Moonshine, Apple Blossoms and Mixing Cog-crete

From Mrs. Cog's Corner

I keep expecting to reach a new normal or at least business as usual (whatever that will be) here in our new life on the mountain. We seem to be efficient at tackling the "one time projects", such as erecting ten foot garden fence posts that should stand for 20-30 years, but more things just keep lining up. Maybe that is the new modus operandi?

We had our most productive day yet today setting ten posts into the ground. I didn't distract Cog this time while he dug by hand the one post hole left to be excavated that was precariously close to the buried power and phone lines. I did the honors of mixing most of the cog-crete while he leveled and braced the posts as best as can be done for non-straight tree poles. I then filled them up with my cog-coction.

fence today

The apple orchard is in full bloom and the bees are back in force. It is interesting that each of the different varieties of apple trees have slightly different flowers. Butterflies, bees and even an occasional hummingbird were all present as I snapped a few photos.

apple blossoms 4 26

Cog was kind enough to accompany me down the mountain yesterday to fill a very large order of mason jars which I had planned to purchase for a long while. We had two shopping carts filled to overflowing with every size Mason jar you could imagine. When we finally made it to the checkout line two employees were waiting and boy were they ever snickering.

"I see you're making moonshine," one said to Cog.

After a hearty belly laugh Cog politely denied the suggestion. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

"Yeah, right, ok," she laughed as we unloaded each cart so she could hand scan the jars case by case, then reload some of them into a third cart.

Not a minute later a customer pulled up to the register adjourning us and while passing Cog commented, "Moonshine?" Cog just politely smiled.

A few minutes later another customer came by and said, "Oh, you're making moonshine, can I give you my number?"

It was at this point Cog realized that the perceived implications of our purchase could snowball, so he loudly said, "We are gifting the jars to our daughters." That just got the assembled entourage laughing and snickering even harder.

As we self consciously maneuvered the three loaded carts through the parking lot, only to play Tetris as we tried to stuff two pallets of canning jars into a one pallet SUV, we both realized we weren’t in Kansas anymore while laughing with each other over the scene we must have just presented to the locals. There just wasn’t any way we could have been more conspicuous if we had tried. Such is the new life for us former city people “On the Mountain”.

new jarsthe basement after shopping

12 thoughts on “Moonshine, Apple Blossoms and Mixing Cog-crete”

      1. If you really are planning to personally use those jars yourself, an not establish a new revenue stream, you might consider the Tattler Reusable Lids. I will personally try them for the first time myself this year, but came highly recommended by someone I trust on such matters. Will really come in handy in case of “Supply Line Disruptions” in the future.

        1. @dynosaur

          They are for personal use and I have heard of the Tattler reusable lids before but not tried them yet. I will definitely check them out. Thank you.

          “Supply Line Disruptions”… what a tactful way to express a plethora of situations. I like that even more than my “Interruption of Services” description.

  1. I am assuming the fencing is for repealing deer? When we moved to our Mesa I had commented I was happy to see no deer destruction. ” Oh, we only get them about every three years. You won’t like it when they come.” I had assumed this was an implication of their voracious natures but I learned otherwise. It seems mountain lions follow deer in California so once seen, their predators are soon to make an entrance. This became interesting because mama lion likes to instruct her offspring in hunting by practicing on anything at hand. Two horses were mauled. Their withers showed the tell tale sign of deep long wide spaced claws. This was practice not kill. We were glad they finally moved on and because their range is 100miles, it will take some time before they visit again. Now the rattlesnakes and scorpions prefer to stay with us but with a little common sense and caution we can usually avoid them. My horse wasn’t so fortunate and was struck on the nose. Very typical occurrence.


    1. @miffed

      The height of the fence is for deer, hopefully the strength will deter the bear. Thankfully we don’t have mountain lions up here, although the seller of the property said they tracked one passing through about 7 years back. We do have several bobcats, but they seem to be ‘fraidy cats and we have caught them watching us a few times. I met one walking in the woods last fall and we scared each other silly lol.

      I’m glad we have none of those scorpions up this way. We have been warned about copperheads and timber rattlers, but have encountered none so far. There is a six foot long black snake that lives outside Cog’s garage/workshop by the entrance to the root cellar and is supposed to be great for mouse control.

      Have you noticed any change in the occurrence of wild predators with the drought conditions out there?

      1. We have lots of bobcats here but they prefer to be shy and elusive . Beautiful creatures. I never heard of one hurting a human. Coyotes are more plentiful here and often seen. Sometimes you hear them communicate all night yapping all over the Mesa keeping all informed of the night activities. Drives us all nuts because they invigorate our dogs’ ancestral instincts! There’s a Great Horned Owl that loves to take his break from hunting on the Alder tree by our bedroom window. This is never a quiet affair and I am tired of frantically trying to find one of my shoes so I won’t be late for work. Most of my work associates complain about sirens, noisy neighbors, cars and bright lights. I don’t envy them. Other than an occasional animal, we have calm, stillness and serenity few enjoy.

        So far the predator population seems steady. We are still early in this and I am very worried for the future. When the largest fire in Ca history broke out 5 miles of our home I was amazed at the disruption of animal life. I felt like St Francis feeding my horses. All the little birds and animals would follow me when I took the buckets of grain to the horses hoping some would fall to the ground.They were starving trying to survive on charred Moonscape. I took pity and started to feed them. Mr Miffed put a harsh stop to this fearing our supplies wouldn’t hold out. I was living the book Cold Mountain.


      2. I live in the deep woods with bear and deer. I “train” deer to a single strand electric fence wire (10,000 volt) at waist height. A small training bait of peanut butter smeared on tin foil has kept deer on the otherside, even with sweet yellow clover just on the otherside. My bee yard was built with a stockade fence of alternating barbed wire and electrified wire baited with punctured anchovie cans. Overkill. You just need to train the bears with a single baited wire. One touch on the nose and tongue and they are never coming back. All that honey and no bear problems.

        The fencing is 12 volt solar electrified. I have redundant chargers – one is none and three is two. I have just expanded my protcted area to over an acre just using ceramic insulators screwed into trees and a single wire. Cheap and effective. Can be rigged to any car battery.


        1. @Ati

          It’s really good to hear how effective training the wild animals with a zapping has been for you, especially the bears. We have heard a few similar tidbits from people at the farm store in the next county over. Cog is mulling running a few strings of charged wire in addition to (but not touching) the galvanized mesh. We were told a lower charged line also helps to keep the mean (vandalizing) bunnies out of the garden.

          Thanks for the input. :-)

  2. Hello Mrs. Cog and Miffed:

    Re: fences, deer, moonshine and predators . . . apple trees, too! My 2 paltry cents on these subjects:

    Good fences make for good neighbors . . . especially between two-footed and four-footed beings. In the country, one can only be proactive because if they are hungry, they will come – small and large, cute, not-so-cute, impressive and laughable . . . and just plain destructive and dangerous. Everything is inter-related and everything on legs, eats.

    Deer follow food and seasons, grazing and browsing. Lions follow deer – and in CA and throughout the west, our fish & game departments in their ‘wisdom’ have made killing predators a fine-and-punishment no-no. The cougar population is increasing and we are watching our deer population diminishing . . . but can do nothing about it.

    Last week, my partner and a friend, on their way to cut wood, turned a corner on our ranch and almost ran smack into a large, sleek and obviously well-fed mountain lion right in the roadway. We were wondering why we weren’t seeing so many deer around. Now we know. They are long gone for now.

    There are cattle about to give birth on the ranch and new-born calves are vulnerable, as are smaller livestock like goats and household pets. All are fair game for predators, which of course includes coyotes, scourge of the rancher out here. They are wily, quick and relentless – I know people whose pets were snatched from the porch right in front of them.

    And did you know that eagles can also carry off small pets? They can. My partner has watched them do it.

    Living in nature is nothing like living in town. It’s beautiful, quiet, peaceful and secluded. It’s can also be lonely, challenging, limiting, isolated and flat-out dangerous if one doesn’t know the drill. You’ll either love it or leave it.

    Me? I simply love it. It doesn’t scare me, and any mountain lion that comes calling on me personally had better be able to eat lead. Would I hunt them? No – they are beautiful and they belong out here, one way or another. Would I defend myself from one? You bet’cha. My critters too. That’s how it works.

    Enjoy your apple trees, the bees, and the spring. Your fence is gorgeous and will do the trick. I also liked LeaderofthePack’s suggestion regarding inner fencing. We’ve done that too and it works brilliantly. The flutter-bys of ribbon also work for keeping birds out of fruit trees such as cherries, peaches and plums. Do remember that, because if you grow these, you will need them later on. Birds can be just as devastating as bigger critters. They can strip a fruit tree in just a few hours. If the ribbon doesn’t work, well . . . . . there’s always birdshot. Not my first choice, but there are times when, if you want a crop, that’s the only way, sad to say.

    Best! L/L

  3. Mrs. Cog,
    LOL. I have seen the mason jars full of liquid that could blow stumps out of the ground. Those folks at the checkout counter have probably seen them too. About 15 years ago we had a massive Black Locust tree bloom. Huge white clusters of flowers that produced the most beautiful honey with a wonderful bouquet. I bought 20 cases of mason jars and started bottling. I loaded the cases of honey into the back of my truck and started selling. The honey was so light and clear some folks thought I was selling moonshine! I loved seeing your apple blossoms. We used to work all night hauling bees to the orchards in your area. One night after unloading the last hive I sat and rested. 200 acres of apple blossom fragrance enveloped me. I looked up into the crystal clear sky to gaze at the comet that everyone was talking about. At 2:30 in the morning while most folks were asleep I had one of those “I feel so alive” moments.
    BTW, we do have mountain lions in the Appalachian Mtns. I watched one for 2-3 minutes while I was deer hunting. I was in a tree stand, had a bow, and was scar…………umm, concerned.
    I enjoy reading the updates on how you and Cog are developing your part of the mountain.

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying the updates. Every day is both a small victory and a learning experience. Because I am empowered with the notion that I am creating my own reality, developing our small slice of the world has a magical feel. I find myself repeatedly inspired. :-)

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