Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

Another Tree Bites the Dust

Jeff cut down the last of the rather invasive, pond-water-sucking, twisted willow trees today.  We hope that this is the last of it and that no more little ones will sprout on the pond edge.  It took over 2 years to clean up the bank, where the trees did quite some damage.  We  actually really like willow trees – but only a safe distance away from the water.  Last year, we planted a young weeping willow, which hopefully will grow into a graceful tree.

Routine Garden Chores Started

Blackberries are sprouting leaves and Peach trees have blossoms – and we are back in the regular garden chore mode, which is complete bliss:  Got the lawnmower and walk-behind string-trimmer out and mowed most of the house side this weekend.  Also weeded all strawberries, and started to spread mulch around them.  Cleaned up the herb garden some more.  Took a quick trip to the Newville Greenhouse and bought onions plants and new rhubarb as well.  Jeff disked the last section of the garden again and we ended up planting 260 onions (yes, I counted them… I love to count my plants).   They almost filled a complete row in the vegetable garden.

Wine Bottling

We bottled our first batch of 2012 wine:  5 gallons of Apple and 8 gallons of Chambourcin.  I have to say, the wine turned out great.  We took measurements of the pH, and SO2 levels, and we were  within the perfect range – without having to do much adjusting.  Our wines underwent “natural” cold stabilization (with other words, we left all our wine in the downstairs of our unheated stone barn), and the bottom of the carboys had a solid layer of tartrate crystals.

Tartrate crystals stuck to
 bottom of carboy

A note on “Wine Diamonds” (tartrate crystals) – tartaric acid is a normal grape acid.  Grapes also contain potassium and under chilly conditions,  these two things bind together, forming little potassium bitartrate crystals, which then settle to the bottom of the bottle. They’re completely harmless, and quite natural – but for those people who don’t know what these crystals are, they  are seen as impurities or even bits of broken glass.   Cold stabilization means that wine is “forced” to form these crystals before it is bottled.

We ran out of colored ink for our printer, so all labels this weekend were done is stark black and white decor.  We moved some of the bottles to the barn for storage – hoping the thick stone walls will keep temparatures perfect over the summer as well.

Grading: Jeff’s Hidden Talent

We’ve probably had the simple “graderbox” for the tractor for more than a dozen years – Jeff used to help out one of his friends by leveling his driveway every spring, moving gravel into potholes.  But at the Long Shot Farm, Jeff started to get rather creative in using the grader, smoothing out old construction sites, covering tree stumps, spreading gravel in driveways and leveling tractor ruts after the spring thaw. 

But today, he completely annihilated a steep bank along our pond. The bank that could not be mowed, not even with the weed whip.  Not sure how he did this without rolling the tractor into the water – and I wished we had taken a “before” picture.  All we have is the “after” picture.   A huge improvement not just for looks, or access to the water and fishing, but for “mow-ability”!

Posted in DIY

Mulching!!

All we did this weekend was work with mulch.  Except for one quick trip to Lowes, to get trellis posts, which were on sale at 50% off.  This sale only happens once or twice in the spring, so we had to take advantage of it.  Those posts are just sitting on the trailer near the grape vines for now.  Jeff will start marking off spots for the holes, and then use the post-hole auger on his tractor.  If the weather holds up, he’ll get started this week!

We probably used up over half of our huge stockpile of mulch – Jeff would scoop three tractor bucket loads into the smaller trailer, which we then pulled with the Four-wheeler.  We used pitch-forks and wide shovels to move the mulch around trees and bushes.  Lars and Tina tried to keep a running count of the wagon loads, but we lost track.  Our best estimate is that we did at least 15 loads since Friday evening.

All the elderberries, fruit trees and half the blueberry bushes are done. A few of the flower beds got some “left-overs”, they will need to get more later.   The weekend, as always, was way too short to get everything done.