Farm Updates: December 2020

As of today, the MushRoom is nearly ready to go. I have went through the process of getting our LLC registration, and we are excited to get some mushrooms growing out there. Taking on this project has been more taxing than we originally planned for it to be, but probably would have gone faster if we didn’t also both have full time jobs and a toddler. We have a couple of last minute kinks to work out, and then we will work on our test run. We have learned a lot in this process, and what we would do differently in the future when getting our second MushRoom up and running. Overall, we are very happy with how things have turned out.

In this process, we have tried to do every piece of it ourselves. It was both exciting and overwhelming starting with a blank canvas and working to what we have now.

May 2020, upon delivery of shipping container to our house.
Electrical wiring installed, countertops built: October 2020
Putting together the box for our filter and flow hood: October 2020
Installing the insulation for the grow room
Insulation complete and support beams installed in grow room.
Our DIY sterilizer

Hopefully this weekend we will be doing our test run, and from there we should be on the ground. We are so thankful for the help and support we have had during this journey of getting things started. We could not have done this without help and support.

Greener Pastures

Unfortunately, I have neglected my duties in keeping up with this blog. Having a newborn is busy, and I did get caught up on that and left my blogging to fall to the wayside. This last year has been a tough time for us, as we have tried to decide what we could do to make our small farm more profitable. Should we focus more on custom hay? More or less cows? Should we keep the sheep? What are we going to do with our chickens?

We started this year with few conclusions to the questions above, but have slowly worked this year to do away with certain areas and start new projects. As we are wrapping this year up, we feel like we are finally in a place to update and move forward.

Last year, we were heavily focused on two new projects: hatching and raising chickens and raising a sheep herd. For many reasons, these two projects were not right for us. In regards to the sheep, we were unprepared for the different needs they had to cattle. While we did feel like we had done adequate research, it seemed like there was always something new going on with them. We had several get sick, and a neighboring dog who killed several of our babies. After a few months, we decided it was best to sell what sheep we still had and take a step back to clear our heads. As for the chickens, we got a little (a lot!) carried away. We are the type of family that goes in head first and again while we did do a lot of research, and felt prepared for this step, we were very unprepared for the amount of chicks we would end up with no outlet for them. After hatching our last batch of chicks we ultimately realized we did not have the outlet for the chicks at that time and decided to cut our losses. We sold our incubators and the last of our chicks, keeping only a few free rangers for our egg supply.

We sold our sheep very early in the year, and spent the summer only dealing with our cattle. B took a full time job in the spring, so our summer has remained busy with both of us working full time jobs and keeping up with the cattle we have. Mid summer we made the decision to let our leased cows go back to their owner. We have about 20 head of cattle, and were leasing another 20 head of cattle at that time. The lease cows are no longer on the farm. Instead, we have now turned around and leased our own cattle to another farmer in the area.

A cattle lease is pretty straight forward: one person owns, one leases the cattle. For ours, we provide the land and we are responsible for the vet bills on our animals. The other farmer is responsible for feeding the cows through winter, taking care of fences, helping them calve and providing a bull for breeding. When it comes time to sell calves, we will split that check 50/50 with the other farmer. It generally works out for both parties as the lessee is not financially responsible for the animals, and we both benefit from the profits.

The thing that has been in the back of our heads all summer though, is what can we do to potentially be more profitable? As it stood at the beginning of the year, we were losing money on the farm, as the expenses from last year were not completely covered by the money we made from custom hay and selling calves, and that does not include wages. We weren’t even making enough money to cover the fuel, netwrap, vehicle maintenance, vet bills, and the long list of expenses that goes along with running a farm. By the end of hay season, we had decided that making custom hay is not something we wanted to pursue as well. It is a very time consuming task, and it is something we hate doing. Therefore we decided we did not wish to continue with that.

All of this brought us full circle to a small project we looked at last fall/winter. Last fall, B had looked into growing mushrooms as a hobby. There are many different varieties of mushrooms, and we have at this time successfully grown two types: pink and blue oysters. We had purchased a shipping container in the spring, and we are now in the grueling process of turning it into a MushRoom. The grow room will be at the back of the container, and we will have lab at the front to prepare our mushroom spores and liquid cultures for growth. It has been a long process for us, as we are both working full time now with a toddler. Slowly but surely we are making progress in this venture. We are really looking forward to sharing more of this journey with everyone, and we do have some ideas up our sleeves.

While I am sad to see so many changes in the farm over such a short period of time, it has been good to see changes. Change promotes growth. We couldn’t grow with the way we were doing things. We have goals in mind for our farm, and if there is not growth on the farm we are stagnant. This does not mean that we wont one day have sheep or chickens again. However, we will take a hard look at why we failed before. We will take time to improve our methods and learn from our failures. We appreciate everyone who has followed our journey so far, and who has been supportive or offered advice. We could not have done it without everyone’s support.

Until next time,

T

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Stir Fry – Gluten-Free and Vegan

We can’t wait to try this!

Of Goats and Greens

About 3-4 weeks ago, I ran into something named Lion’s Mane mushroom at the Litchfield CT farmer’s market.  The taste is supposed to resemble crab meat.

YAY WOW, something NEW I’ve never tried before!  Sussed isn’t quite the word!

recipe, lion's mane mushroom, stir fry, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, bok choy, soy

I bought some, and attempted to make the “crabmeat” salad recipe they handed me at that time from it. That recipe was not a success, at least in my hands.

recipe, lion's mane mushroom, stir fry, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, bok choy, soy

Last weekend, I managed to pick up some more of this mushroom, and decided to do my own thing with it.  I like this variant!  (A new YAY WOW, and I want more…)

Yes, there is a mild sea-foody-crabish taste to this mushroom, and I do like that.

recipe, lion's mane mushroom, stir fry, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, bok choy, soy

I hope you can find this (the vendors grow this rather than wild-hunt it) and if you do, that you enjoy!

Apparently, there are a lot of good health benefits from…

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