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Innoculating manure pile?

 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Evening,

I'm looking at needing to do some very large scale innoculating and fertilizing of my property to improve the growth of my trees and shrubs. I live in a prairie area on land that has been commercial grain crop land for the last hundred years. It is looking like this has made the soil very difficult for trees to live in. One of the suggestions for improving the soil was to add the right fungi for the trees. Makes sense.

Seeing as I am looking a dozens of acres of land and a couple thousand trees and shrubs, I need a relatively easy way to do it.

Leaf mold seems like the best place to start. I have space to make truck loads of it if I can get enough leaves.

I already make 500-1000 pounds of composted manure every year with my sheep flock. I mix the manure and urine with the wasted hay in big piles that I compost over a couple years. So I got the fertilizer covered.

Question: can I just add leaves to the manure piles and get fungal growth started in the piles, then spread it where the trees and shrubs are located? Would that be enough to get fungal growth into the soil?
 
Landon Sunrich
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No expert I, but I would keep the two separated as they likely have to entirely different biological populations. Personally I would add the leaf mold to the trees (mulch around) and the manure in the garden.
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Landon, thank you for your response.
I am a total newbie to Fungi so I need to ask all kinds of questions. In another thread someone else said something similar to you. That is why I am here. It makes sense that a regular compost pile would be bacterial and too hot for fungi. I decided to ask though because my piles of manure and hay can often be fairly cool at times. The piles that are from the winter feeding are hot and bacterial, no question. But, it is the piles of hay from late summer and early fall that I am thinking about.

These piles are mainly hay that has been wasted by the sheep. This is when I have put a big round bail out and they rip it apart in just a few days, spreading it around. They get some urine and manure in it but very little compared to the winter.

I could spread a bunch of leaves and soil onto this hay and then pile it. These would be very dry compared to the winter piles. My experience with them so far is that they are very slow to compost, requiring double the time. That puts the timeline in the 3-4 year range before being composted completely. If I let a mixed hay/manure/leaf pile sit for just a year then spread itin a few areas....?

I may be completely wrong. I've never tried doing this. I just know that when I turn these piles they are often dry and filled with white mold that sends up clouds of spores. Very nasty to breath. It made me wonder about adding good fungi to it.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Klorinth, I am hesitant to comment much more without fully knowing the situation but I will anyway.

So to be clear you have two separate bedding sub straights in addition to the leaf mold?

Your talking about using fodder hay which has been what, lightly trodden upon? It is still mostly dry? Like paint me a picture here - are we talking alfalfa, straw? How sodden? The stuff that you left to go anaerobic - that's out in the rain and was probably deep and soaked and cakey with manure when it went out?

I may be able to comment more if I properly understand whatcha got going on.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Well as I'm becoming annoyed at the time/space constraints of the internet vs face to face I'll just charge on with what I might consider doing if I had similar materials on hand.

So presuming the hay you want to use is truly fairly fresh and dry. It is still in individual stalks and behaves like straw and hay. It has NOT formed into cakes or sheets especially ones reeking of ammonia and urea this is what my experiment might be here in the PNW where it is currently wet and cool and likely to be mostly wet and warming ish for the next 4 to 5 months.

I would FLUFFY hay as a two to four inch mulch and wet it with a good day or two of solid rain or similar artificial methods - then I would add leaves to form a layer on top - I would not worry if this layer formed some matting when when as will happen fairly quickly with for instance wet maple leaves. If I was really having fun I would buy some grain spawn oyster mushrooms and scatter that on top of the wetter hay before adding the leaf layer on top. I think that would probably give you some soil warmth and a ton of carbon breakdown. I don't think the oyster spawn could do much of anything but speed up the process and the top dressed layer of leaves and the soil should be able to talk to each other through biological and hydrological paths to get some of that fungal diversity goodness going.

That anaerobic stuff and anything which has formed into matts needs to be turned a few times and it would really help to mix in some more green and brown when you do it and then keep on top of it for 6 or 8 weeks. A tractor sounds like it may be necessary on your scale - even if its fairly modest - shit piles up quick.
The ground under should be really quite fertile and totally bare and you should consider planting it even though you will most defiantly have problems with enthusiastic pioneer species you don't want. Burdock come to mind. Unless you like Burdock. Really its not that bad unless your carding a bunch of wool.

Again just some of the things I personally would be thinking about with similar materials in my climate
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Landon,
I always have fodder hay around. I'm only talking about those situations when I have let the sheep quickly tear apart a lage bale in the summer. This leaves a bunch of fairly dry and very lightly mixed with urine and feces. Generally it is mixed grasses with 10-20% alfalfa. Usually I leave them out in the rain but in this case I would cover it with tarps.

It is very different than the winter piles which are very wet and completely saturated with urine and feces.

A tractor is always used to move and turn these piles since they are usually 200-2000 pounds worth. I'm also turning 2-3 at a time.

I have a spot in mind already. I tilled a small area a couple years ago and grew fodder beets. The ground got mixed and a small amount of manure mixed in. It ha sat untouched since then. It would be easy to put a temporary fence around it and lay down the hay mix with leaves spread onto it.
 
Alex Ames
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Klorinth I think your instincts are leading you in the right direction.
I think you are describing a worm buffet. If they start working on those materials
the land will be restored in short order. Just keep using what you have.
 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Thank you Alex. I appreciate the vote of confidence. I am wrong on a regular basis, but usually trust my gut when it tells me to try something.

If nothing else I expect I'll produce some decent compost.
 
Mountain Krauss
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Is there any reason not to just cover crop the pile? Beans, clovers, and vetch should do fine in the low-nitrogen environment, and you could use brassicas (turnips/mustards) instead of grasses to trellis them. I'm not aware of brassicas inhibiting trees the way grasses can. Mustards have a nice deep taproot to loosen the soil, and help to limit nematodes in the soil.

If it works, it speeds the process, saves you the work of turning, and gets more nutrients into the ground instead of into the atmosphere.
 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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I am actually looking at some cover crop options for planting in different area of the property for exactly what you are talking about. There are some areas where I can little till the soil surface and plant different covers around the planted trees. Right now I am looking at Daikon radishes for clay busting and legumes for nitrogen fixing. I already have clovers and alfalfa growing wild all over the property, but there are areas with trees that have dense grass cover right now.

I'm actually thinking about combing the cover crops with inoculated mulch in an attempt to combine the benefits of both.
 
Mountain Krauss
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Sounds good. Use the hay & leaves to smother the grasses that are growing around your trees, innoculate the smother piles, then cover crop them.
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Thanks MK that sounds like a winning combination.
In the truly dense grass I will probably have to use my brush saw to mulch the grass before putting the hay mix in. I have one area that is 36-48" tall grass.

I'll use the little tiller in the open areas to prep the ground for planting. If I don't till the top inch or two I can't actually plant much. It's too hard. I'll do this on the north property line. There's enough space between the two rows of spruce that I could till two narrow rows between them, plant a couple pounds of daikon, and mulch with the hay and leaf mix. I could probably do that three years in a row before running out of space. There's about 20' between tree rows.
 
Peter Ellis
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Elaine Ingham would say make a good batch of compost, with a good fungi population, then use some of that to brew batches of compost tea with which to inoculate your soil. Once introduced the biology will frequently get going with little more help, but a second and even third tea shower will not hurt. Spaced about a month apart, each new application gets to build on the already improved envieonment.
 
james Apodaca
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klorinth McCoy wrote:Evening,
Question: can I just add leaves to the manure piles and get fungal growth started in the piles, then spread it where the trees and shrubs are located? Would that be enough to get fungal growth into the soil?




I suppose it would depend on the species of mushroom you used and whether or not they are a primary or secondary decomposer. You wouldn't want to inoculate a hot pile with mushroom spawn as it could get too hot for them to survive. Already composted material wouldn't be good for, say, an Osyter Mushroom as they are primary decomposers of hardwood materials and leaves..

I have two species that break down oak leaf litter (the oyster and an unknown variety I wild picked BECAUSE it was growing in leaf litter) and the best advice that I can give you is to learn to reproduce the spawn and you'll have no issues with quantity.. Don't spend hundreds of dollars on spawn in hopes that it will get the job done.. order enough so that you can learn to produce the spawn that you hope will get the job done.. in the process of experimentation around your property you will identify what is and isn't working for you.

The picture below is of my oyster mushroom mycelium before I toss it in my compost pile which is 95% oak leaves plus grass clippings, kitchen waste, chopped palm fronds et. al.. I bought the spawn once two years ago from fungi.com and have been reproducing my own ever since with very little failure. My compost pile is roughly 12ft across (circular) and chest high and I toss about 4-8 jelly jars full of mycelium into it every time I remember I have a mushroom garden growing under my bed.

Keep your eye out for mushrooms growing in similar material around your land.. If it's growing out of sheep poo.. put it in a jar of sheep poo and see what happens. If and when it catches.. find bigger jars and split it between the two, four, six to sixty new jars until it is ready to inoculate a larger pile.

I sterilize my small jelly jars (hot water bath/pressure cooker), even large 1gal pickle jars (170-180degree oven for several hours).. but there is no way I can sterilize my entire compost pile and the mycelium takes off just fine.

---

Once you learn to reproduce the mycelium then you can experiment all you want because it's $free.99

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klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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James, thank you for the excellent advice. That was a really helpful response.
I'm thinking you are totally right about learning to grow mycelium. If I can do that and learn to collect mushrooms from my area as a spore source it would make it much easier to get exactly what I need, when I need it.

I have started to look at the Canadian websites that can provide what I would need to learn how to produce my own. I like the idea since I like to learn new skills and grow things.

My only difficulty with that plan is figuring out what to start with to learn. They don't really tell you what is easy to grow and learn with. I need something that is easy and doesn't require multiple temperature changes. Our house is geothermal so the temp is a steady 20 Celcius (68-70F) with almost no fluctuation anywhere except in front of the big south facing windows. Even the basement is designed to sit at 19 degrees. I could really use a suggestion of species.

James, I'm curious about the number of jars you are adding to your pile. How do you decide how many are needed? Or is it just what you have ready to go? It does make sense that the results would be much better adding several small jars like that versus just hoping to get something from the leaves themselves.

If I were to place small piles all around the property and put a jar in each one... I could spread the nutrients and mycelium quickly and not have to disturb the piles once the mycelium is established. I assume that would be much better for growing the fungi I want, where I want it??
 
james Apodaca
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klorinth McCoy wrote:James, thank you for the excellent advice. That was a really helpful response.
I'm thinking you are totally right about learning to grow mycelium.


It's really cool to watch it grow every day. I bought woody mushrooms because my neighbour brought down an oak tree and I had a plethora of logs to play with.
I can't speak to the wood - but I inoculated as many as I could and saved a few plugs in sterilized spent coffee grounds to see if I could grow more stock.
Pretty much, the only reason I drink coffee any longer is to satisfy my sugar addiction and to keep the spawn multiplying.

My logs have been plugged for a year and have shown no signs of growth but they just border my garden beds so if they don't produce they still serve a function.
My Oak leaf piles, however, get taken to easily without any effort other than covering the contents of a jar with dry leaves.

My only difficulty with that plan is figuring out what to start with to learn. They don't really tell you what is easy to grow and learn with.

I know how you feel.. Especially, having spent $40 on spawn with no experience and nothing but others comments.
I wasted a batch of Chicken of the Woods (couldn't get the logs for it, kept it in damp sawdust while looking for them and it ultimately failed.)
and the Shitaki I put in oak logs.. I've got no clue.. maybe something will come of it (I didn't save any plug spawn to reproduce)
But the Pearl Oyster I ordered.. keeps spreading throughout my jars like wild fire.
I've sterilized compost, dry leaves, wet leaves, straw, grains, spent coffee in jars in my little pressure cooker (or water bath prior to finding a pressure cooker at a yard sale)
and inoculated them the next day and it eats on just about anything with varying success rates. Same goes for the other, unknown, variety I have.

At the dollar store Jelly Jars are $5-$8 a dozen.. so it makes doubling and tripling spawn affordable, easy and reusable.

doesn't require multiple temperature changes. Our house is geothermal so the temp is a steady 20 Celcius (68-70F) with almost no fluctuation anywhere except in front of the big south facing windows.
Even the basement is designed to sit at 19 degrees. I could really use a suggestion of species.


My house (Central Florida) stays between 74F/80F (23C-26C)all year round. So I don't have much of a change in temperature either. I guess at night in the winter it can dip below 20C/70F as I really hate getting out of bed in Jan/Feb.

I'm curious about the number of jars you are adding to your pile. How do you decide how many are needed? Or is it just what you have ready to go?

I toss whatever I have left after starting a new batch of jars. I can use 1 Jelly Jar to inoculate another entire (12ea) batch and I usually leave one untouched in case something drastic happens and they all mold over or fail for some reason
(that happens a lot when experimenting with different growing mediums, not so much (if at all) when I propagate them into something I know they like).

If I were to place small piles all around the property and put a jar in each one... I could spread the nutrients and mycelium quickly and not have to disturb the piles once the mycelium is established. I assume that would be much better for growing the fungi I want, where I want it??

If you have the ability to mulch deeply in certain areas to add organic material to the soil around your trees.. I don't see why you couldn't plant several "jar plugs" into the mulch in place around your trees.

It all comes down to your substrate.. Field and Forest has a very limited beginners-primer on their website https://www.fieldforest.net/substrates.asp regarding what common commercial varieties grow best on what. I found it mildly helpful in helping me find something I could at least play with.
mushroom3.jpg
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The other unknown strain of mushroom I've been harboring growing out of last years leaf mold pile.. I've successfully reproduced the mycelium in jars of leaves and continued the process in this years pile.
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Another unknown variety growing out of soil with oak litter in it.. Don't know what it is or what it's feeding on exactly but it sure is beautiful. I have pieces of it in sterilized jars of acorn husks, wood chips and oak leaves. We'll see what happens.
 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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James, you have really given me some things to think about. Thank you.

That Substrates pages is helpful. I found another site had some good information and even talks about how to maintain our fungi indefinitely unlike many of the sites that tell you to buy new spawn constantly. It was nice to read that.

http://mushrooms.firelightheritagefarm.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60:forever&catid=11:info

I have to do some thinking about my available substrates: conifer shavings, hardwood pellets, hay, straw, coffe grounds, manures.
 
james Apodaca
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Hey that's a cool site. Thanks for turning me onto it.

I think you'll be best suited doing the research on which mushrooms will work well in the substrate that you will be mulching out around your farm and running limited tests with different self-produced varieties until you know which one(s) perform(s) well. Once you know what results to expect you COULD order bulk sawdust/grain spawn to save yourself the trouble and time associated with producing mass quantities and it wouldn't be as much of a risk as, say, ordering bulk spawn of a certain variety only to find out that it finds your environment to be less than optimal.

Sometimes you can find deals on ordering limited amounts of spawn from certain websites. Fungi.com has (I believe it's permanent) a deal on 3x100plug packs "Buy 3 100-packs of any of our Plug Spawn species (mix & match) and receive a 34% discount at checkout!" but they don't have a large variety. Their pure spawns are quite expensive but they offer a more diverse variety.

I've been eyeballing the Morel's but I don't own my land so I may be moving before they produce.. That would be a waste.
 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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James, so the easiest substrate I could start with would be a mix of hardwood pellets and coffee grounds. I could also get some well composted manure. Conifer shavings would be the next easy one for me to get. My livestock feed supplier sells them by the yard.

So obviously oyster mushrooms are the easiest to grow. I'm sure they would do fine with the substrates I have already and can get easily. I'm not sure if they are what I want though. I do like them but rarely ever buy them. I buy Shitake, Chantrelle, and Crimini more than anything else. Chantrelle is out of the race because I am not likely to be successful with them given what I have read. They appear to be one of the more difficult to grow. Shitake looks to be better for logs. That leaves the Crimini. I like them and the larger Portabello. I'm not sure if I should give those a try.

I was also looking at some others like Meadow Mushrooms, Wine Caps, and of course the King Bolete. Now in the long run the King Bolete is what I should be working towards seeing as it is native to the area and is mycorrhizal. My only concern with them is that some of my reading stated that a beginner should avoid the mycorrhizal species until they get some experience as they are more challenging and take much longer to establish.

I also assume that I should try to collect fresh King Bolete from some place near me and use that to start growing mycelium for inoculating my bulk substrate. That way it is more likely to do well in my climate.

Question: Does anyone have thoughts about the King Bolete and its difficulty level for a beginner?

Question: What about collecting spores from store bought mushrooms? Will they work?
I have read a few times now statements saying it isn't worth the effort because of how they are grown/stored. The websites selling spawn imply that the spores are dead and they're not going to work... But I have gotten my fingers covered in Portabello spores many times so I know they are there.

 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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So I answered my own question about creating spawn using stored bought mushrooms... Saturday afternoon I chopped up a couple oyster mushrooms and mixed the pieces into some cooked barley and used coffee grounds. I placed the mix in a glass jar and left it on the basement floor with a thermometer pocked into the centre. Temp was a steady 60 F the whole time.

I got home from work to find mycelium starting in several places thoughout the mix. Success!!

Now I need to try some other types. Today I will try Portabello. I'll probably work my way thru all of the available species.

Next summer I will start looking at getting local wild species. Those are what I really want for inoculating my soil. If I can get a couple edible species that would be ideal. King Bolete and Charerelle grow locally so that is what I will hope for. Meadow Mushroom also might be a nice addition. I would put it into the pasture. I want some for the trees and shrubs and some for the pasture. Once I have a couple different types of mycelium growing and splitting I'll start trying to inoculate some straw and composted manure. Slow and steady trial and error.
 
John Saltveit
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klorinth,
You really need to understand about the different types of mushrooms. They grow on many substrates.

Oysters are aggressive and grow easily on wood and fresh straw like fibers. They are one of the best first mushrooms to grow.

Shiitake does grow on oak but you need to be careful that it doesn't get contaminated, so keep it on a pallet out of the soil.

These two are primary decomposers.

Agaricus mushrooms are secondary decomposers, of which the button/crimini/portobello is one species. Meadow mushroom is another, so they will grow on nutrients that are in other things and have been attacked once. Like manure that is in the soil.

Wine caps love to eat wood chips. I highly recommend that one. It has a wide temperature range.

Boletes (like King Boletes), chanterelles and other mycorrhizal mushrooms are the best for your trees but the hardest to grow. You are more likely to make conditions that will make the mycorrhizals likely than to specifically grow them on purpose that time. Hardly anyone tries or succeeds at growing them.

The easiest and most popular mushrooms to grow are saprophitic mushrooms on wood, that grow on logs, wood chips or in bags or buckets, like oyster types, shiitake, or medicinal ones like Reishi.
John S
PDX OR
 
klorinth McCoy
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Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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John,
I hear you. I'm working my way thru the Mycelium Running book. I am working on trying some of the different ways to collect and start spawn. The oyster I started is still progressing. I need to pick up some more oysters, I have a couple more substrates to try with it. I'm also collecting spore prints from the Portabello.

I understand getting background information and learning the basics. My mind ranges way ahead of my practical experience though. That is the reason for my questions and scenarios.

As for the mycorrhizal species, I have no expectation of being able to harvest anything from them. If that were to occur at some point bonus. I am more interested in the mycoreforestation and reclamation aspect of their use. I am interested in getting their mycelial mass in the ground to support my trees and pasture. If I can get good at producing spawn I will start trying things like innoculating small hay bales and burlap bags of different substrates. Those can then be placed around my property where I need or want them. My focus is improving my soil.
 
John Saltveit
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One way to make mycorrhizae grow in your trees is to find a tree that is 15-40 years old of the species you are growing in a natural/organic/forested place with no toxins. Grab a handful of soil from under that tree and put it under your tree. It's effective and cheap. It may not also provide edible mushrooms, but it will probably give you the helpful fungi for the tree.
John S
PDX OR
 
Hans Quistorff
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If you see them clearing branches and trees around power lines in an area that is growing healthy trees ask for the wood chips. These chips will likelyelium have the spres of the mycelium you want on them. mulch around the trees you have just transplanted and they will go to work.

This is what happened at my place: They cleared the branches along my easement road, the branches fell in the underbrush and they dragged them through the brush and then ran tem through the chipper. I asked them to dump the chips where I planed to pu two new trees and two rows of boysenberries. When I was ready to transplant two months later the chips were all linked together by the mycelium. The boysenberries were from the original plants that we got from the farm my parents bought in 1944. but they did not produce the big luscious berries I remembered selling in the 50's. I dug a ditch, spaced the roots of the vines in the bottom with a little soil then filled the ditch with the chips and put the sod upside down on top. The vines grew so prolifically they filled the tellis the first year and the berries were back to the proper size. The trees planted where the pile was produced fruit the third year.

If you want to see the before and after pictures they are the profile pictures on Facebook for Qberry Farm.
 
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