design or Google Analytics and never realize hours have gone by.

Web Design has long been a passion and although it’s different and perhaps uses another part of my brain, it’s still a sort of artwork. In order to get more traffic to my site, I got into learning about the statistics of visitors to websites, and how to influence the flow of them by using this thing called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is results-oriented passion satisfaction.

And so that’s how Wild Ozark became all rolled into one entity consisting of Nature, Fantasy, and Tech. When Rob is able to build his shop there’ll be Woodworking added to the mix.


The Wild Ozark tech business (SEO and WP Web Design) is called Listen. Why? Because a website is a form of communication. To communicate effectively a person first has to listen. I “listen” by keeping track of what brings users to my site and then I give them what they’re searching for. I “listen” by observing statistics like “organic search results”, “bounce rate” and “visitor paths” and make changes to the site that raises and lowers the rates and varies the paths. By listening to the keyword phrases people use to find my site I can better serve my customers and communicate myself better.

organic referral rate at wildozark.com

617 Unique visits today. Decent for a very small business like ours. And nice organic referral rates!

Wild Ozark can Help

I can help you do this too. If you want to learn to do it yourself, I can teach you what I’ve learned. And if you just want me to listen for you and make the changes to your website, I can do that too.

Listen is geared toward helping the very small businesses and authors of our local community but I’m open to going farther afield to help if you live outside of the Huntsville, Arkansas area. The initial consultations are free to those in the local area but will necessarily cost something to travel unless you want to handle it all over the internet via email.

If your business doesn’t have a website or you want a new and improved one, I work with the WordPress platform exclusively and can build your site or teach you to build your own.

More Information

The Listen website is http://listen.wildozark.com. I’d love to see you there!

listen's logo for wild ozark's seo and web design business

Logo for the tech side of Wild Ozark