Category Archives: Nature Notes

Itching for Summer – Dealing with Chiggers!


By Orrling and Tomer S (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson
Show Me Oz –Summer is a fabulous time to explore and hunt for wild edibles or to hike along a cool river, but people around these parts generally avoid venturing into overgrown and untamed places during the summer months because of the ticks and chiggers. How does one even begin to tell outsiders and visitors to our fair hills about the myriad of insects that inhabit our beloved Oz? I suppose if you’ve got a vicious sense of humor, you could just let them wade into the chest-deep grass and work it out later, because they’re not going to believe you anyway. Continue reading

When the Rain Crow Calls

Mature Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus-americanus) Image via By No machine-readable author provided. Factumquintus assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia CommonsJill HendersonShow Me Oz – It’s been another cool, wet spring here in Oz.  So much so, that I am beginning to wonder if our once-robust pepper starts will grow to full size before July.  Wet springs are not uncommon in our neck of the woods, but we can never be sure what kind of weather we’re in for.  The exception being our perennial summer droughts, which can range from average to severe.  Yet, in each and every one of the 15 droughty summer’s that we have gardened here, we have always been alerted to impending rainstorms by an uncommon but very welcome recluse that most folks around here call a rain crow.

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Wild Walk: Cream Wild Indigo

The creamy yellow pea-like flowers of Cream Wild Indigo. Photo Copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.com

Show Me Oz – Spring is in full swing here in Oz and the vast array of lovely wildflowers are blooming in quick procession.  Most of the delicate spring ephemerals like Trout Lily, Spring Beauty, and Bluets come and go so quickly that it is easy to miss them all together.  Thankfully, we have an ocean of natives to enjoy all season long.  One of my early spring favorites is the lovely Cream Wild Indigo, which blooms much longer than most spring flowers and puts on a show-stopping floral display fit for even the most refined garden.

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Navigating Before Google Maps

This directional Trail Marker Tree is located on the Fort Leonard Wood Base. It is just one of  many Trail Marker Trees still standing in that area.by Dennis Downes

For centuries, Native Americans used many different means to mark the boundaries between their tribal territories and hunting grounds, as well as to mark their trails and convey important messages. Some of these markers were upright standing stones, others were pictographs or petroglyphs, symbols were painted or carved onto trees, large earthen mounds, and even intentionally shaped trees or Trail Marker Trees were utilized. Depending on the area the Native Americans inhabited, they could also reference natural boundaries such as rivers, mountain ranges, and even the edges of dense forests or swamps.  (Photo Top: This directional Trail Marker Tree is located on the Fort Leonard Wood Base. It is just one of  many Trail Marker Trees still standing in that area.)

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Flycatchers: The Gardener’s Friend

By Peter Wilton (Eastern Phoebe  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – People sometimes laugh when I tell them that I always know when spring is about to dawn on our Ozark homestead – even if it’s freezing outside.  It’s not the weather, or the slight budding of plants that clue me in.  And it’s not the warmth of the sun or my local weatherman, either.  No, the way I know that spring is on it’s way is when I hear the first shrill song of the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe).  This slim, mousy-grey flycatcher with a creamy-colored belly and a big voice has a penchant for perching on low, leafless branches and compulsively wagging its long tail up and down.  And it’s one bird that every gardener should hope for.

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Garden Time: Watch Out for Early Garden Allies!

Box Turtle HatchlingShow Me Oz – Although ‘official’ spring has yet to arrive in Oz, the weather outside my door tells me it’s already here. As always, Dean and I are at it early and have already cultivated most of our garden and planted the first round of cold-hardy seeds. But while we’re hard at work cleaning up and organizing the yard and garden for the season to come, we are constantly on the lookout for sleepy, still-hibernating and just-hatching garden allies like frogs, toads, turtles, spiders, and all manner of beneficial insects and creatures that help us control insect pests in our organic garden!

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Wild Walk: Wild Blueberries

Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium stamineum) 2013 5-5 (9)Show Me Oz – The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food including delectable black walnuts, savory hickory nuts, sticky-sweet persimmons, juicy paw paws, tart wild black cherries, tart wild plums and serviceberries, nutritious black berries, wild grapes and delicate black raspberries. If you’ve spent much time here in Oz, you are almost certainly familiar with one or all of these wild foods and have probably spent your fair share of summer and fall afternoons gathering them by the bucketful. But there is one more wild Ozark delicacy that often escapes the notice (and the baskets) of many a wild forager: the wild blueberry. Continue reading