March 31, 2005

On the road again

Stuck in Woodland, CA (30 miles north of Sacremento) for two days. Clutch on the truck burned up coming over the mountain passes and here getting it replaced.

Planning to get into Fresno sometime tomorrow and still on track to picking up the trailer with the crusher and press on Saturday.

I'll post more when I get into Fresno.

Posted by DaveH at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Minimal posting for a week or so...

I am driving down to California today to pick up our large Apple Crusher and Cider Press that I bought last December. Driving down with the truck, renting a U-Haul trailer and driving back. I will also be stopping in Eugene, Oregon to check out these people as a possible supplier of Honey for our Mead making as well as soap making supplies and novelties to sell in our tasting room.

Check back around April 6th — I will be back by then and will post a trip report with pictures.

See you all later!

Posted by DaveH at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Fun and Games with tanks - part two...

A few days ago, I wrote about trying to move our small tank and finding its legs cemented into the floor. That following day, I went armed with some heavy tools and got it out successfully. Here are some photos:

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If you look around the leg, you will see an area of different colored concrete — this is where the original floor was chiseled out, the legs placed and fresh concrete poured in. It went down more than four inches.

My original plan was to use a rotohammer to chip out the concrete and lift the legs from the holes. The legs were so deeply set into the floor, this proved impractical so Plan B was implemented. An abrasive cut-off wheel in an angle-grinder made relatively short work. It turned out that the legs themselves had been filled with concrete and a piece of rebar set into the middle.
I wound up having to use the cut-off wheel to score around the outside of each leg and then use a Sawzall with a metal cutting blade to cut through the cement and the rebar. Six legs = four cut-off wheels and five Sawzall blades…

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Finally, after about three hours, jacked it free of the floor, put some planks underneath and started pulling it out of the building.

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The tank is now fully out of the building. A big sigh of relief!

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Here it is with its larger neighbor at pasture in our field.

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Here is a view inside the tank. I do have stainless steel lids that completely cover it. The openness is really nice as we will be using this one for our Mead and Specialty drinks and the design of this tank will make it very easy to hoist a 55 Gallon drum of Honey or Berries up, over and into a pouring position. Plus, since this tank will be used for heavier, sticker raw materials, the openness makes it a lot easier to clean and sanitize.

Posted by DaveH at 08:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

Fun and Games with tanks...

As I wrote about yesterday, I was heading in to pick up the other smaller tank today. It was built into a milk-house to it was necessary to remove part of one wall.

I did this and was starting to move the tank. I am using a 3.5 ton car jack — we are talking about 7,000 pounds of lifting capacity and a tank that weighs about 1,000 pounds — 1,500 tops.

I am there with the jack pumping and pumping away. The walls of the tank are starting to deflect and this thing is staying put — it is just not moving.

I crouch down to take a look at the feet and see that they have been set into cement. The person who installed the tank chiseled four holes into the floor, set the tank legs in and poured concrete around them.

I called U-Haul;, extended the rental of the trailer for another day and will be headed in tomorrow with my roto-hammer, several cold chisels and a nice small sledge for some serious mayhem.

Some days Murphy gets the upper hand…

Posted by DaveH at 07:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

One down, one more to go

Spent today working with the good folks at Whatcom Refrigeration to move the larger of the two tanks we recently bought.

This unit is the 2,000 Gallon unit — the owner got out of dairy and is now doing organic produce and trees. I wrote about him here.

After this, we then went over to the farm nearby where the third tank is (wrote about that one here) and they pumped the freon out of the unit and disconnected the compressor.

Here are some photos:

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The crew showed up promptly at 8:30. Lots of cool toys in those trucks!

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I have been involved in moving several large pieces of machinery and there is always a 30-minute looking, scratching the head, muttering, planning stage. The tank is a tight fit so several strategies are being tossed around.

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Here is Farmer Bob — he is the owner of this farm and was the person who sold me the tank. We used his large tractor to move the tank.

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A perfect extraction — Ladies and Gentlemen, the Tank has Left the Building!

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I put the forks on our tractor Buttercup to move the refrigeration compressors. Those things are heavy (about 200 pounds)

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Here sits the tank in its temporary home. When the Cidery is built this summer, all three tanks will be installed as the building is being built. I will have Whatcom Refrigeration come out and get them running again at that time.

Posted by DaveH at 05:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2005

New stuff at the Farm

Our critters need a safe place to hang out when the weather is good so we built a nice paddock for them:

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Jen pounded all of the individual fence posts, I used Buttercup to drill the holes for the end posts, set them and brace them. She rolled out the fencing materials, I stretched it and stapled it to the end posts and she secured the fencing to each individual post. I hung the gate and got the hardware together.

A good division of labor and we commented how well we work together. A good thing because we are stuck with each other. (grin)

All in all, this took about three days — the paddock encompasses a bit over 1/2 acre of land. We will be building another one as the sheep and goats browse this grass down but that will be a project for later this summer.

Posted by DaveH at 10:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 13, 2005

A veritable cornucopia of tanks

I had written about our second large-capacity tank earlier. I was still looking for one more — something smaller that I could use for batches of specialty beverages, Mead, Melomel and Cyser. For the Mead and Melomel, wrestling with raw honey in 55 gallon drums is an “interesting” materials handling challenge so it would be better if the tank had a large opening. I can put the drum in a sling, hoist it and move it over the tank to pour it in.

I was reading a local buy-sell weekly newspaper can ran into this classified advertisement:

Stainless Steel Milk Tank — make offer

Jen and I went to look at it today and found a tank that is a little larger than I was looking for (it is about 1,500 gallons) but is open top and will work well for us.

The owner had bought an ex-dairy farm from an elder couple who were retiring and the equipment had been sitting idle for several years (the present owner does Horses). The icing on the cake was that a lot of the original stainless steel tubing was available too. We will need to retrofit a lot of it with Tri-Clover fittings (the existing hardware is an earlier version but not compatible) but with the price of raw stainless, this will get us going very nicely.

Here are some pictures:

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Here is the new tank. There are
four large hatches that lift up for access.

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Here is the motor for the agitator.

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The refrigeration compressor — looks to be in
good condition but no idea if it is running
the old (nasty) Freon or the newer refrigerants.

Oh yeah - the kicker to this story is that the owner was giving me directions to get to their place and the route and street names got more and more familiar… Their property is right next door to the tank in the other story. They share a property line! Talk about coincidence…

The Cidery is getting equipped and coming closer to opening!!!

Posted by DaveH at 08:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2005

Surveying the ground for the new Cidery

We had two Engineers from a local surveying company Larry Steele and Associates out today to plot the terrain around where the new Cidery is going to be built as well as locate the existing buildings on the site (House and Barns).

Here are some photos:

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A truck full of high-tech goodies…

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Laser Transit - it measures distance, angle and elevation and
stores this in an on-board computer.


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A target is placed at an earlier survey post defining the property line.
All measurements are referenced to this.

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Our dogs were very happy to help out…

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Sometimes the appropriate technology is just a tape measure…

Posted by DaveH at 02:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Great Enology resource

Making Cider and Mead is closer to Winemaking than to Beer Brewing so there is a lot of information (and equipment) about winemaking which can be used for Cider and Mead production.

I subscribe to both the Cider Digest and the Mead Lover's Digest maintained by Dick Dunn (the link for these is at the right).

Today on the Mead Lover's Digest, someone posted this link and from a cursory examination it looks really really good:

Wine/Enology - Grape Chemistry Group Overview

I will be adding it to the list at the right in a day or two.

Posted by DaveH at 12:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2005

Goat Maintenance

One of the things we need to do is check on the well-being of our critters.
Jen noticed two days ago that Gohan had a lice colony on his back so we picked up some shampoo and proceeded to give both Gohan and Oreo a shampoo. Needless to say, being the intelligent comfort-loving creatures that they are, they enjoyed every minute of this…

Oreo was first:

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He submitted with grace… Finally it was done and he was set free:

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Next up — Gohan:

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And the rinse cycle — Gohan is looking very wet and pitiful:

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Here are the critters that we were after - look for the orange oval-shaped things, the irregularly shaped stuff is debris from his bedding:

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Our sheep (Seamus and Kiwi) came by to look. Fortunately, lice are species specific so we don't need to worry about them getting infected:

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And what could we do without the careful supervision of Amber, one of the farm cats:

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Posted by DaveH at 09:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

We have tanks!

We get a local Agricultural newspaper called the Capital Press. Last Friday I was reading that weeks copy and noticed this classified ad:


A good price and located close to our farm. Gave the guy a call, went to look at it today and Brown Snout Farm and Cidery is now the proud owner of a second 2,000 gallon tank.

Here are some pictures at the guy's farm — he got out of the dairy business four years ago and is now doing Real Estate as well as raising trees for stream and salmon recovery and doing a bit of organic produce growing.

Here are some pictures:

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Here is the tank from the inside.

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Here is the compressor for the refrigeration unit.

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Here is the tank from the outside.

It will be interesting getting it out of there — the wall the tank penetrates is just plywood sheeting but the tank itself weighs a lot and it will take a bit of jockeying. The cows are milked inside this building and the truck drains the tank from the outside to take to the main processing plant.

There is a fair bit of rust on the compressor — I'll have a dairy refrigeration person look at it and see if it needs to be replaced. Should be OK though, some scrubbing, a touch of the sandblaster here and there and a coat of fresh paint will go a long way.

Not shown is the unit that automatically cycles through the detergent and sanitizing agent for cleaning. This system is automatic, set the dial and go do something else for an hour.

Having the second tank of this size will mean that we can turn out product faster. Some Cideries will add sugar and apple concentrate to raise the overall sugar level to twice what is normally found in Apple Juice. This allows them to use a hot fast fermentation. They then dilute their product 50% and adjust the flavor with caramel, malic acid and tannins. Even though we will be using concentrate, we will be starting with a single-strength juice and will do slow and cool fermentation letting the flavors develop as much as possible. We will also be getting crab apples from local growers and blending these with our juice to add more flavor without having to resort to “single note” additives.

Posted by DaveH at 04:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 02, 2005

Wooo Hooooo!!!!!!!!!

I went to the Post Office today and this gorgeous piece of paper was waiting for me:

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Caution for dial-up: This is about 150K

There are two Licenses that need to be applied for, The Washington State Liquor Control Board and the Federal TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau). Of these two, the WA State one is the hard one.

Now we can start building the Cidery with the knowledge that we will soon be clear to operate.

Doing the happy dance…

Posted by DaveH at 03:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack