Orange

Orange is so energizing and fresh right now, a breath of fresh air really.  

I’m constantly drawn to it…..no surprise after coming out of the long dark winter months.

Carnelian summer

I’m also working on a prayer bead collection of long necklaces made with natural wood beads and most have bits of orange carnelian stones interspersed with gold accents. Carnelian stones are thought to have energizing properties for those who wear them. I get that……..

 

Spring Jewelry

I’ve just scored a number of fresh new baubles to work with and can’t wait to clear my jewelry work bench and get started.

So, right now I’m inspired by guess what? Spring! Along with my Hardware Series I’m also working on some new pieces with more color and texture. 

Planting Trees

When we found our little farm a few years ago, it was love at first sight; truly, deeply, madly.  One of the first things we fell in love with was the wide open meadow surrounded by evergreen trees.  In our cloudy grey climate the light and sense of open big sky was key and we found that here.  The second thing we fell hard for was the gigantic Walnut tree, majestically anchoring the farm house.

 

So, as we settled in, we decided to plant deciduous trees, weaving color into the landscape of evergreens.  Our idea was that if we planted trees early on, they would be with us to enjoy for years to come.

Colorful Maples now mingle with evergreens

Bernie has become known as “The Human Shovel” because of his incredible tree rescue project. He locates trees that are going to be cut down or destroyed and saves them by transplanting them onto our property. He has now transplanted at least 500 trees. This includes small seedlings and shrubs, all the way up to 20 foot tall trees. Most of them survive the digging and transplanting because of all of his efforts in getting a large root ball and watering.

You can read an article published in the Seattle Times about his tree saving efforts here

Another day planting trees, covered in mud

There is a quote that goes something like: Planting trees is a patient man’s pursuit, which is so true; it’s not at all about instant gratification. As the seasons have begun to add up on the farm, we visit these changing trees on our walk-abouts. We talk about them by name, each one has the “story” of where they came from. We talk about them, as we talk about our children; growth spurts, new branches, troubles and joy and heartbreaks caused by deer.

The Yoda tree

 

We love the idea of planting tree’s that will be here long after we are gone.

Mushroom Growing

For some time now we’ve been brainstorming on what we want to grow on our little hobby farm.  It had to be something that we love to do, want to eat and that could tolerate a lack of attention since we aren’t full time farmers! Everything we came up with was too time intensive (Alpaca’s, Dexter cattle and Emu’s)  and expensive (greenhouse with water and power) until I was doing a walk- about and realized that we have the perfect micro- climate to grow mushrooms! They grow naturally here, all over the place, although I’m NOT eating the wild ones; I’m not enough of a forager to be sure what they are. I know how to recognize Chanterelles and Morels but sadly we dont have those fungi, one can always dream though. From descriptions I’ve read, I think this is a Turkey Tail fungus growing under our Hazelnut tree on a fallen log. It’s color and pattern is beautiful and is widely used for medicinal purposes.

Fungus WANTS to grow here

So, after some research on Mushroom varieties and growing methods it became clear that this was the perfect fit for us. We would start with Shiitake, Lions Mane and Pearl Oyster mushrooms.  One compelling reason to grow these particular varieties is, well, they taste great and given the right conditions are among the easier ones to grow. We want to increase our odds of a harvest, given how new we are to this!

Shaggy Mane mushrooms have a mild lobster flavor

Pearl Oyster mushrooms are one of our varieties

We decided to start our “crop” by  plugging logs with wooden dowels that have been inoculated with the mushroom spawn (like the sperm concept). Over time the spawn will inhabit the logs and forms mycelium (the pregnancy). Then after 9-12 months the “fruit” will bloom (the birth).  We’re looking forward to our first harvest by late summer or early fall 2012!  Then, miraculously, these logs will continue the cycle and reproduce for YEARS once they are fully colonized with the mycelium! We’re starting additional logs so eventually we will have several harvests throughout the year. Lets hope it all goes that way.

Spawn dowels have arrived and logs are drilled

Pounding in hundreds of dowels is lots of fun

The dowels should be flush with the surface of the log and not sticking out

Next I melted soy wax and coated the ends and spawn plugs. This seals the logs and helps prevent competing fungi from growing.

Some of the finished logs, tagged by color, ready to move and cover with burlap. They need to be kept moist but up off of the ground, so I have them on a small deck.

Growing mushrooms appeals to me because they are what I call a “closed loop of goodness”.  By that I mean they grow, can become food and medicine, they clean and filter toxins from the environment and when they are spent at the end of their life cycle, the only by -product left is…….magnificent compost! How cool is that?  The more I learned the more amazed I became at the properties of the humble fungi.  If you want to find out more about the connections between mushrooms, natural medicine and environmental toxic remediation via mushrooms check out Paul Stamets work at Fungi Perfecti at  http://fungiperfecti.com/