Hiking to the Wild Ozark Corner Bluff

Not too long ago I posted about our exploration of the bluffs along the driveway. This time we went hiking to what I call the “Corner Bluff”.

It’s not far away, either, but takes a bit of effort. Getting to this one is fairly difficult if approached from the ground level, so instead of climbing up, we took the 4-wheeler to the top of the mountain and hiked down to it.

Most of our hiking trips are short ones carried out right here at home, because we have so many places on our own property that we haven’t explored. Bootbomb.com has an excellent compilation of info about long hiking trails in the USA for those who enjoy extended adventures on foot.

We saw Mossy ledges while hiking to the Corner Bluff.
Mossy Ledges

What makes it a Corner Bluff?

I call it that because it exists on a topographical corner of a mountain that’s partially on our plot of land. It’s not at the corner of our property, which is a square in theory, but on a physical corner of a mountain.

Rocks and Walls

There are big boulders and tall walls in this spot.

A really tall rock. Had to get on the ground to get the top in the frame.
A really tall rock. Had to get on the ground to get the top in the frame.

 

Rob standing on the ledge of one of the walls. Helps to give you an idea for size context.
Rob standing on the ledge of one of the walls. Helps to give you an idea for size context.

Some of the rocks in one of the areas look like faces, complete with eyes, noses and mouths. I didn’t get any good pics of those, but I did a while back on one of our other hiking trips in 2011 or 2010. If I can find the pictures I’ll post them later.

Green even Mid-winter

Ferns growing in very little soil
Ferns growing in very little soil.

 

Moss and lichens on the rocks
Moss and lichens on the rocks.

 

Fruiting bodies on the moss collect the morning's fog droplets
Fruiting bodies on the moss collect the morning’s fog droplets.

 

The moss acted like a sponge. Water drained slowly down the rock bluffs through the moss. We don’t usually go hiking without bringing water, and the sight of all of it percolating made me even thirstier.

If the thirst became too terrible, I suppose we could have gathered enough sips from the moss to save our lives in an emergency.

Moss covered wall at the Corner Bluff
Moss covered wall at the Corner Bluff

Trees

This twisted little tree is growing on top of the rock.
This twisted little tree is growing on top of the rock.
A tree skeleton full of texture, shades and lines. I love tree skeletons almost as much as the living ones.
A tree skeleton full of texture, shades and lines. I love tree skeletons almost as much as the living ones.

 

This gigantic oak is growing underneath and between the rocks. I can only imagine how far the roots must go between the layers in order to hold it up.

Fav Hiking Finds: Nooks and Crannies

My favorite things are the hidden places like this nook between the rocks.
My favorite things are the hidden places like this cranny between the rocks.

 

Rob seems to particularly like looking in the nooks where critters like bears and bobcats could be sleeping.
Rob seems to particularly like looking in the nooks where critters like bears and bobcats could be sleeping.

Odd Rocks

This rock looks just like a knob for a cabinet pull on the face of one of the bluff walls.
This rock looks just like a knob for a cabinet pull on the face of one of the bluff walls. I didn’t pull on it for fear of breaking it off.

 

We don't have much limestone on our property, but this does look like it has a lot of calcium/magnesium because of the holes. Most of our rocks are sandstone.
We don’t have much limestone on our property, but this does look like it has a lot of calcium/magnesium because of the holes. Most of our rocks are sandstone.

 

This rock wasn't at the bluff but we saw it earlier on our way to the bluff. The rocks in that spot have a lot of iron veins in them. Odd-looking, huh?
This rock wasn’t at the bluff but we saw it earlier on our way to the bluff. The rocks in that spot have a lot of iron veins in them. Odd-looking, huh?

Getting Back to the Top

It’s funny how you don’t notice how far you’ve gone when you’re walking down hill or over the sides of walls until it’s time to go back to the top. I was worn out by the time we had the 4-wheeler back in sight.

Hope you enjoyed the photo-essay of our rock bluff exploration!

Unrelated Note

I heard spring peepers yesterday and this morning. It’s the middle of January. I should not be hearing spring peepers.

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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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

Feathered Rovers, a Poem

A little time alone watching a flock of birds in the woods today inspired a poem.

My poetry is infrequent and when the drive to write one hits, I just have to get it out of my head. And since I’m not a practiced poet, lol, it never has a formal structure. Just free verse. Some imagery I needed to record, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Feathered Rovers, a free verse poem by Madison Woods
click to enlarge
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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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 Exploration of our Wild Ozark Bluff

Yesterday we took the day off from our usual daily work and hiked around Ozark bluff that follows our driveway. Every time we travel to and from the house, we look at it and comment that we’d like to get out there and explore a bit sometime.

Exploring the Driveway Ozark Bluff

This one isn’t that far off the driveway and not much of a climb to reach it, even. We’re just always too busy on our way to or from doing something else. In the winter, great icicles cling and span for sometimes many feet as the water dripping from a spring freezes on its journey groundward.

This day was not too cold, though, and yet not so warm that the snakes would be active. No ticks, either. Perfect weather for a little walkabout at the bluff!

 

Looking for critters in our Wild Ozark bluff
Rob looking for critters.

Signs of Life

I like looking at all the signs of life and trying to figure out who and what lives and travels where. There’s a whole story of life here, a hidden society of wood rats, chipmunks, bobcats, foxes and skunks. Probably others, too.

A critter hole, entrance to a home for some small animal.
A critter hole, entrance to a home for some small animal.

Signs of life are everywhere, though we didn’t see any of the residents. I wondered if they hid just out of sight, watching us and wondering what we were doing in their world.

A well-worn path.
There’s a well-worn path between the two trees, to the right of the left tree.
Droppings from an out of sight Ozark bluff critter. Maybe chipmunk.
Droppings from an out of sight Ozark bluff critter. Maybe chipmunk.

 

A nest of sticks and twigs. Probably a big wood rat, lol.
A nest of sticks and twigs. Probably a big wood rat, lol.

 

Dirt Dauber mud homes, still occupied. Did you know these insects collect mostly spiders to feed their young?
Dirt Dauber mud homes, still occupied. Did you know these insects collect mostly spiders to feed their young?

Not all of the life forms were animals. A few plants are still green, or at least *living* at this time of year, too.

Bronzed by the frost, but still thriving.
Bronzed by the frost, but still thriving.

 

Another not quite green but still alive. This is either rattlesnake or grape fern. I can never tell the difference until they “bloom”.

We have both northern and southern maidenhair fern here at Wild Ozark, but they grow in two different locations. I find the southern all over the shady rocky bluff and the northern in the more moist and shady habitats where the ginseng likes to grow.

I find these ferns often in the Ozark bluffs. Adiantum capillaris-veneris L., Southern maidenhair fern. Trying to poke itself out into the light from underneath some rock layers.
Adiantum capillaris-veneris L., Southern maidenhair fern. Trying to poke itself out into the light from underneath some rock layers.

Signs of Past Life

And then there were signs of things that once lived or moved on to different phases in life.

A vacant dirt dauber nest.
Not too recently departed snail.
Not too recently departed snail.
A find on our exploration of the bluffs. An empty cliff swift nest made from mud and bits of hornet's nests.
An empty cliff swift nest made from mud and bits of hornet’s nests.

 

A tree that once lived here.
A tree that once lived here.

Textures and Layers

My favorite thing to notice and photograph out here is the texture. There are so many layers and shapes in the Ozark bluff. Rocks layered on top of shale, all of it made from sediment many thousands of years ago. The Ozarks aren’t really “mountains”. They’re ocean bottom. Dissected plateaus from the bottom of an ocean that existed even before the dinosaurs.

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Odd Bumps and Formations

Wavy bumps
Wavy bumps

 

Bumpy ceiling bumps.
Bumpy ceiling bumps.

 

Weird iron oxide bumps.
Weird iron oxide bumps.

Hiking Partner

Bobbie Sue is over 10 years old now, but she still likes to join us on our hikes.
Bobbie Sue is over 10 years old now, but she still likes to join us on our Ozark bluff hikes.

 

Happy New Year

May 2017 be all you hope for. After we finished with the hike, we got all gussied up in our swashbuckler costumes and took some cool photos. Here’s my favorite. How did you spend New Year’s Eve and what’s on the list for 2017?

the Wild Ozark duo, having fun.
the Wild Ozark duo, having fun.
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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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

Imposter by Nature – Hognose Snake

Valerie, don’t read this post… it’s about a hognose snake and there are pictures 😉

Situational Awareness Lesson

This is a negative lesson. Don’t do what I do. Luckily for me, it wasn’t as bad a situation as it could have been.

I stepped off the driveway to get closer to a deciduous magnolia sapling I wanted to photograph. It was growing on the uphill side, just a few feet away.

Then an acorn caught my eye as a sunbeam filtered through the treetops to land on it just so. So I changed my goal to take advantage of the fleeting sunbeam for what I hoped would make a good picture.

As I crouched to get closer to the acorn I spotted the snake.

Old Sayings

You know the saying “If it had been a snake it would have bit you”?

Well, if this snake had been in a bad mood, it would have have had no trouble at all to bite me.

I thought at first it was a copperhead and backed away in as non-threatening a manner as I could.

I reprimanded myself for not paying more attention to my surroundings.

Then I snapped a picture.

A calm hognose snake.
Don’t mind me, I’m just passing through…

That’s when I noticed something wasn’t quite right if it were a copperhead. The eyes weren’t right. And the head wasn’t a severe enough triangular shape, either.

Back for a second glance

I’ve heard them called puff adders and hognose snakes. But I never saw one with my own eyes before. This one looked a lot like a copperhead to me, even with closer inspection, but I knew that it wasn’t by this time because I’d seen the little upturned snout.

They’re non-poisonous and have an appetite for toads. The southern hognose is becoming endangered, but I think this one is an eastern variety. This was a smallish one, but they never get very large.

Hognose snakes rarely bite even when they do strike. They’ll more often just head-butt you to make you think you were bitten.

It got a bit alarmed when I didn’t go away and flared out the sides of its neck a little more, as if to say “Be afraid. Be very afraid, because I’m so dangerous.”

Hognose snake with neck inflating in an attempt to warn me away.
Neck inflating in an attempt to warn me away.

The little bluffer pulled out all the stops when I picked up a stick to prompt it to get off the road. Rob was coming back down the driveway on the 4wheeler to get me and I didn’t want him to accidentally run it over.

Trying really hard to be scary

Now it looked like it was trying to mimic a cobra, hood flared, head waving, tongue flicking and it even began hissing too.

Hognose snake with neck flared in warning.

coiled and warning hognose snake

Calling the Hognose Bluff

Eventually, if this snake feels threatened enough, it will turn over, stick out its tongue, and play dead. I didn’t push it that far, just prompted it to get off the road and back into the leaves. It happily slithered away once it realized I wasn’t in pursuit.

I never did get the photo of the magnolia or the acorn. It was more fun watching the puff adder try to frighten the daylights out of me.

You can read more about this breed here: http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/hetpla.htm, here: http://herpsofarkansas.com/Snake/HeterodonPlatirhinos and watch a video of one playing dead here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhMqMRUZYIQ


P.S. If you like snakes and want a print, these photos will be available in the new Wild Ozark Nature Boutique, opening soon 🙂

 

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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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 Does Ginseng Look in Fall? Here’s how it looks in the Ozarks in October

I get questions from readers often, mostly about how to find ginseng or to ask for help in identifying whether what they’ve found is ginseng or not. Right now, though, people are asking “How does ginseng look in fall?”

Many are surprised to learn that it changes colors with the season.  Here in the Ozarks, our ginseng can start turning yellow in late September. This year, colors seem to be running a bit later and it’s only just now beginning to turn. Today is Oct. 5.

All photos are available as signed/numbered prints up to 8″ x 10″ for $30. Click on “Contact” in the menu to inquire.

How Does Ginseng Look in Fall

How does ginseng look in fall? It sometimes turns bright greenish-yellow, making it easier to spot in the woods.
Ginseng turns greenish-yellow in fall, sometimes making it easier to spot.

Most of the time by October the berries have long since fallen. I found one plant today with a berry still clinging.

This is how ginseng looks in fall: A bug-eaten and yellowing 3-prong with one berry still clinging.
A bug-eaten and yellowing 3-prong with one berry still clinging.

If the plants aren’t yellow yet, they’re very often bug-eaten and pretty ratty looking.

I find American ginseng to be a beautiful plant all year, but sometimes near the end of her growth cycle she takes on a certain glow. It looks as if this mature 4-prong is basking in her golden year-end, even if she does look a bit worse for the wear:

American ginseng in October. This is a wild-simulated plant growing wild in the forest at Wild Ozark. There is no difference between wild and "wild-simulated" except that the seed was placed in that spot by me, rather than falling from a mother plant or carried by a bird.
American ginseng in October. This is a wild-simulated plant growing wild in the forest at Wild Ozark.

 

Defining “Wild-Simulated”

When native berries are planted, or at least seeds purchased from a grower of a similar ginseng, there is no visual difference between the roots of our wild and “wild-simulated” except that the seed was placed in that spot by a human, rather than falling from a mother plant or carried by a bird.

There are some visual differences in different varieties of ginseng, although most of the people I know with knowledge of ginseng claim there is only one variety of ginseng and that it has no other iterations. From what I’ve seen, though, ginseng that grows in some parts of the country have longer flower stems and the berry clusters are held high above the plant.

Our native ginseng berry clusters are usually closer to the leaves. I would notice an unusual-looking plant in our habitats. I would know it wasn’t wild if I had used seeds from those with the taller flower stems. Unless you can see that the plant isn’t a local variety, without genetic testing it would be impossible to know what is true wild and what is wild-simulated.

Wild-simulated is planted in a way to mimic nature, in groupings or small colonies in habitats that would ordinarily support wild ginseng.

This is not the same as “woods grown”.  Woods grown is grown in the woods in places wild or wild-simulated would also grow, but usually in rows or beds or swaths to make harvesting easier. Woods grown is also sometimes planted in tilled beds or treated with fertilizers or herbicides and pesticides.

 

Here’s the same plant later in October of the same year:

ginseng in october
Click the photo to enlarge.

The Companions Change in Appearance, Too

Blue cohosh can’t even be found by this time of year. It’s already died back and withered into the leaf cover.

Doll’s Eyes (White Baneberry), or Actaea pachypoda, has ripe fruits still waiting to drop onto the ground. You can see how the common name was derived, though a doll with those eyes would be pretty freaky looking.

Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda) with ripe berries in October.

Bloodroot is getting harder to find because many of them have also returned to ground, but here and there a tattered leaf remains to mark the spot:

Bloodroot in early October at Wild Ozark.

Here’s goldenseal on the 18th of October:

Goldenseal on October 18, 2016.
Goldenseal on October 18, 2016.

Rattlesnake fern questions what all the fuss is about. This one is putting on seeds (spores) as if nothing unusual is happening. These and grape ferns never die back, but sometimes a frost will give a bronze cast to the ground-hugging fronds.

Rattlesnake fern, sometimes called a "pointer fern" because it grows with ginseng.
Rattlesnake fern, sometimes called a “pointer fern” because it grows with ginseng.

Even the Look-Alikes Change Colors

The Virginia creeper mimics ginseng all year long, even in early fall. But in late fall it comes time to show true colors. It turns red sometimes later on, which ginseng never does.

Virginia creeper is a ginseng look-alike.

This Ohio Buckeye leaf is stunning in red:

ohio-buckeye-in-october

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour through the ginseng woods with me today. This little hike actually took place yesterday but I’m just now getting around to making the post. This morning it’s raining.

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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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

Ozark Backroad Photo Journey – Come Along for the Ride

Whenever I go away from the house alone, I take my camera. A simple run to the post office or to town becomes an Ozark Backroad Photo Journey. I generally try not to do this when I have passengers or am myself a passenger. It seems that stopping as often as I do when I’m alone is torture to others. And if I’m a passenger, the drivers tend to get irritable after the second or third shout to stop, ha.

The “Ozark Backroad” Begins on our Driveway

The first thing that caught my eye on this trip was a hawk in the tree at the second creek crossing on our driveway.

First sight on the Ozark Backroad Photographic Journey was a broadwing hawk.
Broadwing Hawk

 

Well, I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft”, so this post is going out prematurely. I’ll add the rest of the photos as I get them resized for the web!

I’m learning how to use Photoshop, so it might take longer to get the photos ready. This looks like a really versatile program, but so complicated! I want to add my signature to photos with my own handwriting, not the copyright stamp like you see in the hawk picture above. It’s turned into a major challenge to learn how to do what I thought would be one simple thing.

Update: Now that I’ve figured out how to add the signature, I think I want to change it to Wild Ozark instead of Madison Woods. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort “branding” Wild Ozark so I might as well continue along that path.

Back to the Post

So now we can get on down the road. As I mentioned earlier, the Ozark backroad begins on our own driveway. It actually begins the moment we walk out of the back door.

When I got out of the car to see if I could get a better picture of the hawk, it flew away. I looked down and spotted a little frog hiding out under the leaves at my feet. I really love the colors in this photo.

Frog Hiding on an Ozark Backroad
(click to enlarge)

The driveway is long and bumpy, so I go really slow anyway, but going slow gives me the chance to see things. There was a virgin bower blooming that I wanted a picture of, so I got out to take that. While getting ready to take the bower photo, I saw a good-sized preying mantis (or is it praying?) in the greenery.

It was on the prowl for a snack, so I will stick with the “preying” spelling for now.

praying mantis on the Ozark backroad trip
(click to enlarge)

Not even a tenth of a mile farther down the road yet, I spied a nice old fence post with a hole in it and some rocks and other things stacked on top. It gave the post the look of an odd person with a hat. And I just like old fence posts and barbed wire. So this photo had to be taken, as well.

Old Fence Post

 

Our neighbor has some old buckets hanging on the porch of an old shed. I am always trying to get a good photo of these buckets, but I can never capture them in a photo the way they look to me in real life. I just love old buckets.

Old Buckets
(click to enlarge)

Surprises

You never know what you’ll see when you’re driving down an Ozark backroad. Most often it’s plants and landscape that prompt me to pull out the camera. For this photo, though, it was a flock of wild turkeys. I only managed to capture one of them, and just barely.

Flying Turkey on the Ozark Backroad
Poor photo, but the best I could do on short notice and from inside the car.

The only wildlife I ordinarily get photos of are the slow ones. Things that don’t fly, run, or crawl away too quickly, ha. Here’s a box turtle (tortoise) snuggled into a dirt berm under the leaves.

Box Turtle (tortoise)

Most often it’s the Plants

Unless the wind is blowing, the plants don’t stand much of a chance. I take a lot of photos of plants. Even the ones no one seems to like, such as the poison ivy and teasel.

Poison ivy is very pretty in early fall and is often one of the first to begin the color change.

Red poison ivy

One of my fav photos from the day of slowly wandering down this Ozark backroad. These are teasel seed heads. Teasel is considered to be an invasive weed by many. I think it’s a great photo subject, and an unusual and useful plant, though I wouldn’t want it taking over and choking out native habitats.

Teasel is one of the plants on the Ozark backroad that I like to photograph.

 

King’s River

We’re not far from the headwaters of King’s River here. This is always a favorite place to stop and look for beavers, eagles, and other wildlife. Once my husband spotted a large cottonmouth floating lazily on the surface as it drifted downstream.

King's River is a beautiful sight along my favorite Ozark backroad.

If you are in the area and like to hike, there’s a nice trail that leads to the headwaters and the King’s River Falls.

Until Next Time

That’s all of the photos from this excursion. I’m sure I’ll do it again sometime soon!

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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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

Mailbox and Back in Under an Hour

Yesterday I brought my camera with me when I went to the mailbox. If I had walked, I know it would have taken more than an hour because I would have seen so many more opportunities to stop and take a picture.

There’s Never a “Quick Trip” Anywhere Out Here

My intention was to make  *quick* trip to check the mail because I was waiting on a delivery of something in particular. But before I started the mailbox run, there was a mushroom that Rob had spotted near where he parks the tractor.

He’d told me about it the day before so I needed to get pictures of it first thing.

A bolete of some sort. This mushroom looks like a pancake when you're looking down from above, though.

Just as I took its picture, I saw there were more of them, just a little up the hill.

Another of the mushrooms that look like pancakes.
Saw this one just a little farther up the hill.
And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.
And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.
Don't they look just like pancakes?
Don’t they look just like pancakes?
But from this angle you can see they do have stems.
But from this angle you can see they do have stems.

The day before that he’d seen a different one, so of course I got some pictures of it, too:

mushroom from above
A humongous mushroom growing at the base of Gloria, the old white oak tree out front.
This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.
This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.

But I digress. After I finished taking the pictures of the pancake mushrooms I took the 4-wheeler to get on with the mail-checking task.

But the 4-wheeler was having issues and died on me a few times. This, of course, is where having the camera on hand came in handy indeed. I had ample time to walk around a bit and take some pictures while I waited for it to start again.

Dinner Leavings along the Mailbox Route

I know it was a squirrel who left this mess on the flat rock by the first creek crossing. The day before we’d seen a squirrel running across the driveway with a mouth full of mushroom.

Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.
Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.
Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.
Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.

Good thing I wasn’t watching which mushrooms the squirrels were eating so we could try them too! Squirrels have some interesting digestive abilities. They can even eat the deadly mushrooms without it hurting them. There’s more information about that here: http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/greatlakesdata/Terms/squir27.html#Squirrelsa

Leaves to Notice

It’s only July but already the leaves of the sourwood are beginning to color and drop. They always do this a little in late summer. And I always notice them. I love the leaves of autumn and the teasers of late summer.

Black gum leaf on a rock.
Black gum leaf on a rock.

My favorite leaf picture from yesterday is a rock and leaf composition with understated colors. I love the paleness of the rock and the light colored leaf:

Yellow leaf on pale rock in July 2016.

Herbs to Notice

I’ve been watching for a particular herb favorite of mine. It’s about the time for Lobelia inflata to bloom. I use the seeds of this plant to make a tremendously appreciated anti-spasm formula.

A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.
A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.
Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.
Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.

When the seed pods are brown and dry I’ll snip the stem and put the whole thing in a paper bag. Then I can smash the bag a bit and the pods will burst, releasing all the seeds inside the bag. After that, I’ll use a portion of them for my herbals and spread a portion of them outside so I’ll have more to gather next summer.

Frogs and Feathers

I love finding wild bird feathers. It seems that I encounter a lot of crow feathers during my walkabouts. Yesterday morning was no exception. We have free-range chickens, so chicken feathers are easy to find. And I’m always finding feathers as evidence the cats have killed a bird, too. But those feathers don’t catch my attention the way randomly placed ones on rocks in creeks do.

A small crow feather I spotted on the way to the mailbox yesterday on a rock in the creek.

Just as I was getting ready to try the 4-wheeler again I saw this small frog in the creek.

A little frog after he thought he'd jumped away and hidden from me again.

A little frog that was in the creek on the way to the mailbox.

He’s only about an inch or two long and thought he was well-hidden, which he was. But not so well-hidden that he could escape my notice, ha.

Other Posts Like This One

If you enjoyed this, this post reminds me of Why it Takes Me an Hour to Go to the Post Office and Back  so you might like it too. Both demonstrate how I shouldn’t leave home with the camera or a notebook or a sketchpad if the trip is intended to be a quick one.

 

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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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

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

  • Become a Patron

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

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

The First Flowers of Spring at Wild Ozark

Nature lovers began the frenzy of watching for the first flowers of spring a few weeks ago. Here at Wild Ozark, we’re in a little eco-microcosm that is often more than a week behind surrounding areas in spring. Our temperatures stay cooler more often and our snow is often deeper.  I watched with no small amount of envy as one after another of my peers posted victory photos to the various online medias, mainly to the Arkansas Native Plant group on Facebook.

Usually, Harbinger of Spring or Dutchmen’s Breeches are the first flowers I notice out here. This year they have not bloomed yet, or else I missed them if they did. I went out looking for Harbingers a couple of weeks ago and came back with only dried relics from last year.

Spring peepers have been regaling the nights and days with songs of merriment and woo. It was so loud last night I could hear them over the sound of rushing water, runoff from the day’s rains.

For all intents and purposes, it does seem that spring is here.

First Flowers

The very first flowers I saw bloom here at Wild Ozark was cress, on the last day of February.  I think it is hairy cress, sometimes also called winter cress or chicken cress. It’s a delicious edible during early spring, but it’s a small plant and so gathering is a little tedious.

Cress, one of the first flowers of spring at Wild Ozark.
One of the edible cresses that grow at Wild Ozark.

The next flower to appear was spring beauty, Claytonia virginica. This is always one of the first flowers.

Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica. Claytonia virginica, spring beauty

And that’s about it so far right here at Wild Ozark. I think I saw a violet blooming but I didn’t stop right away and couldn’t find it when I went back down the driveway later.

When Does Ginseng Come Up?

A few more folks are beginning to search for when ginseng comes up in spring, but it’s still a bit early for them here. Usually that happens at the end of April. With spring being early, though, I might start looking for them in a few weeks. Actually, I look for them now, but don’t expect to see them until at least mid-March and likely not until April.
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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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

Relics of Seasons Past

I went in search of harbingers of spring but found only sepia colored relics of seasons past.

Relics

Relics of seasons past.
Not sure what the flower is, but it makes a pretty relic.

 

Relics of seasons past - a wild hydrangea flower
This is one of my favorites – a dried wild hydrangea flower from last season.

 

What's left of the flowers from last season at Wild Ozark
Dried flower heads with a bit of Badger’s hair. He passes this way on his guard patrol.

 

Pretty dried grass seed head at Wild Ozark
Pretty dried grass seed head at Wild Ozark

 

Dried grasses at Wild Ozark
I love the color of dried grasses, and especially like the little bits of fluff in the junctions. I believe this is Little Bluestem, one of our native grasses.

This Relics collection (Wild Ozark nature photography) is available with a nonexclusive digital license from our online shop for $40.

The harbinger of spring is one of the earliest blooming native wildflowers here at Wild Ozark. Others of us plant-watchers have been reporting seeing them, so I thought just maybe I’d find one too. But I wasn’t disappointed in the day’s collection of pretty images. Even if they’re not harbingers.

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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch Amazon Author's Page.

  • Shop at our Nature Boutique

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

  • Become a Patron

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

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

The Sound of Winter

Some sounds are distinctly “winter”. Sometimes the sound of winter is marked by the absence of sound. Maybe it’s more correctly described as the “silence of winter”.

I am often reminded of how grateful I am to have my sense of sight. Beautiful things catch my eye almost daily. Most of the time I run to get the camera but often the lens (or the photographer) can’t capture the image in the same light it was seen.

Yesterday morning I noticed how thankful I am for my sense of hearing. I usually wake up right before daylight. That doesn’t mean I’m out of bed, only that I’m awake. Ordinarily, the chickens are crowing. When the horses get impatient for breakfast, they carry their rubber feeders and drop them into inconvenient nooks and crannies behind rocks and trees near the gate. This spurs the dogs to bark at them.

Yesterday morning it was quiet. It seemed all of the homestead critters had slept in.

It was cold in the bedroom when I finally pushed the luxurious alpaca blanket off of me so I could get up and get dressed. A quick look out the bedroom balcony door explained the silence.

Ice coated the ground everywhere I looked. All of the animals were not bothering to go about their usual morning ruckus because it was just too darn uncomfortable. Dogs huddled in their dog houses, chickens clucked and fussed from beneath the house where they hide out during inclement weather. And the horses just stood there by the gate, glaring at me as I tried to walk my usual route without slipping down.

Later that afternoon, I listened to the sound of sheets of ice slipping from the upper roof onto the lower one before finally shattering on the ground. It sounds like small cannon-fire explosions when it happens, but doesn’t rock the house, thankfully. This sound continues today. The early morning’s hearty round of sleet and rain added ammunition to the rooftop magazines.

Ice sliding from the roof is a distinct sound of winter.
Ice sliding from the roof is a distinct sound of winter.

Some sounds are distinctly “winter”. So is the stark absence of sound like that cold morning when the animals all decided to huddle in warmer places.

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:
    Nonfiction: Madison Woods Amazon Author's Page.
    Fiction: Ima Erthwitch 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