I recorded 31,641 steps on a single day this past week.
I heard the first hummingbird of the season.
The grapevine buds are showing the first signs of swelling, signaling their impending arrival.
Spring is here, and I definitely feel it. We’ve turned on our vineyard irrigation water, seen the first pops of apple blossoms, and almost finished pruning the established vines. Honestly, before I started farming, my favorite seasons were spring and fall; however, after learning how vines announce (demand?) their readiness, I think that I most enjoy summer and winter. Those are the months where you feel most in a routine. Not a frenetic race that’s based upon Mother Nature’s whims, desires, or demands.
I’m continually learning and growing, just like the vines, and one thing that I’m focused upon this spring is taking time to make room for things that I love. So many times I end up, in mid-July, thinking about how fast the spring season passed. I don’t want to experience that same feeling again this year, come midsummer.
Before our vineyard was producing grapes, it was an apple orchard. I have no idea why the trees were ripped up and replanted with grapevines, but one thing I’m grateful for is that we have one amazing, remaining apple tree, leftover from that original planting. Just last week, we pruned that precious apple tree, and I made sure to collect a few of the branches, so that I could force the blossoms. I had future cocktail recipes already in my mind.
And it looks like we’ll get a harvest this fall, pending the pleasant weather-streak holds.
I recently had the pleasure of cohosting a restaurant takeover with my husband over at Bin 707 Foodbar, in Grand Junction, where we got to pair our wines with chef Josh Niernberg‘s southwestern-focused, hyper-local cuisine, during Grand Junction’s Restaurant Week.
I crafted two wine-centric cocktails – one that mixed Grüner Veltliner with fresh kiwiI, honeydew melon, gin, and lemon juice, along with another that was rosé-based, enhanced with locally produced Doña Loca mezcal and reposado tequila, preserved plums, rhubarb, strawberry, and fresh lime juice. I had a little of the rosé-based syrup left over from the latter cocktail, so, naturally, I had to create another spring sipper and incorporate some of the extra eggs from our girls that I hadn’t had time to collect and enjoy.
MEET THE GIRLS
We have a beautiful flock of four chickens. It didn’t start out this perfectly or numerically, though. I have wanted backyard chickens since 2008, when I took a trip to Findhorn for Experience Week. I visited this renowned eco-village and sustainable farming community with the intention of learning how to lessen my human ecological footprint and gain knowledge on small-scale farming.
One of my takeaways after that trip was incorporating backyard chickens into our gardening, composting, and cooking regime.
I didn’t get to manifest this particular goal until last spring, in 2021, when I brought home six baby chickens from Sunshine Mesa Farm. I was immediately smitten. After hand-raising tropical birds throughout my childhood, when my dad took on a passion project of raising and selling domesticated, human-nurtured macaws, cockatoos, and conures, I had already developed a keen bond with almost any winged creature.
We took home six chicks, and over the course of about two months, we audibly realized that we had a rooster in the mix. Our sweet Arneis, a Salmon Faverolles breed, grew faster than the others, exhibited a brightly hued comb, and eventually discovered his signature cock-a-doodle-doo. Thankfully, we were able to send him back home, where he could further develop his friendships and even eventually appear on the local news!
If you scroll through to the 1:30 mark, you’ll see Arneis in his/her Faverolles glory.
And if you’ve been reading and are kind of good at math, you’ll realize we are missing one of our birds, our dear Fiano. That’s another story.
That sweet bird is worth an entire, separate blog post. We miss her immensely.
ROSÉ RHUBARB GIN SOUR COCKTAILS
- 2 ounces gin (I used Family Jones’ Juniper Jones)
- 1 ounce rosé-rhubarb syrup (see recipe in the notes below)
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- rose petals, for garnish
- In a mixing tin, combine the gin, rosé-rhubarb syrup, lemon juice, and egg white.
- Dry shake for at least 20 seconds, to really froth-up the texture.
- Add ice and shake for another 20 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with rose petals or other seasonally appropriate flower, dried or fresh.
- This recipe yields one drink.
- For the rosé-rhubarb syrup, combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup rosé, along with 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb. Over low heat, bring to a slow boil and allow the fruit to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, strain out the solids, and refrigerate up to two weeks.
- Add a pinch of salt to either your syrup or your cocktail for further complexity.
EGG WHITE COCKTAILS
Egg-white cocktails are absolutely unrivaled in sublimity and complexity.
I’m lucky that I can grab an egg from our coop at any point and craft a Ramos Gin Fizz, without worrying about poor animal management or food safety. One of the benefits of having a backyard flock is having fresh eggs for cocktails. Next up is the omelets the morning after – the saved egg yolks add a such a depth in our breakfasts!
If you opt for a vegan option, be sure to save your leftover “bean water” from your next can of chickpeas. This viscous liquid mimics the texture of egg whites, while providing a vegan option. Even if you aren’t a declared vegan, save canned bean water for cocktails. It’s another way you can give life to your food waste, in the form of a textural, dreamy cocktail.
Right now, we are neck-deep in vineyard work. I honestly don’t know how I squeezed in this photo shoot.
But I’m glad that I did.
We just saw the first signs of bud-break in the vineyard, and we are busy un-mounding all of the grafted vines we’ve planted the past two years. Life is evident, life is abundant, and life is our goal. We are thrilled to plant nearly 4,000 new, grafted vines in just under three weeks. By July, we’ll have nearly eight acres planted to vine – while the reward is delayed several years for us, we are excited to be on the path toward a viable, estate-wine production, here at the vineyard.
Let me know if you are a fan of egg-white cocktails or aqua-faba drinks!
I am always listening for ways to increase the complexity and texture of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.
Cheers from the front lines of springtime Colorado farming!!
I’m going to bed now!