There’s a shady spot behind the cabin garage where rain drips off of the gutterless roof. After about 15 years of mowing the area occasionally, I decided to try ferns. I collected three different kinds from around my woodland. Insufficient.
TN Online Plant Nursery is a place that sells to the big stores that have nursery departments, like Lowes or Home Depot. I got their fern variety package that included a lace fern, a deer and an ostrich fern that’s supposed to get several feet tall. I also bought a few sets of five native wildflowers to put with them.
They were all doing pretty good until one Saturday I went around to check on them and the dogs had ripped a path through them and the cats had started treating the bricked enclosure as a fancy litterbox. I blocked off the ends to impede transit and replanted the uprooted plants. Then we had a hard winter with late freezes.
Here is the best corner at the end of summer with the majority of what I have left after one full year. The hearty will survive! Now that I have it properly protected, I could always make another order…
The water directly from the well is clear as of Monday morning. I haven’t had it tested or anything to verify it, but clear has been very good in the past. Having it clear up reinforces my belief that a mud chunk landed in there after the inundation of rain we had a couple months ago.
The great thing is that I prefer to use the cold straight from the well to brew! I heat a few gallons in a stock pot to melt the malt and mix the wort. Instead of needing to chill the wort before pitching the yeast, the well water comes from deep underground and is plenty cold to get the fermenting bucket to the right temperature. Packed water is just not the same
Gosh, I want to get started right now, phooey. I used to be able to come home after work and get all kinds of things done. I’m not willing to invest in a three hour round trip tonight. So, Friday night the Munton’s Porter and probably the Munton’s Bitter will become my first straight-from-the-well ferments of the year…oh boy!
I’ve been hobbled with my brewing this year because of my muddy water, the tan tinge that makes me cringe. I had two buckets of ale in fermentation that needed bottling. For each batch, I figured I could boil the bulk of muddy water I needed for rinsing and soaking 50 some odd beer bottles, follow with a chlorinated rinse, and end with a rinse of the precious packed water. All was accomplished in the fullness of time. Then I had to fix supper.
So here I am on a steaming Sunday night, stubbornly committed to bottling at least one batch. Discovering I only have a dab of corn sugar in the entire house caused consternation. You put some of the powdered corn sugar into the wort (raw beer) just before you bottle it so it can ferment just enough in the bottle to make the foamy head all ale lovers adore. I could have split the amount, but decided I couldn’t bottle the Bock this week anyway. Oh Bock, poor Bock.
After duly sanitizing the bottling bucket that same way I did the bottles, in went the corn sugar, stirred in hot bottled water to dissolve. Heave the full fermented bucket up and pour the wort into the bottling bucket, leaving the dead yeast sludge. As midnight came and went, I filled each bottle under the little red spigot, tipping the bucket to get the last little bit.
I have a Red Robin Capper – it sits on top of the bottle on which one has laid a new cap. Pull the handles down and it crimps the cap to the curvy lip of the bottle. Except for the eleven bottles with top curvy lips too thin for old Red to properly grasp. I vacillated between anger and despair. These were the bottles a friend donated from his Beers of the World party. They are not twist-offs, I know better then that. I could not see the difference in advance, but Red could.
I scrounged more bottles, went through the sanitizing rigmarole and finished nigh on 2 AM. I sure hope this batch turns out okay.
Over the last couple years, I have purchased several red raspberry plants from Stark Bros, an outfit I have been happy with for many years. My continued complete lack of raspberries to pile in a bowl in the kitchen is not their fault. I got not one raspberry this year. Sure, I saw quite a few clusters ripening, I just didn’t get to them first.
I got a book that showed how to string the lines between posts for them to grow across. I read how to fertilize and spray them for insects. I perused sellers of bird netting. I know what I should have done. Naturally, I did little of it.
The raspberries mainly survived and are bushy with vines winding through the peach and apple trees. They had a spurt of tiny berries the birds found appetizing. If I can get my act together, in a few weeks I’ll review the pages on pruning and pick up my end of the bargain I made when I brought these hapless plants into my yard. Maybe, depending on the great mess of other stuff I gotta take care of. Looks like I bit off more than I could chew, but the lure of juicy raspberries to stain my teeth remains strong. I can almost taste them, a reminder of care not taken. A slurp of coffee will wash that sorry taste of neglect away so I can go grab a pair of gloves and at least get the major weeds outta there. I really will, in a minute…
I purchased a couple Heartnut trees from Stark Bros in April and planted them bare roots, right away. I used big fiber pots and made sure they got ample water and sun. I wrote back to the company several weeks ago and asked why they had not leafed out. All they did was sprout a sucker from the grafted base. No reply.
I wrote a complaint about the silence, saying I’d sent pictures and the receipt, what more would they want. The Customer Service lady wrote back in apology. She said the Stark server crashed and all the messages recently received were gone. I believe her. Better, she recommended I prune the top third of each tree off to wake the sleepy trees up. Clipper in hand, lop and lop.
Alas, here it is August with no improvement. The suckers from below the graft are alive, but not the grafted part I needed. So they are dead, but partly alive. Zombies! Don’t get too close! Time to complain again!
Oh, in the top picture it may appear the sticks have foliage. That’s raspberries ambling around them.
I’ve had great River Whole Wheat Bread Flour and a Great River mixed grains flour on my wish list at Amazon for the better part of a year. Just think, whole wheat bread flour! Only making one loaf a week, my brain said another 50 pounds of flour for the bugs to get into was not justified. More barrels like I use now would take up way too much space. Sensible, but no fun.
Two things tipped the balance. I hit the bottom of the barrel when scooping my current whole wheat flour AND a good-sized, compact, stackable and sealable food grade storage container went on sale half price. All my qualms were taken care of! (Hush about my compulsion to buy 50 lbs flour to make one loaf a week.)
So, here I am at the cabin with my two grand sacks of flour and I will not open them. Duh? I left the nifty storage containers in town, a nearly three hour round trip to go fetch. That will teach me not to be in such a blasted rush to pack up and head to the cabin on Friday evenings. As if a lesson like that would diminish the siren call of home come Friday. Next week to get started on it will be soon enough.