Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Save the Wine!

The bucket of incipient home-brew blueberry wine, that is.

I'd heard blueberry was tricky primarily because of the acid content. There were better recommended yeasts and more elaborate recipes to compensate but I blew all that off. I blew off all testing and correcting too - not out of confidence but to save a few bucks. I figured I'd follow the basic recipe and if it didn't work, no big deal to pitch it out and start over.

Wrong! This is only my third batch and it turned out to be emotionally a huge deal to give up when it stopped fermenting. This meant frantic internet research and the urgent order to the home-brew supplier for a Ph meter and potassium carbonate. Unfortunately, the supplier only ships FedEx ground and our delivery person never delivers the same day things are put on her truck. (I don't know why.)

I wasn't wrong to be optimistic with the basic recipe but I was wrong to not prepare for problems. See, the thing about living in Magdalena is that everything is FAR. You can get to Albuquerque in an hour and 45 minutes but when you factor getting around in Albuquerque, the day is gone. No popping to the wine store for a fresh packet of yeast. If I don't get it before I start, I don't have it.

It's not just wine-making supplies, of course. You can get the basics of life in Magdalena - food, if you're not too picky, gas, basic hardware. You have a few more choices in nearby Socorro (but clothing is limited to a couple specialty stores and Wal-Mart). If you want anything the least bit "exotic", your choices are mail order or spend a day in Albuquerque.

I'm just saying. I'm not complaining because I love it here and I can't see living anywhere else. I'm not especially material but I always seem to desire odd things and on-line shopping and home delivery (even a day late) make it possible to live way out here and still have my "stuff". I'm just kicking myself for forgetting the reality of life here and worried about my bucket of wine.

Since I took the lid off the primary fermentor yesterday, it has started very slowly fizzing. Occasionally it makes more encouraging sounds like "glorp" and "splocket". Maybe it'll recover or at least survive till my order gets here but I won't be caught like this again. Better get working on the next order.

Update 8/14/09 Never say never. The Fedex order of the pH meter arrived on time. The pH turned out to be within the acceptable range. Good - but now what? So I tested the specific gravity which was really low. That means a whole lotta sugar has converted to alcohol. I would say all those glorps mattered and the wine has recovered. Yay!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New Dragonflies!

The dragonfly nymphs in the lotus pond have started to emerge. I'd read that some stay nymphs for years so I didn't know when to expect this but yesterday, on my morning tour of the gardens, this is what I found:

Brand-spankin new, still transparent and gorgeous! Well, in a scary sort of way. Of course, my attention drew the attention of the cats. I turned to check on some plants and when I turned back - dragonfly was gone and Stella, the orange cat was playing with something in the grass. Fortunately, I was able to rescue her (I think it's female) in time and relocate her to a safe spot. She was still changing colors, becoming tan with green bands, when I left for work and gone when I came home.

And another this morning! Look at those shining wings! They look healthy - probably all those spadefoot tadpoles they ate.

Stella is not allowed to play with this one.