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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 17, 2017


By Steve Wilson | Aug 16, 2012
Photo by: Don Poggensee IOWA'S ENDANGERED ******BARN OWL ****** ***KEEPING WATCH ***

Home — To view the archives click on -Additional Posts (3 - 24) (Visit mushroom pics for new links.)


As I keep studying this crazy mushroom I am learning that its nerve regenerating properties might not only settle my fleeting short term memory but also reverse the peripheral neuropathy I have had in my feet over the last 2 or 3 years. My toes always tingle like they are "asleep". (I was concerned it might be diabetes so I eliminated that option.)

Years ago I wrote an article about there being gold in the biological diversity of the hills and hollows of Henry County. So just for fun, lets say this head to toe mushroom does in fact stop or even just delay dementia and it also stablizes or restores the function of the nerves in my feet.  If it can keep me on my feet walking in the woods and wetlands with kids and critters, knowing the name of the Joy of my life, keeping watch on birds, bees and bluebells until I drop dead of a heart attack instead of Alzheimer’s.... I will indeed have found the Mother Lode. (Just consider the costs of  even one year of Alzheimer's care.)

I decided to take an online memory test last night. I scored 75%. I figure I should take the test again every two weeks or so to get a nice bunch of data points and see how things look come Christmas. The challenge will be remembering to take the test!





I joined with the Prairie States Mushroom Club and some Henry County residents for a walk through the park at Oakland Mills this afternoon. However, the first order of business for me was to get confirmation on the identification of the not so mysterious mushroom I have been watching with You on the blog. As soon as I pulled out a piece of the mushroom and placed it on the table the immediate response from the club members was Hericium corallodies. What a relief for family members as I was already sampling it and aging my first tincture.

Yesterday I gathered a significant portion from one of the eight eruptions now growing on the log and brought it home to dry in our food dehydrator. I tried a fresh sample and found the first taste to be delicious but the after taste was bitter and tenacious. The portion I was using was browning and I had been warned in the literature that older growth became bitter. However, one writer noted that so long as there was no evidence of rot the mushroom would still be suitable for drying. I noticed as well that the smell given off while it was drying was some how reminiscent of the strong after taste. I hoped the odor was an indication that it might be off gassing the offensive taste and maybe the dried mushroom might taste a bit better. Thankfully it did.

Slicing the mushroom in quarter inch slabs I exposed the mostly hollow interior that was a criss-cross of branches supporting the densely packed outer shell. Here again it looked much like a   spreading juniper. I loaded the dryer,set the thermostat at 140 degrees and left for the afternoon. By the time I got home it was dry enough to crumble easily except for the stout branches. I reasoned that the smaller the pieces were the more effective the ethanol solvent would be. So I got out the blender and after several passes I produced one cup of a blend of small chips and fine powder.

All the while the peanut gallery, consisting of grandson Riggs and wife Joy, were entertaining themselves accusing me of being some kind of a mad scientist.

This morning I took my first 1ml dose of the tincture in a glass of orange juice. So far so good. This afternoon Joy reminded me that not once, but twice I had suffered mushroom poisoning and one time I ate three messes before the toxins built up enough to make me sick. Still, experiencing no ill effects with this mushroom at this time, I am ready for another dose in the morning. Keep in mind that simply because someone else can eat something with no ill effects is no assurance that everyone can. One of my greatest disappointments was finding that I cannot eat pawpaws. I wish I could and I have stubbornly tried to get past my reaction to the fruit but my reaction appears to get worse instead of better with each exposure, so I have given up. I cannot even take the seeds out of the ripe fruit without having a nauseating reaction.

So, is it crazy to expect an effective treatment for Alzheimer's to be found growing on a rotting maple log behind the house? Perhaps, and as those who know me best know, I do crazy things on occasion. However, having watched my Mother die of Alzheimer's, I figure it is even more crazy to not give it a try. It reminds me of the Bible story where the sick guy was not willing to do something stupid to be cured. So, here goes.

If it works it will be another awesome and personal testimony to the value of biological diversity. I am even thinking about doing some kind of a cognitive function test to measure its effects but why not leave that to the real scientists and just cover my hiney for now?  

For those of You who may not have been following the links now posted with the pictures - 

"The most exciting aspect of the medicinal value of Hericium has been the discovery and exploration of the factors now called erinacines that have shown the ability to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in animal trials and hold forth the promise as possible therapeutic agents in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders (Yamada et al, 1997)."

"A recent human clinical study carried was out in Japan with a group of Japanese men and women age 50-80 reported and diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and treated with H. erinaceus fruiting body powder given orally. The results of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that the treatment group subjects had significant improvement in cognitive function at 8, 12 & 16 weeks and also showed that the improvement did not last beyond 4 weeks following the discontinuation of the mushroom powder."

Since the active ingredient has been found to be soluable in alcohol I decided to begin with the tincture and then to go to the 1 gram of dry power per day when that is gone.

In the mean time, it is time to learn how to grow this mushroom.




Conservation (Wise Use)  Ethics. 


To under stand my position on hunting, logging and land management it is necessary to start at the Beginning. God creates over time. The changes God makes over time are what some call evolution and others call the Days of Creation. It appears We are in the early Days of Creation and unless We do something really stupid, things should just keep getting better.

Looking at the Nature of Creation we see reproductive excess being checked by violent predation. (We also see mutualism) Predation creates an intensely selective environment. Gibran put it this way, "The lion has taught swiftness to the gazelle." This points to one of the fundamental principles of wise use or conservation. We must protect the best.

Logging the best trees at their reproductive prime, shooting trophy animals at their reproductive prime, hunting local populations to the point of local decline, soil eroding at rates exceeding natural regeneration, reducing the biological diversity of the ecosystems, the pollution of our air and water... such practices rob future generations of a future of abundance.

Our participation in Creation as responsible Hunter/Husbandman/Forester, even as the Children of God participating in this Day of Creation, needs to be a force for the continuous improvement of what we sustainabily use across all levels from the soil to the atmosphere. 

By way of our farming the soil should become deeper and more fertile. By way of your hunting the quality/vigor of the prey population as a whole should improve. By way of our forestry the health, stature and diversity of the forest should improve. 

One more thing, all of Us are failing one way or the other, which simply means there are opportunities for all of Us to improve.

 Ethic #1. Protect the best.  

Conservation Ethic #2.


 8/30/2012 - 98 Wood Ducks and a Dozen Nighthawks

As Amos and I sat along the road watching the sky we spotted three jets, 12 Nighthawks and 98 Woodies. I say we, but Amos spots them and then I count em. That was alot more Woodies than I expected.  I sent instructions for grand daughter Keira to go visit the windmill north of New London to watch the moon rise and the sun set but I have not yet heard back from her. She thinks the moon and the stars and the sun are some big deal. I was indeed a  beautiful evening from that perspective.  



Coming home from the dentist in New London Joy and I decided to swing by Joy Lake. There was a nice flock of Canada's on the Winfield Ave borrow pit along with a few Mallards. When we got to Joy Lake we observed that the late brood of a dozen Mallards are nearly full sized now. A Crow was wading in shallow water along the north bank and an immature Great Blue Heron was up to his belly working along the edge of the pond weeds. If this guy was not swimming/floating it sure looked like he was. He never left the pondweeds seemingly taking advantage of the good fishing opportunity they presented. He swallowed three fish while we watched that were large enough to require some neck stretching.  With the dry weather it is possible he might have been barely reaching the bottom but if he was we certainly could not tell it by watching as the water level on his body remained high and constant as he smoothly and slowly made his way through the vegetation.  

Some additional Great Blues were on the river and some large soft shelled turtles were basking on a log just above Faulkners Access.


With the help of Amos D. Goose I saw two, of what appeared to be migranting, Common Nighthawks flying over. Amos just doesn't miss much when it comes to fly-bys. I will be out in the yard and suddenly he will start intently cocking his head and looking up. At first I will not see anything but then a high flying con-trail free silver jet will silently appear, or an eagle or a vulture will show up looking to be about the size of a fly in the clear blue sky.

By the way, Amos likes boys best. I am thinking that Amos may be Amy. I am going to stick with Amos until I hear the voice of maturity but already I find myself saying "she". 



25O Common Nighthawks were spotted making their way south across Pottawattamie County from the Hitchcock Nature Center in the Loess Hills along the Missouri River yesterday.  I wonder how far north they nested? 

I could do that. I could spend a day counting Nighthawks and consider it a day well spent. The Greeks had a saying, that the gods do not subtracts from the hours of a mans life time spent in fishing. It nice to know I racked up some bonus points fishing in my youth, but some bad habits probably balanced the books. With time passing swiftly now I can still spend the day watching birds and be grateful for the opportunity, not counting the cost, even as one more day passes under the banyan tree of Life.


On the last two visits to the hilltop wetland I have flushed a Sora Rail. They like to jump, fly briefly and then resettle much more quickly than a quail. I presume this is a migrating bird. At a distance in flight they appear to me to be dark charcoal almost black, much like the breast of the pictured bird on the link below. Be sure to listen to the call.



Ron Osborne and Joy both saw a big white wader on the remains of the New London DOT Wetland yesterday. Ron said a Great Blue Heron was there too. The black legs and yellow bill on a large white wader cinches it, the visitor was a Great Egret.


There is this one mature Little Green Heron that likes to sit on a bare branch of the cottonwood I dropped into the pond and fish. He sits there very still with his head set back tight against his shoulders and his bill straight out in front of him with his body leaning forward steep and low ever ready to strike. Well apparently, as he waits watching for minnows, he is also watching the Kingfishers that dive into the water to catch minnows since the other day he suddenly left his branch and plunged into the water face first several feet away from his perch very much as a Kingfisher would and very unlike anything I have ever seen a heron do. I could not tell if he was successful so I will keep watch to see if he does it again. 

Searching the web I found reports of some other species of herons who too take to diving on occassion. I think I will see if any fellow Iowa birders have observed this behavior.   

Great picture. Spitting image. 


Reports from around the state as well as further study support the Northern Watertrush as being the most likely ID. They are on the move and we have not seen the bird again. Confidence level? Maybe 80%, considering the possibility of confusing plumage on immature birds.

8/17/2012 The Mystery of the Waterthrush.

Wait a minute! Could it be a Louisana Waterthrush that I saw yesterday?  I certainly hope it shows up again today so that I can maybe say, one way or the other, with greater confidence what I saw. Anyway, it was a Waterthrush but was it a southern belle of the bayous  or the northern boy of the bogs? That may end up being an open question . It brings to mind the question this spring on the ID of the Dowitchers that came through visiting both the Walmart and the New London wetlands. Long billed or short billed - that was the question - and ever will be. 


Late this afternoon I saw this strange, long-legged, brown backed, stripped breasted, tail bobbing, little bit of road runner about the size of a junco walking on stilts scampering around under the feeders. What the heck is that? At first Joy thought it might be a Wood Thrush but on closer examination we were able to determine the little hyper visitor was in fact a Northern Waterthrush. This is the first time we can remember seeing one in the yard. 



Three generations of Wilsons hopped in one kayak and one canoe this morning at Faulkner's Access to see if there was enough water going down the river to allow us to remain seated all the way to Boylston. The answer is yes, but it was close as grandson Riggs in his kayak did get hung up on a sand bar once but he was able to push on through.

(Riggs and I walked Big Creek the other day tossing clams stranded in the drying rocks of what used to be riffles into the remaining pools.)

We were surprised this morning by the number of Little Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese and Bald Eagles that we saw on the river trip. We saw 10 Great Blue Herons all in flight at the same time heading down the river ahead of us.

Later over 100 Canada Geese took flight off of a couple of neighboring sand bars. The geese love the open sand bars for loafing and preening as was evidenced by the many small nearly white feathers they left behind to wave and dance in the gentle breeze as we floated by.

We also saw several Kingfishers, in fact most of the time it seemed that at least one was visible fore or aft. Sandpipers and killdeer were also well represented. I got a quick look at a beaver.

The eagles were a mix of mature and immature birds.

We were alone on the river having a wilderness experience close to home.

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