October 14 – drizzly week

It’s Monday afternoon, almost exactly a week after the hot & dry weather broke. After that, we swung to a bit of an opposite extreme; for the past week, we’ve had some amount of rain every day.  Well, “rain” might be a strong word– mostly we’ve had a lot of aggressive mist and persistent drizzle.  Which isn’t a complaint– I actually prefer the past week to what preceded it.  But I’m still waiting for that perfect October day, sunny and cool, surrounded by fall colors with lots of edible mushrooms popping up all over.

Here are some random photos from the past few days:

this was early Friday morning, as I was letting the chickens out into the yard.  As you can see, things have greened up considerably in the past week, kind of odd in mid-October, but it really seems like the recent rains have knocked all the dead dried leaves off of the trees and given a bit of new life to the remaining vegetation.Image

The persimmon trees near the parking lot are covered with fruit, although most of it isn’t quite edible yet.  Wild persimmons are an odd fruit, since when they look good and orange and ripe, they are inedible, astringent and disgusting.  It’s only when they get all brown and withered and wrinkly that they taste oh so delicious.Image

On Friday morning, I went to check out our shiitake logs, and discovered that we’ve had a pretty impressive fruiting in the past few days.  I’m thinking that I should have harvested them a day or two ago, but it’s nice to see the logs producing so much.Image

Lots of shiitake for Friday dinner!Image

The kiwi bushes in our backyard seem to have mysteriously lost most of their fruit.  I’m not sure whether someone has been picking each one as it gets ripe, or whether birds or bugs got them all, but it seemed like there had been a lot and now there’s hardly any, and they never seemed to get ripe.  I checked out the kiwi vines in the morningstar orchard, pictured below, and they are covered with fruit (although they also aren’t ripe).  I’m wondering if the fruits are actually going to ripen this year, or whether they will get killed by frost first.Image

Image

Picture of the pond, from Saturday afternoon.  The fog and drizzle continues….Image

Saturday evening, I went to a party with my family at the large and luxurious home of a friend of someone I play music with.  We got there in the late afternoon, just an hour or so before sunset.  I took this picture of the field near where we parked, as it gives a pretty good idea of what central Virginia has looked/felt like over the past week.Image

On Monday, it finally stopped raining, and we even got a couple hours of sunlight.  In the afternoon, I went on a short walk with my son Sami, just in the woods around the back yard, to see what effect a week of drizzle had had on the surrounding area.  Right away, he noticed these tiny orange mushrooms, only about half an inch high.  Image

The tomato plants in our backyard garden are starting to look pretty done for the year, although they still have a few fruits, which probably should have been harvested several days back.Image

I’m still seeing loads of this white aster wildflower everywhere.  It’s curious because all spring and summer, I have no recollection of ever noticing this plant even for a moment, and now in mid-October it’s blooming everywhere.  It’s interesting how wildflowers can simply vanish from notice when they’re not in bloom.Image

back in the spring, I dragged a few freshly-cut logs into the back woods and put some oyster spawn plugs into them, just to see if anything would grow.  I was checking them out on Monday afternoon, and saw that the logs are now absolutely covered with some sort of white mycelial mat which I’m pretty sure is not from the oyster mushrooms.Image

Then, looking more closely at the places where I’d put them in, I found this encouraging sign; baby oyster mushrooms starting to grow from where I’d inoculated the log!  It’s still too early to declare the oyster mushroom growing project a success, but it’s nice to see that at least it wasn’t a total failure.  I’m pretty psyched that at least one of the dowels, of the hundred or more that I drilled into dead wood, is going to produce something!Image

Looking over the logs, I also saw this spot, with mycelium growing from one of my dowels, which looks promising.  I’ll keep an eye on these patches over the next week or so, and hopefully they’ll produce some shrooms!Image

for the most part, however, the logs that I inoculated look more like this, which makes me think we’re not likely to get a whole lot of oysters from them before the more aggressive mycelium from these wild strains take over the whole log.Image

Later on the walk, we came across this cute little scene; tiny orange mushrooms on a big ol’ stump covered with bright green moss.  Image

very rainforest-y looking.Image

For the most part, there were still far fewer mushrooms in the woods than I was hoping to find, it seems like this fall is going to be less productive than I had expected.  Still, there are some fungus to be found out there, like this large variety which might be some sort of russula, but I haven’t managed to definitively identify yet.Image

It sure is one freaky looking mushroom, though!Image

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