One day I’ll change the title of this from ‘Coronavirus Hermit’ to plain old ‘Wild Ozark Hermit’ journal entries. I’m digging the staying at home deal, to tell you the truth. The only drawback is that there’s limited outlets for making an income from out here, but I’ve been working on stocking my online shop to help combat that. I’m beginning to feel comfortable enough with constant company to pull the easel out again, too. Since I’m not lighting the heater in my office anymore, I can just put it in that corner and it’ll give me the sense of cloister I seem to need in order to paint. I’ll just set up an easel in the other room so she can paint too, if she wants. But she doesn’t like my colors much, ha. Not bright enough for a 9-year old’s tastes, or easy enough to apply. But I have pencils she can use.
So, I’ve been staying pretty busy. There’s never a shortage of things that need doing out here, and no reason at all for anyone to say they’re bored. Aside from keeping up with the schoolwork, here are the other ways we’ve been keeping ourselves occupied while being a hermit.
I’ve been buying fence posts when I make my semi-weekly runs to town for supplies. Last week Chloe got to help me put up the first set of 10 t-posts. We expanded an area of grass for the horses by a nice little bit. She’s also been helping me with moving them back and forth between paddock and field by opening and closing the gates. That’s actually pretty helpful. Holding the t-posts while I get the driver on it is also helpful. On my last run to town for hay and feed, I picked up another set of fence posts to put up this week. So if anyone ever comments about boredom out here, if nothing else, there’s always fence posts to put up.
I’ve wanted to return to gardening for a few years now. And for a few years now, the terraced garden I had built before has been sitting fallow under a lot of weeds. Unfortunately bermuda got into it too, and so I’m struggling to get that under control before the warmer weather really sets it off.
My little garden next to the house is my favorite garden spot. It’s on a slope, but gentle enough to make it fairly easy to terrace. I did a lot of work to build the beds several years ago. I picked up a short section of old aluminum picket fence from freecycle years ago and added that to the front end of it. I love the way it looks. Especially when the echinacea and black cohosh are blooming against it. Somewhere along the way I let the garden go, and then the job of reclaiming it became too overwhelming to even try. But I began the job this week, and now I’m on a roll and falling in love with it again.
Although I love the terraced beds and the rock walls I made, it just gets too much shade in most of the area. So I can’t grow most of the usual garden veggies. Instead I’ve been growing my medicinal herbs. Even ginseng will grow in it some spots. But there are areas of it that do get good sunlight, and those are the spots with the most of the bermuda invasion. So those are where I started with the reclamation effort.
At least with rocks for the bed walls, it doesn’t disintegrate over time (at least not the time-span of my lifetime). As I’m uncovering the beds, the walls are holding up just fine. Some need a bit of repair, but they’re dry stacked, so not a big deal. I’m not too OCD with my stacking. As long as it holds the dirt in place, I’m happy.
The base where Rob is working is undergoing a period of slower than usual activity. So he hasn’t been so exhausted when he gets home from work, and that’s a good thing. During some of his spare time, he’s been gathering up our memories (photos) from our years together and is putting them on a disk for me. My files were all lost a couple of years ago when the external drive I had them on crashed. I’ve missed these so much and will be happy to have them here at home to look at when I feel like it.
Since I became involved with this wonderful man, I’ve gotten to go places I never dreamed of going before, and had more adventure in my life than I ever had before. Here’s a few pics from our travels around the world.
Lilacs are blooming here in the Ozarks now. This is my favorite cut flower. It’s not a native plant, but it is an old homestead stand-by and I love them. A hermit needs to have a steady supply of beauty on-site, and we have that here with everything naturally here. But I like the lilacs anyway.
They’re useful, too. I didn’t know lilacs are edible, but you can make jelly from the flowers. I knew the butterflies love them. I haven’t been able to find a good reference yet, but I’ve seen mentions here and there that lilac flowers were once used for malaria. Now this really piques my interest because of the connection between our current coronavirus pandemic and (the possible) treatment for it using the hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine is used for malaria, among other things. Since it appears that the flowers aren’t toxic, I may harvest some to dry and have on hand just in case. Could be worth trying if I’m infected, since there’s no current cure for it anyway. I’ll just add that to my other list of herbs on hand for just in case.
A Hermit’s Income
I’ve been working on getting my online shop fully stocked before I start using Google to advertise. Making the listings, and writing blog posts like this one, are time consuming things. I try to do this sort of work in the early mornings before Chloe wakes up because it’s hard enough to keep my train of thought focused when I’m the only one competing with it. Once someone else joins my head space, it’s nearly impossible. So this part is slow going, but I’m enjoying the other parts of our daily life to not stress out so much over it anymore.
Being a hermit doesn’t mean I can just forget about the “work” aspect of Wild Ozark. Since it *is* a business, in order to continue filing with my income taxes as such, I have to prove that I’m making a legitimate effort to run it as a business and not a hobby, even if it isn’t making much income at the moment. It does need some regular input in order for me to make regular output. For example, the printer needs some more ink, so until I generate some income, I can’t buy more ink. To sell many prints, which is the end goal, I have to be able to print them. Fortunately, I have enough stock already printed so that if those do sell, I will be able to make the buys my little business needs.
The only one listed so far with all of the available options is my “On the Cusp” painting. I’ll be making an entry like this one for each of my paintings eventually.
Are You Being a Hermit? How are You Coping?
What have you been doing while you’re staying at home, or are you able to stay at home? Do you feel like a hermit, yet? Many, like my husband and oldest son, and daughter, are considered essential personnel. So they are still going to work. I feel lucky to be able to stay home. My youngest son is able to do his work remotely, but is still working, too. All in all, most of my ‘work’ already took place at home, so not a whole lot has changed except that the outlets for selling my art have all shut down.
Stay safe and at least semi-sane!
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.
Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.
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