Today I built the pictured farm cart for a total cost of $3 (the cost of two hinges); all the lumber was salvaged from a nearby construction site (with permission) and the bike wheels came from Kelly, a friend of ours. The rear panel is hinged, like a tail-gate, to allow for easier loading and unloading of the cart. You may have also noticed that there is no floor—that was intentional, as a removable floor will allow the cart/hauler to function like a dump-truck. Although not terribly light, the large bicycle wheels make it easy to maneuver by hand, although I designed it to be hitched to our Gravely. Anticipated uses include moving large pieces of quartz around in order to make a fire pit, hauling manures, carting cut logs, and much more. Making the farm cart was a good exercise in my learning to use my ShopSmith. I picked up my ShopSmith 510 (sans motor) almost a year ago and a few months back Drew and I installed a new motor. For those not familiar with ShopSmith, it is a general purpose woodworking system comprising a single motor and many tools, including table saw, lathe, drill press, planer, sander, band saw, jig saw, etc.. I got an incredible deal on the used system I have because the previous owner was upgrading to separate tools and didn’t want to deal with replacing the motor himself. Anyway, I have much more to learn, but am pretty happy with the farm cart.
In other farm news, the new chicks are now ranging outside and becoming acclimated to their egg mobile, another ShopSmith project. The new lambs, Leah and Rachel, are growing, gaining a great deal of wool, and are now showing their multiple sets of horns. This evening we also harvested our first batch of Shiitake mushrooms. I first learned about culturing Shiitake mushrooms when I visited John Soehner at Eco-Farm while taking a course through CCCC’s sustainable agriculture program. In order to culture mushrooms, hardwood logs are cut and allowed to age off the ground so as not to mold for around nine months before being inoculated with fungal spawn, generally in the form of plugs (available from Fungi Perfecti), and subsequently left alone in the forest until the mycelium spreads throughout the log (about 18 months). Then the logs are soaked overnight in cool water and again stacked in the forest until they flower and the mushrooms can be harvested. The soaking and flowering can be repeated about every month until the log is consumed by the fungus. We enjoyed these first mushrooms in a great egg Lo Mein, modifying a recipe from Cooks Illustrated, to which we were given a subscription by a friend of ours. The Shiitakes had a great flavor although perhaps harvesting them a little earlier may have made the stems and centers a little less tough.