The Past 20 Months

I’ve been trying to figure out what the “next chapter” of this blog would be, while I also figure out how to balance all of the aspects of our lives with a child in it. I realized it will be what it always is, a mix of homesteading and humor, just with a kid involved now. The truth is I don’t post his face a whole lot on Instagram, so it probably won’t be posted on here full-out much either. It’s a personal choice and absolutely no judgement on individuals who choose differently.

Here’s where we are now, 20 months after welcoming an incredible, super fun, sweet, intelligent and energetic boy into our world.

  • We have a child who will be referenced as “E” here on the blog. So, that’s huge.
  • The dogs are now seniors. Winnie is ten years old and Rosie will be ten in April. While it’s difficult watching them age, they are still up to the same antics they’ve always been up to, and it both makes me mad and warms my heart.
  • We still homestead as much as we can. We’re getting back into the swing of things now that E is a bit older.
  • I still have a full-time career in the communications field. As always, I save the writing/grammar police for my job and don’t worry about it too much on here.
  • I still run Green Barn Soaps on a primarily seasonal (October-December) basis. The website is up year-round, and I do ship year-round, but at this time I very rarely make product before August.
  • To decompress I do yoga and run; though I’m just getting back into running. Yoga has been my saving grace for years at this point and I love it. I particularly love going to studios because I do what they tell me, relax, retain nothing, and go home and forget how to do any of it. Just how I want it.
  • Also, to decompress, I sew kids clothing for friends/family and the occasional custom order when I have time.
  • I’m in my final year of graduate school and expect to graduate December 2018. You have no idea (or maybe you do) just how relieving this is.
  • The other big change since I left writing here is that while we dabbled in it before, we now eat a primarily whole-foods, plant-based diet. This has meant removing oils from our house, reducing salt, reducing intake of highly processed foods, and no animal products with the exception of a very rare occasion and even then it’s a super minimal amount. That might sound restrictive, but it leaves a bountiful amount of food left in the world to enjoy including grains, flours, egg-free pastas, roots, squashes, beans, lentils, peas, fruits, veggies, etc. Yes, our child is raised this way, we aren’t nutrient deficient, and friends and family leave our house full with warm bellies. We feel, for our family, a WFPB diet is best for us and our needs. Recipe posts in the past that contain animal product will stay up, but new recipes will not contain animal products. I think it is important for me to genuinely say with respect that our choice to do a WFPB diet is not an attack on other food choices of other individuals and their families. This is just our journey. If you’d like to learn more about a WFPB diet, www.nutritionfacts.org is a great place to start.

xo,

Heather

Photo courtesy of Lucharelle Photography

Settling In

My son has been in the world for over three months, and the love I feel is beyond description. I’m still not ready to be back writing on a regular basis yet with my negative free available time, but I am truly loving being a mother.

DSC_7925DSC_7930DSC_8009xo,

Heather

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:

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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.

xo,

Heather

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.

xo,

Heather