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.
πŸ™„

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. πŸ˜‰

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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. πŸ˜‰

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.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

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Gosh It’s Hot

Hotter than balls…
Hotter than a nun’s…
Hotter than Hell…

Yup, it’s hot.
And I’m trying not to complain, because the alternative is cold…

Colder than a Witch’s…

So yeah, the heat is okay right now.
But some rain would be nice.
We’re not as dry as last year (so far) but we’re not where we should be. Once again, the garden is getting minimal watering.
The weeds are doing great! πŸ˜€
In among them, though, the rows of food crops aren’t doing too bad.
Beans are up and seem okay, same with carrots.
Damn barn swallows have been pulling out my beet seedlings.
Jerks.
Tomatoes…well, let’s just say I’m hoping for a tremendous sale on them again this year like we got last year. I’m not sure I’ll have much of anything. :/

Of the orchard…

2 apple trees have fruit on them…one has more than 20 apples!
So excited for those!
We planted that tree the year we moved here and this is the first year we’ve got fruit on it.
The honeyberries are done fruiting for the year.
I ate several big handfuls of them.
Nom!! πŸ™‚
And then I took cuttings in an attempt to propagate some more.
Fingers crossed they take!

Currants didn’t produce berries this year (even though they flowered) but are growing like crazy. They’re only 2 years old, so growth over berries is fine with me.

Pears seem to be decorations, because even though they keep growing, I’ve never seen flowers on them.
*shrug*
Fine. Trees are good no matter what, and they’re already established, so I’m not changing them out.

Chickens killed the strawberries I was gifted.
Jerks. 😑

Speaking of chickens…

Meaties are growing like crazy.
Another couple of weeks will see them going to freezer camp.
They’ll be 9 weeks on Tuesday.
We feed them soaked barley/wheat chop, which is not as high of protein as grower or layer feed.
Means they grow a bit slower, but, they’re also more active and they don’t drop dead of heart attacks, like CornishX are known to do.
So instead of 8 weeks, our birds grow for 10-12 weeks.
I prefer health over fast growing, personally.

Oh, and we bought a chicken plucker.
πŸ˜€ <— my face knowing I don’t have to hand pluck this year!!
It was listed for sale in a local Agriculture group and a friend gave me the heads up it was there…with a bit of back and forth, the seller and I made a deal (she was flippin’ amazing to deal with!!) and we got another super useful tool for the Farm.
So. Happy.

Eggies are growing too…learning free ranging bad habits from the current egg laying assholes. πŸ™„
Why I ever thought I’d be able to train the new ones to stay where they belong, I don’t know.
Wishful thinking?
Or plain stupidity.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Ah well.
Free ranging is fine during the day, and they’re learning to come back to the coop at night, so hey…happy chickens make happy food.
And we like eggs from happy chickens.

The 18 from my first round with the incubator are growing soooo well! Almost ready to move them into the poultry yard, after we integrate the meaties and eggies with the older birds.
And next weekend the next round is due to hatch…

All the eggs my broody duck were sitting on turned out to be duds.
So no ducklings…but we’re going to have to cull one of the hens.
She’s a mean little bitch who beats up on one of the nicer hens.
In fact she beat on her so bad one night in the coop, we’ve had to separate the injured one for a few weeks.Β  We did learn the injured one is great with chicks…so she gets to stay (the other 3 hens are fine with her) and the mean one will become burger.
There’s no room on my Farm for mean animals…and it’s certainly not a trait I want passed on when breeding resumes.

Then there’s the pigs…

Wow.
So they are 13 weeks old tomorrow and easily approaching 100lbs.
They have more than doubled in size since we got them…and they have until November to grow!
I’m really enjoying these ones.
Being Berkshire crosses they are much better suited to hot outdoor life. They love to play in the hose, and lay in the water pan, and flop belly down in the wallow…they’re friendly and curious and quite fun, actually.
I know by the time we’re getting close to freezer camp, I’ll be ready for them to go, but for now, I’m enjoying them.

Like today…
Hot as balls.
So I turn the hose on to fill the mud wallow.
George comes out of the shelter to flop into it.
Ginger and Sophie come to the trough to eat the fresh food I had just given them and George just looked too hot to bother with food…so for fun, I tossed the 3 chicken eggs I had with me into the wallow beside him.

Well…

You would have thought I’d thrown the bestest toy ever!

He spent the next 10 minutes rooting in the water/mud for these eggs, squealing happily and wagging his tail.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
This is why I love raising my own meat animals.
They should have the chance to have that kind of fun/excitement in their lives before becoming food.
❀

As for us humans…

The Kid graduated grade 12…

And Of course she had to pose with her Sable for pictures…Sable just wanted the cookie Kid was holding.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Hubby got injured at work, ending up with a couple stitches in his hand. Dork. πŸ™„

And me?
I’m hip deep in cutting hay.
‘Tis that time of year, and it’s looking like I should get a decent cut.
And if we get some rain, I may even get a good 2nd cut.
Fingers crossed.
πŸ™‚

The Garden So Far…

It’s been a busy weekend.
We have finally gotten the fencing up around the garden!
YAY!!
Now I’m working on planting without the help of asshole chickens-who-are-not-supposed-to-be-free-range-but-do-whatever-the-hell-they-want.

Yesterday I pulled out the biggest weeds from the first quarter of the garden, then planted a 20 ft row of beets, 5 20 ft rows of carrots (yes, we like carrots! between soups/stews, canned carrots for winter and fresh eating, there is never enough of them)

Then, I did a couple short rows of onions.
Today I plan to, if it doesn’t rain, get my leafy greens in…spinach, lettuce and radishes (I love the peppery flavour of radish greens πŸ™‚ ).

After that, it’s beans…hundreds of bean seeds, because like carrots, we love beans.
In soups/stews, in jars and fresh eating.
I could honestly plant my entire garden with beans and carrots and not have enough for the 3 of us.
One day, we’ll expand the garden even more and dedicate a larger area to both.

I’ve also been conditioning my straw bales for planting.
That should be this weekend.
I have 6 full medium square bales (average 400ish lbs) plus a 1/3rd of a bale that I just retied the string on.
That’s where my cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins and squashes will get planted.
I may also take one to plant sunflowers.
Ever since our first year here, I’ve been wanting to do a photo shoot with Sable eating sunflowers…because The Kid’s first garden was next to the pasture and that CinderBella ate every damn sunflower that bloomed…and did so with a huge equine grin on her face.
LOL!!
So I want to plant a bunch of them to give her a bouquet to nibble while I take pictures. πŸ˜‰

And then there’s the tomatoes to get in, and my grape plant.
Strawberries were planted, but attacked by chickens before the fence went up, so I’m watering and hoping they bounce back from those feathered assholes.

Once the tomatoes are in, and the seeds start coming up, I’ll be heavily mulching with straw.
I’m working towards the garden becoming no till.
I dislike running the rototiller just to mix up the soil and expose the good microbes to the sun…and it really does encourage weed seeds to grow.
So, I’m going no-till.
Lots of mulch, pulling weeds as needed and in the fall, with the fence in, the ducks will go there to finish any weeding before the winter hits.
My garden has great soil already, I just want to keep it that way. πŸ™‚
In the fall, we’ll add more rotted manure (because I have 3 poop factories working 24/7) and whatever straw bales from my bale gardening that are too decomposed to be grown in next year.

The chicks have been growing like crazy.
We cleaned up the old duck house, and the meat chicken house and both are ready for the meaties to make the transition to outdoor living.
Pretty sure that’s going to happen this coming weekend.
Then, if my incubator ever arrives…oy, the problems I’ve been having with Purolator!! That’s a whole different, expletive laden post, let me tell you…one the incubator arrives, I’ll fill it with eggs, and then we’ll have 3ish weeks to get the brooder cleaned out for the next round of chicks.
Home hatched chicks.
Eeeeee!! The excitement. πŸ˜€

Piglets will be arriving in about a week.
They’re ready to be off mama on the 27th. They’ll be 8 weeks by then, so should have a really good start.
We changed up the breed this year…thus far we’ve raised pinkies. But, they’re not bred for outdoor living like we like our pigs to live. It takes them time to adjust, time that should be spent growing. And while we’ve, for the most part, been happy with our end products, I feel we could do better with a heritage breed that’s bred for outdoor life.
So, with the help of a neighbour, we found 3 berkshire piglets.
I’m looking forward to seeing how our feed management and raising techniques work on these guys in comparison.

And finally, we have 1 duck and 1 chicken hen gone broody on a nest of chicken and duck eggs.
That started around the beginning of the month, so hopefully we’ll be seeing chicks from them soon.
They have this odd co-parenting thing going on, and I’m just letting them do their thing.
It’s either going to work or it’s not.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
πŸ™‚

gratuitous horse picture, because every post should have a picture of one of the Merry Mares. πŸ˜‰

Bacon Seeds

The bacon seeds have arrived!!

Just about 6 weeks later than last year.
But, life happens.
We were getting close to drought conditions right around when we normally would get piglets, and I was concerned about bringing more livestock onto the Farm without being 100% sure I could keep everyone watered and healthy on the well.

So, we waited.
Then we got amazing rainfalls (that took out my garden a time or two) and now we’ve had good, regular rains (which have been helping my garden…and the weeds in it!).
That eased my worries about water.
Then, we just had to wait for schedules to align to go pick these guys up…that was yesterday.

Behold, our cute little bacon makers!

Bums!

We brought home 6 little baconettes to grow for as long as possible before winter hits.
πŸ™‚

A Look Back at 2017

So, here we go into 2018.
Let’s take a last look back at 2017 first, ‘kay?

I’m not a Resolution kinda gal, but I do like that look back at the things that worked, the things that need a little tweaking and the things that were a fail. Then, we adjust from there, for the next year.
Plus, there’s all the pretty pictures to look at. πŸ˜‰

So, since we’ve got 12 months of stuff to look at, let’s get at ‘er…

January

Very first image of 2017…first one I shot, first one I shared.


No Yule season is the same without a Yule pony picture…Ruby took that to a whole new level by trying to eat one of the decorations.
Jerk. πŸ˜‰

“Hey Mom, you put apples on the tree??”
~Ruby

My Old Ladies… ❀
Practicing their long and low trot.
It may not look like much in a photo, but this is so beautiful in person…I could watch them do this all day long. Just look at how in sync they are here…gorgeous!

Holding the heat vent down…

It was a typical frigid winter, so Miss Daisy Mae did what any good cat does…stay warm on the heat vent, while I Dreamed about the garden and coming Spring.

My shoe box full of seeds…

February

February saw us playing in the snow…

I love this shot so much…feral or friendly Palomino?!?

Doing some hoof maintenance…

“Make sure it looks good too, Dad!”
~Sable

And doing portraits…

❀

❀

 

And then, there was this fun shot…

Who doesn’t like a pink mint?

March

March is when we start getting out more, thinking about the coming Spring. We can smell it on the wind, the snow is slowly melting…and the cats?

Ghost (in front) and Trouble

Out more, wandering, looking for trouble…but not these 2 ^^^ anymore. 2017 saw them become fat, lazy, neutered boys.
That’s a good thing, because those boys were going out fighting way too much!

“Do you mind??!?”
~Gabrielle

Gabrielle has a pee inside a hoof print in a snow bank.
Weirdo. LOL!!

Xena, asking for belly rubs…

Pretty Xena, enjoying the sunshine.

Max and Ruby

Aww, Max and Ruby. πŸ˜‰

Then, the water came…

Luckily, Lake Midnight didn’t stick around nearly as long this March.

Splashing in the puddle…

Oh, but my Girl made sure to play in it. Splashy ponies are so fun to watch. πŸ™‚ Do you see the heart I clipped into her coat? On her bum?

Then came the photo shoot to celebrate the arrival (if only on the calendar) of Spring!

“Oh! Hey Mama…whatcha doin'”
~Cookie

***Sigh***
“Seriously?!? Why do you keep doing this to me?”
~Astrid

“If I have to wear this, I want treats.”
~Sable

April

Easter, more portraits both at Home and at Home-away-from-Home, sleeping horses and mud…
So.
Much.
Mud.

Sable EasterPony

❀

❀

Oreo

Sable

The look I get when I wake Astrid from a snoring sleep…

And a muddy, stinky Palomino has a roll…

May

Pig babies!!!
Pig babies arrived in May…

Bacon Bits 2017

They are so cute when they’re little.
Before they figure out the Food Lady, before they fully understand their new world around them…I just want to snuggle them, and hug them, and pet them…LOL!!
But wait, later on, I’ll show you how much bigger they get…

This is our brave piglet…

See? Little, so adorable…
The grass is coming back, the sun is shining more, the Girls love to bask in the sunshine…they’re like giant cats in the sun.
Sunshine melts their bones into jelly. ❀

Sable just wanted me to know she was tired.

Ruby

Sunshine jelly bones means I get to practice my sunrise photography.
Sunrise is my favorite time of day to shoot. ❀

Ghost

June

By June, school is almost done for The Kid, the garden has seeds and some plants, and we’re looking ahead to meatie chickens…

Tilling my soon to be garden space…

The Kid forking green food to piglets…

Pig babies are figuring out, and loving the weeds getting forked to them…and growing like weeds too!

Andy Piggie says “Listen Food Lady, if you aren’t bringing us food, then why are you waking us up?”


Daphne rests after running like a maniac (her everyday normal) and throwing weeds around the yard, while barking and growling at them.

Having a rest in the long grass…

Max helps me in my early morning photography, and our Blonde Girl…

Sable looks on with interest…

Is bright gold after shedding out her winter fuzzies.

July

July brings us the first hay cutting…I did good this year!
Near onto 700lbs of cut with a scythe, hand raked and baled hay.
Yay, me!!

Filled, strings tied…

July also brings us flowers, rodeo trips and bugs…

❀

The air this bull got was amazing.

“Oh. Hello.
Did you want to pass?”

The deer in the middle of our road…we’d just turned off the highway towards the Farm, and youngster was standing there. Such a beautiful image of our road to Home.


All those bugs means smudge fires…Our Ruby, she does love a good smokey fire. πŸ˜‰

“It’s just so relaxing, Mama!”
~ Ruby



August

Blankets, a birthday, apple slices, ducks and more…

“Ermagerhd!!! I’m being eat…oh, wait, this ain’t so bad.”
~ Cookie

Old Ladies need to know they *can* wear blankets. Especially when it’s frigid cold, and Mama needs to know Old Ladies are safe. ❀

❀

I turned 45.
My Pony and I had a photo shoot together…
My Kid captured this perfectly.
I love everything about this shot.
❀

“Oh, hello there Ladies…would you like some apple slices?”

My 4 moochers…
Kid has a bucket full of apple slices, I lay on the ground by the fence.
Wholly and completely inspired by Underlook and his Under-Horse project…

Ohoh!!
Some one got a sour one!

And then these 2 arrived…thanks to a friend from the Stable…

Quack quack quack

Gotta tell ya, these 2 boys have grown a lot!
Looking forward to spring, when I can get them some girlfriends. πŸ™‚

Heh.
The ears tell you how much she appreciated being photographed.

My BabyGirl doing a normal horse thing…enjoying the relief from bugs in the smoke of the smudge. ❀

September

My biggest accomplishment for September was helping my Cookie get over her fear of having her breakaway halter taken off.
It was huge for her…
In fact, you can read about it here:
They Don’t Need To Understand

❀

October

In October I met a horsewoman that I have long admired at a clinic I was beyond excited about…

This was a preview image from the Anna Blake clinic…
I still have to finish those images to share them.
But, I learned a lot at the clinic and come home ready to share that knowledge with my mares.

Winter coats are more obvious…

Fluff from the poplars rests on long fuzzy hairs…

Naps in the sun are still a priority…

And the Pig Babies begin their journey to Freezer Camp…
See? Not so little and cute any more!

Joining their neighbours, the meat chickens…

November

The land is getting ready for sleep, its cooling off, and we’re ready to do the annual Remembrance Day shoot…

This year I wanted a simple image, with a big impact…
A yellow ribbon, placed on one who would always wait for her Love to come Home to her…


2 days after I took this picture November broke me.
Ripped my Heart right out of my chest and destroyed me.
November 13th.
I can never, ever forgive November for this…

Sable saying goodbye…

November 13th…
My Heart.
My Soul.
My Best non-human Friend.
My Cookie…crossed Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, taking a huge chunk of my Heart with her.

Hubby took this while I was working on convincing her to wear that ribbon…she loved cats. I love that they’re sharing breath here…Coal was an amazing comfort to her. She was the only cat other than Cookie’s Felix who was allowed to sit on her back. ❀

A funeral pyre fitting for my Warrior Queen.
πŸ˜₯

December

I have no pictures for December.
I’ve taken nothing on the Farm since that fire.
I am, in truth, so glad that 2017 is finally done.

I have things to do.
I have places to go.
I have things to learn.
I have a Heart to heal and a camera to learn how to love again.
That’s all on the list for 2018.

Hope you’ll stick with us on that Journey.

Happy New Year.

And Then There Were 2…

We’ve been working on sending the pigs to Freezer Camp.
So far, 4 have gone to Camp, with 2 left to take care of this weekend.
We’re down to AndyPiggie(picture) and CharlottePiggie.

First to go to Camp were:

1. LitaPiggie, who was the biter and meanest pig of the 6…she was also the one who kept climbing onto the pig shelter and trying to make the leap into the chicken yard.

I won’t miss that miserable b***h at all.

2. ImeldaPiggie, so named because she loved shoes. My crocs the most…she also enjoyed a good back scratch and a belly rub. Of all the pigs this year, she was the sweetest girl.

3. MaryPiggie. The runt of the 6, and the toughest. This girl fought for food every darn day, even with 3 feeding stations. She just wanted all the food, all the time. Healthy and happy otherwise, just hated sharing food with her piggie sibs.

4. GeorgePiggie. Our smallest boy, who turned out to be quite the chunk. Had he not been castrated before coming to us, he likely would have made quite the boar for a small farmer like us. George rivaled Imelda for friendliness.

We’re getting into weather that is not conducive to pink piggies doing well outside. Cold like we have now (a record of -21*C this morning!!) means pink piggies start to lose body condition, and can actually freeze to death.
Certainly not what we want for these guys.
Pinkies are not meant for outdoor 24/7/365, that’s for sure!
So, to make sure they’re still happy and healthy until their date with the Freezer Camp director, they get ample straw bedding in their shelter, to snuggle down into and stay warm.
They also get 5-6 hot meals a day.
Smaller than when there was 6 of them, and just enough that they can finish it each time.

I use a mixture of hot water, left over coffee (hey, it happens sometimes! πŸ˜‰ ), and a pint of milk poured over their grains for each meal. And, the past week they’ve been getting a 1/2 cup of yogurt too, just to make sure tummies are working well and processing the food.

Seems like a lot of work for pigs we’re just going to kill, right?
It is.
But, the rule here is Happy Food Tastes Better and the best way to keep pigs happy is with a full belly and warmth.
Just because we’re going to butcher them, doesn’t mean that they deserve a lesser quality of life.

As far as we’re concerned, they get the same standard of care as any other animal here.

Hot mashes for horses?
Yup.
Hot mashes for chickens and ducks?
Yup.
Hot mashes for piggies?
Yup.
Really, what’s one more hot mash to make up, to keep the animals that will feed us for the winter happy and healthy?
That, to me, is time well spent.