Saturday, December 4, 2010

Apple Pressing Tantrum

Everyone has their limits and today mine were tested by a formidable pile of, what else, but apples. Yes, I said apples. Part of our DIY lifestyle means that inheritantly some days just are going to be more complex than they should be and there is no one to blame but yourself. The day started off normally, I woke up and went down to the basement to feed and tend to the managery of creatures. First I check the chicken's water and feed, then I make sure the worms are moist enough and if not spray them with a little water, and lastly I feed the fish and check their PH and Ammonia levels. (Jeff and I take turns with the morning routine, but I wake up earlier on the weekends.) This morning the chickens had dumped over their water so they were out, and when I replenished that you would have thought they hadn't had a drink in a week. I felt so bad. Then I checked on the worms and couldn't find them! I know they have to be in there since I have a bin underneath them so if they escaped they would be stuck in there. However, I couldn't find them as I dug around in the mess of dirt and leftover egg shells, half rotted blueberries, and green onions. I am not sure what to make of this development. I am really hoping they haven't died in there. I make a mental note to read up on this on the internet later. Lastly to the fish. Here I discover that the bubbler has stopped working and that the algae has grown so much I can no longer see in. Hmmm....well perhaps the two problems relate so I pulled the bubbler and whipped it off. (Very gross and slimy) That did the trick, but I still had to solve the larger algae problem. As I struggled to see into the large green tub I was able to make out that yet another fish had died. I am getting frustrated as I can't determine why the fish are dying.

Moving on with the day, I decided to do a load of laundry before Jeff woke up. This means I needed to get the newly homemade detergent out of the bucket and into the old store bought laundry detergent jug. (I do this rather than use it directly from the bucket because it is easier to use.) Well as I was pouring the goo into the funnel something got stuck and as I tried to look in the funnel I dropped the bucket spilling the light blue jello like detergent all over the floor. Lovely! After cleaning that and finally getting the laundry done, Jeff and I head out to the pet store to pick up a few algae eaters and a fish net. After the last fish died, I had to pick it out by hand and to say the least I am soooo over that.

Upon getting home, I put the new algae eaters in the tank, still in their bag from the pet store, so the water temperatures adjust, and Jeff and I started getting ready to press apples. We decided to make some more cider so we can "backsweeten" the last batch that came out so very dry. (Backsweeten is cider talk for adding something sweet after it has finished fermenting in our case new cider.)

As I have written about, I was really frustrated by our apple grinding issues. The first batch we used a small cuisanart. Jeff felt that didn't really help us be independent (since it is tied into the grid) so the second time we used a large bucket and beat the apples with a long board. Well at this point, I put my foot down and insisted we use the cuisanart. Things were going along okay until about the half way point when I cracked. I just couldn't take anymore of the grinding apple sound, the sticky goey messy everywhere in my kitchen, and the fact that we had been at this for two hours and were only half way done! Jeff looked over at me and asked if I was okay. My response was a five minute whining session about sticky apples and why can't we be normal people who buy cider at the store. After getting over myself, I finished up processing the apples and I began to really think about why we don't just buy cider. This morning we saw organic black beans that cost $1.99 for a pound. We laughed because Jeff and I have several old jars filled with organic black beans from our garden and the incredibly cheap price was a joke compared to the effort we put into the getting ours. So why do we live our lives like this? We can't say we save money. The chicken coop and feed out weighs the eggs we get from them, we drove three hours to get the fish and I have spent a small fortune at the pet shop with nitrate testers, PH drops, etc, the garden also is a money pit although not as bad as the other projects but with the time and supplies we don't come out ahead. So why do this? Jeff and I have different reasons. I know he is more concerned with peak oil and needing these skills sets. I also worry about this but, today being the exception, we have a blast with our hobbies! It is greatly quality time together. We work out challenges as a couple, laugh at our mistakes, and our relationship is strengthened by the projects. Also the quality of food is out of this world. Nothing beats getting to enjoy food you grew yourself canned during the peak of freshness in the middle of the winter. So, for me, I get all the benefits of reducing my carbon footprint (some of the projects others are total carbon hogs), quality time with my husband, and preparing us for a potential emergency. Even with days like this it is worth the trouble.

Note the color difference between today's the the ones from last month.