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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Homestead Update, 16 April 2011

Today is a brew day, so we went into Portland after grain and yeast. Steve is brewing a stout today, and he's going to use the rest of the hops that he has, including the stuff that he grew last year that's been cooling its jets in the freezer.  The brewables total came to $14.26, which works out to be a little less than $7.13 a case, because he'll get a little more than forty-eight bottles from this batch (maybe forty-nine or fifty).  So even with the gas to get up there and the gas to cook it, the price is still great because he's lucky if he can find a six-pack of beer as good as his for $7.13 a sixer.  Plus, it makes the house smell like brewing beer which is a smell I find slightly more intoxicating than bread baking.  Mmmmm......beer.......mmmmmmm.

My goodies from our trip to Portland were all the ingredients I need for mixing up Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF), which for me were 50 pounds each of canola meal, agricultural lime, dolomitic lime, rock phosphate, and kelp meal.  The bill came to $104, but $55 of that was the kelp meal, which at the rate you use it, will probably last maybe ten years, maybe even longer.  It doesn't take much.  Some of this stuff you use in higher quantities than others, but I'm still counting on this lasting at least a couple or three years, maybe more.  I'm all set for organic fertilizer for awhile.  I also picked up two more Russian Tea plants (Camellia sinensis) and three Cider Gums (Eucalyptus gunnii) because the One Green World truck was at Concentrates today, which was way cool, because it saved me a trip down to Molalla, Oregon, gas prices being what they are and all.

So today is clean the garage day, and go get some galvanized garbage cans to keep the soil additives in day, and then I'm making grow bags for my seed potatoes, which arrived on Thursday.  I'll show you those in a separate post.

I also need to check on my bees for brood, and I'm supposed to making something else this weekend in addition to the grow bags, but I just can't remember what it is I'm supposed to be making.

I hate when that happens.

12 comments:

Ruth @ Hope, Joy and Faith Farm said...

Boy, you have been busy. Our last trip to Portland was in January, and I wanted to stop at Powells Bookstore, but we didn't get the chance. How far are you from Molalla? We were there for a family reunion a few (like 10) years back and went to the Molalla Buckeroo. Great town! Hope you figured out what the other thing you needed to get done was...

Miriam said...

Tell us more about your tea plants. How did the first one(s) do? can you actually harvest tea leaves? I find this just amazing, the equivalent of learning you can grow mangoes or bananas in your back yard. Tell us more! (please)

Rachel said...

And what about the bees??? I'm so anxious to find out if they're doing okay.

Christian said...

I was very curious about the economics of brewing beer. It sounds like it makes sense if you prefer something a little better than Coors Light. Thanks for the informative post.:)

Paula said...

I did, Ruth, but way to late to do anything. I was supposed to make my Zen alcohol stove for the Bug Out Box this weekend. I'll work on it this week.

The first plants are fine, Miriam; I'm going to put them in the ground along the front walk. The tips on one of them appear to be just right for picking, so I'll do that this week and try making some black tea with it. I'll probably have enough for only one cup. Before I write about it, though, I want to do some research so I can give you good information about it.

Rachel I have been so bad about the bees. I bought my smoker Friday afternoon, but couldn't gather the courage to mess with them this weekend. But I have to because I have to see if they need feeding, so I'll do it on the next sunny day. I wanted to try it when they were all in bed, but the book I have agrees with Tamar to do it when most are out foraging. I think I'm more scared of checking the brood than I was installing them in the first place!

Christian- I prefer something a LOT better than Coors Light! Steve has certainly spent enough on two stainless steel fermenters, two stainless steel brew pots, and various other gear, not to mention bottles (some with beer already in them, some empty). The batches used to be more expensive because he was using powdered malt, then he did partial grain, and now that he's on all grain, it's become much less expensive. His grain bill was almost eleven pounds at $1.49 a pound. Next fall, he'll buy a fifty pound bag of German pilsner malt grain, which he'll crack at home with the new grain mill. This should bring his grain price down to around a buck a pound. If he needs darker malt, he just toasts it in the oven. I doubt we'll get much more hops this year, but if I fertilize regularly, we may do better. Maybe we'll get lucky and the only thing he'll have to buy is yeast. Sometimes he can pitch the same batch of yeast into another batch of beer, and save money that way- it all depends on what he's brewing, but he does frequently manage his beer styles according to the yeast he's using, in addition to how cold it is outside. I guess it helps that he's half-German.

Julia Posey said...

Hi Paula, if you're feeling nervous about opening up in the bees, I highly recommend reading a bit over at the Backwards Beekeeper site for inspiration: www.beehuman.blogspot.com. Unsolicited advice, thank you for indulging me: 1. definitely wait for a day when the bees are out. 2. smoke the bees heavily. Smoke. Wait. Smoke again. Very helpful to smoke the bees.

I was thinking about you yesterday, I've been cleaning up my garage, a cousin to the Room of Shame. I've usually take about 20-30 minutes a day to take care of something. Yesterday, I cleaned out some books for donation and general detritus. Funny thing is that in this time (the garage is still a mess), I've fallen deeply in love with my garage...not what it will be (although I can see that now) but what it is right now.

Paula said...

Backwards Bees! Great idea Julia- thanks for the tip!

Rae said...

I take it you found what you needed at Concentrates?

Can't wait to hear how the bees are doing!

Paula said...

I did, Rae; they had everything I needed, and they were a little cheaper than Union Mills on the two items that Union Mills had, so it made sense to get everything there. But- I would not have known that if you hadn't checked into it for me, so I am truly grateful for the leg work. I owe you one, although how I'll ever repay favors to you is a mystery to me- you are up two to my one.

Which reminds me- how did your raspberries fare?

Rae said...

The raspberries flopped over and played dead for about a day, and then perked right up. Seem to be happy now (miraculously, given my track record, lol).

And you owe me nothing. Raspberries and rosemary are a totally fair trade. :)

Toni aka irishlas said...

Nothin' like homebrew!

Paula said...

It's amazing what you find out when making and growing things at home. We're finding out that homegrown asparagus is so much better cut right before cooking it, much like corn is.

And home brew is way, way better than commercial. Which is not to say that every batch has been the best. Steve had a problem with the Kolsch, and it was not good.

But everything else has been stellar!