Friday, April 30, 2010

Still Winter

  Wyoming has four seasons each year: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction.  We are currently in the "still winter" season as a late spring snow storm has settled in with a windy fury.  After a while, it starts to feel like you are stuck in a dishwasher.

  Our 25 chicks have not been phased by the cold, wet weather.  The newly expanded chicken coup with avian netting has worked out great with high winds up to 60 M.P.H.  The seven adult hens have enjoyed the 1,250 square feet of expanded foraging.  It does, however, seem as if one or two hens may have bad mite infestations as they are losing feathers.  We are trying a natural technique of placing some ash from our fireplace in their bathing wells.  Apparently, ash is more abrasive and finer in size which helps to eradicate the tiny insects when the chickens dust themselves in it.  Ruby and I are very excited for the abundance of eggs our 32 hens will yield.  Currently, we have:
  • 7 Buff Orpingtons
  • 7 Barred Rocks
  • 6 Light Brahmas
  • 5 Golden-Laced Wyandottes
  • 5 Rhode Island Reds
  • 2 Black Australorps

 With such a short growing season, Wyoming provides a suitable challenge to gardeners (especially spoiled ones from California).  It is important to get things started early, yet not too early to freeze in a late spring flurry like today.  However, garlic is brilliant in its germination, as well as abundant medicinal use and delicious flavor, by wintering over well enough to sprout when things thaw.  It is important to cover with ample amounts of straw or light mulch.  Our garlic has sprouted 3" shoots so far!  
  The greenhouse is a hugely useful way to start an early garden.  We have a few types of kale sprouting already in a large bed which provides the majority of growing space.  It seems as if a spinach 'volunteer' has sprouted in the bed as well! I am also trying to germinate some Chile De Arbol which we brought with us from California and dried.  The flavor of the chile is just beautiful with a savory smokiness and warming heat.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cerveza Clara

My fourth batch of home-brewed beer started fermenting on the 23rd of April. I am happy with the progress it is making and can smell and taste how delightfully refreshing it will be this summer. I added 333 g of 100% Organic Agave Nectar to the Coopers Mexican Cerveza BrewCan and kit Yeast, along with 300 g Light Dry Malt, and 500 g Brew Enhancer (Dextrose, maltodextrin, light malt). The potential alcohol content should be at least 5.2%.
The temperature ranges have been fairly constant: 25°C has been the maximum temperature and 20° the minimum. I am, reluctantly, controlling the temperature with a water-bed heating pad wrapped around the fermenter (NOT recommended due to risk of fire or electric shock).
I have noticed a very floral sweetness from the addition of the Agave nectar which will compliment this light bodied beer with malty notes rounding it off in the end. The dark glass and PET bottles used to condition this beer will keep its flavor fresh unlike a stale 'Corona' in a clear bottle. It will be hard to keep friends from "fruiting" this beer with a wedge of lime, but to each their own.

I am excited to taste the Canadian Blonde tomorrow as it has conditioned for two weeks now. Next up, the Sparkling Ale for sure!