Bitter cold, and sad news

The cold snap that has been working its way across the prairies has hit us.

It was -31C/-23F, with a wind chill of -39C/-38F this morning. At the time I write this, we have warmed up to -29C/-20F with a wind chill of -31C/-23F. The weather alert on my app is still saying wind chills may reach between -40C/F to -50C/-58F. !!!

Hard to believe that, tomorrow, we’re supposed to warm up to -9C/15F!

Heading out to feed the critters meant layering up. Two pairs of socks in my new, rated to -40C, winter boots. Two pairs of pants. A t-shirt under my sweatshirt. A hoodie – hood up – under my down filled park – also hood up! and double layered insulated gloves.

I was rather impressed when I saw this under the door.

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Left Hanging – on multiple levels

While doing my rounds this morning, making my way through the spruce grove, I noticed something dangling that wasn’t there before.

It looks like a section of tree came down during our recent high winds.

But where did it come from?

A surprising distance away, actually. It’s the top of a mostly dead tree. There are only a few remaining live branches on the south side of the trunk, from what I can see. It seems that the top now hanging in other trees is where most of the living branches were.

After checking the trail cam files later on, the tree wasn’t the only thing left hanging.

I have some decisions to make.

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Got it

Today, I took advantage of a much warmer day (we reached -7C this afternoon) before the temperatures plummet again, and headed to a nearby city to see if we could get a replacement hot water tank.

I’d already phoned and had instructions, but we’d never been to this location before, so my daughter and I took the time to look around. We have been discussing a building project for the summer, that I will blog about later in the year, so we went to see if we could price out stuff like mortar and insulation.

It turns out this is not the hardware store we could go for these materials.

Then I went to customer service with my sticker from off our hot water tank.

In maybe 5 minutes, paperwork in hand, I drove around to the back of the building, to a particular shed, where a new replacement tank was ready and waiting for me.

It now sits in our dining room, waiting to be installed.

It was so fast and easy, I wish I’d thought of going somewhere else, long ago! Not one person I spoke to thought of it, either. It was certainly worth the hour and a half total in driving time!

One of the amazing things about it is how light it is. Compared to the old tank that got replaced shortly after we moved here, which is so heavy I intend to dismantle it and remove it piece by piece, rather than risk damaging the stairs with the weight, or someone getting injured taking it around to the other basement and hauling it out that way. Assuming it could even be moved to the other side of the stairs in the first place.

My daughters and I had wondered about how the old tank was brought down there in the first place. It occurred to me that it was probably installed while the new part of the house was still under construction. The new part basement would have been completely open, except for the support pillars, and there would have been just a wood burning furnace in the old part basement on one side, and the stairs on the other. The tank was probably brought from the new part basement, through the space now filled by the electric furnace.

Getting rid of the damaged tank will be much, much easier!

So now we just have to pay for the installation. I suppose we could install it ourselves, but I want the plumber to look at our well pump, too. Now that we don’t have to come up with the money for a new tank (the price was $419, before taxes), on top of the cost of labour, we’ll be able to get it done at the end of this month!

I am so looking forward to getting that done!

The Re-Farmer

It's warmed up a bit…

Of course, that’s a relative statement.

When I got up this morning, it was -33C/-27F with a “feels like” of -42C/-44F.

I’m happy to say that the van handled the temperatures quite well. Yes, we’ve been diligent in maintenance and improvements as much as we can, but it’s still a 15 yr old vehicle with almost 430,000 km on it, so I’m always going to be paranoid about that thing. :-/

Motivated by the temperatures, I stayed up last night to finish a shrug I was crocheting for myself. When my upper back gets cold, it triggers my chronic cough, so I just wanted a little something to throw on while around the house. I am wearing it right now, and feeling nice and toasty!

I think this is the first time I’ve deliberately made something, just for myself. 😀

The Re-Farmer

One down, more to go!

Well, the deed is done.

Little Susan had an appointment with the vet, yesterday, and she is now recovering from surgery!

Since we had to make sure to 1) have her available to take to the vet in the first place and 2) make sure she didn’t eat anything after 8pm the night before, we brought her into the house as quickly as we could catch her, the day before.

It’s not that she was actively trying to escape us. She just wasn’t interested in being picked up or anything.

Once inside, it was… interesting.

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Assessing things

Yesterday’s plans to take my mother to visit her sister at the nursing home changed. I got a call in the morning, because she was worried about the weather. It was blowing pretty hard, and she was concerned. We ended up postponing for now.

When doing my rounds this morning, I found some minor tree damage from the winds.

Finding this branch was rather funny.

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Mead Baby 2.0: boosting fermentation

For those who have recently started to follow this blog (welcome!), here are the previous posts about our second attempt to make mead. All links should open in new tabs, so you won’t lose track of this page. 🙂

Mead Baby, redux (includes links to our first attempt)
Mead Baby 2.0:
active fermentation
it’s a temperature thing
temperature success
overnight temperature status
second fermentation

Since then, we have been monitoring the Baby closely. While there has been virtually no visible activity in the air lock, when we looked at the liquid itself, we could see that it was clearing up, and there was a steady stream of tiny bubbles of carbonation moving upward. If the temperature dropped to 16C, we would turn on the warming pad, which would typically bring it up to about 18-19C.

Recently, its temperature would drop to 16C a lot faster, and we could no longer see the carbonation. It was looking a lot clearer, and we could see a fair bit of sedimentation at the bottom.

However, it was less than 2 weeks since we started the second fermentation. While I’ve read a mead can be ready in that time, most videos and websites I’ve been looking at showed active fermentation for about a month, and gave advice on how to reactivate fermentation if it stopped to early.

Since that was the problem we had with our first attempt, we debated. Is it done and time to bottle it? Should we rack it into another bottle to get it away from the sediment and leave it longer? Do we add something to boost the fermentation?

I’ve read various ways to boost fermentation in mead, including those that recommend adding a chemical that is used in wine making.

Or we could just add some raisins.

So that’s what we decided to do.

With a 1 gallon carboy – and it’s not full – not a lot of raisins would be needed.

We added three.

Here are photos, taken a day apart, showing before and after we added the raisins.

As you can see in the photo on the left, the mead had gotten quite clear, and there’s a pretty thick layer of sediment on the bottom. It’s hard to tell with the reflections, but in the second photo, you can actually see a couple of the raisins floating at the top. The mead is cloudier, but when we shine a light into it, we can once again see that steady stream of bubbles going up to the top.

We’ve been checking its temperature regularly and, aside from an initial warm up after adding the raisins, it’s been keeping its own temperature at 19C.

Right now, the plan is to leave it until we can no longer see those bubbles, rack it into another carboy to get it way from the sediment, then leave it for a while longer before bottling it.

A lot of the information about mead making I’m finding is conflicting, but one thing that all our sources agree on is, the longer the mead sits after bottling, the better it tastes. Most recommend at least a year.

I doubt we’ll wait that long, but with bottles at 750ml, even with having less than a gallon in the carboy (and I expect we’ll lose more after racking it again), we should still be able to get 3 – 4 full bottles out of it, so we can have one right away, then try the others at different ages.

So if we want to start a malomel (mead made with fruit) as we planned, we should pick up another air lock and two, so we can have multiple batches going at once.

You know, for someone who doesn’t actually like alcohol all that much, I find the process of making it quite enjoyable!

😀

The Re-Farmer