12.27.2012 Looking out. Looking ahead.

Since there is absolutely no shelter for a horse on the east side of the farm and that's where Ophelia has to be for now, we are conducting a barn trial with her.  Basically, we blocked her access to most of the barn, leaving only her stall and a small portion of aisle open.  We leave the doors open and, if she chooses, Ophelia can go inside and get out of the wind and rain.  She doesn't choose that option much yet.  She spends a lot of time worrying about being alone.

Since there is absolutely no shelter for a horse on the east side of the farm and that’s where Ophelia has to be for now, we are conducting a barn trial with her. Basically, we blocked her access to most of the barn, leaving only her stall and a small portion of aisle open. We leave the doors open and, if she chooses, Ophelia can go inside and get out of the wind and rain. She doesn’t choose that option much yet. She still spends a lot of time worrying about being alone and the barn magnifies her concerns.

Yesterday, was really murky, rainy, windy, and bone cold.  It was a day best spent looking out windows and reflecting on the successes and failures of 2012 and wading through the delusions of grandeur so we could realistically begin to plan 2013.

However, it’s the holidays.  My little house is full.  Full of Christmas.  Full of family.  Full of friends.  There’s a lot of visiting and chatting going on.  Some tinkering with Christmas gifts and potato cannon manufacturing.  (Today is launch day.)

For this batch we used a re-purposed soda bottle.  Because it's squeezable, I could tell when the fermentation had approached danger levels and immediate refrigeration was in order.  Once the plastic bottle got rock hard, it was time to chill the whole batch.  Otherwise, explosions would be forthcoming.

For this batch we used a re-purposed soda bottle. Because it’s squeezable, I could tell when the fermentation had approached danger levels and immediate refrigeration was in order. Once the plastic bottle got rock hard, it was time to chill the whole batch. Otherwise, explosions would be forthcoming.

It was finally time to bottle the ginger ale.  (A day too late for Christmas dinner, but we did crack a bottle of the apple cyser mead and that turned out to a bit of a chameleon – everyone who tasted it came up with a different assessment.  The important thing is it was relatively good.  Not legendary, like the last batch, but respectably good.)

Adding malt to the wort.  From the stove into the primary fermenter.  Less than 24 hours later, the wort is bubbling away quite vigorously.

Adding malt to the wort. From the stove into the primary fermenter. Less than 24 hours later, the wort is bubbling away quite vigorously.

My husband made beer with the kit I got him for Christmas.

Only late in the evening was I able to sit down and begin to find answers to important questions like:

“How do I grow my own sweet potato slips?” I’ve bought my sweet potato slips in the past and this year, I’d like to spend that money elsewhere.

“How do I grow leeks and onions from seed?”  I’ve tried for three years now to grow onions and leeks from seed, but just can’t ever seem to get them going.

“How long before I can plant more cauliflower?”  I harvested 6 heads off of one volunteer plant a couple of days ago and they are really, really good.  We want more.  Soon.  No, sooner than that!

“How do I make a compost tea brewer?” I was skimming through my copy of The Holistic Orchard – Tree fruit and berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips and he sprays his trees a lot, but he doesn’t use pesticides and fungicides and herbicides to kill undesirables.  Rather, his tree spraying is all about boosting the health of the fruit trees and shrubs and the soil in which they grow.  He advocates using some very expensive products but others in the blogosphere say you can accomplish the same things with compost tea. Compost tea can be made by simply tossing some compost in a bucket and filling the bucket with water and letting it steep outside for a day or two.  Or, you can aerate the tea with an air pump/bubbler system and this sort of compost tea is called brewed tea.

“Once I make the tea, how do I get it to the garden and the nearly 100 trees I am now tending?”  I need a sprayer.  A big one.  Something I can use to deliver foliar sprays as well as large volumes of water to plants during drought conditions.  I would eventually like to have my horse draw a wagon loaded with such a tank/sprayer but how much does water weigh and how much weight can one half-draft horse pull?

And why is it the deeper I get into farming, the role fermentation plays keeps getting bigger?

And where did I hide the bottle cap crimper that I bought to go with the beer kit?

So many questions still to answer.


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