Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

So, my resolution for the year is to actually get this blog running again--and, hopefully, revamp my "static" website, by mid-year.

What's been going on since last I posted?  Well, I'm glad you asked:

I got a chunk of field tilled.  This was an undertaking in itself; I don't think the fields here have been tilled in at least 50 years, probably more, and whatever they were growing, they've left a fine crop of stones.  Still, I have a lovely area about 25 feet by 50 feet, give or take; it's a little short of half sown with winter barley (Maris Otter/Halcyon mix), and as the days turn cold, it's preparing to go into its dormant phase.

Come springtime, I'll plant the rest with Bere, Conlon, and a bit of wheat.  I've got Hana, as well, but only enough for a "test" plot (about 4' by 4').  And I found another period strain: Sprot-barley, also called "Sprat".  Supposedly, its awns fan out in a palm shape, instead of straight up.  It's a 5-gram sample, so it'll take a bit to grow up, but I'm excited for it.

The hops are over-wintering; I've got some doubts as to what will come up in the spring (definitely the "retired" Cascades; probably the Willamette; possibly the Magnum--but the "new" cascade and the Sterling I'm not sure about).  I've got table grapes growing (this will be their third year--I don't expect fruit for two more), and a couple of apple seedlings planted.

I have plans for tapping several trees in late winter--I've got a couple of maples that look promising, and I want to try out the walnuts.  I'd love to do a birch, as well, but I've only got the one of those, and don't want to stress it until I can get a few more going...

Then there's woodwork:  I've finally got a shop of sorts set up, and I got myself a lathe.  I've been teaching myself the ins and outs of the latter by making lots and lots of cups and bowls...  Once I really get to where I know what I'm doing, I'd like to make a set or two or three based on extant finds, and maybe even start to sell them.  But that's way down the line.

I've been playing with Oseberg/Mastermyr chest plans.  I've built one, and I'm working on a second, and will probably be making several more.  The first was painted, with store-bought hinges.  The "in-progress" one has a woodburned design in the front, and I'm looking at hinge options.  Both are pine; future versions will likely use better wood.

Speaking of which, I've found a lovely local-ish source of fine lumber: a sawmill, only about an hour's drive.  It's run by a nice Mennonite family, and has stacks of quartersawn white and red oak as far as I could see, plus piles of cherry, maple, ash, and other...  Delightful.

As far as brewing, I haven't been doing much over the last few months.  I've got a couple of ciders going--a half-batch of perry, from home-grown pears, and a full batch of apple.  All of them pressed on the re-built cider press from my dad.

And that's where things are at present--everything that leaps to mind, at any rate.  The plan now is to post something new every other week or so, and keep at it until it's a habit again...  Hopefully, I can make it stick.


Thunder Bay Permaculture said...

Spratt barley goes back a long ways, 1744 at least by this account:

Mikhail "Misha" said...

@Thunder Bay: Yep. I've actually got a reference to it from earlier: Fitzherbert's Book of Husbandry, 1534. I got a copy from Google Books (via a print-on-demand service); it's stowed in a box somewhere, and I don't have the link handy. He mentions three barleys: Bere, Sprot, and "Long-Eare." Bere is described as the worst for malting, while Sprot is the best of the three...

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