Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Week of October 2014

Mornings are dark, temperatures are dropping, rain is more frequent, the apples are ripe, and the fireplace is glowing with coals every night.   It’s Fall.

Last weekend we picked 147 pounds of apples and made hard cider as follows

8% Crab Apples  (Astringent)
56% McIntosh (Tart)
21% Honey Crisp (Sweet)
15% Macoun  (Aromatic)

Specific Gravity 1.050
pH 3.34

I added 30ppm of Potassium Metabisulfite to kill wild yeasts and after 24 hours added 5 grams of Pasteur Champagne Yeast and 6.25g Yeast Nutrient.

The Speidel fermenters will keep the juice protected from dirt and bacteria for 14 days and the fermented juice will have a specific gravity of 1.0000 with a 6% alcohol.

Then I’ll add Wyeast 4007 Malo-Lactic cultures and age it over the winter

In March, I’ll  add 4 ounces of dextrose for a slight effervescence  (2.5 VCO2) and bottle it in swing top 16 ounce containers.

Best consumption will be in Fall 2015.

For the holidays, we’ll toast with the cider we made last winter.

On the animal side, we continue to wait for our next baby alpaca.   There are only two possibilities - a false pregnancy (possible but unlikely) or an extra long gestation.  Alpaca typically have an 11.5 month gestation but 15 months is possible.   A baby born in winter would require the use of a “cria coat” - a down jacket for the baby.   We’ll see.  The barn loft is now filled with 300 bales of second growth hay.   Grain and alfalfa are fully stocked for winter.   The heated buckets are in place and we’ve touched up the windows/paint in the barn to keep everything warm.

Our duck with aspiration pneumonia continues on antibiotics and is still breathing hard.   It’s hard to find a duck specific veterinarian, but our large animal vet will visit next week for alpaca mom/baby care and will spend time with the poultry.

The work of the farm is slow evolving from harvest to winter planting, from forest management to wood splitting, and from outdoor projects to indoor projects.

We’ll complete the construction of the walk in refrigerator this weekend just in time for the flood of mushrooms that will be ready.   The oyster mushrooms have fruited like clockwork - golden oyster in August, Italian Oyster in early September, Gray Dove in mid-September, and Polar White in late September.   The remaining 7 varieties are cold loving so they’ll fruit in October.   We’re expecting 100’s of pounds.

I’ve been harvesting a few pounds of Shitake each day and they’ve been in lunchtime mushroom soup and dinner stir frys.

We’ll have more bee work this weekend, feeding the bees our homemade “bee tea” during the nectar nadir.   One of the hives was weak and we consolidated two hives together to give them critical mass for the cold days ahead.

It's a great time to a farmer.


dgrab said...

John, you're insane. I don't think I'd be able to pick almost two hundred pounds of any fruit or vegetable. Inspirational.

R said...

I'd really urge you to experiment with other yeast cultures. I'm using Safale Nottingham dry ale yeast but there are many other options. I'd also suggest trying a small batch with around 2oz. of ginger per gallon in the primary.

John Halamka said...

You'll see more stats in this week's Thursday post. A bushel is 42 pounds and I press 2.2 - 2.4 gallons/bushel