Creek Jots ~ 26 Sept

Chicken-of-the-Woods shelf fungus and other market faire

* Good thing we foraged the wild grapes last week. The tame ones within the garden stockade all disappeared in one night, not a one on the ground, every one in a coon belly. I hope they got a belly ache, considering all the hours I spent during the prolonged drought, watering and fertilizing, only to feed the wildlife. And so it goes.

Organic: Not entirely next year. I will have to do something–rotenone at least–to hold back the bean beetles. They were horrible this year. And something ate our usually dependable Swiss Chard to laced doilies. Our soil stays cold so long in this deep valley that we can’t plant early to beat the insect hoards. This is not an ideal place for self-sufficiency. But it is what we have; it is wonderful in so many ways; and we have Sweet Providence and the community market to make up for what we fail to grow.

* The market breakfast was great this year, the first for which SustainFloyd has attempted to do the cooking. We will most definitely be doing this again next year, no so much for raising funds (especially if you factor in the  unpaid cost of all the wonderful volunteered hours) but because it is a great excuse to visit and have a meal with folks you wouldn’t ordinarily sit to table with. It feels like community.

* Last night we had the “chicken of the woods” mushroom that Ann bought at the market Saturday. Some of the mushroom books describe it as “edible choice” and others as “not distinctive” but in the spaghetti last night, the texture was wonderful and its mild flavor very pleasant. We’ll find some for free on a tree near home.

* I was encouraged to go mushroom foraging after talking with a friend at church who has been seeing lots of honeycaps and “slippery jack” mushrooms in his surveying work lately. I didn’t find much, but do have at least an image a day this week to share—after a long dry period with the camera. Stay tuned!

* I keep hoping the single bat over our pasture this summer will gain some companions. Bats do not live singly under normal circumstance, but our lone bat at dusk seems to have lost–or out-survived–his colony. Other folks report normal bat activity in their parts of Floyd County. White Nose Syndrome cause and cure is nowhere in sight. Last night, the migrating green darner dragonflies didn’t put a dent in the swirling population of gnats, midges and flying aphids in their last hurrah.  We need the bats, creepy and unlovely as they may seem to some people.

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fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

One thought on “Creek Jots ~ 26 Sept”

  1. My friend in Vermont uses black plastic between her garden rows to add warmth to the soil. (She said she tried fabric and all other sorts, but the plastic really does work the best.) I wonder if that would allow your soil to warm up earlier?

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