Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wine making 101...

I have had many comments on my adventures in wine making.  I cannot stress enough how easy it is.  All I use is a 1 gallon fruit wine kit from  The kit was $32.99 and another $23.99 if you get the add on.  The add on has a cork plunger, corks, wine bottles, and a hydrometer.  I am cheap and bought the cork plunger and corks separately.  I don't have a hydrometer and get along fine (at least in my mind I do).  Wine bottles are supplied by friends. 

The kit comes with the best little recipe handbook.  It tells you how to make wine from anything.  Combine water, sugar, and additives from the kit then submerge the straining bag of fruit.  If you don't have an additive the book asks for just move on without it.  Odds are unless it was an important one the wine will turn out fine.  Here is a batch of rhubarb I just concocted.   Let it sit for 24 hours then add the yeast.  It ferments for one week. 

This is a carboy.  After a week in the plastic fermentation pail, you siphon the liquid into the glass carboy.  I have made some interesting jams out of the leftover stuff in the straining bag.  I made a buffalo berry jam that is incredible.  Back to wine making, let the carboy sit for a month.  The sediment will settle at the bottom. You can see the light colored sediment in this carboy of Red Letter Raspberry.    
Let the wine sit for a month in the carboy and then siphon it into another carboy, leaving the sediment.  Do this every month for 3 months. At the end of the third month, let the wine sit for a week in the refrigerator.  Before bottling add sugar diluted in water after a taste test.  Some wines need only 1/4 cup of sugar per 1 cup of water, others need 1/2 half cup sugar per 1 cup of water.  Add some stabilizer to stop the wine's fermentation.  That is a very important step.  If you do not add enough stabilizer the corks will pop out like crazy.  Not a good situation (maybe that is why they wanted me to get a hydrometer).  I also recommend letting the corks sit submerged in water for a day before trying to get them in the bottle. 

If you have lots of fruits and berries, try wine making.  So far I've made wine from:  Buffalo berries, chokecherries,  crabapples, grapes, raspberries, service berries, rhubarb, and pears.  I am far from a perfectionist and I have found wine making is very forgiving.  When you do make a bad batch, (God Awful Grape and Choke it Down Chokecherry) dilute it in lemonade for a rich flavored drink.   For those, like me, that don't drink a lot of wine try the smaller bottles.  They hold two glasses of wine.  Which is just right.   A gallon makes about 3 big bottles and 5 little bottles.   I hope you give it a try.  I never drank much wine before, but every weekend I enjoy a little bottle and half the satisfaction comes from knowing I made it.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Something old is new again at the auction...

My brother-in-law, Tyler, is an auctioneer and Buttons, one of my favorite bloggers, always writes about going to auctions.  Truth is I've never been patient enough to actually go to an auction.  This weekend I did it.  Kelly and I went to an auction.  It was fun. 

We ended up getting some pretty cool stuff.  Sorry for the bad photo.  We got some red kitchen utensils that reminded me of my Grandma.  A fish (Don't ask.  I don't know what we were thinking.  It was our first go at bidding.)  We got some old blue glass Ball jars and an old lantern, every cabin should have those.  Then an old Norwegian sled (since winter is about 9 months here sleds for decoration only makes sense).  And best of all an old goat cart.  I have always wanted a goat cart for the porch.  It isn't in the greatest shape, but it isn't falling apart either.  As you can see, I had the perfect place for it. 

 We got a pretty good deal on things and had fun.  We went for a nice drive and a burger afterward.  I have to say I was pretty excited to get the loot put in place.  It was a perfect day with my husband.   Maybe we will have to try an auction again.  What are some of your favorite stories from auctions? 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I survived my trip to Montana, but getting there was stressful.  I usually have pretty good luck traveling, but this time it was a comedy of errors.  First, the electricity went off during the night.  Ack.  4:00am was 4:30 and panic.  Please explain how the electricity won't go out during a screaming blizzard on a weekend, but dies on a clear perfect evening when you have to be up early. 

I missed my first flight, but caught the second flight and had time to catch my next plane.  Except for the fog of course.  The plane had trouble landing in Denver.  Now I'm really off my schedule.  Not only that, but a very loud and angry lady kept stomping up and down the Denver airport also trying to catch a flight to Salt Lake.  I couldn't get away from her.  Towards the end she was really huffing and puffing.  I got the latest flight I could to Salt Lake, because I was afraid I'd end up on the same plane with her and she would have heart attack after she was so wound up.

When I got to Salt Lake and sat there for 6 hours waiting for the last flight to Butte.  Little did I know my Aunt was sitting in the same area waiting for a plane to Bend.  Dang.  It would have been nice visiting for a few hours.  Finally, I got to Butte, at 11:30pm.  I find a cab to take me to the hotel.  Problem is the hotel is quite a ways out of town.  Suddenly, he starts getting all of these calls from people wanting a ride.  He gets crabbier and crabbier about missing all of this business.  Then suddenly he pulls over and stops.  I was sure he was going to kick me out.  I guess he was trying to find someone for back up.  Thank goodness.   When I pulled my luggage through the door of the hotel at 12:00am.  I had never been so happy to get somewhere.  I was sure missing my porch.  The rest of the trip was uneventful...  or maybe it was everything else couldn't touch the trip in.
My favorite part of the whole trip was Skyping with my nieces and showing them the planes at the Salt Lake Airport.  All I can say is there is no place like home.  With the exception of showing the girls the airport from my computer, I would have much rather been sitting on the porch drinking my coffee. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

All that and a bag of skittles...

My student's use that term a lot.  Usually, when they are describing something great.  Well today I have 3 great things to talk about.

First, Happy Mother's Day.  I thank my Mom for my love of everyday life.  She has always seen the beauty in and appreciates the simple daily things.  She works on a ranch/farm and appreciates the beauty in the everyday struggle.  Because I learned that from her I am happy where I am planted.   

Second, thank you Sharon Lovejoy for the vegetable seeds.  I will plant a few in my greenhouse and the rest I will take to work.  My students and I will plant them in honor of Jenni Lucero.  She was a student (and graduate) of Boxelder Job Corps who made the dream of a greenhouse on center a reality.  She was a huge believer in organic gardening and because of her our students for the past three years have learned where food comes from.  I hope you are reading this Jenni and just so you know Big Green Greenhouse and Garden is a reality thanks to you.

Third, thank you Jenni from and Susan from for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I admire both of these ladies.  Jenni for her go get it done and have a positive attitude while doing way of living.  Susan is somewhere you go if you want a great recipe.  I appreciate such strong and creative women. 

I would like to pass this award on to several blogs that I enjoy and hope you check out. 

Buttons at -  If you want to hear a great story visit this blog.  Buttons sees the adventure in life.  Right now I am engrossed in her train trip across Canada. 

Kim at - I appreciate Kim's bravery in moving from Colorado to Idaho to make a better life for her children.  I enjoy how she is not afraid to try new things, talk about her children, and share a cup of tea.

Out on the Prairie - If you want to go for a walk on the Prairie this is the place to go.  He takes amazing photos.  You can go for a beautiful walk and never leave your couch.

Alica  - She was a born teacher.  I lived on a farm and yet I learn so much from her.  I enjoy learning about the everyday things that go on in a farm and why they are important.

Alison  - She takes me on such wonderful adventures.  Here in the middle of the Midwest, I am limited for gardening expositions.  Alison takes me with her and I get such great ideas. 

Razamataz -  She gives me a different viewpoint of life.  She is bold and creative.  I enjoy her posts and can't wait to see what she enlightens me on. Her life is truly and adventure.

Dar -  This woman can make anything.  I go to this blog whenever I want to learn something that is useful.  She is so talented. 

Miriam I missed your humor and your stories.  I am glad you are back.  She is an amazing person. 

Bonnie -  She is definitely a versatile blogger.  I never know where she will take me.  She is always posting something different be it family, recipes, or just a cool walk somewhere.

Ok, I could keep going, but I have to catch a plane at 6:00am tomorrow (which means I leave home at 4:00am).  I will be back in a week with tales of my adventures in Montana.  I made my husband sign a contract stating that any plants dying in his care will be replaced.  I hope you visit the aforementioned blogs as they are wonderful. 

Mom, Happy Mother's Day and Thank you for everything! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Overwhelmed in the orchard...

I have so many things to post about that I kind of froze up and stopped posting.    Where to begin...

First, I have been planting like crazy.  Before we went to Minnesota, my loving husband tilled between the rows of the orchard and I planted potatoes and sweet corn.  It is dry land sweet corn, as I am not hauling water.  So far after three weeks, nothing.  I still have hope.  We have had PLENTY of rain and warm weather.  The plants have no excuse.  

When we returned from Minnesota the plants I had ordered from the county extension agency arrived.  I got five Zestar Apples, five Caroline Raspberries, and five Souris Raspberries. 

The orchard is my retirement plan.  By the time I retire (17 more years) it should be in full swing (October 29, 2029 to be exact) and I will be sitting on the porch drinking wine and eating toast and jam through the fruits of my labors (and my husbands).  Not that it is something I think about much (ALL THE TIME).  Didn't know a few plants could start such a tirade did you?:)

Anyway back on subject, the apples turned out to be humongous.  It said 3-4 feet, so I was picturing some little twigs. like we used to get when I was a kid.  They were over 7 feet tall.

Most people blog about the photos they take and how their husbands are indulgent of their hobby.  My husband has taken to taking photos of me gardening for the blog.  He is kind of treating it as a new type of hunting season.  He said it was like bow season only he considers it Bonnie Season.  He says I'm easier to sneak up on this time of year, because I'm focused on gardening.  While I was out planting raspberries in the orchard, he snuck up and snapped some pictures of me in action.  I have to admit he is getting good, Ella didn't even see him.  Yes Dad, I'm still wearing the floppy hats.  It hides my face so well, especially when people are hiding behind trees taking photos of me:)

I think I am done with the orchard now.  I have 5 sand cherries, 5 wild plum, 7 naking cherries, 7 buffalo berries, 3 apple trees, 1 cherry tree, 3 red lake currents, 5 black chokecherries, 2 mulberries, 10 raspberries, 4 grapes, and 4 black berries. 

Outside of the fence planted around the property are 2 black walnut, 2 hazelnuts, 3 apple trees, 1 grape, 1 high bush cranberry, 2 low bush blueberries, 2 Harrilson apple trees, 1 Dolgo crabapple, 50 tame strawberries, and uncounted tame raspberries.  

Growing wild around the place are tons of Saskatoons, thimbleberries, an apple tree, strawberries, chokecherries, and raspberries. 

Now you can see why I call it bees, birds, BERRIES, and blooms.  If I ever have a good year where they all produce I could be in wine, jam, and syrup heaven and will probably have a hell of a belly ache.  Or I could have a bad winter and the story ends there.  Guess only time will tell.  As I always say, "hope springs eternal."

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

There are barns in Minnesota?

I will never forget my first trip to Minnesota to meet my husband's family. All I could think of during the drive was, "This must be where Fischer Price got the template for their red barn play set." Everywhere I looked there was a barn and a silo. I made it a point on this trip to take some photos.  I want to thank both my husband and my in-laws for indulging me in my constant requests to stop so I could get a photo.  Sometimes I just rolled down the window and committed a drive by shooting (or should I say photographing?). 

 Every barn has something different to offer. They can be in a valley, unpainted, surrounded by buildings, and animals or high on a hill clean, well painted, and uncluttered. 

This is my favorite.  I don't know who Darlene is, but she must be a special lady to get a whole barn roof as a birthday card. 
I also liked to Barn Charm