Bottled Jalapeno Wine


First Beer of 2017

2017_05_07_OST_0003After 10 months of not brewing any beer, I decided that I was again going to start brewing beer.  I have been on a Keto diet since last June 1, so I have been unable to drink anything with carbs in it, including beer. However, while not at my “goal” weight, whatever that is, I feel that it is time to have some Friday beers.

I wanted to begin with something new, so I took one of my Sweet Stout recipes and made a few changes.  I deleted the lactose, added oats, and changed (drastically) the hop schedule.  I also did not want to open a new bag of Maris Otter, so I substituted 2-row, which was actually what was in my original recipe.   The hops may be an issue, as I had the hops set, then changed my mind from Magnum to something a bit more appropriate to a Stout.  Then I triple checked with BeerSmith, and found a difference between my laptop and desktop calculations, resulting in the last minute addition to the recipe of the EKG. 

I have always enjoyed drinking my Sweet Stout, and I hope that in 7 weeks, this one will be as good.

The Recipe: 

Recipe – Oat Stout (Oatmeal Stout – 16B):2017_05_07_DSC00002

Boil Size: 7.22 gallons
Batch Size:  5.50 gallons
IBU’s:  37.1


54.9% – 5 lbs. Brewers Malt 2-Row
11.8% – 1 lb. 8.0 oz. Flaked Oats
11.8% – 1 lb. 8.0 oz. While Wheat Malt
7.8% – 1 lb. Crystal Malt – 60L
5.9% – 12 oz. Chocolate Malt (350 SRM)
3.9% – 8 oz. Cara-Pils/Dextrine
3.9% – 8 oz. Roasted Barley (300SRM)


0.75 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 10.51 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
0.75 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – 11.7 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
0.25 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 2.1 IBU’s) – 20 minutes
0.25 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – 3.3 IBU’s) – 20 minutes
1.00 oz. – East Kent Goldings (pellet – 9.4 IBU’s) – 20 minutes


1 pk. – Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs 1084) – 1.6 L Starter


3.0 oz. – Ground Coffee Beans – 5 minutes
1 Tbsp. Yeast Nutrient – 5 minutes

The brew went well, though my efficiency was a bit low, which is unusual.  I also used my new controller for the Grainfather, allowing connection and control through my phone or iPad.  It was a fun experience, though I had to switch from my iPad to my Android phone because of battery drain. 

It Begins–Again!

GardenPlan_2015Once again, it is time to start the garden. On the left is a rather poor quality image of my garden design that was done in Garden Planner.  This is the second year I have used Garden Planner in Idaho, and I do enjoy it a bit better than paper and pencil for planning the garden each year.  There are some limitations, such as print quality, but overall it is an easy product to use, especially when changing plans.

The start to the gardening season was delayed by about a month, mainly due to the kids at school donating their various toxic germs to me.  But, things are starting to move along, and with the long growing season here, I have no doubt that we will once again produce more food than we need. 

Last year, I used soaker hoses for irrigation, but the hoses did a very poor job, with some areas receiving very little water, and some areas becoming flooded with water running into the furrows.  This year I amusing a Garden_2015_1ribbon system that has little slits every 8 inches to let the water drip out.  So far, the product is working amazingly well, and cutting my watering time down by at least half.  We will see what happens then things start growing, but the drip system has been watering the garlic and onions for the past month with no problems. 

The image on the right is of the garlic (6 different varieties) that I planted last fall, and the onions that we transplanted after cleaning up the garden last year.  The onions were hidden in the Tomato plants, and were very small, so I decided to try to over-winter them to see if they would grow. 

In the furrow you can see strips of cardboard.  We are in the process of lining the entire garden with cardboard and newspaper.  When that is done we will apply a thick layer of alfalfa as mulch.  This is an attempt at improving the soil, as well as using less water and having cooler soil temperatures during the summer heat.

The plant count so far is:

180 heads of garlic
200+ onion plants
144 corn plants (actually 288 as I always grow 2 plants per hole)
150 potato plants (3 varieties)
66 feet of sugar snap peas
150 or so carrots

I will be planting the cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, melons, pumpkins and watermelon this weekend.  I plan on growing the cucumbers on a trellis system, and may try to do the same with the melons. 

A Bit of Catching Up!

DSC00004_1The summer has passed, and winter is now upon us. We were quite fortunate this year, with an abundant harvest, great health, and a generally satisfying life. We were able to harvest over 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, 1,000 pounds of various squash, a few dozen smaller watermelons and other types of melons, including two watermelons which weighed in at over 80 pounds. I was able to save a bit over 50 pounds of dried corn, 85 pounds of potatoes, thousands of individual sweet and hot peppers, a few hundred pounds of cucumbers, and much, much more.

The tomatoes and squash were preserved, with the tomatoes canned as either tomato2014_DSC00004 sauce, pasta sauce, or salsa, or dehydrated and frozen for later use.  The squash, especially the zucchini, was dehydrated, and the cucumbers were turned into pickles.   All together, we have over 350 jars of various things that I canned this year, and an entire chest freezer full of dehydrated fruit and vegetables.  We are still dehydrating peppers, making the upstairs a very spicy experience!

The chickens are laying around 40 eggs per week, though the cold weather has slowed them 2014_DSC00003down a bit this week.  Prior to this past cold spell which brought freezing temperatures and snow, I was able to plant  garlic, which consists of 7 types of garlic with a total of about 500 cloves planted. 

Planning for next years garden has begun, incorporating lessons learned from this year, including the elimination of some vegetable varieties, increasing other types of vegetables, and placing certain crops, especially the corn, in a more protected location that is out of the wind. 

A very small sample of some of the vegetables we harvested this year, and a small batch of tomato sauce:

2014_DSC00002  2014_DSC00021    2014_DSC000412014_DSC00050  2014_DSC00005

Sunrise–16 July 2014



Taken from my side patio, 6:38 AM, 16 July 2014.  Caldwell (Sunnyslope Area) Idaho.

Critters of Idaho

29June2014_300_2026We were walking around the garden and saw this little guy.  I was able to approach within a few feet and took this picture.  We think it is a baby robin, but are not sure.  Micha saw one in one of the bushes buy out house and I took another picture of it.  Then, the cat saw it and decided it would make a tasty mid-morning snack, and it grabbed it. 

Micha, seeing this, screamed (which was entertaining in itself), distracting the cat and the bird was able to escape.  Pretty funny actually, and I am glad the bird was able to escape, because knowing the cat, it would have dropped it off at 30June2014_300_2043the front door as a present for Micha. Look at the image on the right carefully and you can see the bird that the cat almost caught.

One of the things that I was disappointed with last year was the lack of nice butterflies around the property.  This year however, I have seen a few flying around, but they have not landed long enough for me to take a picture.  Finally, yesterday a butterfly was drinking from the lavender bushes by the front door, and I was able to take a few pictures.



One Month Garden Update

13June2014_300_1990Well, The chicken laid an egg in the coop this time instead of under a tree.  Of course, we had to catch it and lock it up in the coop for a couple of hours, but hopefully it will understand where it should lay eggs.

I put a golf ball in four of the 6 nesting boxed to “trick” the chicken(s) into thinking that they were actually eggs in the boxes, hopefully letting them believe that this is the place to deposit the eggs.  Tomorrow maybe a new egg in the proper place without all of the fuss of capturing and locking the critters up – maybe.

The garden is now one month old and things are really growing.  Below, I have placed an image taken on the 23rd of May and beside it another image taken on the 23rd of June.  We have already harvested raspberries and blackberries, strawberries, lettuce, kale, and one pumpkin from the garden.  In the next day or two we will also harvest some zucchini and pickling cucumbers.  Additionally, Micha is continuing to pick apricots, which we are dehydrating.

The pictures:


The herb garden is also doing fairly well.  I am finding that some things that I thought would be easy to grow do not actually grow well in the garden (basil, oregano, sage, caraway, parsley, and a few other herbs), but some do exceptionally well (comfrey, lavender, rosemary, nasturtiums, petunias, different mints, and some others).


Planning for next year:  Build 6000 sq. ft. field for wheat, barley and oats.  Build 6000 sq. ft. field for a sustainable chicken garden.   Also, plant three more cherry trees,  two additional apple trees, and three other fruit trees that I am deciding upon.  Goats or sheep next year also – just a couple or three.

It is Cherry Season

20June2014_DSCN0402As you can see in the picture of Micha picking cherries, it is cherry season in this area.

We were driving down our road last Thursday and saw a sign advertising U-Pick Cherries for 0.50 cents a pound.  After we returned home, Misty hopped on her bike and rode about 3 miles to the cherry orchard to see what was going on.  She came home with a pack full of cherries.  Misty and Micha liked them, so it was decided that we would go early Friday  morning and pick cherries.

We managed to wake up early, before the day became hot, went to the orchard, and 20June2014_DSCN0415proceeded to pick cherries.  About 3 hours later, the three of us managed to pick approximately 130 pounds of sweet cherries.  While it was hard work, it was also quite enjoyable, and it was difficult to convince Micha to leave.  I think she did not want to leave all the cherries she saw on the trees, but also did not realize how many cherries we had picked.

Micha and Misty have been cleaning and pitting the cherries, and we are also dehydrating 15 pounds of them for baking and later use.  Misty canned some for pies in a light syrup also.  As for me, they prepared 50 pounds of cherries that I am 20June2014_DSCN0468going to use in a 6 gallon batch of mead and a 6 gallon batch of wine.  Figuring to use a bit more than 4 pounds per gallon and shoot for an ABV or 20% for the mead, and 14% for the wine.  I would like the mead to be on the sweet side, and a dry wine with possible a bit of oak.

Our two apricot trees are producing apricots now also.  Micha has been picking them daily, and we now have tables, dehydrators and boxes full of drying apricot halves.  I do not know how many pounds she picked, but I would imagine that there are about 2 – 5 gallon buckets full.  Possibly 40 or 50 pounds maybe.

Fifty cent cherries and free apricots – hard to beat that!

Time Goes Quickly.

26March2014_300_1916We were just coming in from another hard day in the garden, and the scene on the left appeared. As time went by, the rainbows made a complete arch and connected on the other side of the shed. Quite a pretty scene.

I think I have said this before, but once again, the garden work is finally finished.  I have completed the watering system, planted all of the plants and seeds, completed everything chicken related, and hand mowed 2 acres of grass and weeds.  So, the garden is finished.  Now, saying that, I also have to say that the garden is no where near being complete.

What have we done this year just in the garden spaces? 

  • 26March2014_DSCF7027Developed two garden patches, one totaling 4,900 sq. ft., and another around 2,800 sq. ft., as well as developing the start of the orchard grid.
  • Planted 13 trees, including:  3 cherry, 1 peach, 1 nectarine, 7 apple, and 2 Asian pear trees.
  • Planted about 20 grape vines including five taken from around the property that were dying but now doing quite well, and 13 different berry bushes.
  • Planted the following plants grown from seed:  53 various tomato plants, 200+ bunching onions, 100 Walla Walla onions, 9 broccoli, 46 various cabbage plants, 15 kale, 60 sweet/hot pepper plants, 23 or so cucumber plants, 49 potatoes, 40+ leaf and head lettuce, 4 eggplants, 5 tomatillos, 16 various squash plants, 6 or so musk melons, and probably some things I am forgetting.
  • Planted the following seeds:  A lot of carrots, beets, fennel, around 400 corn seeds (2 seeds per hole @ 200 holes, and 13 different varieties) a 50 foot line of various bush beans, 9 watermelons, 8 musk/honeydew type melons, and 100 onion starts from store.
  • Planted the following herb plants started from seeds (I do not have a count of the plants):  dill, cilantro, parsley, valerian, angelica, sage, basil, spearmint, chrysanthemum (edible), comfrey, caraway, St. Johns Wort, Bee Balm, yarrow, and a bunch of others.
  • Constructed 35 foot diameter herb garden to plant the herbs and other plants in, including 10 or so lavender plants, 2 roses, and various other plants.
  • Installed drip irrigation systems for the vegetable and grape/berry gardens and all trees.  The above right image is of the first test of the drip irrigation system in the vegetable garden.  Took a few tries, but it works fairly good now. 

EVERYTHING planted with one exception is heirloom, open pollinated.  Four of the tomato plants were from hybrid seeds.  Supposedly you get 2 – 4 pound tomatoes from this thing, so I simply had to try it. 

While the work was fun, it was a lot of work, and for the past three weeks (three months actually) all we have been doing is working in the garden 7 – 9 hours per day.  But, as of today, 95% of the corn is up, 75% or the beans are up, the carrots and beets are starting to grow, and some of the melons and seed planted squash are starting to push through.  Most of the grape starts are alive and thriving, the berry plants are doing great, and all of the plants we planted are healthy and growing quickly.  So far the effort has been worth it, but I am looking forward to a break in the next week or so when the garden will actually be complete.

I do have a few things left, including planting a second planting of seeds such as cabbage(s), melons, watermelons, pumpkins and squash, as well as construction 100 feet of trellis for the tomatoes, building support for the hops, building trellis’ for the grapes and berries, and routine maintenance of the property in general.  Figure out if I want sheep this year or next, and then build sheep facilities.  Some of the above will not happen this year because of time, and the fact that I want to do other things such as hike, bike, and find a job.

I was out messing with the irrigation system last week before planting and found a new gardening buddy:


This thing was about 5 feet long.  I followed it a bit to get a few pictures, but left the snake alone hoping it would continue to wander the property eating mice and such, but unfortunately I found it dead a few days ago.  Now sure what happened, but I hope another will come and take its place.

We also have nice birds here:


The yellow bird nests in the front yard.  The image is a bit fuzzy as it was taken through the kitchen window.

Remember the chickens and how small they were the beginning of March?  Here they are now, grown and about ready to be invited over for a BBQ:


That is it for now.  Hopefully I will be able to update the blog more frequently now that things are (hopefully) slowing down. 

First Hike 2014

19Apr14_DSCF2378Not quite sure where we were, but we had out first hike of 2014 this past Saturday.

We were out exploring last Wednesday and found what looked like an interesting mountain to hike, so on Saturday we left early for the hike.  Like I mentioned, I have no idea what the mountain or area is called, I just know that it on either BLM or State land.  When I download my GPS data I will 19Apr14_DSCF2385look a bit closer at the map to get some names.  What caught our interest in this mountain was the color of the cliffs, which were a yellowish-green color. Looking closer we saw that is was some type of lichen that was only growing on these cliffs.

Anyway, the day of the hike was quite warm, starting out in the upper 40’s and getting up to the low 70’s with a nice cooling wind/breeze.  The hike up was steep but steady, climbing 1000 feet in about 0.65 miles.  The top of the ridge was approximately 5800 feet high, giving us a great view of the area surrounding us. 

Once we got to the top, it was a gentle 1.75 or so mile hike along the ridge to the end.  We could have continued on, and may come back for an extended hike in the future. But for now, we just want to do some short exploratory hikes first so see what each area surrounding us has to offer. 

One thing was we really enjoyed was the variety and abundance of wild flowers.  They were small, but very pretty.  I took quite a few pictures, but unfortunately, it was quite windy which made the flowers move, causing some very blurry pictures.  I am posting some of the less blurry ones, and hopefully will return with a better camera on a calmer day.


I always find it amazing when I find a plant or tree growing where nothing else similar is growing.  This picture is of a tree attempting to grow on the very edge of the ridge.  There are no other trees growing within a mile of this one in the first picture.  We also have a picture of Micha and Misty on the ridge, and in the car the Wednesday prior as we were exploring the area.  Oh, if you Juneau people want to see what a real deer looks like, the last picture is for you!


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