Quail, Thunder, and Dinner

27Aug13_DSC1575Another picture of our barn cat.  This is a very sweet cat that is really good at catching critters.  

The quail eggs that we had on the property hatched, and for the past few weeks we have watched the chicks become almost full grown.  The original batch of quail chicks was 12, and there are between 10 and 11 left, but it is hard to tell how many there really are.  There are a few other herds of quail that wander through the property also, and they are quite entertaining to watch.  They rarely fly, but walk and run to get around.  The images below look a bit off – I need to change the settings that I had for the low light in Juneau, and take off the Vivid settings which are a bit too vivid for this area.

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We had a thunder storm a few nights ago – and 10 or so seconds of rain.  The image on the left is looking Southeast, and the next image is looking Southwest – both images were taken seconds apart.

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If anyone is ever lacking in carbs – make Spaghetti Bread.  

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Half-way into making the bread my oven died, so the top is not brown.  However, the bread was done and it tasted great.  Next time I will use meatballs and sauce, leaving out the pasta.  Really, way too much starch for even me.  Oven was fixed yesterday.  Seems a fuse blew. 

Site News:  Some things, like the forum and gallery, do not work – they will be fixed soon.  The SacCam Java applet that controls the image on the main page is again not working.  It seems that the JavaCam.class will not function properly in IE, and I really am not in the mood to fix it just to have it break again with the next update.  Therefore, I will probably provide a link to a page with the image, or simply a link to the SacCam image.  Here is the link for now – this is looking out of the computer room window (which is dirty) and facing Northeast:  SacCam  Refresh is 20 seconds.

Mowing the Lawn

21Aug13_DSCF1677Racked the Apricot Wine today, and as you can see in the image on the left, there is still a huge amount of sediment that will need to fall out, so it will in the secondary for at least 6 weeks. It smells great, and I obtained exactly 6 gallons of liquid, so all should work out well for this one. I did not get an SG, as there was simply too much stuff floating around to be accurate. I will worry about SG in 6 weeks.

In other fun news, I mowed the lawn again today.  Mowing the lawn is a fairly intensive process, and I really wanted to see how many miles I walked when I mowed.  So, I slipped on my Polar RCX5 heart rate monitor and GPS.  According to the Polar GPS, I walked 3.87 miles mowing the lawn.  It took 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 38 seconds.  I also burned ~1385 calories.  I have attached the path I took while mowing the lawn.  The paths to the field are of me emptying the grass catcher.  While it is a large lawn to mow with a hand mower, today was great weather-wise, and it was very enjoyable.  Looks great too!

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Three Crop Ale & Flies

20Aug13_DSCF1674They say that Idaho is famous for its potatoes. It is the Potato State, or home of the famous potato, or something similar. However, since being here now for close to three months, I am wondering where are all the potatoes?  I see corn, and a lot of it, sugar beets, mint, and a few other things, but no potatoes.  I think it is time to rename Idaho – to The Fly State!  Why the Fly State?  Read on…

Take a look to the left.  That is a picture of 1.5 days of flies on one of my three fly strips.  This is in the garage after leaving the garage door open for less than 4 hours total.  I have never seen so many flies anywhere.  Maybe they are famous Idaho Potato Flies.  They just left the “fly” off.  Oh well….

I brewed my first batch of beer yesterday.  I wanted to do something easy to see how my new location worked and how the well water would affect the beer, and with the limitations I have, it worked out well.  One thing this property does not have is a sink in the garage.  This makes cleaning and obtaining water somewhat of a chore.  I have decided that I am going to purchase a sink that I will keep outside for cleaning, and will attach a water quality hose for water, as I do not want to have garden hose water in my beer and wine. 

To the right is my set-up – it is simple and easy to work with, and very similar to what I had in Juneau.  The 20Aug13_DSCF1671only difference is that I have a stronger table that will hold the weight of the equipment and the water/wort.  I also purchased a half-inch raking siphon, which I like for fast transfers, but it is somewhat of a pain to prime where there is not a lot of liquid.  I ended up transferring more turb than I wanted as I had to re-prime the siphon and it was a bit of a task, resulting in a lot of disturbance in my brew pot.  Then again, I have on occasion simply dumped my brew bucked into the fermentation chamber with no ill effects, so all will workout fine.

Now for the beer recipe- Click here for original recipe and discussion thread:  Cream of Three Crops (Cream Ale).  I have brewed this a few times before and liked it as a nice lawn mower beer, so here it is again with the addition of Williamette hops. 

Recipe:

Boil Size: 6.75 gallons
Batch Size:  5.10 gallons
IBU’s:  34.4 (a bit on the high side for this pseudo-style, but should be fine.)

Grain:

36.5% – 3 lbs 9.9 oz. Brewers Malt 2-row
33.3% – 3 lbs 5.5 oz. Belgian Pilsner
20.1% – 2 lbs Flaked Corn
10.1% – 1 lb Flaked Rice (Minute Rice)

Hops:

1 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 15.5 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
1 oz. – Williamette (pellet – – 18.9 IBU’s) – 60 minutes

Yeast:

1 pk – Nottingham (Lallemand)

I put the yeast in the bottom of the fermenter and racked on top of it.  Fermentation started a few hours later and is going strong now. 

And, a picture of my brew pot and the view I have when doing my boil:

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More of The House

19Aug13_DSCF1639Sitting here listening to music drinking a Fat Tire Amber Ale, and thought I would post a few pictures of the property. One of the structures we have is a 3400 sq. ft. “shed”. The shed has 4 bays, one of which is enclosed and has a bay door as well as an inside door. Looks like the enclosed part was used as a workshop in years past.  In the coming months we will again clean up and convert the bay to a workshop, or maybe a ceramics shop for Misty.  The far right bay will be partitioned and used for livestock.  Sheep, goats, a steer or two, and maybe some other meat critters will reside there.  The other bays will house my cargo trailer and maybe my BCS tractor. 

There are 30 are or so trees of various types on the property.  Some of them I like, and some may be sacrificed 19Aug13_DSCF1657to the fireplace.   I really do not know why anyone would plant spruce trees where there is grass that needs to be mowed.  Spruce trees have sharp needles, and are not fun to mow around or under.  Then again, the front is so park-like, that it would maybe not be appropriate to kill the spruce trees in this area, but the 12 spruce in the undeveloped area are going to be either sold or cut soon, as is the Willow tree in the center of this  picture.  Willow trees are beautiful, but are a chore to maintain and mow under, and they grow to be quite huge. 

This is one of the areas that will be developed for animals. Hopefully, the Idaho 19Aug13_DSCF1648water folks will grant us water rights for this (and other) the other areas we want to develop.  If we do get water rights, we will turn this area, which is about an acre, into pasture for the animals.  If not, then we will  let the animals forage as best as possible and feed them various grasses as necessary.

Dead birds.  Anyone want a dead bird?  We have at least one dead bird show up 19Aug13_DSCF1659on the property daily.  I know the two cats catch a bird on occasion (and love to bring us near-dead birds as presents), but we have HUGE dead birds that the cats could never catch show up all of the time on the front and back lawns.  I think that the birds fly into some of the windows at night or in the early morning.  Speaking of dead birds – I will be taking either my 20 gauge or a pellet gun down to the shed to liberate (from life) some pigeons very soon.  They are creating quite a mess in the shed, and with the coming animals, need to be eliminated from the property soon.

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This is our morning and late afternoon view.  You can see the shed in the distance.  This is an afternoon shot with the newly trimmed tree.  Micha and Misty trimmed the majority of the trees on the east facing portion of the property, and they look really nice, especially the rather large Willow tree that covers a portion of the driveway.  In early evenings this view is quite nice as the sun reflects off the clouds and smoke from our fires.  Also, evening and morning breezes are quite nice in this area. And, this where out BBQ and smoker are.  The only negative is this is also where the flies are.  Hopefully, the files will be be gone soon, as this a favorite dinner location.

A few other pictures: 

1.  This is another view, looking East, of where the animals will be.  Of great interest, Erik (Erick?) the Bankers house can be seen in the distance.

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2.  A view of the “back” of the house.  The first window is where our bedroom is.  This is also where the garage is, and we usually use the garage as the main entrance.  This portion of the house faces South, and has a great view of the Owyhee mountains.  I really don’t know why they call them “mountains”  they really look like hills to me….  Oh well:

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Thanks for reading this rather dis-jointed  post.  Better stuff later – Maybe….!

Oh  – canned 27 half-pints of salsa, and Misty did 6 pints of BBQ sauce.  Living the life!

Grandma’s Chili Sauce and Ants

16Aug13_DSCF1662Oh Look! ANTS! Yes. We have a lot of ants on the property.  I have been using a commercial poison, but today we decided that we would try a more natural remedy and mixed up some Borax, Sugar, and Water.  We soaked cotton pads in the mixture and let the ants have a taste.  In the next few days we will know if it worked.

On other news:  We were at one of the local produce stands and saw that they had 16Aug13_DSCF1607tomatoes for $15.00 per half-bushel (minimum of 20 pounds).  We decided to get them, as well as a few other items, and I decided that it was finally time to make my mothers Chili Sauce.  The tomatoes were not the pretty uniform tomatoes you find in grocery stores, but blemished and a bit rough looking.  However, when cutting them open, they were simply beautiful and smelled like real tomatoes. 

I used my 7 quart Kitchen Aid Commercial mixer with the 16Aug13_DSCF1619strainer attachment to separate the pulp and juice from the skin and seeds. It seemed to to a great job, and do it rather quickly.  I then used the grinder attachment with the smaller holes to grind onions, bell peppers, hot chili peppers, and garlic.  Again, the process was quick and the grinder left enough of the products intact that you could see small chunks of vegetables. 

I boiled the mixture for 4 hours on low heat and then let sit over night.

The next morning I canned 18 pints using 12 pounds for 75 minutes.  I know I could have done a water bath, but I did not do so in order for further integrate the little chunks that I am not really a fan of.  Plus, I really feel that for long term storage, pressure canning is far superior to a water bath.  All of the jars sealed and all is well.  16Aug13_DSCF1622

This is a picture of the setup I was using, but with the strainer cover off.  It worked quite well, and the skins and seeds were pretty dry, as most of the pulp was separated. 

This weekend I will be making a Abrol Chili Salsa with the remaining tomatoes as well as two huge packs of Abrol Chili’s which I spent hours stemming and seeding yesterday and today.  I am thinking that I will get around 30 half-pint jars from the process.

Since I have two leftover pictures, here are pictures of a tomato and one of the onion/pepper mixture that I did in the grinder – Oh, I almost forgot!  A picture of the final product too:

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Is The World Safe Anymore?

Look who got a bike!

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And, wearing a Cabela’s hat!

Apricot Wine

14Aug13_DSCF1667An earlier post mentioned that we picked quite a few pounds of apricots from our two trees. I estimated over 40 pounds, and I am now sure that it is over 50 pounds. Anyway, I need some wine to fill the Bearded Hen Cellars, so I decided on doing a Merlot (from a kit) and a nice Apricot Wine.

Usually, I plan on 4 pounds of fruit per gallon of wine.  However, this time I decided that I wanted to go a bit more intense without going overboard.  My final calculations put the fruit at 4.833 pounds per gallon.  The biggest delay in starting the wine was the decision on what yeast to use.  I finally settled on Côte des Blancs, as I want a bit of sweetness with this wine, and if I did this right, it will be perfect.

The biggest issue I can potentially have is the sugar content of the fruit not being the “average” of 9.1%.  I need a refractometer, and I thought I ordered one with my last order, but I guess I didn’t.  So, I am going to order one in the next week or two.  I am looking at this one:  Refractometer ATC with Brix and SG Scale as I would like a better way to measure my wort when I am making my beer and for fruit when I am making wine.  This will be even more important when we start growing and harvesting our own grapes.  Besides, with an SG scale, it will be a lot better than dropping my hydrometer in the wort – far more sanitary also.

Now for the fun part – the recipe!

Recipe:

Volume: 6 Gallons
Calculated SG:  1.110
Expected ABV:  13%

Sugars:

12 lbs. – White Sugar
29 lbs. – Apricots (assuming 9.1% sugar Content)

Yeast:

2 each packet – Red Star Côte des Blancs

Misc: 

6 ea. – Campden Tablets 24 hours prior to pitching yeast.
1 tsp. – Peptic Enzyme
1 tsp.- Acid Blend
3/4 tsp. – Wine Tannin
3 tsp. – Fermaid-K – prior to pitching yeast and at 1/3 sugar break

Pitched yeast at 0700, 12 August 2013 and fermentation was visible by that night.  Punching down cap twice a day, the fruit is pretty much dissolved, and the liquid is a very nice orange color.  Smells great too!  I am actually thinking of some clear bottles for presents. 

I plan to rack to secondary on the 21st, and leave there for at least two months. 

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Have fun!

One Month–One Day

13Aug13_DSCF1600Corn is coming into season, so we decided to give the local corn a try.  On the 12th we purchased 60 ears of corn, froze 57, and ate three.  We found the corn to be not as sweet as store corn, but far, far fresher (it was picked the day we bought it), and very much better than the overly modified and overly sweet store corn.  It was so good that the next day (on the 13th) we went back and purchased another 60 ears to freeze. A bit of work, but well worth it.

The corn was 12.50 per 60 ears, so a total of $25 for 120 ears – not bad. 

We also ordered a side of beef and a whole pig.  That was a somewhat interesting experience as we tried to figure out what cuts we wanted and how thick our steaks will be.  We decided we wanted the bones and tail for soup….  Oh, the best part is that the price per pound is $2.89.  Going to be eating $2.89 Filet Mignon!

The meat will be vacuum packed and we will pick it up in 2 to 3 weeks.   Unfortunately it is not grass finished, but with all that is going on, we have been too busy to search for and research the local growers.  However, the butcher and supplier have excellent reputations and have been in business for years.  Next year we will buy grass fed and finished animals, and more than likely begin raising our own steer(s).

Plan to do a lot of smoking and jerky making, as well as sausage making.

Some corn pics:

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A New Beginning

House_July2013_DSC_1523We have moved!  After 35 years of living in Juneau, Alaska, we have moved to Caldwell Idaho.  Below are a few pictures of the house and surrounding area.  More pictures will appear in the coming weeks as things slow down a bit. 

Oh, the picture to the left is of one of the two barn cats we inherited with the property. They live outside and sleep in the garage. Their job is simply to protect us from mice – since I have not seen any mice, I guess they are working……………….

A few statistics:  The house is 2900 square feet on 2.67 acres of land.  Water is from a well on the property, and has the capacity to irrigate the entire acreage which we are going to do once our permit is approved.  There is a 3400 square foot shed (I will get pictures later of this), at the bottom of the property.  We are on a hill overlooking the town of Marsing and the Owyhee Mountains to the south, and to the east is Boise and the remaining Treasure Valley.  The house was built in 1976, with the upstairs being remodeled in 2002.  The downstairs is original with the exception of the paint.  The downstairs is a “daylight” basement, meaning that it is surrounded on three sides by dirt (though the two basement bedrooms have windows that open), with the front having access to the outside.  This keeps the basement quite cool even on 100+ degree days.  The house has 4 bedrooms and three baths, with a huge amount of in-house storage. 

Our plans for this summer and spring are to prepare a 1/2 plus acre vegetable garden for spring, prepare for 1/4 acre grapes, plant at least 12 fruit trees, and establish a 1 acre pasture area for 3 – 4 sheep, a steer, chickens, and some other type of eating critter(s). 

The Pictures:  A few views from the back deck where we have coffee in the morning and a glass of wine or two at night:

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Sunrise from the east facing desk – our alternate morning coffee spot:

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A few garden type photos to include:  Misty with a mornings supply of fresh apricots (she picked over 30 pounds when she was visiting), some grapes from our grape vines, and quail eggs from the resident quail (we have a huge supply of birds in the area):

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Now, for some house shots – I will do more later as we clean things up a bit – the red carpet is from the basement and is designated in the original plans as a recreation room:

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Stay tuned for more pictures as I take them.