Saturday, March 5, 2011

the life box

When our mushrooms arrived yesterday they were in one of those living boxes that are seeded and you rip them apart to plant them. In a few short years, you then have little trees to plant about your little part of the world. Each box is seeded with a number of different tree species as well as accompanying fungi that are supposed to create a little ecosystem. On the outside of the box is a code that you enter into the lifebox website to find out just what seeds your box has in it. Ours contains the following. It looks to us like most all of these trees could potentially grow and thrive here in our environment.
This is not an endorsement of the company nor an advertisement, just something we found interesting and thought would be a fun experiment to document and see what happens. I will likely begin the process this weekend sometime and then do a periodic update on it and see what we end up growing. It should be fun or a really long drawn out ordeal that ends up with nothing :)

The life box site is quite neat. They, of course, sell the boxes but they have a tree planting part of the site where you find the type seeds you have, learn to identify the seeds, and how to germinate and care for the treelings. You can also mark a map with your location and see other box forests.

Friday, March 4, 2011

the great mushroom adventure

Even though we live in a place where many edible mushrooms grow wild, there are very few that we feel confident in harvesting. After several years of talking about ordering some to grow here, we finally did it. They finally arrived this afternoon so we will have our work cut out for us over the next few weeks getting the logs prepared,drilling several hundred holes, tapping the plugs into the logs, coating them with wax, letting them rest for a while and then moving them all to their permanent location.

Since we are newbies at mushroom growing we purchased an all inclusive kit for hard woods and then a couple other types for soft woods. The kit contained a drill bit, paint brush, a pound of wax and a mallet and a really cool box but that is another post entirely. All types of the shrooms except the shiitake are native to here so hopefully as we learn more about them we can naturalize them and build our own colony here in the woods. We got shiitake and pearl oysters for the hardwood and chicken of the woods and phoenix fir oyster for the soft woods.

This is going to be quite an experience and experiment. Some of those that we bought will not even make mushrooms for up to 3 years. I am hoping to do periodic updates on the process as well as make a video of actually getting the logs prepared, inoculated and placed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the 2 hour strawberry bed remodel

The old strawberry beds were in pretty rough condition and we needed to expand them a bit to make room for more. There were three 4x4 squares made from various recycled materials several years ago. We had some trees on the bank that needed to come down to allow more sun through as well as for preventive maintenance. We had a beautiful afternoon and needed something to fill a couple hours after piddling about this morning a bit.
I dug the strawberries out of the old beds so that I could dismantle them while the manthing took the trees down, measured everything out and did the needed trimming to build the bed, I moved soil around and began gathering fallen leaves and cardboard boxes to use as filler material. The new bed is a fair bit longer than the old beds were in total but they are a little bit less wide. Extra soil is hard to come by around here so we tend to fill beds with what we have on hand and will compost down to make a decent growing bed. Today cardboard and leaves were the filler

After wrestling the logs over to where we needed them and after some fighting with them, we got them into place. Manthing worked on cleaning up the majority of the mess we made while I worked on filling the bed back up. Hopefully, with the trees we took down today and several others we have harvested the area will produce better than it has for the last couple years.
I don't quite have it all filled in but will finish it tomorrow and replant all the strawberries with some feed sack weed barriers and mulch. Because they are not very deep beds and because we are composting as it grows, the bed will be quick to dry out come summer.
We were able to salvage much of the material that the old beds were made of. While it aint pretty and cannot be used for many things, there are still things and stuff we can reuse the already recycled materials for.

The new bed is 18 foot long and a planting area 32 inches wide. The entire project to this point took right at two hours with the two of us working on it.


Sorry not that sort of deflation, but the overly inflated Abby has finally given birth! She had two little boys. Actually one is quite large and has long floppy ears and the other is teenytiny and has airplane ears. 4 kids this year and 50% female, around here that's unusual.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intern position open

We are looking for a summer intern here on the homestead. This is a non paid position but includes a cozy authentic cabin, all the fresh veggies and eggs you want and an opportunity to learn about living the simple life while still having time to enjoy the local area or spend time in the solitude of the North Ga mountains. While here one can expect to learn about gardening and food preservation in a mostly primitive manner as well as outdoor living skills such as foraging for wild edibles and medicinals, structure building, and cooking. Animal caretaking is also involved as is the opportunity to butcher if one so chooses. There are many things that I have not listed; from carpentry skills, improvisation, alternative gardens, alternative building, the list is very long. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for someone to learn how we have worked our way into a near sustainable homestead and then take that knowledge and incorporate it into your life.

From an intern, we expect honesty above all else and a respect for the land on which we live. Our days here are varied as much of our life depends upon the weather. As such, every day there are certain chores that must be done no matter what the weather. Some days can be very long while others we simply do chores. Because we only answer to ourselves, we have a good bit of flexibility in both the hours we work and what we work on. We do ask that each week no less than 20 hours is contributed to the farm although we gladly welcome more if you so choose.We would prefer a committed long term intern for the entire summer, although, this is not set in stone. We do ask for a minimum of a one month stay.

An intern must be self motivated as we cannot babysit you. This means rising early(to beat the heat) and being able to complete tasks after proper instruction. While manthing and I both contribute greatly to what goes on here, he works off the farm and I go to school full time and have normal household tasks to attend to. We live in a mountainous terrain and do most things primitively here, therefore a certain level of physical fitness is important. For this reason, this position is likely best for those in the 18-35 year old range. We live in a remote area as such we do not have a store close by. We go to town one time per month and have no modern amenities aside from the internet. This means no trips to town for zoo-zoos, no trips for cigarettes, no town water supply, no cable tv or any tv, and no indoor plumbing or electricity in the cabin. Cell phone coverage is sketchy at best. We have spring water, a cistern for clothes washing and dishes, an outhouse and solar shower. There is, however, wi-fi available if you have a laptop with a card. At the cabin there is an outdoor kitchen, you can either make your meals there using what is raised here,that which you buy or join us when I cook. We are opportunivores here on the homestead however in the summer months we primarily eat vegetarian. Weekend mornings I cook brunch and I cook all evening meals. All extra expenses would be paid for by you so spending money would be needed for personal needs.

Although the above may seem a bit blunt, I am only being honest and forthcoming with what we expect from people. We, are in all actuality, pretty laid back people that live a laid back life style. We are home bodies who rarely leave the mountain and enjoy our privacy and our surroundings. When not working around the farm we enjoy hiking, campfires, drum circles, music and good conversation. We do not drink however , if you are of age and do so responsibly we have no issue with it. We do smoke , so if smoke bothers you , this will not be a good fit. We, do no allow pets to accompany interns. We have working dogs here and other pets around interferes with their work. We will not tolerate drugs or prescription pill addicts here. If you rely upon either to get through life, this position is not for you.

If interested or know someone that may be interested in this position please contact me at