Archive for December, 2012

Farm hour: planning the organic garden

December 14th, 2012 No comments

Spring planning

Here’s what the garden looks like on paper as it goes from an idea to the planning stages: how much to plant, when to plant, where to plant and what our yields should be.

We’re in a multi-year process of becoming a USDA Certified Organic farm. One of the requirements to be certified organic by the USDA is documenting your source for organic plant and seed stock. We ordered and received our seed stock from Heirloom Seeds. Here’s what we’re planting so far, and any advice on keeping them healthy is welcome:

  • Roma tomatoes
  • Giant Beefsteak tomatoes
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast tomatoes
  • Lemon Drop tomatoes
  • Anaheim peppers
  • Serrano peppers
  • California Wonder peppers
  • Orange Bell peppers
  • Sweet Pickle peppers
  • Beaver Dam peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Pepperoncini peppers
  • Little Finger carrots
  • Agate (Edamame) soybeans
  • Shirofumi (Edamame) soybeans
  • Giant Winter spinach

Our organic apple orchard and blueberries are now planted and protected from deer and the compost operation now chugging along. The next big project that will start consuming our farm hours leading up to Spring will be constructing a large cold frame system or a very small green house to get a needed early start on planting.

Protecting apple trees from deer

December 3rd, 2012 5 comments

deer nibble

Tim warned me it was just a matter of time before the cute deer became a nuisance. The tips of this winesap (W4) are all nibbled by deer.

I’ve been doing a lot online reading to get ready for this.

haloCage: I’m testing fencing one tree after reading about it and determining it’s probably the most fail safe solution. The problem with it is the cost, labor (work adds up per tree) and the way it looks. But it works. I placed 5 feet tall fence about 2 feet above the ground giving me 7 feet of protection.

Contraptions: The next thing I found was something that I still want to try. It’s a solar powered water sprayer that uses infrared motion senors to detect animals and then sprays a burst of water. It’s expensive, but the other problem I see with this and the version that uses a hose is that they can freeze in the Winter.

Scents: This seemed like the most ridiculous category consisting of people swearing by sprinkling human hair, urinating, hanging bags of soap or dirty clothes in the trees. People swear by them probably up until the have to collect this stuff.

Sprays: There are all kinds of sprays, but I’m limited to organic ones. There are plenty of them, but most only last a couple weeks. It’s easy to apply, and it’s also cheaper to make your own. So that’s what I did. I just mixed the following ingredients and used a hand-held sprayer to coat the trees and the blueberry bushes. I’ll probably do it regularly and see how it goes.

  • 3 gallons of water
  • 5 tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 eggs whites

Smokehouse: I’m not giving up on this option. We’d have plenty of turkey and venison.

UPDATE 12-6-12: It rained the day after the first application and I saw fresh damage by deer to two more trees. It looks like we’re going to cage them.

UPDATE 12-10-12: After finding significant evidence of damage the day or two after application of the cayenne pepper concoction, including one of several damaged blueberry bushes literally ripped from the ground, we caged all the apple trees and purchased a solar-powered electric fence for the blueberries.

My thinking on scents and taste deterents is that consumers are easily tempted to want to out smart deer with these products, but if you are serious about protecting your orchard you’ll fence your trees and bushes. So, do it right the first time.

Short Mountain Distillery receives gold medal for authentic Tennessee Moonshine

December 3rd, 2012 1 comment

(WOODBURY, TN) — Short Mountain Distillery may be less than a year old, but its moonshine recipe has made Cannon County famous for generations. Now, moonshine from Short Mountain is being recognized with top honors.

The Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) released scores today in several categories of wine & spirits giving the Gold Medal in the International Review of Spirits Award to Short Mountain Shine, a 105 proof authentic Tennessee Moonshine. The score of 90 (Exceptional) was the highest score given to moonshine submissions across the nation.

“We’ve always said we make the best moonshine ever made made even better,” said Short Mountain Distillery President and CEO Billy Kaufman. “This award is the first of many that help confirm that.”

BTI was founded in 1981 with the objective of producing fair and impartial wine & spirit reviews for consumers. BTI scores are often displayed on the shelf with wine & spirits in retail stores recognizing quality and excellence. Tasting notes with the award call Short Mountain Shine an “impressively subtle and rather elegant moonshine.”

Short Mountain Distillery is one of a few craft distillers at the heart of an American moonshine revival. The Tennessee distillery opened in March 2012 and partnered with three living legends of Tennessee Moonshine making heritage: Ricky Estes, Ronald Lawson and Jimmy Simpson. Together with Head of Production Josh Smotherman, Short Mountain Distillery brings over 150 years of wisdom and experience to every drop distilled.

“Sometimes it’s a challenge keeping with old ways in a modern manufacturing and regulatory environment,” said COO Christian Grantham. “But at the end of the day, when taste and quality win, so does our rich whiskey making heritage.”

Short Mountain Distillery’s moonshiners were recently featured in a three-part mini-series hosted by Mike Rowe on Discovery Channel called How Booze Built America. The distillery is located on a 300 acre farm in Cannon County and makes a 105 proof authentic Tennessee Moonshine and 40 proof Apple Pie Moonshine using water from a cave spring. Both products are available in retail stores across Tennessee and are made with organic heirloom corn grown and stone-milled on site. The distillery is open for tours March – November with free tastings and sales year round.