Monday, June 30, 2008

Funny Farm Update

We're in full swing now. The flower field is busting loose with a riot of color. The sunflowers must have tapped into the moisture and nutrients in the septic drain field. They're huge. 
The front garden is starting to produce. We had some problems earlier with a magnesium deficiency. I was able to correct it with a foliar spray of epsom salts and soil applications as well. The leaves of the peppers were all curled up but they are fine now and starting to bloom.
 The neighbors have come around to our side now as they watch the garden grow. People who walk by are always complimenting us . A woman driving a school bus stopped one day and said she will be back to buy tomatoes.
Damn squash vine borers are taking out the squash now. I'm on guard to protect the zucchini. I started the squash in the green house to get a head start on the borers and it worked well. We harvested lots of squash before the infestation. I'm cutting them out of the vines and destroying them to reduce future populations.
Now that Kitty is gone the chipmunks are eating the strawberries before they even ripen. Penny needs to come out of retirement and get to work on that situation. Fat chance of that happening.
Wild fermentation is in full swing with kraut and more hooch, sunflower this time. I tasted some of the young hooch yesterday and it is pretty tasty and strong. 
MY landscape crew is building a deck down by the pond in anticipation of my 55th birthday celebration coming up on July 19. 
Promises to be a fun time for sure.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hooch0ff 2008

Yesterday our friend Robert "Hoochman" Hamilton came out to the Funny Farm to teach a group of us how to make hooch. Robert has been sharing his outrageously delicious and potent hooch with us at gatherings throughout the past year or so. His work is comparable to the finest wines or port in the world (at least according to our uneducated, inexperienced palates). We have sampled hooch made from pineapple guave, jasmine tea, buttermilk and many things in between. Some are sweet and full-bodied, some are dry and fruity, some are simple in flavor some are quite complex.
We felt it was time to learn a new skill. Seven of us chopped, mashed, and/or juiced 6 different ingredients or combinations of ingredients from which to make our first batch of hooch. We did Carrot/orange/star anise, Cantaloupe, Mango/Lime, Strawberry/lime/chocolate mint, Red Tea, Black/blue/raspberry, Pineapple, Banana/strawberry. Robert's method is very simple. Mash the fruit. Add enough water to be able to pour it into a bottle (boil the water to get rid of the chlorine so it won't kill the yeast). Add 2 pounds of sugar per gallon of fruit and water. If you are not using any acidic ingredients like citrus you add some Acid Blend (available at your favorite wine making supply store) 1 tablespoon per gallon. Pour the mixture into the bottles leaving a little space at the top for some yeast. If needed add a tablespoon of When the temperature of the mix is between 90º and 75º add in distillers yeast , 1 teaspoon/gal. mixed in a little water. Turn the bottle over a couple of times to mix in the yeast. Cover the top of the bottle with a folded over paper towel and secure with a rubber band.
Robert says that in about 2-3 weeks the major activity of the yeast will be complete. Here is the point to taste the young wine to see if it needs more sugar to bring out the fruit flavors or (if you like it dry) to allow it to finish fermenting as is. At that time we will plug the bottles with an air lock and allow to finish fermenting for about 2-3 months. When to bubbles stop flowing through the airlock we will remove it and cork or otherwise seal the bottles for further aging (or guzzle them down immediately which is what many of us will probably do).
At our annual Winter Solstice Party we will be breaking out our hooch for sharing and comparing. Someone will be crowned Hooch-maker Numero Uno and will win a prize (to be determined at a later date)
If the shit hits the fan and we have to hunker down here at the Funny Farm we figure we'll be able to use our hooch as trading stock to get things we need. Everybody needs hooch!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

R.I.P. Kitty

It is a sad day here at The Funny Farm. We awoke to find our beloved Kitty had been killed during the night. Could have been one of the mean dogs that we have seen wandering loose around the neighborhood. Could have been the fox that has been spotted out by the pond  I guess. Anyway whatever did the deed cannot be blamed. It was doing what comes naturally.
Kitty was a killer too. When we lived in the city she killed many chipmunks and proudly left them for us at the door. Out here on the farm she took out many voles and mice down in what came to be known as the killing field. She was doing us a service by eliminating what we think of as pests.
I buried her in the corner of the killing field so she can continue on with the eternal hunt.
The circle of life goes round and round.
We miss you Kitty!