Bringing Hay to Horses in Snow

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

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

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

It was COLD.

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

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

The horses were thrilled to see the hay arrive.

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

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

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


 



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

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

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

Snow Makes the Cold More Bearable … for a little while

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

Snowy Morning Scenes

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

Trees for the Forest. Hen House in the Snow

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

"Yucky snow."
“Yucky snow.”

Big Oak Crown

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

 

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

 

Old Tractor in Snow

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

Trees for the Forest

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

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

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

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



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Special Little Snowflakes

Each and every snowflake truly is unique and special.
I love to see the perfectly formed snowflakes! They’re not always so separate and unique like this. Sometimes it just looks like clumps of white fluffy ice.

First Snowfall 2017

A couple of snowflakes flurried around the other day, but today is the day I’m counting as Wild Ozark’s first official snowfall of 2017.

Snow on the Garden Rocks



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Rewind: Between Autumn and Winter: A Liminal Space

We’re in a holding pattern at Wild Ozark right now, which is in its own way a sort of liminal space. Rob has two hernias and we’re waiting for the surgeon’s office to call with his appointment day/time.

So while he limits his movements to the barest possible, I’m staying nearby to fetch things so he doesn’t have to get up any more often than necessary. In the meantime, I’m working on moving the shop items to the new Nature Boutique online and cleaning up my blog.

The post below was an article originally published in 2014. I’m in the process of cleaning up some old articles and formatting them to fit the standards required for Instant Articles and AMP. So I hope you enjoy this <Rewind> episode.

A Liminal Space

It’s not a special time of year right now, but kind of in between seasons. A “twilight” of the seasons. I didn’t think there’d be much to take pictures of when Rob and I took a hike on the mountain the other day. All of my favorite plants are already dormant for the remainder of the year. But being a “between” time, makes it a liminal sort of space and that’s my favorite kind of place to be.

I was not disappointed in the photo opportunities.

Trees and Leaves

There were still leaves in various shades of color.

speckled smilax
speckled smilax
red oak sapling
red oak sapling
red oak leaves
red oak leaves
paper thin plum leaves
paper thin plum leaves

We saw some of the largest oak leaves I’ve ever seen.

giant oak leaf
gigantic oak leaf as compared to Rob’s sz 9 shoe.

There was an old tree that had split and a long polished splinter jutted out from the trunk. The grain of that wood was beautiful! It looked like a black walnut tree and I wished we had with us a way to cut that splinter loose so I could bring it home.

split black walnut
split black walnut
black walnut grain
black walnut grain

 

Tree Bones

There were a lot of downed trees, probably from several years ago when the ice storm came. We lost a lot of trees on the mountains during that storm and I vividly remember the sound of trunks snapping as the stress of holding the weight of too much ice crossed the line of tolerance. Just then I passed a partially rotted limb that reminded me of a bone. A tree bone.

tree bones
tree bones

 

downed trees
downed trees

Adam and Eve Orchid

And then I saw an Adam and Eve orchid, which surprised me. I didn’t think they’d still be out at this time of year. I knew they were early risers in spring and have a page or two in my photo essay book that talks about them. But I don’t recall ever seeing them in early winter before. I’ll have to play closer attention each year from now on to see if it’s a normal occurrence.

At the time I composed the book, I didn’t have photos of the roots to show the “Adam” and “Eve”. Now I do. If you read the book and wondered how the roots look, here are some photos!

Adam and Eve orchid showing leaf and connected bulbs.
Adam and Eve orchid showing leaf and connected bulbs.
adam and eve leaf
The leaf of an Adam and Eve orchid.

Fungi

tree fungi maybe ganoderma
Not sure what this is, looks like a ganoderma of some sort. It was huge.

fungi 2

shelf fungi of some sort
unknown tree fungi on horizontal overhead log.

Ferns and Green Plants

There were a few other green plants still, besides the cedars.

dogwood nut on mossy rock

ferns
ferns
green fern frond
green fern frond

There was an old moss covered stump on the ground with only a small opening. It looked like it could have been a fairy or sprite hideout.

sprite hideout
sprite hideout

Here are some grape/rattlesnake ferns. One is bronzed and the other is not. It’s always hard for me to tell which kind they are, rattlesnake or grape fern, so I just lump them both together.

frost bronzed rattlesnake fern
frost bronzed rattlesnake fern
rattlesnake fern
rattlesnake fern

Ozark Mountain Springs

Then we saw what we call “spring grass”. When you see this kind of grass in the middle of the woods, it usually means there’s a spring seeping up keeping the ground moist right there. I brushed the leaves away to see if the ground really was wet, and it was. The picture I took of the wet ground didn’t come out very good so I won’t post it, but there was a lot of moisture. You can see the spring grass, still greenish for now.

spring grass
spring grass

After a bit more climbing we found a much better spring, and then another. Hidden springs are one of the most magical places I know.

a dripping spring
a dripping spring
lots of water
lots of water

springs dripping

dripping spring on leaf
dripping spring on leaf

We finally made it to the logging road. I took it back to the house and Rob returned the way we’d come because he’d left the four-wheeler parked on the other end of the valley where we’d entered the woods.

On the way back I saw some of my favorite grass catching sunlight in a bit of seed fluff.

broomsedge bluestem
broomsedge bluestem

I hope you enjoyed this virtual nature walk from Wild Ozark! If you did, please share it with your friends. This post will eventually become a Wild Ozark Nature Journal e-book. Thank you for joining me 🙂



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Kings River Falls – Photos from our hike

On Sunday I went hiking with my two oldest children and their children, one of my daughter’s friends and her children, and my parents to the Kings River Falls. This trail is a little north and east of Fallsville, AR in Madison county. Here’s a link the Arkansas Natural Heritage website for the trail.

Kings River Falls Natural Area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of the trail

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

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

Water dripping through lush moss.

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

Hope you enjoyed this “virtual” hike to the Kings River Falls Natural area in Madison county Arkansas!



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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.



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Warm Egg on a Cold Day

There is something quite satisfying about finding a warm egg in the henhouse on a blustery 15*F morning.

So nice to find a warm egg on a cold morning
Not the actual egg from this morning – this is one of my stock photos and is a new maran egg. This morning’s egg was small and light brown, but not one of the maran’s.

I tried something new to help me wake up a little earlier this morning. It wasn’t until 5 a.m. when the strange noises began that I’d remembered what I’d done, though. Fresh coffee brewing in the bedroom, just what a body needs to motivate it out of bed, right?

When I got downstairs to turn on the heater and put my insulated bibs in front of the fire to warm up before I put them on for feeding rounds, I checked the temperature. I had already heard the wind rattling the house and outbuildings, so I knew it would be blustery. 15*F on the thermometer.

I was pretty surprised to find not only one warm egg this morning but two. One hen has been going into the old house where I store the square bales of hay. She goes in through a broken window. I didn’t find that nest until yesterday, because I’d been using the round bales and hadn’t gone in there for a while. But yesterday I wanted to put hay in the hen’s nest boxes and the dog houses. So when I found the nest it had several eggs in it. I threw those out.

The hen won’t usually set eggs right now anyway. But if she did act broody, I might let her go on and see how that works out.  When a hen wants to hatch out a clutch of eggs, she’ll stay on the nest and “set” them. But she won’t start doing that until she’s collected several eggs. It doesn’t have to be only her eggs. The other hens will often lay eggs in a broody hen’s nest and she adopts them without a blink of an eye.

Usually those other hens do that while she’s off the nest getting food and water. So they act as babysitters and leave a bit of a gift behind, ha.

The mother only gets off the nest to eat and drink water once a day, and toward the end of incubation, not even then.  I usually will bring food and water to her. The only threat at this time of year would be the cold. In spring and summer it’s the snakes that are the biggest cause of loss in the chicks around here. Maybe the mother hen could keep them warm enough to survive.

Hens usually lay less eggs in winter because the days are shorter. But we have two or three hens that lay an egg every day, regardless of weather or season. The only time they don’t is during molting. I wish I knew which hens had laid the eggs this morning – I’d give them an extra special treat for being so diligent!

Warm eggs on cold mornings are like little pocket warmers – if you’re careful.

 



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Snow is Beautiful but Hoar Frost is Magical

The sight of hoar frost makes me smile because it brings a memory to mind, one with imagery that could have been ripped from the pages of a fairy tale.

hoar frost on distant mountaintop
hoar frost on distant mountaintop

Hoar frost happens when fog freezes on the trees and other things that collect condensation during the pre-sunrise hours. It’s not a phenomenon that happens every cold morning, but only when conditions are just right.

As those of you who have followed me here for a while know, I have two horses. It hasn’t happened in a long while, not since we finally did some fencing work summer before last, but I used to often go out in search of my wayward horses.

The ridgetop you see in that photo above is a few miles to reach by dirt road, or a few miles to reach by hiking up the mountain behind our house and then following an old logging road along the ridgetop. In the photo, the dirt road would take us to the right hand side of the hoar-frost ridge and the logging road hike comes in from the left.

There is a large grassy field on the top of that ridge. That is where the horses tend to go when they’ve escaped their confinement. They get there by hiking up the mountain and following the old logging road, and that’s the way I normally go to retrieve them when it happens. There’s a gate on the road entrance and fences connected, and no way for me to get the horses out that way.

One time in winter the horses got out and I went off in search of them. As usual, I did find them on that ridge. But it was a hoar frost morning and the entire scene was made up of tiny light-catching ice sparkles. Every tree was coated, every shrub and blade of grass. There were even sparkles floating in the air.

I felt like I was walking the horses through an enchanted forest. Even the horses seemed to step gently as I led them back toward home. No camera with me on that hike. It’s enough to just carry myself, some water, and the horse’s halter up and down the hills like that, but on that day I wished I had brought it. I’ll never forget that sight.

 

hoar frost zoomed a little
hoar frost zoomed a little

Here’s another close-up view of how the trees look when coated with hoar frost.

hoar frost
This is a pic from the dirt road that leads around behind the ridge in my other photos. My son took it the other day on his way home, the same day I took the photos above.


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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Winter Solstice 2015 – A Widdershin sort of Time

Winter Solstice 2015 occurs tonight at 10:03 p.m. CST

It’s a widdershin sort of time, an unwinding, a releasing. A loosening of the grip on things I need to let go of.

image to signify winter solstice, a pretty wintertime sunset
Not at winter solstice, but a pretty wintertime sunset nonetheless.

Actual New Year’s Eve

It’s Winter Solstice,  the shortest day of the year and longest night. The reason it’s my favorite day is because of tomorrow.

This eve is the true eve of the new year to me. It makes more sense to me to follow a seasonal calendar, at least for the holidays, than it does to follow the traditional Gregorian calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, Jan. 1 is the start of the new year. On the seasonal calendar, Winter solstice is the start of the new year.

Tomorrow will be a little bit longer than today was. So I like to celebrate today. Tonight I’ll light a candle. Maybe I’ll meditate a bit, maybe do some other creative activity instead, but it’s a quiet sort of celebrating that I like to do.

Ways to Celebrate

Usually, my seasonal celebrations are done when I’m alone. However, it’s easy to turn this into a group event. If it will be a family based gathering, which I would like to begin doing eventually, I’ll have everyone write down on little slips of paper some things they’d like to release from their lives. Then we’ll burn them in the woodstove and imagine the release symbolized in the rising smoke.

Yule Log

If you don’t have a woodstove, it can be a fireplace or campfire or even a barbeque pit. You can decorate a Yule log to burn, as well. If I were going to burn a Yule log, I’d tie colorful ribbons with releases written on them to the log.

Alternatively, you can write your releases directly onto splinters of wood and add them to the fire. This is the way I will do it.

Yesterday I went out to the woods and saw the hardwood tree pictured below. Just above my head level there were two large splinters of dead wood. What better medium to use for releasing than dead wood that has never touched the ground? I kept one of the large splinters because the grain is pretty and it reminds me of driftwood. The surface is smooth enough that I may engrave something on it later and hang it in my office or use it in my market booth.

tree where dead wood was found for winter solstice ritual
Not sure what kind of tree this is, but it’s either beech, ironwood, or maple. The bark is smooth and “muscular”.
dead wood for my winter solstice ritual
Even though the dead wood had been in the weather for what appears to have been a long time, it’s still solid and hard. It reminds me of driftwood.

Ideally, I’d like to burn the wood just before the solstice event occurs in my zone.

What kind of things to release? It could be anything you’d like to not experience in the coming year.

  • Fears of any sort
  • Habits that aren’t helpful
  • Destructive relationships
  • Excess weight (lol)
  • Excess stress

Mulled Cider or Wine

After burning the releases, whether on paper slips or ribbons tied to a Yule log, it’s a good time to reflect on things you’d like to add to your life. Once the old has been swept out, it’s good to replace bad habits with good ones. Once endings are acknowledged, it’s time to open the door to beginnings.

I’d like to begin this part of the celebration immediately after the time of solstice.

Releases inscribed on the splinters to burn, Filling my solstice cup with intentions for the new year to imbibe with mulled wine after the turn of the natural year. www.wildozark.com/winter-solstice/
Releases inscribed on the splinters to burn, Filling my solstice cup with intentions for the new year to imbibe with mulled wine after the turn of the natural year.

 

More information on the scientific side of solstice

You’d think that being the shortest day would mean the earliest sunset. Somehow, that’s not true.

Here’s a post from EarthSky that gives lots of details about what the winter solstice is: Everything you need to know: December solstice 2015

 



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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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

Looking forward to solstice

Pulled this one from the archives. It’s from when I worked in Bentonville, leaving before dawn and getting home after dusk. I hated that and am glad to be working from home now, but I still look forward to mid-winter’s eve.

Hurry Up Solstice. – 2009-12-16 13:34

It was nearly 6:45 this morning before pre-dawn light was enough to see deer ahead without headlights.

Length of day is important. No wonder mid-winter was so much anticipated by people who lived in close connection to the land long ago. Hell, ~I~ appreciate it now, in the modern age!

A little less than a week to go before the days begin to lengthen again. After the solstice, the next date I look forward to is mid-March. That’s when I can make it all the way to my driveway gate after work, before it’s too dark to see the chain and clip without headlights. {chuckle} I should devise my own wheel of the year with dates that are meaningful to me.

I wonder if Llewellyn has a title on the shelf like that yet? And I wonder if it would apply to anyone but me…

Post a comment if there are special days of the year you look forward because of how it affects your interaction with the Earth or Nature.*  Besides opening day of deer season, I mean.


 

*I won’t be back online for a few more days, but will be interested in your comments and will reply as soon as I can, I promise.

sunset 12-28-13
sunset 12-28-13


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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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