Sunday, February 11, 2007

Prison Wine Really Doesn't Travel Well Afterall....

After the relatively mild start to winter, we had record breaking cold temps in this area of Virginia last week. With highs only in the 20's and lows in the single digits, Bernie and I were particularly stressed thinking about our little house on the homestead. The well water tank sits under the house and is really only protected by the skirting. We did the best we could at winterizing - heat tape around the pipes and insulation all around the tank- but after hearing and reading about so many people with pipes that burst in the cold and frigid weather, we were really concerned what we would find when we went to our homestead this last weekend.

We left work at our usual time on Friday evening, and headed back to our home in town to pack up as quickly as possible so we could arrive at our homestead while there was still a little daylight left. That would make it easier to access any damage. So we were running through the house grabbing things and slinging them in the truck as fast as we could when I remembered my Prison Wine. You may recall I started a special batch of Grape Prison Wine and modified the recipe to make it less sweet. It's been percolating for several weeks, and I had decided that this was the weekend I would bottle it. Well......

I had sat my precious Prison Wine on the table in the dining room that we use as a "staging area" for things that are to go with us to our homestead. I was in the kitchen grabbing some last minute groceries when I saw Bernie pick up the wine and head out to the truck. A few seconds later I heard him scream an expletive at the top of his lungs. I intuitively knew this had something to do with my Prison Wine. And I knew it was not good. Not good at all. And sure enough a few moments later Bernie came walking in with a glass jar that used to hold my precious wine - and all that was left in the bottom of it was about 20 fermented grapes. It had a huge hole busted out of the middle of it. For those of you that are in any sort of a relatively long term relationship, you will understand when I tell you that I figured out pretty quickly that something bad had just happened, and because it happened with something that was mine it would now be my fault. I was torn between crying, apologizing profusely, or running out the front door as quickly as I could. Instead I said "I'll clean it up". Bernie grunted as I took the ruined remains of my wine jar from his hands.

I grabbed a roll of paper towels and headed outside. I figured he had dropped the jar on the driveway. That would give me ammunition for the argument I planned to present that would clearly redeem me and place the blame squarely on him. I was certain that this wasn't my fault and he should have been more careful. I was feeling pretty good about it as I headed out the door and looked at the driveway. What???? No wine on the driveway???? Well, what the ........ and then I looked at the floor of the backseat of our super king cab truck. There was sticky wine and big blobs of fermented grapes all over the floor. I was dumbfounded. I must have looked as bewildered as I felt because Bernie quickly said "That glass jar must have been stressed from all the travel. I sat it on the floor where I normally do and it barely clinked against that metal thingy and the next thing I knew, wine was pouring out everywhere." I can not tell you what a pain it was to clean all that mess out of that truck. I swear that gallon jar held more like 10 gallons. It was running everywhere. We finally got it all cleaned up and took off down the road. I'm glad we didn't get stopped by the police - the fumes were quite impressive. On the ride out to the homestead, Bernie said to me (in his most authoritative voice) "You know, the likelihood of anything breakable and containing liquid being in this truck again is slim to none. Unless it's in a concrete container, it is strictly forbidden. No more Prison Wine in this truck. Ever. That's it. The foot is coming down." Blah, blah, blah. I mean really! Whatever.

As sad as I was for losing my precious wine, I was still very anxious about getting out to the homestead and learning if we suffered damage from all this ridiculously cold weather. When we finally arrived, I immediately turned on the cold water. It worked! Yay! Bernie took a flashlight and checked under the house and found no evidence of burst pipes. What a relief!

We went down to check out the bees on Saturday morning and they were angrily buzzing about how darn cold it was. Bernie even saw 3 of them come out and buzz around a bit before quickly heading back inside to let the others know it was not worth venturing out.

We spent early Saturday morning getting groceries and when it warmed up a bit we spent the afternoon cutting, splitting, and stacking wood. We have a lot of really nice oak ready to burn now.

So there you have it. Prison Wine doesn't travel as well as I thought it did and our little homestead and Russian Bees kick serious cold weather butt. It gets better than this - but until we can move out there full time we'll have to be happy with these little experiences. Oh - and I'll be sure to let you know when I start my next batch of Prison Wine - and how it endures the trip in the truck out to the homestead...... in a glass jar.

Bee Free,


Tracey said...

So sorry you lost your prison wine, and that you didn't get stopped by the police! Sounds like your bees are surviving, too; always a good thing :)

Penny said...

Thanks Tracey. I really miss my Prison Wine - I've gotten in the habit of stirring it everyday! I'm going to hold off on the next batch for a while. Hopefully we'll see our home in town soon and move out to the homestead permanently soon. Then I'll be a Prison Wine making fool!

The bees are doing us proud. Hope they stay strong threw all this nasty weather.