Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Foraging for Oyster Mushrooms

Posted by: Rick

I am a fan of foraging for mushrooms around our cabin site. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms that grow here. We've found 3 that we can forage as edible (and hope to find more over time). One of those is the oyster mushroom. It grows on dead aspen trees in cool wet areas like the picture below.

The other day when Lynne and I were hiking below the cabin at a place we call Picnic Rock, we noticed a few oyster mushrooms on a large dead and fallen aspen tree.

I had no way to collect them at the time, and there weren't many, so we left them. But, I decided to go back down this morning with my power drill and do some "plugs" to propagate the mushrooms. Turns out if you drill a hole in a dead host tree (aspen in this case) and then fill the hole with some existing fresh mushrooms, a new cluster of mushrooms is likely to grow at that site.

Here I am drilling hole in the downed, dead aspen.

And, plugging it with some mushroom picked elsewhere on the tree.

The squirrels had been busy eating green pine cones on the same tree.

And, I picked and ate a few wild strawberries before turning to head home.

After I turned back toward the cabin, I spotted more mushrooms growing on a different tree that I had not seen earlier. As I walked to that tree, I saw another stump literally covered with mushrooms!

I guess I did not need to try manually propagating them. There are more here than we can ever use! And, they were fresh and ready to cut. Oyster mushrooms are attractive to bugs as well as mycophagists, and even if they are a few days old they can get infested. Most of these were in perfect shape. So, I came back up to the cabin, got Lynne, a knife and a bag and headed back down. She took these two photos of me cutting a few of the nicer ones.

Here are just a few of what I cut. I've put the word out to neighbors that I have these and more to see if anyone want some. If not, I'll blanch about half of them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, let them dry out real well, then freeze them in a ziploc bag.

The ones we don't freeze will go into some kind of dish within the next day or two. (I store them wrapped in damp paper towels in a paper bag in the warmest part of the refrigerator. They'll keep for a week that way.) Maybe sliced and breaded and fried? Maybe in an Asian-flavored stir fry with some steak and veggies? Maybe in an omelette or frittata? Suggestions?

(Please, don't ever eat a wild mushroom that you are not 100% certain of. Wild mushrooms can be deadly. Never eat any wild mushroom raw. In other words, don't try this at home unless you know what you are doing!)

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Arrival of the Barn ... Finally!

Posted by: Lynne

Our barn finally arrived on the 6th of July. I was going to blog about it right after it was delivered, but I've been lazy. I guess that's my excuse. Doesn't it look great in its spot? Let's back up a bit and show you a little bit of the process of getting it here and getting it down our driveway.

Phil from Rocky Mountain Storage Barns in Ft. Collins had come up a few weeks earlier and traced the path, measuring the width of the cattle guards and making sure the barn would have safe travels. The barn was fully assembled in Ft. Collins all 20' x 14' of it, so it was quite large. And bigger and it would not have made it here. At least not in one piece!

They called us when they arrived in Laramie and turned down Sand Creek Road. Rick and I drove out to meet them. Here are some shots from along the way.

When we first saw it coming down the road.

Making the turn at Wooden Shoe Ranch through the cattle guard.

Kind of a tight fit through this cattle guard.

The approach to Chimney Rock Ranch and the tighest of all the cattle guards. (Darth Vadar Rock in the background.)

Squeeze!!!!!

On the Colorado side now.

And arrival at the top of the driveway, finally!

And that was the easy part! They loaded the barn off the trailer and got the Mule out, which is nothing more than a glorified fork lift but a very cool piece of equipment. It was very tight getting the barn down the driveway and we had to take out some smaller aspens but nothing major. It took them about an hour and twenty minutes to get the barn down and in place. I can't say enough about the professionalism of Phil and his crew. They did a great job of getting the barn here and in its place. We love it!

Here is a short video of the last part of it.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Home Alone with Big Boy

Posted by: Lynne

Another misleading title for a blog post. Actually, I am home alone (not counting the three dogs and one cat) while Rick is in New Mexico attending the memorial for his father. I wish I could have gone too, but things worked against us and there was no way we could leave Destin or put elderly Hailey in a strange kennel,  so I stayed behind. 

This morning when I got up, my moose/deer/elk sensor was going off. Meaning eBay the kitty was peeking between the closed curtains with her tail switching back and forth. Always an indicator of something interesting in the meadow. The window was cranked open and Hailey was doing her usual greet-the-morning-barking ritual. I looked out and saw what I knew had to be Big Boy, the mythical moose that our neighbors kept telling us about but we had never seen. There he stood in all his glory. Big Boy. In our meadow. I was so excited I nearly peed my pajamas.

I immediately cranked the window closed and shushed Hailey. I was successful at closing the window but not so much getting Hailey to be quiet. He seemed rather nonplussed by the whole thing. I had to switch lenses on my camera really fast to the telephoto and ignored the dogs' wishes to be fed and snapped a few photos.

Munching on our baby aspens!

He was posing nicely but at 6:30 a.m., the sun was not quite fully into the meadow as yet. I did the best I could through the window.

Look at that rack, and it's only July! Imagine by the time they are in rut what they will look like.

Hello Big Boy, why don't you just look right at me? I know they are kind of funny looking, but how majestic is this animal, I ask you?

He left for a bit, then came strolling back into the meadow. I tried to sneak out on the front porch for some pics on this second visit but he was having none of it and turned tail for the neighbors where I understand he chased one of their aussies down the hill and onto their deck. I would run too if he started to chase me!

I hope he comes back!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Rufous Hummingbirds Are Here

Posted by: Rick

Every year, in early July, the rufuous hummingbirds make an appearance. They are tiny next to their broadwing cousins. And, they are feisty. They like to guard the feeders, chasing away any competition. It is a wonder anyone gets anything to drink. But, the level of sugar water in the feeders slowly goes down.

This year, Lynne saw the first rufous on 1 July. Now, there are 4 or 5 patrolling our two feeders.

I set up the Phantom LC320S camera and shot this slow-motion footage the other afternoon. This took about 1.36 seconds of "real time" to record, and takes just over 1 minute to play back. The effective time dillution is about 62 times (you are seeing it 62 times slower than it really happened).

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