Winter Doldrums…

WELL!! It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an update on here and the primary reason for that is… well… nothing has been really happening. Seriously… I could tell you all about the minutia of my daily life. Getting up, having breakfast, going to work, having dinner, going to bed… but it’s boring enough at times living it, let alone trying to make it sound interesting to you guys… but the reality is, both Shannon and I have been working like crazy and nursing Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 back to health as they’ve all been sick with colds and obnoxious.

… keeping our sanity of late has been tricky.

With the MLK Jr. holiday today, I had a day off, and a chance to sit down and put together an update.

The past few days weather have been unseasonably cold for Oregon in the winter. We’re on what feels like our 12th consecutive day of below freezing temperatures and freezing fog and It’s been hovering between 28 and 32 degrees for almost a fortnight, with a periodic increase to 37 or 38 degrees, but even those days are few and far between. In the decade or so that I’ve been in Oregon, this seems like the coldest its been for an extended period of time – at least that I can remember.

I know some of you will read this and chuckle to yourself, because in your world, winter is 0 degrees and below. Turns out in Oregon, we’re not much different than Southern California sometimes when it comes to whining about cold weather. Just see the recent Jimmy Kimmel video about Southern California’s weather issues for an example… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6t-EjrtD3U) That’s what it sometimes feels like in Oregon… We get a dusting of snow and our whole world shuts down (as a teacher, don’t get me wrong – I’m not necessarily complaining… but it is humerous nonetheless)

Growing up in Spokane, this kind of weather was fairly standard, with much of the winter spent significantly colder, and I don’t remember what we did there during the winter. I lean in the direction of nothing… which is about what we’ve gotten done here in the last week. I’m definitely excited for things to warm up a bit so we can get back at the outdoor projects, and get to checking some things off. The chicken house is pretty well stalled out at this point, and the yard can wait – the ground is frozen solid; the lager is well… lagering in secondary. (actually, if we want to get technical, it’s in the midst of its diacetyl rest before lagering) I bottled some wine yesterday that we had made from some Concord Grapes we got from a friend, and I’m in the process of brewing a Stout today. Well.. I will be as soon as finish this and figure out the mechanics of the protein rest, I’ll be starting that this afternoon.

Shannon has been experimenting a bit in the kitchen, and we’ve had some successes, and a couple of “wait and see’s” that are worth sharing.

First, a huge success. Colcannon.. perhaps you’ve heard of this before, perhaps you haven’t, but this recipe was obtained from Mother Earth Living, and is unreal. It also happens to be another really good way to eat kale.

I had never heard of this stuff, but it turns out Colcannon is a traditional Scots-Irish dish that consists of primarily potatoes and greens like Kale all mashed together. It’s a fairly simple dish, (tasty enough to inspire a song) and its typically made during the autumn and winter when the Kale was harvested. It is nourishing as well as filling, but most importantly, with the sweet potatoes, leeks and orange zest – this particular version is absolutely delectable.

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Sweet Potato Colcannon

Ingredients:

-3 very large or 4 medium Sweet Potatoes
-2 Medium Leeks
-1 Bunch Kale
-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
-Zest of 1/2 Orange
-1 or 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
-2 Tablespoons sweet cream butter

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water. Peel Sweet Potatoes if desired. Cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Set Aside. Trim bottom 1/4 inch and top 2 inches from leeks. Slice each in half lengthwise and soak in a bowl of water, swishing to remove sand and grit. Repeat with clean water if leaks are gritty. Dry leeks, then cop into 1/4 inch half-moons. Rise greens, shake to dry and tear each leaf from thickest part of stem (discard stems). Gather leaves, roll like a cigar and chop roughly.

Place sweet potatoes in boiling water, and boil for about 15 minutes. Place olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add leeks and stir regularly for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add greens and continue to stir until wilted, no more than 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Cut largest potato chunk in half. If center is hard, cook for another 2-3 minutes. When soft to center, drain and return to pot. Add orange zest, salt, pepper and butter. Mash with a handheld potato masher or large fork until you reach desired texture.

Add greens and leeks, stir and adjust seasonings to taste. This can be made a day ahead and heated in a covered casserole dish.

Secondly, a “Wait and See”.

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We’ve been reading a lot about lacto-fermentation, so we thought we’d give it a shot. We started simple, at least I think we did. We started with some cabbage in an attempt to make some sauerkraut, and the jury is still out on it. We’re not super familiar with lacto-fermentation, but it doesn’t taste like sauerkraut to me. It’s really salty, and I’m not sure that we’re fans of the caraway seeds. So for those of you who have done more lacto-fermentation than us… is this normal? Should it be all sauerkraut-y? Or more wilted and salty? We’re going to let it sit a bit longer in the fridge fermenting to see if that makes the difference since we tried it pretty early, but suggestions are greatly appreciated.

With that, I’m going to wrap it up. I have some beer to make. Hope you’re all finding more to do on the home front than we are – soon the weather will warm and we can take care of the projects – until then… we plan and get ready for when it finally does.

Too Cold to Work Outside…

Things have ground to a halt here at the Light Homestead — as the temperature has dipped into the below freezing realm, the ground became the consistency of finished concrete, and our will to work outside in yard has waned considerably.

The lager is bubbling away happily out in the garage, it’s about halfway through the primary fermentation at this point despite the fact that the beer is sitting at 42 degrees — well below the optimal range of the yeast — they’re chugging away quite nicely. A tasting of the wort last night when I took a specific gravity was good – the beer has good taste, good bittering, good mouthfeel, just needs to finish doing its thing, and this should turn out really good.

Other than that, the work on the chicken coop has come to a stop until the weather gets a bit more hospitable. Retaining Wall and Patio Projects are not going to progress until Spring or if/when we get an unseasonably warm period… so as my wife and I looked around for something to do that is semi-progressive – move the chains a bit so to speak — we looked more towards the planning and preparation realm.

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The other day I put together this file in Excel that maps out and divides our back garden into one foot squares in order to Square Foot Garden the back beds. A planning template. We haven’t fully utilized this method in the past, but have experimented with a combination of what we knew of Bartholomew’s methods, and John Jeavon’s biointensive methods. Since reading Mel’s book, we realized we didn’t know half of what we thought we did. This year we’re going to spend more time focusing on the square foot gardening principles, for the sheer fact that it enables you to divide a very large space up into more manageable chunks. For us – as busy as we are, it will be easier to go out and weed/cultivate/prepare/harvest a few smaller chunks here and there, than to feel like we have to do the entire bed in a sitting. Realistically – it all still has to get done, but it’s like the old adage about eating an elephant… one bite at a time.

So we are spending some time planning out the garden using the new template. Shannon spent a good part of the day making her absolutely awesome homemade hamburger buns. We used some tonight for our dinner of smoked tuna boats. (A good friend gave us the tuna, and we canned up a BUNCH of it this past May.) My favorite is the smoked jalapeno and garlic.

We also went through our old grocery receipts today and figured out how many pounds of dry beans, rice, flour and other staples we used in 2012 – which will help us figure out from a preparation standpoint how much to have on hand to help fill the larder, as we’ve set a goal to work towards having 6 months to a year of our staples on hand.

Today was one of those days where it was hard to see progress, despite having made some. Most of it was on paper, and not where it counts. Hopefully the weather thaws a bit in the near future, enabling us to get back to our normal 40-50 degree winter weather. Seriously… the kids need to go play outside…

…Bad.

Brewing up Trouble…

WOODY: What’s the story, Mr. Peterson?
NORM: The Bobbsey twins go to the brewery… Let’s cut to the happy ending.

Well, today there weren’t any Bobbsey twins, and Norm was only here in spirit, but my kitchen became a brewery today for the first time in a lot of years…

Flashback to the Light Family — B.C. (Before Children)

Ben and Shannon had a life. We regularly made beer and wine, we served it to our friends when they came to our home – we gave bottles away as gifts. We were hip, like hipper than hipsters in hip huggers hip… (Ok. Not true – we were pretty much squares) Then we had kids… now we drink constantly — we just can’t brew it fast enough. (kidding… but no, seriously…)

Shannon has been after me to dig out the equipment and get back after it, and after running through my equipment and making a trip to the local homebrew shop to pick up some of the needed supplies we were off to the races.

Shannon is a cheap date. I mean that in the nicest way possible.

In this beervana that is the Pacific Northwest, when we go out to a restaurant and she orders beer, she orders… *drumroll please…* Miller High Life, or a North American Lager of some variety, Bud, Coors, etc… Out of all the available microbrews in this state, Widmer, Bridgeport, Deschutes, Full Sail, Ram, Seven Brides, the laundry list goes on — nope… bottle of .99 cent malted water.

So this brew was tackled with two very crucial things in mind.

1) A happy wife makes for a happy husband.

2) Anything Anheiser-Busch/Miller/American Beers can do, I can do better. (I hope, or else I’m in serious trouble)

This is as good a spot as any to put the TL;DR.

I have several friends who I know once this gets started are going to hear me start talking about brewing, and I’ll be able to hear the snores from my house. It’s actually a game we play, when one of us starts geeking about something we love, everyone else loudly snores until they stop.

So, for those of you that don’t care at all for brewing… or anything related to brewing… here’s the TL;DR.

I made beer. Yay.

The process of this ‘Praying-its-Better-Than-Bud’ North American Lager began Saturday evening with a yeast starter. I used some dry malt extract and water to make a nice bit of light wort which would make an excellent home for my wee yeasties. Popped the Wyeast Smack Pack (Pilsen Lager – 2007) and pitched to start the yeast.

Kept them at a constant 70-75 for the first little bit, and they went ballistic. The picture below is the starter after it had been adjusted down to 60-65, closer to their regular fermentation temperature.  (note the awesome book by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen – The Urban Homestead – very good read – I highly recommend it.)

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I had planned on brewing Sunday, and realized that I had grossly miscalculated my equipment – realizing that my old Mashtun had been used for 1/2 a dozen things in the years since I had brewed last, so we’d need a new Mashtun/Lautering Tun. I did some looking around online, and found a really cool design that I decided was the one I wanted. Headed to Home Depot to pick up some parts, and got it going. Saved me a lot of work from my old rectangular one. It’s all brass and metal fittings with an easy to operate ball valve on the opening, down to a 3/8 inch hose barb. Runs 1/2 OD silicone tubing like a champ. So I spent Sunday tracking down parts, building the mashtun/testing/proofing it, and repairing my propane burner.

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The stainless steel braid is the best pieces of this entire design! Straining the mash used to be a headache. You’d burn yourself, couldn’t get it all out, etc… this made it so much easier. It’s a piece of Stainless Steel supply line for a toilet. Ends clipped off, vinyl tube inside pushed out. The braid filters the mash, and lets the wort run through the valve. Brilliant design – limits you to batch sparging, but that’s fine – that’s my standard anyway.

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Grains ready to become beer – 5 lbs of 2 row barley, and 2 lbs of flaked rice (will be a Budweiser style pilsen lager when its done as they use a lot of rice)

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A shot of the mash inside the Mashtun, (Looks just like hot cereal) once the water was heated to 170 degrees, I put the water into the preheated Mashtun, then put the grains inside – they absorbed about 10-12 degrees, which put me right in the money range of 158 degrees. This is the temperature that the mash needs to sit at for 45 minutes to an hour to get the majority of the fermentable sugars from the grain.

Batch sparging with 180 degree water brought me to the 6 gallons needed for the primary boil. Here’s the sparging process, flushing the grains with hot water to wash the sugars into the boil kettle down below.

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Outside we go – 6 gallons of wort in the kettle, propane burner working hard to heat it to boiling. Decent color – once it boiled down to 5 gallons and concentrated better, it came out to a very nice golden yellow color. The color in the spoon is a bit deceiving.

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With the kettle boiling finally, it was time to add the hops. This is probably my favorite part of the process – it really starts smelling like beer once you pitch the hops. I used Crystal hops for this particular brew. They’re a clean, crisp, somewhat spicy hop. I pitched hops twice.

First, 1 ounce at the beginning of the boil for the full 60 minute boil in order to bitter the beer.
Second, .75 ounces with 15 minutes to go to give it some of the spicy aroma. (I like hops in my beer – Bud simply doesn’t have hops in the profile – I decided to fix that.)

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Happy hops floating in their little beer Jacuzzi.

The next sets of steps happened so quickly I wasn’t able to get photos – once the boil is nearing completion, there is a bunch of stuff to do. Sanitizing equipment for the final push, getting everything ready to go so when it is done, it all has to happen quickly.

Also with 15 minutes to go, I added Irish moss to help clear out the proteins that cause chill haze later on. I also put the wort chiller (a contraption of copper tubing that attaches to a garden hose to circulate cold water and exchange heat) in order to quickly chill the wort to temperatures I can pitch the yeast at… < 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

All of this has to be done fast, and it as to be done sanitary. At this point, any contamination can ruin the beer. Needless to say, the camera didn’t come out. I chilled the beer down to 74 degrees, pitched the yeast and placed it in the garage to slowly cool down to the lager fermentation temperatures of 48-56 degrees.

Specific gravity reading came out to 1.043 (higher than the recipe predicted in BeerSmith) and the wort itself tasted very sweet, the hop bitters were present. It has a lot of potential. The bottom picture is the beer sitting in the garage in the primary fermenter with airlock (you can see the color – nice and golden).

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Total yield at the end was 4.5 gallons of workable beer – from a 6 gallon starting amount. I haven’t yet begun to calculate efficiencies… there will be time for that. Gotta let the fermentation process take hold, and once it does – I will have 4.5 gallons of delicious “Happy Wife Lager”. Finished off the day with some smoked Steelhead from the other day (which by the way, the Molasses brown sugar substitute I mentioned earlier worked PERFECTLY – very good) .

The process is a kick, I had forgotten how fun it is and I’m already planning the next one. I’m thinking a Breakfast Stout…. It will have all the best stuff for breakfast — Chocolate, Coffee, Oatmeal, and well… Stout.

Till then, Prost.
Ben

Happy Sabbath!

Ahhhh….

One of the most delightful commands that God has given to mankind is to rest on the seventh day – to keep his Sabbath. To stop the rat race, to cease from your desires and pursuits, and focus introspectively on your life and how you live it, and spend some quality time with Him.

This week, the Sabbath feels so good. I’ve been going pretty well non-stop in a semi-misguided attempt to cram everything humanly possible into this Winter Break before I have to go back to work next week. Spent a few days in the yard working on cleaning things up, then burnt the evening oil working on the chicken coop, fished a hard days fishing yesterday with no fruit to the labor other than the beautiful river on an exceptionally cold day. (It turns out that 23 degrees may be too cold to fish…), then spent some time last evening with some good friends and former co-workers watching the Ducks beat Kansas State, then played some games until WAAAAYYYYY too late…

Needless to say, as this Sabbath began, and I finally stopped moving. I realized how incredibly tired I really was. There’s some danger in starting the Sabbath this exhausted, and it’s not my preferred way to begin…  all you want to do is sleep rather than study, but I’m excited to dig further into the book of Job this evening.

We often refer to the patience (probably more accurately ‘longsuffering’) of Job when we talk about someone who has to deal with a bunch of difficulties, or as one person once told me. “You work with middle school kids… you must have the patience of Job.” My response: “Well… that’s the problem, because no. I don’t – they drive me insane.”

Let’s just leave it at, “Patience is something I could certainly benefit from.”

I just want everything done. I just want to snap my fingers and have the coop finished. Snap my fingers and have the projects done, the urbanite patio, the retaining wall, everything that I’ve had on the docket and working to collect materials for and didn’t get to before the rains hit. *SNAP*

… all done.

The truth is, and you all know this lesson well – the reward isn’t worth it unless the work has been put in. It takes work to build a homestead, to make a home.

Recently, I have been hearing/seeing this song everywhere. Many of you have probably heard it. If you haven’t, check it out – it’s got a catchy tune, and a decent message. Phillip Phillips – Home. We heard it this past weekend at Karaoke with our friends from DC, then it seems like since then, I’m hearing it everywhere. It’s not a new song, and I don’t know how I managed to miss it to this point.

Despite not having television, I manage to stay pretty well connected socially through Facebook and the internet to various trends, and pop culture. (Sadly, it’s a necessity for my job to be up on what’s going on in the world of MTV and other idiotic programming, memes, etc… – you try connecting with 14 year olds if you don’t know what GTL stands for… ) You’ve got to be up on the lingo, people!

Anyway, back to my point. Phillip Phillips. I was listening to the lyrics of the song, and it really spoke to my thoughts of late. Almost like it was meant for me to hear it and listen.

Just know you’re not alone…
Cause I’m going to make this place your home.

Just relax. Place your trust where it should be placed, lean not on your own understanding, trust that I will take care of this, and all will work out the way its supposed to. I will help make your dreams come true here. Be content with what you have.

…In other words, stop grabbing the wheel and trying to drive the car. I’ve got this. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

A very hard lesson for me to learn. But seeing how God held Job in the palm of his hands… even after all the catastrophe and calamity that befell him. He didn’t keep him from the storm, but he protected him through it – it’s an incredible blessing to know that you have God on your side.

Particularly as my wife and I start down this road. Things have fallen into place, materials for the coop, gifts of food, excellent counsel. It feels to me as though God has blessed our efforts as we’ve worked to make this place what it is.

… and if I’ve got Him on my side, I haven’t a worry in the world.

Shabbat Shalom

If I name a goat ‘DOG’, is it still a goat?

I try not to post more than once in a day… for a couple of reasons.

1) I really don’t have much to say
2) No one really wants to listen anyway…

But I had to share this.

With the smoker loaded and the kitchen finally cleaned up after last night’s fish processing… I got some laundry going, got the stuff that was making my truck smell like a dead fish into the laundry and was working on my next to-do when I realized I was hungry. I decided it was time for a snack. I had picked up this container of Goat Cheese while Dave and I fished the Alsea on Sunday.

We stopped into John Boy’s Alsea Mercantile, (I’m a sucker for General Stores – doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I love them and have to stop) and there was a sign for locally made goat cheese from a farm near town called Alsea Acres Alpines. I like goat cheese, I like general stores, and I like supporting local farms… I had no choice but to pick some up.

I bought one of the containers of Garlic/Chive, and finally had an excuse to give it a taste.

It’s crazy good.

Not just good, but crazy good. Very pleasant taste, not too overpowering, a bit lemony, soft and light and DELICIOUS with crackers. (Is it too early to have a glass of wine?) I don’t know if you can find it online or not, but I can tell you right now – the next time I head down to the Alsea to fish, I’m grabbing some more. YUM!

ImageGotta go, have to fight Shannon for some more before its gone.

Ben

Winter on the Homestead.

Here at the Light homestead, we are in the middle of the – ‘not-really-sure-what-to-do-around-the-house-because-one-second-it’s-raining-the-next-it’s-really-cold-and-getting-things-done-on-the-homestead-to-do-list-is-ultimately-*BREATH*-really-difficult-in-this-nasty-weather-and….” – in other words, it’s that time of year where I try to find every excuse in the book not to go work outside… because its raining/COLD… The part of this that doesn’t make sense is…  I don’t mind being in the misery if I’m fishing. How exactly DOES that work?

In the last few days of 2012: my wife and I made it back home from Spokane, laid her Grandfather to rest, spent quite a bit of time with extended family, had an opportunity to spend some quality time with good friends from the east coast, and with the events of the past couple weeks and a strong desire NOT to work on the homestead… I needed some time on the river. So I’ve been doing everything in my power with the two days left on my 2012 license to get some meat for the freezer.

One of the wonderful things about Oregon is that in addition to the temperate climate region which allows us to garden year round pretty easily without a lot of extra stuff, there are harvest opportunities available year round. I know that there are some homesteaders out there that are not into meat consumption, period… choosing to grow all of their own food on their land and living a vegetarian lifestyle, or at least a lacto-vegetarian, or ovo-vegetarian lifestyle. On our homestead we look at things a bit differently.

Shannon and I take issue with the industrialization of ‘food’, and I use those quotations lightly. The idea that the meat you pick up at the store is raised in large scale CAFO type operations full of antibiotics, with meat products and GMO corn in the feed is disturbing, not to mention seriously damaging our food supply. We don’t have a problem with a carnivorous lifestyle, in fact, we enjoy it… but we do want to ensure that what we take in has the least amount of industrialization/processing/adulteration/carcinogens/shards of metal and glass/rat poison/etc… my wife is REALLY good at this… I’m not. But that’s something I’m working on changing in my life. Trying to be better about avoiding processed foods and drinks, and sticking to natural foods. Looking at labels and avoiding the stuff I can’t pronounce. That stuff isn’t food. It’s chemicals.

The homestead mantra is Michael Pollan’s quote from Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Eat Food. Not A Lot. Mostly Plants. – Michael Pollan

As a result, as much as possible, we try to eat more plants than we do meat, but also we try to supplement our food that we grow here on the homestead or pick up at the local markets with natural options either by hunting or by plain old gathering (blackberries, nuts, etc..) Here in Oregon, we have big game hunting opportunities available to us; deer and elk, bird hunting – duck, goose, and turkey — as well as year-round fishing for the big boys… 2 different types of Salmon; Chinook and Coho, and the legendary Steelhead, and in the summer fresh albacore tuna.

The last couple days, I hit some of our coastal rivers in search of some of the ever elusive Steelhead. On the first day, my friend Dave and I banked it on one mid-coast river and weren’t able to rustle up much other than a cutthroat trout that we sent on its merry way. It was really slow, and we only saw a couple of fish caught. It was a beautiful day though, with the sun shining and the temperature warm, which was refreshing. However, “Mission: Fill the Homestead Freezer”… FIsh 1, Me 0.

Yesterday I had a trip lined up with my friend Matt Halseth, who recently got his guides license and started up his business. We’d been trying to line up a chance to fish with one another for a while now, and it finally panned out yesterday as he didn’t have clients. Along with another really cool guy Curtis, we put into another coastal river in the dark, and started downriver. It was crazy cold here in Oregon the last couple days. It got down below freezing, and within moments of heading downriver in the boat, I wasn’t sure if my toes had gone on strike, or had just simply died. They almost didn’t recover. Though, by cramming a couple of hand-warmers in the toe of my boot – all was well, until the hand-warmers quit working. The fishing was slow to begin with, and we didn’t touch a fish for the first 4 hours. But we didn’t let it get us down, we know we’d get em once the air temperature came up and the water warmed a bit. Around 11 it picked up quite nicely, and we picked up 5 fish in the next few hours. It wasn’t lights out fishing we really had to grind em out, but we had a great time, a lot of laughs, and ended up 5/5 on the day, with one beautiful native hen released to go her merry way. (Something that can’t be said for many of the other boats on the river…)

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4 keepers…

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One of which was a very good sized, very hot (peeled line like crazy) 12-14 pounder. (the girl on the left in the above picture) Here she is again…

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The guys decided they didn’t want to mess with their catches last night because of New Years Eve (we got back pretty late), and they transferred the meat to me, so I was able to put all four fish away last night instead of just the two I caught, so I was very thankful for that.

Probably managed to put away close to 20 pounds of fish when it was all said and done. Since sizes are deceptive without a frame of reference, the Forschner Scimitar fillet knife next to the fish is 17 inches from tip to tip.

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Tried a new smoked Salmon Brine, well, it’s not new, it’s an adapted version of our standard brine recipe. We like to keep it simple, and let the fish speak for itself. We were out of brown sugar last night, so we ended up adapting by using regular sugar and molasses… we’ll see. I don’t know that it will have quite the same taste… but I’ll let you know.

1/2 Cup Raw Sugar
1 TBS Molasses
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1 tsp Celery Seed

Mix the Raw Sugar and Molasses together to make a brown sugar substitute, add the salt and celery seed and mix well with a fork. Dissolve the mixture in warm water continuing to mix well with the fork. Pour over chunked fish in a non-reactive bowl, add cold water to cover fish. Let brine for 24 hours.

Smoke however you prefer. I typically will put it in the smoker until it looks done (anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on air temperature) with 2 pans of Alder chips. Turns it into candy.

I’m looking forward to putting a lot of fish away this coming year, both smoked and filleted, which is doable since the winter run of coastal Steelhead is just getting started, then come the Springers, then come the Summers, then the Fall’s…. but the winters are nowhere near their peak and it only gets better from here out. Seriously… give Matt a call. He’s a great guy, and really knows what he’s doing when it comes to catching fish. A real class act — if you’re thinking of getting out this year, send me an email and I’ll put you in contact with him…

After taking a couple days off, my to-do list today is about a mile long, and my cup of coffee excuse to be online is almost gone, so I’d better bring this to a close.

2012 is in the rear view, 2013 up ahead and the world is making resolutions… here on our homestead, we’ll keep on keeping on…

Cheers,
Ben