Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

Harvest with Upgraded Grape Equipment

We harvested over 750 lbs of our Chambourcin grapes this morning to experiment with making rosé wine.  This relatively small harvest served a double purpose:  to try and make rosé, and to make sure our new (used) grape processing equipment will work as we hope before be pick the bulk of the grapes later this month.
We got an early start, the fog had not even lifted, and it was still pleasantly cool.  First order of business:  remove the bird netting:


nice cluster!

We alternated picking and crushing/destemming, then dumping the   grapes into the press.  All this took five of us about two and a half     hours, plus another half hour for clean up.

The used crusher/destemmer we got earlier this summer worked surprisingly well.  Jeff had to rewire the barn in order to get a 220 V outlet, and a friend build us a stand for underneath the destemmer, which made it a lot more sturdy.  Yesterday we scrubbed everything again with soapy water, then power-washed it prior to using it today.  Here is a video showing how it worked:

We then dumped the crushed grapes into the press, and collected the free run juice first.  This will be the juice we use for the rosé wine.  We then pressed the grapes and collected the pressed juice for a separate batch of wine.  

Meet our Basket Press

Our latest equipment upgrade was a used “Zambelli” basket press with a capacity significantly larger than anything we had ever used before.

We actually found this on Craigslist – in Maryland (and pulled it on a trailer across the Bay Bridge).

Not only does this press have larger capacity, it also comes with a hydraulic mechanism, making it a manual hydraulic press.  And it has a pressure gauge!

The basket itself is so large that it can be taken apart into two sections, which is handy for cleaning, but even handier for removing the pomace after pressing is done.

We have to move the press with the tractor though, it is much too heavy for any of us.

Crushed and destemmed grapes are
dumped into the basket
Grapes are pressed and juice runs out

When the pressing is done, the basket pieces can be removed and the pomace is exposed, which can then easily be removed with a pitch fork and carted to the compost pile.

Blueberries on the 4th of July

One great way to celebrate Independence Day is with a feast of blueberry desserts.  Since we have an abundance of fresh berries right now, we came up with the following selection for the day’s picnic.

Fresh blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream:

Blueberry-sour cream custard tart:

Adding the layer of berries to the custard

The always favorite fruit pizza, one version with a berry variety in every bite and another version of artistic flowers (both are courtesy of Sam’s skills):

Mulching the Herbgarden

I was gone for nearly a week and the weeds had taken over my herb-garden.  After a very thorough weeding and hoeing, the reward was to spread a thick layer of mulch.  What an improvement:

A Greenhouse!

We had another lucky “Craigslist” find this weekend.  Around 10:00 in the evening, Jeff was browsing through the “Farm and Garden” category and someone had just posted an ad for a Greenhouse.  Not just any greenhouse, but an 8 by 12 ft GLASS greenhouse.  Jeff emailed immediately, and a few minutes later the phone rang.  It was the couple selling the greenhouse – we were the first persons to contact them, and we got it!  We drove to Hershey the next day to see it, and pay for it, and then went back with a trailer and a lot of tools (and helpers!), to dis-assemble the greenhouse and take it home.

The greenhouse is in really good shape, and we were able to order replacements hardware from a greenhouse manufacturer in the UK.  Seems that the majority of greenhouses in the US are made with high tech plastics, not glass, but in England the preference seems to be toward glass greenhouses.  Shipping will take about 2 weeks they said.

In the meantime, we re-assembled the structure, and carefully stored the glass in the barn.  We figured that if we did not put the greenhouse  back together while we still remembered how it came apart, it would turn into a major fiasco later on.
So the structure is sitting in the back yard, while we are making a spot for it in the herb-garden – between the house and the garage.  This is a very sunny spot, and putting the greenhouse between two existing buildings should shield it from the high speed winds.  We will have to do some leveling first, then concrete in some posts, and get a bunch of pressure treated lumber for the foundation.  And we need to get a load of gravel for the floor. Updates will come later…
Posted in DIY