Monday, March 28, 2011

Growing Mushrooms in Maine

I have been wanting to grow mushrooms for a couple years now since seeing Shitake mushrooms at the Common Ground Fair. A vendor had logs displayed and a never ending line-up of people paying good money for fried Shitake mushrooms.

Looking back in my archives I even have a picture of them on a post I did in Oct 09'.If your a fellow Mainer you may find that post useful as it displays local mushrooms and where they are found. The last picture on that post is of the Shitake's growing on the logs.

I bought the above plugs at a local market for $30 for 200 they came from Oyster Creek Mushroom Company. We planted approximated 3/4 of them and gave the rest away to a friend.

We made it a family event... melted down some paraffin wax. You are suppose to use a double boiler, but who follows directions...really?

Maine Man gathered Oak logs approx 4 ft long and directions said 4- 8 inches in diameter, 1 tree was sacrificed in the making of this project. Drilled the holes w/ a 5/16th bit every 8" evenly spaced around the log. Then the we all took turns pounding the inoculated dowels in the holes, making them flush with the log. Lasly we sealed the plugs with some melted wax. Easy & Fun project to do with the kids! They stayed up an hour past their bedtime helping out. Now the logs will be stacked in a shady area in a square rick or log cabin formation. We should be able to harvest twice a year, Spring & Fall. I will be sure to update our progress on growing mushrooms in the future.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Country Boy Can Survive

I have NO doubt this boy could survive out in the wilderness! On the other hand, I would never make it out alive unless of course I had Maine Man or County Boy there to bail me out. A few weeks back CB was getting a little stir crazy (aka driving his mother crazy) so MM bought him a pellet gun. CB will spend part of this Spring into Summer working around the farm to pay it off. He offered to give us some cash after he sells some chickens he is hatching out but we declined. I think working for things you want provides for a valuable lesson. Almost every day after school he ventures out on to the back forty with MM. He goes his own way as MM cuts wood. A porcupine was his first kill with his new gun.
After the kids were ever so persistent their dear old dad, MM reluctantly cut it up and believe it or not I cooked it up. I baked it in a baking bag and it came out pretty darn good. MM and I had a few bites and the kids ate the rest. Actually they all but sucked on the bones. I really can't get over how much of a carnivore Flower Girl is. In a survival situation I could easily eat it but after seeing it dead, smelling it, and the cooking it I found it a little challenging to consume knowing I had an assortment of other foods to eat. We also saved some of the quills for future projects.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sappin' Time

If you look closely you can see the sap running down the bark.
CB helping his Dad drill some holes in the maple trees.

Couldn't help but take a picture of this. CB's friend got his outdoor gear wet so we supplied him with a stylin' attire. Camo overalls and my flowered bog boots. LOL.
I have been sworn to secrecy so I will never tell which friend it was!
Last night was cool and today was a beautiful day filled
with sunshine.
I'm sure the buckets are filling right up.
Tonight we will begin the boiling down process on top of the wood stove. This weekend we may boil some down over an open fire. The wood stove is our preferred lazy-man method. But, there truly is nothing like the taste of maple syrup boiled down over a fire.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Random Rambling

(Almost) Always willing to do a project....Flower Girl was cutting up old towels into rags.

She cut them a little smaller then planned. So instead of using them as rags I've been keeping a basket of them in the kitchen and we've been using them as we would use paper towels. Since we spend a good amount of time in the kitchen we seem to use lots of them. Maine Man thinks I'm insane. I like to keep it that way ;) Keeps life interesting!

Me fooling around when we went to New Hampshire for my procedure. The morning of the vertebroplasty we took the kids to a REALLY cool place called Montshire Musuem of Science. It is actually in Vermont, about a 10 minute drive from where we were staying in NH. When I returned home my best friend said "only you would make a something like this into a field trip for your kids". We both had a good laugh! There were moments of the trip I laid there wondering whatever possessed me to take them along. Like after the 350th time they asked to go to the pool or when they jumped on the bed the night I had the procedure..... Yikes! But overall I was glad they were with me, especially the day of the procedure. If they had not been there to support me I would have been very emotional. Don't let me kid you, the night before I did do a little bargaining with God. However, I was very calm and at peace with the choices I had made when it came to that day. It helps that I really trusted & respected the doctor that was about to screw a large needle through my shoulder into by neck and fill the vertebrae with cement right next to my spinal cord. The procedure went very well and it was a good experience for the kids to be involved in.
Unfortunately, my medical dilemma continues with quite an interesting twist. I will share the story when I get some more definite answers. I feel that if one person can benefit from my story it will make sharing it worth while.
I am out of work for one more week. Next week is already filled with 3 physical therapy appointments and yet another trip to the doctors. I am fortunate in that we have FINALLY figured out where the true source of my pain is coming from. I am able to get relief although the situation is not always ideal. Both mentally & physically I am in a MUCH better place but I still have some things to work through. Little vague, sorry...I will tell more when I know more.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Full Freezers

We picked up the remains of our pig last week. Love the look of these sweetly wrapped morsels of goodness.
We run three freezers and they are completely full. Actually I did not have enough room for all the pig fat. If any of you locals are interested in some to make lard with and/or for bird treats come on over.
With the price of gas steadily rising I have heard that the price of food will double in price.
I cannot even imagine as there are so many in this country that are going without.
Maybe it will eventually be less expensive to raise your own and more people will go back to it?
That would be nice!
P.S. The picture on my header is a dish I made after getting the idea from a fellow blogger, Amaranthian. Love her blog, lots of great culinary ideas! Besides being tasty it only required one pan. Cook up the bacon, set aside, cook up grated potatoes in the grease, then cook your eggs atop. Note to others: don't take a shower while your taters are cooking :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Making Treats for our Feathered Friends

Last year for the first time I made some tasty treats for the birds. I posted recipes here.
The other night my girl & I made some without following a recipe.
*We cooked up some pig fat in the oven in my cast iron kettle, the remaining was liquid fat and crackles, I believe that is what they are called. (little pieces of fat)

*Threw the crackles in the processor.*Dug deep into my fridge to find the bacon grease and such I had been saving for the last year or so, against Maine Man's will. Melted it down. He's a bit of a throw away kinda guy and I am a save it kinda gal. I just know I will find a use for it someday! Hence why I do the recycling, as painful as it can be.

*Threw in some bird seed, a bit of cracked corn, a few tablespoons of peanut butter. Mixed it all together and dished it out into pans and plastic containers of all sizes.

I was wishing I had saved a bunch of those plastic containers you get when you buy suet blocks in the store. I only had 1 and it was perfect for this project. Maybe I will put something on Facebook and see if my bird feeding friends will save some for me.

*Set the containers in the barn overnight

*Perfectly hardened! Popped the suet blocks out of the containers. Placed one outside for the birds and the rest in the freezer.

Little Messy but FUN!