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.

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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

An Herbal Remedy for Winter Crud featuring Mullein, Ginseng, Beebalm, and Echinacea

Here’s my recipe for an herbal remedy I use every year to combat what we’ve come to call “Winter Crud”. We also take it at the first sign of anything that feels like trouble coming on. This year’s formula uses mullein, echinacea, ginseng, and beebalm. I’ll update and repost this every year to tell you which herb’s I’m using and whether I’ve changed anything about how I’m making it.

My recipe for this year's Winter Crud syrup.
click to enlarge or print

Ugh. Winter Crud

I’m sure there’s a real name for it, but I don’t know what it is. We just call it the “winter crud” or “creeping crud” or “that *bleeping* cough that lingers forever”. I don’t usually go to the doctor because I’m worried that there might be even more serious ailments lurking inside the office waiting room than the one currently plaguing me. So I generally rely on my trusty herbal allies unless it’s acute or serious.

The symptoms are always the same: deep congestion that’s hard to cough up, sometimes a low fever for a day or two at the beginning, and a few weeks of long-lingering congested cough.

Inevitably someone in the family gets it. Usually the whole household gets it. And so I like to have it ready to go. Most years I make extra for Christmas gifts, but this year I procrastinated too long.

My reservations

Generally I don’t blog much about my herbal remedies because it feels like slippery ground when it comes to sharing that information outside my own little network of like-minded family and friends. But I’ve really had great results with this one and thought I’d share.

Please make sure you research these herbs to find out if they’re suitable for you and your conditions. Just the sugar alone is enough to send a diabetic into crisis.

I am not a doctor and am not prescribing or advising you to try this remedy. I’m just sharing how I make it and what I use it for. If you want me to make some for you, though, I will do that. See the link at the bottom of this post.

Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.
Took the photo before adding the ginseng. Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.

The Ingredients

The precise list of ingredients I use for anything at all changes according to what I managed to gather the summer and fall before.

Today’s ingredient list for this year’s Winter Crud syrup features wild American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius), mullein leaves (Verbascum thapsus), beebalm flower, stem, and leaf (Monarda fistulosa), and echinacea root, leaf stem, and flower (Echinacea purpurea).

Wildcrafting

All of the herbs except the cinnamon were responsibly foraged from right here at Wild Ozark. I never take more than a small percentage of ginseng (or any other roots) from a colony. When taking flowers, I always leave half behind for the pollinators. There is no shortage of mullein anywhere so I am less concerned with conservation of that herb.

I had blackberry syrup on hand from a failed batch of jelly this past summer, so I’m using it for the sugar content and for flavor. You can skip that ingredient and add back a cup of sugar to the recipe.

The Most Important Ingredient

The syrup must have mullein for it to be useful for this remedy at all, and thankfully mullein is easily found almost all year long here. I think the beebalm and ginseng also add a lot to the effectiveness. But if all I had was mullein, I’d go with it. And if sugar is an issue for you, it works just as well as a decoction alone. You’ll have to use it within a few days because the sugar is a preservative. It just won’t taste as good, but it’s a tolerable flavor.

I give instructions on how to make a decoction in my book 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing, but that one is for witch hazel tonic.  Here’s a procedure for the mullein decoction recipe  you can download. It’s in PDF format. Just save it to your hard-drive or print it out.

I’d love it if you’d “pin” it to Pinterest for me:

Wild Ozark's Mullein/Beebalm decoction procedure

Mullein needs to be strained more thoroughly than most other herbs because of the hairs on the leaves. Make the decoction with the mullein, ginseng, and echinacea roots. Then add the leafy parts of herbs in the last phase of making the decoction, just before the final reduction.

DIY?

You could make it yourself and it’s a great project to do so. If you try it and need to ask questions just email me. If you don’t have the ingredients or don’t want to spend a day stirring the cauldron, you can buy a pint from me.

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

Bringing Hay to Horses in Snow

After yesterday’s post where I reveled in the fact that we’d actually had a decent snowfall, we went out in the cold to bring hay to horses. The temperature was about 15*F with a windchill factor of I don’t know what, but I’m sure ridiculously cold.

Bringing Hay to Horses in Snow
Heading toward the hay stash.

Rob takes the tractor and I go ahead of him on the 4-wheeler to open the gate. Well. I’m behind him when I took this photo, but after snapping the pic of him going down the driveway, I turned around. The gate I need to open is the other direction, through the creek and over the hill at the top of the horses’ pasture.

It was COLD.

Comanche watching our approach with the hay.
Comanche watching and waiting for the tractor to arrive.

My fingers and toes were frozen. I periodically put my hands (gloves on) inside my jacket and under my arm. This warmed them up alright, but brought with it the pain and stinging of defrosting fingers.

The horses were thrilled to see the hay arrive.

Comanche in the back, Shasta in front. Kicking up heels in delight. And because Bobbie Sue was harassing them.
Comanche in the back, Shasta in front. Kicking up heels in delight. And because Bobbie Sue was harassing them.

Getting back up the hill to the house was an adventure all by itself. The tractor going down it as we left out on our mission had crushed the snow and made ice. Then it made more when it went back up. I swerved, spun tires and slid sideways and had a grand time making the 4wheeler get back home.

It felt deliciously good to go back inside the house and take off the coveralls, the gloves, and snow boots in front of the crackling wood stove.


 

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

Can’t see the Trees for the Forest, or rather, Snowflakes for the Snow

Yesterday we only had a little bit of snow and each little snowflake was easy to see and photograph. Now it is like not being able to see the trees for the forest. Can’t see the snowflakes for the snow.

Snow Makes the Cold More Bearable … for a little while

But I love it. I enjoy the crunchy sound of snow beneath my feet and take great pleasure in being the first to walk smooth snowy paths. But it’s cold, and I can’t keep my toes warm long enough to stay outside more than a little while.

Snowy Morning Scenes

Here’s some scenes from my feeding of critters round this morning. The dogs love the snow. Chickens are indifferent. Cats are reluctant. And the horses were just downright pissed that I took so many photo stops on the way to feeding them.

Trees for the Forest. Hen House in the Snow

Wet water (as opposed to frozen water) and food time for critters.
Wet water (as opposed to frozen water) and food time for critters. Turbo’s and the chickens’ water buckets aren’t heated, so I have to add warm water so they can drink after eating their breakfast. But they have to get to it quick while it’s still wet.

"Yucky snow."
“Yucky snow.”

Big Oak Crown

They're not sure what all the fuss is about. It's just snow.
They’re not sure what all the fuss is about. It’s just snow.

 

Horse-sickles
"Quit with the pictures and get down here and feed us!"
“Quit with the pictures and get down here and feed us!”

 

Old Tractor in Snow

The first good snow for the shop.
The first good snow for the shop.

Trees for the Forest

It’s easy to lose track of the little things that bring pleasure and joy when there’s a long list of things that need to get done and time is feeling rushed. Slowing down to take note of simple pleasures is kind of like noticing the trees in the forest, or individual snowflakes in the snowstorms. Or like stopping to smell the roses.

I’m full of metaphors this morning, I know. But I think you ‘get my drift’.

We have to go out and cut firewood in a little while, and bring hay to the horses. It’s not as fun when fingers and toes are frozen, but at least the sun is coming out now. The high today, not counting wind chill is only supposed to be 19*F.

I hope you’re enjoying your winter weather this weekend too. Stay warm!

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

How to Identify Plants in the Wild, How to Search and Find Clues

Earlier this year I surveyed my newsletter members for their top questions. Here’s one about how to identify plants found in the outdoors.

Top Questions

It’s more of a comment than a question, but I’m creating this post in response to it. Although I’ve paraphrased some, I believe the underlying question would be “how to identify plants found in the wild”:

“My problem is being able to identify the plant, tree, bush and vine when I find them in the open outdoors. Would appreciate seeing pictures and descriptions when reading about them.”

I’ve never really paid attention to the steps I take when I’m trying to identify a new plant, but I’ll try to organize my process for you.

If any of you out there reading this have other methods you use, please comment. The more input from others, the more information this reader will have to draw on.

Learning to identify plants in the wild. What is this plant?
Our example plant to identify. It looks tender, it’s green, and likes moist ground.

The First Thing

First thing for me is to look for flowers. If there are flowers, I usually go to the web and search through wildflower databases for my area. I start with USWildflowers.com. The link is to the Arkansas database. On the right hand side they’re organized by color of the flower.

This is just a starting point if I know nothing other than the color of the flower. If I had an idea of which family the plant belonged to, that would give some extra clues to start the search. For example, if the stems were square, I’d start searching plants of the mint family.

Looking for Clues

However, in the photo I posted, there are no flowers. And I can’t see the stem shape well enough to say if it’s square or round. It is green. It looks tender. And it must like moist ground. It’s been pretty cold outside and yet it’s still green, too. So these are all good clues to use.

Know some Botany

It will help to have some basic botany so you’ll know if the leaves are opposite or alternate, are they attached to the stem by petioles or not, are they “clasping”? Clasping leaves wrap around the stem where they join. Petioles are little stems at the leaf base where it attaches to the larger stem. It is the “leafstalk”. Sometimes the stem seems to go *through* the leaf.

Understanding the Latin

The botanical names of plants offer a lot of clues and can help you when you’re trying to figure out if the photo of the plant you’re looking at is the same as the one you are trying to identify.

For example, let’s go back to the leaves that have the stems going through them. The plants with leaves that do this most often have the word “perfoliate” or some derivative of that word as part of the Latin binomial. It means to perforate, or go through.

If you’ve found a photo that looks a lot like your plant, and if the latin last name of that plant doesn’t match what you think you’ve found, then it’s a good clue that your identification is wrong. It is just as important to know when you’re wrong as it is to know when you’re right.

Using the Internet

If you have access to the internet, it makes identification a lot easier. If I had to start the search knowing nothing except what I can see in the photo above, I’d search using this:

tender green wild plant

It looks tender in the photo. I imagine if I pulled on it, it would come up easily. It just looks like it has shallow roots because it looks so tender.

So this is the results page for my search of the term listed above. You’ll have to click on this link and I hope it displays the same way I’m seeing it or the rest of this section might not make a lot of sense. (Note: it does not display the same on all screens. On my laptop it is the first, seventh and eleventh photos.)

The first, seventh, and thirteenth pictures are the ones that look a lot like the plant I’m trying to identify. The first one has flowers on it, but the leaves look the same. The thirteenth looks most similar. I’m going to click on the thirteenth one first and see what it says. I get “Page Not Found”. So I’ll click on the seventh image.

A Name to Go On

Aha – that one gives me a common name without having to go all the way through to a website. “Chickweed”. When I do click through to the website, it gives a very detailed write-up about chickweed, or Stellaria media. I’ll take that information and compare the details to my plant, and then look up chickweed in a few other places to compare all the data.

In this case, finding the Latin name didn’t offer me a lot of clues. Mainly that’s because there are no flowers on it right now, but “stellaria” refers to little stars, and the flowers are like tiny stars. “media” refers to middle or in the midst of. I’ve seen explanations that say it’s named so because the mound of greenery covered with flowers does indeed look as if you’re in the midst of stars.

However, I believe it’s named so because in the middle of the end of each stalk is where you’ll find the “little stars”.

Extra Measures

Verify the species

There are often other species of plants that have slightly different features. Smooth or hairy are common ones. Often the differences don’t matter in whether the two can be used in the same way. But in the case of chickweed, it matters to me.

There are some types that are hairy and won’t be very good in a salad. Not only is this one pictured below hairy, it’s not even the same genus/species even though it is still called “chickweed” and looks similar:

2. mouse-eared chickweed
Mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum). This one won’t have the same tender palatability the first one, the photo I started this search with, will.

Other times, the different species will have entirely different properties. If you’re using plants medicinally, this will matter a lot. Even when it comes to flavor and taste for edible domestic plants, like apples, you can easily tell a difference between one variety and the next by flavor and texture, let alone between species.

Stellaria media a.k.a. Chickweed- Good food and medicine from nature.
Stellaria media a.k.a. Chickweed- Good food and medicine from nature.

Wait for Flowers

Watch plants you’re not certain about for a full year. See if it flowers. If it does, will it set fruit? How do the seed pods look, and how are the seeds dispersed? Observing a whole season of growth and change offers lots of clues and helps greatly to identify plants.

These things all give important clues. You may also want to dig up a plant to see what kinds of roots it has. Is it a taproot or shallow rooted? Maybe it’s a rhizome or a bulb. These are very important clues.

Not Using the Internet

Real books are an old standby when it comes to needing to identify plants.

Without the internet, you’d need to use identification books like Peterson Field Guides. One of the ones I use often is by Steven Foster & James A. Duke, the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants & Herbs.

Another good book to have on hand, if you’re in Arkansas, is Carl G. Hunter’s Wildflowers of Arkansas. It’s out of print now, but you can find it still through Amazon or on eBay or from a used book store.

And yet another favorite is Wildman Steve Brill’s Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants.

It’s a good idea to have real books stashed away somewhere to help you identify plants in the event there is no internet available to use.

When I’m using books, I usually flip through all of the pages to familiarize myself with how it’s organized. Then unless the book is “keyed” I start from the beginning and look for clues.

If the book is keyed, which means it gives you starting points for things like leaf structure and leads you on yes-no answers to the most likely categories. For example, it’ll ask if the leaves are opposite. If yes, follow through to the next question. Depending on the answers it directs you to the next question, and so on. This is where understanding some of the botanical terms will help a lot.

Other Internet Resources

Although not an Ozark site, here’s a one that uses keys to help with identification: https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/simple/. Many of our plants here are present there as well, so it could still be useful. But the main reason I am referring it is to show how a keyed book or search works.

I’ve been a member of a FB group about the native plants of Arkansas and the members of this group are always willing and ready to help with identification. If you’re on Facebook, a group for the plants of your area is another resource you might like to try.


Have fun in your quest to identify plants!

If you have questions or information to add about this topic, please comment. If there is a lot of interest in this introductory post, I will do another more detailed post on the types of terms that I use need to know most often, especially leaf arrangement and structure, and a little more on how understanding the Latin can help you identify plants more easily.

 

 

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

Product Review: STABILicers Ice Cleats make Slippery Slopes a Cinch!

When it gets icy here, just walking down the back steps is a feat, but making my rounds to feed the critters is the whole circus. Ice cleats to the rescue.

Biding time to try out the ice cleats

So since it hasn’t gotten icy since they arrived in the mail, I haven’t had a chance to try them out. Until yesterday. We only got a little bit of sleet and ice and snow yesterday. Maybe 1/2 an inch total. But that makes the rocks and smooth surfaces pretty slick.

I was worried that I’d need *enough* ice to grip with the cleats. I was wrong. They worked fantastic even on a little bit of ice coating. I didn’t slip one time. Ice cleats are the bomb.

Ice cleats side view.
They strap on easily and don’t move around.

Not a Paid Endorsement

This is not a paid advertisement. I’m just letting you know about a solution to a problem many homesteaders probably face.

Other Low-Tech Solutions

I’ve done other things in the past to combat the acrobats on my way up or down the hills in my feeding route.

Ash

Scattering ash from the woodstove on the path helps a lot and recycles something that otherwise just piles up outside the house.

The drawback to that is that it takes many days of carrying the bucket of ash along with the buckets of feed. And if it’s icy, I’m also carrying a jug of warm water for Turbo and the chickens.

Hay

Another solution is to make a trail from hay and walk on that. Which works pretty good, but the chickens that aren’t in the pen just scratch it all around, so that’s not a good solution here.

Salt

This works, but drains off when it melts and has to be reapplied. However, the salt does have an environmental effect and I’m not sure its a good long-term solution. I’m also not sure how safe the store bought ice-melt is long-term either. We still use one or the other of these on the back steps so no one slips when they’re not wearing ice cleats, but I don’t want to make my whole route paved in salt.

Where to Buy

Anyway, I love the ice cleats. They have lots of models available and you can buy them most places that sell shoes (at least out here where it tends to get icy in winter). I bought mine online from Cozy Winters.

There are several options and price ranges. I went all out and got the STABILicers for $39.95. I can’t vouch for the other models, but these are the ones I plan to always have handy during winter.

Ice cleats top view.
They strap onto the toe and around ankle.
Bottom view of ice cleats showing the "cleats".
Bottom view showing the “cleats”. They’re not pointy, but remind me of the grippers on octopus tentacles. Don’t ask how I know what octopus grippers look like…or how they might feel, lol, because I don’t know. But this is what they remind me of.
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

Keeping up the Juggling Act

It’s the holiday season, so it stands to reason that lots of folks are juggling lots of things in their lives these days.

Juggling and Not Too Successfully

I’ve been dropping a few balls lately. Right now the ones on the ground relate to baking bread. Ha. And I had such good intentions!

My own juggling really has nothing to do with the added tasks of the holidays. I haven’t even started dealing with those issues, yet. So you can see the mess I’m about to make with the balls still in the air …

Anyway, back to baking bread.

Why am I baking bread?

Because we’re out of it since yesterday morning, that’s why.

Why not just get some from the store?

Because I have to go out to town when a package I’m waiting on arrives in Springdale. Doesn’t make sense? Well, to go to town for groceries alone is a half-a-day excursion here if I’m just going to the nearest town with a grocery store. Springdale is a good hour-and-a-half away and if I’m going to go out for that I might as well get everything else on my list while I’m at it.

So I decided I’d just bake some bread and wait until tomorrow to go out.

Part of my juggling act today. Need to grind some wheat.
Had to clean all the dust off the grinder first.

Of course the pictures loaded and turned sideways. Do they look sideways to you too? Throw that ball on the floor too, dammit.

To bake bread means I have to grind some wheat. What?! I hear you asking already, why don’t I just use the flour in the pantry?

*Sigh*

Yeah, I’m laughing too.

There isn’t enough flour in the pantry. Guess what? They sell that stuff at the grocery store I’m not going to today, too.

But I do have wheat that I can grind. And enough regular flour to cut it so the ball of dough actually rises into a loaf.

Stuff all over the counter. Balls dropped when the phone rang.

So I have all the ingredients for this project out and in progress when the phone rings.

Guess what?

The package is arriving at the DHL facility in Springdale in a couple of hours.

So I look at the mess I’ve got scattered all over the counters, consider my options … and decide I might just throw all this back into the cabinet and go out and buy that loaf of bread today.

Balls all over the floor.

I did manage to get one thing on my writerly to-do list done today, though. I created a virtual flipbook of my latest release. This morning I finally figured out how to get it loaded onto this website so I can share it with you.

It’s posted on the product pages for “Ginseng Look-Alikes” so browsers can flip through the whole book just like they could if it were in a real-life bookstore. Then if they decide they like it, they can click through and buy it.

Balls Still Airborne

At least there’s that ball still in the air. Now I’m going to clean up the kitchen and get ready to go out to town. If you get a chance to take a look at my flipbook, would you leave me a review at Amazon? I put the book out too early a few weeks ago.

And More Balls on the Floor

The one review on that dismal first go of it is a very honest, terribly unhappy buyer who left me two stars.

If you think it’s a decent product now, let me know. If you think it’s still as bad as the first reviewer thinks, let me know. I need to take it down if it’s that bad!

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 in Shape with Nature- Starting out the Day Hot & Sweaty

This morning kicked off my first effort at returning to a daily walk/jog routine. It’s time to get in shape after 6 months of trying to take it easy.

Get in Shape

I can’t *really* jog yet. My knee is still testy after tearing the ACL and meniscus in April of this year. But I can slow-jog/fast-walk. That’s a pretty hilarious thing to see, I’m sure, but thankfully there is no one here to fall to the ground in laughter. I can make funny maneuvers to my heart’s content.

This morning I didn’t bring my camera so I wouldn’t be tempted to stop and take pictures. The point is to get sustained heart rate elevation. I didn’t almost step on any snakes or encounter any bears, so no excessive heart rate elevation occurred either.

I’m pretty sure I could manage to run fast if something was chasing me, but I’m not ready to test the theory.

Bears, Lions, & Snakes

There have been bears in the area, though not yet spotted on the driveway.  This one is trying to reach the deer feeder on the mountain.

Running from a bear would certainly help me get in shape! Wild Ozark Bear 2016
Running from a bear would certainly help me get in shape!

There is a big cat (either a large bobcat or a cougar) in the area too. I saw big cat tracks in the soft new dirt on the driveway yesterday. Snakes are always in the area, but rattlesnake mating season is upon us and so the rattlers are out and about.

The thing that would bother me the most about seeing any of this wildlife is the fact that my camera would be at home, sitting on the table. But then again, that might be a good thing because I’d be able to move with so much more focus on escape without it.

Good Luck!

Anyway, wish me luck in my continued effort to get back in shape. The next few days are always the hardest for me to push through. Are you working on new exercise programs or have had success with long-lasting ones?

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

Homestead: Getting the Chainsaw Stuck … and Unstuck

Today was an outdoor work day, at least until the storm blew in. Feeding critters, excluding chickens, and getting the chainsaw stuck, and unstuck.

Feeding Critters

I did the usual thing first – fed the critters. It was a foggy morning, so I brought the camera with me. There are always good things to see when it’s a foggy morning.

The horses are the most impatient of the crew.

Shasta, keeping Comanche away from the gate so she can have first divs. Or is it "dibs"?
Shasta, keeping Comanche away from the gate so she can have first divs. Or is it “dibs”?

My most often photographed foggy-morning subject is the old Ford 8N tractor. Poor thing doesn’t get to work much right now, but we’ll get her fixed up and back on the job eventually.

Once a standby for homestead work - Old Ford 8N Tractor

So I figured after taking this photo that there would be some other pretty things just a little ways down the driveway. So I sat the buckets down and went for a short walkabout.

A dayflower in a vivid shade of blue.
Asiatic dayflower (Commenlina communis) in a vivid shade of blue.
The driveway in an oft-photographed spot.
The driveway in an oft-photographed spot.
I have a weakness for feathers on the ground, especially when they're dewy from the fog.
I have a weakness for feathers on the ground, especially when they’re dewy from the fog.
Tiny little pinwheel mushrooms.
Tiny little pinwheel mushrooms.

Getting on with the other homestead work chores.

First on the list of things to do was deter chickens from roosting under our shed.

The flock patron, Old Man. Watching us block off the shed before we moved on to getting the chainsaw stuck while cutting a cedar.
The flock patron, Old Man.

They’re not going to like it when they go in to roost this evening and find the way is barred. There’s a perfectly good unused henhouse for them to roost in.

Once we got that done, it was on to cutting down a large cedar tree in the way of the future septic drain field for the new Wild Ozark shop Rob is working on.

Getting the Chainsaw Stuck

Cedar trees have a nasty habit of grabbing the blade. Rob got the chainsaw stuck a few times before the final stick.

This is how we got the chainsaw out of the tree where it got stuck while cutting a limb.

Never leave a person standing on a ladder to hold the stuck saw – just tie it off so it doesn’t fall to the ground when the limb is pulled. And make sure the chain you’re pulling with is long enough to let you get out of the way when the limb falls.

After this, the thunder started rumbling and rain drops began to fall so we retreated to the house.

Have any Homestead Tricks to Share?

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