As I look out into the paddocks bustling with new life, signs of seasonal sway surround us, the stone fruit trees have started to blossom and put forth new leaves in anticipation of the sunshine to follow. Much like back home in Oregon and Washington the plums, followed closely by the peaches and nectarines usher in the new season, and I can’t wait for warmer days and a reprieve from the soggy weather of winter.
We have been working really hard this past week tending to several jobs needed to repair damage caused by the flood, as well as prepping some areas for the planting of food crops. Firstly Kelly and myself went down to the creek and fixed the washed out sections of fence by removing all of the debris that had been collecting over the past few weeks, which by this point had formed a thick mat of dead grass and branches. Then we stood up all of the posts that had been dislodged, one section of fencing even needed to be completely removed from the creek as it had wound itself back into a tangled spool. At one point near the end of clearing the waterway the very soft ground gave way and the creek swallowed me, leaving me hanging from the fence while water rushed into my gum boots and up past my knees. Luckily Kelly was there to laugh at me as I shimmied along the fence and made my way to dry land. It should be noted that these fixes are only temporary so that we can improve the flow of the creek. Also by removing the fencing from the creek we are preventing any further decay that the water will cause to the fencing material. We will be revisiting this project sometime in the next few weeks to perform some more long term fixes, but those will involve cutting the fence in a few places and resetting some of the posts.
Later in the week we had a new arrival, Matheus from Brasil. The three of us headed out with Nelson where he showed us around some of the less explored areas of his property. Nelson taught us about observing the flow of water over the surface of the land and how to redirect that water by cutting in drains so that the water goes where we want it to go, and not where we don’t want it to go. Near the creek side we cut in a few more drains so that the fence posts wouldn’t be sitting in water, shortening the life of the posts and costing money. We headed back down to the creek side and with the help of Matheus we cleared a large section of gorse to make way for blueberry bushes, a highly valuable food crop that doesn’t mind boggy conditions.
Also we dug out a large section of fence that had been buried with mud and silt from the flood (this will be an ongoing project), and Kelly rained havoc on the thistle population. We also took stock of the battens required to repair sections of fence where sheep from the neighboring property could squeeze through, this was part of another valuable lesson Nelson taught us about projecting our thoughts into the future in order to create a priority list that is proactive rather than reactive.
This past week at the Eco School we brewed an all Kiwi IPA, made with New Zealand hops, malted barley, filtered rain water, and some last minute ingenuity. This brew was completely unique to anything I had done in my 7 plus years of home brewing. We started by heating the 13.14 L of mash water to a temperature of 75 C using the rocket stove and a high quality stainless steel bucket. We went ahead and heated 24 L of water in total, 12 in the bucket and 12 in the water jacket of the rocket stove, as this was the full capacity of both vessels. We wanted to get the most out of the energy used, and we would be needing an additional 16.125 L of water for the sparging process. Once our water hit the correct temperature we added a little more than half of the total volume to our mashtun. In this case our mashtun was a 30 L fermenting bucket lined with a bag made from sanitized wind netting, hand stitched the previous night, all nestled in a large box lined with heavy blankets for insulation. While the mash was doing its thing, which takes about an hour, we added approximately 5.5 L of water to the rocket stove and kept stoking the fire until the water reached 77.2 C. After sparging, we had collected a total of 28.4 L of wort, we then split the liquid into two containers and started the one hour boil. We had 5 separate hop additions comprised of Rakau, Motueka, and Riwaka hops all added at different times throughout the boil. After primary fermentation, we will be utilizing a sixth dry hop addition of Riwaka hops, dry hopping during secondary fermentation will add a wonderfully fruity nose to the finished beer. Finally we moved onto the last few steps which are chilling the wort, aerating the wort and pitching the yeast. This is the only stage of brewing in which we want to introduce oxygen into our beer, all steps after this we will be doing our very best to avoid oxidizing our beer. In about two weeks we will be bottling our beer in some bottles generously donated to us by the nice folks at Yeastie Boys Brewing via Beervana. After secondary fermentation completes we will be bottling our brew, the following week will be filled with prayers to Ninkasi (the goddess of fermentation) in hopes that our hard work is rewarded with a tasty, refreshing beverage.
Until next time, Patrick