Benjamin Sizemore

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since Apr 21, 2013
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Recent posts by Benjamin Sizemore

The funny thing about people and relationships is that most folks are operating from a hard-wired perspective that 'you should always try to stay together.'

In my personal and no so humble opinion, this is just wrong. When it comes to couples there are really just three categories:

Those who were meant to be together and can always make it with a *little* work.
Those who are going to have to work *just a little too hard* to stay together.
Those who need to cut bait and run.

The root of the matter is that there really is no compelling scientific evidence that people NEED a spouse in the first place. They are just another of many diversions we chase so we don't have to face our own solitary consciousness in the universe and pursue enlightenment.

It is the obsession with mating and "love" that prevents our real evolution as a species. Oh, the irony.

To be more practical, when you view your husband as a roommate and business partner, how does he stack up? What justifies any emotional weight in that equation? You put him through school and he built you a house. Fair enough! Call it even and get on with your life, because you obviously have the skills and he's just using you as a base to pursue some nonsense. My father was an artist, so I have seen this first hand and the only enlightened thing to do is not to tolerate it.

Lucky for you, you're the man in this equation but the courts will still treat you like a woman. If you have to give him 40 acres to make it feel right, or whatever, do what it takes. But, if I were you, I'd take the leap, because it sounds like you can get by on your own just fine.

Good luck!

6 years ago

Mike Cantrell wrote:Nice write up! Fun to read. I'm sometimes not so careful with getting a good starter, and MOST of the time I get away with it. But to be foolproof, your way is the right way.

Mmmmm, cider. We had a bumper year of apples in 2013... I pressed 25 gallons or so with a press I built kind of according to Herrick Kimball (Whizbang)'s plans. I just finished the last bottles of apple wine a few weeks ago.

Thanks! Yeah, giving the yeast a running start can really help, depending on your environment (gross, messy kitchen people, I'm talking about you).

I can't wait to get back to making it from roadside fruit... seems like forever. I really need a fruit press, though. Couple years ago I crushed and pressed 30 gallons of Bordeaux blend with my hands alone - no feet involved. I was fairly purple for quite some time. But at the winery, the presses were always blowing up and we got purple from that. The owner finally bought this incredible stainless German pressing machine that can eat a grizzly bear. We got by for 5 years in a quasi-million dollar winery with a couple of crappy hydraulic barrel presses, lol.

6 years ago
I have been a brewer and vintner for 8 years or so, working seasonally in a winery and brewery and making my own hooch. I grew up in Seattle, where you can get truckloads of any fruit every year from roadside ditches. Then, I spent 5 years in Colorado, where some years you get no fruit due to frost in June (EFFFFF YOOOOOOOOOO, WEATHER!)

Anyway, despite all of my my high-level projects, I always make holiday cider the easy way. Here's how:

Begin ONE month (or seven weeks) before you intend to drink - yeah, I know, too late for solstice orgy this year. Sorry


*One gallon jug ORGANIC apple cider from Whole Paycheck Foods or similar. Must be organic. You get a cool glass jug! Sometimes on sale for $5...usually $8.
*One envelope dry ale yeast, Pasteur red or any homebrew yeast really. I avoid champagne yeast because it's sulphury.
*Two large drinking glasses
*Clean spoon
*Hot water
*One Zip-loc (tm) sandwich bag


Bring home the yeast and glass gallon jug of organic apple juice/cider and make sure it is at room temperature before you start.

Bathe the drinking glasses in the hottest water your tap can provide - inside and out - for a 20 seconds or so.

Fill one glass 1/2 full with hot tap water.

Make sure the 1/2 glass of water is wicked hot-tub hot.. about 110 degrees. This is cool enough to keep your finger in, but hot enough that you wish you hadn't.

105-113 deg F, for you scientists.


Empty the packet of yeast into the 1/2 glass of hot water and stir with the clean spoon until no dry parts float on the surface.

Put the Zip-loc (tm) bag over the yeast glass

Wait five to ten minutes. You should see the yeast begin to bloom a little. If not, wait until you see a little bloom.

While you are waiting, open the cider and pour about 1.5 cups into the second glass

Once you see a little bloom in the yeast, pour a dollop of cider from the second glass into the yeast glass - about 25 ml.

Put the cap back on the cider jug and go do something for 15 minutes.

Come back and then add another dollop from the cider glass to the yeast glass. It should be forming a foamy head by now.

If the yeast glass is not forming a foamy head, kill yourself for YOU HAVE FAILED!

Ok, not really. Just wait a little longer - 20 minutes maybe.

Do not proceed until you have a frothy head on the yeast glass.

Once you have a frothy head, stir the yeast culture glass a bit and then pour about 1/4 cup of it into the jug of cider.

You will need head space in the jug, so don't get uppity and pour in the whole glass. You'll be sorry.

You have just done what is called "pitching" - Hooray!

Now, put the cap on the cider jug *loosely* and then put the Zip-loc (tm) bag over that and zip it as tight as you can.
Put the jug in a dark cupboard that will stay room temperature - 72 F or so - for 2 weeks and forget about it.

If the weather is hot and/or you have not left enough head space in the jug, you might want to put the jug inside a pie tin or similar sized receptacle to catch any boil-over.

After two weeks, find something in the house that can hold about a gallon of liquid and clean it really well. You are now ready to "rack" your cider.

This involves pouring the liquid on top off of the goop that will be settling on the bottom - WITHOUT disturbing the goop too much. You will forfeit a bit of cider in the process.

It's best to do this in one smooth motion, tipping the jug. The poured cider will froth a bit, so use a big receptacle and pour slowly. If you stop pouring, the cider will backwash and mix with yeast and you should kill yourself because YOU FAILED!

Yes, really. But, moving along, though; after you have successfully racked the clean-ish cider off of the goop (lees, they call it), you can clean out the jug with tap water and then funnel the clean-ish cider back into the jug. It helps to have a helper helping with this, to hold jugs at the right angle


Put the cap back on - TIGHT this time - and forget about the jug in a warm place for another week (or two).

After that week, leave the cap tight and transfer the jug to the fridge for one more week (or two).

It has now been a full month and (if you are nuts) you are ready to drink your apple drank, FOO!

If you have a racking cane and tubing (brew shop) you can rack again at this point. It will improve the long-term quality and aging-ability of the cider. I only do this if I have made a big batch or my brother is not in town, because he will drink all of anything that isn't locked up.

Now, this 30-day recipe is the BARE MINIMUM for decent cider that will treat you well. The sooner you drink it and the fewer times you rack, the more GAS GAS GAS you will get in your tummy guts. I'm talking farts that will get you divorced.

Also, the vitamin B in the yeast will keep you awake all night.

So, the best option is to age for two weeks warm after the first racking and then two weeks in the fridge after another racking, and then rack again and wait one more painful week in the fridge (7 weeks total) before drinking. This will give you exceedingly high quality cider with a nice amount of natural fizz and no unpleasant divorce.

At the beginning, you can add 1/2 cup per gallon of unrefined sugar if you want to get closer to 5% ABV. Plain cider will give you about 3.5%.

You can add hops at any time and rack and age as much as you want to get cool new recipes.

If you want natural fizz, however, you will need at least one week of warm ferment time with the cap on tight after one racking. The longer you ferment warm, the drier it will be. The more times you rack, the better it will taste and the less you will get divorced. If you get it REALLY clean and still want some fizz, you can add a tablespoon of raw sugar dissolved in hot water and wait one more week. After all that, two week in the fridge is good, or three months in the basement is better.

Go crazy!

6 years ago
I sprouted a dozen of these from supermarket fruit this past spring. Hail obliterated them and everything else in my garden, but one survived.

It is currently on the verge of taking over my spare bedroom. It looks exactly like the picture.
6 years ago
I would definitely mix in a lot of daffodil bulbs with the saffron corms to keep the rodents away. Even circle them with daffodils in a thick perimeter.
6 years ago
Cows with fricken laser beams attached to their heads!
</doctor evil>

6 years ago
OP, like any sane cattle farmer, you must realize that you are not in the business of raising chickens, but rather in the business of raising chicken food. Once you do that, the chickens take care of themselves. There are plenty of plants that drop enormous amounts of seed/berries that persist over the winter. There are also ways to increase the numbers of bugs and mice that chickens love to eat - especially in the winter. The video about the compost method is a good start.

If it gets really cold, they can live in a greenhouse that has forage shrubs and maybe a cricket farm in it... stuff like that. But I would say 30 chickens is too many until you have mature forage plants growing and/or more land.

6 years ago
You hardwood forest folks have a ton of clay, but if the area has ever been clearcut (200 years ago), that brief period of open savannah would have started some soil building. Another Mollison trick for breaking up clay is gypsum. They sell it dirt cheap in huge bags of pellets for animal bedding in factory (ick) farms. You just spread that over your future gardening area and wait for rain. I think he says it takes a matter of days for it to work and opens clay hardpan up to air and water a few feet down. Then you plant daikon, clover and some tall grass or something with deep, fibrous roots and one year you have soil. Once you get some organic material in there, the worms show up and go bonkers tilling the soil for you.

If you want to get really tricky, you can put some breathable sheet much over your year's worth of cover crops next fall to mash it all down (after mowing) - cardboard, jute, lots of leaves - or even plastic with some (lots) holes in it for air. Then the worms will have a super extravaganza hootinanny under there over the winter and by late spring all that grass and radish and clover will have been mixed into the soil like magic and turned into fertilizer.

Oh I just remembered, OP, that you have all those trees to chip. So, you can use those chips as the breathable mulch on top of crop growth to create your worm-topia extravaganza. Worms need air, so only a couple inches thick on the mulch. Then you put the chickens on top of that and they eat up all the seeds of stuff you no longer want to grow and they get crazy fat on worms! Plus more fertilizer and great ground prep.

That sort of intensive prep is reserved for zone 1, where you are working maybe 500 square feet at a time, but your soil will be the envy of everybody.

6 years ago