Sunday, March 26, 2006

Wine cellar and snowshoe outing

Things are progressing nicely on both making wine and making a place to store all the wine once it is made! The old crawl space/hatch entrance in Quentin's bedroom has now been remodelled and we think will serve very nicely as our wine cellar. It is cool, damp, and dark - just right!

We still need to put a small light down there, and do a bit of insulating, but it's getting close. And that's good because next weekend we will bottle our first batch of merlot. Even though it is supposed to be best after a few months, we will have to sample a bottle just to see how it is now. then, we'll see if we can detect changes over time. So, soon I can post a photo of our new cellar with our bottled wine, and not just these store-bought imposters! The shelves are actually intended to be used with the other side up, as an upper shelf for a closet. But it works perfectly for wine storage, and raises up the bottle just right to keep the cork wet and the sediment to the bottom. And it wasn't expensive, so all in all, we came up with a pretty good set-up. and we will be able to store abut 200 bottles.

Yesterday, Marianne and I went snowshoeing up by Cameron Pass. We rented a small cabin in the Poudre Canyon the night before. I went out at about 9 p.m. until almost midnight listening for a boreal owl. But, alas, no luck. They are pretty rare in colorado, and this is one of the few places you can sometimes hear them calling. They nest in the high elevation forests, and when they are calling in march, these areas have many feet of snow! So, at Cameron pass, you can drive the road, stop and listen, and cover a fair amount of ground that way. So, there I was, standing in the dark, in the freezing cold, listening away for several hours.... but no luck. Ahh, for the good old days of seeing owls with the ease with which we saw 11 great gray owls during the daytime in Minnesota!

But the snowshoe outing was wonderful. There was a lot of good snow, and it actually was pretty warm. marianne and I both shed quite a few layers during our hike! We both decided to buy snowshoes and this was our first outing with them. Marianne's are made special for a woman's stide and worked well for her. We got up pretty high on Sawmill Creek trail and had a beautiful view where we had a bite to eat and then returned.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Counting my blessings

Reading Karen's last blog entry makes me want to stop and count my blessings. And they are many. First and foremost is my family - Marianne, our kids and their significant others, my folks, my sisters. My health. My job. Our house and patio and garden. And of course, birds. Yes, life is a blessing, and I am glad for it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sierra Day and more winemaking

We had a great visit with all the family out east, and it was good to see Grandpa. He is doing pretty well, and is feeling good and in good spirits. Sierra has pix of our visit at his place, so maybe she can post some of them?

We had a good visit with Diane and dick and went to the zoo one morning and saw the pandas and the baby panda. It was really cute. The baby was climbing around and at one point hanging from a branch before dropping to its butt on the ground!

Sierra day was a huge success, with tons of good food, and Nicaragua flags everywhere, and a special cake, and beer, etc! We spent a good part of the day at Chuck and Marge's and got to visit with the cousins and see the babies and young kids. Tanya and Kirstan are both pregnant and it was fun to talk and see how they are feeling. We didn't get to see Christy because she is still in Africa doing her work with the Red Cross.

But we got to visit with Chuck and his two children Hope and Walker, and Kym and Nicky, and Tanya and Brian and their three children Alana, Conal and Nolan, Kirstan, and Dina. The weather was warm so we took a great family photo outside.

On the home front, Mom and I are working on our first batch of wine, and plan to start a second batch tomorrow! Wine needs is best if stored in a cool, dark place, so we have been fixing up the hatch/crawl space in Quentin's room. The temps are good and we'll make some storage shelves down in the lower part, where it is coolest. We figure we can store about 140 bottles down there, so that is great!

As part of step three you have to stir the wine real well to get out the carbon dioxide. They recommended (and we got) a paddle like stirrer that fits on the end of an electric drill. That seemed to work really well, and after we stirred it up we'll let it settle for 2 weeks or so, and then if it is clear, we'll bottle it! Then in about two months it should be good to drink. That's the only downside so far, all the waiting.

Love you all!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Owl and wine updates

Yeah! I went out this morning and heard a saw-whet owl - a new bird for me. I drove the road in Rist canyon in the darkness at about 4 a.m., and stopped at various turnoffs and got out and listened. At one point I heard one not too far away and walked down the road and got pretty close (I think, it's hard to tell how far away they are by the call only). Of course, I couldn't see it, but it was exciting anyway.

Mom and I checked our wine last night and the Specific Gravity reading was about .991 or .992, which means our wine fermented way faster than we expected. So fast in fact, that we are likely moving ahead to step three later today, which we had thought we wouldn't be doing for maybe 10-12 days. Ahh, the joy of a new hobby (and not really knowing for sure what you are doing...). But, the good news is we tasted it last night and it seems to be doing well. By our figuring it will have an alcohol content of about 11% or a bit more. We're already thinking of what we'll make for our second and third batches! And we are thinking of using the crawl space in Q's room as a storage area. Temps seem reasonable and it's kind of like a mini-cellar, about 3'x4'. We'll keep posting updates as the wine experiment continues.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Owling tomorrow!

Switching from wine making back to my other favorite pastime, I am heading out at 3:30 a.m. tomorrow in search of a new bird. There are several small species of owls that I heave never seen (or heard) and I got a good tip on one that is being heard up Rist canyon. It's called a saw-whet owl.
They are only 8 inches tall! I'll try to imitate their call and see if I can get one to respond. Should be fun, and if I am successful there are 2 other species of owl I may try for in other places. Wish me luck!