A Guest Post from Martin James Wood

My guest today is sharing his nature essay. Please welcome Martin James Wood to your Wild Ozark space. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the beauty – From the Cabin’s Front Porch.

From the Cabin's Front Porch by Martin James Wood
Image copyright Martin James Wood

From The Cabin’s Front Porch

Written by: Martin James Wood

This evening while sitting on the cabin’s front porch, nestled along the forest’s edge and some tucked away farm fields and age-old pastures, I decide to set here and not move, and watch the evening pass…

The leaves among the trees are as dark, of a green, as they are going to be in this late time of summer.

The rising and falling fields of corn are flaunting their yellow tassels in neatly textured rows,,, and the lush soybean fields exhibit their rich dark green color, as the wind gently caresses the sea of green maturation like the subtle waves of the ocean.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the red cherry crabapples have come on, sporting the trees with tiny red dots amongst the faded green branches.

The indefinite droning of the crickets with their hypnotic chorus continues on into the later evening.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can hear an occasional crow caw, as it loudly breaks the evening’s sound of the monotonous crickets. I recognize this sound, as this is a sound heard often in the fall season, among these cornfields and woods.

From the cabin’s front porch, I gaze out at the blue sky backdrop which compliments the contrasting elements of the dark green trees standing behind the yellowed tipped corn.

A cooler breeze cuts through the trees in the warm humid air. I become aware of a sudden interrupting burst of some robins cackling in the near distance…

From the cabin’s front porch, I perceive the quiet from all around… No sounds from any roads, near or far,,, as was one of the reasons why I had chosen to settle on this place, many decades ago…

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the beach nuts are starting to show themselves with their prickly husks of soft needles, which I know will eventually turn firmer as the fall season progresses.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the oaks’ branches are heavy with their crop of nuts and red stemmed thick green leaves.

Higher up the mountain, the winds pick up and softly sweep along the lonely tops of the lofty timber…

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the goldenrod has begun to dress up the untouched forgotten meadows.

From the cabin’s front porch, I hear geese break the silence from above, as they effortlessly pass over, performing their early ensemble of autumn… Afterwards, I hear a couple doves cooing somewhere along the edges of a distant mountain pasture…

From the cabin’s front porch, I hear a family cow bawling for its supper from the valley below, in the evenings now cooler air…

From the cabin’s front porch, I also can see the mighty oaks’ acorns have begun to let go of the branches… The azaleas’ leaves have begun to turn their crimson red,,, and the sumacs are full of their red fruit.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the hardwood cherry is producing its pea-like berries of red and some already dark violet.

From the cabin’s front porch, I can see the dark green rhododendrons have begun to curl their leaves, and the laurel leaves have turned their lighter yellow-green which are pointing upward toward the sky.

The sun gently shines across the rolling farm fields spread out beyond the cabin’s porch and lights the land ablaze with golds and yellows as the sky farther off gradually transforms from hues of blue to orange, yellow and brown.

From the cabin’s front porch, I listen to the peepers as they begin to fade in with the symphonic monotonicity of the crickets,,, as the cool late summer evening fades out, with the approaching of dusk…

Now standing,,, very still in front of my chair,,, and removing my hat as I stare a long while into the night… Humbly, I walk toward the door and lightly grasp the handle while taking one last glance over my shoulder. Softly opening the door, I slowly step inside,,, from the cabin’s front porch…

 


Nature enthusiast Martin James Wood is an outdoor writer and blogger for The Wood’s Edge. He has spent his life among the forests and woods, admiring nature with a camera and pen. His writing, artistry, and outdoor photography celebrate nature’s simplicity and beauty. A Pennsylvania native, Martin James is a loving father and husband, and a friend to our nation’s forests who believes in protecting and preserving our wild lands.

All rights for this post, including the image, belong to The
Wood’s Edge. Do not reblog or copy without permission from the creator.
I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Compost Sifter

Rocks are everywhere here at Wild Ozark. Even when I rake leaves or clean out the chicken house I get rocks mixed in. A compost sifter would help when I’m trying to separate rocks and weeds out of the pile.

Compost Sifter Concept to Reality

I had an idea in mind of what I wanted and so I made a little sketch to show my husband.

Later that day he came into the house carrying a real-life version of exactly what I’d sketched, except his was perfect. Not like my drawing, which is NOT a good example of my artistic skill …

Compost Sifter my husband built from my sketch.

Perfection

If I had built this myself, I know it wouldn’t have been properly squared. There wouldn’t have been the attention to the details Rob gives to everything he builds or creates. He even angled the feet. On both ends.

Garden Work

If Spring ever returns, I’ll get to work with my new compost sifter on the manure pile for the garden.

Our new garden is raked (thanks to the rake he just rebuilt for the tractor) and looking very nice, but it too is peppered with small rocks on the surface. I know larger ones are hiding just beneath the top. So I might sift a little spot for each plant as I set them out so they can get a good start. We’ll see. That might be too much work.

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

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

The Ozark Winds of March and Strong Signs of Spring

The Ozark winds of March have been blowing strong since maybe before March even began. But last night really trumped all of our weather-related excitement.

I knew there was a tornado possibility before I went to sleep. The weather forecasts said so and showed the ominous red box surrounding a storm predicted to track in our direction.

But it was still at the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas and by 10pm I didn’t care so much anymore and just wanted to go to sleep.

Heads Up

At 11 pm Rob woke me up by shining the phone screen in my direction so I could see where it was then.

At about the same time my own phone started flashing text notifications from friends to give me a heads-up. I’ve never seen so many people of Kingston awake and all talking to each other so late at night.

Next thing I knew, Rob was putting on clothes and shoes. It appeared that it was not time to go to sleep after all.

Next thing I did was call my parents who were staying down in the camper and encouraged them strongly to come up to the house. Then called my eldest and let him know he might want to take cover. Then messaged my daughter and got no response, so I figured she had already taken cover. She does not sleep during weather like this, and was more likely aware of the situation than the rest of us.

The youngest was out of harm’s way down at college in Russellville, and I was glad to know where he was and that he would be safe.

Ozark Winds of March

The storm approached with bells and whistles. Not literally, of course. But with a lightning show that would have put an ELO concert to shame. Dating myself with that reference, I know. Hail pommeled the porch and it rained down hard. And the winds blew.  It was all quite noisy.

Then all of a sudden it was quiet. Except for the lightning there was nothing at all happening. No wind. No hail. No rain. Frogs and coyotes and owls kept their thoughts to themselves, too.

The quiet lasted maybe a minute, maybe less.

Look for me in Oz

We in the house half-jokingly agreed to look for each other in Oz if the unthinkable happened.

The roar started to the west from out past Penitentiary mountain and grew louder as it barreled closer. Then the rain, wind, hail and lightning resumed. The mountain across the valley doesn’t have a name that I know of, but the road that runs across the top is called “the spine” or “backbone”. That’s where the wind went.

It tore through the treetops, rushing like a lion bringing down a zebra.

A broken crocus, casualty of the Ozark winds of March.
A broken crocus, casualty of the Ozark winds of March.

Then it was all normal again. A little breeze, a little rain. But the roar was gone.

This morning I found out that indeed a tornado had passed along our quiet back road but hadn’t touched down. It waited a few more miles to do that, out near Parthenon. As far as I know, no one was injured, thank goodness.

Is it Spring Yet?

And the sun is shining and flowers are blooming today as if nothing at all happened.

Strong signs of spring are showing. The elephant garlic I’d planted in November are looking strong. Green onions are prime for the picking. Raspberry brambles are putting on leaves. Violets, dandelions, henbit, crocus, and the peach trees are all blooming their hearts out.

I hope we don’t get a late ice storm or hard freeze.

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About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Starting Seeds and Straightening Tines

Yesterday I decided it was time to get busy starting seeds for our garden. Hauled the seed vault out and began the painful process of picking which of the very many seeds I have saved that I want to start first.

Starting Seeds Means Choosing WHICH Seeds

The pile quickly grew too large.

And so I went through it again.

And again, until the pile was narrowed down to a manageable stack.

Starting seeds means choosing WHICH seeds to start.
Starting seeds means choosing WHICH seeds to start.

The Seed List for the First Round

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • Broccoli (might be a little late for this one)
  • Paris Island lettuce
  • Black seeded Simpson lettuce
  • Oakleaf lettuce
  • Bibb lettuce
  • Bloomsdale spinach
  • Colorado blue spruce (we just love these trees)
  • Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Beebalm (Monarda didyma)
  • Hopi tobacco
Waiting to sprout.
Waiting to sprout.

In the Meantime…

Rob was working in his shop straightening the tines and bar for his rock rake. A couple of years ago during the landslide aftermath, the rake was collateral damage in the effort to cut a new driveway.

Our friend who had been working on the bulldozer making the road better had to exit the site quickly because lightning started striking far too close for comfort. Since being encased in a metal vehicle didn’t seem like such a good idea at the time, he accidentally hit the rake backing the dozer out of the creek.

But Rob’s a masterful welder and craftsman and he made it even better than before.

Refabricated bar on the rock rake.
Refabricated bar on the rock rake.
The spindle looks pretty strong!
The spindle looks pretty strong!
Look at those uniform and perfect tines!
Look at those uniform and perfect tines!
I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

100-word Flash Fiction

Ever heard of 100-word flash fiction? I’m not sure how many of you were following this blog way back when I used to call it “Madison Woods” and used to write a lot more fiction.

Well, writing anything remotely resembling a complete thought, let alone a story, is difficult with only 100 words. It’s great exercise, though.

Getting Back to Fiction

And now I think I’ll dip my toes into doing it a bit more often. I won’t blog about it here after today, though, so if you want to hear about my fiction life, follow me at my Rural Fantasy blog.

I’ve also been writing #vss365 tweets. This is even shorter than 100-words. You can find me there as @erthwitch, if you’d like to connect with my alter ego at Twitter sometimes.

The 100-word Flash Fiction group called Friday Fictioneers

I started a round-robin sort of group on my blog at some point near 2011 or 2010. I found some willing writers through Twitter, mostly, and we started a weekly thing. We’d share short stories, very short stories, based on whatever photo I’d pick for that week. Then we’d read and comment on each other’s work.

Those were fun times, but it grew and soon became a lot of work to maintain. I wanted to veer off into another direction for a while.

Fairy Blog Mother

That’s when Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, one of the Fictioneers, stepped up. She adopted my baby and gave it a new home at her blog about four years ago now, maybe five. Since that time it’s grown exponentially. I noticed today that she’s known as the Fairy Blog Mother now 🙂 She’s an excellent hostess and guide. Herding cats is one of her specialties, I know.

Current Iteration of Friday Fictioneers

If you like to read flash fiction of the 100-word sort, here’s a link to today’s participants of the Friday Fictioneers. Feel free to join in if you like, but first go read the introduction to how it works over at Rochelle’s blog.

Here’s the photo that this week’s stories are based on:

The photo prompt for my 100-word rural fantasy fiction story.
Click on it to go to my story at my fiction blog. Photo copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Not Abandoning the Non-Fiction

I’m not done with the nonfiction, though. Up next on the agenda is an article on Lobelia inflata for the North American Native Plant Society, which will also include one of my drawings. That will be published in summer, and another article on Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-Pulpit are on the docket for 2018.

Also on the to-do list is to revamp the DIY Ginseng Habitat and Site Assessment Guide. That’s my best selling title, and it’s in need of some cleanup.

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

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Ginseng Jams & Nature Art Cards on a Chilly Day

I’ll be in the Kingston square with the Wild Ozark booth on Saturday selling ginseng jams, nature art, and fairy gardens.

Ginseng Jams from Wild Ozark can only be purchased from us directly. No mail orders allowed under the AR Cottage Food Law.
The premier ginseng jam, golden in color and sweet, mild flavor. Great on toast or crackers to start your day.

Chilly Day

For weeks it’s been warmer than usual and so I decided I’d set up the Wild Ozark booth on the Kingston square this weekend to take advantage of some of that nice weather.

So of course now it’s going to be ordinary for February weather. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be around 45*F, which I suppose is still fairly warm for a winter day.

But it’s not the balmy 70 we’ve been seeing.

Bringing out the Ginseng Jams

Anyway, I’m going to take the booth out there anyway. I’ll have ginseng jams, nature art cards, nature drawing prints, a couple of Wild Ozark Fairy Garden terrariums, and a few books.

Rural Fantasy Fiction

One of my books that I won’t have with me is going to be free at Amazon this weekend. It’s First Hunt, the complete first book of the Bounty Hunter series. The title at Amazon, as of the time I’m making this post, still says “Part One” on it, but that will hopefully update soon. It’s saved to Amazon, but they haven’t changed it yet.

First Hunt, book one of the Bounty Hunter series by Ima Erthwitch.I’d first released it in parts, but revised the Amazon listing to only list this one instead. If you do get the download while it’s free, please let me know if it still ends at “part one”. When I use the “Look Inside” feature, it shows me the whole book. But when I order the free sample, it still only shows me part one.

At first I thought doing it in 25,000 word parts would be a good idea. But then when it came time to figure out what to do with all the parts once the novel was published, I decided I won’t be doing it that way anymore.

First Hunt takes the reader from Treya’s beginnings with ARSA and follows through the first kill on her first assignment. I’m working on the second book now, tentatively titled “Twice Dead”.

There will be a third kill, but I won’t call the last one “Third Dead”, lol. I think it’ll be called “Grub Stage” instead. The concept of the series is that the ARSA bounty hunters kill their targets three times to force them into lower incarnations. Grub Stage is the lowest and is reserved for the worst criminals.

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

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Get Outside in Nature! America’s National Parks Celebration

Every year, the U.S. National Park Service offers free park entrance days at America’s National Parks.  Today was a free day, and I’ve missed the boat for that one. The next free days are April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends.

I was recently inspired by Cotopaxi to celebrate the Centennial for America’s National Parks. Cotopaxi is a benefits corporation that sells hiking backpacks and other bag-type gear to support organizations involved in helping alleviate world poverty. It’s been a really long time since I’ve visited any of the national parks, so I decided to share our hike to the King’s River hiking trail to join in the celebration of the Centennial.

America’s National Parks
Get Outside in Nature! America's National Parks Centennial Celebration

Free Admissions for Veterans

Rob is retired from the USAF and one of his benefits is free admission to all of America’s National Parks. One of our bucket list items is to visit them all. Maybe that’s “several” of our bucket list items!

Double-Edged Sword

But it would be with mixed feelings if we do actually get to make the rounds to all of the parks. From what I’ve seen in the news, America’s National Parks are severely over-trafficked.

I don’t see how we can keep them beautiful and wild with so many feet tromping through them. And if we visited, that would just be four more feet added to the milieu.

Anyway, our local parks are maybe not so majestic as say, Yosemite or Glacier National Parks, but we have nature and beauty in plenty supply.

Kings River Falls

On the last Sunday in January 2016 I went hiking with my two oldest children and their children, one of my daughter’s friends and her children, and my parents to the Kings River Falls.

This trail is a little north and east of Fallsville, AR in Madison county.  Here’s a link the Arkansas Natural Heritage website for the trail.

The sign marking the trail head to the Kings River Falls Natural Area.
The sign marking the trail head to the Kings River Falls Natural Area.

The Kings River Falls trail is a relatively short one at about a mile. It’s not a loop, so you’ll come back out the same way you went in, making the total trip about two miles. It’s not a hard hike because there’s no hills, but a lot of it is very rocky. It is not handicap accessible.

I’m Always Falling Behind

We started out in one big group. Everyone quickly got ahead of me, but I managed to get a couple of pictures of a few who straggled around the parking lot for a little while.

Kady's first hike!
Kady’s first hike!
So sweet. Karter and my mom.
So sweet. Karter and my mom.

I’m the slow one on trails when I bring a camera because I’m always stopping to take pictures of things like leaves, flowers, bird nests, etc.

Here you can see my son, the last straggler, finally pulling far ahead of me.

I'm always getting left behind.
I’m always getting left behind.

I dare say my exercise workout from hiking is still sufficient, though, because all those things need a lot of stooping, bending, and near yoga postures to get good pics sometimes. (If you click the photos they should enlarge).

 

 Rocks Everywhere

Most of the trail was rocky. It didn’t seem to bother the younger folks, but it could be a bit of an ankle twister for others. Some stretches were relatively smooth. And there was hardly any change in elevation the whole way.

Rocky path at Kings River Falls Natural Area in Madison county Arkansas.
The path was rocky.
And sometimes the path was smooth.
And sometimes the path was smooth.

This trail is near the headwaters of Kings River. I’m not sure exactly how many miles upstream is the source, though. Even alongside this one mile trail you can see the many personalities of this river. The bottom is most often tumbled with rocks, both large and small. But there are some stretches with interesting sandstone formations.

 Eventually, near the end of the trail, I almost caught up with my party. But as soon as I came into sight they jumped up and ran off. This is why I usually stick to photographing plants and rocks. They don’t move when I’m trying to get pictures. Unless the wind is blowing.

Every time I almost catch up, they get up and leave.
Every time I almost catch up, they get up and leave.

But finally I did catch up at the end of the trail. I always bring water on hikes, but since we had left around lunch time and I hadn’t eaten yet, I wished I had brought some lunch, too. Besides, it’s always a good idea to carry at least a snack in case there’s a delay on the trail for whatever reason.

End of the trail

I took these while the kids were playing on the rocks and near the water’s edge and everyone was resting and getting ready for the hike back out. My card was full by now, so I was able to keep up on the way out since I could no longer take any pictures.

 I spent a fair amount of time trying to get a perfect photo of a drop of water falling from some lush moss at the base of the falls running into the river. But I never did get a good one. Here’s a so-so attempt.

Water dripping through lush moss.

Oh. And here’s a few of the destination falls.

Hope you enjoyed this “virtual” hike to the Kings River Falls Natural area in Madison county Arkansas! Here’s another blog post from someone else about this hiking trail. His pics are from summer 2014.

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

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Sunrises, Opportunities and Rising Early

Beautiful sunrise. Seeing the sunrise is one of many daily opportunities.

Beautiful sunrise. Seeing it is one of many daily opportunities.

I have lots of photos of Gloria, the tree silhouetted above. But most of them are not about the sky behind her far-reaching limbs. Most are simply about the tree herself and how beautiful she is clothed in her various attires of the seasons. This one is about the sunrise.

Weather Oddities

The weather lately has been very odd. Yesterday the temps were nearly 70*F and today it’s milder, around 50. It’ll be in the low 20’s tonight. But by this weekend we’re expecting 79*F on Saturday. This is absurd weather for February!

Where’s the snow and ice, or at least the cold? I don’t like to stay cold for long periods of time, but at one time I enjoyed the distinct seasons of the Ozarks. The end of one is an opportunity to embrace the beginning of the next. I like definitive beginnings and ends.

Now it seems as if the seasons are trying to all compete with each other to represent themselves each during the same week.

Sunrises, Opportunities and Rising Early

This morning the sunrise was spectacular for a few minutes. It’s a good thing the camera was handy and ready to go because if I would have had to dig it out of a camera bag and change a battery, I would have missed it.

Sunrises are very likely often beautiful and I just don’t know it. There’s a mountain to the east and not far away. It blocks any view of an early sunrise, so it’s not until later in the morning that the sun peeks over the top.

Or it could be that I just haven’t been getting out of bed and functional early enough to see the colors lately.

Lots to do today, though, so it was an 0500 day for me.

It’s always a better day when I get up early. Rob is almost always up and warming by the fire for an hour before I join him in the mornings.

Too many opportunities pass me by because I just don’t have the time to pursue them. I’d have more time if I’d just get up early.

The list

My list of things to do represents opportunities, too. But often this kind of opportunity masquerades as frustrations.

  • Reconcile my QB data to reality – what it says and what the business checking account says are two different things.
  • Ledger summaries – not sure how easy it’s going to be to get my data out of QuickBooks. It’s all in there now, but unless the CPA can make heads or tails of my logic I think I still need at least some ledger summaries on paper.
  • Make jelly – the ginseng jelly is really, really, good and I’m making more of it today. I need to use all the extract I made because I’m not sure if I can freeze it or if that will somehow impact the ginsenoside makeup.
  • Work on website- I doubt I’ll get to this today, but the narrow layout of the content and the close proximity of the sidebar bothers me. I don’t know offhand how to fix that and it’ll take some trial and error time, I’m sure.
  • Newsletters – I’m past the point of having them ready for an early-in-the-month delivery. Now it’s looking like mid- or late-month. Another good reason to get out of bed earlier.

Upcoming

In a couple of weeks I have an appointment with someone at the Arkansas Food Innovation Center to discuss what I need to do in order to be able to sell my ginseng jelly from the website or in other retail outlets.

Wish me luck on this. I’m not sure of the expenses involved and with our shoestring budget making this goal  might not be possible for a while. But at least I’ll have some information.

In the meantime, the delicious Wild Ozark Ginseng Jelly will be for sale at the market booth on the square in Kingston on a nice sunny day in the next week or two.

Let me know if you want me to notify you when I’ll be out there.

I’ll also have it, if there’s any left (along with ginseng seedlings and other plants, books, and art) at the Huntsville Farmer’s Market beginning in late April or early May, and at the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique at the gardens here. I’ll have schedules for all of that once the season is underway.

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About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Ginseng Jelly – A New Wild Ozark Product in the Making

Jellies could work as a new product to bring to market this year. People seem to like home-made jellies … What about herbal jellies? Then the idea struck. Oh, my … GINSENG JELLY!

I love medicinal herbs, especially those that grow right here at home, and most especially ginseng.

Legality

As I looked over the Arkansas Cottage Industry guidelines, it became apparent that most of what I’d like make to bring isn’t legal. Like dried herbs for tea blends, coffee, or syrups made from the herbs.

I can sell the dried herbs as decorations, hanging in bundles from a beautiful natural twisted wood rack. But I can’t sell them as functional, useful things for making medicinal teas.

If we had a certified kitchen then I could sell the coffee beans after roasting them in the exact same way I roast them now. Same thing with the herbs. If I hang and dry them in the kitchen or office, not legal. If I hang and dry them in a certified kitchen, apparently that imparts some measure of safety that isn’t present otherwise.

In any case, I can’t promote the medicinal benefits.

But jelly and jams are on the “allowed” list. So ginseng jelly and jam it is!

Ginseng Jelly Holds Promise

Of the five types of items that are legal to prepare at home, jelly holds a lot of promise with Wild Ozark’s unique positioning.

I can also make beebalm jelly, blackberry or elderberry jellies, and also combinations of the wild fruits we have here with the ginseng.

Today I’m working on the first test batch of ginseng jelly as this post is being written. Some will be just ginseng, and some will be blackberry/ginseng, since I have some blackberry syrup on hand from my experiments last year.

Making ginseng jelly- Getting ready to chop the ginseng roots after soaking them for a couple of hours.
Getting ready to chop the ginseng roots after soaking them for a couple of hours.

The taste

I tasted the decoction this morning after it soaked overnight and the flavor is slightly bitter with a sweet follow. This is exactly how the roots taste when chewed.

The jelly I imagine will be somewhat sweeter because of the sugar that goes into it,  and when combined with other things like blackberry it’ll be different, but the point with this product isn’t so much to use it as a confection, but as a tonic.

Medicinal Virtues

Ginseng has been in use as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. American ginseng was first used by the Native Americans but became popular in China during the 1700’s.

In recent years scientists have become more interested in the ways ginseng works and have produced several studies.

Here’s an article from WebMD that gives information on possible side-effects and drug interactions, as well as ways in which it has been researched.

Here’s another article about the effects of ginseng.

This jelly contains a broth made with American ginseng root and is a significant portion of the ingredients. Please check out these links, do more research, and make sure that ginseng is safe for you to use.

Cost

Ginseng jelly will be expensive, as far as the price of jellies goes. But it will be a delightful way to partake in the wonderful medicinal benefits offered by this incredible herb.

Coming Soon!

Look for Wild Ozark American Ginseng Jelly at the Nature Boutique and at our market booth this year!

Unfortunately, I am not allowed (state law) to sell any of the jellies over the internet. So it’ll only be available at the market booth and the Nature Boutique. However, the law doesn’t say I can’t ship it. I think it just means it can’t be a product in my online shop.

If I find out otherwise, and I can only sell it in person, then this option will be removed until I can gain access to a certified facility to make it.

The test batch is pretty and tastes wonderful! I need to make some recipe adjustments though, and will try again with only the ginseng for the next test batch.

Ginseng and Blackberry Jelly, the test batch.
Ginseng and Blackberry Jelly, the test batch.

Email me at madison(at)wildozark(dot)com if you want some.

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

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Watching for Witch Hazel Flowers

Witch Hazel Flowers

Witch hazel flowers are an interesting sight to behold. The petals on the small flowers are thin and wild. The shrub blooms during the most unlikeliest time of the year.

It is one of my favorite plants in the Ozarks. She is an untamed rebel, even if she  or her hybridized cousins do grow well in urban gardens or hedgerows.

Two Wild Species

We have two varieties of witch hazel here in the Ozarks. One blooms in late fall and the other blooms in late winter.

H. virginiana

Hamamelis virginiana is by far the most abundant here on our land. This witch hazel blooms in late fall with spidery yellow flowers. Sometimes you’ll even see it blooming after the leaves have dropped off.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers and autumn color.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers and autumn color.

H. virginiana grows in many areas east of the Rockies in the United States, usually around water’s edge or in rich, moist woodlands.

Witch hazel leaves in summer. (H. virginiana)
Witch hazel leaves in summer. (H. virginiana)

H. vernalis

The other species is called Ozark Witch Hazel, or Vernal Witch Hazel. This one is endemic only to the Ozarks and blooms in late winter or very early spring. These witch hazel flowers are more of a reddish, orange color. I’ve heard they have a delightful fragrance, too, but I haven’t caught them in full bloom to get a firsthand experience.

Ozark witch hazel flowers, just before the petals opened or right after they fell off. This photo was taken in Feb. 2015.
Ozark witch hazel flowers, just before the petals opened or right after they fell off. This photo was taken in Feb. 2015.

I know where some are, though, and am going to go check on them today or tomorrow. If I’m lucky, I’ll add the pics to this post. And let you know if, indeed, they do smell nice.

Update Feb. 6, 2017: Found some!
Vernal witch hazel blooming on Feb. 6, 2017
Vernal witch hazel blooming on Feb. 6, 2017

Rob and I went out to do a little exploring along the upper Felkins creek and we found some blooming! And YES, they do smell nice. The scent isn’t powerful but it is sweet.

During early spring of 2015 I took cuttings and was having some success with them, but an unusual landslide-producing epic flood wiped out the nursery that summer.

When I do find them, I plan to take some cuttings. If they root, I’ll have some to offer in the Nature Boutique nursery this year.

You can read more about the Ozark Witch Hazel in this article at the Springfield News-Leader.

Witch Hazel in my Fiction

In the first book of the Bounty Hunter series, Treya tries chewing on a witch hazel twig. I’m going to cut a twig tomorrow and see if it’s as nasty as she thinks it is. If it’s not so bad, I’ll have to rewrite this scene.

Update: When we found the flowers blooming, I did taste a twig and it was NOT unpleasant and it did not pucker my mouth. I’ll have to update that passage.

 

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

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Ways You Can Support Wild Ozark

  • Spread the Word

    Share this post or tell a friend about my website. "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow." A little thing like sharing could start momentum! This is a free and tremendously powerful way to help.

  • Buy a Book

    See all of my books here: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

    Unique gifts, books, and information for the nature lovers in your life. Adding more items as time allows: Wild Ozark Nature Boutique.

  • Become a Patron

    A small monthly stipend of even $1 from enough supporters will help me continue the educational outreach and construction of habitat gardens. More information here: https://www.patreon.com/wildozark

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods