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Log grown mushroom farm tour: behind the scenes

If you've ever wondered what it REALLY looks like behind the scenes here, come and visit us this Saturday, July 15th, between 10am and 4pm for a farm tour! We're part of the 2023 Apple River Farm Tour - there are 9 farms you can visit and they have a variety of different things going on. One of them will even have cinnamon rolls and breakfast burritos. In addition to learning about log grown mushrooms and mushroom farming, you can learn about bees and beehives and tapping trees for maple syrup; see cows, pigs, chickens; and see lots of veggies, flowers, fruit, and orchards! Bring your sturdy walking shoes, a sun hat, bug spray, and a cooler because there will be plenty of farm products to purchase. The link above takes you to the info on another farm's site (I just haven't been organized enough to post all the info on our site), with addresses and a Google map with all the sites so you can plan your own tour. We hope to see some of you on Saturday!

So, what have we been up to in the last month? Growing mushrooms of course!

We started force-fruiting about three weeks ago. We load up about 240 logs into these heavy duty metal racks and then drop them into this very deep tank of very cold water. This "shocks" the mycelium into growing lots of shiitake.

Many logs in metal cages submerged in an in-ground concrete tank of water, with four-by-four posts holding the racks down. A grassy area and the shade structure are in the background.

The next day we pull the logs out, place them in the high tunnel, then cover them with heavy felt blankets. This helps them to warm up and keeps the humidity in.

About a dozen logs standing upright, leaning against a horizontal piece of wood. The point of view is looking through a gap in the fruiting blankets.

After a little while, depending on the temperatures outside, the mushrooms start "pinning," which means growing tiny little mushrooms. That's when we pull the blankets off. Mushrooms produce carbon dioxide and if it builds up under the blanks the mushrooms tend to get really long stems and not much cap.

Voila! Mushrooms!

A close-up picture of logs standing upright with shiitake mushrooms growing on them.

We continue to have RIDICULOUS weather that has really been affecting growing. It has been downright cold at night for the last week or so, which slows them down. It also continues to be dry and windy. Climate change friends... the most obvious effects are in the massive flooding, heat waves, powerful storms, raging fires, etc that are plaguing us more and more every year. But it affects our food system too and unfortunately people have become so disconnected from how food is grown I don't think a lot of people realize how difficult it's getting for farmers. Will all food need to be grown indoors someday?

Well, that soapbox came out of nowhere! Moving along... A few weeks ago we did discover more mushrooms growing outside - hooray!

Looking down on several logs with half a dozen very large shiitake mushrooms growing out of the logs. The mushrooms are brown and the caps are split and curling up.
Some natural fruiting shiitake that got a bit overgrown and a bit soggy from rain we had three weeks ago.

Looking between stacked up logs, on the underside of one log are two clusters of pale buttery yellow oyster mushrooms.
Some beautiful golden oysters, ready to pick.

Close-up of a couple logs with turkey tail mushrooms growing all over. The mushrooms appear dark brown with light cream colored edges.
Turkey Tail that we inoculated last year coming along very nicely.

In the midst of all the work, we took a half day off to celebrate Jeremy's birthday with the annual log cake!

A cake with bark-like chocolate sides, chocolate frosting on the top, topped with marzipan mushrooms with white stems and red caps with white polka dots.
Topped off with some marzipan mushrooms - yum!

Hopefully next month we'll have an update on the new building - no concrete floor yet, but hopefully we'll have one soon!


Gus & Spore

Gus is sometimes a bit of a copycat - he has to be where Spore is, doing what Spore is doing.

Scratching the logs in the firewood pile:

Looking down on several pieces of firewood, with two cats perched on the wood. A smaller grey cat in the foreground, a black and white cat behind him.

And drinking water out of the bird bath:

A bird bath on a porch railing in the center of the photo, with a yard and barn in the background. A grey cat sits on the railing to the left of the bird bath; a black and white cat sits to the right.

These pictures were taken less than 2 weeks apart. It's amazing how the angle makes one of them look so much smaller or larger than the other!


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