Keeping bees is a fun and relaxing hobby (if you don’t get stung!). I had no idea how honey was made and how bees interacted before I invested in my first FlowHive. Their hierarchy and relationship to their queen, their breeding cycle and the distance they fly to look for flowers are just some of the fascinating reasons for keeping bees.
Investing in a Beehive has been a calculated venture – even though it is an expensive hobby there are a lot of returns on investment. My good neighbour Rudi was complaining that his veggie garden wasn’t getting polinated as the flowers of his tomatoes and zucchinis were dropping and not providing any fruit. We will have free, fresh honey, we are learning about something totally new, and are doing our part for nature.
Dear Dickhead Neighbour ,
I sometimes feel compelled to expose you for your wealth of ignorance, primitive demeanor and plethora of stupidity. I sometimes also want to show the world your lack of integrity and limited intellect.
I then take a moment and think “let sleeping dogs lie…”. But this is not possible, you see. It is not possible because you, Dear Dickhead Neighbour, have a strong, false sense of pride and are too moronic to know when you’ve lost and it’s time to “let it go”. Perhaps you should watch Walt Disney’s Frozen and learn a thing or two about life and how to treat others.
I always thought villains such as Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden hold their rightful place in the history books. And, it would be absolutely justifiable and necessary for someone to create a “shrine” in your honour – the shrine of Dickhead Neighbours. Where anyone could read about the moronic stories of the incredibly dull imbeciles.
The key is to turn something lackluster, petty and vile, into something worthy, enjoyable and beautiful.
Some awesome individual has done exactly that, created a shrine where all the Dear Dickhead Neighbours from Australia and around the world are worshipped in all their glory!
Making homemade wine using homemade wine press – that is the name of this story.
A few years ago (7 years to be precise), I planted a number of red Muscat cuttings that were taken from my parents’ residence. Fast forward to 2016, these plants have endured the 2011 floods, the 2014 major hail storm, Indian Myna bird attacks and a number of dry seasons. I built a trellis so the vines could grow and provide much needed shade. I also added a number of other varietals including Muscat Gordo Blanco, Ribier, Shiraz, Flame grape, and Globe Grape. The only crop that has really been fruitful is the original Muscat. Maybe the other plants are too young to bear fruit, but I will give them a good trim this winter to encourage further growth.
I picked 100 litres of Muscat grapes this season, and put them in two 60ltr vats and let them ferment for 10 days. The ultimate objective is to make homemade wine so I had to make sure that temperature and fermentation speed was closely watched.
I also bought a French Oak Barrel made from French “full grown oak” timber – the oak gives colour, flavour, tannin profiles and texture to the wine as it ages. I know it’s the real deal because it has this stamp:
I also built a wine press from scratch, and saved myself over AU$700 in the process. The base was made of concrete which I poured into a 44 gallon drum. I used an old Acrow Prop to make the threaded shaft, and a Stainless Steel hollow bar as the spout for where the wine comes out of when pressed. It needs some legs and a ratchet mechanism which I will be preparing before next year’s harvest…
The timber staves are made out of Merbau screening timber, and I used 40mm x 3mm galvanised flat bar for the frame structure. The gap between the staves is very important – if the gaps are too tight you will have difficulty pressing out the must, and if they are too far apart, the pomace will ooze out the sides of your homemade winepress. M6 cup-head bolts were used to hold everything together. The homemade wine press worked like a charm and we were able to squeeze out approximately 75 litres of burgundy gold (this left us with roughly 40 litres of pomace).
The process of making homemade wine is quite simple, and you don’t need a lot of fancy machinery if you’re doing this at home. The grapes already have the sugar and yeast that you need for fermentation to take place. It does make the job easier if you have some “machinery” and measuring instruments, but it’s not primordial. I have to say that this was a lot of fun, and I’ll be doing it again next year – I also feel a great sense of pride in continuing an old family tradition. I’ll provide an update once I have tasted the wine in a few months – hopefully it doesn’t turn to vinegar!
Plantswap revisited and revamped – Like the title says, and after spending over 12 months of my own personal time and finance, I have finally revamped the Plantswap website. It is now bigger and better than ever before! Well, not really bigger, or at least not until people start using it and posting photos of plants they are looking to buy, looking for free, want to get rid of, or want to sell.
I have added some new functionality and a lick of paint.
- Members can now add photos of their plants and a map marker of the location of the plant on the map of Australia.
- To maintain privacy, users can now post their plants by suburb only (rather than having the full address or personal details showing), and communication is all done through an internal messaging app – so their email address is safe.
- New social interaction functionality has been introduced including member profile (you can upload photos of your garden), following of members, internal messaging, ratings of plant Ads, Member reviews and Badge system.
- The map of Australia shows member’s plants and the location of the plant.
- You can search for plants by category, location, or plant name.