A Homesteading Hermit Self-Reliant Writer’s To-Do List

I’m a self-reliant writer for the most part. I’m also a homesteader and close to being a hermit (hermitress) these days. It would take a lot more money than I make at it to delegate any of the tasks, homesteaderly or otherwise, and more time than I want to spend waiting on traditional publishing so others can do some of the writerly-related tasks for me.

How a Writer’s To-Do list Ties in with Self-Reliance on the Homestead

Seeing as how this blog is focused on nature, homesteading and becoming self-reliant, it would at first seem that the following list has strayed way off topic.

But that’s not true.

Self-Reliance means more than homesteading the land. It also, in our case, means becoming self-reliant in our finances. Right now, Rob is working outside of the homestead, and while he’s doing that I’m working toward bringing our finances to a self-reliant state by building the foundation to our business.

What Do Writers Do?

Well, we write, of course. And while we’re doing that we can’t really do anything else. But as a mostly self-published writer, there’s also the fact that I have to be self-reliant for all of my own marketing and promotion, website design, cover design, formatting and the actual publishing, ordering of copies and selling of the books.

Keeping an entertaining, interesting, and informative website is my goal not only because I enjoy doing it simply for the sake of sharing, but also because it’s a lifeline for finding new readers.

To ensure a lot of readers continue to come here from search engines, I have to keep the site functioning properly. It needs work to stay in Google’s good graces especially, because that’s where the lion’s share of my visitors originate (even if those visitors rarely leave me nice comments, or any comments at all…*hint**hint*).

Virtual Clutter

Just as I tend to collect real things like rocks and plants and books and papers and notes and… (the list goes on and on), I also tend to do the same with my virtual space. The result is that the website becomes cluttered and convoluted and pretty soon even I have to search for things I need when I need them.

So part of my to-do list involved a bit of cleanup on the website. Part of it is ordinary homestead stuff.

Having just published two new books means there is behind-the-scenes work to do for that. And just having been scheduled for two speaking engagements means I have some follow-up to do for that, which I can’t do until some of the list items are marked “done”.

A typical homesteading writer’s list?

The list is typical a lot of *my* weeks. I’m not sure how much of this is stuff other writers do, or how many other homesteaders are also writers. So there’s no telling how typical the list is. I’d like your thoughts on that, actually. Being a hermit out here makes it hard to know what others are doing and my blog cruising time has dropped off to almost nil these days.

You’ll notice I didn’t list housework… well, a certain amount of it is just a given. I’ll do what has to be done, but it’s usually at the bottom of the list and incidental. Guests beware. The state of my house is reflected in the list below, ha.

FINALLY. The list.

I’ll just post it the way I have it scribbled on my notes:

  • make coupon for 100% off PDF
  • Update Kindle versions to mention paperback
  • Update paperback version to mention Kindle versions
  • Add SmartURL’s for book at Amazon
  • redirect duplicate book pages
  • find out how to get podcasts to show up on podcast reader apps
  • assign canonical URL’s for duplicate posts I want to keep
  • update the July household ledger
  • begin working on the 2015 business ledgers
  • brush the horses and pick hooves
  • make blog post
  • make media package for speaking engagements so i can find all the info easier next time
  • send the above to the two places i have scheduled speaking to do
  • update the book page
  • find out if I can recycle ISBN no longer in use
  • vacuum seal the rest of the sugar
  • repair fence at creek crossing
  • finish weeding garden
  • get back to work on Bounty Hunter (my fiction novel in progress)

And there you have it. A typical day in the life of a homesteading hermit writer.

Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.
Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.

Spider Stick

Anyone who has ever ridden, or rather, *driven* a four-wheeler on a tree-lined path will know exactly why this four-wheeler is sporting a lovely branch of wilted leaves.

spider stick on the 4-wheeler
spider stick on the 4-wheeler

It’s a “spider stick”. And it’s the person in front, if you’re riding double, who appreciates this little contraption most of all.

I am not *scared* of spiders, I just don’t want them on my face.

You can see some of the several webs and residents in the pics below. This wasn’t even half of them, but only the ones who stayed along for the ride. I collected these on my spider stick during one trip to the mailbox and back.

Spider 3
Spider 3
Spider 2
Spider 2
Spider
Spider 1

It is wasps that cause me to feel panic, particularly the ones trapped inside of a car with me. The discovery of such a horror will have me bailing as fast as I can slam on the brakes and open the door.

That fear must be hereditary. One day I happened across my daughter. Her car was stopped in the middle of the dirt road with all 4 doors wide open.  She was outside, frantic. My two granddaughters inside were screaming at the top of their lungs. Poor kids were safely buckled into their car seats. But Gab, being cursed with my cursed fear of wasps in the car, had bailed, leaving the kids in the car to face their fate.

No worries – we got the wasp out and no one was stung. The kids recovered, but are likely also going to have our phobia even if it isn’t inherited. Hard not to after such an experience, ha. Probably a good study for nature vs nurture.

So yes. The scariest thing is wasps, not spiders. But it’s really hard to pay attention to controlling the 4-wheeler when there’s a spider somewhere on me. I’m very grateful to my eldest son who showed me how to make the stick hold itself in place. Now I’m not trying to drive one-handed while holding the stick in the other.

My First Sheet of Handmade Paper

So, with all the rain here, and now with the truck being broken which means until the road mud dries up some I can’t go out anywhere, I’m doing some of the other things on my creative bucket list.  I need a break from writing/editing/formatting from time to time, and *shakes head* housework is not on that list.

Yes, I do the domestic stuff when I need to, or more likely, when I absolutely must. Besides, I’ve done enough of that while confined in this house due to the relentless rainy weather. And I seem to make messes as fast as I clean it.  Today the mess is compounded by my project. As it turns out, making paper is quite messy.

Handmade Paper

Handmade paper is high on the list of things I *want* to do. After today’s trial, it appears I’ll need to do it a lot more often to become proficient.

Those little wasps make papermaking look so easy.

The other day I collected some mulberry leaves, chopped them up and put them in a large pot to cook.

Day one and the leaves were still completely unchanged by the heating and stirring.

Day two and ditto.

Day three and I gave up and threw it into the blender.

That might have been a mistake, but I’m not sure yet because I haven’t tried the pounding it into a pulp method yet.

The first mistake I KNOW was a mistake is the improper use of my improvised deckle.

Improvised deckle for making homemade paper.
Improvised deckle for making homemade paper.

The next mistake was not having a good place to turn out the wet sheet so it could press until it dried. I turned it out onto a folded sheet and covered with the other half of the sheet. That wasn’t easy to manipulate when I tried to peel it off.

So my first sheet of handmade paper was, in most ways of looking at it, a complete failure. I even wasted two of my ginseng leaves that I wanted to press into the surface of it.

But from a learning perspective, it was a useful experiment. Now I know to do some things differently next time. Hopefully the NEXT photo you see of my handiwork, it looks a lot better than the one below!

My first sheet of handmade paper. It's okay to laugh. I'm laughing with you.
My first sheet of handmade paper. It’s okay to laugh. I’m laughing with you.

 

Do Your Dogs Sing with the Chickens?

Badger howling at coyotes.
Badger howling at coyotes.

We have singing dogs. Every morning at sunrise when the rooster crows and the hens wake, and during the day when the chickens get all a-cluck over an egg laying, the dogs break into song with them.

Does anyone else have singing dogs, especially in choir with chickens?

Egg-napping Marans

I have two black marans setting eggs.

Each hen was in a separate box, sitting on her own clutch of eggs. There are other boxes for the other hens to lay eggs in, too.

I haven’t been finding eggs in the other nests lately, and I suspect there’s a snake in the henhouse somewhere (again).

Suddenly, both hens are on the same nest. Nothing but feathers are left in the box the usurper once occupied.

two maran hens in the same nest
Who’s setting the eggs today?

No eggs in the vacated nest.

I checked underneath both hens.

No eggs under the usurper, who sat in front.

4 eggs under the hen toward the back. That was yesterday evening.

This morning, both hens are still on the same nest.

I checked underneath again.

4 eggs under the usurper.

None under the hen in the back.

What is going on here?

Is one hen kidnapping the other hen’s eggs? Does she give them back the next day?

I’ll have to keep checking. This is social activity I didn’t know about and am still learning, apparently.

The Impermanence of Things

We’ve had a lot of rain in the last days here in the Ozark Highlands. 7 inches in a few hours Monday night. That’s too much rain for our little creeks and hollers.

Lots of folks have lost homes, cattle, hay harvests and rigs they need to work.

My parents spent a terrifying night among the rising, rushing flood waters surrounding their camper. I couldn’t get to them to help and they couldn’t get to the house. So they spent the night in their truck, parked on a nearby hill hoping it, too, wouldn’t wash away.

Here at Wild Ozark we’ve lost a lot of our driveway and pretty much all of the nursery. The nursery was pretty small but it was the start to a business dream of mine.

The air compressor settled just a little downstream.
Daddy’s air compressor settled just a little downstream.

More rain is heading our way tonight and tomorrow. I’m going out to get more dog food and drinking water.

I won’t be at the farmer’s market for the next couple of weeks. The seedlings, potting supplies, pretty much my whole business is gone.

Recovered my shovel, at least.
Recovered my shovel, at least.

I’d thought the entire season might have been ruined, but that was while I felt pessimistic.

Now I’m working on a plan.

I won’t be there with plants anytime soon, but…

I’ll think of something else.

One of the nursery losses that bothers me most is the raspberries. I enjoyed watching them grow and mature and finally get ready to make the first batch of home-grown goodness. But those I can replant.

06-16-15 flood took raspberries

The driveway will be a bit more of a challenge.

Where the creek is claiming the driveway
Where the creek is claiming the driveway.

But at least it’s not our lives or our home. My children and grandchildren are safe. My parents survived their bout with the “little” creek.  Even Turbo is looking a lot better after his snakebite incident. And hopefully my parent’s camper won’t wash away completely in the next round.

dirty little turbo

My thoughts are with those who lost far more.

Rattlesnake at the Gate

Rattlesnake at the gate

Gnats have made it nearly impossible for me to stand being outside at my potting bench for very long.

Yesterday I did the little bit of work I needed to do at it while trying not to breathe so the pesky little buggers wouldn’t go up my nose. I pretty much needed to close my eyes too, because they wouldn’t stay out of there either.

So today when the wind picked up and it looked like it was going to rain, I went outside to see if that helped get rid of the gnats. It did!

Much much nicer to work with a storm approaching and no gnats. It never did rain, just cooled off nicely.

When I went to check the mail later, at the gate I saw the rattlesnake. It was stretched out and heading across the driveway.

Badger stepped on it!

Badger never even noticed it until the snake coiled up and started rattling, AFTER he’d stepped on it. Then he backed away good and got a really sheepish look on his face. It never even struck at him, though.

Then Turbo came along and saw it and barked and barked it and stayed way clear.

It’s so amazing how instinctive the warning of a rattle must be.

I let him go. I wasn’t dressed for snake dancing anyway. Flip flops… I got close enough for good pics, but not so close he could reach me.

He never tried to bite us, just wanted us to let him go.

Rattlesnake eye
Snake eye

 

Unripe Fruit

I have a hard time believing I have no pictures – at all – of ripe elderberry fruit. After digging through file after unfruitful file, I thought it might be faster to just go get a new photo.

Not quite.

The berries aren’t ripe yet here at Wild Ozark.

But maybe they are on top of the hill.

A not-so-quick 4-wheeler ride out there tells me not quite.

So, I’m back to digging through photo files to see if I can stumble across it. I know it’s in there somewhere. There’s just no way possible I’ve never taken a picture of it while the fruit was ripe.

Elderberry blossom
10 Common Plants Worth Knowing
bones from a cave in northwest arkansas

Rainy Days are Writing “Bounty Hunter” Days

It’s been raining off and on here since last night. It seems like it’s been raining every day since I can’t remember when. I’m tired of it and will be glad when the ground is dry and the creeks are passable again, but in the meantime I’ve been writing.

When I’m writing ficiton, it’s hard to write non-fiction, and the reverse is true too. So if there are less blog posts here than before, that’s why. I’ve been working on an urban fantasy novel.

Bounty Hunter is set in a dystopian Ozarks and there will be alternate realms, too, because one of the characters moves between them to get around. I’m 14,710 words into it now and by the time I write “The End” there should be close to 125,000.

Trey and DRSS are the main characters. They’re bounty hunters for a government agency called ARSA. A third main character (the main character from my short story No Qualms) will be introduced later on in the book, possibly not until the second book.

Here’s my 50-word synopsis:

Treya signs on to be an ARSA agent- a bounty hunter. Criminals are hunted to grub stage, which means they need to be killed three times to force the lowest incarnation. What Treya doesn’t know is that she’s on a hit list, too, and the hunter will become the hunted.

Some of the scenes from this book are inspired by photos I’ve taken over the years. Here’s one that inspired a scene in the alternate realm where Treya has pursued her pursuer.

These bone remnants from a real cave in northwest Arkansas gave me the idea for an  alternate reality setting for a scene in my novel.
These bone remnants from a real cave in northwest Arkansas gave me the idea for an alternate reality setting for a scene in my novel.

If you’d like to read the first two chapters of Bounty Hunter (and give me some feedback on how you like it), join my private FB group. The first two chapters are loaded into the files section and I’ll load the rest of them as I finish them. Or email me and I’ll send it to you that way.

 

photo of clematis blooming at wild ozark homestead

Dragons Hatching, Clematis Blooming, and Feeding Horses in the Rain

Dragons Hatching!

Last fall I collected seeds from a large Green Dragon. I put the berries directly into pots and kept them overwinter in the ginseng nursery. The other morning I noticed they were hatching – er, sprouting! The link in the first sentence will take you to a page about the plant. It’s also where I’ll be posting update pictures from the seedlings that sprouted.

green dragon hatchling 2014
green dragon hatchling 2014

Now, I’m pretty sure these are Green Dragons. Except for the problem that I can’t find the original plant again this year. There’s a gigantic Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing near where it was though, so that has me a little concerned that these may actually be pulpit’s instead. But I am absolutely positive that it was a Dragon in that same area last year. So we’ll see. As these little seedlings mature it’ll be easy to tell the difference.

My Clematis is Blooming!

Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.
Gorgeous purple clematis blooming at the Wild Ozark homestead.

Ordinarily I landscape with native plants. But I have a weakness for the bright blooms of clematis. This is a flower I could never grow while we lived in south Louisiana, and it took me several years to cough up the money (or rather I asked Rob to cough it up, lol) to buy one at a nursery last year. One reason I like natives so much is that they’re freely available. But after jealously eyeing all the other beautiful clematises I’d seen growing at other houses, I gave in to the envie’ and splurged. I was so happy it survived the winter and started climbing the fence this year again, and the blooms bring me joy every time I look at them.

Feeding in the Rain

Last night it rained hard and plenty. This morning a gentle patter fell and I went out to feed the critters. I love walking around outside when the rain is light and the air is balmy.

Shasta and Comanche eating breakfast.
Shasta and Comanche eating breakfast.

The horses aren’t too happy about the mud returning to the gate area, though. Seems like it had finally dried out yesterday, and then the rain mushed it all up again last night.

Have a Great Weekend

Hope you’re having a great start to the weekend. I’ll be at the Kingston Fair on the Square if thunderstorms don’t run us out. Come by if you can!

What’s that plant good for?

“What’s that plant good for?”

A curious thing I’m noticing by selling plants at the market is that people almost always have the same question, phrased in various ways.

It’s often the first thing they ask, in general about any of the plants, when they first walk into the booth. It seems to be a factor in deciding whether to buy something. Almost no one seems to want them just because they’re habitat companions, and most aren’t looking for anything specific, just browsing the booths. I suspect if their usefulness were highlighted, I’d sell more plants because my little collection of companions aren’t spectacular in any obvious way.

Granted, while not in bloom, ginseng habitat companion plants are fairly low-key. They don’t add much to a sidewalk flower bed or provide bright splashes of color anywhere, really. I love these plants just because they love the same habitat as ginseng.

Fortunately, almost all of the plants I bring are “good for something”, I just don’t necessarily highlight that information. I don’t want to get caught in the trap of dispensing medical advice. However, because I’m trying to create livelihood as well as provide value to the community, I will make up some posters to point out how the plants are currently used or were used in the past. I’ll start spotlighting their usefulness.

Herbalism was my first plant-based love. And the Ozarks hosts a host of medicinal plants. So, I decided to just write a book about the plants I use most often! I’ll begin building our nursery stock to include these plants.

cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing
Release date July 1, 2015.
Click the image to sign up for newsletter, where announcements will be made.

I’ll start bringing more of the plants I personally use in our home herbal remedy arsenal. These aren’t usually ginseng habitat companions, but grow in more open places. I won’t offer consultations or advice on how to use these plants for your own ailments, but I will tell you how I’ve used them and provide historical/current usage information. The plants I use most often are those that grow right around the house: elderberry (berries), Spicebush (berries and twig tips), Mountain mint (flowering tops), Prunella (flowering tops), Lobelia (seeds and tops), Beebalm (flowering tops), and Echinacea (flowering tops). I do also use the goldenseal and ginseng medicinally, and will use the black cohosh when I have more of it and feel I can spare a root mass to harvest. I’d like to also grow marshmallow, but not sure if it will do well here or not. Slippery elm can be substituted, and it does grow here and I have used it in the past, but I don’t like to strip the bark from trees and will only use it if there’s a suitable limb that can be cut so I can harvest the bark from that. Wild cherries are also on the list of locally procured botanicals that I use. Mullein is a very useful and always abundant plant that grows here. So is passion flower (maypop). So this angle of showcasing “useful plants” offers a good bit of room to expand on what I offer. Ginseng habitat plants will remain the cornerstone of our nursery, though.

One of the plants I’m very interested in right now is Lousewort, or Pedicularis canadensis.

A little patch of Lousewort growing at Wild Ozark.
A little patch of Lousewort.

In the May Newsletter (which will be emailed to members in a few days) I have a little write-up about this plant and how it can be used. We have these growing here and I’ve been experimenting with propagating them to see how easily they take to being transplanted and potted. So far, so good. I’ll have a few of them with me at market on Tuesday. I’ll post the newsletter here on the blog next week, but members will get it on May 1. Whenever I make coupons or special offers to members, I don’t post those in the blog. This month’s subscriber special is a free $3 plant if you bring your coupon with you to the market. It will expire at the end of this market season but I’ll also honor it for a bare-root shipment on any of the plants that I’ll be shipping this fall, since many of the newsletter members aren’t local.

Since I don’t have much ginseng to sell at the market, I’ve been dividing and potting up some of the other plants that are abundant here. For the ones I find that aren’t so abundant, I’ll wait for seeds (collecting only a portion of them) or take divisions in fall while they’re dormant. Abundance usually indicates a robustness and ability to adapt, whereas scarcity seems to indicate a plant with much narrower tolerances and more difficulties in propagation. This is not always the case, though. Blue cohosh is a plant considered “Imperiled” in the state of Arkansas. This is one that, although scarce, is very easy to propagate by seed or division. This leads me to believe the reason for it’s scarcity is habitat loss. Bloodroot and goldenseal are also very easy to propagate, and yet they’re also listed as endangered in many states. I believe the reason for these plant’s statuses is over harvesting by wildcrafters, because the range of habitat conditions they require is fairly wide. They can both easily propagate by division, tolerate drier soils and more sunlight than ginseng or blue cohosh, so their demise is not likely due to habitat loss or difficulty reproducing.

 

An Entourage of Green Ambassadors

Show and Tell

I took my little assembly of show and tell items, and a small entourage consisting of three Green Ambassadors on the road yesterday. We, or at least *I*, had been invited to speak to the Olli Group at Bordino’s on Dickson St. in Fayetteville. At the time, they didn’t know about the ambassadors that usually accompany me on such appointments, ha.

Closer view of ginseng yearling.
A ginseng yearling.

Green Ambassadors

I’m one of those people who talk to plants and other things that generally don’t talk back. Well, I think they *do*, but not in the way people talk to each other. Anyway, I’ve told all the plants that I’ve potted up for sale at the market that they are the ambassadors for the plants of an endangered habitat. It’s my job to try to encourage people love them enough to want to restrain themselves from logging the deep woods and maintain proper conditions for these plants to grow. But it’s their job to stand up and be interesting when I need to bring them along for show-and-tell dates.

The Green Ambassadors that came today were ginseng, since that was the focus of the talk. A yearling, a two-prong, and a three-prong, to represent the rest of their kind back home in the deep woods. They behaved graciously as they were passed around in their little pots to be examined closely during the meal.

Bloodroot also came along in the form of a rhizome I brought to show them how it gets its name. After snapping it in half to demonstrate the “bleeding” it does, one of the Olli members, Ned (who is also the one who invited me to give the talk), pocketed the two halves to bring home to plant in his shade garden.

Book Me and the Green Ambassadors

Click here and fill out the form if you’d like me to bring some Green Ambassadors from the ginseng habitat to visit your group. I can usually be bribed with good food, and if you’re outside northwest Arkansas, travel expenses and lodging. Payment when possible is always welcomed, but if you don’t have the budget, don’t let the lack stop you from asking.

 Confrontation at the pond

I’ll end today’s post with a lead line to a little story about the turtle the dogs and I encountered today. The rest of the post is at my FB page. Come on over and visit a little while if you have more time 🙂

I had an interesting event while out looking for the horses. First I went up by the pond to see if they’d gone that way….

Posted by Wild Ozark on Friday, April 17, 2015

turtle
A good-sized snapping turtle that was at the gate one day several years ago.

 

P.S. I am sooooo glad I took a few moments to proofread this post before making it live. I don’t know why, but I keep mistakenly calling “Bordino’s” “Bordello’s” instead. Do you know what a bordello is? Just as I was getting ready to hit ‘publish’, I noticed that I wrote “Bordello’s” instead. I did NOT go to the bordello for lunch. I went to Bordino’s!

image of coins and bill

The cost of doing (DVD) business with Amazon

Ever wondered how much an author makes per book or product through Amazon? Royalties aren’t bad for books and e-books. I get 70% on the ones that are listed exclusively through Amazon if the price is over $2.99, and 35% for those I want to be available anywhere else. So, for example, Sustainable Ginseng is listed at $2.99 (e-book). I get 35% royalties on that title, which leaves me $1.05 per e-book sold after fees are subtracted.

But publishing a DVD with them using my own ISBN (the identifier for a book that will designate Wild Ozark as the publisher instead of Amazon) is another story entirely unless I charge double what I’d intended for the DVD.

Here’s the story on that.

The Original Plan

So I thought I would offer those DVD’s I’ve been working on for $10. That’s a fair price with a fair profit margin after subtracting the cost of supplies, postage, and the time I put into it. Figured I’d do business with Amazon as I usually do with my e-books and print titles. I always want to broaden my reach. Boy I got a huge surprise when I visited Createspace to see into the details.

coins and a dollar

The Problem

If I publish them for $10, then I’ll see about $0.50 on each sale. There’s a $4.95 charge for each one and then they take an additional 45% cut of the sale price. YIKES! 

I understand the $4.95 surcharge. They have to cover their expenses, because they POD and package them to ship. But there’s no way I can make a living on those wages! I had to come up with a solution.

The Solution

So here’s the plan.

I’m going to sell them each for $20. Both the USB and the DVD. I’ll have to use this price at my website too, or it’ll seem to be a drastic undercut to Amazon’s prices. But subscribers to my newsletter will get a coupon that puts the cost of them right back down to the original $10 for a DVD and $12 for the USB if ordered from the Wild Ozark shop.

If you want to sign up for the newsletter now, there’s a link on the side-bar under the cover image for the DVD.

If you’re a current subscriber considering purchasing this product, be sure to let me know so I can get the coupon to you. New subscribers will get it on the confirmation email after signing up.

Here’s the video trailer I have over at YouTube to advertise the DVD/USB:

snow covered oak limbs

Raising the Bar at Wild Ozark

Today we were gifted with more snow. Yesterday when I got out of bed, the sun shown brightly with promises of warmth at least from direct sunlight. So I let the horses out to scrounge around for what little grass might be popping up from beneath melted snow from last week. We decided to go to town to get more hay. By the time we’d paid for the hay and were walking out the door it had become overcast and snow fell from the skies. That was unexpected.

Snow continued to fall, tiny powder flakes, for the rest of the day. Thankfully, the horses came when I called and I didn’t have to get on the 4-wheeler to go retrieve them from a grassy honey-hole somewhere.

The snow drifted down slowly all night long, too. Still only about an inch or two collected on the ground. But snow is still falling now at 1018, and the flakes are bigger and falling with what seems intention to cover all with a blanket of white.

southeastward

This year is still new-ish, but already it’s gathering speed and momentum. Look- February is already gone! Before we know it, we’ll all crash through the finish line of yet another year. Here at Wild Ozark we’re experiencing the thrill and excitement of raising the bar. Since it’s so early in the year, the challenge will be to continue to meet these expectations…

Excitement at Wild Ozark

Egg-cellent Performance

strange colored eggI’ll start with the chickens. Their greatest accomplishment this year had to do with eggs. The hens raised the bar on their own performance this past week by laying eight eggs yesterday, more than we’ve had all season in one day so far. And one of the hens left a very unusually colored egg in the nest. One hen has decided that the hay storage area is a better place for a nest and has begun sneaking in there to lay eggs, then escaping from the window that has no glass left in it afterward. Altogether we have 15 hens and a rooster. Four of them are new and won’t begin laying until possibly spring.

The maran’s are trying to get the color saturation right, I guess. Their eggs become very dark brown later in the season. One of the green egg layers laid two eggs in one day, two days in a row! Talk about feats hard to beat.

On the Business Front

  • Lots of addresses on the nursery plant list. Twenty interested persons have asked to be added to the nursery mailing list. This is a great start for a small nursery. Each year we’ll have more to offer and better variety. This first year will test the waters on demand so I’ll know how much of everything to plant for next year’s market season.
  • The Huntsville Farmer’s Market begins some time in April or early May. Our first meeting to plan is on March 17, so I’ll have more details then. I’ll be there at least on the weekday market every week with Ginseng Habitat Related books, information, and  plants to sell. The slide-show on USB will be playing on the monitor so if you can’t or don’t want to buy it, come by and watch for free and enjoy the good market company. It’ll be fun just to visit. I’d love to hear your ginseng stories.
  • Wild Ozark sold more books in one month than ever before! 52 and the day isn’t even over yet.
  • Survey Results – thank you to all of you who voted in my survey about the best format for a photo book. The results say that in spite of the higher cost, most prefer a hard copy book. For second place results were tied between the USB and magazine format. There are five winners of the Wild Ozark Herbs DVD/slideshow to be notified. I’ll need to collect addresses for shipping. Those winners are listed below.
  • Landed a grant from United Plant Savers to install ginseng habitat – my first ever successful grant application (and the first grant ever applied for). This will pay for printing booklets for the next and greatest of the bar-raising highlights so far…
  • Wild Ozark will work in conjunction with Peel-Compton Gardens in Bentonville to install a ginseng habitat, complete (of course) with ginseng and companion plants. This will be a public place people can go to see and learn about ginseng. I’m so excited by this project. The goal is to provide a hands-on interaction with ginseng and the companions. It will help teach how to identify and protect the habitat. Our hope is that with education about the fragility of the ecosystem, we can help protect the plant and give knowledge to those new to the lure of digging. We hope to instill a sense of stewardship and long-term thinking and planning, thereby providing the means to ensure ginseng’s survival for generations to come. We hope others will become interested in restoring habitats on private property for a plant steeped in history and lore. Once we get started working on this project this spring, I’ll chronicle our progress on a page all of its own. If you’re on my monthly newsletter list, you’ll be sure to get the announcement when that page is ready, or you can watch for it here or on the social medias. Newsletter members may get special announcements or invitations regarding this project that I don’t post to my blog…

Winners of the Wild Ozark Herbs DVD/Slide-show

  • Piya
  • Terry
  • Jim
  • Carla
  • Bill

Thank you for voting! I’ll be emailing you for your mailing addresses.

 

Snow and Ice in the Ozarks

Snow and ice are a common winter-time theme of my photos out here in the wild Ozarks. I like the balance of movement and stasis and implied potential in this photo of the snow capped rocks. The creek continues to flow no matter how cold or frozen the surface becomes, even if it must do so below the ground’s surface. And yet the ice embraces solidity and resists change, giving way only slowly in the return to liquid state when the sun warms even the shady spots. Beneath the snow, grass is already beginning to green up and even while they sleep, trees siphon trace minerals and nourishment from the slow snow melt.

snow capped creek rocks by gate
Snow capped creek rocks

Random Nature Connection: Liminal Spaces

Thimbleweed grows often at the forest edge, where it could have full sun or partial shade or deep shade. It is one of those plants that like the liminal spaces.

This post is about liminal spaces. If you want to read more about the plant and see more photos of it, click here.

Thimbleweed flowers
Thimbleweed

Liminal Spaces

It wasn’t until 2012 that I really started paying attention to “liminality”. The phenomenon/occurrence of it fascinated me already, but I didn’t know there was an actual word to describe it. Then I interviewed Dr. Harrison Solow. After that, I saw the liminal in almost all of the time/space places that had always fascinated me most. I’ll find and repost that interview with her soon and link to it here. She’s a fascinating woman who lives a fascinating life. One of her specialty topics as a writer is liminality.

In this Random Nature Connection post, I’m going to talk about my love of the liminal spaces. Not all of those spaces are in nature per se, or at least they’re not all physical locations. But liminality is a natural “thing”. Not everyone notices or pays attention to these places-in-between where boundaries are blurred, and then again, not everyone likes the grey areas. Some prefer definite orientation on one side or the other – a definite yes or no, steering clear of ambiguity.

I like them because of the variety of life that usually exists in such places. I like the ambiguous things, the dichotomies. Probably because I sense a lot of myself in those places.

For those liminal spaces that aren’t physical locations but are instead metaphysical spaces, I like them because of the opportunities that exist only at times like that. Those kinds of places are where the strands in the webs of life are wavering on the pendulum between touching or not, and whether they do makes all the difference in the moments happening next.

This article is about the metaphysical liminal spaces, particularly when it comes to communicating with nature: https://wakeup-world.com/2014/11/28/some-pointers-and-pitfalls-for-talking-with-nature/. I found it very interesting and it puts into words what I’ve never been able to explain.

Here’s a list of liminal spaces I consider to be my favorites. I’d love to hear of yours.

  • Between night and day, mostly the mornings just before dawn when darkness is giving way to the light. But then I like to ramble around outside as day is giving way to night, too, so I guess I like them both. I like to hear the different animals moving around or waking up.
  • At Water’s Edge- beaches, rivers, ponds and creeks. The edges of these places are very interesting to me because of the life that lives where the two meet. Some dabble in both, some prefer to keep wet feet and never venture to the dry ground, and some never actually touch the water.
  • In the forest, on the lower part of a mountain before it becomes ground level
  • At the edge of waking or falling asleep
  • Where mountains meet field or valley, although the exact spot where this happens is sometimes thick and brushy and hard to get through. I don’t like that specific cluttered place so much, but do like the approach to the space where there is both mountain and valley, or forest and field.
  • Just before autumn, when the angles of the sun’s rays cast light a particular way that tells me fall soon will arrive.
  • Just before a rain after a long dry spell.
  • The moon while in Horns of Isis phase – showing both the shadowed part and the illuminated crescent at the same time.
  • The moment as comprehension begins but before fully recognized, after struggling with a difficult concept (I like witnessing this moment in others. as well). And this one has a dark side, as well – when comprehension of something unpleasant begins to dawn… and while I don’t “enjoy” this side of it, the space is still fascinating to me.

Random Nature Connection

This post was a Random Nature Connection post. Please join me and link to your own blog post about this topic or this picture.

Previous Random Nature Connection Posts

Here are the previous Random Nature Connection posts:

  • 1rst Friday – water (photo of water dripping)
  • 2nd Friday – planning ahead (photo of sunset)
  • 3rd Friday – resistance to change (photo of ice shard lifting rock)
  • 4th Friday – abundance (photo of farkleberry)
  • 5th Friday – force to be reckoned with (photo of tractor)

Random Nature Connection – Old Things and A Force to Be Reckoned

Is Nature a force to be reckoned with and hopefully conquered? This post is a prompt to think about our relationship with nature. Join us!

old ford tractor

I won’t have an essay today, just a few thoughts about this photo and the connection it represents to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. If you blog, feel free to link to your post about this photo or topic in the comments below. This is the 5th Random Nature Connection post in my series.

A Force to Be Reckoned

This old tractor is one of my favorite photo subjects. It looks pretty no matter what the season out here. But it’s an “old thing” and it rarely sees much activity anymore. Back in the day when my grandfather used this tractor to cultivate his fields I doubt the people thought much about reconnecting to nature. Nature was still very much a part of everyday life, and I imagine that connection wasn’t looked upon with fondness most of the time.

Nature was a force to be reckoned with and hopefully conquered. But it was also something that people worked with, knowing there were limitations on what could or could not be expected to yield in the battle for dominance.

Join Me!

Use this photo or another and link your blog post in the comments below. Here’s a tweet you can use to invite others:

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The Nature of Still Water

We’re holding our breath here this morning at Wild Ozark, waiting to see what happens when the lines on the mountain thaw.

See, we’d insulated all the lines under the house and figured, hey, it shouldn’t freeze now under there tonight – let’s see what happens. Well, we forgot about the nature of still water in cold weather. If we didn’t leave a tap open, the water would no longer be flowing anywhere in our lines… it would become still.

And it did what still water does.

Now we most likely have a solid line of ice in the lines all the way from the tank at the top down to the house at the bottom.

The other natural thing that water does when it freezes is expands.

ice lifting rock

That’s why those little ice shards are lifting rocks. Because it’s expanding. But the thing about those shards is that it expands upwards because there’s nothing standing in the way except the weight of that little rock. To the sides of whatever little puddle of water froze, there is the surrounding earth keeping it contained, and that earth is stronger than the freezing water. Inside a water line, the thing standing in the way is the wall of the water line. And the ice is usually stronger than the plastic used to hold that water, especially when the plastic has been exposed to sunlight for a few years, causing it to become less flexible.

We don’t get our water from a well or a municipal water tower in the area. Our water comes from a spring about 500 yards above us on the mountain behind our house. It’s held in a 1500 gallon tank about 300 yards above the house on the mountain below the spring. This arrangement comes with a bit more maintenance than you’d find in most set ups. Keeping it flowing during winter is critical.

So, when it all thaws out I’ll take a little hike up the mountain to see what I find. This has happened once or twice before in the last 10 or so years. It’s always a spectacular show. I’ll bring the camera with me, just in case.

The Verdict

Update at 1144: Whoo-hooo! We got lucky. No leaks. I did bring the camera though and took some photos of the spring and cave out that way. Couldn’t get too close to the cave because the rocks I would have had to cross were slippery with ice and algae. I’ll post those when I get a chance later and leave the link here for you.

 

Random Nature Connection – Resistance to Change

When I see the ice lifting tiny rocks and forming into shards and columns in this way, it reminds me of the rune Isa and causes me to reflect on how resistant all of nature is to change.

This is a Random Nature Connection post

If you’d like to join in and blog an essay on this topic, please do! You can join now or retroactively
by blogging on the previous topics and continue with us in the future.

ice shards ice lifting rock

Resistance is Natural

By “we”, as I used it in the introduction to this post, I mean all citizens of this natural world, not just humans and not just animals.

Humans are notoriously resistant to change. But animals are too. In fact, it seems that everything consisting of weight and mass are quite resistant. I know from experience that rocks are some of the most resistant things of all. This resistance to change is so ubiquitous it must be a totally natural phenomenon.

Yes, I know there is physics involved in the rock’s resistance, but that’s purely natural too. The entire Universe obeys the laws of physics, it’s just our understanding of it that changes. And that, too, only happens after great resistance from the scientific community.

Is Air Resistant to Change?

At first you’d think that things like air, water, fluids, and fluff are not resistant very much at all. They flow, ebb and tide, and float in what seems complete ease. But try to change the course of water as it flows where it desires. Not so easy after all. The same applies to wind, fluids and fluff. If you’ve ever dropped an egg or spilled oil on the floor, you’ll see an example of a fluid that resists. Its natural inclination is to spread and it resists your efforts to contain it.

Our bodies obviously resist change – losing weight or building muscle is sometimes extremely difficult because of that.

My Resistant Mind

The mind is like the wind and flows easily. Mine is fairly scattered right now as I’m trying to round up my thoughts into a cohesive structure. Stray ideas keep popping up like maverick calves breaking away from the herd.

It isn’t until we try to stop the chatter, or channel our thinking into certain patterns that it becomes resistant. Then once those patterns are established, changing them is difficult. As children, we learn to think in certain ways. These ways are either hindrances or helpful to us as we age. Trying to “undo” thought patterns established during childhood is a great illustration of the resistance offered by the mind.

Meditation is a way of channeling the mind, and yet this practice seems to make it more pliable and free-flowing – less resistant.

Isa

There is a rune that symbolizes this resistance to change. It’s called Isa. Learning about the meaning of this rune has given me another perspective, an understanding of the benefits of stillness at times where such qualities are needed.

Formula for Change

For those desiring to enact change in their lives, there is a formula for this and it’s pretty interesting. It’s called The Formula for Change and it was first developed by David Gleicher in the early 60’s. You might find it an interesting read, too.

Summary

Resistance to change is natural. It is part of Nature itself. Change is a natural occurrence. The key is knowing when one or the other is beneficial and how and when to bring about the desired state.

Ice surrounding branch

Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear your perspective on this topic. Chime in either through a post of your own or a comment below!

 

 

 

Tending our Wild Ozark Water

Springs at Wild Ozark

I’ve written before about how we are dependent on our wild Ozark water. This is a post from last year around this time of year and it’s one of my favorites. This activity of inspecting the tank and lines is one that occurs at least annually here and usually more often than that.

19 Jan 2014

Yesterday we hiked up the mountain to see what needs to be done with the logging road. It washed out several years ago and now that Rob is planning to get a tractor, he’s thinking of what he can do to repair the road. Up that road is also where the water tank and spring is and the water lines are, so we inspected all of that while we were up there, too.

A coupling on the water line is leaking.

leaking water coupling
A small leak at the coupler. One half is wet, the other is dry.

 

But the tank is overflowing right now so we’ll leave this alone until we get ready to do other things, like clean the tank. For now, it’s not a critical issue and to work on it right now we’d get soaking wet. When we come back to clean the tank we will shut off the line and then changing the coupling or resetting it will be easier.

water overflow
Since this photo was taken, we’ve run an overflow line to a nearby gully.

We walked farther up to check on the spring tank. The spring is all covered and under the leaves so there’s nothing to see there. But some critter, a bear probably, decided it wanted some wild Ozark water and chewed through one of the collection lines. This one isn’t connected, so no loss this time. And no gain for the bear.

spring water line
Uh-oh. Something chewed the line. Luckily, this isn’t the one in use.

This is the first collection point where silt drops out. This barrel needs to be flushed from time to time and it’s overdue. When we come back to do this during summer, that’s when we’ll probably also clean the 1500 gallon tank and repair the leaking coupling.

spring collection point
The chewed line is behind the half buried barrel.

Armadillo!

On our way to the spring, Bobbie Sue gave chase to an armadillo. She ran it back toward us where it buried itself under the leaves while digging an escape route. Did you know armadillos make a weird noise while they’re running? She didn’t pester it, just stood watch while it dug a hole.

After leaving the spring we headed over toward the ginseng patch.

ginseng habitat
One of the great spots for ginseng habitat.

We passed one of the forest matriarchs who died and dropped parts of her trunk on the ground.

dead tree

Circle of Life

Even in death she still supports life.

fungi in arkansas
We have so many beautiful fungi out here. This is one of my favorite photos.

Random Nature Connection – Do Animals Plan Ahead?

2nd Friday after Winter Solstice

This is the second of my weekly #RandomNatureConnection posts. Read more about this meme here and consider joining us if you love nature and blog about it.

Here’s a short Tweet you can use to invite others:

Join us for #RandomNatureConnection!

The other Random Nature Connection posts:

photo of sunset in winter in the ozarks

Humans tend to think a lot about the past and the future, and (at least some of us) not so much on the present. It takes a special conscious effort for me to stay focused on the present moment because I’m always thinking of what I want to do in the future. I know others who spend more time remembering the past than they spend in the present or future.

This is the second day of the new year according to the Gregorian calendar, but according to the seasonal wheel of the year, it’s the 11th day after the winter solstice, which makes a more sensible first day of the year. The day after winter solstice is the first day of the year when days begin becoming longer and nights become shorter. At least for those of us here in the northern hemisphere. The opposite cycle is occurring for those of the southern hemisphere.

At first I started to say that humans are the only creatures that think of the future and plan ahead, but maybe that isn’t so. Right now at the time I’m writing this, outside on the ground, squirrels and chipmunks here at Wild Ozark are scurrying through the dead leaves on the ground. They’re making quite a bit of noise as they search for nuts. The reason they’re searching so diligently is to store food for the days ahead when snow covers the ground, or ice. This requires forethought, although I suppose it’s possible that they don’t consciously know why they’re doing it. They’re driven by instinct. This keeps them in the present moment, the not knowing. So I guess I’m back to the original posit that humans are the only ones who think of the future or the past. Perhaps you know of instances where animals show signs of forethought? If so, leave a comment for me.

I believe we humans could rely more on instinct to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done if we weren’t so preoccupied with making sure we’re taking care of the future by planning it all out.

Ironically, I’m thinking of my intentions for the future today and one of the things on my list of things I’d like to do is to focus more on the present.

Here’s the few items on my list of New Year Resolutions:

  • Start a daily exercise/stretching/meditation (I want to incorporate meditation into this routine so it’ll be a physical and mental workout). This habit will be a daily present-time-focus experience.
  • Reach a 50K word goal on my new novel in progress.
  • Reduce the amount of time I spend fiddling with my website and social media.

That’s pretty much it on my list. It’s the shortest one I think I’ve ever done. What’s on your list?

I’ll be at the dentist until later today, so if you leave your link I’ll be back online to take a look at your blog this afternoon!

 

 

Happy Yule-Tidings!

Today is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. It is winter solstice 2014.

This always feels to me like a more appropriate time to celebrate the eve of a new year, and so I do. I think of the things I’d like to do differently and plan things I’d like to try or begin or do during the next year. New Year’s Resolutions, but now instead of Dec. 31.

One of those items on my list is to create gift baskets for next year to sell at the farmer’s market – here’s a pic of one we did for Christmas gifts to family this year, but I think they’d make great anytime gifts if I change the box decor to something less seasonal:

Wild Ozark boxed gift set
Each box contains our home-roasted coffee (whole or ground), Rob’s shagbark hickory syrup, my herbal remedy syrup, wild hickory nuts.

Other items on my resolution list include submitting more frequently to magazines. I’d slowly stopped over the years and began using most of what I write for articles on my blog. But I’d also stopped because it seemed all I ever got anymore were rejections and I grew tired of the disappointment. Well, the reality is that if I don’t submit, then there’s no chance to ever get acceptances, so I’m going to try again to make some doors open. Besides, I have a lot of drafts saved back to use for blog posts if I find myself short on ideas.

May the Yule fires burn warm in your hearths this night! Happy Solstice, and Merry Christmas to all of you. It may be next week before I post here again… working out a regular posting schedule is another one of the items on my resolution list 🙂

Here’s a link to the 2015 Yule post, if you’re interested in it and it doesn’t show up in the placards below.

First Thoughts

What is the first thought that enters your mind on waking? Are you savoring vestiges of pleasant dreams, or do you wake up already planning the day…or is there a sense of ‘oh no, not again” ?

Sometimes the first thing I do is glance to see if the sun is up yet. Depending on the visual cue, my first thought after that is usually something along the lines of “What time is it?” which leads into either wondering if the coffee is done yet or cold already.

I’m feeling contemplative this morning. Just curious what kinds of things are on the minds of everyone else. Usually, my first thoughts fall into the first category I mentioned of savoring vestiges of pleasant dreams, but they quickly lead into the coffee contemplations. I rarely wake up in a bad mood.

photo of sunbeams

My Results from the Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™

The Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™ was a fun, free little online test, sort of like the Myers-Briggs test to determine personality types: https://www.humanmetrics.com/index.htm#intro.

After you’re done and when you click on the “Career Choices” info button, it gives some details about the kinds of careers that would be most satisfying for your type. I found mine to be fairly accurate, but I was quite pleased to see the company I share in type-casting, haha. Seems I’m in good company with my INTJ type. I think they overlooked “writer and creative” as a fitting career choice, though.

My Results

photo of the thinker statue
Except for being a man and all, and me not being so muscular, it looks a lot like me up there all deep in thought…Actually, it looks nothing like me, but I do think a lot.

INTJ

Introvert(78%) iNtuitive(75%) Thinking(25%) Judging(44%)

Famous Personalities Sharing INTJ Type

  • Isaac Newton, a physicist, mathematician, astronomer
  • Niels Bohr, a physicist, received the Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Carl Gustav Jung, a psychiatrist, the founder of analytical psychology
  • Michel de Montaigne, a thinker and an influential writer of the French Renaissance
  • Michel Nostradamus, a seer who published famous prophecies
  • Ada Lovelace, an analyst, metaphysician, and the founder of scientific computing

Your Turn

Have you ever taken the full test or one of these online free ones? Share your types and interesting finds if you do it.