|Here's a row of Cascades, ready for harvest.|
|Our plan for oasting.|
The first thing on my mind was building an oast - the heated air dryer that is used to dry the hops. We'd talked about this process a number of times over the growing season, but now the rubber was hitting the road and we needed to get out there and actually do it. David sketched out a straightforward design on the CSA board, and we headed over to the co-op for the lumber and materials we needed.
|The finished oast - the HOP-N-ATOR 4000!|
We were able to accomplish all this with only one trip to the co-op - no return trips because of some failure of design or bill of materials slip up. David entrusted me with the use of some of the power tools as well - I didn't hurt myself or him in the process - and we got most of the unit done without any major mistakes. And plenty of laughs.
The unit is covered on all four sides with a small opening at the bottom to ensure that the air is drawn in consistently through all of the hop cones resting in the bins. We recycled four barn fans for the air power, and eventually added a space heater as a heat source.
|Additional details - powered by four barn fans.|
When all was said and done, we had our oast. We turned those fans on and watch how the powerful breeze drew through the machine.
It's a good machine, good enough to deserve a name, so we christened it the HOP-N-ATOR 4000, which is named after another utilitarian item that was in use at the farm a few years ago when I was on my internship.
Next year, we may need an upgrade to an eight-shelf unit - the HOP-N-ATOR 8000, and ultimately we could have both of them in operation for the duration of the harvest. But for now, our first day's work was done - we had our machine, and picking could begin on Thursday morning...as soon as I got to the farm.