Saturday, April 29, 2017

DIY Soil Sifter

Inspired by many videos of practical farming, I finally learned why much of my past seed starting has resulted in failure. 1) Lack of light & 2) Poor soil media. In this guide, I build a soil sifter to help with the second issue.

Most of the soil media I've tried using to start seeds has had a ton of wood chips or has been compacted beyond belief. A soil sifter will help with that problem. Here's how I built mine:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vineyard Additions for 2017

Continuing my annual tradition, this year I acquired some new grapevines from Picnic Day.

See vineyard additions from past years: 2014 -- 2015 -- 2016 -- 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rye Stout Batch 3 Bottling


Got the latest batch of Rye Stout bottled. The beer finished at 1.010, giving it 6% ABV. This is what the previous batch ended up at, so we're off to a good start with consistency!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Crucible and Casting Brass

I had never really gotten around to buying a "real" crucible for melting anything hotter than aluminum.  The one time I made it to the foundry supply store, I forgot that they closed at 3 PM, and it was 3:15 or something. 

2 Years later: I got invited to American Foundry Society/ North American Die Casting Association annual vendor's night.  This is an event where people from the industry get together and showcase their products, hang out, and have a good time.  Personally, I was just there for the free food.  Long story short, each vendor booth had a raffle prize, and judging by the proximity of this crucible to the ticket jar, I thought it was the prize.  I asked if it was because I had been in the market for one, but it turned out they were only giving away $100 cash.  Still, I bet most of my tickets on them since it seemed like one of the better prizes compared with all the alcohol, golf accessories, and gift cards for restaurants that don't have enough vegan menu items... But I really wanted the crucible!  At the end, I didn't win any of the drawings, but the nice people at Advanced Ceramics and Crucible decided to give me the crucible anyways!  I guess when you're young and have your own foundry, people treat you differently or something (it's because in an industry like this, they're hard pressed to find young people interested in it, there's actually quite a shortage of people to replace those retiring).  Hey, it worked before when I accidentally got a free lathe.  This goes along with a discussion we had there was about "what got you interested casting?"  Of course for me it was the concept of being able to melt and recycle your own metal, and cast seemingly unlimited parts from a single pattern, and in the case of a vegetable oil furnace, for practically free.  Going back even further, it was probably the "Foundry" level from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 where I first learned the word "foundry".
OSHA's gonna sue somebody
Anyhow, it's a silicon carbide crucible which, if I remember correctly from chemistry class, is nearly identical to diamond in its molecular structure and almost as hard, but who cares?  Let's melt some metal!
Grapefruit for size reference

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Coffee Roasting Log #2

Upgrading roasting capability
For my roasting, I've acquired an air pop popcorn maker. I'm more familiar with this method as opposed to pan roasting as I have roasted with the popcorn maker before.