The Last Batches

Nose flattened on the old grindstone, I got all my beverages bottled last weekend! Hooray! That’s three of the six-gallon merlot wine batches, a six-gallon Old Ale and a six-gallon Yorkshire Bitter. That came to 34 fruit juice bottles of the wine and 44 bottles of the ales. For the uninitiated, scrounging, cleaning and sanitizing all of those bottles is more work than making the stuff.Beer 001

That’s all for this year; in fact this is the latest in the year I’ve put any up. Cleaning and stowing all of the fermentation buckets, the bottling buckets, the airlocks and stacking the final finished good really drove the end of summer theme into my brain.

Fermentation does not need to end, though, as I am a fermentin’ fool. In the past, I bought plain yoghurt from the grocery as a starter. Those batches turned out okay even if a little soupy. I remember making a slobber-good coffeecake with some of that, but it wasn’t too toothsome for straight eating. This time I bought a dried starter from Adventures in Homebrewing and some unflavored gelatin for a more robust ferment and for help with thickening. It’s on the calendar for next weekend!

Home Sweet Home

A friend of mind urged me to share why I don’t heat or cool my house. The cabin here looks rough on the outside, but it is nice inside with four pairs of skylights, lots of room, a huge library, a two car garage, two stories and a full basement. It also has a nice heat pump. I leave the heat on ‘frost watch’ (about 40 F) and don’t use the cooling at all.

You may think Kentucky isn’t that far north or south and it doesn’t matter, but 40 F in the house all winter needs to be experienced. Toothpaste doesn’t want to come out. Bread won’t rise. No brewing until late spring. The microwave fogs up when I heat something. The refrigerator won’t come on because it is set at 40F and when it doesn’t run, the freezer compartment doesn’t stay cold. The cats get VERY friendly, wanting to snuggle all the time. I have to leave the radio on all the time (standby) because if I turn it off, the circuits get condensation and I can’t turn it back on for a day or two. I have a wood stove in case the electric goes out.

Why? Because I think people, certainly Americans, are crazy about constantly either heating or cooling to get a perfect temperature. Is all of that energy consumption really worth you personal comfort? Do you wonder how much pollution and CO2 is associated with your demand for being able to wear a t-shirt inside all of the time? How much coal do you need ripped from the Kentucky countryside in order never have to wear a sweater?

I go home from work and , if it’s cold enough, change into my long  johns and add a sweater or sweat shirt and sweat pants. If it’s colder than that, I add a hip-length super-fleece jacket and pants. By layering as needed, I can stay cozy all the time, especially since I have a thermal blanket at the ready by my easy chair. In the summer I unlayer, usually ending up in a tank top and loose skirt. I have one window fan and lots of screened windows. The full basement helps moderate temperatures.

“I can’t do that, I have kids.” Right. You are teaching your kids that a constant, narrow range of comfort is normal and good. I was raised in a house heated by a Warm Morning coal store that sat in the kitchen. My job in the winter was to go outside to the coal pile and chip some from the ice and snow so Ma could start the stove up. My sisters, brother and I have few colds or other sicknesses and we know for a fact that winter is cold and summer is hot.

“I have a medical condition.” Do what your doctor says, I’m only trying to make you think. Thinking includes making an informed decision whether messing with the thermostat is proper for you or your family.

“I have a right to slurp up as much energy as I can pay for and don’t care about how much of the poisonous residue ends up in the air for little children to breathe.” I have nothing polite to say to folks like that.