Laid Off? Mushroom for Growth!

Mushroom logs in A-Frame stack configuration for fruiting.
Mushroom logs in A-Frame stack configuration for fruiting.

Being laid off sucks, there’s no doubt about it. The uncertainty, the fear of running out of savings, the worry about health insurance. It makes planning for the future almost impossible—but it’s a great moment to make changes you thought about but weren’t able to implement while working full-time.

Obvious changes include updating your resume, enhancing your LinkedIn profile by making sure all the keywords and skills are optimized, building your professional network, adding to your professional portfolio, and updating your personal website and blog. However, it’s also the perfect time to invest in who you are outside of work. For me, all those extra daylight hours are an opportunity to improve our homestead to my heart’s content.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve planted fruit trees, mulched vast swaths of hard-packed clay for soil-building, and optimized my mushroom log setup. I’ve also prepared and inoculated a large area of forest floor with winecap mushroom spawn, which may result in a harvest as early as this coming spring. It might seem like these activities are the opposite of what I do professionally, but the planning, trial and error, and creative problem-solving all speak to me on a similar level. I want my farming to create reproducible results just as I want my code to. Bugs are still the enemy. This year I learned the bugs on my oyster mushrooms were called “pleasing fungus beetles”. I’d like to ask whoever named them what’s so pleasing about insects crawling on and eating my delicious mushroom harvest.

Suffice it to say, my idle hours haven’t been idle. I wonder what changes others have made during this unasked-for period of unemployment. Have you ever started or deepened a hobby after being laid off? Did you find a new passion? Join a new community? I’d be interested to know whether there are any repeating themes—and if any other tech-minded people find farming or gardening as satisfying as I do.