This past week I discovered we have a chokecherry tree in our pasture.
The same pasture the horses are in.
This is both a good thing to have, and a very, very bad thing to have.
It’s good because chokecherries make an amazing wine.
A rich red that, done right, is absolutely delicious.
It’s bad because chokecherries are highly toxic to horses.
As in, death can occur within minutes of eating any part of the bush/tree.
So, obviously, this cannot stay.
We’ll be cutting and burning it out this weekend.
Thankfully, The Merry Mares are not in the front pasture right now because we have some visitors for the next month:
We were asked by a local honey farmer if we’d be willing to let him put some hives in our pasture for a month or so…in exchange, we’d get some honey.
Uh, okay. 🙂
So the horses are locked out of the front, because I have absolute faith in 1. Sable to try to make friends with the bees and get stung (wherein we’d find out she’s deathly allergic to stingy/buzzy things and have to use aaaaaaalllllll The Kid’s epi-pens to keep her alive ’til Dr. Neil got here) 2. Astrid to eat bees as they come out of the hive to do their jobs and 3. both Ruby and Astrid knocking hives over to get at the sweet yummy goodness inside (being the sweet toothed Walking Stomachs that they are)…
The farmer insisted that horses are fine with the hives, and we didn’t have to lock them out, but really, it’s easier this way…plus then we can just leave the gate open for when he has to come check on them and do whatever they need to do (I know nothing about beekeeping other than the Winnie the Pooh thing of I love to eat honey!).
And then we can deal with the chokecherry safely.
The other day I picked the chokecherries off (there wasn’t nearly as many as I had hoped there would be(e)…😂😂😂) and popped them in the freezer.
I have 2 black currant bushes that have been producing amazingly well this year, but they’re not all ripening at the same time, so, I pick them as they ripen and freeze.
To go with that, the hawthorn tree is *loaded* with berries. That will be ready soon…I have to keep an eye on them so the wild birds don’t get them before I do…
That will give me a 3 berry combination for my Samhain wine.
(If talk of spirits and witchcraft bothers you, stop reading here…)
Back in 2020 on Samhain (Hallowe’en for most) I crafted a beet root wine.
It was done with intention.
Beets were pulled from the ground on the day, and with a prayer of thanks to the Earth for growing food for us.
The evening was thick with energy and power, between being the time when the Veil between the world is the thinnest and we were in the midst of an incredibly powerful windstorm.
Normally I’ll push the wind limits for a bonfire on Samhain, but that year even I wasn’t chancing it.
But we did do the re-setting of the wards around the Farm, with salt and incantations.
And then I came in and brewed up the beet root wine…
Last Samhain, when re-setting the wards (basically an energy grid fueled by the land and our intentions to keep all the nasty shit/energy out of the Farm) I used the beet root wine as the foundation, with salt again.
And what does beet root wine taste like?
So I still have this year’s bottle for this year’s celebration.
I also have the “1 for whenever…” bottle.
But after that?
Well, this year is the year to brew up another Witch’s Brew for next year.
And this year’s brew will be based on the chokecherry (powerful enough to kill in minutes, but sweet enough to make delicious wine), black currants (sweet and sour), and hawthorn berries (like chockecherry, powerful enough to kill, but makes a sweet, fruity, delicious jelly and wine).
It’ll be put together on Samhain and it will age the full year before bottling on Samhain.
Some will be kept for the bottling year’s Working, and the rest will be bottled for subsequent years.
I hope, after a few years of crafting wines like this, to have a nice selection of spiritually and power based wines to pick from as needed.
(end witchcraft talk for those who want to come back in)
Earlier in the week Hubby made a pit stop at the local brew shop we frequent for some supplies for me:
The oak chips go into a plain sugar shine to impart a whiskey flavouring.
I haven’t gotten up to doing full grain mashes yet, so this is how I make “whiskey”.
The bag of juniper berries is to impart a gin flavouring.
The really big bag underneath is 2.2lbs of elderberries.
That will be used for tinctures, fermented honey, a small batch of wine, and immune boosting syrup.
And that bag of yeast?
Lemme tell you about that bag of yeast…
That there is 100 packets of Super B wine yeast. Good for all sorts of fruit wines, works well in most temps. (obviously extremes will stress it), and has an alcohol tolerance to 18%.
It’s a lovely all around easy to use wine yeast.
And work gangbusters for mash bases for shines too.
It’s listed on the brew shop’s website for $.25/packet.
Great frickin’ price, since it’s normally $1.75. And even that’s a great price compared to other shops where the EC 1118 equivalent is $2.99/pckt.
I took a chance on Super B several years ago when the shop had a “all you can fit in your hand for $5” sale.
For $5 I got 48 packages (hooray for freakishly large hands for a woman!!) and even though they were dated 2014, I haven’t had a single one not do the job.
So, when I saw $.25/pckt, I asked Hubby to zip over for 100 of them.
It turned out the “all you can fit…” sale was still going on.
And the fellow ringing up the purchases said “huh. Looks like a handful to me”.
So my bag of yeast was a whopping $5.
That’s freaking awesome.
So right now I have a giant sugar mash going, for making tincture bases.
Then I have some frozen pineapple (Yay for the Flashfood app, where you can get boxes of cheap fruits!) to make a pineapple wine. Made one earlier this year with brown sugar…OMG.
One of the best wines I’ve made!
So that’s next.
Then I have some strawberries in the freezer (I actually made it out picking, so froze enough for a batch of wine) that I’m going to mix with some homegrown rhubarb.
I hate rhubarb as a fruit, but as a wine?
Yeah, there’s a reason I’ve got a handful of rhubarb plants going now.
And after that?
Well, I just don’t know.
I suspect it’ll be another green tomato, since I bottled that (and distilled some) and I’m sure there will be green tomatoes in my garden at the end of the season.
There’s always an apple based something or other to do too…our apple trees have a good amount on them for young trees, so maybe that…
Or maybe I’ll get brave and try a carrot wine.
I know it sounds crazy, but who would have though green tomato would be good?
And it is, it’s one of my go-to wines to make.
Why not carrot too?