Ornaments and Fossils in my Garden

This entry was posted in Ancient History, Gardening in the Ozarks, Life, Musings, Mythology, Nature on by .

I’m an eclectic collector of things. Things like bones, rocks, and fossils, and especially figures of the Mother as she’s represented in various paths. The collection will never be “finished”, but I’ll need a larger garden to put many more things other than rocks and fossils in it. I don’t like a garden or yard cluttered with “things”. One of the reasons I love the rock walls in the garden is because I can incorporate at least the bones, rocks and fossils I want to keep into the wall and they don’t look intrusive, but rather are ‘part of’.

Although I no longer consider myself Catholic, you can see the influence of my upbringing in a few of the ornaments. I’d say my religious stance now is about as eclectic as the ornaments in my garden.

Anyway, I thought I’d share the ornaments of my garden with you today.

A stem or branch from a calamites tree, sort of a giant horsetail. This is my favorite fossil so far.

A stem or branch from a calamites tree, sort of a giant horsetail. This is my favorite fossil so far.

Another fossil, probably a coral or exudation of some sort.

Another fossil, probably a coral or exudation of some sort.

arkansas fossil

Another fossil, this one discovered by Rob. It looks like tree bark.

Another fossil, looks like a plant part.

Another fossil, looks like a plant part.

Not sure what critter this is from, but it's a carnivore's jawbone. Possibly bobcat.

Not sure what critter this is from, but it’s a carnivore’s jawbone. Possibly bobcat.

A tube of pretty colored sandstone. One day, when I get some of the priority items on our list done, I want to use our native sandstones to create art.

A tube of pretty colored sandstone. One day, when I get some of the priority items on our list done, I want to use our native sandstones to create art.

wind chimes at wild ozark

The only set of wind chimes. Might get more of these one day because I do like the sound of them sometimes, but not particularly all of the time.

Cute little rusty horney toad from south Texas.

Cute little rusty horny toad from south Texas.

I've always had a liking for skulls, lol. This one is a mule I believe.

I’ve always had a liking for skulls, lol. This one is a mule I believe.

This was given to me by an old friend. She's the "Dreamer" for the garden.

This one’s the official “Dreamer” for the garden. She was given to me by an old friend.

figures in madison woods garden

I’m not sure of this figure’s meaning, history or story, but in my garden she’s the “Seedling Watcher”.

These are destined to become monoliths in the garden. As soon as I get holes dug where I want them, Rob said he'd put them in.

These are destined to become monoliths in the garden. As soon as I get holes dug where I want them, Rob said he’d put them in.

mary and st. francis at wild ozark

The “Mother” as represented by the Catholic religion. St. Francis, although not a mother figure, is a very nurturing figure and I’ve always liked his story.

This is the grandmother of the Mother figures and the elder of the garden.

This is the grandmother of the Mother figures and the elder of the garden.

He's a bit worse for wear, but Jesus also stands watch in the garden.

He’s a bit worse for wear, but Jesus also stands watch in the garden.

Homestead Journal: Rock Retaining Wall Progress

This entry was posted in Musings on by .

26 June 2014

The Rock Wall

Our first phase of this project was so difficult. After finishing that part, we discussed what to do next. We wondered if putting up forms and calling in the concrete truck might be easier. It might have been.

But we decided to go on and work with the rocks. Before we could do that, though, we had to undo some of what we’d done and go back and install some 4″ perforated field drain pipe.You can see it behind the rock line Rob’s working on. We used a sock that slides right over the entire length  to cover it so dirt doesn’t clog up the holes.

We also decided to use concrete on the rest of the rocks to help with stabilizing when we’re working with rocks of different heights and sizes. The footer course are all quite similar to each other in size, but we won’t have enough like that to finish the whole wall with that consistency.


My job today was to wash the smaller rocks so they’d stick to the concrete. We use those behind the large rocks to backfill up to the pipe and keep up with the width of the footing, since the rocks that went on today are narrower than the footing.

rock work at wild ozark

That’s my pile of rocks behind the bucket. Trying to stay ahead of the need for them.

Getting up close to rocks has it’s advantages. I got all muddy scrubbing them, but I found a pretty cool fossil and rescued it from its fate on the wall. Now it’s destined for my garden instead.


These days I’m not getting to do a whole lot of writing because we’re busy with priority projects around the homestead. That doesn’t mean I’m not making progress, though. While we’re working, I’m thinking of things to put my characters through, and paying attention to how it feels to be so frustrated, tired, and proud of our progress. These feelings will help when it comes to character development later.

Here’s a little graphic I made today that expresses what’s going on with a writer when she’s not actively writing:

when a writer isn't writing


Nature Journal: Ginseng & Sunsets

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Ginseng, Musings, Nature, wild ginseng, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal, wild-simulated or virtually-wild ginseng on by .

Nature Journal 24 June 2014: Ginseng in July, Calm after the storm

Yesterday after the tempest blew through our little Wild Ozark valley, we went to check on the ginseng in our test plot. I knew it had ripe berries on it and wondered if the storm blew them all off.

ripe fruit on a 5-yr old American ginseng plant

This is how ginseng looks in July (late July). Ripe fruit on a 5-yr old American ginseng plant.

Yep, they were still there. But I saw something else, too. Apparently deer have been browsing the ginseng patch. Here’s a few bare stalks with only the prong and flower stems attached. Please note that although it’s much easier to spot ginseng at this time of year, it’s illegal to dig wild ginseng right now. Legal season here in Arkansas begins Sept. 1 and ends Dec. 1. Here’s Arkansas’s regulations in PDF format. I have more information on ginseng and companions, including free articles and books for sale here.

stalks left after deer predation on american ginseng

deer do like to eat the ginseng tops sometimes


A short time later the mist and fog started filling the valley as the sun set. All was quiet and peaceful in our realm. The storm that came through was very strong and very fast and very windy. So it was a strange feeling to experience the calm that came after. There is the calm before a storm, and the calm after storms. One might bring anxiety, and the other, relief.

foggy sunset in the Wild Ozark valley

foggy sunset in the Wild Ozark valley

Homestead Journal: A Rock Retaining Wall

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

A Rock Retaining Wall - our monumental project

This is the biggest thing we’ve done yet, and we’ve got a long ways yet to go.

Our house is unlevel. Very unlevel. But tackling that is the next phase of this monumental project. The front of the house is on tall piers, on unstable foundation. So that’s what we’ve been working on for the last few weeks. We’re building a retaining wall to stabilize and stop the erosion on the front end of the house. Then we’ll deal with the leveling.

We started on the east corner since that is where the problem manifested worst. The rocks we’re working with are very heavy, probably 200-300 lbs. They’re making the foundation for the wall, the footer.

After getting to the third course on the corner, we backfilled and front-filled, so you don’t see the footer rocks in this pic. You’ll see a pic of one of the hazards of harvesting rocks, too. The snakes love living between the stones of the old root cellar we’re disassembling. I loved the root cellar and hate taking it apart, but we needed the rocks, so it’s being repurposed and repositioned and will be beautiful in the new life it gives.

Then we brought the footer across the front. Each stone is placed in a “bed” hand dug and leveled to the shape of the underneath of the rock so that the topside is level. This doesn’t always, or rarely, works out perfectly at first. What usually happens is that after Rob checks the level and sees it’s off, he lifts the stone with a long bar we call a “rock flipper” and I either add or take out dirt from beneath. Then he sets it back down, jumps on it a bit, and checks the level again.

I’ll post updated pictures again later. The next step is going to use mortar and more rocks but we have to add drainage pipes too. If you don’t see me online much, it’s because I’m too tired at the end of a day to post!

Homestead Journal: Roasting Coffee at Home

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

During winter I wrote about how Rob roasted coffee on our wood stove. Since it’s warmed up now, we had to find a way to roast our coffee without heating up the house.

So now we are roasting coffee at home outside with a popcorn popper.

green coffee beans in popcorn popper

green coffee beans in popcorn popper

Here’s our setup:

wild ozark's setup for roasting coffee at home

And the first batch is done. We usually do enough to fill the old empty coffee container.

fresh roasted beans at wild ozark

In this short video you can see how the air turns the beans and blows out the husks. If you listen closely you can hear a little bit of popping over the sound of the roaster. Once it starts popping, the beans turn brown quickly. It takes about four minutes per batch to roast them to the point of brown-ness we like.

Here’s the variety of coffee we’ve been using this time.

Since we’ve begun roasting our own coffee it’s hard to drink the store brands now, but every once in a while we do find ourselves out of fresh roast and have to resort to our old standby.

Homestead Journal: Using Spring Water

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

18 Jul 2014

We have two springs improved for use. The one at the top of the mountain behind our house feeds water to our house. The one on the bench next door to the house feeds my parents’ camper. It’s not “improved” in the same way the one that feeds our house is, but it is improved over what naturally exists. There are other springs on the property that haven’t been improved for household use. One of them feeds the pond.

My dad is always fighting with his spring getting clogged up and he usually has to drain and flush his lines nearly every time they come up for a vacation. The other day Rob went up to the spring to see why no water was going into the tank and the spring basin was clogged with silt again. This spring is on a steep hillside at the base of a tree. There’s a little basin the former landowners made from concrete and mud to catch the water but the line leading out of it always gets clogged up.

Cleaning the basin involves scooping with a cup or bucket to get all the water out along with any silt and leaves that got in under the sheet of corrogated tin that covers the basin. It’s usually nasty, dirty work. The tin was rusted so Rob replaced that and scooped out the basin and cut some drains around it so the rainwater doesn’t wash into the basin.

Once the water leaves the basin it goes to a silt dropout tank. This tank needs to be flushed periodically, too. After the dropout tank it goes downhill a little more to a 500 gallon tank. It also needs to be cleaned and flushed periodically.

Nature Journal: Odd clouds and weird weather

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16 Jul 2014 Wednesday

It’s the middle of July. Yet it feels like the beginning of autumn. This morning was near 50*F, a temperature much cooler than normal for this time of year. Yesterday was a cool day and today is even a bit cooler with highs not quite reaching 80*F here in this little Ozark valley.

The clouds at sunset yesterday were gorgeous, but they were interesting all day long with cirrus and other odd for this time of year formations.

Denso Spark Plugs

This entry was posted in Musings, Uncategorized on by .

Spark plugs are a little outside my usual range of topics, I know.

I usually write about nature, ginseng, homesteading and scifantasy fiction.

But my husband said I need to post this picture with a great big kudos to the maker of these plugs. He’s never seen any in such bad condition yet STILL performing after 230,000 miles.

As you might have surmised, keeping to auto maintenance schedules is also outside my usual skill set, ha. So I never had the plugs changed on my car. That’s because it never gave me any reason to change them. Until it did. 230,000 miles down the road. I think that’s pretty damn good performance from a set of plugs and so did Rob.

So if any of you need to buy spark plugs, look for Denso.

denso spark plugs

Badly abused, still firing (most of the time) somehow…

Homestead Journal: Garden Update

This entry was posted in Gardening in the Ozarks, Homestead Journal, Nature, Organic Gardening, Permaculture, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .

10 Jul 2014 Thursday

Things are not progressing so quickly with the third terrace on the garden because I’ve gotten side-tracked with other projects. But today I’ll hopefully get back out there to continue working on the last wall. The third terrace will be a bit larger than the other two. After that’s done and planted I’ll begin working on my path stones and the space outside the three terraces as it gets close to the house. I’m undecided about whether I want to pave it all with flat rocks and decorate with potted herbs and flowers, or plant some things in the ground and pave just a little of it.

potager at Wild Ozark

Under construction, working on last wall now.

In the first two terraces the plants are coming along nicely. We’ve been eating cherry tomatoes and raspberries. These hybrid raspberries are large and sweet, but nothing like the sticky little wild ones I love so much. If I could only choose to have one variety, it would be the wild. Hopefully the wild one we planted last week will love its new home and be prolific next year.

potager at wild ozark

The snap beans are twining and we should have flowers on them soon! Tomatoes are tasty, basil, sage and parsley (on back row) are doing great and the tarragon too.

After yesterday’s excursion I’ve added some wild blueberries to the snap bean row, though, so until I decide where to permanently plant those I hope they get along with beans and squash.

wild blueberries at wild ozark

Wild blueberries – or huckleberries – from up the mountain.

And here’s my favorite photo from the excursion to see what plants were blooming or fruiting. Another fungi with nice lighting.

photography by madison woods at wild ozark

Love the lighting, the moss, and the color of the fungi.