On the Lavender Paint out

If you are a plein air painter, our lavender fields are looking really ready for your eyes. Here is some advice from Don Bishop, who has been spending time painting here:

And just so you know, the address and mailbox is for the house. The lavender is on up the road, you will see it on the right. Go past the lavender about a hundred yards and you will see a gravel road with a gate. Open the gate and drive in, it will take you to the lavender fields. They have a nice big tent canopy set now you can paint under if you like!

Don Bishop at work

Check out his work and our pictures on Facebook. Lots of information about the lavender festival July 9 and 10 on that page too!

See you in the fields!

Kay Elmore paints under the big tent

Breaking in the new distiller

We have been distilling lavender oil with Old Faithful for about 4 years. This 30 gallon copper still was personally made by Colonel Wilson of Copper Mountain Moonshine Stills. It has served us well, once we figured out how to use it properly. That took us a couple of tries because we had saggy pipes, which caused backflow and no oil. We also took awhile to get the condenser going to ensure that the distillate didn’t come into the glass too hot.

copper lavender still we've used for 4 years

copper lavender still we’ve used for 4 years

I recently purchased a beautiful new copper still from Mile High Distilling. I got a smaller 10 gallon size to use inside the house with flowers only lavender oil (perfume quality). It works according to plan. The distilled water and lavender go into the big bellied pot, the lid goes on with a thermometer in it to keep track of the temperature. And, the condenser is supposed to turn the steam to liquid as it runs through the copper coil that is surrounded by coldness.

the thermometer on a good still never goes above boiling -- 100 degrees.

the thermometer on a good still never goes above boiling — 100 degrees.

oil and steam leave the pot and go into the condenser

oil and steam leave the pot and go into the condenser

I thought that the best way to create a cold condenser was to fill the chamber with ice. This could work if there were more liquids touching the coil. However, I filled the condenser with ice, which didn’t create enough cold on the coil. Steam ended up coming out of the condenser, filling the room with the scent of lavender, but not filling my container with the water and oil elixir that we separate into hydrosol and oil.

the condenser is supposed to cool the steam into water

the condenser is supposed to cool the steam into water

So i basically got a little bit of hydrosol and a tiny bit of oil. Next time, I will have water flowing through the condenser just as we do with Old Faithful, and I should expect better luck.

Quail Babies at Westwind

Last year, I killed 20 eggs with high temperatures in the incubation just after one quail was born. That quail became Clarissa, a very sweet animal. Figuring that lightning doesn’t strike twice, I got another batch of quail eggs this spring, determined to pay better attention to their incubation temperatures. Starting on Mother’s Day, we hatched a total of 5 out of 20 this time, still quite a small hatch rate. Here’s a photo of the first one out of the egg. fresh quail baby

Here are 3 at 2 days old. 1 day old quail

Although we started out with intentions to hold them a lot and recreate the magic of having a quail as a pet, they arrived just before we hosted an astrology workshop, so our focus was on other things. They became more wild. They started to hop out of their enclosure when they were alarmed, and the next week was spent chasing quail with the children. Tom and Elena became adept at cornering a quail and getting him back into the enclosure. However, as feathers filled in, the task became never-ending! I decided to open the door to allow the quail to get themselves back into their home.

They have been wandering around as a quail pack in the house for about 2 weeks. Here are some videos of their meanderings.

Today, we open the door to allow them to wander out into the world. Bugs and dirt rolling await and they may not return to come back into the house. I will let you know what happens!