An older post, but still representative. Eventually I’ll update it but for now, I’ll leave it alone:
This is the second year since making Wild Ozark my full-time endeavor. Over the past year, I’ve noticed a life-cycle of sorts. It’s risen organically, and next year I hope to be more efficient at taking advantage of this circle of life, working with the flow of the seasons to bring products to life.
Winter is coming
It was a chilly 49* when I got up this morning and so I started the first fire of the season in our woodstove.
I love the cooler temps, but mostly I think it’s the more saturated colors caused by shadow and shifting light angles that I love most of all. And then there are the sounds. Those change with the seasons too. Crows and Jays often are the first sounds I hear at this time of year, aside from the roosters crowing at dawn.
The other thing I love about this time of year is the harvest. I went out gathering lobelia seeds, black cohosh and black snakeroot, and spicebush berries last week. This weekend I’m making ointments. Aside from writing, this activity is my favorite thing to do.
The Wild Ozark Circle of Life
This is when the berries are ripe on spicebush, which I use in one of my herbal formulas for muscle and joint pain. It’s also when it’s time to gather berries for propagation of doll’s eyes and spikenard. It’s also when I gather the ginseng berries to reseed them in places where I want more to grow if I don’t want to let them naturally fall from the plant.
It’s illegal to do this with the wild ginseng, by the way. Most of what we have here are wild-simulated. I began planting seeds here in 2005 but avoided planting in the areas I knew already had native colonies growing. With wild ginseng, you have to replant the seeds of any plants you dig in the same location as the mother.
When the tops of plants begin to die back, it’s the time to gather roots. Black cohosh, black snakeroot, bloodroot, goldenseal, and wild comfrey fall into this category along with ginseng. Many of these roots will be put to stores for herbal remedies but many are also divided and replanted to propagate plants for the nursery.
This time of year is a good time to begin making ointments and tinctures from the herbs I’ve gathered.
It’s also a good time of year for our homestead projects. Our “To-Do” list is a mile longer and grows by the minute, it seems. Firewood is something we never seem to have enough of, so we will cut and stack now and throughout the winter, too.
We make a few things at home that we use often and I’ve started bringing these to the market with me. The most popular one is the Amazing Sting oil. I also make lip balms and ointments, and a medicinal tea blend. Then there’s the cold/flu syrup using various wildcrafted herbs as they come into season.
I’m working on making hard candies with the herbs, too. And there’s the Three Kings tincture we use for nail fungus, spider bites, and other difficult topical things.
Most of these are not listed on the shop, but I’ll add them as I can.
We order ginseng seeds with a delivery date somewhere around the beginning of October. For the weeks following the arrival of the seeds, my main task is to get them planted. I don’t want to leave them in the refrigerator too long because that’ll cause them to go dormant and then they won’t sprout the following spring. Did that last year, don’t want to do it again.
I’m still writing now, and we are still working on homestead projects during this time of year, too. And it’s a good time to stack more firewood.
This is the best time of year for making herbal remedies, writing my books and stories, taking photographs, and planning next year’s gardens.
We can’t do many outdoor projects, but once Rob has his shop built he’ll be able to work on his beautiful woodworking projects now.
It seems like we’re always needing more firewood, so cutting and stacking goes on even during snow and ice weather.
Photography is always on my mind in spring. I’m watching now for the ginseng to unfurl and delighting in the awakening of the land. The outdoor homestead projects will begin again.
In spring I sow seeds for both the garden and the nursery. The seeds that were gathered and sown from fall, like the spikenard, green dragons and jack-in-the-pulpit will be coming up along with the ginseng. All the goldenseal, and bloodroot that were divided in fall will now begin unfurling too.
The market begins in late April and I’ll start bringing plants and books and herbal remedies. My plant offerings start out with ginseng and ginseng habitat plants. Then as the weather becomes too warm for those I bring the medicinal and edible wild plants. Books and remedies are available throughout the market season.
I’ll still be at market with plants, books, and herbal remedies. When it’s not market days I’ll be helping Rob with homestead projects and in between it all I write and take photographs.
With early fall it all begins again. Throughout the entire year I write, photograph and create products. I try to keep the blog current with at least one post a week. I also write our monthly newsletter and in those I try to give my subscribers something they’re not getting at the blog -or at least give it to them before it goes to the blog.
I’m honored and pleased to get emails and comments from readers throughout the year. I don’t get many comments; more often it’s emails from readers with questions. Many have come here to learn about the habits of ginseng, want to know how to identify it or grow it, and I love the updates when you let me know how your efforts are going.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
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.