Monday, December 20, 2010

The Barn, Bread, and the Long Wait.

I can't believe it has been so long since I've posted. There. I did the customary self-deprecating comment on my own creation presented on my own creation. The dreaded Blog post about posting on blogs. The proverbial snake eating its own tail. The elusive Non-post blog post. It won't happen again.

First of all, lets get the formalities out of the way.... HAPPY HOLIDAYS! It has been a little strange of a holiday season without all my friends around, but in the meantime, I'm getting a good reminder of what its like to enjoy your family at the holidays. Yes enjoy, and I don't mean that sarcastically. Sorry, Stereotypical American attitude at the holidays, you simply don't hold sway over my holiday outlook this year (Or really, ever).

This is the lady who wrote the lyrics to "in the bleak midwinter". You can see why. /cry

My only wish would be to sing more carols, and not just the dumb "frosty the snowman" and "Rudolph the RNR". Give me some classics - "In the bleak Midwinter" (Probably the most depressing and beautiful carol I can think of, also with a wonderful history, and the music is written by Gustav Holst, the same guy who did "The planets", Mars, the bringer of war, probably most famous for being ripped off by Bowser as his house-music for his castles, stupid...dinosaur? What is Bowser?) and "The Holly and the Ivy", which I would have a video up of the Muppet Family Christmas version of this song, but alas, the youtubes have failed me. However, this clip is probably my favorite:

Fozzie: Hey, that's pretty good harmony for a snowman!
Snowman: Actually, I'm a SNEWman!
Fozzie: Whats a-Snewman?
Snewman: Nothin's a-Snewman, Whats a-Snew with you?

So, any caroling with harmonies I really enjoy. I enjoy it more when I can actually read the music to try the harmonies, like at church when I read out of the Hymnal. However, most of the caroling i've found around here only give you the lyrics and don't challenge the caroler musically. Which I GUESS is the point, so that just anybody can sing and experience the joys of caroling, but I demand a challenge! I remember me and Walker did a 4 part harmony carol that was wonderful a few years back with his dad Clint and Dana Plagmann, and I remember really liking it, I just can't, for the life of me, remember what song it was. If you guys are reading this and remember, please remind me.

This brings me to the topic of what I've been up to. Well, the answer to that question is a little elusive. I feel like I'm not really doing anything, though I have to say, making slow improvements and projects everyday, I actually have ended up with quite a bit of progress on my hands. I'll start with the stuff that won't gross anybody out: Yeast.

Yes, those wonderful Micro-organisms! Those Fabulous Fungi! Those Enjoyable Eukaryote! Those Astoundingly Asexual Alcohol Assemblers! The Zany Zymurgical Zealots. Okay I'm done.

Pocatello Pumpkin Porter
This beer is good. That's all I'm going to say. Not a hit-you-over-the-head type of brew, but more subtle, which, when you notice the pumpkin-pie flavors slowly coming out about a minute after you take a sip, is magical. The carbonation is perfect, the Subtleties of flavor, remarkable. My mom even tried it. You know what she said? "It still tastes like Beer". That's the point!

My friend Michael Wallenfels, a freelance graphic designer at Mokusai Design has been drawing the label for me. Check it out below, hire him for any projects you can! He's wonderfully talented. He drew the picture of me that is my profile thing (This one). Here's the label he's drawn up:

Awesome, right!?
So, the beer is great, the Label is great, now all I have to do is decide what to do with it all, right? My first thought: send it along to friends I would otherwise have seen during the holidays as a wonderful alcoholic Christmas card. Man, that would be great, however, I've run into a few problems:

First of all, the Legality of sending alcohol from Joe-Schmoe to Shmoe-Joe via mail is legally fuzzy at best. The likes of bigger companies such as Woot ( and have to procure a license to be able to send alcohol through the snail tubes. This is something that is unavailable to me as a non-corporation, and I'm sure if it was available, it would be exorbitantly expensive. So sending beer through the mail, I could TECHNICALLY do, through UPS, just send it Drug-Dealer style, all wrapped up pretty before I bring it to the Brown store.

Secondly, assuming I'm willing to send beer dealer-style through UPS (Which I'm not), there is still the issue of funding. Through my experience in my previous job of sending things through UPS and FedEx, I know approximate prices, and sending packages to residential housing costs more than just to businesses. That brings the price of one bottle being shipped to Washington up to at least $6-8 each box. Being that I have so many wonderful friends, and not only in Seattle, but Oregon, California, and yes, even Virgina and WA DC (You know who you are) who I would love to share this with, the costs just becomes too much when I have to think about saving money from my non-existent current income for planting and farm supplies in the spring.

This brings me to the point: If any of my friends want to come to Idaho to visit, you will be given beer brewed by me. You can even set up a supply chain of taking it back with you if you'd like for other friends. However, I will not be shipping it. I know most of you don't care, but I do feel really bad about this, I want people to try it. The people that matter to me. Enough Schmaltz.

tl;dr: come to Idaho, get my beer. Don't come to Idaho, get your own beer.

The other Yeasty endeavor I've been embarking on is bread. I made a spiral rye bread loaf last week, and just wanted to share a picture of it. It is very pretty, I just need some pastrami and sauerkraut:

the skin of a Reuben

Switching gears; About 3 weeks ago or so, my entire family was under the same roof for the first time in 7 years. My sister, Jenni, was back from her gallivanting around the Baltic Sea and the Caribbean, working for the Holland America Cruise Line as a Stage manager (Hooray! at least one of us Essingers has got to make money!), and I was back from my month-long vacation down the west coast. It was a great time having everybody home, though the house is a little small for the 4 of us (how my mom grew up here with 5 sisters I'll never understand, though to be honest, I don't know how many actually lived here), and we have all really gotten into our own rhythms of life apart from each other, so there were a few toes stepped on. We managed as best as we could, but it was great to have family around. About a week after Thanksgiving, while Jenni has been waiting without word on when she was going to be going back out to sea with Holland America, she received a phone call with another contract offer: LEAVING THE NEXT DAY. We scrambled and got her off to the airport in time, not without going to see the first half of the next Harry Potter movie, mind you. Now things are more-or-less quiet around the house, though I do miss having another cook in the house and my brewing assistant, who was more than eager to help out with the last beer, and I'm sure would be even better help this time with one beer under her belt. (Don't worry Jenni, I'm saving at LEAST 1 bottle of the PPP for you!)

As some of you know, I have now become an official resident of Idaho. I got a new driver's license, and they took my WA license away with a charming picture that nobody believed was me. I am now a legal resident of Idaho, with all the honors and privileges that brings me, of which I was mostly interested in getting a library card. To my surprise, the Portneuf District Library's website looks exactly like Seattle's when you search for a book. To my Chagrin, that's where the similarities stop. They might LOOK the same, but the functions are all different. I could get into a diatribe on to whats different between the two and what I hate about it, but I'll sum it up in one sentence: If I have to still go into the library to do anything involving reserving a book or transferring a book from one library that has the book checked in to my home library, what good does the website do? Don't get me wrong, the library system here is better than I was expecting, but having to actually talk to the librarian to put my books on hold negates the reason to have the website.

The last thing I saved for last for good reason: I was trying to save the gross stuff for after the food and beer talk. See that image above? That is the mixture of substances that I had been dealing with for a good week in the barn. I described it to Walker a few weeks ago thusly:

"There has been consistently about 3-5 inches of hay, seed, birdcrap, cowcrap, and very fine silty dust all over the barn, all with old bits of metal, fasteners, lumber, and wire hidden as prizes. Its like the worlds largest, grossest box of Cracker Jacks."
I forgot, when talking to Walker, the mouse droppings and nesting material that is hidden in every nook and cranny. Thank god I was able to swipe my sister's bandanna before she left so that I could have a face mask. No Lyme Disease for this fellow! It took probably a week and a half to clear out the areas with this century-old carpet of disease and filth. That's because not only did I have to scoop it out with a shovel, but, stacked on top of it all, were treasures untold. My theme song for the week was the Little Mermaid's Part of your World ("Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's Complete!?"). And Gadgets and Gizmos I did have aplenty, let me assure you. Whoose-its and whats-its galore, at least 20 Thingamabobs. The problem being, where to put it all? That's actually what I'm working on now, no really good answers yet, but at least I'm sorting things into piles. Piles of Junk into smaller piles of Alike-Junk. Once those piles of alike-junk are all that remain, I can then figure out what to do with alike things, whether sell them, scrap them, use them again. This is the process I have been doing with lumber and the old single pane windows from the Farm I've been finding around. Checkit:

Before sorting and piling and junking

After sorting mostly, without the crap-carpet removed
Take a tour of the shop/barn

As for the pre-pictures, here are a few, and since I don't have any good "post" pictures of the whole barn, I'll put those up later.

Left side of barn - All the tools and fasteners

Center of barn. this area, before last year when my Dad and I cleared it out LAST thanksgiving , would not have barely fit the tractor. It now fits the tractor, lawnmower, and gives me ample workspace to sort JUNK.

right side of the barn: Used to be covered in filth, like the picture above. I have improved upon this space immensely and I'll show it as soon as I can feel good about it again (There is currently a pile of scrap metal I have to sort through where all this used to be.
As a byproduct of going through all this stuff, I've been finding little treasures that are not worth much but for scrap. The Cash Cows I've found are insulated copper wire ($1.15-$1.25 per pound), Rainbirds (Which count as brass, $0.75 per pound), and old car radiators ($1 per pound). We walked away from Pacific Recycling with almost $300 for just bringing in scrap. Not bad for a byproduct.


The whole haul
In the title of this blog, I mention "The long wait". What that refers to is: I'm sick of sitting around and milling about in the shop. I want to go work out in the field. I want to plant stuff. Enough with the snow and cold! If I had my way, and not nature's way, I'd be planting RIGHT NOW. This is probably good for me to have to wait though. As it stands, when I'm writing this, its not even technically winter yet (Dec. 21st, tomorrow, signals the first day of official winter). When I look back on it, it is probably a good thing for me to have to wait around. I'll gain knowledge, and if I learned anything from Schoolhouse Rock, Knowledge is Power!

For one thing, I've been getting a lot of reading done. I just finished a whirlwind 3-day read of Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, It has been killing me to write about this book the entire post, but I don't wanna be preachy. If you don't know where your food comes from, read this book. It'll set a few things straight, including an eloquently stated argument in favor of, taking count of morality, eating meat raised on REAL farms. If you want to know what the hell I'm talking about, read the book, then we can talk about it. After this book, I have countless other books I need to read to prepare for the growing season. It is probably good I have the time.

The long winter months seem to be good for me physically. Given that I'm cooped up on a 5 acre plot of land all day, I've taken to exercising, as I've said before. Without anybody to hang out with out here, it will be next week that I have been exercising every day for 2 months, I only took 1 day off when I fell asleep at 8PM, obviously needed the sleep, but as Ebeneezer Scrooge says, "be here all the Earlier the following day!", and I was. We also have a Bowflex. I know. I'm going to have a, as much as I hate to say it, BOWFLEX BODY, thank you infomercials. I'm going to look GREAT in my suit for all those weddings I'm in this spring!

Alright, for those of you that stuck around for the end here, thanks. This is what happens when I don't update for 3 weeks, it all gets packed into one, which I will remember, and probably do some more.

One last thing: I need to figure out what beer I'm making next, any suggestions or requests from friends that are maybe possibly coming to visit sometime??

Happy Christmas and Merry the Other Ones,

-Jon E