Stump Lichen Beetle

Lichen Covered Stump

While checking sows and piglets in the south field paddocks I spotted something small moving on a stump…

Beetle on Lichen Covered Stump

Fifteen years ago we cleared the south field back to the original stone walls. This stump is the remnants of one of the trees that had grown up in the field since our farm was abandoned in the mid-1900’s.

When we cleared the regrown forest we left the stumps, cut low to the ground. Half of a tree is above ground. The other half is below ground. That’s a lot of valuable nutrients I wanted to keep in our soil. They’ve been gradually rotting, slow releasing their fertilizer value back to the land. Far better than running a bulldozer to de-stump, especially on our steep slopes. I’m in no hurry.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Stump Lichen Beetle

  1. Belseth says:

    Something to consider in the future is to drive some mushroom dowels into them. It only works on fresh stumps. The fungus helps break down the stumps and the pigs love them. They make a tasty addition to dinner if you can get to them before the pigs do. After you get a batch you can self propagate the mushrooms but collecting spores is a lot of work. There are a lot of articles on the subject. The biggest thing to consider is mushroom spores compete poorly so sterile conditions when you collect are important. Mushrooms are one of those near perfect foods. Low in calories but high in nutrients. Helps keep the pigs and your family healthy.

    Another one to consider is a number of sites have Ramp seeds these days. After you get them established they are a spring treat. Once again collect up what you can before the pigs get to them. By June they are all gone. They need shade so they are perfect for forests and will even grow under walnut trees.

    • We have wild leeks (Ramps) growing wild here, all over the place.

      I’ve long wanted to try the mushroom spores on the stumps. A lot of the stumps in our fields have mushrooms. Check out these posts. Sometime I’ll get some inoculate for stumps that don’t have shrooms. Since this one has no mushrooms I wonder if this one may be an evergreen stump, spruce or pine, maybe even cedar. Do those grow mushrooms well or are they resistant? I know the maple, beech, aspen/poplar and such do grow mushrooms.

      As to the near perfect food, actually high in calories is good for the pigs since so much else of their diet is low in calories (pasture). I have seen them eat mushrooms. Me, I’m a bit hesitant as I don’t feel confident with identification yet.

      • Belseth says:

        You’re lucky with the Ramps growing wild. A lot of areas got badly picked over.

        Usually oak and maples are the best. Not so sure with pines and I can guarantee cedars aren’t good. Even things like hickory I think would be dodgy and walnut for sure wouldn’t be good. Some trees like Walnut have natural toxins and hickory is related although it has much less. Stick with the oak and maple families. Birch should do well. In Maine there’s a lot of Birch trees especially along the coast.

        I meant for humans as a near perfect food since we have problems with calorie intact. For pigs it’s more a matter of nutrients they may not normally get. Acorns and nuts are better for fattening them up.

        Me I avoid wild mushrooms like the plague because I don’t trust myself even when I’m a 100% sure of species it is. I’ve found these beautiful ones with a faint purple cast walking in the forest. I’m almost a 100% sure I know what species they are and I’m 99% sure they are edible. That one percent would keep me from trying them. That’s what’s so good about inoculating trees yourself, if they come up looking like oysters or shitakes then you can be sure they are edible. You should get several good years off fresh stumps especially if you dump a bucket of water over them every once in a while. Spores die quick when they dry out. Mushrooms are so expensive in the market and they don’t keep well so there’s nothing like growing your own. Check out some of the web posts on bag raising them with things like sterilized straw. Works really well for oyster type mushrooms. I’ve found sources for dozens of types and hope one day to raise all of them. FYI if the pigs are eating them then that variety is probably safe. I know it’s the old trick for determining whether they are safe or not. Pigs have a similar tolerance for toxins and they can tell by smell if they are good or not. I think the poisonous ones tend to have a rotting smell and I know bitter ones are definitely toxic. Bitter is usually a good warning sign with plants unless you know they are safe. There are varying degrees of danger as well. Some people swear by eating types I know to be toxic. Also the ole magic mushrooms are in fact toxic and people do get sick off them but in general they won’t kill you but some types can make you violently ill. Some like puff balls can be eaten young but get toxic when they mature. Lion’s Mane are easy to spot and all types are edible. With a few dozen species of edibles for sale I can be kept happy with those and avoid the risk.

      • Michael says:

        Hello Walter
        Fungi Perfecti has a fairly good tutorial on plug spawn inoculation here:
        Spore inoculation is unreliable because the local established fungi are likely to overwhelm your intended choice. Any wood that has been dead for 6 months or longer and in contact with the ground is already well colonized with fungi and even the plug spawn method is likely to have poor results. They sell two strains they say will fruit on softwoods, the Phoenix Oyster and Chicken of the Woods, and those varieties can also be found from other vendors.

        • Interesting. Our daughter Hope and I have been reading “The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms” and thinking about how we can integrate this into our forages.

          • Michael says:

            Walter, you might try planting mushrooms next spring. The button mushroom, “Agaricus bisporus” aka “Agaricus brunnescens” has been cultivated for hundreds of years. Paul Stamets’ book “The Mushroom Cultivator” says it is “Naturally found in soils enriched with dung, on compost piles and in horse stables. A temperate species, widely distributed … fruits from May until November over much of the northern hemisphere outside the tropical zone.”
            A curious thing about mushrooms is they can be propagated from bits of the fruit. You could buy a pound of button mushrooms, slice and dice them or even blend them in a blender with water and create a slurry. Bury it in slits 1 to 4 inches deep (I would try varying depths to see which worked best, if at all) in some of the richer souls of your winter paddocks. Keep it moist and cross your fingers. They do like warm temperatures to get started so it might be something to hold off until June or July.

  2. Nance says:

    Walter, are there photos of the original stone walls, that you cleared back to? is there a link? I do enjoy reading about renovations and retro-ing and returning to original. : ) and history. And Sugar Mountain. Thanks.

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