Seen In The Rain

Sunday afternoon I walked around the cabin and up the gravel road between rainstorms. Here are a few of the pictures.

Tree Against Storm

Road Water Ripple Dog Art
Fudge Found A Cup To Chew
Woods Water Narcs
Naturalized Narcissi Everywhere

Roadside w Fudge Whole Creek

Eroded Roots Side Wash w Fudgehead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was more than water!

Peach tree very close
Intrepid Peach Buds

 

Frog Flag Woods very Close
From the Front Porch
Woodland Cabin
My Favorite Sight On A Friday Night

 

The Apple Toy

Feb Cabin fruit tree lineI have a chewed up Winesap that is not going to make it. If everybody had as much trouble as me when it comes to fruit, the suppliers would not be able to give trees and plants away. Phooey.

You may know I work in town and only get home to the cabin on weekends. I have a small rocked front yard with the center cleared for a good-sized strawberry patch. My dwarf fruit trees live in big containers arranged around the patch. Last March one Friday, I rolled in after dark, so missed the tragedy on the snow covered ground.

That next morning I went out to check on my trees, to see the bud progress and look for bugs. I saw to my horror that one had been dragged away. I followed the dirt trail to the gnawed, misshapen fiber container. Then I spied the five foot switch in the weeds, chewed, that used to be a healthy second year Winesap Apple tree.

Thinking it might still be dormant enough, I replanted it. I sprayed it along with the others. I hoped. It really seemed like it might survive. Now I despair. Unlike the Gala, the Rome and the Yellow Delicious, this poor guy is brittle. No burgeoning buds. I can’t help but believe that if I could have found it much sooner I could have saved it. But I was 70 miles away.

I put a taller fence around the center garden patch. Ugly. However I do have indoor critters to raise my spirits…

Krink Beg 2Squirrel tableau WWJD Bear Chick Cracker More Cat Than Box Fatima RelaxedI

 

Luminary CatLab Dog by Keeping WatchColorful geckoNene Fairy penguinBeaverBat toy

Dreaming of Beverages To Be!

I made an astounding batch of mead a few years ago, but have been inhibited more recently by the high cost of authentic honey. Imagine, here at work I happened to see a little jar of honey with a local address! HoneyThe guy’s son works here! I haven’t had a chance to hook up with them yet, but did talk to a homesteader-type that works in the back and he verified that place, plus gave me a line on local sorghum molasses.

Wow! The fella really near the cabin had a bad sorghum year and had none for sale blog june 052this fall. Apparently 40 miles to the northwest, they did okay. I’ve been buying quart jars of sorghum from the IGA, and it is from Kentucky. I don’t brew with sorghum, but it is a local sweetener.

I’m a firm believer in buying locally when I can, but it can be tough finding these guys. I don’t know of a proverbial Farmer’s Market where I can find them…there’s a small one in Beaver Dam but it’s closed whenever I go by. I need to seek more diligently, there has to be something like that around.

As I let visions of ribbons of honey going into a fermentation bucket play in my brain, the homesteader fellow mentioned a variety case of stouts he’d recently tried. Stouts! I’m particularly fond of a thick oatmeal stout and made a fine batch of it once. As I told him, the cheater kits I get make six gallons of ales, Porters and Bitters. Stouts? Only about 4 gallons, and the kits cost more. Cabin June 2015 086Being frugal, I stick with Porter when I want something inky. Yet, he made a thirst for genuine 20W50 grade stout cry out, “Life is too short NOT TO!” I haven’t actually bought a bottle of beer in years, but if I did I would seek out an Old Peculiar. They aren’t stouts, but are so good and any stout lover ought to appreciate them. If you haven’t tried one of those yet, I encourage you to get directly on it! Theakston’s Old Peculiar.

News Flash: Both the county I live in and the one a half a mile south of me are dry, as are half of Kentucky’s 120 counties. That means no alcohol sales, no beer in a pub, no wine with your meal, no picking up a six-pack at the grocery. The south county just had a referendum. The Baptists rallied their congregations. By 54%, they elected to stay dry. My county is going to vote soon. That’s not why I make my own (I love to make things), but it is very handy that I do!

 

C- Fermentation Grade

By now, all of the ales and wine I put up should be drinkable, particularly the ones put up in June and July. So far, I have not tried any of the new wine since I had a case left from last year. I have tapped the ale. Two different batches.

Phooey gooey, Looney Looey! Apparently I slacked on the bottling sugar because both of the first batches have come out under-carbonated. Headless Horsemen. Grrrrrr. The initial batch is close to flat and the second is a little better. Woe if they’re all like that! Bet you cash money they are. I was on a roll and made two and three batches at a time. Grrr. Grrr. Howl. Grrr.

Beer 007

At first I was sorely tempted to empty all (remaining) bottles of that flat batch back into a bucket, add a tad of yeast and a bit of corn sugar. Rebottle. Try in a month. Now after imbibing quite a few, the common refrain comes to mind: “The more I drink, the better it tastes!”  I did made a boatload this year, so maybe I’ll give rebottling a shot anyway. If it doesn’t turn out, I still have the wine. What kind of confidence is that? Rebottling will be fine unless I overdo the carbonation and uncap a geyser or the bottles explode. Yike!

This did not happen before. I know the problem. I relied on my more and more fallible memory. I my books I have the lead character befriend an alien AI that offers her and those she nominates a marvelous chip in the brain. All endowed are in the AI intranet. They have access Beer 008to masses of information and instantaneous help. They have memory augmentation that would prevent not putting enough bottling sugar in not one or two, but all this year’s ale batches.

I will let you know one way or the other. I have several more cases probably affected, so if anyone has constructive advice, speak up! Even if you’re from outer space!

September Butterflies

Woods  Blue ButterflyEvery year in the dog days of late summer, I get dozens of spicebush swallowtail Butterfly road 2butterflies congregating on the grave road where it bends at the base of my driveway. Ages ago a gravel truck put a but rut between the road and the drainage ditch. That rut retains water. The combination of the hot afternoon sun on the gravel, the fine limestone dust and the shallow water draws these guys like a magnet. I drive very slowly to let them fly away. Few folks do…

Butterfly roadButterflies 001

Cabin June 2015 035

There are also brilliant fritillaries, red admirals, sulphurs, tiger swallowtails and some fast little fellas that may be skippers.

As the weather cools, this beauty will end, sigh.

End of Sept Cabin 044

 

End of Sept Cabin 018

Water the Filberts!

I get a newsletter from Chelsea Green, a homestead and resilient farmer kind of publisher. I like adding nuts into my whole wheat bread and gosh, they’re expensive. I tried planting English walnuts a decade ago and they would still be maturing if they’d lived. I am not that fond of the common black walnuts around here though I do use them. I’m not generally one of those instant gratification types, however three years for a filbert, AKA hazelnut, to mature is a persuasive argument for them.

Filbert Dead 4Alas, the State of Kentucky apparently has some pernicious anti-filbert disease rampant such that nobody grows them here. Ha! Not until an outfit called Badgersett hybridized some resistant ones. They have a research station where they have many versions of filbert depending on what you want, geared toward the commercial growers.

I got six in the mail. Their customer service is slow and frustrating but the little seedlings eventually arrived with each in its own cozy tube (hence they call them ‘tublings’) and I planted them according to instructions, taking all the precautions against squirrels I could. You see, these seedlings still have their little nut attached and would seem to present a great temptation Filbert Liveto the fluff-tailed rodents.

One positively (negatively?) dried up in a blink, prompting me to dedicate myself as Aquarius the Water Bearer (actually I’m under Cancer the Crab). Two more succumbed during August. One seemed to be hanging in there last Friday, but this Monday it was a goner. ONE SURVIVOR! Isn’t this tiny fella a true beauty? This tender darling deserves an extra dollop of attention.

 

A Disappointment and a Funny

blog june 068I crowed about the bread conditioner and gluten and the healthy ingredients. I gave myself unwarranted confidence. Sunday I made a Sally Lunn with 2/3 whole wheat and a handful each of blueberries and walnuts, my standard. Instead of molasses, I used demara sugar. I’ve never had trouble with a Sally Lunn.

This loaf came out half the height I expected. A little better than that, but not lofty like the others Dogged if I know why. I did use half the conditioner as usual as I thought I was being to profligate with it. I may have cut back too much but thought it only affected texture.

Yes, yes, I know: Measure twice, bake once. The main thing might be not enough of the demara sugar; I usually put a calibrated slurp of sorghum molasses in but don’t have the feel for how much of the sugar. I’m ‘sticking’ with sorghum molasses for the foreseeable future.

Here’s the funny, the Dog Puzzle on the front porch!

Dog Puzzle 2

Making Wine Is Healthy?

Labor Day signals the waning of summer. It sends a strong signal to me that I’d better get all my fermentation done. Fermentation does best, especially for the ale, in a warm house. I am really frugal with using heat that costs me so summer ’tis the season. Therefore today there is a batch of old ale, a batch of Yorkshire bitter and three batches of red wine in fermentation.Cabin June 2015 087

I think I have the hundred bottles I need for the ales, unless some are uncappable. Better find some spares. Okay for the ales. What about the wine?

There are enough bale-top Italian wine bottles for one six-gallon batch, maybe. There are enough plastic fruit juice bottles (think Cabin June 2015 074cranberry juice) for one batch and part of the third one. Time to drink up that healthy fruity juice, at least four half-gallon bottles of it, by next weekend!

You Need A Dowser!

I mentioned my water quality and well recently. This is a true story. When I moved from sunny California back to Kentucky to Cabin June 2015 036build the cabin so many years ago, I needed a well – the place was all trees and county water didn’t run there. A fellow came out from Princeton (Kentucky) and asked where I wanted it. As someone immersed in a very technical field for the previous 16 years, I expected he would survey and probe or whatever, use geological survey maps and check the characteristics of neighboring wells and thus tell me where to site it. Very seriously, he explained the hollers and benches in the geology make the aquifer fold around and features could easily vary every few yards. A friend lightly commented that with all of the springs and creeks about, we should be able to stick a pipe anywhere and get water. The driller gave him the eye and said he could drill us 10 holes, all dry and we would pay for every one because he cases (uses pipe) as he drills – you need a dowser.
Cabin June 2015 017
It so happened, the driller said his son was a dowser and he could show one of us what his son did.  Always adventurous, I said would try so he taught me how his son did it. We cut a cherry stick and and I practiced holding it level, loose and springy. He direct me to start pacing across the property with the intent to site a good well. The exhileration I felt when that stick decisively pointed down is unmatched to date. He said that indicated one line, now I had to walk from a quarter turn out to see where the lines intersected. I calmed myslef down and did it, finding the intersection.
All the while, my mind was trying to figure how that stick in my hands Cabin June 2015 011could be so sensitive to the water. Magnetic? EMF? That’s when the driller confounded me. He said to think about where we would hit water, one pace away would equal 10 feet deep. Okie-dokie, sounds hokey. I got an indication 3 paces (30 feet) away, but he said that was surface water, to keep going. By then I couldn’t stop, I had to have the map. I had a so-so indication at 50 feet, a good one at 80 feet and a trickle at 100.  On I trod: white sand at 140 feet, an excellent dip indicating a generous flow.
He scheduled us in. He drilled and hit each spot predicted. At 100 feet we had enough water for just us, but the driller had mentioned the white sand aquifer had pristine water – I wanted it. We hit a grand gush at 140 feet, the beautiful silvery-white sand. I have the best water ever, never treated, I could bottle it, 20 years and still going strong – aside from the occasional chunk of mud.

Sweet Fern

There’s a shady spot behind the cabin garage where rain drips off of the gutterless roof. After about 15 years of mowing the Cabin June 2015 012area 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.TN Plant Nursert Logo

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.

Cabin June 2015 041

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…