Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
This morning they weeded in the greenhouse, clearing out the grass that has been creeping in from the edges and along the paths. Then we headed to Shepard Buffalo farm for a little adventure.
Ron Shepard for my Prairie Air radio show, he told me his favorite day of the year is the day the bison are released to the spring pasture, giddy and joyful after the long winter. I asked if I could watch this spring and he kindly agreed. Today was the big day, and Ross, Evelyn and Anna happened to be here for it. The ground was too soft for Ron’s truck, so he built a special platform for his skid loader, for all of us to ride out to the pasture on and use as a viewing platform, safe above the bison herd. We set up our observation post where the bison would run past and then Ron went up the hill to open the gate to the chute.
Tonight we topped off a memorable day with grilled bison burgers from Shepard Buffalo Farm for supper-- absolutely delicious! (You can purchase Shepard Buffalo Farm meat at the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays.)
Now the only problem is, it is going to be hard to top this first day of WWOOFing!
Monday, May 12, 2014
WWOOFers who already are making me feel more like we may actually be able to handle the demands of this little farm this summer. Jessica is our first WOOFer/intern, who plans to work with us four days a week the entire summer. She is an accomplished baker (bonus for us!) and eager to learn the ins and outs of farm animals, dairying and gardening. Already she has been invaluable in helping us bake breads and pastries for the Farmers Market. Here she is, putting a pizza into the wood-fired oven--our traditional supper on Friday bread-baking night.
A great power breakfast for a hard-working Sunday!
Such a glorious time of year!!
Thursday, May 8, 2014
I have never grown or even tasted Winecap Mushrooms before, but I recently met a new friend, Teresa Marrone, the author of a just-published book: Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest: a Simple Guide to Common Mushrooms, and she encouraged me to try them because they can be grown easily right in your garden. They are supposed to be are similar to portobello mushrooms in taste.
I decided to create a small mushroom bed at the end of the stoop of the Unbearably Cute Garden Shed. I used some vintage wood logs that we found in the barn to create the border. The spawn did not come with any instructions and I found several different approaches in my online search, so I tried a blend of a few suggested planting techniques. First, I laid down wet cardboard.
Then, I mixed half wood chips with half semi composted compost. Getting the compost was the hardest part because i had to carry it by shovelfuls from the compost pile through the extremely muddy cow yard to my wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow never could have made it through the deep mud. For wood chips I am using purchased pine bedding for chickens. I figure it is unlikely to be contaminated with spores from other mushrooms. I suspect the little blue mushrooms that always pop up on the compost pile might show up, but they will be easy to tell apart from the winecaps.
The compost-woodchip mixture is layered about 6 inches deep over the cardboard.
I added another thin layer of wood chips because the pine bedding is so fine, I was worried it might decompose too fast. Then I spread the mushroom spawn over the bed and covered everything with a layer of compost. I watered lightly because we are supposed to get rain this afternoon, but the bed should be kept well-watered.
The reading gnome and a toad have taken up residence in a corner of the mushroom patch, waiting for the mushrooms to emerge. If all goes well, we will have mushrooms for our wood-fire pizza in just a few weeks.