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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Buy Me A Coffee

I’m sure y’all have seen this at the end of the last few posts…
“If you like this post, feel free to buy me a coffee”

Buy Me A Coffee is a website where people can choose to say thanks to an artist, be they a writer, a photographer, a graphic artist, or what-have-you, with a monetary donation.

I’ve heard it a million times…
“You should write a book!”
Well, maybe, but that takes time.
Time I don’t necessarily have…without cloning myself. πŸ˜‰
Y’all *know* how busy things get here!
And honestly, I’m not as interested in writing a book as I thought I might be.
I much prefer the bites and bits of the blog.
This way, I don’t have to have continuous unity throughout so many pages.
I can write about topics as they come up, pop into my head, or as you Dear Readers request.
Plus I can randomly insert pictures of the animals any where in any post.
Far more fun than a book!
πŸ˜‰

Then I thought about ways to monetize the blog.
Because who doesn’t want to get paid for doing what they love, right??
This became a challenge…I’ve encountered a few blogs that I loved where they’ve monetized and now only post small tidbits of info/their life. To get anything of substance, you have to pay a monthly fee for access.
I sure don’t want to do that here.
I don’t, in my opinion, think that’s fair…to build a blog that people come to on the daily, then tell them they can only have access if they pay.
And I’m not saying it’s the wrong way for those folks to go…I’m saying it’s not the right way for *me* to go.

So when I was introduced to Buy Me A Coffee, I thought “ahhh, *that’s* the way to go!”
I love coffee.
Like seriously, can’t live without it, it’s the lifeblood of the universe, love coffee.
What better way to let folks know, if they choose, they can offer a thanks by, metaphorically, buying me coffee.
*grins*

At the same time, this means more good things for you readers.
It means more content!
YAY!!
We’re in a bit of a lull between the gardening season and butchering season, so I’m stockpiling posts so that you don’t go weeks and weeks without hearing from me.
I think if I’m going be asking y’all to buy me coffee, I need to pony up way more content than a post every 2 weeks or so.
Let’s be honest, it ain’t fair for me to not work and still ask for patronage.

So I hope everyone likes what they’ll be seeing.
And if you like this post, or any others, feel free to buy me a coffee.
All you have to do is click the link and follow the easy peasy instructions on my b.m.a.c page.
πŸ™‚

When I am an Old Horse Woman Redux

WHEN I AM AN OLD HORSE WOMAN

When I am an old horsewoman
I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.

❀

I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.

❀

I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to all
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.

❀

-By Patty Barnhart
Originally published in The Arabian Horse World magazine in 1992

❀

Today felt like a great day for a repost of this much loved poem.

If you like this post, feel free to buy me a coffee. πŸ™‚

6 Years

Not a long post, but a sweet post.
As of 9:00am, Midnight Calico Farm has been in existence for 6 years.

Some folks have been with us from the very beginning.
Some folks have joined us in the later years.

We’re happy all of you follow us.
Many of you are like family.

Thanks for being here.
Hope you stick with us as we continue to grow.
πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

“I be rollin’
My back is itchy…oooooh, feels soooo good!!”
~ Sable

47

Yesterday was a day just like any other day.
Hay was cut.
Weeds were pulled.
Pigs ate the weeds.
Chickens did too.
There were eggs collected.
Beet pulp given to horses.

Oh, and a 4’x5′ mirror was taken out to the pasture for a little photography fun.

I had a certain *something* in mind…and I got that done, but not before the Mares had to find out who these interloper horses were…

“I can see you…you are very pretty. ❀
Want to be friends?
You do smell a bit odd though…”
~Sable

“Who. Are. You.
*snort*
I. Don’t. Like. You.
*snort*”
~Astrid

Watching the 2 of them was absolutely hilarious.
Makes me want to find a safer way to put the mirror out there for more photo fun.
This wasn’t the best because it was just leaned up on Cookie’s Tree, and Hubby had to hold it. Astrid kept giving it hard nudges, while snorting, telling that “Other Horse” to piss off out of her pasture.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
And yet Ruby didn’t even care about it…which is why I’d love to set it up again, to see if she’d take an interest without us people around.

Anyways, once Hubby and The Kid backed the 2 fools up, I got to do what I was there to do…

Self portrait

Not too shabby a shot for my 47th birthday.
πŸ™‚

Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

Chickies!!

I originally set 24 eggs in the incubator…

(phone pic)

At day 7 I candled and found 3 not fertilized, which left me with 21 eggs.
And then the pipping started on day 20 (I forgot to candle again at day 14).
It took everything I had to *not* open the incubator until day 22…

On the morning of day 22 we prepped the brooder, got a bin ready to transfer from incubator to brooder, and opened her up…

18!!

Of my 21 eggs, 18 hatched.
So we whisked them off to the brooder and I closed up the incubator for another 24 hours…in case those eggs were just slower to hatch.
Turns out they weren’t fertile.
So they went to the piggies.
πŸ™‚

And now, here some sneak peek pics of the ones who hatched:

Look at them!!
πŸ™‚

Interesting mix…
Our rooster’s sire is (I’m told) pure Ameraucana, hen an easter egger…so him with our easter eggers and our Browns and Columbian Rock Xs made some interesting mixes.
Whether or not I get more coloured egg layers from any of the hens (if there are any lol) we’ll just have to see.

Little cheepers…

What a funny little spot on this one’s head!
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So now we feed ’em and watch ’em grow.
Hens will stay on as layers, roosters will go on to become fajitas.

And round 2 of eggs, 24 again, is in the incubator.
After that hatch, I’ll put it away ’til spring.
I’d love to keep hatching, but we have to be sure whatever pullets we get are big enough come the cool/cold season so they can be in the coop with the older hens safely.

So after this round, I won’t set any more eggs until mid-March.
But I’ll be on the look out for other egg varieties…turkeys, ducks, guineas…just because I can.
πŸ™‚

There’ll be more pics in a bit…we’re busy getting ready for The Kid’s grad this weekend. Once that’s done, and we’ve recovered, The Kid and I have a specific photoshoot in mind for these balls of feathery cuteness.

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˜‰