Water, Wind, and Mushrooms at Leafhopper Farm

Tuesday brought intense meteorology to our region. High winds were whipping the tall trees while torrents of rain pounded the soil. This morning, I took time to walk the fence line around the property, especially down by the stream where both winds and flooding waters can invite chaos. Because the fence goes right down through the stream in two places, I get a rare chance to look around in a more sensitive riparian area of the land. Here there are richly built layers of flood silt and seeping hillsides with moss and leaf debris from many alders and maple. There is a lot of active growth within abundant microclimates surrounding a year round, salmon bearing stream.

In the past few years at Leafhopper Farm, a few other wind storms have blown down larger trees into Weiss Creek, altering flow of water and building up debris into walls which catch more silt, forming sandbars to hold deeper pools on their upstream side. These habitats invite salmon a place to spawn, and nursery space for young salmon fry. One of the largest pools is man made, and right at the eastern side of the property.


At the bottom left of this picture, the pool has been dug out and rocked to create the large cascade of water. Above, there is another rock wall where a large maple truck fell to create a larger barrier across the creek. In our recent storm, water has blown out the left side of the stream by the rest of the maple suckers still anchored to the bank. This will ultimately erode the earth, bringing more damming logs into the stream to help create cascading terraces for the fish and other freshwater creatures.
On the western fence line crossing Weiss Creek about 300 feet down stream, another larger log dam has been forming. When I moved to the land, there was a recently fallen fir across the fence in the water. I didn’t mind how it had fallen, even though the fence was down, because I do not have free ranging animals to hold in, and getting the chainsaw down there to clean up was a hassle. Why not let things evolve naturally?

That fall, there was a massive week of rain that pushed a lot of debris down the creek, further reinforcing the fir log with alder branches, leaf littler, and massive silt deposits. This flood season, a sandbar has formed, creating a well defined shelf to support pools forming upstream. When the waters were at their peak during the rains, water flooded out into the wider surrounding wetland, carrying nutrients into those areas and leaving them in concentration when the waters receded. That, along with many remaining seeps along the edges of the shore where runoff form the upper fields continued to drain, a host of filters is gleaning more nutrients on their way to the creek.

IMG_4307.jpgMushrooms are one such filter feeder in the riparian zone, and today while checking fence, there were a lot popping up in the brief sun after the rains. A young Amanita gemmata had just broken its veil. Two forms of Turkey Tail; Trametes hirsute and T. versicolor were fruiting with gusto on fallen Alder logs in many places. Blue Oysters, Pleurotus ostreatus, were growing out of an inoculated birch branch at one end of the stream, further down to the west, I found an alder branch with another Oyster, most likely P. pulmonarius. This short list was what I took the time to look up and was most confident in proposing the Latin.



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