That's us or at least one of the titles we claim. We chose shiitake mushrooms for three reasons: we love to eat them, they grow on cut logs in the woods, and NC State had the spores.
These hearty mushrooms have a rich and meaty flavor. While often prepared and cooked like a vegetable, they are actually a fungus. Now for some people, like my mom, they can't get past the thought of it being a fungus. While there are those who use them to replace the meat in their dishes to add flavor and texture. Then there are people like me who just love mushrooms.
I have to admit that button and portabella mushrooms are the ones I have cooked with for years. Last year was when I first used shiitake mushrooms. I fell in love with these wonderful earthy, meaty flavored mushrooms. Their heartiness makes them an excellent choice for soups, stews or to stand alone on their own.
So, when Gary told me that we had the opportunity to get some spores and inoculate our own logs to do a shiitake mushroom forest farm. I was excited. Well, after I went what??.......How do we do this?.......Inoculate?.......What?......How?.......Are you sure?......Well, then I did what any other wife would do....I googled it. Then, I was excited!
OK, here is the jest of how we are growing our shiitakes. Gary and Carson cut down hard wood trees on our land and cut them into 4 ft. length logs. Once they were cut we took and drilled holes in the logs 1 1/4" deep in a staggered pattern around the log. We then used this little tool (I don't know the name for it) to put the spores into the logs. Now the spores looked like sawdust with white and brown dirt looking stuff mixed in with it. Next, we took melted wax and sealed the spores in and also covered the ends of the logs with wax. Once, the wax was dry the logs where then soaked in water. After that they were stacked in a crib like formation for 10 months (this is usually done any where from 6- 18 months). We cleared a 8 ft. wide trail in our pines to place the stacked cribs. The pines offer shade to the mushrooms which will help them thrive. Once they start fruiting, ( I know that sounds like a crazy term for a fungus but that is the appropriate terminology.) we unstack the logs and put them into a leaning formation to make harvesting easier. For harvesting we are trying both methods this year 1-all you do is twist and pull the mushroom off the log 2-take a sharp knife and cut the mushroom off flush with the log. We are doing one method on one half of our lean and the other on the other half. We will watch and see which one we feel works best for us.
Now, storing the harvested mushrooms is easy. You take a very damp cloth and wipe anything off on the surface of the mushroom. Next, place the clean dry mushrooms in a paper bag and store in the fridge. By placing them in the fridge you can extend their shelf life from 4-5 days to 2-3 weeks. Another way is to dry them and place in a freezer bag, remove all the air from the bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you remove them from the freezer, just place in a bowl of water to rehydrate them.
When we had that warm spell in last week following the rain, we harvested over 7 lbs. of mushrooms. We are keeping a daily report on harvesting and weather info to follow how our season goes. This way we will know if we need to add the "soaking method" to our mushroom production. We should harvest any where from 100-175 lbs. of mushrooms this year.
Last year, we did over 200 logs. We will pick up our spores for this year next week. We will be doing another 200 logs this year. The logs production life is 5 years.
There really is not a hard part to mushroom farming. The inoculation process, the drilling, filling and waxing of the logs is the most time consuming. Everything else is pretty simple. OK, Gary I'm sure would say cutting and moving the 200 logs is not easy. But that's why it is great that we are a team.
Well, that is shiitake mushroom farming. It is not that hard. The reward of fresh shiitake mushrooms right out of my woods is pretty cool.
I'm going to head out and get the car loaded. We are doing a family road trip out to Little Rock for the Southern SAWG conference and then onto Kansas to visit with Frank Reese at The Good Shepard Poultry Ranch. Looking forward to time with my family, not like I'm not with them all day every day LOL! Feeling excited and blessed to be able to do this. And Yes, I packed coffee.
Author: Kelly W. Sikes
Who is she? I am wife, mother of 3, daughter of 2 wonderful city parents, a sister to one sis, a home school mom, an office manager and a farmgirl!
Well, this really does not tell you about me just some of the titles I have. I am a 40 something girl who has found herself very blessed by where life has taken her ….to the farm kitchen! I am a fun loving girl who loves to be in the kitchen cooking or looking thru cookbooks or the internet for new healthy delicious recipes for my family. I am happiest when I have a spoon in my hand (and a cup of coffee in the other) and my 2 girls in the kitchen with me cooking up our next creation.
How she ended up on a farm……I come from a small southern town right outside Charlotte, NC. I thought I lived in the country! Until my college roommate, Jennifer took me home with her for the week-end. (I lived 20 min. west of Charlotte; she lived a 1hr. 20 min. east of Charlotte.) Wow!! What a difference. That’s when I really found out what it meant to be country. Rolling fields of corn, soybeans, and stuff I didn’t have any idea what it was (and still don't), then poultry houses after poultry house. It was not uncommon for you to go several miles without even seeing a house (for people).
A year later, Jennifer set me up on a blind date with one of those country boys……well I guess you could say I was blinded by love and fell head over heels for my true love, Gary. We have now been married for 22 adventured filled years.
Even though he was a country boy, we didn’t start out on the farm. We waited until 1996 to buy our land which is next to his family farm. We didn’t consider farming until 7 years later after Gary became sick. In 2011, we started Bountiful Harvest Farm. So here I am a farmgirl …….
What’s on our farm? We raise heritage poultry. We are a full circle farm- laying hens, breeders, a hatchery, chicken and turkey growers, and on the farm processing.
If you are still reading, I’m impressed. I don’t claim to be a writer. I’m just a regular girl who is going to share about life on a chicken farm, some of my favorite recipes and a few funny stories of my family along the way. I hope you'll come back - just grab a cup of coffee (or whatever drink your hand desires), pull me up and visit.