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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Retired from Truffle Farming!!

Yes, as strange as it feels and sounds, I am retired from the farming chores of truffle growing.  I'm settling in to my new home in Winston-Salem and -- honestly -- loving it!
Late in 2016, finding no truffles and feeling a little disappointed in all the work and money invested with so little financial reward, I started thinking seriously about how I wanted to spend the next 5 years.  It took some time to really consider how much energy had gone into the project -- 17 years worth -- and whether or not I wanted to do it for another 5 years.  The honest answer was NO.

Soon thereafter, a buyer came on the scene who had no interest in truffle farming but just wanted the house and land.  The deal was done in late February and I thought the farm was put to bed.  Then, the buyers came back and said, "well, if you can give us some direction and bring your dogs to help find the truffles, maybe we can keep it going."  That was music to my ears.  I thought, "I still will  have access to whatever truffles get harvested there without having to do the pruning, tilling, etc., etc.'  YAY!!

So, the short version of the story is:  Stay Tuned.  We may have truffles yet!

It's truffle season in Australia and I can't wait to taste them!  Soon I will have them for sale!

The Truffles NC products will remain for sale in all your Whole Foods stores in the south region and hopefully there will be new outlets soon.

In the meantime,

Think Truffles!


Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Year Later and Where Does The Time Go??!!

Where do I start?  How about with a new dog?

You may remember that I lost my beautiful Border Collie, Friday, to kidney disease and its complications.  What a heartbreak!  When I started thinking about a new companion for Dazy, I looked for Border Collie mixes.  What I decided on was a Bordoodle.  Then I found a reputable breeder in Wisconsin, BFF Training. 
Then, it became a roadtrip!!

Mr. Shiner joined the family in December last year.  He's a beautiful Bordoodle!  Don't you agree?  His mama is a registered Border Collie and his daddy is a registered Poodle.

He is just a year old and with more energy than I ever thought a puppy could have.  Whew! He really keeps me on my toes.  He starts his truffle sniffing training next week.  I know he will be a pro!

Truffle season is fast approaching.  The big field needs mowing.  You can see the tall weeds behind Shiner there.  As an experiment, I didn't try to keep the field mowed all summer as I have in years past.  I didn't want the equipment in the field and since most of the trees had been cut down, I didn't see much need to manicure it like before.  When it gets mowed in the next couple of weeks, we'll see if that was a good idea or not.  I'm already having my doubts.

 Dazy will finally have some competition in the truffle hunting arena again.  She's not worried!  She has been a real trooper with the new pup, though.  At 10 years old, she is very spry and active.  I think bringing him on board has been good for her in all kinds of ways.

 The 6 year old filberts are dropping their leaves pretty quickly and the pruning will be really easy once the leaves are down.  I will probably cut off all the little sucker limbs and about half the limbs in the center.  All these trees are very healthy.  Since we got truffles with the first planting in this orchard within 6 years, I hope this is the magic year!  I need some encouragement.  Even a handful would be great!

 The oak trees in the little field need pruning, too.  Make no mistake about it -- we will be ready!

That's all for now, folks.  I have to hit the kitchen for final preparation for our showing at the Raffaldini Vineyards Harvest Festival tomorrow.  If you're in the area, stop by to sample and take home some truffle treats!  I would love to see you there.

"til next time

Think Truffles!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall Updates in the Truffle Orchard

 Busyness at Keep Your Fork Farm has taken on a whole new meaning in the past couple of months.  Let's see.  Where shall I begin?

The beauties you see in the picture to the right are the holly oaks out there on the deck drinking up our fabulous soaking rain right now in preparation for planting in the next 2 or 3 weeks.  They have weathered our summer just great, hardened off as the days have shortened and the nights have cooled and now, they're ready to go in the ground!  In fact, I can see them reaching for it.  They will join the trees in the picture below.  Leaves turning golden on the filbert trees will soon be falling off.  Then the pruning begins.  Those trees need about half their branches pruned out.  I'm glad there are only 50 of them to prune.  

So, you ask, what's all the busyness about?  Well, that lovely group in the picture to my left are the Marketing Team from Whole Foods Market in Winston-Salem.  They visited the farm following my demo in the store just to see what truffle farming is really all about.  We had a great visit.  Thanks for coming out!  Team Winston-Salem really rocks!

So, then, it was on to the Whole Foods Market North Raleigh where I was cooking with my BFF Sherry and we cooked up truly remarkable mushrooms with truffle butter and she shared this recipe that was nothing short of amazing.  Wish I had some right now!  

Gently heat some truffle butter, chop shiitake mushrooms, mix 'em together and salt with truffle salt.  Add a little cream if you want it more saucey.  You're on your own with quantities.  Get creative!  Serve it over pasta -- literally to die for........

From there, I was on to the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Expo and the NC Department of Agriculture Pavilion where yours truly spent 2 days literally buttering them up.  Got to be NC offers great opportunities for exposure like this.  I appreciate you, guys.

My neighbors at the expo were the "Muscadine Ladies" from Lu-Mil Vineyards and D'Vine Foods. (They have great cabins for retreats, y'all)  
They really know how to put on a show!!
Thanks to Denise and Karla for keeping me entertained and juiced!

Well, I know that wasn't a lot of news about truffle growing, folks, but sometimes I have to do other things to raise the money to pay for maintenance and upkeep in the orchards.  I think it's about time for those truffles to start paying for themselves.  What do you think?  15 years in the truffle farming venture and I'm still having to keep a day job to support my farm habit.  Maybe this will be the year that puts me back in the black!

Nevertheless, I'm beginning to think about the truffle dinner possibilities for February and March.  Stay tuned for that or email me if you just can't wait.  Seats will be limited.

Oh well,

'til next time

Think Truffles!!



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Black Winter Truffling in the Summertime

Summer around here is HOT!  Hotter than usual this year and I'm looking forward to getting some relief.  Rain has been very scarce as well.  We've had some afternoon showers accompanied by thunder storms (which Dazy hates!) but not enough rain to keep the pond full.  Oh well, it's good and deep.
Wild blackberries are plentiful by the pond along with poison ivy and briars which I so seriously detest I have grudgingly succumbed to Roundup to get rid of some of it -- poison ivy and briars, not the berries.  I was out there this morning spraying the stuff.  I only use it sparingly and carefully and rarely in the orchard, just around the edges where nuisances occur.

I visited John and Pat Martin and their 2 wonderful truffle dogs, golden labs with that sweet lab personality.  Such good dogs.  Of course, we had truffle sauce for our chicken.  It's not every day I get to share my truffle juice with fellow trufflers.

After a most enjoyable and informative week-end at Virginia Truffles, they gifted me with a baker's dozen Quercus Ilex (Holly Oaks)   I won't be planting these guys until it cools off a bit.  I'll just keep them watered and check their roots occasionally to make sure they aren't getting too crowded in their pots.  I know they'd be much happier in the ground but, it's just too HOT and DRY for little ones.

Aren't they pretty little trees?

If you haven't been to Culpepper, Virginia, I highly recommend it for a week-end trip.  Great shopping and restaurants and some very interesting and quaint places to stay and it's close to the Martins' place in Rixeyville.

On July 12 from 1-5 PM, we will have the only free and open to the public tour at Keep Your Fork Farm for the year.  It will be one of 5 farms in the Northern Triad Farm Tour for 2015.  Please check it out and let me know if you're coming.  I really like to connect with my readers in person.  I do appreciate you all, With 36,000 views and counting, I'm wondering how many of you have ventured into your own plantings since the blog began.

Don't forget to watch for Dazy and me in the August issue of Our State Magazine!

Think Truffles!

Jane (aka Truffle Lady)