The 2016 Winter Farm

I feel like every year I post about winter at the farm, and every year it’s the same thing. That said, I find comfort in structure and familiar things, and it’s my blog, so let’s do it.

It’s been a super mild winter here in Maine, at least compared to last year. Tomorrow alone is supposed to be 40 degrees which is admittedly a little bit insane and ridiculous. I really wish we would just get slammed with a blizzard. Just once. It’s not winter without a blizzard. I’m pretty sure the ladies and gents up at the farm are pretty happy though to not have weather colder than a witches tit.

This past weekend I went up to do my annual “I’m cold. I’m feeling claustrophobic. I don’t want to move but I have to move.” photos of cows at the farm. It gives me a chance to get out, to stretch, and to most certainly plan all of my ways of escape should the bull become ornery and decide I’m not welcome. Granted, this has never happened [knock on rock hard manure]. They are all super well behaved and curious. I’d say pretty friendly to boot.

So with that said, here are the 2016 stars of the farm.

DSC_5957DSC_5970DSC_5980DSC_5995DSC_6004DSC_5955Finally, it wouldn’t be the same without the shy one:

DSC_6015The one who tries to eat the camera:

DSC_6017Or the sass masters:


Et voila my friends, there you have it. A 2016 winter at the farm.

Stay warm, but don’t forget to crunch around in the woods some.



It’s a Shiit(ake) Show Around Here

It was just another day at home when Andy and I, for some reason that now slips my mind, decided we needed to grow mushrooms on our property for four reasons:

  1. We can
  2. We enjoy tasty food
  3. We enjoy growing tasty food
  4. We enjoy growing tasty food that is easy and we don’t have to weed/constantly tend to

After a brief discussion, and for reasons listed in bullets 1-4 above, we settled on shiitakes. I finally bit the purchase-the-spores-bullet when I was walking around the indoor farmers market at Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick and came across North Spore Mushrooms. It seemed like as good of a time as any other to go ahead and buy some shiitake plugs. Then, they sat in the house for about a month before we finally inoculated the logs this weekend.

The guy at North Spore Mushrooms told me to read the website on how to properly inoculate mushroom logs. So, obviously, I didn’t.

I’m normally on top of this type of stuff but not this time. This time I read the general process and off we went. Here is our process. It is, by all accounts, only partially correct. Our best guess is that we’ll still end up with some shiitakes. We’ll probably end up with some other kind of fungus too if we’re being completely honest. Should this go well we will likely do some more logs in different types of mushrooms because you know, we’re wild and crazy.

Shitake Innoculation (2)

Step 1:

Cut down a fresh oak tree that is crooked and being crowded out, thus giving the bigger trees more nutrients and room to grow that are not longer being taken up by the tiny crooked tree. Don’t take any photos of this process because you’re at Target and have no idea the process has started .Pat yourself on the back in hindsight, even though you had nothing to do with it, for supporting sustainable forest management. 

Step 2:

Cut tree into 2-4 foot log segments. Again, do not take any photos because you are now driving home from Target still completely unaware you are about to walk into a mushroom inoculation activity.

Step 3:

Realize you don’t have any beeswax on hand, but hey you’re a soap maker so you must have something you can use. Candelilla wax is a good substitute. Except that it gets super hard, super fast, and will probably just crack off all together in the cold weather. Regardless, melt a bunch of candelilla wax in a double boiler – also known as a cheap pot and a tin can you were going to recycle.

Shitake Innoculation (3)

Remind yourself to purchase cheese wax so you can go back outside and recover all of the plugs. Promptly forget.

Step 4:

Drill a bunch of holes, completely randomly but at least 3 inches apart or so, into the logs to a specific depth and width that you should probably know, but you don’t. In turn, rely on your iPhone and your husbands handy skills to know how to do it based on the size of the mushroom plug.

Shitake Innoculation (5)

Step 5:

Place a plug in each hole and hammer it in. Make sure the plug is flush with the log or even counter-set just a little bit.

Shitake Innoculation (7)

Step 5:

Go in the house and get your wax. Carefully bring it outside while trying not to tip the tin can over and get melted candelilla wax everywhere. Swear to yourself once again to remember to buy cheese wax. Forget within thirty seconds. After your wax is at the site – where it should have been from the beginning – start trying to put wax that is rapidly hardening onto each plug with a paint brush. Give up with the paint brush and start putting it on with your fingers. Try to find all of the plugs before the wax completely hardens, instead of waxing over as each plug went in so you knew exactly where they were. Plugs blend really well with bark as it turns out.

Shitake Innoculation (8)Shitake Innoculation (9)Shitake Innoculation (1)Step 6:

Crib those logs up. Shitake Innoculation (10)

Step 7:

Wait and see what happens. Remind yourself while writing this to buy cheese wax and go fix the issues. Make a mental note not to forget the mental note, but do not proactively actually write it down.

Now, just wait for science to take over. Thank God for nature and it’s processes, because it clearly has it’s shiit(ake) together way more than I do.



The Kitchen Reveal

After months of renovations, including a full on gut of the entire original house, I can happily say we are settling nicely into the new kitchen. My camera was a little MIA during much of the renovations, and so was I from this blog. To say things were a little hectic would be an understatement. In addition to only taking photos with my phone and posting them to Instagram most of the time (which you can see if you feel like scrolling – a lot – and trying to pick them out), I replaced my phone and ultimately lost the vast majority of the photos that I thought were uploaded to iCloud.

The long and short is this – it’s almost impossible to even fathom the old house from the new house. The best I can do right now (at almost 10pm on a Sunday) is this:


Kitchen Before


Kitchen After

The renovation also included four rooms off of the kitchen, which now include:

  • A small guest room.
  • A bathroom/laundry room
  • An entryway/mudroom area
  • A dining room

Each of these spaces still have more work to be done in them, but the drywall is complete (with the exception of an extra patch we need to make in the dining room but you wouldn’t notice it on first glance), and the flooring is all refinished. It was too dark to take photos tonight of these spots, so I’ll get them soon! Overall it’s coming along well, and the kitchen is just about complete minus some window trim. The bathroom is all plumbed in and I love having our washer/dryer where the closet was (and hot water running to the washer for the first time in 8 years). The new entryway is so nice, giving us a good spot to take off our shoes and coats before we come into the rest of the house from the door yard. This is a view from the entryway into the kitchen.


If you’re looking close, you’ll see something special in the back right of this photo. After years of dreaming about it, Andy and I finally bit the bullet and got a wood cook stove for the kitchen. Specifically a Glenwood K. We absolutely love it, and use it at least a few times a week. We’ve already had a pizza party with friends and have made quite a bit of meat in the firebox broiler system on the side (I’ll explain this in an upcoming post!).

The wood cook stove meant we sacrificed some more storage, but as you can see in these photos I think we’re all set. We also have a Viking range and a Gaggenau double oven.

If you’re counting, that means we have a total of 12 burners and four ovens – four and one respectively which are wood driven only. Admittedly the Viking oven does not work with the exception of the broiler. That’s what you get when you get it for $0.00 dollars through the magic of reclaiming items other people don’t want. Seriously, a broken oven and we got it for free. Truthfully we aren’t planning on fixing the oven anytime soon since we use the Gaggenau’s quite a bit. All six burners however work and I absolutely love cooking on it.

Overall we are beyond happy with this renovation, and are so happy to finally be at a point in this house where we have nothing big left to do. The rest is all small – including installing the downstairs bathroom. Once you’ve been through as much renovation as we have, on as large of a scale as we have, in addition to building a garage and barn, it turns out that finishing off the installation of a bathroom feels like a cakewalk.

There’s more to come, and now that my camera is back in action I hope to write a little more about a few things going on including an on demand water heater Andy has been working on installing, a little more about the wood cook stove, a few things we’ve been doing around the homestead, and general updates about things going on.

I hope life has been treating you guys well over the last six months or so, and you had a wonderful holiday season and are so far having a great new year three days in!

Here’s to 2016 – full of many big and small changes around here, but that’s nothing new.