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View the most recent comments below. To join in the discussion (or see a comment thread in order), click on the title of a comment, then follow the directions on the subsequent page to add a comment of your own.

paul stamets' (author of mycelium running) fungi perfecti has tons of cultural information as well as spawn---you can find it here:
Comment by melina w staal Sat Jan 31 19:52:08 2015
Nayan --- I just google until I turn up enough sites that they start repeating (or contradicting) each other. You'll probably have best results if you google maitake instead of hen of the woods (or even better, their scientific names). Looking at sites that sell spawn is always a good start since certain varieties within each species require certain types of trees to grow on, and the website in question will give you that data. I should warn you, though, that neither hen of the woods nor chicken of the woods are on the easy-to-cultivate list.
Comment by anna Sat Jan 31 14:52:32 2015

I'm curious to know where you got the information on tree species and mushrooms. A neighbor and I have been trying to figure out which tree species would be good for both hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms, with no luck on finding the info needed. Can you recommend a website?


Comment by Nayan Sat Jan 31 14:28:23 2015
Last year my sister got some boxelder syrup from her neighbors, and we got to try it while we were home visiting. It was pretty fantastic on pancakes, but less sweet than traditional maple syrup. My sister said she doesn't like it as a sugar replacement in coffee because it's not as sweet, but the flavor is great for most other syrup applications.
Comment by Jake Sat Jan 31 13:21:15 2015
Totally agree Anna! I had in my head I had to have goats because I had to have my own milk so I started out with goats first thing on our farm, kept them for 3 years ,...They ate money! Lol! they seriously cost more than our pigs,,,tore up things,,again more so than even our pigs!..they are needy , had more health issues then I imagined and really sucked the time away...then i switch to dairy sheep.. which didn't tear things up but other than that was about the I tried lower input fainting goats which were better than the dairy goats but still sucked away my time with their mini dramas... gosh I love them but I was glad to see them leave today! I worked out a wonderful deal with a goat loving neighbor ... my duck eggs for her goat milk. So I get fresh milk but not the drama lol! Love farm barter!
Comment by angie Fri Jan 30 18:26:13 2015
Just a note about St. Lawarance Nurseries - this is the last year the current owners are operating it. There are no buyers for it yet so it will not be available to people to order from for an indefinite time period. So if you are interested in purchasing their maple trees I would do so this year (Orders must be postmarked by April 1st).
Comment by BW Fri Jan 30 13:57:24 2015
After reading this blog for so many years, I know Mark could cobble together a feeding station with two sheets of plywood, and a posts cut from the woods, some spare lengths of wire, and a few flattened out soup cans, McGyver style. That way it would keep rain off the feed and concentrate it in one place...
Comment by Eric in Japan Fri Jan 30 11:29:04 2015

I complain about my goats in these comments all the time. But I do like them. They are exasperating (often) but cute and attention grabbing (usually). If you are like me and a hobby homesteader, goats are fine. If you are a market t gardener, I don't recommend goats. I will admit, I have only harvested 3 cabbages in 4 years due to goat escapes. I have almost forgotten what spinach tastes like. The only plus is they don't seem to like tomatoes (as much as everything else in the garden and orchard). If you invest in quality fencing (like Anna and Mark) you might escape goat predations... but I wouldn't count on it.

And as a final resort.... as a friend of mine said- if the goats eat all your garden... eat the goats.

Comment by Eric in Japan Fri Jan 30 11:19:56 2015
I thought silver maples were no good for syrup because they had an off taste. Certainly the sap from them smells different.
Comment by Anonymous Fri Jan 30 11:18:11 2015
I can't seem to navigate the garden delights site at all (perhaps due to my net imcompetence). I just get a background of trees and a menu that doesn't go anywhere or seem of any use...
Comment by Eric in Japan Fri Jan 30 11:08:15 2015
St. Lawarance Nurseries carries the SS Sugar Maple. The website is good for contact info and maybe catalog requests. Orders are placed by mail.
Comment by Troy Fri Jan 30 10:22:27 2015
Hi Anna- saw this interesting reference on box elder syrup- Looks like less end product, but fine taste- he's got great notes on how to boil it down.
Comment by Trish Fri Jan 30 09:48:47 2015

Dave --- Sorry I failed miserably there. :-) But, hey, maybe that means that if Abigail has girls, you'd like the kids? They'll be weaned about the time you move to town....

Su Be --- Yeah, I think people underestimate how much goats need. Those old cartoons do the species a major disservice!

Comment by anna Fri Jan 30 09:36:37 2015
I agree with Anna that goats aren't for most people. First of all, I've seen a lot, lot of goats die around due to the lack of knowledge by their first time owners. They are difficult to contain, often escaping most routine fencing. Some frustrated owners ended up tying them out on a rope only to have a foot entrapped. If not released in time, I've seen those poor goats lose a foot, and thus their lives. I've seen goats get tangled in pasture trash, be forced to live in "pastures" that have very little of anything edible, be penned without access to water, die from lack of proper deworming. All the time their owners don't realize that there's anything wrong with their approach to keeping goats. Yes, goats are simple if you handle them right, but if not, then it often ends in failure.
Comment by Su Be Fri Jan 30 00:05:49 2015

But her response upon reading the article was "Those photos don't help your cause at all. I want goats. OH MY GOD, SHE'S GOING TO HAVE BABY GOATS??"

I'll try to keep her satisfied with my uncle's adorable dwarf goats, as he's only a couple hours from our (future) new home in Bristol, but I fear it's only going to buy me a couple years.

Maybe we can just put her to work on your place, entertaining Artemesia and Abigail?


Comment by Dave Marshall Thu Jan 29 20:59:01 2015

Cynthia --- Well, I have a very broad idea of who homesteaders are. To me, if you're interested in anything homesteading-related, you're a homesteader! So, folks who just have a couple of tomato plants on their balcony are mixed in there with people who have been farming for twenty years.

I guess I'm also partly reacting to a comment another reader made, saying that Mark and I made homesteading look so easy that she tried it...and failed miserably. I certainly don't want to make homesteading look easy because that's not true (although it's definitely fulfilling and fun). And I feel like goats are an intermediate-to-advanced project, definitely not one of the low-hanging fruits for most folks.

But like the rest of homesteading, they're fulfilling and fun, so if you want them, by all means, you should go for them!

Comment by anna Thu Jan 29 20:18:26 2015

While I do appreciate the heads-up about the effort it takes to establish a proper home with food for goats I felt a little surprised that you feel 90% of homesteaders aren't ready for the venture. That doesn't say much about your followers! I'm preparing for goats and I enjoy your posts and pictures but I don't need to be discouraged. Looking forward to birthing pictures. Cynthia

Comment by cynthia Thu Jan 29 18:07:47 2015
I remember when I couldn't get two dollars a bale for good mixed grass hay...of course that was 1984!
Comment by Eric Thu Jan 29 17:21:55 2015
Do you guys make your own hay?
Comment by Alice Tue Jan 27 17:45:41 2015
Keep them coming!
Comment by Ken Tue Jan 27 17:06:11 2015
I have a shed just like that that the door came loose. I used 18" Nylon Heavy-Duty Cable Ties, drilled matching holes in the side wall and the door and cinched the doors to the side. They are strong and do the job.
Comment by Gerry Tue Jan 27 16:42:29 2015
bob-Thanks for the description of that process. I've often thought about learning some basic blacksmith skills. Maybe someday in the future.
Comment by mark Tue Jan 27 15:51:52 2015

Just downloaded and looks very very interesting. I would like to caution, however, that for folks who have thyroid problems, using brassicas: broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, etc, can supress thyroid hormone production and should probably be avoided. Similarly, potatoes, especially white or gold potatoes, like Kennebec, or Yukon Gold, are high-starch, high-carb, high glycemic probably should be avoided by folks who are on a low-carb, low glycemic diet. On the other hand, fingerling potatoes and red-skinned potatoes are low-starch potatoes and would probably be okay to be consumed by those folks.

Otherwise, great book! I intend to review it on Amazon!

Comment by Nayan Tue Jan 27 12:36:27 2015
deb --- Thank you so much for the kind review! I hope the recipes work as well for you as they did for us.
Comment by anna Tue Jan 27 10:42:42 2015

These look really yummy! after reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal,Vegetable, Miiracle, I have focused on becoming a more seasonal eater. Your book gives some really practical and delicious ways to utilize some of those late fall and winter garden offerings. i did leave a review, but more importantly, I am cookong one of the recipes for supper tonight! 😊

Comment by deb Tue Jan 27 10:14:15 2015
It's very hard to deal with goat bedding & manure. I've made plenty of extra work for myself putting it on my garden before! I left it in a pile ,under a black tarp , under the direct sun for over a year one time... put on my garden... still had weed seeds! Tried using chickens one year to clean it up ...still had weed seeds! I think I'm getting rid of my goats but I'm going to have a barn full of wasted hay and manure this spring...I may spread it on a pasture around one of our ponds that geese can graze on..they like weeds!
Comment by angie Tue Jan 27 07:10:47 2015

Hi Mark and Anna,

I too added a battery cutoff switch to my 20 year old truck. Might be a good idea on all of your vehicles that aren't regularly used. Cost me $20.

Solved problem.

I'll probably plow with it today.

John - Concord NH Where people are afraid of snow !!!! What is wrong with their brains.... They probably need some of Mark and Anna's good food!

Comment by John Tue Jan 27 05:31:26 2015
Not sure how manageable your volume is, but you could do some kind of solar sterilization and then compost it or let the chickens have a go at it.
Comment by Jake Tue Jan 27 01:29:13 2015

The revised worksheets have been revised and are at This note from Erica Reinheimer: We have recently cut the P rate in half (to allow for future high P compost additions) - this change does not yet appear in the worksheets. Erica also send a revised table of TCEC target levels. (I don't see a way to attach it here. She's in case you're interested. Thanks for the replies! Regards, db

Comment by David Bach Mon Jan 26 21:03:32 2015
Eric --- That would be one good solution --- to feed all of the hay in the yard. But our girls are so picky they won't eat anything off the ground, and it's so wet here that I'd think their hay would get soaked out there. So I feed them in the coop, and then they drop a third of the hay and its seeds into their bedding.... :-/
Comment by anna Mon Jan 26 19:51:11 2015
David --- Keep in mind I worked on this two years ago and have a terrible memory.... But as I look back at my data, it looks like I accidentally input the wrong data into the worksheet, using the information from a different sample for the actual amount of potassium. So, please ignore the 974 and pretend it says 613, and hopefully things will start to make sense!
Comment by anna Mon Jan 26 19:42:26 2015
We had a similar problem with our Toyota Estima minivan. The battery would be drained, so we would jump start it, drive it to charge it up, but it kept losing charge slowly over a few days. We brought it to the shop numerous times, they checked the battery and said "no problems here, it's fully charged." Well of course it was after we drove it to the shop! Then we had him keep it for two nights and he saw that the battery was just defective. Slapped in a new one and things have been peachy ever since.
Comment by Eric in Japan Mon Jan 26 19:36:27 2015
My goat's manure is not so seedy. I think they digest things so well that most seeds are just that, digested. But I should note that I don't feed them any kind of seedy hay in their pen/yard. They eat outside, and digest and deposit in the pen. That way the manure is just straw or rice hull bedding, goat "berries" and urine.
Comment by Eric in Japan Mon Jan 26 19:31:47 2015

Had the same problem with an old minivan I only use once in a while. I installed one of these ( ) cost $30 plus a short battery cable. Works fine. But it is under the hood.

Comment by tom Mon Jan 26 18:12:04 2015
you could use a multimeter set to measure amps, and with the ignition set to off remove the fuses one by one and replace them with your ammeter instead. If the circuit is truly off, then you shoukd bre measuring Zero amps. Otherwise, that circuit is drawing power and draining your battery.
Comment by pedro Mon Jan 26 18:09:25 2015
Start pulling fuses maybe a couple at a time untill you hit the one that stops the drain , My ranger had this problem it Was the interior light dimmer/ timer they dimmed out but the timer stayed on killing the battery in three days , the fuse is still out , who needs interior lights in a 20 year old truck ?
Comment by diogenese Mon Jan 26 18:07:06 2015
When I had that problem, the light under the engine hood was staying on.
Comment by john Mon Jan 26 17:03:39 2015

Anna, thanks for your reply. I'm looking at the figures on this page. I'm not able to arrive at the deficit for K. I see you took 308 from the table (corresponding to TCEC = 9.88) but what is the actual figure from which you subtract 308? Lb/ac = 974, so I calculate a deficit of -666. But your spreadsheet shows a deficit of -305. I must be missing something. I read all of the article without understanding. I see that cell B14 in the spreadsheet shows 613 as a found amount, but the soil analysis shows K = 974. Is that the difference? (Substituting 613 for 974 provides the same result as entered in the worksheet.) In case you have time to reply - Thanks! db

Comment by David Bach Mon Jan 26 13:24:36 2015
David --- No, I made up my own excel worksheets based on his pdfs. I would have made mine available online, but they required more than just filling in the blanks, so I thought it would do more harm than good to share them widely. :-)
Comment by anna Mon Jan 26 12:02:09 2015

I'm not finding any Excel worksheets that correspond to the text descriptions on this website or in the addendum IntelligentGardener-worksheets.pdf to which you link above. Are these Excel worksheets really available? I've been attempting to determine if I have enough information to create some of my own, but it would save me a lot of time if such were downloadable. Thanks, db

Comment by David Bach Mon Jan 26 11:41:22 2015