Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Bit from the Homestead…

Inspired by 19th century silhouette portraits


The maple has been running pretty consistently finally so we've fired up our makeshift boiler. The run is definitely much later than last year but we are happy to have it. We’ll have enough to get some enjoyment out of it but not enough to carry us through a whole year. I really like sweets but laboring yourself to boil all that sap down has a healthy moderating effect on the rate of consumption.

Rough pine germination rack

We’ve got seeds started in our living room in front of the sliding glass doors. It’s exciting to watch them and see life emerging this time of year.

Grow little guys!

Finally a dignified roof!

Now that I can work outside without frostbite I got to shingling the goat shed roof. All winter we had the official state of Maine outbuilding roof: Tar paper. Pretty classy, I’d say. Needless to say, we decided to move up a little in our social echelon here on the peninsula.  Now our goats have got shingles. Whewee! Fancy stuff!

A paper template to scrutinize

I am looking to build a dining table and working on the design with Julia. Nothing is in stone yet but we  have been discussing a shaker trestle base for the wide pine top her grandfather made a long time ago. I am not sure what ever happened to the original base but we’ll being using the top for sure.

Ethiopian Yirga Cheffe roasted at Full City +

Also, with the help of a good friend of mine, David Dillon (coffee roaster, connoisseur, and barista extraordinaire), I figured out a number of modifications to make to a popcorn popper so that I can begin to roast coffee beans. I’ve wanted to roast my own coffee for many years but never got myself together to do it. Being a through and through coffeephile, I decided to take the next step into my addiction and build myself a roaster. 

Separating the heat and the fan

Here’s the quick and dirty of what I did: After separating the heating element from the fan, I have two plugs. The fan goes into the receptacle and the heat plugs into a router speed control. This gives me control over the heat during the roasting process. I also extended the chamber with a can and installed a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the bean mass. I’ve been playing around with roast profiles a little and have learned a few things. I guess if I get questions from readers about it, I can make a short video explaining more about it and about the roasting process.

Chamber extension and thermometer installed

Complete setup!

Sticks and boards are all a boy needs!

Yesterday I started working on a play house for Eden. There are no plans. It's just sort of evolving as we go. We’ll see what it becomes. We definitely are inspired by the whimsical hobbit looking houses we’ve seen on the internet. I think this project will grow a little each year but this year I am focused on giving him four walls and a door: somewhere for a little boy to hide in and imagine.

So far it looks like Mamas are allowed in the fort

I also thought I’d share a quotation I’ve discovered while preparing to teach a bible study on the epistle to the Colossians. It was an encouragement to me:

"Let us give thanks to God continually. For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us in deed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favor with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us. He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.
In point of fact, thanksgiving adds nothing to Him, but it brings us closer to Him. For if, when we recall the benefactions of men, we are the more warmed by affection for them; much more, when we continually bring to mind the benefits of the Master towards us, shall we be more earnest with regard to His commandments.
For this cause Paul also said, Be ye thankful. For the best preservative of any benefaction is the remembrance of the benefaction, and a continual thanksgiving for it"

- St. John Chrysostomos


  1. I'm curious as to where you get your green beans for roasting. I remember seeing burlap bags of beans for sale in grocery stores but I haven't seen any in decades. I've roasted some I got from a coffee shop on my gas grill. Worked great, but buying from that shop is expensive.

    1. I get mine from my buddy David but I have in the past ordered them from They have great stuff but you could also track down a small roaster in your area. I bet they would be willing to sell you a few pounds at a time.

    2. This is a reply both to Anonymous as well as Josh...
      Excellent read! i'm glad you're enjoying the home roasting and sharing your delight.
      GREEN coffee?! I would be happy to provide green for you, Anonymous, as well. You can email me at

      Don't mean to use your blog for 'commercial' purposes, Josh. Just want to help support the passionate roasters anywhere.
      Thanks for the appreciative commentary as well!

    3. Perfect. Thanks, David! I will let others know you are willing to sell them green beans.