New beginnings - Beautiful sunrise here this morning.

Endings and Hopeful for New Beginnings

Sometimes it takes a thing ending to spark renewed efforts to find new beginnings.


One of our little shops in town closed its doors abruptly this weekend. The owner has tried to make a successful business of it, but that’s a hard thing to do in a town with a population of only 500 or so. She did quite well, but the income stream was seasonal and not dependable. When she received an offer for a good job in the next nearest town, she couldn’t say no to that opportunity.

Tina’s Place on the Square (and the Artroom Gallery in the back) was a wonderful retail outlet for lots of the local crafters and artists, myself included. My books sold fairly well in there, and our syrup did too. I’d come to rely on that little paycheck, mostly because it offered “proof” my work hasn’t been completely in vain. A paycheck is a symbol of success, ha, no matter how small it is.

Kingston, Arkansas. If you find yourself there, stop in at Tina's Place on the Square.
Kingston, Arkansas

This closure marks a new beginning for Tina at a full-time job with benefits. In this day and economical climate, the importance of a regular paycheck and health insurance can’t be ignored. I’m still holding out on that (since we do have insurance and some income), hoping Wild Ozark makes a run for the money soon.

Her run with The Place on the Square spanned at least four years, selling vintage and antiques, and local arts and crafts.

Hopeful for New Beginnings

So now I have been motivated to find more outlets for my work and Rob’s syrup. Today I applied to be a vendor at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. I’ve heard it’s quite tough to get in there, but my fingers are crossed and my prayers have been whispered into the ears of the trees. Hopefully, the Universe will hear and respond in a way that makes me smile.

I’ve also recently applied to be a vendor at the Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud Festival in Little Rock in April, and to the Sharps Show at the War Eagle Festival, too.

If I’m able to get into those three venues, it should be enough to keep me busy year-round making and selling products. It should bring enough income to keep plugging away at these things I love to do.

What are the products? What do I do?

I’m glad you asked 🙂

  • Art
    • Forest Folk
    • Fairy Gardens
    • Nature Drawings
    • Note Cards
  • Writing
    • Content for my blogs
    • Articles for publications
    • Fiction books
    • Nonfiction books
  • Speaking/Presenting/Teaching
    • on Ginseng Habitat
    • on Nature Journaling
    • on making Nature Art
    • herb walks
  • American Ginseng
    • seedlings
    • companion plants
    • demonstration garden
  • Bark
    • the bark is used in Burnt Kettle’s Shagbark Hickory Syrup
    • after making the syrup, I re-use it
      • smoking chips
      • added to Forest Folk crafts
      • garden mulch

The list above pretty much sums up Wild Ozark. Here’s to new beginnings! January is a good month to start making a renewed effort toward my business sustainability, wouldn’t you say?

Other Endings

One of the first people to help me with my writing technique died the other day. His name was Dusty Richards. He and his wife both died from injuries received in a car accident. I haven’t been to meet with the Ridgewriter’s in a few years now, but I’ll always be grateful to Dusty, along with Velda Brotherton. She and Dusty started the group I used to attend, and I think it is she who runs the event mentioned below.

Other Beginnings

I’m going to make a point to become active again in my writer’s groups. Socializing with other writers always did help me stay motivated to keep writing. Although I’m still writing – on this blog, articles for NANPS, and slowly, slowly on my Bounty Hunter trilogy (which I’ve renamed, by the way), mingling will spur me to write more words more often.

Annual Free Writer’s Conference

On March 10 I’ll be at the Annual Free Writer’s Conference in Fayetteville. I’ll have a table there with my books. If you’re in the area and are interested in writing, or want to meet some of the local writers, come by. Registration is required, but it’s a free event.

Saturday, March 10 – 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Ozarks Electric 3641 North Wedington Dr., Fayetteville, Arkansas

To register please email Velda at [email protected] They would like to get a head count and will have to cut off registrations at 70 because of the size of the room so register early. Watch Facebook for any forthcoming announcements.

Ozark Writers League Conference

The Ozark Writers League holds a conference for local writers four times a year in Branson, MO. I used to go often to these, but haven’t in quite a while. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make the February meeting, but if you’re a writer in search of a flock, this is a good one to join, too.

The conference is Feb 16-17 and you can find out more by clicking this sentence. It’s linked to the website.


In Honor of Forests- Two Worthy Fundraisers for Earth Day

We all depend on trees. A single tree planted in an urban lawn is better than no tree, but the larger collectives of forests are needed, too.

In honor of the forests, for Earth Day 2017.
Limbs of the beautiful oak in our front yard.

The Earth needs large swaths of unbroken forests to maintain habitats that support the biodiversity present beneath tree canopies. These habitats are disappearing around the world at unprecedented rates.

Logging, plantation building, mineral mining are some of the reasons we are losing our forests. We are destroying the Earth in pursuit of money and riches.


The forests are the lungs of the Earth, for they cleanse and replenish the air we breath.

Forests protect the water by minimizing runoff, but also by holding large quantities of moisture within their bodies. When a forest is extensively logged, the ground becomes drier and springs slow down or quit flowing altogether. That’s because the trees aren’t there to hold the water any longer. It evaporates into the air and is lost.

I have a particular affinity for the woodlands. They inspire me to write books, poetry, create art with pencil and camera, and they give shelter to my favorite medicinal plants. Without the forests here at Wild Ozark, there would be far less of the biodiversity I love and crave.


Trees are messengers, tapping into a network connected to each other and the rest of the world by vectors including fungal, birds, wind, and insect.

Lofty Goals, Two Worthy Fundraisers for the Forests

There are many other foundations and organizations trying to raise money, but these are two I want to share today.

United Plant Savers

I’ve met Susan Leopold, Executive Director of United Plant Savers. She’s a real person full of passion for the medicinal plants of this country and the world. Many of the at-risk and endangered species of the plant world depend on the forests directly, and all of them indirectly. Susan is a spokesperson on behalf of these plants.

Right now United Plant Savers is competing against other fundraisers for prize monies in the form of donations.

From their fundraiser page: Stand up for Sustainable Medicine! Our future forests are our best solution for climate resilience – trees are medicine for planet Earth and we are saving the forest by redefining its value!

Eden Reforestation Projects

From their documentary: Their village name means “True Village” in English. Eden Reforestation Projects (“Eden” for short) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is alleviating extreme poverty and restoring healthy forests in Haiti, Madagascar, and Nepal by employing local villagers to plant over a million trees each month.

Installing a Culvert Retaining Wall was Today’s Homestead Project

Today I built a culvert retaining wall for the culvert on the shop driveway to keep it from washing out around the sides. I was grateful for the overcast and dreary day so I could do this work without getting burnt to a crisp or dehydrated.

Sloped Lands = Washed out Culverts

Almost all of our homestead area is sloped. Some of it is sloped pretty steep and when it rains, it tends to wash out around the culverts.

We needed a culvert retaining wall new culvert for the shop driveway to keep this from worsening the situation.

The culvert before I started working on it.
The culvert before I started working on it.

You can see the buildup of silt in front of it and where it’s starting to wash out around the upper sides. When we traveled to Germany a few years ago, there was so many rock wall structures and I loved seeing them. I’ve seen many of the culvert retaining walls here in the Ozarks, too. Building them is hard work, but a structure that is both beautiful AND functional is such a nice combination to me.

I was determined to try and I had the idea in mind of how I wanted it to look.

Getting started on the Culvert Retaining Wall

Rob brought a nice pile of rocks to the worksite from a pile of rocks by the creek with his front end loader. So much easier than walking around to gather rocks from the area!

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.
The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

Ordinarily, I would take photos of all the steps along the way in a project like this. But with it looking like it might rain at any minute, I didn’t want to have the camera out there.

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t take pictures between the start and finish. The work was hard and I was too tired to take pictures when I did take breaks.

First Step

The first thing to do is to dig out around the culvert. I also dug a little beneath it so I could place the “floor” stone.

Then I chose an assortment of various sized rocks from the pile and brought them closer so I could reach without getting in and out of the ditch.

If the rock I wanted to use was too big for the spot, I dug out a little more. Keep in mind that all the dirt had to be removed from the ditch. This was the hardest part of the entire job.

The digging and shoveling out of the dirt was not enjoyable and it was extremely tiring. But it had to be done before I could stack the rocks around the sides.

One of the rocks broke when I dropped it and when the shard came off of it, I saw that it was a beautiful pink sandstone. Most of the rocks here are sandstone, but some are prettier than others. This was one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

Pink sandstone from the Ozarks.
Pink sandstone


For each layer, or “course”, I dug out deeper than the rock needed it to be. Deeper, as in deeper into the side, not deeper downward. Then I backfilled behind each course with the small stones and soil that I’d taken out initially.

Irregular Rocks

These rocks aren’t uniformly shaped, as you can see in the photo below, and they don’t stack one on top the other without some shimming with flat or smaller smaller stones.

Once it was all done, I was pleased to note that I’d done a pretty good job of keeping it all level. That’s not always easy to do with odd-shaped rocks.

The finished culvert retaining wall.
The finished culvert retaining wall.

So that was my project.

The Other End

While I worked on the entrance end, Rob worked on the exit end. Two culverts intersect there and it also has a tendency to wash out, but in a different way.

Different Problems need Different Solutions

So it needed a different kind of rock work. He put big flat rocks on the sides and bottom after digging out the accumulated silt. This will help keep it from washing out on the sides and bottom.

The floor on the exit side of culvert.
The floor on the exit side of culvert.

Homesteading can be backbreaking, muscle-exhausting work. But I love living out here and I love seeing the results of all of our hard work. I just hope when the next rain comes it doesn’t wash it all away!

No Water

This morning I turned on the faucet to put some water on my toothbrush.

photo of faucet dripping
No water this morning. Not that I used the outdoor faucet to wet my toothbrush, but this was the only photo of a dripping faucet I had.

Nothing but a few drops came out. Then, nothing. No water.

No Water

My thoughts immediately led to the question in my mind, which was “Where did all the water go?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve had nothing at the faucet first thing in the morning, but it’s been a long time.

It always takes me by surprise when this happens and results in a few moments of disbelief.

Especially when I haven’t had my coffee yet.

So I took a quick look around outside to see if I left the hose on or whether the auto-waterer on the animal’s bucket overflowed.

Nothing obvious turned up.

What it turned out to be was the downstairs toilet. It didn’t stop running the last time someone flushed.

Yay for quick fixes!

When someone in the city has water running all night, they get a whopper utility bill.

When someone on spring water leaves the water running all night, they run out of water.

At least this time, by making sure the toilet wasn’t trying to refill, our water shortage would soon mend itself.

It can take as long as 24 hours for the water storage tank up the hill to completely fill. Within a few hours we were able to at least flush toilets again.

Water Conservation

This is one of the *big adjustments*. It’s such a big change of thinking that it is more accurately called a paradigm change.

When we moved from an urban environment to the very rural Ozarks, we had to make quite a few changes in our awareness. Staying conscious of our limited water resource is probably the biggest of the adjustments we had to make.

Out here, it’s really important to know when we can afford to “waste” water. Our spring has greater flow at certain times and lower flow at others. So during times of low flow we are careful to wash clothes only as needed, wash dishes only as needed, and be more conservative in all water usage.

flat rocks in creek
Water is one of our most precious resources. It is for everyone, everywhere.


Repairing Our Wild Ozark Spring Water Line

Today I repaired our Wild Ozark spring water line

Since I’ve learned how to do this myself, I figured I’d do it while Mr. Wild Ozark was at work. Later this summer we have plans to change out the entire spring water line and bury them, but this smaller repair needed to be done sooner rather than later.

The other day I posted about finding the leak. In that post I explained how our water is from a spring and is gravity fed to the house a few hundred feet below the source.

The hike to get up there is a rough one to me, although when I was younger it wasn’t as hard as it seems to be now. I think I’ll make this hike more often than once a year in the future. Perhaps if I do it more often it won’t be such the task when it’s a necessary hike.

Weather kept me from getting to it sooner. It’s been cold and very windy. Not my favorite kind of weather for doing anything outside. But this weekend there is icy rain in the forecast and I wanted to make sure it was done before that arrived. Today there was still ice on the ground around the leak.

If you want to enlarge these photos, just click on them and it should take you to a full sized image.
Ice all around the leak on the Wild Ozark spring water line.
Ice on the ground all around the leak.
The leak had grown a little larger since the other day, but still not too bad.
The leak had grown a little larger since the other day, but still not too bad.

I kept hiking higher to the water tank so I could shut off the valve. I also needed to cut the overflow line because it had been mangled by critters trying to get water out of it instead of drinking from the other spring a few hundred feet away.

Our 1500 gallon water collection tank.
Our 1500 gallon water collection tank.
The valve is old and brittle and hard to turn.
The valve is old and brittle and hard to turn. We’ll need to replace it soon, but I surely didn’t want that day to be today.

Now, I have figured out how to do things, but that doesn’t mean I know how to do them properly. I just know that this method works for me. Working on the spring water line is something I’ve had to do over the years fairly regularly, and most of the time it’s been during winter.

I also don’t always know the proper names for parts and tools. Ha. So you might notice that in some of my not-so-scientific terms for things, like the handy dandy little pipe saw in the picture below. Who cares what it’s really named? It works wonders. I wanted to make a cut on the part of the line I was changing out so the water would drain faster. I’d left a faucet running in the house before I went uphill, but that was taking too long to do the job.

Handy dandy pipe cutting saw.
Handy dandy little pipe cutting saw.
More cuts to drain more water more quickly.
More cuts to drain more water more quickly.

Once the spray slowed to a trickle, I used the same little saw to cut the line in half, leaving enough room to add a coupler to the end leading underground.

7. sawed end

Before putting the coupler on, though, I need to use the other cutter to make a cleaner edge on the pipe so it seals properly.

The other pipe cutter.
The other pipe cutter.
A smoother end.
A smoother end.

There’s the new line still coiled up. There are only a few places now to buy the parts we need for servicing our spring water line. Hardware stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot carry ordinary water line supplies, and they probably have the brass couplers, but not the kind of lines we use here to bring it down the mountain. The house itself has the PEX with crimp bands, but this is a thicker walled plastic that I haven’t been able to find anywhere besides our little local store.

25' of new line I bought on Monday.
25′ of new line I bought on Monday.

I’ll unroll it and hope it’s warm enough to straighten it out a little easier. When it’s cold it doesn’t want to bend too much and likes to stay coiled.

Here’s all the parts I’ll be using for this part of the project.

11. assembly of parts

13. assembly on pipe
I had to use the handle of the screwdriver like a hammer, since I forgot to bring one with me, to drive the insert down all the way. This part keeps the fitting snug and keeps it from leaking.

Then I’ll do the same thing to the new end that is getting connected to the old end.

And finally I’ll do the same thing to the other end. And then it’s done.

A finished joint between the old line and the new.
A finished joint between the old line and the new.

Ideally, the line should be buried so it doesn’t freeze and so that sunlight doesn’t weaken the plastic. But that’s something that’ll have to wait for my husband’s help. In the meantime I’ll lay it on the ground and weight it with rocks to keep it from trying to coil up again and make a loop in the air. Any part of it up in the air would be exposed to the cold more than it would be if it’s on the ground. When it snows or ices, then that snow and ice at least stays at 32*F and insulates the line from temperatures colder than that. In the zero and minus zero temps we can get sometimes, it is much harder to keep water moving. Even if I leave a faucet running with a fairly good stream in the house.

So this little project is done and I’ve gotten all the exercise I can stand for one day. I hope you enjoyed this little vicarious plumbing of the Wild Ozark spring water line 🙂

A problem in our gravity feed spring water system

What is a gravity feed water system?

We are fortunate to have our very own spring fed water source that runs all year long. It is a spring that pumps out enough water, without fail, to serve our household with daily water. Even more lucky to have gravity feed.

The spring is located on the mountain behind our house. We have it piped down the hill and to the house and shed. This is the “spring fed” part, and because it’s high enough above the point of use to give us great water pressure at the house, it’s also the “gravity feed” part.

Making Repairs

Sometimes I forget to leave the water dripping in winter time. When the temps are below freezing, if the water isn’t moving, it will freeze in the lines. This is one of the challenges of living out here. I forgot to do this last week and now there’s a break I’ll have to repair. I’ve had to learn how to do a lot of things for myself out here, because you can’t just call a plumber for things like this. I can’t even imagine how much one would charge to hike up the mountain to do a job!

I knew there was a break because the pressure was lower than usual and there was a lot of sediment in the water. I worried that maybe the tank had drained to the bottom and what I was seeing was the dregs. So I gathered some tools.

tools for working on the spring fed water line
Pipe wrenches for taking old couplings off and putting them back on, pipe cutter, screwdriver, pipe saw, bands, inserts for couplers, pipe cutter, 2nd pipe wrench, spare coupler

I figured out a long time ago that for the couplers you need two wrenches. I also figured out a long time ago that to go up there “just to see” what the problem is, is really stupid without bringing the tools. Because then you have to walk all the way back down to the house, gather tools, then walk all the way back to the problem. Better to just bring them the first time. I put all the tools in my backpack and went up the mountain to see what the problem was exactly.

The first section of line didn’t have any leaks. In a gravity feed system, the higher the water storage elevation, the better the effect of gravity on the water pressure. I’m glad we have such a good setup, but that means a lot of hiking uphill when there’s a problem.

first section of the spring fed line
That’s the roof of the house down below. No leaks on this section. Going higher to inspect the next section.

On the next level I found a small leak. But the bigger problem was how the ground had eroded underneath it and caused it to stretch tight.

The water line is stretched tight because of the shifting ground and erosion.
The water line is stretched tight because of the shifting ground and erosion.

If I cut the line to put in the coupler, then I might not be able to pull them together enough to keep it from leaking. What I need to do is change out this entire section because it’s older and brittle now from being exposed to sunlight so much. All of this used to be buried, but we’ve had some really bad floods lately and the logging road (which is the path the water lines also follow) washed out.

leak on the spring fed gravity feed water line

So, I found a leak, but it’s not enough to account for the low pressure and silty water. Next stop, the tank. I need to see if it’s empty or nearly so. I set my bag of tools down here because it was heavy and I didn’t think I’d need it for the tank.

The tank was plumb full. So why the low pressure? I forgot to take a picture here, but the water was as high as it could go and about a foot over the overflow line exit. This shouldn’t be. The excess should be draining from the tank through the overflow line.

That inflow and outflow what keeps it able to go out of the line to the house. I’m not sure why that is, but when the overflow doesn’t “flow”, then neither does it flow properly out of the tank through the feed line.

I followed the overflow line to see why it wasn’t working. On my way there I saw a pretty old log with moss growing in the broken end. I liked the wood grain showing in it. Even when I’m doing “work”, I still take time to notice the pretty things.

old wood grain with moss

The overflow line wasn’t flowing because it had been chewed and twisted. Looked like a bear had been rolling around on the ground with it and mangled it.

Some critters chewed and crimped the overflow line by bending it back on itself. We had it flowing into a bucket for them, but I guess whatever it was thought it would be more efficient to get it from the middle instead.
Some critters chewed and crimped the overflow line by bending it back on itself. We had it flowing into a bucket for them, but I guess whatever it was thought it would be more efficient to get it from the middle instead.

It was a mistake to have set my bag of tools down by the leak. I needed the cutter so I could cut the overflow just before the crimped part. But I didn’t feel like going downhill and then back up again. It was a pretty good hike to where I was at that point. So I did the best I could by pinching it in my hands. It did let a little start flowing through.

Managed to open up the crimp a little and now it's flowing from the chewed spots.
Managed to open up the crimp a little and now it’s flowing from the chewed spots.
And it also flows a little all the way to the end now.
And it also flows a little all the way to the end now.

Tomorrow I’ll have to go to our local hardware store for some replacement line. Just opening the overflow gave me back the water pressure, and the leak is small so it’s not an emergency. But I want to do the repairs as soon as possible so it doesn’t get worse, and the overflow line needs to be cut. So if I’m going to hike back up there to do that part, I might as well also fix the leak.

Not too many people outside of our area use spring fed water anymore because of pollution in the more populated areas, but ours is fairly clean. No coliforms, phosphates or nitrates. Fortunately, there are no poultry houses or livestock fields in the lands where our water enters the ground. I tested it several times myself when I worked in an environmental laboratory, but we still drink filtered water. We use it as is for cooking, bathing, and washing clothes, though. As long as we take care of the lines, and conserve our usage, we always have water when we need it. The flow rate is not great, but it’s enough to fill our 1500 gallon tank in 24 hours. I would not trade it for city water or even a well.

(Click on this link to read the post about my repair of this leak.)


Did you know Osage Oranges evolved with wooly mammoths?


Maclura pomifera, also known as Osage Orange, Bois d’Arc, Hedge-apple, or Horse-apple, the osage tree is native to our area. Even so, there aren’t very many of them in our particular neck of the woods.

osage tree
A bedraggled osage tree. This one gathers flotsam from the creek overflowing all the time.

Osage trees were once planted close together so their branches could be woven together as fencing that was “bull high and hog tight”. Once barbed wire was invented, ranchers cut down the trees and put up the fencing most of us recognize today. And during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, Osage was planted as wind breaks to prevent drifting erosion and to give jobs to workers. (

Native Americans used the large enough branches to make fine bows. The wood is extremely dense and woodworkers like to use it for making bowls and spoons. The heartwood is said to be a very powerful antifungal remedy, and this is where my interest really lies in this tree. I want to try that remedy on one of my fingernails that have a fungus that’s proving very difficult to get rid of.

Some people have claimed the oranges help repel spiders from the house, but I didn’t see that it worked very well when I tried it in the past. Here’s an article that verifies the repellent properties, but I think the apples themselves don’t have very concentrated amounts. Perhaps in a house less cluttered than mine they might have worked.

osage orange osage orange inside

Osage and Mammoth Co-evolution

Please click the following link and read this article.

That article covers the most interesting information I’ve ever seen about osage. It’s not so much about the osage tree as it is about the coexistence and coevolution of certain plants and animals, including the osage tree. I’ve always wondered why nothing eats them, and this article gives a good explanation. The reason is because the primary target for the heavy bumpy “oranges” were wooly mammoths and ground sloths.

Starting Osage Seeds

After learning a bit more about the plant, it just strengthened my conviction to grow some for our own property here at Wild Ozark. But I never see any saplings anywhere, so figured I’d need to start seeds. At the time, the thought of making cuttings never entered my mind, but as it turns out, that’s the most efficient way to propagate this tree. However, in my ignorant bliss, I plowed ahead with the challenge of germinating seeds and found some success!

And since there are no saplings, I figured the seeds must not sprout very reliably after falling on the ground. After reading about the co-evolution of this tree with mammoths and sloths, I figured maybe they need to be digested by a large mammal first. Given the lack of mammoths or ground sloths in the area, I considered feeding some of the “horse-apples”, another name by which the fruit is known, to the horses. But then I’d have to hunt down seedlings in the field before the grass overtook them and I didn’t think I’d find any that way.

osage pulp
Osage pulp after straining
Osage seeds after soaking overnight in diluted apple cider vinegar.
Osage seeds after soaking overnight in diluted apple cider vinegar.

What I ended up doing was letting a fruit partially rot. Then I mashed it all up in a bowl and covered it with diluted apple cider vinegar. I let it soak overnight then strained the mash and separated out the seeds.

I put the seeds between a damp paper towel in a plastic container, but didn’t shut the lid tight. Left it on my table in the kitchen where it would get some afternoon heat through the window. Nearly two weeks later I had sprouts!

Now some of the sprouts are potted indoors in that same spot and some are potted outside where they will get the ordinary temperature fluctuations until spring.

I’ll come back and update if any of these survive to become seedlings.

Update 02/03/16: One of my little osage seedlings are up! This is one that has been kept inside on the windowsill. I don’t see any signs of emergence on the ones being kept outside. More seeds are sprouting in my sprouting container, so I should have some of these to offer this year at the market.

Osage Orange Seedling
Osage Orange Seedling

Killing Pretty Roosters

One of the pretty roosters: Arnold, one of the "chosen ones".
One of the pretty roosters: Arnold, one of the “chosen ones”.

First I tried selling pretty roosters. Then I tried gifting pretty roosters.

Yesterday we killed pretty roosters.

It was my chore to pick which ones. I felt a bit like Kali (Goddess who is both giver of life and bringer of death).

sunset after killing roosters
Yesterday’s bloody sunset.

Last summer and fall the hens hatched out some eggs and most of them were roosters. So I knew this day’s activities would come sooner or later and I wanted to make sure it came before the roosters became aggressive in their desire to propagate their own genetics.

I chose three to keep and seven to kill. Three for our flock is still too many, but I don’t know how long chickens normally live and the old guy is almost 7. So one of the prettiest and healthiest looking young ones was spared as his future replacement. The keepers are named Old Man, Rufus, and Arnold.

Bet you can guess what was on the menu last night … Roosters in the freezer and roosters in the pot.

I made jambalaya & it was pretty good.

I roasted coffee.

That was a pleasant chore for all of the senses. In the meantime the guys carried out the rooster massacre. It was a task I’ve had to do before for myself and was glad to not be the one in charge of it this time.

Rob and Garrison reduced our rooster population by five. Two more to go, and then we’ll have three left that I intend to keep.

The hens are relieved to have some of that stress eliminated.

What kind of stress?

Well, it’s the sort of thing that motivated me to wring necks a few years ago. For a healthy and happy flock of chickens, there should be one rooster per 10 or so hens. This ratio ensures the eggs are fertilized, but the hens aren’t subjected to multiple breedings by multiple roosters all day long.

“gang raping”

When there are too many roosters, they will gang up on a hen. This happened while I was outside feeding them one morning a few years ago while I was still naive to some of the obligations of a homesteader. In the span of a few minutes that morning, I wrung the necks of three roosters one after the other as they attacked a poor hen repeatedly to breed her.

If this situation is allowed to continue, the hens will be cut and scratched and her back feathers will be scraped off by the roosters jumping on her and holding her down. She will become scared, depressed, and quit laying eggs, and she will try to avoid interaction with the flock when she can.

It is my responsibility to the hens to make sure they are not abused. In nature, there would be predators eliminating extra roosters and they’d eventually start fighting to the death (or banishment) with each other. We have guardian dogs that keep predators at bay, and natural banishment here would be a death sentence to any chicken that wanders outside the guardian’s ability to watch, so we are the ones who must make the “natural selection”.

black and yellow rooster
Old Man

An interesting but morbid observation.

When Rob killed the first rooster and it was on the ground flopping around in death throes, the other young roosters rushed to it and started attacking it, pulling feathers and spurring it even as it died. They acted as if they were embroiled in a blood frenzy, oblivious to the fact that they, too were most likely on the “kill” list.

A Review Round Robin

What is a "useful plant"?
What is a “useful plant”?

*** Sorry, but this event has ended ***

Join me in a “Review Round Robin”

I’ll send you 10 Common Plants in paperback format, and none of this costs anything for you, not even postage (but you don’t get to keep the book, unfortunately – you’ll send it on to the next reviewer).

1. I’ll send you the book with postage-paid envelopes ready for you to send to the next person after you’ve read it.
2. When you’re done reading it, leave your review at Amazon.
3. Put your autograph, and possibly a little note to me, inside the front cover of the book.
4. Use one of the postage-paid envelopes provided and put all of the remaining envelopes in there with the book so the next recipient can send it on, as well.

I’m looking for 10 participants, but will happily sign on more. If you run out of autograph space, just write on it anywhere that will work. The last envelope will send it back to me and I’ll have it as a keepsake, autographed by my first reviewers!

*** Your reviews need to be honest, not necessarily nice, but at least civil if you really hated it  ***

The photos below are chapter images for each of the 10 plants. Message me (click here to go to my contact page) with your mailing address if you’re interested.