The 2014 Page Valley Road Race

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Beaver Pond No More

Back in the spring Mary and I were happy to see that a new beaver pond was filling up over in the hollow across the road.  I put up a couple of posts, including this one where I walked down to the edge and snapped a short video:  http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2014/04/on-golden-beaver-pond.html

The first pond that appeared over there, back in 2008 or so, lasted over the winter, so we could have ice skated on it.  This time, no such luck - the pond started draining in early July.  It's empty now, with the bare mud showing through and the beginnings of a robust little meadow in its place.

I figure that the dam was damaged in a flood, or the beavers that were there simply abandoned this location for some reason.  I did see one or both of them swimming around late in the afternoons.  There was also a wide variety of water fowl coming and going from the pond - ducks, geese, and herons.

There is another pond a little ways upstream from here - that one is more or less a permanent fixture and is visible on Google Earth satellite photography of the hollow.  We've walked back into that deep part of the hollow before some winters.

For now we'll watch and wait until the next time they try to build there.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Last 2014 Post from the Alexandria Hop Yard

Willamette hops.
One last post updating the hops I grew in the yard in Alexandria.  The Goldings bines - one new and one that is a year old, never amounted to much this year, and it seemed to be a recovery year for them.

On the other hand, my Willamette bine thrived.  It was in the same place that the Goldings had been last year, so that is something to think about.  Also, because I can't have a trellis there higher than eight feet, due to overhead power lines, there will never quite be the proliferation off of a plant in that location.

I'll spend the winter deciding what to do about the experiment...perhaps I will keep the two Goldings bines in their current location, where I can have a ten-foot trellis, and move the Willamette out to Luray and put it next to the shed, so it can grow over eight feet.

So while I move to the next stage of hop farming, I'll close this posts with a short description of the two hops varieties.

Kent Golding - designating the original Golding is no easier than sorting our the origins of the variety...even East Kent differs from Kent and certainly from American grown.  Most importantly, it tastes of English beer.  Very good storage.

Willamette - the most grown American aroma hop until AB InBev cut back commitment in 2008.  An alternative to Fuggle released in 1976, with a mild, spicy profile.  Versatile, its flavor works well with many styles.  Fair storage.

(Paraphrased from:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bugs and Slugs

It's typical that we see a praying mantis or two every year at Hawksbill Cabin.  For one thing, I suppose that is a sign of a healthy ecosystem, to have such a bug around and coming back year after year - the mantises and the toads and snakes.

So last Sunday I was looking out the window at the emerging beautiful day we had on our hands, and there was this young praying mantis crawling up the window.  I tend to see them a little later in the year, in September, when they are nearly full grown.  This little one was about two inches long - although the close-up makes him look much larger.

A little later, I took Tess around to the back yard while the coffee was brewing.  As we turned the corner on the gravel pathway, I looked down to find this enormous slug, larger than any I've ever seen.  We've had problems with them before, eating garden plants...this guy obviously got away with it for a long time!

It's nature.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Brewing with Fresh Cascades

The second 2 oz. hop application, top, and
the 1 oz. aroma batch.
A few weeks back I wrote about our afternoon of picking the hops neighbor Bill had grown in his backyard.  (The post is here if you'd like to check it out:  http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2014/08/sunday-hops-picking-in-luray.html).  Last Friday I broke some of them out to brew an IPA with.

I've adapted the recipe from a Black IPA kit I got (I have one batch that was completed faithfully to the kit recipe just going into bottles - with the exception that I dry hopped it with some of Bill's last year crop).  In this case, I used a 5-to-1 substitution ratio of the fresh hops to the dry hops the recipe called for - I used Dan's ratios to calculate the rate for that, since he told me that drying them reduces them to around 20 percent.

The aroma hops went in at the end of the boil.
I went with two bittering dosages of 2 oz. each, one at the start of the 60-minute boil and the second at 30-minutes.  Plus I put in a final 1 oz. for arome at five minutes before the end of the boil.  I plan to dry hop with a package of Cascade pellets, since that doesn't increase IBUs and this will probably be on solid ground in that department.

The beer will be in primary for another week, then I will transfer it to secondary for two weeks.  I'll also let it bottle condition for two weeks before drinking it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First World Problems

Water main repair in progress.
Wednesday night I got home to the sound of Mary tinkering away down in the utility room, where our furnace and hot water heater are located.  After she had finished, a little while later, there were still funny noises coming out of there.  The noise bedeviled us – we went down there several times to check them out to try and identify the source, but Mary had never been close to the pipe making the noise, and we never figured it out.

The next morning I went down to take my shower and get ready to work…but, no water!  I decided to skip it and take the dog for a walk, figuring it was a temporary thing. 

The hoard.
No such luck!  There were crews working on a major water main break a half block from us, and due to problems with that break we also had a secondary break up the street from us. 

I made coffee with some bottled water and figured I’d tell Mary when she got up. She immediately decided she needed to go to a grocery store to gather some water to hoard…she was gone a while, I figured she must be joining a bunch of water hoarders.

Our heavily infrastructured street.  Any number of
things could go wrong!
I’d planned to pen her a note since I needed to leave for work: “Mary, I needed to get to work.  Busy day ahead, plus I need to relieve myself.”


The water service was back on by mid-morning – it was a pretty big deal, as you can see in the photo.  Apparently my situation of having skipped my morning shower did not offend anyone either.  At least as far as I know.