I picked about 10 potatoes from our garden today to add to a roast for dinner. We planted four red variety potatoes this Spring and I picked about 1.5 plants worth today. A couple of the potatoes were about baseball size ranging down to a couple about ping pong ball sized. In other garden news I picked the first of five Gala apples on our espalier tree yesterday. It was really good. I also picked a pear about a week ago and two are still on the tree.
With the beginning of Kindergarten for Claire on September 3rd I made a change myself. I stopped playing mindless video games. These are the games that don’t have an ending. The ones you check on throughout the day and play whenever you have five minutes to spare. The problem is that time adds up. Even a few minutes in the morning and a few in the evening make a difference. I can spend that time in a hundred more productive ways, so I quit cold turkey. The thought of quitting them first came up in church. It was during the topic of idolatry. While I don’t think it was that bad it got me thinking. Did these games control me? Was I checking in on them because they were waiting for me? I didn’t like that feeling. I want to be in control of my time. Also, habits is what make you, good or bad. I want to build myself with good habits and video games like that are not on my way to a happy life.
In an effort to kick start this blog again I am trying a new angle. I want to write about the adventures of being a dad. Some will be actual adventures like hiking or camping while others will be more figurative along the lines of gardening or working on the house. I will also include my personal adventures with photographing and reading, a couple of my favorite things. To start things off I will flash back a couple months to our road trip through Oregon and California.
I just compiled this list for a friend and thought others might be interested as well. It is some of my favorite minimalist/homesteading blogs and websites. I went out on a limb toward the end and added some entrepreneurship and big dream stuff.
http://www.theminimalists.com/ Tons of great articles about minimalism with a definition that I like (being happy with less). The website is better than the blog.
http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/ A fairly random blog about small houses from a guy that literally wrote the book on small houses. He also muses about music, surfing, photography, etc.
http://waywardspark.com/ A family in Oregon living an off the grid lifestyle. Her posts are about gardening, chickens, goats, honey bees and other great stuff.
http://www.hipchickdigs.com/ A Portland mother talks about her urban homestead that includes a huge garden and chickens. She wrote a great book on the topic as well.
http://zenhabits.net/ General good living advice covering many topics including habits, meditation, tea, and exercise.
http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/ Good advice on learning, networking, and thinking. His free e-book is good.
http://www.the1bigthing.com/ Another really good e-book about making dreams happen.
http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/ One of my very favorites. He just got back from visiting every country on the planet. His manifesto is awesome and both his books are very good. His blog is great and his website has tons of free info.
http://www.thisepiclife.com/ I just came across this site but really like his message. It is all about being you. His e-book is also very good.
http://hackthesystem.com/ Also a new site to me. I am still getting into it but some interesting stuff here too.
I am planning a cider tour this year. I don’t know when but I want to visit 5-10 cideries in the Willamette Valley. My goal is to find out what kind of apples they are using and where they get them from. I would like to start my own apple orchard to supply local cideries. After some reading most brewers agree that mixing apples produces the best cider. Selecting different apples based on varying qualities help round out the cider for the best taste. I would like to grow one or more popular varieties.
On my starter list is all the Oregon cideries listed here: https://cydermarket.com/Oregon.html. I will make some email inquiries to determine the short list. I am hoping to find some willing to share what kinds of apples they use.
My interest started a couple years ago when Tonya and I visited three cideries near Port Townsend, Wa. We were immediately hooked on the beverage but also loved the process of growing apples. I started my own “orchard” adventure last year by planting a few fruit trees in our backyard. We have 2 apple, 1 pear, and 1 peach tree. I am using a tiered espalier style along a south facing fence for the apple and pear trees. I am hoping for an apple or two this year.
I would love to expand the fruit tree operation and even get some land of my own. I have seen some impressive espalier orchards, including one at a cidery in Washington. This style allows for maximum output and keeps the trees healthy and productive much longer than a typical orchard. The low growing style also makes harvesting quick and easy. I am eying a few books to bolster my knowledge but I am also using some online forums and YouTube videos. I would love to get my own small cider press and even brew some hard cider.
Books: The Holistic Orchard, The Apple Grower
Forum: Home Brew Talk,
From internet searches I am starting a list of possible apple varietals. Here is a list of websites with information about cider apple trees:
I found this on Wikipedia:
“Normally, ciders are blended using juice from several apple cultivars to give the best results. There are few varieties that will make a good cider all by themselves, Golden Russet is one such variety, and is prized in both single variety and multi-variety blends of cider.
Three apple cultivars from England are ‘Kingston Black’, ‘Stoke Red’, and ‘Dymock Red’:
Famous American cider apple cultivars are Harrison Cider Apple, ‘Campfield’, Hewe’s Virginia Crab, and Yates. The first two originated in Essex County, New Jersey before 1776. The Hewe’s was grown from early 1700s and by Thomas Jefferson in his cider orchard.”
I’m not much for resolutions, but I do have a few goals for 2013.
1. I recently found an online version of Stanford’s CS 178 Digital Photography course. I would like to take the complete class including all reading and assignments. I am not sure if I will push myself into the 10 week time frame but I will treat it like an actual class.
2. Edit and post more pictures. I want to learn more about Photoshop, particularly masking. Post equally on Google+, Flickr and Facebook. This means I will have to take more photos. To accomplish this I want to plan more hikes, drives, and trips.
3. Read What the Plus – Google+ for the Rest of Us. Start using Google+ as my primary photo related social media site. Read The Art of Photographing Wildlife. Right now I am more into nature, scenery and landscapes than portraits.
4. Start a new garden at our new house. We didn’t get one in last year and I was disappointed. Last year I did plant some fruit trees and I am looking forward to harvesting fruit this year. I would also like to install a rain barrel system for irrigation.
One of my favorite hobbies is photography. It got a big kickstart when I bought my Nikon D5000 DSLR a couple years ago. With the ability to change settings and simply take high quality pictures I have begun to expand my photography hobby. My favorite niche in digital photography is HDR. Defined simply, HDR photos display a larger range of light than a normal single photograph. I love the look of HDR photos. Trey Ratcliff is considered one of the best HDR photographers and he got me hooked. His website showcases his work and has many tutorials on the subject. Here is the best description I have found on the mechanics of taking a set of HDR images. I purchased Photomatix a while ago and it is great. I recently purchased Lightroom 4 and it is dramatically improving my work. I have alot to learn about work flow but am starting to get a good understanding. HDR One is fairly new but has some great workflow tutorials and other tips and tricks. Below are some of my favorite HDR shots.