Thank You Fieldtrip 2010

The site of the Great Blue Heron Music Festival in Sherman, NY has recently become the site for another heron venture: the Green Heron Growers. This was the destination of our 2010 Thank You Fieldtrip for Audubon education volunteers.

Julie Rockcastle was our gracious hostess and gave us a tour of the agriculture operation in the morning.  At noon we dined on a lovely potluck lunch.  After lunch we did a little exploring – in particular on the chunk of property that is rather bog-like.

Near the house, Julie and her husband Steve grow a variety of vegetables and herbs.  The egg-laying chickens are raised here, too.

Left: Several varieties of lettuce under shade cloth; Right: garlic grows beside the pond.

Left: We make eggs! Right: We will someday!

Across the street on a certified organic pasture, the meat chickens are raised in moving pens – allowing them to eat fresh grass (along with organic grain) every day.

Notice that the patches directly behind the pen are burned and eaten. In the distance, the grass grows back greener and lusher after just a few days.

We helped move the pen, then feed and water the chickens:

A little further up the hill were the grass-fed beef cattle.

Happy Cows!

Back down to the house, then out to the woods we tromped to see the Shitake Mushroom operation.  To me, this was the most fascinating part of the tour.

But before we could start, the log-flippers gave a quick, impromptu Salamander Lesson.

Rex points out the field marks of a four-toed salamander (which I didn't get a closeup picture of...)

I did get a picture of this two-lined salamander, however...

As part of regular timber stand management, trees with 6- or 8-inch diameter trunks, preferably oak, are cut.  This harvest happens in early spring after the sap is running, but before the leaves are out.  The trunks are cut into lengths approximately 3 feet long and small holes are drilled into the sides.

The holes are filled with Shitake Mushroom “spawn” – living mycelium.  The holes and the ends of each log are sealed with wax to prevent colonization by other fungi.

Drilled, filled, sealed and stacked.

The logs are stacked.  It will take 12-18 months for the mycelium to spread and fully colonize the log.  After a year or more in the stacks, the logs are moved to the fruiting area where they are leaned against “fences” to give the fruiting bodies room to grow.

Working on "fruits."

The Mushroom Farm

Not quite ready for harvest.

Julie and Steve are trying something new:  These copper bands at the base of the logs are intended to keep away slugs…  who apparently don’t like to crawl over copper.

Supposedly, slugs don't like to crawl across copper. Here's hoping it works!

After touring all the agricultural parts of The Heron, we headed back to the house for lunch where we celebrated our college intern’s 20th birthday!

Not a teenager any more.

After lunch, we changed into mud boots and headed down the road to explore a boggy area of the property.  We found sphagnum moss and sun dews and some plants we couldn’t identify, and a few critters… 

Water Pennywort

Sundew and Sphagnum Moss

Elyse: Dragon Hunter

Elyse's Dragon: Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Rex's Beetle. (He also caught at least one snake that I heard of, but alas... I was too far ahead and didn't get a picture...)

After leading fieldtrips for countless school children through May and June it was delightful to go on a fieldtrip of our own. Many thanks to our wonderful (goofy) volunteers (and staff!) who help get us through this intensely busy time of year. We couldn’t do it without you!

Emily, Jeff, Holly, Julie, Nikki, Sarah, Elyse, Rex, Bonnie, Gayle, Joyce

(There are several others who couldn’t make it to the fieldtrip… we thank you, too!)

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14 thoughts on “Thank You Fieldtrip 2010

  1. Oh I am sorry I missed it. You didn’t tell me they had chickens! It is fascinating how they grow the mushrooms. Glad you all had a good time.

  2. I am an avid volunteer at The Great Blue Heron Festival and my job to take care of the chickens. The vibe up there is soo soothing and beautiful. I recommend it to everyone, see you there for the festival.

  3. Nice post!!!! Thanks so much for coming out. I was wondering what living wonders you found out there in the afternoon. Glad sundews showed up. I’ll put a link to this on my website. Great photos!

  4. I miss you all – That mushroom farm was very cool. Hope to be able to stop in this summer since I’ll be at the “head of the lake”

  5. Just found your blog. Your photography is breathtaking. I’m working as a naturalist in WNY and just started really learning how to use my DSLR – your photographs are exquisite inspiration.

    Thank you

  6. I haven’t been making it to your blog as often as I should. I got out of the habit last year when you were involved in photo class. Your pictures were so good with descriptions of the mushroom operation – my daughter got me a mushroom spoor and kit for my birthday. Your pics inspire me to get the project going!
    Thanks for a wonderful blog – and increasingly quality pictures!

    • thanks, don… glad you stopped by. i’ve been terrible about visiting others’ blogs lately… got really busy doing stuff… I’ll be curious to see how your mushroom operation turns out!

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