Apple Wine

A few weeks ago, I put out the call looking for locals who had apple trees with apples that they weren’t going to use.
Said we’d happily come out and pick the trees, take away the apples and return with a few bottles of apple wine.
Got a few nibbles, but mostly it was people who wanted me to make them an entire 5 gallon batch, plus pick their tree…one woman told me I could have all the half rotten ones on the ground if I picked the good apples for her.
🙄

And then, I got a message from a friend of friends, a local horse woman, who had an apple tree, and hankerin’ for a few bottle of wine.
Well, with a little back and forth, we set a date, met up and I came away with a bag of roughly 50lbs of apples.
Gorgeous, sweet, crunchy eating apples…perfect for a batch of wine.
After I ate a couple. 😉

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Way back when we were in the city, our tree there was producing 250-300lbs of apples a year.
We could only eat so many, so I started making and canning juice.
But I got tired of the old cook it on the stove top, strain it through cheesecloth method of making juice, and went to my parents and stole (with permission) my Dad’s juicer.
Now?
I make juice by running the apples through the juicer.

Big bowl of sliced apples, ready to be run through the juicer.

Once the juicing is done, the mush that comes out the other side is put into a mesh bag.
That goes into the primary fermenting pail, with the juice itself.
I want aaaaaaalllllllll the apple-y goodness going into my wine. 😉

Cores get cooked down and strained for juice…nothing gets wasted here!

Once the cores have given up everything they had, those get tossed to the pigs.
Pigs ❤ love ❤ apples!
The juice is then added with the other juice and the mush to the primary fermenter.

From there I add sugar, pectic enzyme (if I have it on hand…with the cooked juice, the wine finishes with a creamy mouth feel with out the pectic enzyme. Some people don’t care for it, but I don’t mind it, so I don’t get frantic if I don’t have the pectic enzyme to add), k-meta and water to 6 gallons.
I let it sit for 24ish hours, then pitch the yeast and add some yeast nutrient.

That’s all there is to it.
Over the next week, I stir the pail a few times a day, and squeeze the bag of mush.
After a week or so, I pull out the bag of mush…that goes to the pigs…and depending on the specific gravity reading, I’ll either give it a few more days in the pail or rack it off to a carboy.
Once it’s on the carboy, sealed with an air lock, I let time do it’s work.
Anywhere from 2-5 months.
Honestly, I put it in a corner and forget about it.

After a while, I’ll come back to it, rack it off the stuff at the bottom (the lees), stabilize it and usually I’ll sweeten it.
Typically with some raspberry syrup…because apple raspberry wine is fan-effing-tastic!
And then, into bottles for a few more months.

All told, it’ll take anywhere from 4-12 months before it’s in the bottle and ready to drink.
Trust me though, it’s worth the wait!

Linking up with September Days at The Hearth and Soul link party hosted by April J Harris.

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Random Chicken Picture

Today is Friday the 13th.
Tonight is the full moon.
It’s also the Harvest Moon.

I am hoping that it’s nice enough tonight that I can get out and take some pictures of the moon.
Weather network tells me it’s supposed to be clear, so fingers crossed!

In the meantime, here’s a random chicken picture.

They’re both from my first ever hatching.
White one is a rooster. Handsome devil, but not likely to stay in the breeding program.
The other one, well, not sure if that’s the hen or the roo…we’ve got a few with colours like that.
I still haven’t decided which rooster I plan on keeping out of the 2 hatches.
We easily have enough hens for 2 boys, so we’ll keep a 2nd for extra hatching eggs come spring.
Next Fall, we’ll look for new blood and swap out at least one of the boys.
Or, sometime during hatching season, I’ll buy some eggs from someone and hatch out with hopes of getting a new rooster.

We’ll see when the time comes.

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Ducks in the Garden

I know, I know…

I kept saying I was going to stick the ducks in the garden when it was all done.
I said it last year.
I said it in the spring, thinking they’d help with early, pre-planting weeding.

But, it never got done.
Until now!!

Behold…ducks in my garden!

There were a little put out by this move…

Brown duck is accusatory duck. 😂😂😂

But then, they discovered the seeds on the long grass and started eating…

‘Kay, maybe not so bad…

They have 3 places for shelter…the 2 compost bins, which are empty, with the doors off. And a crate that they’ll all fit into if they choose to cuddle together.

Donald…yeah, well, my Hubby named him.
He’s a handsome duck.
And he likes having 5 wives. 😂😂😂

And then, the girls found the pool…because ducks have to have a pool!

Oh the excitement!!

Splashy splashy…

So they’ll stay in the garden for a month or so, eating weeds, bugs, and fertilizing.
Then we’ll move them back to the coop when the weather turns towards colder.

Sharing with the Simple Homestead bloghop hosted by Oak Hill Homestead.

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Good Morning!!

It’s been a crazy week again.

Finally finished canning that 300lbs of tomatoes.
With a final count of:

39 quarts whole tomatoes
19 quarts basic tomato sauce
78 pints basic tomato sauce
13 pints pizza sauce
11 half pints pizza sauce
and
4 1/2 gallons tomato juice (to add to green tomato wine)
2 lbs of skins to dehydrate

Plus roughly 4 ice cream pails (gallon sized) of seeds and skins that the pigs loved.

It’s been a big push to get it all done before anything started to go bad.
But now it’s done and on the shelf. Yay!
I think we should be ok for tomato products this winter…though I bet we’ll run out of pizza sauce first.
Just a feeling I have. 😉

Next up, apples!

Our odyssey apple tree gave us some big, beautiful apples this year.
Not many…by the time the wind was done, and I had a couple to taste test, we had 8 apples left.
But still. That was our first on Farm grown apples and they were sooooo good! 🙂

Since we didn’t have enough for a batch of wine, I put out a call on Facebook for anyone who has a tree, but isn’t going to use the apples, to let us come pick.
Well, friend of a friend got a hold of me and told me she’ll pick out her tree for a couple bottles of wine in return.
DONE!!
So now I’ve got 50ish lbs of apples to process and start a batch of wine with.
Last year’s apple wine was **amazing** so I’m hoping to replicate that this year.

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Yesterday life changed for the remaining birds from the original hatch of 18.
We kicked them out of the coop they were living in.
They’ve been running with the bigger chickens all day for the past few weeks. It was time to get them integrated into the main coop for overnights as well. So when we let them out yesterday, we closed thier coop back up so they couldn’t go to bed there last night.
When we went to put everyone to bed, we found this clump of chickens, with their protective brown duck mama, cuddled up in a corner under a shade over hang.
*Not* a safe place to spend the night, for sure!
So we had to pick everyone up and take them to the main coop and put them in for the night.
The whole time the brown duck mama was kvetching at Hubby for stealing her “babies”.
😂😂😂

This morning, when we opened them up, those poor little chickens didn’t want to come out.
Everyone else, the layers, the rooster, the ducks, they all come boiling out like crazed wasps to get the to food…not these guys. They were so unsure of coming out. lol
They’ll get it. It’s just going to take a day or two.

So now, the 2nd hatch 17 are in the meat chicken house, with more space and a small yard for them to enjoy.
They’ll stay there for a couple of weeks before we let them run free with all the bigger chickens.
And then we’ll integrate them into the main coop too.
By the time Fall hits hard and stays, we’ll know better who’s a hen, and who’s a rooster.
We’re planning on keeping 1 rooster to go with The Highlander, and the rest, well, they’ll go to Sausage Maker’s Camp.

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Finally, I did manage to get out at sunrise and take some new pics of the horses.
And this adorable one of my photography helper, MaxCat:


Have a great week folks, and if you liked this post, or any other, feel free to buy me a coffee!

Sept. 1st. Already!

Just plain busy here.
300 lbs of tomatoes going into jars as simple sauce, pizza sauce and whole.
Put 16 dozen cobs of corn into jars. Not the whole cob, but 16 dozen cobs worth…cut off and packed into jars, then pressure canned.
Got the chicken backs/necks done into soup…and into jars.
Helped a friend move yesterday.
Working on sourcing a bulk purchase of carrots to put up for winter.
Got apples coming Tuesday for making wine.

No pictures because there’s been no time with the camera.
But, shelves are filling.
Freezers are too.
Wines and beers are brewing.
Pigs are down to the last 8ish weeks before freezer camp.

Oh!!
And I confirmation of my winter hay from our supplier.
*THAT* took a huge weight off.
It’s been a hard summer for hay growers, and until I had actual confirmation from him, I didn’t want to say anything…he’s a good, honorable guy, so if there was a problem supplying us, he’d let us know asap. I just needed that confirmation to ease the worry though…lol
As a bonus, the price is the same as last year too.
I’m a happy, happy horse owner.
So between our hay, the oat straw bales we’re getting off our own land this year (not the whole harvest of straw, because we lease to someone who sells the straw to someone else, but enough to get us through) and the daily beet pulp/alfalfa cube/flax supplement, my nags oughta do fine and dandy this winter.

It’s coming together folks.
And that’s a good thing.
Winter is coming.

Blessed Lammas

Mid summer already.
Holy smokes, this year…after the slowest passing winter, this summer seems to be flying by us.

Things are kicking into high gear here.
Meat chickens are graduating to freezer camp…the first 10 went last weekend.
The rest go this weekend.
The freezers are being cleaned out of last year’s meats and turned into sausages.
Yeah, I’m really on this kick of making sausages.
The roosters from last year were so flavorful, but not good eating on the bbq. They were just too tough.
We bbq a lot.
But cooked low and slow, they were amazing!
So I figure I’ll take what’s left, grind with some bacon and seasonings and make sausage.
I also have some of last year’s pork left that I’ll do the same with.

We found some bags of chopped green tomatoes in there too.
So the next round of green tomato wine starts this weekend.
As well as a grapefruit one…we got a fantastic deal on MinuteMaid frozen concentrates. I wanna say it was 3 for $1.
Since my lime wine turned out pretty decent (still have to bottle that one) I figured I’d try grapefruit.
And then, I have my dandelion petals ready to start a small batch of Odhinn’s Mead.

I’m still fighting weeds in the garden.
I think I will forever and ever.
That’s just the nature of gardening.
But, my beans are in full flower, the tomatoes are too, and I don’t have any clue what’s in there for carrots.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weeds sheltered the teeny seeds enough to let them get a good hold on growing, but I’m not really expecting anything.

Ducks have resumed laying eggs.


Which is good because the last nest the one hen sat on was all rotten eggs.
We’ve seen the drake doing his job, so I’m collecting a dozen eggs and firing up the incubator.
I didn’t want to run it again ’til spring, but this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.
I’ll be watching out for a sale on 2nd one too…that way in spring, once the ducks pick up laying after their winter break, I can run batches of chickens and ducks at the same time.

Haying is moving right along.
I’m putting up as much as I can, while I can.
I had the opportunity to purchase a 2nd scythe. One with a longer blade. Oh how nice it glides through the grasses!!
It’s given me the chance to cut an extra area that I couldn’t do with the shorter ditch blade…so I’m a happy girl!

Plus, the longer blade makes 2nd cut here go so much more smooth!
The short blade isn’t meant for those later in the season softer grasses, so it tends to rip instead of cut. No matter how sharp it is.
I do have to fix the tip of the new-to-me one, but aside from that, I’m even making the snath (which is just a hair too short for me) work with a change of posture.

So that’s where we’re at here.
Working, working working.
Prepping for winter.
Thinking about plans for next year already.
I feel like this is all stuff I’ve shared before, but really, day to day right now is a lot of “more of the same” with only small changes.
Feel free to ask anything though, if there’s something y’all are curious about.

Ruby enjoying a nap in the sunshine…

Around the Farm

We’ve had sunshine.
We’ve had heat.
We’ve had rain.

Weeds in the garden are fighting me…hard.
But in some places I’m winning.
🙂

I have a whole bunch of grass down for hay.
Actually, should be baling it today.
Then I have more to cut along our property.
This year…whew, every little bit is going to count this year.
So even though I’m tired af, I’m still going out and cutting, raking, turning, drying, baling…
Oy, and the horsefly bites!!
Yikes!
Bruises upon bruises from the rotten little s.o.b’s.

But, there’s some good stuff too…

There’s beets in them thar weeds!!
😂😂😂

beans are turning into flowering bushy masses…

look at all the apples!
*swoons*
So. Happy.

It’s supposed to be one of those Russian Giant sunflowers.
Not very tall, but I’m hopeful for a large head of seeds.

Flowers on the strawberries…

And there’s the pigs…

naptime

Oh George…

George has happily chewed the side out of the shelter so that, on super hot days, he can stay inside in the shade and still munch away on the thistles and other garden weeds I toss to the pigs.
Whatever works for him, so long as he’s growing.
😉

alfalfa blossoms

dragonfly

There are so many dragonflies here this year!
I love seeing them flitting around.
And they make the poor chickens lose their minds, as the birds try to chase them to catch and eat.
Every now and then you’ll see a bird run by with one in her beak, but the dragonflies tend to be too fast for them.

the thistles are blooming…

Thinking I’m going to dry some for tea this year (thistle is good for liver health and is supposed to ease asthma attacks/symptoms)…but right now I’m mostly cutting them for the pigs and the poultry.
They all love thistles to eat.

And finally, because I haven’t shared a picture of her in quite some time…

Daphne