Monday, February 15, 2010

How Time Flies

When I did my study abroad in Germany back in 1997-98, I made a great friend along the way. At first, Krista and I didn't seem to have a lot in common, but the time away from home brought us closer together, and we're, thankfully, still in touch today. We plan an annual camping trip together, usually to one of Pennsylvania's many state parks, though we missed the outing last fall, which is why it was a particularly nice to host her in Walpole over the weekend.

We took a hike up Wantastiquet on Saturday, accompanied by Andrea, our new friend, Jesse, and her dog Kaiser, a rowdy and rambunctious pit mix. The weather was cool and crisp, the path icy and hazardous at times, but we managed to make it the entire way without anyone wiping out.

Ice flows
Winter in Vermont
Krista loves New England
Candid at the top

It was quite windy and cold at the top, so we didn't linger for long. On the way down, Liz managed to drop my camera, which we didn't realize until we were in the car and ready to leave. We had about fifteen minutes of daylight left, so Liz and I jogged about a quarter of the way back up the mountain, where she found the camera lying on an icy patch. A little extra exercise never hurts!

On Sunday, we were eager to get over to the mushroom palace to try, for the second time, our hand at inoculating. There was a lot of waiting around because we had to heat 40 gallons of water, in which we would submerge a large basket of chopped straw. The straw is our substrate for the mushrooms and it must be sterilized before it's mixed with the spawn. Needless to say, this took a long time because it was about 27 degrees outside.

To kill some time, I chatted with Susan, a reporter from New Hampshire Magazine, who had stopped by with her husband to get the skinny on our business. Terra Fructi will be featured in the April issue as part of a sidebar column called "Field Notes." We talked for about 45 minutes and I answered all of the questions they had about us personally and mushrooms in general. We look forward to seeing the article, though we're just as excited about the upcoming feature-length piece that Andrea composed for the spring issue of Local Banquet, an ag/local foods publication produced by our friends Meg and Barbi. Here they are on their visit to Terra Fructi, dutifully working, as most guests do:

Removing the protective layer from the stainless table

Once the water boiled, we were able to sterilize the straw and move forward with the inoculation. We had only enough straw to fill 6 bags, but at least it was a start. And the support we got along the way was priceless. Krista helped out with various tasks and kept us positive and on track; Julia, John, and Effie came by, along with their guest Griffin, and they all contributed in one way or another. Most notably, John performed a Buddhist fertility ceremony for the mushrooms, quite possibly the most interesting thing that's happened since we started the business. All in all, the inoculation was a success. Of course, there's still the matter of the process actually yielding mushrooms. We have only a few short weeks to wait on that...

Inoculation ingredients
Liz removes the sterilized straw
Draining and cooling
John and Effie wait patiently
Liz with what will be the first bag of gray oyster mushrooms

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