Tuesday 12 September 2017

A Cider Press

My sign looking nice and settled already
with ivy growing up it.
A very subdued and wet, rain soaked post. We are pinned down for most of the recent daylight hours by the rain, or going about wearing big coats, waterproof hats and wellies. Gardening has ceased. Laundry is done indoors with everything getting dried on our heated airer. The pigs have a broad swathe of their pen (up by the fence) churned into a morass with their trotters sinking in as far as the hocks.

Liz takes the crochet back up. 
One poor friend on Twitter was pleading for help and advice - her pigs have churned up the entire field and the only  dry bit left was their ark (house). It is still 2 weeks till they go to the butcher, she says, but if she moves the pigs into the lamb-paddock, will they destroy that too and stop her from having lambs next year? We are relieved that our pig-bit only cuts up in small places, being up on a mound and surrounded on 2 sides by free draining 4 foot outward-facing cliff-banks. ...and populated by 60 foot spruce trees with an impressive thirst, I guess.

Cat (top left) trying to look innocent. It's not working, Kato.
When there has been some dry time, I have got back involved in the builder-ing over in Sligo. That was fun. K-Dub has created on his front boundary, a small-ish building which is split longways. The 'front' (south facing) is a turf shed and the 'back' (north - facing onto the grass) is a chicken house but this is no ordinary, simple coop.

My bow-string is too frayed and gets condemned on the
safety checks. Are you a 'proper' archer when you have worn
out your first string?
The whole building is done to match the house, being made with an inner wall of concrete blocks, the outer wall done in his skillful Sligo stone-work and the roof done in the same hand-cut Brazilian slates that are on the house, with the beautifully scrolled lead ridge-piece. It even has a fake, stone chimney with a red-oxide painted metal cylinder to look like a chimney pot. The chicken house side is getting fake windows. The whole looks like a mini-cottage sitting out there and is attracting a lot of (favourable) comment from passers-by.

The neighbouring herd of cattle are always very interested in
our comings and goings and especially their food potential. We
worry that the flimsy old strand of barbed wire would not hold
all 35 of them back if they decided to lean on it!
When we stopped for a coffee break, I had an idea which I was not sure would work, but was worth a try. I have, on my trees, a good few cider apples and dessert apples and we have fermenting buckets and barrels, but we have no way of pulping the apples or pressing the juice out of the pulp. I knew it would be a nice challenge for K-Dub to design and build me something; I have visions of some kind of square frame into which I might slot the 10-tonne bottle-jack I use for the car and trailer.

The dogs on station to defend us against
encroaching beef.
K-Dub immediately accepted the challenge but his thoughts quickly dropped my wood-frame idea in favour of a cunning and creative plan. He is the sort of guy who just sees these things in his head and knows how to translate them into physical reality.

Spindle bush in the making in our woods.
This cider press would be based on a Guinness keg with the top cut out (using his fancy new plasma-cutter / welder). He would create a frame which hooked through the keg's hand-holes and a screw-thread winding handle would drive a plate down onto the apple pulp with some method of allowing the juice to drain out of the bottom, down a gulley and into our bucket.

We went all Medieval and carnivorous for
these chunks of pig cleared out of the freezer.
They were bits of pelvis and spine left when
I butchered up some hams. Peanut sauce.
No photo's yet as the thing is still only half-made but we are both very excited to see and try out this proto-type. I have some parts with me now that need wire-brushing and painting so that the whole thing can at least look 'food-grade' even if the scrumpy we make has the appropriate amount of dead dogs and rats floating in it. Watch this space.

Newest ewe lamb, 'Oveja' is thriving despite the wet.
That's about it for this dripping, soggy post. I hope the weather is better where you are.

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