Archive for May, 2010


Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Pile o'Rocks

We’ve been stomping around the fields and forests of Roundrock for more than a decade, but even after all of that time, I’m still not sure that I’ve set foot on every one of the 83 acres. There are possibly parts of it that I just haven’t wandered into. That’s something I want to work on for the next ten years and beyond.

Ahead lay discoveries. I’m sure there are types of trees growing in my woods that I never knew I had. Others that I’ll finally learn the names of. Critters prowling the place that I’ve never seen. Flowers that will be first-time discoveries for me. And microscopic life: I want to turn the lens of a microscope on a drop of water from the lake to see what new wilderness there is to explore. There isn’t much evidence of human use of this land, but maybe I’ll come across the foundation stones of an old cabin. I’d love to find a cave, even if it’s just a small one.

I’m not an expert on plants or wildlife or geology or local history or chainsaws or photography or rural living. But I don’t claim to be. The only thing I can consider myself an authority on is myself and my adventure through life. And I think there is plenty of adventure ahead.

Maybe I’ll finally find an arrowhead. Or another ancient horseshoe. Or an Ozark Howler. And plenty of really fine round rocks. Who knows what strange and mysterious surprises await in the meteor impact structure where Roundrock sits. For me, there is no other place like Roundrock in all the world.

Someday we’ll raise a house out there and move in full time. We’ll get the dam fixed and settled, the road improved, the lake properly stocked. We’ll work on timber stand improvement, culling some trees so others can thrive. We’ll continue to introduce critter-friendly plants throughout the forest and then see how they do. We’ll get to see the pecans bear nuts and we’ll get to walk in the dark under the towering pine trees. We’ll be stewards of the land; maybe we can make a difference in our little patch.

And I’ll spend my quiet moments sipping iced tea (unsweetened, of course), sitting in my comfy chair on the shady porch overlooking the sparkling lake in my little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks.


Update 6-DEC-2011: I don’t know if this will make a difference, but I’m “updating” this post in an attempt to recapture the blog from some of the takeover sites that sometimes pop up when I go to my own address. I suppose some current posts would make the difference, but all of my posts are in the past lately.

Missouri calendar:

  • Stinging nettle is tall enough to sting; jewelweed is big enough to relieve the burn.

I wish all of you well.


Monday, May 17th, 2010


What more can I say about my round rocks that I haven’t already said? My woods are littered with them, but the easy finds are history now. We’ve collected all of those in scattered piles about the forest. Now when we come across a good one, it’s usually partially buried, but I love them enuf to be willing to spend the time digging them out (often with only a stick), just to put them on top of the ground, maybe to collect later.

They have an exotic origin, so exotic that it truly is out of this world. They formed in the chemical soup that brewed up several hundred million years ago when a meteor struck the salty sea that covered my part of what would one day be called Missouri, stirring up a brew of minerals that concreted around the shattered bits of shale resulting from the impact. The round rocks grew, much like pearls do in oysters.

I first wrote about them in this ancient post, only the fourth post I made to this blog nearly five years ago. And I’ve been babbling about them ever since.

rock tree

Missouri calendar:

  • Opossum young begin emerging from the female’s pouch.


Sunday, May 16th, 2010

golf balls

A little bird (a Robin, specifically) asked to see a picture of some of our round rocks that are about the size of golf balls. Here are two. The smallest ones and the largest ones don’t tend to hold together out in the wild. Whole ones in these sizes are the rarest of our finds. Most we find are around the size of a grapefruit.


Rurality was one of the first blogs I ever visited. It is what got me started in this whole blogging business, and I found a few fine friends from the links there. I call it my “gateway blog.” I love the insights and the whimsy, and I even patterned the look of Roundrock Journal to be like Rurality.


We talked about spending this weekend at the cabin, but as the time approached and the weather reports grew more certain of their veracity, we realized that spending two days and a night contained in a 12 x 24 foot space under a metal roof in the incessant rain — with two dogs — wasn’t as pleasant as we were imagining. There will be plenty of other weekends in the months and years to come. (But pesky family obligations keep getting in the way!)


Bent and rusty, but still much the same.


You have until May 30 to submit your links for the next Festival of the Trees. Your host, CJ of Wandering Owl Outside, is looking to build an edition around the relationship between trees and wildlife, though he says he’ll consider any post related to trees. Send your links (of posts you’ve written or ones you’ve found) to cjharn (at) gmail (dot) com.

Festival of the Trees

Maybe it’s time for you to consider becoming a host for the Festival. It’s a fun way to meet other bloggers (if virtually) and find new sites to visit. It’s also a good way to drive more traffic to your site. Plus, it’s not that hard. Go to the Festival coordinating page to see how many other bloggers have chosen to approach it. Maybe you’ll have an idea you’d like to explore. Dave and Jade can give you all the help you need to get started.


The Nature Blog Network continues its quest for world domination with more than 1,100 blogs in its list. If you’re not there, you should consider joining. And by all means, add your blog to their world map. It looks a little lonely in the middle of the U.S. and I know there are many of you out there.

Another great site for like-minded bloggers is the Outdoor Bloggers Summit. Their focus tends toward outdoor sports, but there is plenty of variety in their membership, and you might find kindred souls there too.


Funny how two months ago I would have thought nights in the 40s and days in the 60s were balmy, shirt-sleeve weather. Now they just seem cold. Still, it’s nice to be experiencing an actual spring.


The blue-tailed skink post from way back when is still getting comments! More than 80 of them now. And no, I don’t recommend them as pets.


A long time ago I wrote about a nest box I had set out near the pine plantation. It was slowly deteriorating but still managing to provide a cozy home for some critter (though probably not a bird). Well, the last time I was by there, I found the box fallen to the ground in pieces. I’m blaming all of my recent Roundrock woes on that late season snow storm we had down there, and I suspect that was to blame for the end of the nest house as well. (Funny how I’ve never managed to get around to building more of those like I said I might in that post.)


Still proud to be part of the Sparkleberry Springs Local Stewardship Project.


And I still say that the blog is the big picture and a post is your entry to it. “Blog” after all, is short for weblog. A log implies a series of entries. Thus the blog is the collection of entries, which are the posts. (Some of us just think about words and meaning all the time.)



In the nearly five years that I have been keeping this blog, I have had more than 93,000 visits. I’d like to thank each and every person, starting with YOU.


This is the man I still strive every day to be.



Missouri calendar:

  • Wild strawberries ripen in grasslands.
  • Purple finches leave.

Full circle

Saturday, May 15th, 2010


Round rocks are like people. They come in all different shapes and sizes. And while people can sometimes be as dense as round rocks, they are all worthwhile. Or at least they must be thought of in this way.

When I’ve pondered why some of my rocks are not round the way most of them are, I’ve quickly began to ponder why any of them would be round at all. Why wouldn’t gravity, for example, have distorted the shape of all of them? Sure, they formed in a chemical soup and were effectively “suspended” there as they grew, but doesn’t it seem a bit unlikely that rocks would be free of the influence of gravity? Well, I don’t know enuf about ancient geology to be able to doubt the word of the experts. (Common sense being, after all, the thing that tells you the world is flat.)

So I sit in my comfy chair and ponder my round rocks. There is so much yet to be learned. So much discovery I have yet to make in my 80+ acres. That gives me a warm feeling for the future.

gourd rock

Missouri calendar:

  • Watch for lightning bugs on warm evenings.

Skywatch Friday ~ Almost over

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


Usually when I link to Skywatch Friday, I post a sunrise or the blue, blue sky during the middle of the day. It’s time to post a sunset, when the day is done. No wonder sunset is a well used metaphor for the end of things.

This is not out in my Ozark forest but in the middle of an office park near my home. In fact the world headquarters for one of the major mobile phone companies is right across the street from where I took this shot. That’s little bluestem grass growing on the hillside. I’d been trying to line up this shot for weeks, but I was never in the right place at the right time. But good things are worth waiting for.

Skywatch Friday

Missouri calendar:

  • Cuckoos (rain crows) return this week to nest.
  • Fawns are born through late June.

Hopeful signs

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


It would have been hard to overlook this on our last trip to the woods. It was parked in the meadow we must cross to get to our entrance.

The dam and the road at Roundrock have needed some love for a long time. (The dam is in danger of being breached.) Back in December (or was it November?) I spoke to the man who had originally built them and invited him out to our woods to reconnoiter the mess and suggest a plan of attack. He looked it all over with me, nodded his head and stroked his chin, and then came up with a number. It was a number that was far less than the number that came up for putting a cabin on the land, but it was still a substantial number. Fortunately, we had sold the remaining half of Fallen Timbers and were able to meet the number.

Then it became a waiting game. The man was building a house for someone, and that would keep him away from our job for a while. Then the spring rains came. To repair the dam, the man must get his dozer down in the wet acre below it. He feared he would bog down if the ground was saturated. Finally, we had a stretch of comparatively dry weather, and he made the delivery you see above.

Unfortunately, he told me that it had rained the day he brought the big machine in. And of course you recall that it rained most of the weekend Libby and I stayed at the cabin. And it has rained a number of times since then.

Nonetheless, I hope that with such a large tool from his toolbox out at my woods, he’ll consider my work to be a priority and get to it sooner rather than later.

Change is coming to Roundrock. I’m ready for it!

Missouri calendar:

  • Carpenter bees lay their eggs in wood.

Rust never sleeps

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010


Rust never sleeps, so the old saying goes. In this case it’s cedar apple rust, a fungal infection that is commonly manifest in many parts of the country this time of the year.

I haven’t seen a lot of cedar apple rust in my woods through the years, though I would expect to; I have plenty of cedar trees. The specimen you see above is the only one I came across this year, and I had rambled through a good part of my woods during my recent planting adventures. This one is on one of the cedars just below the cabin. I could see its orange glow from the comfy chair, this despite the fact that there was nothing that you could call sunshine for most of that weekend we were there.

I had always thought that this infection was spread by the feet of little birdies, and I suppose it can be as well, but apparently the more common dispersal method is through free-floating spores. Didn’t know that, and this led me to ask myself a question. Is this the same rust as the one that infects hawthorn trees? I’d always understood it to be the case, but now I wonder.

I’ve long wanted to plant hawthorn trees at Roundrock. They are great for the critters, providing food and lodging as well as giving a nice spray of flowers in the late spring and bright red fruits in the fall. The hawthorn blossom is the official flower of the great state of Missouri. But I have resisted planting them, even though they are regularly available from the Conservation Department each year, because I had understood that they could get heavily infected with the rust if they are grown near cedars. (I’ve heard the same thing about apple trees.) Over at that other bit of Ozark forest we used to own we had no cedar trees (nor did our neighbors), and we planted most of our western property line with hawthorns. They’re probably blooming about now. But because we have so many cedars at Roundrock, I’d thought I couldn’t have hawthorns without the high risk of them getting the rust infection. Now I’m not so sure. If it’s not the same rust between the species, is the fear of transmission not valid?

Perhaps the point is moot. I don’t really have any cedars at Roundrock. What everyone calls eastern red cedar, which I do have plenty of, is actually a juniper. Perhaps if I explain this to the rust, it will realize that it has misapplied itself and move on. It’s worth a try I suppose.

Missouri calendar:

  • Black locust trees are in bloom.
  • Bluegill begin spawning.

Time for the April tally

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

tally time

I’m a little late in getting this down, but the facts must be made known so that they may be used in evidence and a judgment can be reached at the end of the year.

Here is the April calendar, showing the visits we made to Roundrock. Once again, the stars may be a little hard to discern, but April was a departure from our trend for the year: we visited Roundrock on three consecutive Sundays during the month (4th, 11th, 8th). You will recall that we had only been down there three times in the whole three months before that.

Thus for the first four months — let us call it sixteen weeks — we had been down to the woods six times, which is still less than “every other weekend” as Libby has so boldly claimed in the past.

Although I would love to visit my woods “every other weekend”, the evidence clearly shows that we have not, even with the anomalous April addition.

May, however, may further alter the trend. We spent the first two days of May at Roundrock, which already qualifies it for meeting Libby’s assertion.

Missouri calendar:

  • Blackberry winter; a cold spell may occur, freezing blackberry blooms.

digital Walden

Monday, May 10th, 2010


I was sitting on the front porch of the cabin, reading Walden. On my iPad. Actually, it’s become more of Libby’s iPad, which doesn’t bug me too much.

We took the iPad with us when we spent the night at the cabin a couple of weeks ago. Not having electricity out there, we don’t have reading lamps, so when night fell, we were pretty much restricted by what we were left able to do in the dark. Not so with a back-lit ebook reader, however.

It’s a novelty. The iPad, aside from being an ebook reader, does nothing my laptop can’t also do (and do better). And as a book reader, it doesn’t do much that a paperback can’t do as well. (So far, the only thing I’ve found that the iPad can do while I am reading is look up words I don’t know the definition of, which is certainly the case when I’m reading Walden.) But I’ve dropped plenty of paperbacks and they still work fine when I pick them up. And I’ve never had a low battery message on a paperback. And I could even throw a paperback across the room if I hated it.

I’m reluctant to get sucked into the new book marketing paradigm. The iPad can use some of the services and not others. (For example, I can’t download any books from my local library onto it.) The services I have looked into seem pop culture heavy. I’m unlikely to read the latest bestseller, but the novelists I am interested in aren’t available on the services I’ve looked into. I suppose I could find them, but do I want to?

I’ve found that I cannot read out at the cabin. Too much is going on. I want to watch the woods and the lake. I am constantly listening to the birds and the breeze. When I’m out there I’m always thinking of the next thing I can go do or how much I can enjoy the stupor provided by the comfy chairs.

Like most things, though, Pablo will likely evolve.

Missouri calendar:

  • Bobolinks migrate from Argentina and some nest in northern Missouri.


Sunday, May 9th, 2010


The black locust trees were in bloom last weekend. We saw them clouding the roadside as we got farther south on our drive to Roundrock. I have a few locust trees in my woods, but I only happened by one of them in my tromping about then, and it wasn’t blooming. This one is on my neighbor’s property and I passed it on my way to his cabin to get some water (ours having all leaked out on the drive down, which I think I told you about). Although black locust is believed to have been native to parts of Missouri, its original range was more prominently in Appalachia. Now it is considered naturalized throughout the country and is even considered a pest in many places.


The Beltane edition of the Festival of the Trees is up over at Nature’s Whispers, and a fine collection it is. So scurry over there if you haven’t to see all of the links Jasmine has collected.

The next edition, number 48 in the ongoing series, will be hosted by CJ at Wandering Owl Outside. His general theme is the relationship between trees and game animals/birds, though he has said he’ll consider any link you send his way that deals with trees. Deadline for submissions (of posts you’ve written or those you have found) is May 30. Send your links to CJHarn (at) gmail (dot) com. Be sure to put Festival of the Trees in your subject line. Or you can use the handy contact form.


You’ll recall that I taped the seams in the insulating sheathing that was wrapped around the stud frame of the cabin before the “log” siding was put on. I’ve done this to try to keep the bugs out. When I was last at the cabin, I realized that I’ll need to tape along the bottom of the framing as well, since that is at least as much of an access point. And now it occurs to me that I’ll probably need to do the same up on the ceiling (if there is any exposed seam there).



You know, I think I like your blog the best!

Missouri calender:

  • Mother’s Day
  • Dewberries bloom.