March 17, 2010 – “Planting” Oyster Mushrooms

Today was a great day to “plant” oyster mushrooms.

First step is to have a tree in mind.  Oysters do well in soft maples.  It’s best to find a “tree that doesn’t have a future.”  In this case, the scrawny silver maple between the walnut on the left and silver maple on the right meets that definition.  The photo on the left is before the tree was cut down, and the one on the right, after the tree came down.

The tree was cut up into lengths and moved to the yard for processing.

First step is to drill holes about two inches apart all around the log.  The bit has a special collar to drill exactly the right depth into the log.

Here’s the “seeds,” in this case Italian Oyster spawn impregnated on wooden dowels.

The dowels are pounded into the logs with a hammer.

Since it was a beautiful day, and it’s hard not to multi-task, while the wax was melting, part of dinner was on the grill at the same time.  We used to use regular paraffin wax in the past, but heard that beeswax works better, so here we’re melting a bit of both and will see which one works better.

Martin is applying the wax to seal up the log – all the plugs and cut surfaces need to be sealed up to conserve moisture in the log.

A completed log.  I’ll move the logs to a cool, shady place and wait a few months for the mushrooms to pop!

one year ago…”Washer Broke”

March 16, 2010 – Three Cats in the Sun

Can you find the three cats in this photo? They were all catching some rays on the south side of the barn and since they are cats, didn’t bother to move when the sun went away.

Yesterday was one of those days when the spring list of things to do outstretched the hours in the day. I imagine many people besides me have a long list of things that need to get done. Today, my list included some computer work to keep my employer happy, taking down the Christmas lights, picking up the twigs and branches from the pruning, picking rocks out of the lawn that the snowplowing moved in the snow, and keeping the syrup stove stoked. At one point, I was able to get some peace of mind, by concentrating on being outside on the beautiful day, instead of concentrating on the mental list.

one year ago…”New Electric Fence”

March 15, 2010 – Checking the Beehive

Now that the temps have warmed to the 50’s, it’s time to make sure the bees have enough honey left in the hive to sustain them until the first blooming commences.

Linda is taking over the beekeeping this year.

We were happy to see that this hive was still active after the winter.  Today the black cover came off the hive and the honey supply looked adequate to keep them going.

one year ago…”Prunings”

March 14, 2010 – Maple Syruping Season Begins

We’re a little behind getting our taps in.  The weather warmed up rather suddenly and with the heavy overcast, has stayed relatively warm.  Good sap run happens when nighttime temperatures drop below freezing, but we haven’t had that for a while, nor is it in the forecast, but it was time to get the taps in.

Here Martin is drilling the hole in the tree in the front yard – our best producer.

Later in the day, he monitors the “mobile sugar shack” -this old woodstove on a small wagon, so we can move it around as needed, depending on the wind and precipitation.  We don’t end up with very much syrup because our setup is so small and we don’t have a lot of maple trees, so this size stove and pan work well enough.  But the syrup sure tastes good!  It is one item not for sale from high hopes gardens!

one year ago…”Spring Exploration”

March 13, 2010 – Tree Pruning

The sun peeked out unexpectedly today!  Our week of fog and overcast is coming to an end.

Tree pruning brings many decisions.  Here is Linda scoping out a tree for the next cut.

Later on, in a different tree, she takes to tree climbing for a better stance.  This tree is a great example of the effects of a microclimate.  It is planted due west of the sw corner of the barn.  When we get an east wind, the breeze funnels around the barn on this spot – so much so, that the tree has grown with a distinct lean to the west.

one year ago…”Getting Bees Ready for Spring”

March 12, 2010 – Third Ewe Drops Triplets

Three out of four ewes have dropped their lambs.  This one is our skittish ewe who never really looks pregnant compared to Tank.

Again, a morning trip to the barn found all the lambs out and up – triplets again.  Two of three ewes had triplets so far this year and have not needed any intervention. The ewes have also been very good about spacing their births, about 5-6 days apart.

one year ago…”Thingamajig #157″

March 9, 2010 – Discarded Toyota Marketing Slogans

As the owner of a 2010 Toyota Corolla – the first new car I ever purchased, it is with mixed emotions that I relay the following abandoned Toyota marketing slogans.

Once you start driving a Toyota, you’ll never stop!

Toyota. Moving Forward. Whether You Want to or Not.

Have You Driven into a Ford Lately?

Holy cow, even we didn’t know the Prius could go 94 mph!

And word is that Toyota is in talks with Infiniti to purchase rights to the Infiniti slogan “Infiniti. Accelerating the Future.”

one year ago…”Boiling Sap”

March 7, 2010 – Real Life Marauder’s Map

For all you Harry Potter fans, here’s a real life marauder’s map!  This is the “Sprint Family Locator.”

It’s available on any computer or our cell phones. This shows on a map where two of our family members are at this particular time. The girls thought it was a bit creepy for us to be able to know where they always were, but it sure comes in handy for wondering when someone will be home for dinner, knowing when to pick them up from a sporting event in Fort Dodge or Mason City, or if Dad is still moving on his ride home from Des Moines on a slippery night.

You can even zoom in to a very detailed level to locate someone – on this photo, it looks like Linda might be in a greenhouse – shocking, I know! Best of all, it just costs $5.00 month. I wonder what the implications for law enforcement are regarding placing people at the scene of a crime with all these GPS enabled phones? I can get emails at times I request for locations of any family member. We have shared the password with the kids, so they could also see where we are at.  It gives them precious minutes to get the dishes done or boys out of the house when we are on our way home!

one year ago…”Maple Sugaring Part 2″

March 6, 2010 – Ewe Lamb Births with no Problem

Our second ewe has given birth without any problems.  We checked the barn in the morning and these two boys were just born and still wet.

This was the birth we were most worried about since the ewe was only a year old.  But as you can see, momma did just fine!  She’s a very vocal mother, and makes all kinds of low muttering sounds to her lambs.

one year ago…”Maple Sugaring Part 1″

March 5, 2010 – Basement Woes Over?

After what seemed like a long time doing the kitchen dishes in a tub and not using the dishwasher, the basement plumbing is finally fixed.

This is during the throes of the replumbing.  This hole will contain a sump pit and that will service the floor drains and will also accommodate part of the moving of the kitchen and dishwasher to the main septic line.  We could have tried to do it cheaper and easier, but it would have meant putting the floor drains in the septic – and in the case of water in the basement, the septic drain field would be saturated, and running groundwater into it, would cause that to fail as well – so we bit the bullet and fixed both problems at once.

The hole cleaned up well – now we just have to wait for the cement to dry and see how we can rearrange the basement as there is no longer room for the chest freezer against this wall.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #156″

March 4, 2010 – Thingamajig Thursday #198

This week’s Thingamajig Thursday is a little different – see how many clues you need to get the answer.

  • You’ve probably seen me on TV in the last month.
  • I grew up in a house with no running water or electricity.
  • I grew up a vegetarian.
  • I own a 630 acre farm in New Hampshire that contains an organic farm and woodland conservation easements.
  • I have five Olympic medals.

Also check out the last thingamajig answer.

As always, put your guess in a comment below.

Hold mouse over this sentence to pop-up answer.

one year ago…”Tree Pruning”