By John Halamka
The daytime temperatures are in the 60’s and the evening temperatures are in the 40’s. The heated buckets in the barn can finally be retired. The heated bases for the poultry waterers and stock pond can be unplugged. The chance of frost will continue until late May, but the daily sub-freezing temperatures have passed. The row covers are off the hoop house raised beds.
With temps in the 60’s Kathy can finally work the bees, she’s cleaning, feeding, and organizing the hives. She’s preparing for the spring swarming behavior and has readied our “splits” – hives to take on the colonies that are going to swarm. We’ll expand our hives from 12 to 16 and begin a queen breeding program over the next few months. Kathy is mentoring other beekeepers and will be housing a few hives in Wellesley and Holliston as part of achieving diversity and robustness in our bee colonies. She’s busy painting hives and I’m building new hive stands.
The cider is now carbonated and we’re bottling this weekend. We’ve done tastings and we believe we’ve discovered the secret recipe for cider success:
4 parts sweet apples
2 parts tart apples
1 part aromatic apples
1/2 part astringent apples
That combination creates a complex flavor, elegant aroma, and satisfying crisp finish.
For us, carbonating at 12 pounds per square inch for 10 days at 38 degrees F seems to create the right effervescence. We’re very happy with the 2014 production and now know how to ramp up our efforts. Here’s the carbonation setup.
Although we’re a federal bonded winery, our state farmer winery license is still in process. Massachusetts not only requires an extensive application backed with numerous reference documents, but it also requires a $3000 Surety bond (which we had to learn how to create – it costs about $250 for 3 years).
This weekend, we’ll begin gathering the oak logs for the 2015 Shitake inoculation.
With warmer temps we’ll restart our ivermectin injection program for the alpaca/llama to control meningeal worm. This weekend we’ll be doing toenails and general body exams of all the animals.
Patriots Day (Monday) is a Massachusetts holiday, so we’ll use the time to plant, harvest winter lettuce, and bottle cider. At the end of April I travel to China for a few days of teaching, so I’m filling every weekend hour with Spring farm duties.
It’s great to feel the sun on my face and the dirt in my hands. Even the alpaca are …read more