“Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.”

Leo Tolstoy, from War and Peace

Mushroom Prep


Last week I spent a lot of time in the barn with a power drill, a hammer and a tub of wax.  Among other things.

It was too cold to do much outside, so it was a good time for me to innoculate more logs with shiitake mushroom spawn.

We grew shiitakes this way for the first time last year and they were delicious.  They were so good that we decided to increase the amount we grow.

I ordered plugs from Field and Forest Products.  They are little plugs of wood with the spawn in them.  The process of preparing the logs is time-consuming, but not difficult.

First it’s necessary to cut down a tree (preferably a white oak) no more than a couple of feet in diameter at the base.  Let it age a couple of weeks, then drill holes into them about 6 inches apart (in a diamond patten), hammer the plugs into the holes and seal them with wax.  Once done, the logs are stacked in a shady place (but where rain will fall on them).





Then wait.

This fall they should flush with mushrooms for the first time and that should continue to happen a couple of times each year for many years.

The reward is amazing.  We’re anxiously awaiting the spring offerings from the logs I did last year.

Love Wins

Personal Religion

In one sense at least the personal religion will prove itself more fundamental than either theology or ecclesiasticism. Churches, when once established, live at second-hand upon tradition; but the founders of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their direct personal communion with the divine. Not only the superhuman founders, the Christ, the Buddha, Mahomet, but all the originators of Christian sects have been in this case;—so personal religion should still seem the primordial thing, even to those who continue to esteem it incomplete. 

William James
from The Varieties of Religious Experience

Love Wins


This is a world in which each of us, knowing his limitations, knowing the evils of superficiality, and the terrors of fatigue, will have to cling to what is close to him, to what he knows, to what he can do, to his friends and his tradition and his love, lest he be dissolved in a universal confusion and know nothing and love nothing.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Love Wins

Danita’s Bloggers

It was a thrill and a blessing to have our friend and hero Danita Estrella-Watts and her husband John on the farm last week.  They stopped by for a brief visit along with Sheree Bowie (U.S. Director of Danita’s Children) and her husband Mike.  We laughed later, remembering that is was only a few years ago that Cherie discovered Danita’s Children while searching the internet for a needy and worthwhile way to help Haitian children.

What Danita has accomplished in Haiti in her dozen years there is astonishing.  Haiti is a place where it is notoriously difficult to accomplish anything.  Yet this year what began as a woman in a rented house with a few orphans and little else, is now an orphanage, school, church, clinic and soon-to-be first rate pediatric medical facility.

I mentioned our missionary friends in Haiti recently, but didn’t think to link some of their blogs.  Not all the missionaries blog, but here are a few links from a few who do.  Their stories are good reminders of what life outside our borders can be like.



A collection of blog posts:

Love Wins



Cherie has named this little guy Brownie.  He’s spunky, playful, bold and a little mischievous.  Even though he’s smaller than the other kids (he’s about half the size of his brother), he is seemingly fearless.  When we returned Rowan to the barn pasture Brownie (who had never seen a horse before) immediately ran up to him and began nibbling on his tail.  Rowan is used to that sort of behavior from kids so nothing bad came out of it, but it reveals the kind of kid Brownie is.


Never having seen anything like him, most of the nannies don’t know what to make of him.  At first they’d push him away when he came around.  I worried that Brownie might be psychologically wounded by such treatment (yes, I really did), but it never seemed to bother him and over time the herd has adjusted to their little brown addition.


Brownie is a hit with visitors and I get requests for more pictures of him on facebook. 


We’re enjoying having the little rascal around.


Love Wins

1,500 Miles

On average, every bite of food on an American plate has traveled 1,500 miles to get there.

I suppose that might make some sense for a person in Antarctica. 

But in America, that’s just plain crazy.

Love Wins