I decided to head on out into the bush and see if I could find the magic elixir known as 'chaga'.
At first all the birch I checked was void of this magic fungi and I was wondering if, for some reason, this area just didn't have the spores. I found that somewhat hard to believe, so I kept on my search and eventually came across a tree that had fallen over and saw what I was looking for.
Since it was a rotting tree and upon inspection, the chaga did not look good enough to make anything I wanted to drink. Once I cracked it open I could see little larvae entranced in their winter sleep. I decided this was not the pickings I was going to take back and make into tea. At least this gave me the perseverance to keep on my hunt, knowing now, there must be more of it out there, as, fungi spread quite easily. After trudging deeper into the backwoods I eventually came across another tree with Chaga on it.
|Hoof fungi |
The one thing I noticed which I found strange, all the Chaga I found was only on the north side of the property, all the trees on the south end were devoid of this mushroom. I searched high and low on the one side and nothing, but as soon as I went over to the other end of the property, there it was. Many of the pieces I could not reach, as, they were 15 ft up the tree; I saw one piece that must have been 5 or 10 pounds bulging out of the tree. I will come back for these with a ladder. For some dumb reason I realized when I got back to the house, that, all the pictures I took were of the hoof fungus, not one of the Chaga, WHAT WAS I THINKING!
I will go back and take pictures of the big mound of Chaga once all the snow clears.
The hoof fungus tends to look like these little hoofs on the side of the tree, they can also look more blackish.
|Hoof fungus on birch tree|
|Chaga and hoof fungas harvest in Ontario|
This was the days harvest, not all will go for tea, and I made sure to leave the trees with what I believed to be a sufficient amount of Chaga spores so as to be able to reproduce. The parts I do not use will go to the stove, as, from what I understand, Chaga shavings and hoof fungus is a great fire starter.
The process is really quite simple, scrape off the hardened black exterior until you reach the soft orange-ish inner core. Then, take out your grater and grate away. You will want to leave it out to dry, preferably in the sun for a few days, so as not to let it mold.
Since were in full swing of spring, the sap is flowing. The temperature had dropped the previous few weeks/days and I had neglected checking the buckets for sap, but now that we've had this turnaround into good spring weather, things are flowing into prime syrup season. We have already made a batch of syrup a few weeks back, but this was of the sap (that I'm told) is more so the anti-freeze of the tree, while it does have sugar, it produces something that just doesn't compare to the next flow of mapley goodness.
I could tell when I walked up that those buckets were full and I knew, time for some cooking!
Later on it was time to walk the dog, so I brought my camera along to see if I could get some decent shots of the stream and marsh by my place. I decided to take a little macro of everybody's favourite nuisance plant - burdock. I remember the games played with these, it was always fun to whip these threw the air and watch it stick to someones shirt; then, you could see it in their eyes, the game was on!.
|Burdock - |
The sumac was a plant I've known since a child, thankfully, we don't have the poison ones around here. I remember being very young in my girlfriends backyard sucking on these sour-ish buds. I dont know why we did it, no one told us it was safe, we just kinda ate them without concern. Ahh.. to be a child. lol.
I finally reached the marsh and I was glad I brought my camera.
|Springbrook Marsh / river|
I love all the old barns in my area, I must make a project of capturing as many as I can at some point. Our personal barn ( and house ) goes back to the 1850's, and from what I understand, some of them might go back even further.
|Springbrook heritage barn|