I really enjoy getting comments on my posts.  I especially appreciate the quality and thoughtfulness of the comments I get.  They’re often more interesting than the post itself.

Yesterday I noticed something on my dashboard for the first time, saying that I had comments in my “spam queue.”  Hmm, I though.  Maybe I should have a look at those to make sure they’re really spam.

What I discovered was a virtual treasure trove of wonderful and interesting comments.

Some were very complimentary of my writing, such as this one, which made me blush:

Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant thinking, piece of writing is good,
thats why i have read it fully

Others offered some helpful constructive criticism, such as this:

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Some were more in the nature of personal advice:

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Or helpful living tips:

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There were suggestions for publishing an e-book and some thoughtful recommendations for shoes, payday loans, debt consolidation services, sunglasses and more discrete personal items.

Several included remarks such as:


Others were simply pleasant greetings:

Nice to be visiting your blog once more. Great this post.
Many thanks for sharing.

I realize the depth and quality of these comments will be intimidating to those of you who regularly comment here, but just remember: Present yourself the way you are! And you can be sure that when I read your comments I always think, “Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant thinking, piece of writing is good, that’s why I have read it fully.”


Adding More Mushrooms

Yesterday was a beautiful day–warm and breezy.  I took advantage of it to plant some blueberry bushes and to prep our spring brassicas garden, planting mizuna, arugula and komatsuna.  There’s still a lot of planting to do, but we’re moving along a little better than last year.

Another garden ready for planting.

Another garden ready for planting.

But before I started on the gardens I spent part of the morning preparing to inoculate more mushroom logs.

The first step is to cut down a small white oak.  I don’t like cutting down a perfectly good tree, no matter how good the reason.  I decided to take down half of a double tree, so the tree remains.


In the top of the tree was a ribbon from an escaped balloon.  I have no idea how long it had been there.

In the top of the tree was a ribbon from an escaped balloon. I have no idea how long it had been there.

After the logs have aged for a few days, I’ll put in the shiitake spawn and add them to the stacks.

Mushroom logs

Mushroom logs

A few mushrooms are starting to peep out already.

A shiitake being born

A shiitake being born

This picture from last fall shows what we’re hoping for.


Growing mushrooms is simple and requires very little effort once the logs are inoculated.  And the rewards are delicious.


Some mornings I discover cute newborn goat babies in the barn, happily romping around and calling for their mamas.  That’s one of the joys of this life.

Some mornings I discover dead kids.  That’s one of the crappy things about this life.   And one of the things that make it real.

Yesterday morning I found newborn triplets in a barn stall–two dead and one barely alive.  Fancy, their mother, had seemingly abandoned them.

I warmed up the survivor and gave her a little milk from Squeaky’s bottle.  Fancy was in the back part of the pasture and I wanted to ring her neck.  She hadn’t cleaned and warmed the babies and seemed to have no interest in tending to the living kid.

Later I caught her and dragged her into the stall with the kid, to try to compel her to take care of it.  It was then that we noticed that she was anemic.

Now I’m worried about her too.  The mamas are tough and almost always recover from tough pregnancies.  But she’s clearly not well.

The little kid is taking the bottle, but hasn’t gotten any strength in her hind legs yet. They rarely survive under those conditions.

Not the way we wanted to end this kidding season.

Time for Potatoes

It’s been drizzling and cold here for the last few days.  But I know that spring is about to spring.  And when it does I’ll be planting potatoes.

What’s left of last years crop is now rubbery and sprouting.  I fried some last night so they’re still edible.  But they’re certainly far from their best.  The demise of last years crop is a good sign that it’s time to get going on this years crop.

For many people it is traditional to plant Irish potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day.  Here it was sleeting all day on Monday, so that didn’t happen.  My plan is to plant the first day the ground is dry enough to allow it.

I’ve always planted yellow, white and red varieties.  But last year we added fingerlings and really liked them.  So this year I’m only planting Yukon Golds, along with four or five varieties of fingerlings.

There are lots of ways to grow potatoes.  I just stick to the old way of doing it.  I open furrows with a potato plow, and drop in the seed potatoes. Then I pull all the dirt from one side of the row over on the seeds.  Once they’ve emerged and are about a foot above the ground I pull the soil from the other side of the row, filling the furrow.  After that I hill them with a hoe as they grow.  It’s a lot of labor, but it works for us.

Potatoes are a great homesteading crop–essential in my opinion.  They produce more calories per square foot than any other vegetable.  They store easily and keep well.  And the taste of a freshly dug potato can’t be beat.

Already a staple, they have a great future as a food crop.  Recently I read that potatoes thrive in atmospheres with elevated levels of carbon dioxide. So yields are increasing as the level of CO2 increases and they are expected to become easier to grow farther north.  I reckon that’s a little bit of silver lining.


The kid we call Squeaky arrived here under mysterious circumstances.  I found him in a barn stall one morning.  He was a big healthy-looking kid who seemed to be about one day old.  He was crying for his mother, but it seemed to me that he’d eaten before.

I checked all the likely candidates and could find no goat that had just given birth.  I carried him around the herd and no one claimed him and he didn’t behave as if he knew any of them.  Strange.

After about a day no one had claimed him, so we decided to start bottle feeding him. He had yelled himself hoarse so Cherie named him Squeaky.

Shortly after his mysterious arrival

Shortly after his mysterious arrival

He took to the bottle right away

He took to the bottle right away

Now, about a month later, he is a big spoiled rascal.  He lets out piercing screams anytime he sees one of us and has no regard for the electric fence (even though I’ve seen it knock him flat).

Of all the bottle-babies we’ve had, he’s the easiest to feed. He can chug down a bottle of milk in a flash.


Sometimes he comes through the fence to follow me around while I do my chores.

Following me as I do chores.

Following me as I do chores.

A week later he's still tagging along

A week later he’s still tagging along

It’s a pity I don’t have a video of what happens when he follows me into the chicken coop when I go in to collect eggs.  Having never had a goat on the premises, the chickens panic and freak out.  Squeaky tries to climb up onto their feed barrel, but finds the birds uninteresting.

The last storm took down a big dead sweet gum tree in the pasture and I’ve been cutting it up for firewood.  Squeaky finds my work fascinating.

He makes it hard to work with a chainsaw

He makes it hard to work with a chainsaw

He likes eating the sawdust.   Goats.

He likes eating the sawdust.

He’s quite a character.

The Last Two

We’ve had a lot of kids born on the farm this winter.  As far as I can tell there are only two pregnant mamas left–Fancy and Madonna.

Given that goats seem to prefer kidding in the worst possible weather, I rather expected yesterday’s sleet would have prompted the last two to deliver.

But, alas, the waiting continues.

Maybe today.