Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coffee Bean Roast #1 – the results are in…

(Please stay tuned to the VERY end for news of an exciting GIVEAWAY over at a dear friend’s place!!)

I was the only brave soul who would try this coffee. The results of our first home roast = Burnt offering! Yes, indeed. Those beans looked like burnt offerings, smelled like burnt offerings…

and truly the brew tasted bad. Seriously… yuck. Also, I put in plenty of beans for a good hearty brew, but it looked pale and weak. I found that part strange – since the beans were apparently burned? So our first roast was a definite…


But! We are not giver uppers. We will keep on trying to perfect our home roasted beans to our liking.

Thanks for your interest, and I hope we can help others by sharing our mistakes. Hopefully soon we’ll have success to share.

Now, as promised, on a much sweeter note, please head right on over to Misha’s blog "From My Front Porch In the Mountains" and see what she is giving away! You won’t believe it… a pair of Ariat boots of the winner’s choosing! Read the rules carefully, and leave your comment. And… while you’re there, you must get to know her beautiful horses (and that sweet little foal Annie), and the rest of her wonderful Tennessee Mountain crew!! Stay awhile and look around. It’ll make ya smile – I promise :)


Thursday Walkabout: Gray Days and Big Logs

First, a coffee bean roasting update from yesterday’s post – we STILL haven’t tried it yet (I think we’re chicken – it smells burned!). I promise we’ll be brave and try some soon. And I’m sure we’ll do better next time. Jayme reassures me it takes a few tries to get it right… thanks again, Jayme!

Most days over the past week have been, well,

a little gray. So again, this walkabout reflects the gray days. Did I mention the gray, long, when-will-spring-arrive days?

Cardinal silhouette in tree, Red Bud tree seedpods, donkey weather vane, coneflower seed head, geese in flight, allium perhaps ‘jumping the gun’ a bit, and at center – birdhouse reflection in big water puddle.


I also thought the giant logs Mr. W dragged up on Tuesday were blogworthy (and very much appreciated since our woodpile is dwindling fast!). The logs are Water Oak and Black Oak/Scarlet Oak. You might see glimpses of our little helpers here & there…



Mini-journal update for the last week--
I’ve been really bad at keeping notes this time. And now, I have a headache and a temporary memory lapse…

Friday evening – I had an enjoyable evening with a dear friend & neighbor.

Weekend – spent mucking through the mud!

Monday – Among laundry & other Monday tasks, I cleaned one nightmare kitchen cabinet out – the  under-sink cabinet. It was scary, but not anymore.

Tuesday – a follow-up doctor’s appointment for me. Mr. W dragged up two giant logs for the woodpile.

Wednesday – Mr W worked up most of the two gigantic logs he brought up Tuesday. We burned, I mean *roasted* green coffee beans in the afternoon :)  A fun, learning experience!

Weather: has been gray, overcast, some rain, decent temps for this time of year – 30’s in daytime hours with a couple of colder days mixed in. Two days with peeks of blessed sunshine.


Hope your week is going well!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coffee Bean Roasting in the Blacksmith Shop – Take 1

Inspired by Jayme at Tales from the Coop Keeper, Mr W, and I set out to turn green coffee beans into beautiful roasted coffee beans today. Friend Daniel just happened to be visiting here at the right(?) time so he was drafted to help in this process. I think we may just have smoked and stunk him out! Poor guy… he may ne’er return again.

Mr W and I are major coffee fans. We’ve purchased coffee beans for fresh-ground weekend coffee for years (our weekend splurge). The next step seemed logical – to start roasting our own beans (it’s a little less expensive that way also).

Jayme gave me just enough information to get me really interested in this venture. She also recommended the Whirley Pop popcorn method. I purchased a separate Whirley Pop to use exclusively for coffee bean roasting (didn’t want to taint the taste of our buttery popcorn!). Also, dear Jayme recommended doing the entire process outside because of the stink/smoke involved. Wow, was she ever correct?! One would think that roasting coffee beans would be ahhh…. aromatic… delectable-smelling. Nope! So, out to the blacksmith shop we went, and kept the door wide open.

I ordered green coffee beans from Coffee Bean Direct (tip: search for “Coffee Bean Direct green coffee beans” on Amazon to get free shipping with a $25 order), and Sweet Maria’s (link below).  Sweet Maria’s also had the thermometer which reads to 550 degrees and fits nicely into the Whirley Pop popcorn popper. A thermometer is a great thing to have, especially for novices like us. Mr W drilled a tiny hole in the top of the Whirley Pop to insert the thermometer. He set up the fish cooker burner in the blacksmith shop. I also gathered a metal colander to cool the roasted beans in, a metal cake pan to put the cooled beans into, an oven mitt, a measure that holds exactly 8 ounces of beans at a time.  And of course my instructions printed from my various trusty internet sources. We had the air compressor next to the cooker so we could immediately begin to cool the beans after roasting (very important to cool them quickly, so I’m told). You can also use a hair dryer set on cold, or a fan for this purpose.

We poured our 8 ounces of Coffee Bean Direct’s Columbian green beans into the Whirley Pop, turned on the heat, and started cranking.


Keeping close watch on the thermometer on top. We’re waiting for “first crack,” which may happen at about 6 minutes into the process. You will start to hear pops and cracks, and the beans should start to turn brown. *Some sources suggest the ideal temperature for roasting will be around 450-500F degrees.


Our “first crack” happened much sooner than 6 minutes, which told us we had the heat too high. From here on out, major smoke and stink warning :)



“Second crack” should happen between minutes 9 and 12 according to one source. We went to “second crack” much too soon also, and quickly removed the popper, poured the beans into the metal colander to cool. We helped the cooling process along by using the air compressor, forcing cold air onto the beans. Also much of the chaff from the beans was blown off during this step.


We went on to batches 2 and 3, trying to regulate the heat. I think we almost got it, but unfortunately our beans from today’s roasting are very very VERY dark. Could they be classified as espresso? I hope they’re drinkable! We’ll see…


Let me just say, while our first efforts were valiant, I think we’re going to need more practice.  Best tip from today: SLOW DOWN – lower heat. Yes, we’ll try it again. Soon I hope. And after we allow our beans to “degas” for 12-24 hours, we’ll try a pot of fresh-ground home-roasted and I’ll post our review.

If you have an interest in becoming a home coffee bean roaster, there are many sites which are quite helpful. My favorite so far is Sweet Maria's. They really do have a wealth of information and tutorials on roasting your own beans. Join us – we’ll learn together!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gifts from the Heart

Aren’t they the best?



Hope your weekend is full of blessings, big and small.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Walkabout: Fog

Most of these pictures over the last few days have a common thread ~ fog.

Icy pond, Mr W’s Old Sawmill trademark, Old Wagon, Bottle tree with Cardinal, Fog across the Hay field, Barn through the fog (parts 1 & 2), Cog from the old sawmill, Crunchy dry Goldenrod. And at center ~ something we all never seem to have enough of: Thyme/Time.

mosaic 1-21-10

Here’s an update to the mini-journal of random happenings here of 2010:

Weather: Many days of fog and clouds. But the temps have been decent at mid-30’s for the most part. The water buckets for the animals have never completely frozen for the past week, making a.m. and p.m. chores much easier. Thank goodness for small blessings!

Thursday – Late afternoon while loading up the outside wood stove, I found the headless body of a flying squirrel in the yard (I have no idea what happened). Poor little critter...

Friday –A major re-stock of groceries and supplies.

Saturday – Sat evening, Mr W received a cell phone call from a neighbor/friend who had taken his nephews coon hunting. They were lost in the fog. Mr W proceeded slowly down the blacktop in his pickup, honking the horn constantly so the guys could find their way out of the woods. (Only on a Saturday night in Podunk, USA!)  All arrived safely to the road, and made it to their truck. While Mr W rescued the wayward hunters, I made a jewelry gift for a friend. And made a jewelry gift for me. p.s. Mr W and I refuse to allow said neighbor to ever forget about the “lost in the fog” episode. :)

Sunday – Among other miscellaneous tasks, I wormed the donkeys. (BTW, wormer sandwiched between two graham crackers is an easy peasy way to handle this task.)

Monday – We worked with cattle in the a.m. Oh, the mud! In the afternoon and evening, I did some cleaning and a little bit of organizing (it’s a start!).

Wednesday – Mr. W and I took a little trip to my hometown for haircut, visits with our dear former neighbor lady and my 96 year old dear Grandma, lunch with my parents, and a quick visit to the local antique shop. This was day 7 (at least) of fog.

Today we have fog again, and some rain.

How is the weather in your neck of the woods?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Walkabout: January Thaw

These photos are a combination of our earlier colder weather this week, and the sunshiny balmy 40’s temps mid-late week (woo hoo!).

Melting snow in hayfield, Promise of Spring in Buds on tree, Hazel in tree, Snow in corn stubble rows, Diamonds in the snow, Icicles, Snow dunes.

1-13-10 Mosaic1


More tree buds (I’m searching out proof that Spring is coming), Snowy Scene at Cattle Gate, 
Snowy sunlit Grass, Li’l Austrian Pine, Wisteria Vines,
Sunset with Bottle Tree

1-13-10 Mosaic2


This week’s update for my mini-journal  to document random happenings throughout the year ~

1-7-10 Thursday night – Snow/bitter cold day ~ the first of two snow days. Made a bazillion trips outside to provide fresh water for animals, put wood in the outside stove, insulate donkey barn & goose pen even more for the next three bitter cold nights. Also left more blankets for barn kitties. We watched The Soloist with Robert Downey, Jr and Jamie Foxx tonight. Cello… loved that! And the story (based on true) was a good one.

Friday & Weekend – Drifting blowing snow, bitter cold temps which lasted through the weekend. Every two hours the drill was: stir outside stove & put more wood in, check the animals & give fresh water. Some nights, the wind chill dipped to 25 below and possibly beyond. It was all about survival, baby!

Ahhh, Monday & Tuesday – temps back into the twenties during the day. Much better! Back to work and routine.

Wednesday – Temps into the 40’s and sunshine! Mr. W had a morning road trip before work. I began to clean out storage shed #1 of 2, boxed up several dozen quart jars I was given before Christmas, and tackled the previously frozen, now thawed, manure pile in the donkey stall. All fresh and clean now with a new batch of Equine Fresh :)


It’s almost the weekend.. yay for that! I plan to do more cleaning and organizing, possibly some painting on the Barn/Cottage interior trim too. Winter doldrums are trying to get me, but I’m going to fight back and take action on some things that need to be done. Yes, I am!!

What are your plans for the weekend? Are you fighting cabin fever & winter blahs too?

One last note – thanks so much for the prayers and comments regarding the recent tragedy in our Amish community here. Also, as many mentioned, we pray for those suffering from the devastation of earthquakes in Haiti.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Local Amish ~ Sadness & Tragedy

Yesterday, one of our local Amish men, age 29 and father to five, was tragically hit and killed on the highway while traveling by buggy. His horse was traumatically injured and was euthanized by a veterinarian at the accident scene. Our hearts & prayers go out to his family and the entire local Amish community. As well, our thoughts & prayers are with the driver of the car and his family.

Many questions remain unanswered, however this has been a grim reminder to all that we need to keep our mind and eyes on the road constantly.

I’ll leave you with a prayer request for all of the above, and a photo that I took last Summer in Amish Country.  Some of the hardworking, beautiful, strong horses…



Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday Walkabout ~ Brrrrr

Icicles from last week
A Missed Sunset (by a few seconds)
Little faux SnowFella
♥Norway Spruce (amazingly) unaffected by the deer
♥Bobwhite Quail Glimpse ~ by donkey pen
Inquisitive Ruby
♥Barn in the Snow
♥Junco (Snowbird) rump – he/she is diving for buried seeds
♥Junco in full view
♥Chyna, our housecat, peering through Jack Frost windows

thursday walkabout 1-7-10


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter Fun & Chills

This afternoon it began to snow.


I took a little while and just enjoyed watching the snow and the animals. For, it seemed almost warm today at 25 degrees. Tonight it will dip back down to Antarctic-like temperatures.

I stayed in the donkey barn for awhile. The barn cats seem to like hanging out here at the smaller barn during the extra cold weather. I personally believe that at least a couple of them snuggle up with Ruby and Gracie at night.


We kept two of Harley’s kittens (the other three previously went to another country home).  Monkey is totally buddies with Ruby & Gracie (see below). Isn’t she a fancy barn kitty? Maynard is just a little sweetheart – I mean, look at that face!  Henry is the younger kittens’ self-imposed guardian. And Hazel, well.. she is just crazy and fun Hazel.



I’m going to try to document our lives a little better for 2010. Since this is my first post of 2010, I’ll try to keep this up and do a weekly mini-journal of random happenings for the week past. We’ll see how this goes. Prepare to be bored :) But I thought it would be nice to look back on at the end of this year.

New Year’s Eve – we stayed in and watched Virginia’s Run, a wonderful movie! (Thanks, Cheryl! Virginia’s Run was filmed in the beautiful Nova Scotia town where she lives).

Weekend – was spent just staying warm and making several trips out to check on & water animals, as well as load the outdoor woodstove. Short outings and visits with family.

Tuesday – I had out of town doctor visits. I also had a close encounter with a Bald Eagle who swooped really close to my car when I was nearly home. Beautiful!

Wednesday – Mr. W fed five large round bales of hay to get the cattle through the snow and bitter cold for a few days.

Weather – the temps have stayed brutally cold, with the exception of today. Tonight it is snowing, with near record-breaking cold temps & wind chills expected for the next few days (wind chills up to –30).


I do hope it’s warmer where you are. If it’s not, please snuggle in and stay warm!

Till next time…


Blog Widget by LinkWithin