Tag Archives: ozarks

Wild Edible and Medicinal Spring Flowers

Redbud blossoms Jill HendersonJill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With the end of the Great Sleep, spring has asserted herself firmly in the Heart of the Ozarks.  The rising intensity of the sun entices all living things to join in the brief but joyous celebration of new beginnings. Big or small, spring provides the perfect opportunity to search for new and interesting native plants. Continue reading

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Natural Beekeeping with Dr. Leo Sharashkin

Leo Sharashkin with honey comb.Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Acres USA May 2017 issue

If you have ever dreamed of keeping bees but found the process complicated, expensive, or the potential for losing your investment to disease and pests all too real, then you have never met Dr. Leo Sharashkin, a prominent wild bee enthusiast, educator, and apiarist who practices an ancient method of catching and keeping wild bees in specially-designed horizontal hives. If you have had the good fortune to meet Dr. Leo or to hear him speak to a room full of enthusiastic beekeepers or the crowd that inevitably gathers around his Horizontal Hive booth at grower’s conferences across the country, you already know that his encyclopedic knowledge of bees is boundless and the methods he uses to keep them, truly inspiring. Whether you are a budding beekeeper or an experience apiarist, you can keep happy and productive bees with less work and money than you ever imagined possible and do it in a sustainable, eco-friendly way.  Read more…safe PDF opens automatically

Meat of the Matter – Peace Valley Poultry Relies on Community, Innovation

meat-of-the-matter-peace-valley-poultryBy Jill Henderson
Acres USA Magazine March 2017

In the heart of the Missouri Ozarks the little village of Peace Valley wakes to another beautiful sunrise, revealing the rolling hills and hardwood forests that Jim and JudyJo Protiva call home. It is here in this small, but tightly-knit community that a former Grand Canyon guide and a Rocky Mountain Ranger decided to settle down to raise a family and grow food in a way that honored God’s creation to the fullest. Over the next 21 years, the Protivas turned their passion for clean, healthy food into Peace Valley Poultry; perhaps the oldest pastured poultry operation in the state. Read the entire article in PDF

Bald Eagles on the Rise

bald-eagleJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

Winter is one of the best times to see bald eagles in Missouri.  A few years back, on a winter day much like this one,  Dean and I spotted a pair of adult bald eagles circling lazily above our house on the warm rising thermals of a mid-winter day.  Their white head and tail feathers shone brightly against the clear blue sky.  Since we don’t often get to see them for long, we watched the pair with much excitement and within minutes, a darker sub-adult joined them.  We were thrilled to get a rare glimpse of this eagle family, especially since we were so far from the large lakes and rivers where the eagles prefer to congregate this time of year.

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A Bygone Bee Gum

Bygone Bee Gum - Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress (4)

Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

I love history. Particularly when  I find it in a far-flung or unexpected place.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a tree with a huge hole in the side of it.  Of course, it’s not uncommon to find trees with natural cavities in them around these parts, but this particular breach was not made by nature or time, but by man – and for a very specific purpose.

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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

Nature Notes: Exploring the Great Sleep

Winter Landscape Copyright Jill Henderson-Show Me OzBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I like to refer to winter as The Great Sleep, because although life outside the window pane seems dull and lifeless, it is anything but. Yet to find that elusive bit of life, one must go in search of it. Even this self-avowed nature freak has to remind herself of this from time to time. So today, I took a stroll through the woods with my eyes – and my senses – wide open.

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Moonshine in Missouri

IMG_4301By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Quite a few years back, on a beautiful fall day just like this one, a bit of unpleasant news filtered down through our village grapevine. Apparently, an elderly and well-known gentleman in our little community had been arrested for bootlegging moonshine.  That the man in question made and sold corn whiskey was no secret to many in the surrounding area, for he had been doing it for the better part of his life and made little secret of it. Some of the first official reports claimed that this gentleman and his immediate family made and sold up to 9,000 gallons of moonshine each year.  And while that may sound like a lot of ‘shine, it didn’t come as a surprise to me or to anyone else living within a 100 mile radius, because this fella had a reputation for making absolutely top-notch hooch and everyone who drank alcohol wanted a jar of their very own.

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America’s Native Bamboo – Part II – Identification and Culture

2012 2-13 February Snow (15)by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In last week’s article, America’s Native Bamboo: History and Ecology, we learned that America was once home to massive colonies of native bamboo, better known as canebrakes. These lush cane forests played a critical role in the ecology of the regions they inhabited by filtering sediments, controlling erosion and providing food and shelter for many native animal and bird species. Cane also played an important role in the lives of the earliest inhabitants who valued it as a nutritional food plant and an important material used to fashion tools, weapons and lodging. In the early days of settlement, America’s native cane fields were first used to fatten cattle and then cleared for farmland. Today, a whopping 98% of America’s once-abundant native bamboo has been extirpated from the landscape. This week, I will discuss the ways in which native bamboos are being used in restoration projects and how we can help return them to their rightful place in nature and beautify the home landscape, all at the same time.

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America’s Native Bamboo – Part I – History and Ecology

Switch Cane copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Mention the word bamboo and most people in the Western world naturally think of panda bears, China and steamy exotic jungles. In fact, the majority of the 1,450 species of bamboo in the world do originate in countries located in South and Southeastern Asia, with a few scattered species in Saharan Africa and the very farthest regions of South America. In these places, native bamboo species can grow as dense as the thickest forest you can imagine and produce giant canes as big around as small trees, while others are as diminutive and slender as a clump of our native Big Bluestem.  In fact, bamboo is actually a grass belonging to the Poaceae or True Grass family. With over 10,000 recognized species, true grasses represent the fifth largest plant family on earth. Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that the United States has three very distinct native species of bamboo, known collectively as river cane.

Slow & Steady: Turtles in the Ozarks

IMG_8863by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When we first moved to the Ozarks it was a three-toed box turtle that inspired us to call our place Turtle Ridge Farm.  The first morning after moving in, we opened the front door to find a big box turtle sitting on the porch, smack dab in front of the door. The concrete porch isn’t all that high, but high enough to be difficult if you’re only 5” tall.

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The New Nature

by Allison Vaughn – Guest Post

Recently, there has been a surge in literature throughout the conservation community highlighting the importance of native plant gardening for the sustainability of wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation writes that chickadees, for example, require 5,000 insects from native plants to successfully rear a clutch. I trust them, just as I do Doug Tallamy’s fantastic book that highlights the importance of converting landscapes from turf to native flora to benefit wildlife. These and a myriad of other articles have positively impacted many communities now embracing native plantings in urban areas; they have reinvigorated Wild Ones chapters, native plant enthusiasts, and wildlife advocates. Add to the resurgence in growing natives are the reports of impacts to non-target wildlife from the widespread broadcasting of glyphosate and other herbicides in an effort for a “weed-free” lawn, and so forth. The assault on wildlife and the natural world is pervasive with sprawling development, wanton abuse of chemicals, regular thumbing of the nose to regulatory agencies and procedures that were put into place in the 1970s during the heyday of the environmental movement.

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One Woman’s Journey Through Oz

2002 - 5 - Caney Mountain Herb walk - vistasby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I am not an Ozarker by birth.  I was actually born in  the West, grew up in the Deep South, and spent 10 years or so roving about the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana and other points beyond.  I love them all.  But when the day came that I first laid my eyes upon the rocky and rolling hills and hollers of the Ozarks, something deep in my bones told me I was home.

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Indian Bent Trees: History or Legend

Indian Bent Tree.  Copyright Jill Henderson

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In the woods near my home is an unusual tree.  At some point in its long life the tree was bent into a distinctive L-shape.  The trunk is almost perfectly horizontal and nearly touches the ground, running almost five feet before making an abrupt 90 degree turn towards the heavens.  It’s a perfect place for two people to sit back and observe the forest hillside and all its goings on.  But it is much more than a handy bench – it is an ancient form of communication and a little-understood piece of Native American cultural history

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Granddaddy Trees and Old Cisterns– Part II

Old cisternby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Water is the elixir of life and no rural homestead at the turn of the century could have existed without a ready source.  Not only was water important for daily chores like cooking, cleaning, and bathing, but absolutely necessary for keeping livestock and raising crops.  A hundred years ago, finding land with a running stream or live spring was just as difficult and expensive as it is today, and not everyone could find or afford them. Those who found themselves without a ready source of water had to dig a well, build a cistern, or move on.

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Granddaddy Trees and Old Cisterns – Part I

2007-4 (2) Grandaddy treeby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning, I woke to find the world sparkling in a fresh coat of dew.  I quickly filled my mug with coffee, grabbed a bucket, and headed down the driveway to check on the persimmons. The tall, dry grass was burnished yellow-gold in the morning light and fragile wisps of glowing spider’s silk drifted on a breath of air.  I cut through the meadow, following the long, narrow deer trail that leads past the ancient oak tree whose massive branches nearly swallow the morning sky.  My jeans were quickly drenched to the knee.

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Winterize Your Garden for Spring Success

Rocks make excellent mulch for woody perennials like lavender.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Winter is a fact of life and as now that fall is here, our top priority should be to prepare our perennial plants to endure whatever winter throws their way.  In the plant kingdom, dormancy is not a type of death; rather, it is a reduced pace of living. Even in the coldest climates, perennials continue to respirate, grow roots, and utilize stored food to keep them alive and strengthen them for the growing season to come.  Which is why it is so important to give them a little extra protection and care before winter’s chill takes over.

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Tree Bombs and Praying Mantises

Falling acorns. Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With the lovely fall weather moving in at last, we can once again spend most of our time outdoors without fainting from the heat or being attacked by voracious insects. While it would be nice to sit under the oak trees and relax in the slight breeze, the squirrels just won’t allow us to. Right this minute, there are thousands and thousands of ripening acorns in the oak trees and the squirrels, looking for early fall forage, have been sorting through them one by one.

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Nature Notes: Sinkholes and Springs in the Ozarks

Boze Mill Springby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Karst is crucial to the biodiversity of the Ozark region. At some point in its travel from heaven to sea, nearly three-quarters of the water in our rivers, streams, springs, aquifers, and wells have been filtered through this fractured limestone.  This massive system of water movement and erosion is what makes karst one of the most bountiful and fragile geologic formations in the world.  And while it’s beau  Some of the water that falls or runs across our hills will become forever locked below the surface in aquifers, but a larger portion of it reemerges somewhere on the surface, usually in the form of a spring or a seep, or a wet weather stream.

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The Sound of Nature

Barred Owl in the RainBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning I woke at 4:00 am.  The crescent moon was high in the eastern sky casting it’s milky light into the open spaces on the edge of the woods. In the deep shadowy crevices the cicadas and crickets wound down the night’s exuberance in a fading farewell hum.  I stood at the open window, basking in the slightly cool breeze coming down the mountain and relishing the silence when suddenly a series of piercingly eerie shrieks broke the spell.  The suddenness of it startled me, but my instinct was answer with my own crazy whoop and scream, which would surely have woken the house. Instead, I silently searched the branches of the tall, dark oak beside the house for the Cheshire Cat of raptors.

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Wild Blackberries and Wine–Part II

Blackberry Pickin - Image Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Wild blackberries are among the most productive and versatile fruiting plants in the wild.  The most difficult thing about gathering blackberries is deciding what to do with all those dark luscious fruits once you get them home.  Luckily, blackberries lend themselves to all kinds of luscious concoctions, not all of which have to be jams and pies.  In fact,  once the main harvest is neatly tucked into the freezer, the last pick is always reserved for makin’ Wild Blackberry Wine! Continue reading

Wild Blackberries and Wine – Part I

clip_image002by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s been a wonderfully long and cool spring, but the temps have been climbing steadily into the more June-like 90’s.  With the heat has come the ripening of the wild black raspberries followed quickly by wild blackberries and giant boysenberries.  My husband Dean has already been out gathering the earliest of the sweet-tart fruits.  Historically, I have left the berry pickin’ to Dean.  But this year, I have set myself to pick with him every single time and I know it’ll be an adventure. Continue reading

Notes from Turtle Ridge: Spring 2014

Box Turtle Shellby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

June lays claim to the longest day of the year and the most violent thunderstorms, it is the month of bluebird babies, spindly-spotted fawns and box turtle crossings.   Although we have been expecting another hot and dry summer, we suddenly find ourselves wearing warm flannels and digging the blankets out of the closet.  But the rain and a long cool spring is exactly what we – and our garden – were hoping for.

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Pokeweed In The Pot – Or Not?

Cooking pokeweed copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s that time of year again and the pokeweed is already knee-high – just right for the picking.    Although poke has been eaten as a vegetable for hundreds – if not thousands – of years, authorities now say that pokeweed should never be consumed because of its potentially toxic compounds.  Yet, over the years I have received multitudes of emails from older folks who say they’ve eaten it their whole lives with no ill effect.   What do you thing?  Should pokeweed go in the pot, or not?

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Wild Walk: Let the Blooming Begin

2013 4-21 Ohio Buckeye in bloom (2)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Winter is definitely over and summer is marching in with a fury.  Here in Oz, temps have hit the 90’s already and we’ve had a few rain showers to kick the growing season off to a good start.  What was a clear view through the forest just a week ago is now completely obstructed by what we jokingly refer to as “The Jungle”.  So, if you don’t mind a few seed ticks, now is a fantastic time to check out the wildflowers and flowering trees – like this beautiful blooming Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra).

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L is for Moon

Lunaria Seed Pods image by Christian Fischer [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Luna is the Spanish word for moon.  When spoken with its proper accent, the word rolls smoothly off the tip of the tongue.   It is a beautiful word that I don’t often have the opportunity to use, so each time I see a full, opulent moon I whisper to the night, “La luna es bonita.”  – “The moon is beautiful”.   So it shouldn’thave come as such a surprise that I would fall for a plant whose name is derived from the Latin word for Moon.  Continue reading

What Lies Beneath: Karst and the Ozarks

Copyright Jill Henderson 2002 By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Recently I was leafing through a bunch of old pictures that I had taken of our first Ozarks farm and the surrounding countryside.  I was admiring my favorite shots – those of deep rolling hills and meandering rivers and clear blue springs.  These are the things that speak so clearly to love of this place – the thing that keeps my feet from wandering too far away for too long.

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Flicking Feathers

2008-3 -  April sunrise (27)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If someone had told me when I was younger that I would actually enjoy being awake before dawn, I would have laughed.  But over the years I have developed the habit of waking up with the sun.   And since we turned the clocks forward in anticipation of the Spring Equinox on March 20th,  I’ve been up  just in time to witness the rising sun as it paints the eastern sky with watercolor shades of pink and yellow; everything looks so new and fresh in the muted light of dawn and life is just beginning to stir in the dark recesses of the woods.

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Jill’s Herbal Diary: Natural Ingredients for Herbal Preparations

Herbs - Mortar and Pestel (3)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When I first started studying herbs and herbalism, I was fascinated by the multitude of natural ingredients that are used alone or combined with other ingredients to make herbal preparations like lotions, salves, soaks, and compresses.   The following includes interesting tidbits of information for each ingredient, but is by no means a complete list of their attributes or actions.  Of course, a lot more could be said about each ingredient, yet this list might just inspire you to look for more ways to use a particular ingredient or to try some of these in a new way!  As always, please feel free to add your knowledge or share your thoughts!

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From Monoculture Farmer to Homestead Beekeeper

James A ZittingBy James A. Zitting
Guest Blogger – Show Me Oz –

Some of my earliest desires to live sustainably on the land were fueled in my early 20’s by reading Mother Earth Magazine and books by Gene Logsdon, Masanobu Fukuoka, and others. These readings planted a desire in me to live the country life in a different way than I had been raised. Continue reading

Winter Colors: The Spirit of Place

2002 - 10 - Noblett Lake - lovely colorBy Sara Firman (Sulis)

In the world of home interiors, natural tones, are often boring neutrals.  Yet the natural world is never boring or neutral.  Even in winter, colors abound.  Continue reading

Old Tractors and Sustainable Agriculture

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

The lush forests, rolling pastures, and long vistas of the Ozarks are truly easy on the eyes, but their pastoral appearance also belies how tough these hills can be to survive in.  Although farming has been a traditional way of life in the Ozarks3 for generations, producing one’s food on this rocky bit of earth has never been easy.  Even with the modern comforts of today’s machinery, farming in the Ozarks can sometimes be best described as “hard-scrabble”.  And in the 15 years I’ve been here, I’ve seen more than one eager newcomer throw in the towel after only a few short years of backbreaking work that was resulted in little gain.

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Ancient Wetlands of the Ozarks

Cupola PondBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

One of the things I love about living the Ozarks is discovering places of exquisite natural beauty.  Over millions of years this entire region was submerged in the warm shallow seas of the Paleozoic era before being uplifted by tectonic and volcanic forces.  This cycle repeated itself many times over the course of thousands of years, carving out the hills and hollers we call the Ozark Mountains.  Over the course of time, many of the plants and animals that once lived here became little more than geologic memories etched into stone.  Yet, a few remnants of ancient wetlands still exist within the relatively dry and rocky Ozark highlands.  They are known as Tupelo Gum Pond and Cupola Pond.

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Wild Food: Bearded Tooth Mushrooms

Bearded Tooth mushroom Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpressBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s been a busy year here on Turtle Ridge.  And just when we thought all our sowing and harvesting were done, fall arrived with its bounty of wild food just begging to be gathered.  So like all creatures preparing for the Great Sleep, Dean and I have been busy squirreling away delicious and nutritious fruits, nuts, and mushrooms for our winter cache. Continue reading

Wild Walk: Cooking with Persimmons

American Persimmon ShowMeOz.wordpress.comBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Now that I’ve got you thinking about persimmons – those gooey globes of goodness – let’s talk more about what to do with them once you manage to pick them, clean them and process the pulp (Missed that part?  Then check out, Wild Walk: Persimmons). Today, we’ll take on that sticky-sweet pulp in the kitchen and find something awesome to do with it!

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Stalking the Wild Mushroom

2012 10-23 Ringed Honeys (4)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s been a long summer here on Turtle Ridge, but we are more than thankful for the bounty of the garden and of the wild plants and trees in our forest and meadows.  And with the recent rain and cool fall temperatures signaling the arrival of fall, wild foragers like myself can’t wait to hit the woods in search of delectable wild fungi.  After posting a few pictures of my own ‘ground scores’  last year, many readers wanted to know more about how to identify and use the fabulous fungi in the Ozarks.  This is for all you budding mycologists out there!

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Black Walnuts: A Local Remedy

blackwalnutsBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

(Excerpted in part from A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country)

In the Ozarks we are blessed with an abundance of trees, among them the stately and ever-useful Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).  These trees are not only beautiful to look at and make wonderful shade trees when they are allowed to grow to their full size, but they also provide valuable timber and edible nuts. Continue reading

Striped Scorpion Surprise

Striped Scorpion - © 2013 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning I found this little Striped Scorpion (Centruroides vittatus) in the gravel near our front porch.  Although they might look quite ferocious, these tiny, one and a half inch arachnids are shy and rarely seen.  This one wanted nothing to do with me and wanted nothing more than to hide as I attempted to take it’s photograph.  Even after nudging it into the open several times, it never once tried to sting me. 

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Luscious Elderberries

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer is a time of abundance in the natural world.  It doesn’t take much searching to find plants, trees and shrubs that are either flowering, setting fruit or going to seed.  And all it takes to fill one’s winter larder with this abundance is a little walking and a keen eye.   July is a particularly bountiful month in which one of my favorite wild edibles, the common elderberry, begins to set and ripen its delicious, nutritious and medicinal fruits.

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Rain in a Parched Landscape

On the Horizon by Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Water is the lifeblood of all living things.  Without it, hard times are sure to come.  In the Ozarks, periodic summer drought is common in the months surrounding July and August, but the prolonged drought of the last four or five years has had everyone on the edge of their seats, watching and waiting and hoping that this summer would be different.  In some ways it’s been very good.  Early moisture and much cooler temperatures have made a huge difference.  But as most summers go here, we hit the wall with a continued drought.

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Easy Canning Jar Sauerkraut

Easy-Canning-Jar-Sauerkraut-Day-14.jpgBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This has been the best year for gardening in a long (long) time.  The heat and drought of the last four all but strangled either my desire to garden or the garden itself.  Good thing gardening is in my DNA – I couldn’t leave it if I wanted to.  And this year, Dean and I were doubly rewarded for our efforts to take a slab of hard red clay and rock and turn it into a garden.  To celebrate the most beautiful cabbage we have grown in 20 years of gardening, I decided to make a little homemade sauerkraut.

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Floating an Ozark River

http://www.elevenpointriver.org/By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning Dean and I were having our morning coffee and watching the news, when the weatherman casually mentioned that the temperature today will be dangerously hot with a heat index of around 105° F.  Dean looked across the table at me scratching myself bloody from all the new chigger bites I acquired this week and thoughtfully suggested we hit the river for a cool, bug free day of floating.  I was up and in my bathing suit before the last words came out of his mouth.

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Feathered Friends Brighten Spring

Tufted_titmouse_closeupBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz –  (Excerpted from A Journey of Seasons)

The hands of time seem to spin faster during spring than during any other time of year. So many things are happening right now that it is almost dizzying to watch. Every day I take time for at least a short walk about the property and could spend hours at my journal describing the myriad of new plants, animals, birds and bugs that I find.  Right now, it’s the birds who have my eye with their colorful plumage and brilliant songs.

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Wild Walk – Spring Blooms

Trillium © 2013 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Spring is an exciting time to be out and about, checking out exciting and beautiful native plants like this gorgeous trillium.  The vistas across the Ozarks hills are still long and relatively unobstructed by leaves, while bugs should be at a minimum for at least another week or two.  All it takes to witness one of nature’s finest seasons is a walk in nearby woods, river valleys or even farm fields.  To get the most out of your native forays, bring along a field guide to trees, wildflowers or native plants, a pair of binoculars, and a friend or two for a fun-filled day of nature-watching.  To get you started, here are a few interesting Ozark plants you may encounter on your spring walk-about.

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Sweet Nesting Solution for Flycatchers

Eastern PhoebeBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz  –

Excerpted in part from my book,
A Journey of Seasons

Along with the more obvious firsts of the year, I am always glad to welcome the return of our nesting pair of Eastern Phoebes (Sayornis phoebe), also known as common flycatchers.  These little brownish grey birds are easy to overlook until they begin building their mud and grass nests on porch lights, windowsills and other protrusions beneath the eaves of houses, garages, barns and other structures.  I’ve always loved having phoebe’s around to eat bugs and cheer me up, but cleaning the mess they create while building their nests can sometimes be a drag.  If you’ve had the same experience, I’ve got a sweet solution to keeping both you and your flycatchers happy.

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Far Out Radio Interview

Thought some of you might be interested in listening to my first nationally syndicated radio interview with Scott Teeters of Far Out Radio. 

It was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it!

Listen to the archived show by clicking on the link or image below.

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Life In The Ozarks with Jill Henderson

Far Out Radio Listen

Broken image links?  Click here:
http://faroutradio.com/1-17-2013-far-out-radio-guest-author-and-artist-jill-henderson/

Peepers Call for the Awakening

Spring_peeper_(SC_woodlot)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

The Vernal equinox, also known as the Spring Equinox, marks a point when day and night become equal in length for a short time all over the world.  This stellar event marks our astrological trip into spring and the long-awaited wakening from the Great Sleep.  As if on cue, the first creatures to respond were the Peepers – those incredibly small amphibians readily identified by a conspicuous X-mark across their backs – as if picked out by the Creator for a very special purpose.

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Alien Invaders: Armadillos in the Midwest

Nine-banded ArmadilloBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Many people who don’t live in the Ozarks are surprised to learn that there are armadillos here. This is obviously because most people do not associate these odd animals with the mid-south, but rather think of them as creatures from such dry states as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  While I never thought much about armadillos before I came here, I have come to learn the hard way that they are both an intriguing and terribly frustrating creature.  And while I am a self-avowed animal lover, I must admit that my frustration with this scaly critter has occasionally reached murderous proportions.

Saving Seed Begins in Spring!

Cherokee Pony Peas Image copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

If you are one of the millions of gardeners who want to try their hand at saving their own garden seeds this year, spring is the perfect time to begin.  And the best way to have a successful seed harvest is by selecting the right plants, spacing them properly and maintaining control of the pollination process.  For the beginning seed saver this is sometimes a bit confusing, which is why I’ve put together a tidy list of the easiest seeds to save and exactly how to save them in your garden starting right now!

Return to the Wild: A Deer Story

Daisy says hello.   Image by Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

About this time last year, Dean and I were working on a new garden bed beside the front porch.  It had been a warm spring and the weather was perfect for working outdoors.  We were both intently hacking away at the compacted soil with our shovels and rakes when I happened to look up.  What I saw took my breath away.   Not two feet from Dean stood a doe quietly nibbling at the clover in the grass.  My heart raced.  This couldn’t be happening, could it?  She was close enough to touch.  Thinking she would bound away at the slightest breath, I stood like a statue, absorbing every little detail.  She raised her head and looked into my eyes and right then, I knew she was no ordinary deer.

Here Come the Bluebirds!

A male Eastern bluebird.. Image by Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

(Excerpted in part from A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country)

With all the cold weather we’ve had of late, it might seem a bit early to be talking about getting ready for bluebirds, but in our neck of the woods, many have already begun their search for spring nesting sites.   In the winter, bluebirds flock together in large groups of mixed adults and fledglings from last year’s broods.  But just about the beginning of March, the large groups begin to break up into smaller family groups and pairs.  So, if you would like to invite a nesting pair of bluebirds to your yard, late February and early March are the best time to put out the welcome mat.

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Winter Storms and the Nature of Being Human

Winter Ice Storm - copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Excerpted in part from A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country

Ice storms in the Ozarks often have disastrous outcomes and warnings of them are often taken more seriously than those of tornadoes.  Indeed, an ice storm can wreak incredible havoc.  Besides making driving and even walking incredibly treacherous, as little as a half-inch of freezing rain can easily snap large tree branches, flatten shrubs and small trees, pull down power lines and cave in greenhouses, sheds and carports.  Accumulations of more than that can, quite literally, snap full-grown trees in half.  Yet, despite their potential for disaster, ice storms are not only beautiful, but often bring us humans closer together.

Sustainable Solutions: Timberland or Healthy Forest?

Winter ForestBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Throughout the history of mankind, humans have used and manipulated the natural landscape for their own ends.  Here in the Ozarks, we are blessed with an abundance of forests that, at times seem to grow like weeds.  Because of that ill-perceived notion, good quality Ozark woodlands are becoming thinner, rarer, and spaced further and further apart.  Fortunately, many landowners are learning how to properly manage their woodlands for timber, recreation and wildlife.  Continue reading

Keep It Local: Good Fun for a Great Cause

Farmer's Market - Copyright Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

Whenever you buy locally produced goods and services from businesses and individuals, most of your hard-earned money stays at home where it works to build a stronger, more economically vital and self-sufficient community.  In fact, the most important aspect of a sustainable community starts with local food production. Continue reading

Wild Walk: A Touch of Winter

Fiery Fall Leaves © 2012 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

As the hours of daylight become blatantly shorter, the journey of seasons moves quickly towards the Great Sleep of Winter.   Despite the prolonged drought, Ozarkers everywhere enjoyed a most spectacular fall color display.  In all my years of living in the Ozarks, I can’t remember a fall as beautiful as this one.   But now that the Autumn show is over, the curtain is coming down in a torrent of swirling leaves and piling up in huge ankle-deep drifts that blanket the earth in gold.  And yet, the falling is far from over.   For even now, the leaves cling to the remnants of their arboreal lives – resisting their eventual future as rich dark humus and rattling their final farewells at the slightest breeze.

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Ozark Riverways: A History in Perspective

Spring CreekBy Jill Henderson (A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country)

When my husband and I left the pristine wilds of Montana back in 1996, I never thought I would ever again see rivers that were as lovely and clear as those high mountain streams – but then we found the Ozarks.  Some of the rivers in these hills are so clear that you can count the rocks at the bottom six feet down, and so cold they’ll take your breath away.  Obviously, Ozark rivers are the pride and joy of south central Missourians and in the depths of the hot summer months, they are also our respite.  But the rivers in the Ozarks also have a long history – some of which is much more recent than most realize.

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Nathanael Greene-Close Memorial Park and Botanical Center

Hosta GardenBy Jill Henderson

A couple of weeks ago I found myself needing to drive to Springfield to have a seat in my car replaced. The operation wasn’t going to take very long and since we don’t get to Springfield very often, Dean and I, along with our friend Tom, set out to make a day of it.  After we left the repair shop we headed over to the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center to meet my friend, George Deatz, for a personal tour of the gardens.  All of us thought the plants would be withered and dried up from a brutal summer of heat and drought, but we were in for a real surprise. Continue reading

Keep It Funny!

grasshopper and ants 1By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –

There are so many laments about the bugs in the Ozarks that if they were compiled into a book it would never end. How do you even begin to tell outsiders about the insects that inhabit our Oz? 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 – they’re not going to believe you anyway. If I told a person unfamiliar with these parts that the insects in the Ozarks would carry off their children if they didn’t keep them tied down, do you think they’d believe me? I suspect not, but every Ozarker who reads this knows it’s the truth.

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A Gardener’s Dream

Our new garden. © 2012 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Almost a year ago now, my husband and I settled down into our latest ‘new place’. We’ve lived quite the nomadic lifestyle over the last 20 years, moving to another house, state, or even country every few years.  In every case where it was physically possible, the first thing we did after unpacking our bags was to dig a garden.  We have hand dug and landscaped more acres of land than my back will allow me to remember, but each and every one of those gardens were lovingly created, tended and enjoyed by us for as long as we had to enjoy them.  And while it was always difficult to say goodbye, we never regretted a single one of them.

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The Hillbilly Stereotype and the Modern Ozarker

2008 Old Farm Machinery - Jill HendersonFor many years I have written about the Ozarks.  Most of the time I write about the natural landscape and the plants and creatures that inhabit it.  But that’s not where my love for this place ends.  For what is a place without its people, its culture and how it sees itself compared to the rest of the world and how the rest of the world sees them?  Ask anyone who doesn’t live here about the Ozarks and most will eventually use the word hillbilly in some shape or form. Continue reading

Notes from Turtle Ridge: May 2012

Red Mulberry - Copyright 2012 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson

The hands of time seem to spin faster during spring than during any other time of year.  This May has been disconcertingly warm, which  brought about the early bloom and fruiting of many trees and plants, including this Red Mulberry tree (Morus rubra), which normally ripens its fruit in mid-summer.   Every other day, Dean hiked up the hill, bucket in hand,  to pick the Continue reading

Notes from Turtle Ridge – April 2012

2012 4-4 Box Turtle Hatchling (2)smBy Jill Henderson

This week’s article is the  first in a new series  I’m calling Notes from Turtle Ridge.  This series is definitely more personal and less academic than my regular weekly column, but hopefully, just as informative and entertaining.

A Beeline for Spring

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
– – –
Today is the Vernal Equinox, the celestial event that marks the point in time when day and night become equal in length and spring officially begins.  Of course, here in the Ozarks, spring has been well under way for several weeks now.  Even before the first daffodil bloomed, the signs were all around us, especially winged kind.  I always know spring has arrived when  the moths begin beating against the windows at night and when sleep-drunk wasp queens drift on the breeze and buzzing bees begin searching for the first flowers of the season.

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Winter Landscapes in the Ozarks

We’ve been offline all week as we waited for our new computer.  Since I was not able to finish the second installment of America’s Native Bamboo in time for this week’s post, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite winter scenes.

I’ll be back next week with a healthy article entitled: America’s Native Bamboo: Identification & Culture.  I hope to see you then. Continue reading

Otters in the Ozarks

Image by Schmiebel By Jill Henderson

When Henry Rowe Schoolcraft first entered the Ozarks in 1818, he found the area lightly populated by settlers whose livelihoods included hunting, trapping and timber. At that time, the Ozarks were still a secret wilderness overflowing with thick virgin timber and teaming with wildlife.  But it wouldn’t be long before prospectors began to cash-in on the abundance of the land, and a great assault on the precious resources of the Ozarks began. Continue reading

Bob Ross and Titmice: A Meditation on Conservation

BobRoss1oilBy Jill Henderson

Saturday morning I was curled up in a blanket watching Bob Ross paint a winter landscape on PBS.  I was enjoying his rapturous meditation on loving life and the subtle nuances of painting glacial mountains against a blue sky when a slight movement outside the window caught my eye. Like a cat to a bit of bright yarn, my eyes were immediately drawn to a silky grey titmouse flirting in the low branches of the oak tree.

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Propagating Herbs: Layering & Stem Cuttings

Part 2 of 2 – By Jill Henderson

In the first  part of this two-part series we covered propagating herbs through the process of division.  In this article, we’ll finish the art of propagation through layering and stem cuttings – all fast and easy ways of increasing your perennial herbs and flowers.

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An Ode to Rain

Stormy SkiesBy Jill Henderson

After last summer’s brutal drought and a winter uncertain to end, spring brought about some unseasonably warm temperatures and the inevitable spring rains.  And while heavy rains are not uncommon in the Ozarks, deluges are always disconcerting.

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Pokeweed: Good Green or Toxic Weed?

Poke Salat copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –

Spring in the Ozarks wouldn’t be the same without gathering and preparing at least one pot of poke.  At our house, this leafy perennial ranks right up there with other spring edibles such as asparagus.  This week I was planning on writing an article on how to prepare poke for consumption, when  a colleague pointed out an article written by Dr. Jean Weese, a Food Scientist with the  Alabama Cooperative Extension Service entitled, Don’t Eat Poke Salad.  As the title suggests, Dr. Weese attempts to dissuade people from eating poke in any form, noting that it contains “at least three different types of poison”.  The controversy over whether poke’s is toxic or edible has been going on for a very long time, but who is right?  Is poke poisonous or is it safe to eat?  Fodder for this week’s Show Me Oz.

A Walk on the Wild Side: Pokeweed

"Pokeweed" Copyright 2008 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson

April does something me that no other month can, probably because I was born under her stars.  The lengthening days and warm, stormy weather bring a rush of growth in my garden and throughout the woods and fields.  And for those Ozarkers who like to eat on the wild side, the warmer weather is more than accommodating, as the wild greens of black mustard, dock, lambs quarters and poke are already up and at their peak of flavor.   Pokeweed, better known as poke, is one of our favorite spring greens and when cooked properly, nothing beats it for a scrumptious pot herb. Continue reading

Say Cheese: A Dying Family Industry

Photo by Jared Benedict - http://redjar.org/By Jill Henderson

At one time in the not so distant past, the central Ozark region was well-known for its rich and productive dairy farms.  As few as ten years ago, you didn’t have to travel far before coming across rolling pastureland dotted with the distinctive black and white patches of Holstein heifers grazing the green, green grass of home.  Continue reading

Of Rocks and Snakes

By Jill Henderson

Behind our house, the forest slopes down to a narrow valley that Ozarkers would call a “holler”. In some places the hillside is smoothly covered with a carpet of dead leaves and in others it is a jumble of ankle-twisting rocks of every dimension and color. In one particular place the rocks are so

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Missouri Conservation Funding Under The Gun!

Caney Mountain vistaRecently Scott Laurent, author of Wild Missouri, alerted me to a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that threatens to destabilize the funding for the Missouri Department of Conservation.   

Just the thought of the MDC losing its funding makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  And I think most Missourians would agree, because they know that one of the things that makes Missouri such an incredible place to live, work and play is the beauty and diversity of its wildlands.

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Walking Across Boulders

File:Alvar2.JPGBy Allison Vaughn

During winter months, I take literally hundreds of photos that (upon a quick scan of each folder) all look the same: golden grass, gray trees, blue skies, dolomite boulders. I like the structure of the winter landscape, the silvery old growth chinquapin oaks, the open-grown post oaks, and the exposed geology.

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Great Horned Owls – Giants of the Forest

By Jill Henderson Show Me Oz

Last night, as I stood outside admiring the way the stars danced brightly in the clear dark winter sky,  I heard the unmistakably deep, resonating call of one of the Ozarks most reclusive giants –  the great horned owl.

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Morningland Dairy Update

P. B. Obregón – Wikimedia Commons

By Doreen Hannes

On January 13th, the second grueling day of the Morningland Dairy LLC marathon trial ensued. For those who don’t know, court went on for 10 hours on Tuesday and ten full hours on Wednesday. Continue reading

Closest to Everlastin’: Ozark Agricultural Biodiversity and Subsistence Traditions (Part Three)

Crystal Bowne, Back-to-the-Land Ozarker Gardens, Newton County, Arkansas, 2010By Brian C. Campbell
University of Central Arkansas

  Agroecological Knowledge:

Ozarkers who engage in agrobiodiverse farming have knowledge of their environment and the species within it that allow them to survive (agroecological knowledge).  They utilize both wild and domesticated species, observe their behavior and interrelationships, and apply that information to use in gastronomy and agriculture.

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Farmer Wins Legal Battle with City over Raw Milk Sales

As Morningland Dairy awaits its fate over the ongoing legal battle with the FDA and the Missouri Milk Board, one Missouri couple has won their right to sell pre-ordered raw milk directly to consumers. Read this piece by Food Freedom.

Farmer Wins Legal Battle with City over Raw Milk Sales By Emily Baucum Ozarks First.com (Greene County, MO) —

It’s a big win for farmers and people who prefer to buy locally-grown food. A husband and wife who run a farm in Conway have been acquitted on charges of illegally selling raw milk inside Springfield city limits. The Bechards sell milk that’s regularly tested but not pasteurized. It’s not against the law, but Missouri requires milk sold at distribution points like grocery stores and farmers … Read More

via Food Freedom

“Closest to Everlastin'”: Ozark Agricultural Biodiversity and Subsistence Traditions (Part One)

Crystal Bowne, Back-to-the-Land Ozarker Gardens, Newton County, Arkansas, 2010.By Brian C. Campbell
University of Central Arkansas

Taking form in cultivated fields and gardens, managed hedgerows and woodlands, varieties of crop species, and livestock breeds, agricultural biodiversity refers to the human-modified components of the natural world that contribute to the sustenance of human populations.

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Garden Time: Do You Know Where Your Seeds Come From?

Copyright Jill Henderson By Jill Henderson

Ah, winter.  At last it’s time to kick back in your big easy chair with your garden-weary feet all wrapped up in those new fuzzy slippers you got for Christmas.  I can just see you now, gazing contentedly at the flickering flames of a glowing fire in the hearth, more than content with a summer’s worth of jobs well done and not a single garden chore on your “to do” list…  Yeah, right.  I mean, you’re a gardener, aren’t you?  When did gardener’s ever get a day off?  I mean, seriously – spring will be here before you know it and you don’t have a single moment to waste lying around gazing at fires if you want to have an incredible garden next year!  Gosh.

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The Avenue Theatre – Revitalizing A Sense of Community

avenuetheatre The Avenue Theatre in West Plains, Missouri, is an art deco local landmark that has been a part of its community for nearly six decades. It’s story began when it opened as a movie house in 1950. It derived its name from its location on Washington Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in the small southern Missouri town of West Plains. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Food for Thought

by Dean Henderson

I like Thanksgiving.  Though its history is rightly associated with the Native American genocide at the hands of Euro-banker mercenaries, it is also a metaphor for the kindness which the “real human beings” embody.  Continue reading

Critical Action Alert: Nov. 17 Vote on the Senate Food Safety Modernization Act

From the Editor at Show Me Oz: This is a critical action alert.  Continue reading

Persimmon Pickin’ Time – Part II

American PersimmonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In Persimmon Pickin’ Time Part One, we talked about how to harvest persimmons and how to separate the pulp from the bitter seeds and skin and how to freeze the pulp of this delectable wild fruit.  Today, we’ll take on that sticky-sweet pulp in the kitchen and I’ll even throw in a couple of my favorite persimmon recipes to get you started Continue reading

Persimmon Pickin’ Time – Part I

American PersimmonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Fall is probably one of the most beloved times of year here in the Ozarks. The scorching heat of summer and irresistibly itchy bug bites are long forgotten and the days are sparkling and fresh. Oftentimes, the unexpected warmth of the fall sun weaves itself in between the bristly cool mornings and frosty nights and we are teased out into the deeper reaches of the landscape for a little adventure.  Continue reading

Missouri: Leaders in the Solar Revolution

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Missouri is taking the alternative energy revolution head on, thanks to the creative energy of students at Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla and comparatively tiny Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri.  Continue reading

Being Chosen and the Spirit of Place

Susan Minyard - www.sweetwaterpottery.bizBy Sara Firman (Sulis)

You can’t choose, it seems, without being chosen. For the place, in return had laid its claims on me and had made my life answerable to it…’ Wendell Berry in Jayber Crow.

I’ve lived in the Ozarks since the summer of 2002 when I happened to be passing through. Without meaning to, I fell in love with a piece of land; and, as love goes, jumped into its arms without much further thought.  The result was as tumultuous as you might expect. Continue reading

Snakes: Friend or Foe?

By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

All summer long Dean and I have been having a serious problem with a mouse in the engine compartment of our car, where it has been tearing up insulation and chewing through wires.  We have repeatedly fished out wads of grass and other nesting materials that the mouse has drug under the hood thinking the engine compartment would make a great winter den.  The damage from the mouse’s nocturnal goings on was beginning to get out of hand, but despite all our efforts we could not catch it, or kill it, or persuade it to leave. Continue reading