Wild Ozark

Ginseng, Nature, and Homesteading Life in the Ozarks

Mushrooms are Rising and Fall is in the Air at Wild Ozark

With all the rain we’ve been having, and the cool mornings for the past couple of days, the fungi are loving above ground life. This morning there were mushrooms galore!

Fall is Coming

Have you noticed fall in the air yet? We’re on the cusp here in the Ozarks, but this morning held a chill in the air. The sun’s rays are falling to the earth at a slightly different angle. Shadows are casting from a different sort of light. Fall is almost here. I can see it now, feel it and even hear it.

This is my favorite time of year, a liminal time. A doorway between two seasons – one I’m ready to let go of and one I’m ready to welcome.

Mushrooms

In just a small area behind the house there were at least four different varieties.

Rob found the prize, a smooth golden chanterelle:

Chanterelle mushroom

Chanterelle mushroom

I didn’t have a chance to go farther to look for more of them, but right behind the house there were several. Most were already aging, but the one Rob found was fresh. So I diced that single one up and sauteed it in butter.

Then I went down to the other logs where the oyster mushrooms like to grow and picked some of those to go with supper. Here’s an article about how nutritious this wild food is. I had thought mushrooms were empty foods with no nutritional value. That’s true of the white button mushrooms you buy at the grocery store, but definitely not so about some of the other varieties.

oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms

This one is a pretty mushroom, but I’m not sure what it is and there are too many of this sort that are poisonous, even deadly, so I will just take pictures of it and leave it alone:

A pretty mushroom, but maybe it's a death angel.

A pretty mushroom, but maybe it’s a death angel.

Found some boletes that were deteriorating and smelling like dead fish:

Deteriorating boletes.

Deteriorating boletes.

This last mushroom won the prize for most unusual find for today. I’ve never seen one like this.

An interesting unknown mushroom.

An interesting unknown mushroom. Do you know what it is?

 

 

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Tiny Pretty Things

Lots of tiny pretty things catch my eye.

A little flash of red caught my eye yesterday when I was working on repairs to the horses’ gate.

At the moment I was unable to move the grass aside to see what it was, but as soon as the wires were twisted, I dropped the pliers and took a closer look.

The bright color belonged to a cluster of tiny crimson mushrooms. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me. It was a fence-mending job, not a nature walk.

So back to the house I went for the camera.

Tiny Pretty Things

Tiny Red Mushrooms

Tiny Red Mushrooms

Tiny Red Mushrooms

This little mushrooms is so tiny,  it’s not much larger than the ants that were crawling around on the ground beside it.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Slugs and Dragons and Ginseng, Oh My! Wild Ozark Creations

I’ve been working on a few new Wild Ozark creations lately. This creative streak seems to have no end in sight, either, because ideas just keep coming and I keep feeling compelled to follow them through.

Slugs

This is the latest drawing I’ve done. The digital and print rights (for business branding, not art prints) and print #1/100 have been sold already, but there are still 99 prints available. I had so much fun doing this drawing, because it made me see poison ivy and slugs in an entirely new light. Whoever knew the two of them could be beautiful together?

Slug on Poison Ivy

Slug on Poison Ivy

Dragons

I’ve been photographing a particular green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) over the past few years, trying to get good photos of all the various phases. A couple of years ago, I even had seeds that I’d gathered from it sprout.

So I was finally able to complete a creative thing that’s been waiting a long time – The Dragon Life Storyboard:

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

You can get this poster at our Wild Ozark online shop: https://shop.wildozark.com/shop/posters-of-ozark-plants/. If you know any science teachers who might like to decorate a classroom, send them my way!

You can read more about Green Dragons on one of my earlier posts.

Ginseng

So then I thought, “Well, I can’t have a dragon storyboard without a ginseng one too!”

Story of Ginseng

Story of Ginseng

Pressed Leaves

And for ginseng I also have been making pressed leaves. Some of them are laminated so they’re durable enough to take to the woods. Some I’ll mount on fine art paper for framing.  Only the laminated ones are posted to the shop so far. They’re $10.

Mature ginseng leaf prong

Fiction

I’ve been working on my novel and am getting excited by how it’s going. Here’s the story line for that:

Bounty Hunter is a rural adventure fantasy set in post-collapse northwest Arkansas. There’s a rift in the Universal fabric that the Feds aren’t telling anyone about, but it’s the main reason martial law is still in effect. Treya is training to be an assassin for ARSA, a covert government agency headquartered in Bentonville. Punishment isn’t that the criminals are put to death. It’s that they’re killed three times to force them into successively lower incarnations. Treya has to learn how to use her innate gifts that enable her to track a person throughout their incarnations, whether they’re human or not.

Your Turn!

So tell me what projects you’ve been working on? Send links if you have posts about them or Etsy listings or whatever and I’ll link to them. My email address is

 

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Prettiest Rooster Contest

Do you have a pretty rooster?

Wild Ozark is hosting a contest to see who has the prettiest roosters out there.

Send in your entries!

11 Winners will get a free 2017 calendar featuring the prettiest roosters entered into our Prettiest Rooster Contest.

Do you have a pretty rooster? Enter his photo in @wildozark's contest! Ends Sept. 1. Click To Tweet

Wild Ozark's Prettiest Rooster entry.

Wild Ozark’s Prettiest Rooster entry.

Contest ends Sept. 1, 2016

Contest Rules & Terms

Photos submitted may be used online in this blog or FB for the purpose of promoting the contest or the calendar. Winning photos will be included in a product Wild Ozark will offer for sale. Winning photographers will get a free calendar and their photo will be credited using the name given during submission. Do not submit photos you do not own the copyright to! If you took the photo, you own the copyright if you haven’t sold it anywhere else. Photos used will be credited to the photographer/entrant and copyright remains with the entrant. Only photos with enough quality to look good printed at 5×7″ or larger will qualify for the calendar, but they may still be featured on Wild Ozark’s blog of contestants. Entrants email addresses will be used to send notices about the contest and the calendars only. Entering this contest does not subscribe the entrant to our other mailing lists. Winners will be notified by email and announcement on this blog, FB, and other social media. Calendars will be available for purchase. Winners will receive their free calendars by USPS in early January or possibly earlier. Contest is open to international submissions, but non-contiguous-US winners will pay shipping for the free calendar. In the event we don’t get enough submissions, the contest will be rescheduled for next year with a longer submission window, or cancelled altogether.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

How to Find Ginseng


It’s late summer now and the ginseng still has green berries here at Wild Ozark. You can see how ginseng looks from spring through late fall on my page Ginseng Through the Seasons. If you like art, you might enjoy my sketch of “Ginseng in May”.

If you want a general post on what a ginseng plant looks like, go here.


Please Note

Legal season for digging for ginseng is Sept. 1 through Dec. 1. Here’s a PDF from the Arkansas State Plant Board about the rules regarding ginseng harvest and sales. If you have the proper habitat, I encourage you to plant wild-simulated ginseng using seeds from as local as possible a source. We usually plant our seeds in fall before it gets too cold.

Where does ginseng grow?

Ginseng grows in moist deciduous forests of eastern North America, but only in locations that provide the perfect combination of deep shade, moist loamy soil, and the right mix of trees. It loves the north-facing slopes, but also grows on east, west, and rarely on south-facing slopes. Most often it likes the lower third of a slope, generally not the mountain tops. Here’s a map from the USDA that shows where it grows in the United States.

If you want to know if your state allows the harvest of ginseng, you can check to see if it’s on the map here. If not, then there are no regulations, which often means there is no legal way to do it. You’d have to contact the Plant Board or your local USDA office to ask more questions.

Where EXACTLY can I find ginseng?

You probably won’t like the answer. No one is going to tell you where you can go to find a specific patch of ginseng. The reason why is because if someone knows the plant well enough to tell you where it is, they’ll also know it’s endangered and easily exterminated from a single site. That person usually is either digging and maintaining the patch for themselves, or is protecting/stewarding the site so it can continue to thrive.

If you don’t have property of your own with suitable habitat, or know someone  else with the proper conditions, you probably won’t have anywhere to dig or grow. Some states might allow digging on public lands, but many don’t. Arkansas does not.

So if you are someone who just became interested in digging some ‘sang to make some money from the roots, you’re most likely out of luck.

However, if:

  • you have land (your own or a friend’s) & you want to know if ginseng is present or could be
  • you’re looking to buy property and want to know if it contains good habitat
  • you’re working with others to build a sanctuary

Then the rest of this post might be very helpful to you.

Keep an eye on my 2016 Ginseng Prices page if you want to stay abreast of current prices this year.

Start Broad – Find Habitat

Increase your odds

Check the USDA map to see if ginseng grows, or has ever grown, in the area of interest. For example, if you live in Arizona, it is highly unlikely that you will ever successfully grow this plant. If you want to try, then you’ll have to recreate the kind of habitat that supports it.

Shade and moisture

First look for mature trees. The following are present in the areas I’ve found ginseng:

  • maple
  • redbud
  • pawpaw
  • oak
  • hickory
  • poplar
  • dogwood
  • cedar

It needs to NOT be all oak/hickory/cedar/pine. Ginseng will grow on any slope. North-facing is best, but it’ll grow facing any direction if the shade and moisture are right. It is most often right on north-facing slopes. There are sometimes “folds” on south-facing slopes that create mini-habitats on the north-facing inside of the fold.

Once you have the right kind of trees and good moisture that comes from the right shade, then look for companion plants.

Where EXACTLY can I find ginseng? (You might not like the answer). Click To Tweet

 

Companion plants

It’s good to know the companions because ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can be a difficult plant to spot. If you’re out looking for ginseng, you’ll know to look harder if you’ve already spotted the companions. The plant seems to show itself to some but not to others. I’ve spoken to many people who have never found it on their own even though they stood side-by-side with someone else who could point it out to them. I’m that way when it comes to hunting morel mushrooms. I cannot find them, even if I look exactly in the right kinds of spots. According to people who find them, morels have their own kinds of companion plants (and trees). During spring morel hunts, my friends come back with bags of gathered morels and I stand there empty-handed. Not so with ginseng. I can find that one!

Finding the clues: Ginseng Companion or Indicator Plants

In one of my other posts about ginseng, I talked about choosing the best site to plant. Those tips can also help you find ginseng if you’re hunting it. And here’s a post that might help explain why you’re not finding it. There’s another page on this site that shows the ginseng plant as a seedling, two-prong, three- and four-prong, if you’d like to see how it looks as it gets more mature.

♥ Ginseng indicator plants, also called companion plants, are those plants, shrubs and trees that like to grow in the same sort of environment as ginseng. They keep the same company because they require the same habitat.

When I first go out to the woods, even in a place I know has ginseng, I have a difficult time spotting the first ginseng plant. They have a way of growing that makes them hard to see, but once you’ve found the first one it’s easier to find more. I think the first one somehow trains the eyes to see that form. It’s like this every time I go out. I have to find one first, then the rest become easier to see.

image of how to find ginseng

See how the ginseng plant has a horizontal form?

 

If you’re scouting woods for likely places to either plant or find it, here are a few of the companion plants you’ll want to keep an eye out for. They’re much easier to find than ginseng itself. Look for goldenseal, black cohosh, pawpaw trees, American spikenard, virginia snakeroot, bloodroot, blue cohosh and wild ginger.

Photos of the companions

Here’s some of the ones I see most often around here in the Ozarks:


 Want More Ginseng or Companion Plant Pictures?

link to ginseng category

There’s lots of photos on this blog if you’d like to just browse around a bit. Click on the “Ginseng Blog Posts” icon to get all of the posts that mention ginseng.


 

A Note about Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is NOT an indicator plant. In fact, if you see too much of it, it’s an indicator that there is probably too much sunlight in that location.

Poison ivy recently moved in and choked out a good ginseng habitat on our property. Before the ice storm of 2009, there was dense shade in that little holler. During the ice storm many of the trees fell and tops were snapped off, which then let in much more sunlight than had been there prior. And that’s what allowed the poison ivy to grow so densely there. It has taken nearly five years for the forest to recover to a point where the shade has returned to proper density.

The ginseng suffered and much of it died or went dormant because lost trees opened a gap to direct sunlight for too many hours per day. Most of the ginseng companion plants can tolerate more sunlight than ginseng.

Maidenhair and Christmas ferns can tolerate more shade than can ginseng. But the ivy can also tolerate shade and thus it is still there even as the tree’s limbs have stretched to fill in the canopy.

If we avoid more ice storms, it’ll eventually fade back toward the brighter areas and leave the deep shade alone. With a little help from the companions, you’ll be able to find suitable habitat for one of our greatest natural treasures, wild American Ginseng. The knowledge you gain will help you become a better conservationist if you choose to grow your own “virtually wild” ginseng rather than dig the wild.

Practice Ethical Hunting and Harvesting, and Consider Growing Your Own

♥ Ginseng has a legal harvest season. Ethical practices will help the plant to continue in the wild. Click To Tweet

 

Please follow the laws of your state regarding how and when to harvest. For the state of Arkansas, those rules are here (it’s a PDF file). I also go over specific practices to help the plant survive in my book Sustainable Ginseng. You might wonder why someone who conserves the wild ginseng wants to hunt it.

Except when our personal stash is low, when I find wild ginseng (in season), I don’t dig it. I record where I found it and observe the habitat, photograph the plants and environment.

Then I use the information I gather to become more successful at growing it and I share what I’ve learned with my blog and book readers. From the plants I’ve seeded on our property, I also plant the ripe berries and redistribute them to places I want to establish new colonies. (Never gather all of the seeds of a plant, and never dig without planting the seeds.)

To know where to plant, it helps to know the preferred habitat of ginseng. My hope is that you’ll become interested in growing wild-simulated ginseng, and for that you’ll need to know the kinds of places ginseng likes to grow.

♥ Wild-simulated, or virtually wild ginseng, is simply the practice of planting seeds and allowing them to grow naturally.

No tilling, no fertilizing, no weeding (except perhaps in the beginning to clear out underbrush). Then in 7-10 years, begin a sustainable plan for harvesting. That plan would include taking no more than 50% of the seed-bearing plants from each colony, and always replanting the seeds from those plants in the original area.


Beautiful, exceptional wild American ginseng roots are available at our online shop. Join the roots inventory list to get updates each month:


This is not the same as our monthly newsletter “Ozarks Musings”.


 

Other Ginseng Posts You Might Like

ginseng with red berries

If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the Contact link in the menu to get in touch. I’m always happy to help if I can.

If you found this post useful, please share by posting the link to Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social center. If you want to stay posted on what’s going on with Wild Ozark, sign up for my monthly newsletter. Next year I’ll start doing slide show presentations around the area and those will be announced through the list as well. You will not receive my regular blog posts through this announcement list.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Balanced Asymmetry and Order in Chaos in Nature, Work, and Art

Note: an edited and better composed version of this is posted over at Medium.

I’ve been in a crafty mood lately. It’s probably safe to say I’m always in a crafty mood.  I think I’ve finally figured out why.

I like balanced asymmetry and order in chaos. Noticing when these states occur and capturing them in art or photography, or creating things bring order to chaos in a satisfying way.

I Like Seeing Results

That’s the thing about crafting – results. I love seeing order brought from chaos, order within chaos, and balanced asymmetry.

It started recently with the rocked in culvert. Well, it started long ago, probably when I was born. But the most recent bout of craftiness urges started with this culvert.

 

Before and After the Culvert Wall

I like to see the results of my work. Work that never comes to fruition, or never ends with a sense of balance is frustrating. Housekeeping is that sort of work. The house is rarely clean and orderly long enough to see the end result for more than a few minutes.  And as soon as I glance another direction, I see the same job waiting again!

I would be a very bad production worker because of this unless I got to put on the finishing pieces. I have worked these sorts of jobs before, so I know that I don’t like it and when it comes right down to it, the lack of “finished result” satisfaction is why.

In those positions when I worked on specific projects (like the 245 Startup at Honeywell in 2002), I did get a sense of completion when we brought the unit online, even if I was only a small part of that project. My work contributed to a finished product that I was able to witness. I liked that.

Balanced Asymmetry

I like symmetry, but I like balanced asymmetry more. Symmetry by itself does nothing to spark my sense of wonder. Asymmetrical things without a balance to them just look chaotic and are unsatisfying.

Everything I really enjoying seeing in nature, like sunsets, moonrises, forest paths, etc. are all asymmetrical studies.  The clouds that frame the moon look best when they’re asymmetrical. Sunbeams filtering down between limbs of a tree on an early morning are not equally distributed across the entire scene. If fact, the very non-uniformity in where and how they appear is what makes them so breathtaking.

a study in balanced asymmetry

Building a rock wall using native stone is an exercise in learning to balance in an asymmetrical way.

The whole is balanced. This is not one of my rock walls, by the way. This is an old one that’s been here on this earth for possibly longer than me.

This rock wall is a perfect example of balanced asymmetry and organized chaos.

This rock wall is a perfect example of balanced asymmetry and organized chaos.

The parts are not.

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

Order to Chaos

There are some who say it is not possible to have chaos and order at the same time.

I say you can. Sometimes.

A pile of rocks is a static sort of chaotic thing.

A pile of asymmetrical rocks even more so.

But when the chaotic tumble of asymmetrical rocks are stacked, sometimes an organized balance can be achieved. That is an example of bringing order to chaos.

Orderly Chaos

Orderly chaos is a different thing. Orderly chaos is a lot like asymmetrical balance. I also think whether something is chaotic or orderly depends on the viewer’s perspective.

To the person who just bumped into the hornet’s nest, the swarm of hornets attacking feels pretty chaotic.

But that swarm is actually very orderly, a whole chaotic mess of stinging insects all bent on achieving the same goal: to kill or run off an intruder.

I see order and chaos side-by-side and even occupying the same spaces all the time. A glance at the news is full of speculation fodder for this topic.

What seems like a chaotic world right now probably has a lot of order to it if we can back off far enough to view it from a distant perspective, both literally and figuratively.

Balanced asymmetry and orderly chaos in Crafty things

My latest creation is a dreamcatcher.

balanced asymmetry in my dreamweaver

This example of balanced asymmetry is for sale at Wild Ozark’s online shop 🙂

It’s pretty asymmetrical too, but is also balanced. The weaving is probably still chaotic in appearance to some, but there’s order in there now, in spite of the chaos that ensued before I was done with it.

It’s definitely asymmetrical. But the whole thing is balanced in spite of that.

Balanced Asymmetry.

Same deal with a website I’m creating. To someone viewing only the parts of this creation, it might seem terribly chaotic. It seems that way to me, too, sometimes.

But eventually all the parts start working together and it becomes yet another example of balanced asymmetry. And of order in chaos.

Things that are both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical at the Same Time

A lot of things probably fall into this category, but the one I see most often and notice happens with plants. Ginseng is a good example.

This goldenseal plant is balanced even though it is very asymmetrical.

 

goldenseal with red berry - Signed & Numbered prints are available now!

Signed & Numbered prints are available now!

On the vertical plane, it’s asymmetrical. However, if  sliced horizontally, it is symmetrical.

Your Thoughts?

Have you noticed yourself attracted to more symmetrical things and only clear-cut order, or are you like me and fascinated with the balance between asymmetrical and ordered chaos?

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Mailbox and Back in Under an Hour

Yesterday I brought my camera with me when I went to the mailbox. If I had walked, I know it would have taken more than an hour because I would have seen so many more opportunities to stop and take a picture.

There’s Never a “Quick Trip” Anywhere Out Here

My intention was to make  *quick* trip to check the mail because I was waiting on a delivery of something in particular. But before I started the mailbox run, there was a mushroom that Rob had spotted near where he parks the tractor.

He’d told me about it the day before so I needed to get pictures of it first thing.

A bolete of some sort. This mushroom looks like a pancake when you're looking down from above, though.

Just as I took its picture, I saw there were more of them, just a little up the hill.

Another of the mushrooms that look like pancakes.

Saw this one just a little farther up the hill.

And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.

And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.

Don't they look just like pancakes?

Don’t they look just like pancakes?

But from this angle you can see they do have stems.

But from this angle you can see they do have stems.

The day before that he’d seen a different one, so of course I got some pictures of it, too:

mushroom from above

A humongous mushroom growing at the base of Gloria, the old white oak tree out front.

This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.

This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.

But I digress. After I finished taking the pictures of the pancake mushrooms I took the 4-wheeler to get on with the mail-checking task.

But the 4-wheeler was having issues and died on me a few times. This, of course, is where having the camera on hand came in handy indeed. I had ample time to walk around a bit and take some pictures while I waited for it to start again.

Dinner Leavings along the Mailbox Route

I know it was a squirrel who left this mess on the flat rock by the first creek crossing. The day before we’d seen a squirrel running across the driveway with a mouth full of mushroom.

Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.

Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.

Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.

Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.

Good thing I wasn’t watching which mushrooms the squirrels were eating so we could try them too! Squirrels have some interesting digestive abilities. They can even eat the deadly mushrooms without it hurting them. There’s more information about that here: http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/greatlakesdata/Terms/squir27.html#Squirrelsa

Leaves to Notice

It’s only July but already the leaves of the sourwood are beginning to color and drop. They always do this a little in late summer. And I always notice them. I love the leaves of autumn and the teasers of late summer.

Black gum leaf on a rock.

Black gum leaf on a rock.

My favorite leaf picture from yesterday is a rock and leaf composition with understated colors. I love the paleness of the rock and the light colored leaf:

Yellow leaf on pale rock in July 2016.

Herbs to Notice

I’ve been watching for a particular herb favorite of mine. It’s about the time for Lobelia inflata to bloom. I use the seeds of this plant to make a tremendously appreciated anti-spasm formula.

A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.

A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.

Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.

Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.

When the seed pods are brown and dry I’ll snip the stem and put the whole thing in a paper bag. Then I can smash the bag a bit and the pods will burst, releasing all the seeds inside the bag. After that, I’ll use a portion of them for my herbals and spread a portion of them outside so I’ll have more to gather next summer.

Frogs and Feathers

I love finding wild bird feathers. It seems that I encounter a lot of crow feathers during my walkabouts. Yesterday morning was no exception. We have free-range chickens, so chicken feathers are easy to find. And I’m always finding feathers as evidence the cats have killed a bird, too. But those feathers don’t catch my attention the way randomly placed ones on rocks in creeks do.

A small crow feather I spotted on the way to the mailbox yesterday on a rock in the creek.

Just as I was getting ready to try the 4-wheeler again I saw this small frog in the creek.

A little frog after he thought he'd jumped away and hidden from me again.

A little frog that was in the creek on the way to the mailbox.

He’s only about an inch or two long and thought he was well-hidden, which he was. But not so well-hidden that he could escape my notice, ha.

Other Posts Like This One

If you enjoyed this, this post reminds me of Why it Takes Me an Hour to Go to the Post Office and Back  so you might like it too. Both demonstrate how I shouldn’t leave home with the camera or a notebook or a sketchpad if the trip is intended to be a quick one.

 

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Top Questions from Readers: Healing Herbs

Healing Herbs: the first of the Top Questions and Topics of Interest from Readers


Healing herbs and using the wild plants for medicine was one of the most often mentioned topics in the recent survey results.

In case you’re just joining me here and aren’t yet a Wild Ozark Musings newsletter subscriber, I recently sent a survey to subscribers. I wanted to find out what sort of things they’d be interested in hearing me talk or write about in the newsletter.

I got so many good responses! Thank you!

So it took me a while to get around to it, but now I’m going to start addressing those questions and topics. I’ll do one each newsletter and later post it to this blog. Eventually I’ll probably compile them all into a book, but for now, they’ll just be newsletter topics and blog posts. The first question on the list is actually several questions and topics, so I’ll take each one separately. Here’s the first one.

I would like to know more on healing herbs.

This is a huge topic! I’ll address what I’m personally doing with herbs at this time of year. I just made a harvest from the garden of echinacea, thyme, oregano, and sage. From the mountain I gathered wild mountain mint.
My recent harvest of some healing herbs.

Not only are the oregano, thyme, and sage great culinary herbs but they’re also medicinal. None of those three taste very good as a tea to me, but they make a killer gargle for sore throat and an excellent tea for washing wounds or burns. I like using the mint to flavor any of the syrups and it has stomach settling qualities to add. There may be a lot more use for mint than that, but that’s how I use it.

Usually I also harvest beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) at this time of year, but all of it has powdery mildew this year. It doesn’t kill the plant but it gives a bad smell to the dried herb and may not be good for you to use that way, so I don’t. Beebalm has a propensity for powdery mildew, especially if it’s not growing in full sun with lots of air flow around it.

A great combination

I use the beebalm in combination with the echinacea and marshmallow root to make a tea once a week. This tea has helped my bladder issues more than the surgery I had to correct the problem over a decade ago did. Had I known then what I know now, I would never have had the surgery. Why? Because I almost died from blood loss from it, and the effect to cure the ailment wasn’t very long lasting anyway. This tea combination works for me. It has worked for others for cystitis, too. I, and my daughter’s family, also use it when we feel any sort of illness coming on and it shoos that right out the door. Elderberries would be great to add to the combination to combat viruses, too.

red raspberries

Wild raspberries are ripe right now, as are blackberries. I pick those whenever I can. Raspberries might be a delicious treat but they are also very beneficial as a healing herb. The leaves of red raspberries are good in teas to help tone pelvic floor muscles which will help prevent things like prolapse of the bladder and uterus. The berries themselves are healing. They’re very high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties, too. Blackberry fruits have similar properties.

The elderberries aren’t ripe here yet, but the flowers are blooming and the bushes are loaded with green berries. Here’s a photo from last year’s crop:
ripe elderberries

Another way I use elderberries and beebalm is in a syrup made with mullein. This syrup is my grand-daughter’s favorite remedy and she’s always wanting it even when she isn’t really sick. I have the recipe for that syrup here on my website. It’s great for that pesky, lingering winter “crud” and cough.

The pic below is of the beebalm harvest from last year. After it is the mullein. I use the fresh velvety leaves in spring, not the ones nearest the ground but the next layers up.

The front side of the Beebalm card in Wild Ozark's Plant Identification Card set

Mullein, First Year

I harvest mullein during its first year, when it looks like the picture. In the second year it develops a flower stalk and the leaves aren’t as luscious. Mullein decoction alone, without the beebalm or elderberry is very effective for thinning mucus and making it easier to cough up, and it quiets the cough which makes it easier to sleep.

I hope you found the response to this topic useful. Feel free to email with questions or leave a comment to share your own stories.

Here’s a link where you can read all the back issues of the Wild Ozark Musings newsletters if you want.

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

Installing a Culvert Retaining Wall was Today’s Homestead Project

Today I built a culvert retaining wall for the culvert on the shop driveway to keep it from washing out around the sides. I was grateful for the overcast and dreary day so I could do this work without getting burnt to a crisp or dehydrated.

Sloped Lands = Washed out Culverts

Almost all of our homestead area is sloped. Some of it is sloped pretty steep and when it rains, it tends to wash out around the culverts.

We needed a culvert retaining wall new culvert for the shop driveway to keep this from worsening the situation.

The culvert before I started working on it.

The culvert before I started working on it.

You can see the buildup of silt in front of it and where it’s starting to wash out around the upper sides.  When we traveled to Germany a few years ago, there was so many rock wall structures and I loved seeing them. I’ve seen many of the culvert retaining walls here in the Ozarks, too. Building them is hard work, but a structure that is both beautiful AND functional is such a nice combination to me.

I was determined to try and I had the idea in mind of how I wanted it to look.

Getting started on the Culvert Retaining Wall

Rob brought a nice pile of rocks to the worksite from a pile of rocks by the creek with his front end loader. So much easier than walking around to gather rocks from the area!

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

Ordinarily, I would take photos of all the steps along the way in a project like this. But with it looking like it might rain at any minute, I didn’t want to have the camera out there.

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t take pictures between the start and finish.  The work was hard and I was too tired to take pictures when I did take breaks.

First Step

The first thing to do is to dig out around the culvert. I also dug a little beneath it so I could place the “floor” stone.

Then I chose an assortment of various sized rocks from the pile and brought them closer so I could reach without getting in and out of the ditch.

If the rock I wanted to use was too big for the spot, I dug out a little more. Keep in mind that all the dirt had to be removed from the ditch. This was the hardest part of the entire job.

The digging and shoveling out of the dirt was not enjoyable and it was extremely tiring. But it had to be done before I could stack the rocks around the sides.

One of the rocks broke when I dropped it and when the shard came off of it, I saw that it was a beautiful pink sandstone. Most of the rocks here are sandstone, but some are prettier than others. This was one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

Pink sandstone from the Ozarks.

Pink sandstone

 

For each layer, or “course”, I dug out deeper than the rock needed it to be. Deeper, as in deeper into the side, not deeper downward. Then I backfilled behind each course with the small stones and soil that I’d taken out initially.

Irregular Rocks

These rocks aren’t uniformly shaped, as you can see in the photo below, and they don’t stack one on top the other without some shimming with flat or smaller smaller stones.

Once it was all done, I was pleased to note that I’d done a pretty good job of keeping it all level. That’s not always easy to do with odd-shaped rocks.

The finished culvert retaining wall.

The finished culvert retaining wall.

So that was my project.

The Other End

While I worked on the entrance end, Rob worked on the exit end. Two culverts intersect there and it also has a tendency to wash out, but in a different way.

Different Problems need Different Solutions

So it needed a different kind of rock work. He put big flat rocks on the sides and bottom after digging out the accumulated silt. This will help keep it from washing out on the sides and bottom.

The floor on the exit side of culvert.

The floor on the exit side of culvert.

Homesteading can be backbreaking, muscle-exhausting work. But I love living out here and I love seeing the results of all of our hard work. I just hope when the next rain comes it doesn’t wash it all away!

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

No Water

This morning I turned on the faucet to put some water on my toothbrush.

photo of faucet dripping

No water this morning. Not that I used the outdoor faucet to wet my toothbrush, but this was the only photo of a dripping faucet I had.

Nothing but a few drops came out. Then, nothing. No water.

No Water

My thoughts immediately led to the question in my mind, which was “Where did all the water go?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve had nothing at the faucet first thing in the morning, but it’s been a long time.

It always takes me by surprise when this happens and results in a few moments of disbelief.

Especially when I haven’t had my coffee yet.

So I took a quick look around outside to see if I left the hose on or whether the auto-waterer on the animal’s bucket overflowed.

Nothing obvious turned up.

What it turned out to be was the downstairs toilet. It didn’t stop running the last time someone flushed.

Yay for quick fixes!

When someone in the city has water running all night, they get a whopper utility bill.

When someone on spring water leaves the water running all night, they run out of water.

At least this time, by making sure the toilet wasn’t trying to refill, our water shortage would soon mend itself.

It can take as long as 24 hours for the water storage tank up the hill to completely fill. Within a few hours we were able to at least flush toilets again.

Water Conservation

This is one of the *big adjustments*. It’s such a big change of thinking that it is more accurately called a paradigm change.

When we moved from an urban environment to the very rural Ozarks, we had to make quite a few changes in our awareness. Staying conscious of our limited water resource is probably the biggest of the adjustments we had to make.

Out here, it’s really important to know when we can afford to “waste” water. Our spring has greater flow at certain times and lower flow at others. So during times of low flow we are careful to wash clothes only as needed, wash dishes only as needed, and be more conservative in all water usage.

flat rocks in creek

Water is one of our most precious resources. It is for everyone, everywhere.

 

I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:

Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.

For nature sketching and fantasy art, visit my online journal: http://www.wildozarknaturejournal.com.


Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

Sketch Your Own Ginseng!

.

 

Need a little help to make your own nature sketch? Get my new ginseng color page! An outline to start with and a step-by-step visual guide to help you complete it.

.

 

Each month I send out a newsletter to share links, herbal and other stories, tips on American ginseng, snippets of life in the wild Ozarks, and announcements of new books and products.

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