Sunday, February 26, 2012

Building a Future Crush Pad!

Nothing like needing more space for a barn wedding to move projects along:  we had always planned on building a "crush pad" (for crushing berries and pressing cider) right in front of the some future date, but with a May wedding in the barn, and the need for more space, the crush pad suddently became an urgency. 

So earlier this week, on Tuesday, we got an entire dump truck load of gravel (around 20 tons).  Jeff and Lars worked every afternoon on moving the gravel to the area in front of the barn where another large concrete slab needs to be poured.  (Luckily we still have Zach's tractor with the hydraulic front bucket to make this a manageable job).

Jens came over on Saturday and with his help we sank 6 pressure treated 6X6X8 posts around the perimeter of the future crush pad and cemented them in. 

On Sunday we build a form between the posts.  We then started building a "stone wall" about 6 inches inside the form to hold back the gravel....that way, there will be a smooth 6" section of cement the entire way around the slab, with the gravel base under the rest of it.  The posts will be reset just a little into the concrete slab and will serve to hold on the railing.  The ground slopes quite a bit at that section, and while the front of the conrete slab is only a step up off the ground, we we will be about 3 ft above the ground in the back - which is perfect for pulling up with a load of fruit later.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Organizing the Wine Tools and Chemicals

We cleaned out one of our upper storage cabinets to devote the entire space to the ever increasing collection of wine tools, chemicals, cleaners, corks and hoses.  Everything has a spot now and is neatly labeled and out of little ones' reach.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Favorite Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups "quick" oatmeal
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sweet grated coconut
  • 3/4 cups chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Blend in the oatmeal, then add the flour, mixed with salt and baking soda - mix well.
Add the raisins, coconut and nuts and blend together.

Drop by large teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper)

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes (a little longer if the cookies are larger), until just slightly browned.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Trimming Blackberries

It seems that we are spending every nice afternoon and weekend  trimming and weed-whipping our blackberries.  The established rows (all 5 of them), were not that difficult, since we did some preliminary trimming and tying up last fall.  For those rows, none of the branches could reach the ground, re-root and send runners.  We snipped off all the old "ties" and re-tied the branches with baler twine.

But the other 8 rows are a different story - there we need to find the plant (next to the irrigation hoses close to an emitter), weed around it, and trim it back.  Jeff likes to call this "aggressive trimming" - he wants all the energy of the plant to go into root development, not into any sort of fruiting effort for this year.  Plants in these 8 rows are only in their second year.  After all this, we then weed-whip around the rows until everything looks perfectly clean.  Only problem is that once in a while, the weed-whip tears off one of the emitters - it does not break them, but we need to make sure that we stick the emitter back in before the water is turned on.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Grape Planting

We spent most of the day cleaning the upper fence row from the "grape" field, burning brush and sticks too small or dead to use for firewood.  While Lars and Tina worked on the fence row, Jeff continued plowing the field - the ground is just soft enough for the tractor to easily pull the plow through (in third gear even).  It is already looking so much better than last year at this time!

All week long, Jeff has been working on pointing in the barn and on Friday, he and Jens finished replacing the remaining old supporting posts with new posts.  They jacked up the wall with the windows facing the road and got it ready for the next big project:  replacing all the large windows and rebuilding that wall - which is not stone, but wood construction, so we should be able to do it.