Monthly Archives: March 2015

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On an old oak stump in our front yard grew a Hen of the Woods mushroom. Keith would watch it grow and mature until it was the ready to pick. It was just about perfect.

We were sitting on the front porch when a car pulled up. The dogs were sleeping in the autumn sun, they didn't notice. The driver ran from the car, cut the mushroom, and drove off.

Apparently someone else was watching the mushroom, too. Keith walked around the stump in disbelief, “Who steals a mushroom?”

“Probably the same type of person who tries stuffing a goat into the hatchback of their car.” A few weeks earlier a nicely dressed couple tried driving off with our goat, Midnight and a few of the laying hens.

Poor Keith, I empathized with him. He'd been waiting to enjoying this mushroom for a long time.

Our neighbor, Mike watched the same car pull up to his ditch and cut weed stalks early each summer. One year he flagged them down to ask what they were cutting. What they thought were wild rhubarb stalks in reality was Burdock. Mike just smiled, shook his head and waved them on. He loved re-telling that story.

Here in Iowa folks park along the roadside searching for wild asparagus or morels. The asparagus seekers carry sharp knives and plastic bags. They walk along the ditches and fence rows searching the grass around utility poles.

For some reason the commercial morel hunters irritate me, they don't ask for permission, they're dropped off in an area to begin scavenging the timber and underbrush for saleable product. They wear camouflage and carry handheld GPS devices. Morel's bring a hefty price.

Growing mushrooms is one of our latest projects. We're growing Oyster mushrooms for fun.  Keith loves mushrooms. One year I bought him a shiitake growing kit which was fine, but about the difference between owning a plastic model of a Corvette or the real thing.

It was time for an up-grade, so this year we're growing two varieties of organic Oyster mushrooms; Grey Dove and PoHu.

Keith cut logs from dormant Aspen trees. Each log is about 3 feet long, 6 – 8 inches in diameter. There are about one hundred logs for this year's mushroom project. He used a special bit to drill the holes. Cookie inoculated the logs with sawdust spawn and then capped each with wax. The logs are stacked in the timber, when it's dry this summer we'll use a water tank to soak the logs. The first mushrooms should start growing within a few months. This first year's yield will be sparse, but should increase each season for many years.

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Schroeder Thomas splint

*This post is for information purposes only and does not replace the need for a qualified veterinarian*

Our veterinarian anesthetized the calf and he set the leg. We assisted by making the frame and wrapping the leg under his supervision.

This time of year we get two or three emails each week asking about the Schroeder Thomas Splint (click here for the original post).

Here are the instructions and pictures:

Our calf had a left hind leg break. These pictures are of a Schroeder-Thomas splint for a hind leg. Regardless whether front or hind leg the objective is to fix the leg in place and apply downward pressure, with the leg fully extended to set the bone in place. (The red broom handle represents the leg) Click on the pictures to view more clearly.

frame of Schroeder-Thomas splint, broom handle represents leg
frame of Schroeder-Thomas splint, broom handle represents leg

 

1. Measure the hip/thigh of the calf for back leg or shoulder/upper arm for front leg. We used string to measure the thigh and made a paper template of the leg. Based on those measurements Keith Used steel rod to weld this frame.

The frame goes around the outside hip and under the inside groin area
The frame goes around the outside hip and under the inside groin area

2. Weld a plate for a hoof rest at the bottom of the splint. The plate will secure the leg in place with downward pressure.

 

fix the leg to the frame alternating tape from left to right to keep the leg in place
fix the leg to the frame alternating tape from left to right to keep the leg in place

3. Fix the leg to the sides of the frame; tape alternately left side, right side, repeat as you tape the length of the leg to the frame. DO NOT WRAP THE ENTIRE LEG TO ONE SIDE: ALTERNATE THE WRAP FOR LATERAL STABILITY. (We used 3m Vet Wrap)

 

 

 

Tape the hoof to the bottom plate of the frame to apply downward pressure
Tape the hoof to the bottom plate of the frame to apply downward pressure

4.  Wrap around the hoof and fix the leg to the bottom of the frame; apply downward pressure and fully extend the leg.  A wooden splint will help hold the leg in a place to the bottom of the frame. On our first attempt we didn't have the hoof held tightly to the bottom of the frame.

 

5. Cushion any pressure points to prevent open sores. Apply topical fly repellant.

6. We covered all the vet wrap with duct tape for additional stability. Don't use duct tape directly on the hair coat without protective covering .

7. It will take a few days for the calf to learn to get up and down while wearing the splint. He'll get the hang of it but it will be awkward.

8. If you need help send an email, we're happy to answer questions.

Taping the leg in place
Taping the leg in place
Taking careful measurements
Taking careful measurement

 

Recuperating
Recuperating

 

 

Tapping walnut trees!

Tapping Walnut Trees
Collecting Walnut sap

The local NPR station had a program about tapping trees. Michael Farrell, author of The Sugarmaker's Companion talked about collecting sap from different types of trees. Keith liked the idea of tapping walnut trees and birch trees to make syrup. The Black Walnut trees are abundant in our timber. After reading the book we became interested in the benefits of sap water as a healthful drink, so we're tapping walnut trees.

Keith and our local forester, Jeff  marked trees for tapping. Not wanting to ruin marketable timber, or veneer, the two of them selected twenty-six crooked or damaged trees for this first season's experiment.

The trees cover a larger area so tubing wasn't an option. Instead, collection bags hang from the taps. Walnut's have about the same brix (sap sugar content) as maple trees. The volumes of sap is less, though. Walnut sap is nutrient rich, slightly sweet, with a nutty flavor. It's power packed.

In other cultures tree sap is a valued health drink. Fresh sap is good for five days, after that it needs pasteurization and filtering. It will last indefinitely when it's frozen. To get the benefits throughout the year I'm freezing it in ice-cube trays and glass jars for later use.

Depending on how much sap we collect there might be enough to make walnut syrup, but with a sap to syrup ratio of 40:1, we'll see.

The sap runs for only about five-weeks each spring. Tapping walnut trees is just like tapping maple trees, walnut trees leaf out later than maples so the season might extend longer. When the walnut sap finishes flowing the birch trees are ready to tap. Birch flow starts later in the spring and runs until the trees leaf out.

Sugaring is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time together.

tapping walnut trees
Collecting Walnut Sap