Morel Hunting Expedition 2016
Anyone with a farm, homestead, or even a garden knows the crazy busyness that ensues once all of the snow finally melts and the ground starts to warm up. Being that this is our first real year getting our homestead started, I’m convinced our busyness might be increased ten-fold (but this is something I’ll learn the truth of in years to come). We are figuring out our own personal springtime routine and much of what we have to do and prepare this year will already be done in coming years (such as building our strawberry patch and planting strawberries). From shoveling and hoeing our huge (to us) garden to caring for our first chickens ever, we have been so busy lately (in a good way!!) that I haven’t posted a full blog post for weeks!! There is a wide variety of farm tales and projects I should be writing about (and I will) but for now I am talking about taking a little break from all the madness. It seems counterintuitive when you have so much to do, but sometimes, in order to stay on track, you have to take a little time to forget about it all and concentrate on something else, if for nothing else than the sake of your sanity! That is exactly what Logan, our friend, Nate and myself did this past weekend when we ventured into the woods for a camping and morel mushroom hunting expedition!
This is a particularly great break-from-farming activity, because we got plenty of exercise, a great dose of Mother Nature, and we were still attempting to provide for ourselves in a natural way! In my opinion, both farming and foraging are important skills for any homesteader to have!
For this particular morel-hunting expedition, we ventured into the George Washington National Forest in West Virginia (I can’t tell you exactly where..no serious morel hunter would ☺) about 45 minutes away from our home. Our camp was very picturesque…right beside a beautiful flowing stream, tucked into a hollow among the trees. The sound of the stream was slightly drowned out by the sound of rain hitting our tents on Friday night, however. But this is all part of the camping adventure…our tents kept us plenty dry. Rain or no rain, there is nothing like waking up amongst the trees and having a hot cup of camp coffee while listening to the sounds of the woods coming alive (steal-cut oats and honey don’t hurt either ☺). We were only able to camp Friday night (of course the rainy night) because we had to come home Saturday and check on our birds and we hunted so long that day, by the time we got back to the homestead and got all of our chores done, it was too late to head back down. We still managed to hunt all three days of the weekend, despite missing one night of camping.
This brings me to the elusive morel mushroom…the mushroom that always seem to be the most mysterious of them all. We spent hours hiking over several mountains along with more hours concentrating in 20 square foot areas, and each time we found one it seemed equally as magical and mysterious as the last. We could stare at one area for 30 minutes until one, almost seemingly suddenly, would just pop out. Which would make others seem to pop out. Or we could be practically running down a steep ridge, not even concentrating on hunting, and suddenly, there was a morel! And some of them look so perfect that they seem to have an other-worldly feel to them. They truly seem magical!
All in all, we found about a meal’s worth of morels for us all to split at the end of the weekend. We found both black and white morels (only four whites). We found them in a variety of areas…some were growing out from under rocks, some under leaves, and some at the base of trees. We even found one white one in the middle of a sunny clearing! It is very difficult to find a method to their madness, but for the most part, they seem to pop up near ash and poplar trees where we hunt. And boy oh boy, are they ever delicious! Fried up in a pan with flour and butter, you simply cannot get any better! Nature’s special treat!
While any hunter always wishes they would have found more, all in all it was a successful foraging weekend. Another great aspect to hunting in the woods is all the other magical things you may come across. Our expedition certainly yielded lots of other magical woodsy finds. From snail shells and perfect toadstools to a snapping turtle and an old abandoned homestead, Mother Nature definitely treated us well and soothed our souls this weekend. I will be posting some pictures of our weekend adventure on the Hippie Homestead’s Instagram. Be sure to check them out here ☺. And get out and go forage! You never know what you will find!