Mead Baby 2.0, overnight temperature status

Mead Baby 2.0 has had its first night in the new set up.

About an hour or so before heading to bed, I checked the temperatures. The ambient temperature had dropped to about 13C, while the ferment dropped to 17C, so I turned the heating pad on for about an hour.

I checked again, first thing in the morning, and it was at 18C!

After I did all my running around this morning, I checked it again, and this time, I could stay to watch the airlock.

The ambient temperature was back at 14C…

While the ferment had dropped to 17C, so I turned the heat pad back on and starting watching the airlock. When I first started, there were bubbles about 8 seconds apart. I remembered that I have a timer on my phone, so tried using that (which is more of a pain than just counting “one thousand 1, one thousand 2…). When I first started, it was already up to about 7 seconds apart, and by the time I was done, it was up to 6 seconds apart.

So this set up is definitely working! I’m really happy that it was able to maintain its temperature overnight.

The Re-Farmer

Explosive!

Temperatures continue to be on the cold side. Last night, we were supposed to reach a low of -27C (-16F), with a windchill of -34C (-29F) – at least that’s what The Weather Network predicted. My phone’s app was predicting low of -24C (-11F). Either way, bitterly cold.

Our high for today is supposed to warm up to -17C (1F) with a windchill of -23C (-9F), so warmer than yesterday, but still a day I would have stayed home, if I didn’t have to go into town to pick up prescription refills. I made sure to start the van near the end of my rounds, to let it warm up a bit before I headed out. Yes, it was plugged in, but I still didn’t want to take it out before the engine had a chance to warm up at least a little bit. I still have bad memories of a cracked engine block (on a rental with no block heater)!

One of the things I started doing years ago, back when we were living in the city, where it wasn’t unusual for me to be heading out sometimes 3 times a day for various things, was keep water bottles in the van. I used to keep them in an insulated grocery bag until we finally found a really nice cooler that fit between the seats. Though we don’t go out anywhere near as often as we used to, it’s still been handy to keep the cooler in the van, with a few water bottles. In the summer, when we go into the city to do our monthly shop, we can put ice packs in it for our insulated grocery bags with frozen items, or those that need refrigeration. Sometimes, when I’m getting gas, there are really good deals on energy drinks, like 4 for $7, so I’ll get a bunch and put the bag in the cooler with the water bottles, just to have them handy for days when we’re heading out and feel the need for one.

This morning was one of those days.

Back in the van after locking the gate behind me, I remembered the drinks in the cooler and reached back to grab one.

The first thing that came to mind when I opened the lid was “hmm… the lid wasn’t closed.” It was down, but not pushed all the way.

The next thing that came to mind as I dug into the bag for a drink was, “what the heck is that? That’s not a can.”

So I got out of the van so I could check the cooler from the side door.

I was wrong. It was, indeed, a can.

An exploded can!

Yup. It got cold enough last night for the cans to burst!

Now, we’ve had things survive just fine in colder temperatures – yes, they froze, but they didn’t burst. How full the cooler is makes a difference, too. When it’s almost completely full, the water bottles at the top and bottom would freeze completely, while the ones in the middle would still have liquid water in them. But with the lid not pushed all the way down, it was enough for things to get messy!

After I got home, I made sure to bring the cooler inside.

The damage was not as extensive as I thought. Only 2 cans exploded.

Two more cans, plus the remaining water bottles, were frozen solid, but intact.

I guess the take away from this is 1) make sure there’s more bottles and cans in the cooler, and 2) make sure that lid is pushed all the way down!

Otherwise, things can get messy!

😀

The Re-Farmer

addendum:

After publishing the above post, I went to check the files on the memory card from the trail cam. Yesterday, knowing the cold had already brought the battery level down to one bar, even though fresh batteries had been put in just a couple of days earlier, I brought the camera inside and switched out a new set of batteries. The previous set, now warmed up, will be switched back again later.

When I checked the trail cam this morning, I saw the battery level was down to 1 bar already, so I was curious to see how many files were made before the camera shut itself off due to low power.

There were no files.

Nothing.

That means that the fresh, room temperature batteries I’d put in became too cold to power the camera before anything triggered the motion sensor. And I know it should have been triggered at least twice. As I was heading out, I saw tracks in the snow showing that someone had backed into our driveway to turn around, as well as tracks from (most likely) my brother’s dog going through, including the smudge in the snow where he squeezed under the gate.

Even with two months of bitter cold last year, this is the first time I’ve had this happen to the batteries in the trail cam!

Mead Baby 2.0: temperature success!

Yes!!!

It worked!

Mead Baby 2.0 is now tucked away in a corner of the living room. I cleared off one of the shelves that were in the house when we moved here – it used to be a TV, back when they made the boxes out of real wood – that is next to one of the extension cords coming up through the floor we’ve found throughout the house. It was being used being used more as a catchall space, so this was an excuse for me to do some organizing. 🙂

Though the shelf is wood, I still put the rigid insulation down first. I used a crocheted book mark to hold the electric heating pad in place around the towel, set the heating pad to “warm”, and left it to shut off on its own in 2 hours.

I came back to it 3 or 4 hours later.

This was the ambient temperature of the room.

At 14C, it is just a touch cooler than the dining room we were set up in before.

This is the reading I got from the must.

Woo Hoo! At 18C, it’s now at the higher end of the temperature range it should be at.

The yeast also seems to like the new temperature. The CO2 “burps” in the air lock are now happening every 4 – 6 seconds. More 4 than 6. 🙂

This evening, I’ll probably turn the heating pad on the warm setting again, for when the house temperature drops during the night. We’ll see what the temperature of the must is again, before we do.

I’m feeling much better about this now!

The Re-Farmer

Mead Baby 2.0: it's a temperature thing

It’s been pretty cold lately, which means the house is pretty chilly, despite the thermostat setting (and I’m not about to crank it because bits and pieces of the house don’t get heat). The carboy is set up near an interior wall in the dining room, which has one heat vent across the room, under the window. The only other heat vent in this part of the house is in the living room, also under a window.

Not the idea environment for fermenting Mead Baby 2.0

The must should be in a temperature range of 15C – 20C. We don’t have a temperature strip, but thanks to a gift from a thoughtful friend, I am still able to get a reading.

16.7C This is encouraging. It’s at least in the range is should be, if on the low side.

This was the ambient temperature of the room, taken right after I checked the must.

The room is only 14.6C

This means the must is generating some of its own heat, and the towel wrapped around it as a sweater is helping keep that heat in.

The fermentation activity is slowing down faster than I am comfortable with, though. Watching the airlock, the “burp” of CO2 went from about every 6 seconds (which was already slow for this early in the ferment, based on what I’ve been reading) to about 8 1/2 seconds, at the time I took these temperature readings.

I’ve read a number of suggestions on how to keep things warm enough, and I’ve already implemented one of them. I took a scrap piece of rigid insulation (that stuff is coming in so handy!!!) to put under the carboy. This way, it won’t lose warmth into the table top, and we don’t have to try and keep the towel bunched under it, making it more stable.

I’m also thinking of running a towel through the dryer when we’re doing laundry, and then switching towels while it is still warm. We don’t need to do laundry all that often, though. Another recommendation that is practical for us is to use the little electric heating pad I recently picked up for my daughter, since our two old ones are no longer working. There are actually special versions of these, made specifically to wrap around carboys, but we’re not at a point to invest in anything like that right now. What we have will do. It has a low temperature setting, and turns itself off after two hours. We wouldn’t wrap it directly around the carboy, but around the towel, so as not to warm it too much or too quickly. We’ll have to move the carboy to somewhere we can plug it in.

Ooh. I think I just thought of a place, too!

The Re-Farmer

Mead Baby 2.0: active fermentation

It’s only been two days, but with our set up being more in the open, I thought I’d show what the active fermentation looks like.

Even in the still shot, you can see that the water in the airlock is carbonated, with all the bubbles on the sides.

In the video, you can see that a “burp” comes up about every 6 seconds. It’s a bit on the slow side, from what I’m reading, which could be temperature based.

Now, we’re also supposed to be aerating this twice a day for the first few days, which was easy to do when using the fermentation bucket. We haven’t done that at all, yet. The spoon that came with our wine making kit is too big to fit into the opening of the 1 gallon jug.

I’ll have to see what I’ve got that’s thin enough, and can be sanitized.

This stage should take about 7-12 days, and watching those bubbles and burbs are supposed to help us know when it’s time to do that. So we’ll be keeping a close eye on that airlock. 🙂

The Re-Farmer