Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cabin Life: Looking Out The Cabin Window

The best feature of my cabin is the big window.  It’s probably four by four, with two smaller windows on either side that open to let in fresh air.  With myself, a dog and two cats living in this one room cabin, fresh air is a precious and much needed commodity.

The big window is on the south side of the cabin, looking down the driveway and over what used to be the garden.  I can see Lower Field, Left Trail, and last year’s junk wood pile.  The old plow is right in front and a half-dozen apple trees are in plain view.  I can see Whiteface Mountain, but only the summit.

There’s also two bird feeders in front of the big window.  This is Ed and Herbie’s entertainment.  I get a lot of black-capped chickadees, but have also had blue jays, red-breasted nuthatches and house finches.  I’ve seen deer, ruffed grouse, turkeys and porcupines through the big window too.

My solar panels are just outside, underneath the window so they can catch as much sun as possible during the shortening days as winter sets in.  I have been really disappointed with my solar lights and radio.  One of the lights stopped working altogether when I moved the panel outside.  I looked at it today and was going to try re-wiring it, but noticed that the switch on the panel was in the “off” position.  I’ll give it a day or two, but I have a feeling that I fixed the problem.

But looking out the window, I think about how this place makes me learn, and makes me want to learn.  I didn’t know what a house finch was until some time this past February.  I assumed that a red-breasted nuthatch was a weird looking chickadee.  And I didn’t care or want to learn about taking care of apple trees.

Now I know some new birds, and am going to spend some time this winter reading up on the care of apples.  I’d love to make apple jelly next fall, and use next winter to make applejack.  (For those of you who don’t know what applejack is, you take hard cider and freeze it, then skim off the unfrozen alcohol.  This is what Johnny Appleseed actually planted all those apple trees for.)

There’s about thirty apple trees out here.  There’s about a dozen in Lower Field, and maybe ten in Upper Field.  I’ve found a few more scattered throughout the woods too.  When I moved out here last fall, there were some apples still on the trees, and a few were really good.  It’s apparent that there are a number of varieties, but the trees haven’t been touched in years.  I’d like to do some pruning and trimming to help get the apples going again.

This year there were basically no apples, but that was because they all bloomed in March when it was so warm, and then the blossoms got hit and killed by frost.  It was a common problem up here.  I’m hoping that by giving them some TLC next year, I can get a crop of all kinds of different kinds of apples.  I bet the mix will make the applejack taste fantastic.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.







3 Responses

  1. mare says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing how your applejack turns out! I’ve made some cordials this year for Christmas using local farmer’s fruit and vodka or brandy. I have tried the Honeycrisp apple/vodka mix and it is very good!I also want to produce my own hard cider this coming year….I enjoy reading your posts…mare

    • John Warren says:

      We typically make lots of hard cider every year from local trees and last year I made applejack for the first time. I used the ancient freeze method. Simply putting a bucket of hard cider outside in freezing weather and then skimming off the ice that forms each day, what’s left is much higher alcohol. It was strong, but good. However, because this method does not use a still, there is no way to remove the unwanted alcohols (which are pretty poisonous and are drawn-off during distillation with a still). As a result, you don’t want to drink too much of freeze distilled applejack – you will get a headache or serious hangover. In moderation – I limit myself to two or three shots – no problem.

      This year we had no apples anywhere near here (we always get our apples from abandoned farms and orchards, roadsides, and from people’s yards who do not want their apples – 70 bushels last year!). This year we’re just a little sad not to have our usual stash of cider in the cellar.

  2. joan streetman says:

    I love to hear all about the wildlife up there and would really enjoy watching the birds. I live in Tx and we only get blue jays, white wing doves and morning doves plus sparrows of all kinds. I use to buy wild bird seed but they all love chicken scratch feed just as well and c heaper.

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