In the month or so since I’ve written, the Creek settled down to it’s usual level, the road mostly dried out, and the leaves are out on the trees. We’ve been flush with birds (see my yard list for a complete list), including some ducks on the slough and a pair of red-tailed hawks nesting in a tree next to the back cabin. But summer means work, and that’s what we’ve been doing this Memorial Day weekend.
The list of projects is very long, and we’ve already started on the first large job: building a new shed to replace the “leaning” shed that was next to the red cabin. It wasn’t particularly stable, wasn’t completely water-tight, and wasn’t convenient to get to. I spent the last few days removing the siding, and yesterday afternoon finally pulled it down. It didn’t come down as easily as I’d hoped (the lower photo shows me pulling it with the 4-wheeler), and after all the work it took to get the siding off, I’m dreading the work it’ll take to disassemble the roof and move everything out of the way.
The next step will be to get a bunch of gravel to fill in the low spot between the driveway turnaround and the new gravel pad the shed will sit on. I’m picturing a 2x6 base supported by 4x6 rails resting on concrete piers or cribbing, ¾" plywood floor, 2x4 rough cut framed walls, and a sliding barn door for entry. I’m not sure what I’ll side it with, but ½" plywood, tar paper and then rough cut bevel siding would be a nice choice. I guess an alternative would be to let in diagonal bracing into the walls and forego the plywood, but plywood will do a better job of keeping the building solid if we need to level or move it later. Once the old building is cleared away, I’ll make up a set of plans and see who can mill and deliver the lumber to us.
We got our ATV last week, and it’s already come in very handy. I pulled a log up from the Creek with the winch, we used it to pull down the shed, and Andrea went and got the Sunday newspaper. Once our plow shows up, we’ll get another dump truck load of wood chips for the dog yard, and it’ll get some heavy use moving gravel around in the driveway and for the pad the shed will sit on. We bought it for training dogs in the fall, and for clearing snow, but I expect it’ll get a lot of use this summer too.
Other smaller projects include fixing the planking on the bridge, repairing leaks and cleaning the gutters, redoing the discharge pipe from the sewage treatment plant, and shoring up the roof supports on the other sheds. Once the ground thaws, we’re thinking about building a second dog yard on the west side of the house. This time I’ll dig the post holes by hand. The gas powered auger we used last fall was fast, but not something I ever want to use again if I can help it. We had hoped to build an arctic entryway onto the house and wrap a new deck around it, but I doubt there’s enough time in the summer for that project. We’ll see.
Time to make breakfast, bake some bread and get back out there. Happy holiday!
Still on vacation. I just finished brewing my second batch of beer in the last week. It was originally called “Barking Buddy”, named after our biggest sled dog Buddy, but because of the heavy snow we’ve been getting today, I decided to rename it “Barking Buddy Blizzard Bitter.” All this snow is odd because early last week we had daytime highs in the 50s and the snow on the ground was rapidly melting. Suddenly, it looks a lot more like winter than spring. The top photo shows the start of the boil; that’s Buddy in the dog yard in the background of the photo.
Devil Dog Rye IPA fermented nicely over the past week, going from a gravity of 1.086 down to 1.022 at transfer to the secondary fermenter (a keg). I left for a funeral the day after I brewed it and put Andrea in charge of monitoring the temperature and the location of the fermentation chamber’s insulated lid. I removed the lid the morning after brewing because the yeast was going crazy and the wort temperature was up to 75°F. The wort was pitched on top of the yeast cake from the primary fermentation of my previous batch, and that’s why I got such a rapid fermentation and high temperature despite the high starting gravity. I was worried that there might be some off-flavors from the heat, but the beer tasted really good when I transferred it so I think it’ll be OK. Without Andrea’s help, it probably would have either gotten even hotter (if I’d left the lid on) or gotten too cold and I would have returned from Chicago to a stuck fermentation.
Today’s brew was relatively uneventful. I got another very high mash efficiency (85%!) this time around. As I mentioned in my last brewing post, I suspect this is due to my new mill, but it could also be the longer mashing times I’ve used, or the change in base malt (Castle Pale to Crisp Maris Otter). I’m happy that my yields are back up again, but it’s unfortunate that I changed all three variables at the same time so I can’t positively assign a cause to the improvement. I also hit my target pitching temperature of 66°F on the nose this time, so I’m finally getting the hang of the pump I’m using to circulate cold water through the plate chiller. It’s all good.
The second photo shows Kiva’s reaction to the dog beds being occupied. Buddy has a tendency to stretch himself out across two beds, and when Koidern nestled in next to Buddy there was no room for Kiva. But rather than moving to one of the other beds we’ve got, she wedged in behind Koidern. In the photo she’s giving Koidern the stink-eye, trying to get her to move. Didn’t work, and eventually all three went to sleep all packed together on the two beds.
One more day of vacation until the weekend. I’m looking forward to smoking salmon, working on a side table for Andrea, and relaxing.
The weather is turning toward spring: there’s water on the Creek, the snow is melting away, and every day it seems like the days are noticeably longer. The sled dogs always go a bit crazy at this time of year because the dog yard is still covered with snow, but their racing season is over. This appears to have affected Deuce more than the other sled dogs. He’s always played with “his” food bowl in the dog yard, but in the last few days he’s started picking up the dog bowls in the house and carrying them around. The photo shows him pacing back and forth in front of the couch with one of the bowls. It’s very cute.
Hopefully once the snow melts and we can spread the wood chips around again, they’ll get into lazy summer mode and Deuce will relax.