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.
Herbal Ointments featuring Wild Ozark Ginseng
Here are the two I’ve made this fall so far. The pictures will take you to the product page at our shop where you’ll find my recipes if you want to try them at home.
If you’d like some already prepared, I have a limited quantity of these. The ingredients are expensive or hard to come by, so they’re pricey but have proven to be very effective for my uses of them. The ginseng is expensive if I have to buy more to make more, and I’m not even sure I can find a source to buy lobelia seeds.
Next year, if there was a strong demand for them this year, I’ll gather more and make a larger quantity. It’s likely always going to be a “Special Edition” product, though.
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.
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.
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