Thursday, June 30, 2011

MEAT me in St Loofahs

I    I need an appointment in some spa place where the loofah's are big and soapy.

Escorting meat the entire day. Yesterday I picked up several  hundred pounds of beef and brought it home to fill our farm store freezers (Sorry, no steaks yet, just ground beef. Steaks will be ready July 26).

Today I started with filling out invoices in the house, then selecting the pork pieces ordered in our farm store and loading them in the wagon, then adjusting the invoices, back to the machine shed for Keith to load my heavy duty 2 wheeled cart and went back to Chenoa Locker and picked up MORE ground beef.

Heading south on Rt 55 I dropped off the burger I had just picked up. Specifically 150 pounds for Naturally Yours in Normal (Thanks you Michelle) and then  headed west on Rt 74 to deliver 50 pounds for Naturally Yours in Peoria. (Thank you Virginia)

That means that the ground beef they sell in their store from us, goes from our farm to the locker and direct to the store. I think that is so cool. A thirty to 50 mile trip in the comfort of my air conditioned, recently cleaned Ford Transit Wagon . Really Ford, are you not listening ? I would be the best ad for your wagon. Come on Call Me. 1-800-Midlife-Farmwife.

Back to burger. No 1500 mile trip (the ave. travel length most food endures before it gets to your local grocery store) where numerous people handle your meat in who knows WHAT kind of heathen way before it makes it to your table. Oh, I even dropped off a milk sample from our milk tank to be tested at Daily Labs. How efficient am I ? Not very. Keith had to remind me, AND get the sample AND put it ice water AND remind me to write the check for them.

I can't do everything you know.

On the way home I called Keith to tell him I was going to stop in Eureka to see sister Teresa who jsut put HER house on the market. We seesters are in a moving mood it seems. See her very clean, very spacious home here
That is when Keith tells me we still have MORE meat to get in Eureka and maybe I should pick it up being as I was in town and all.


I pick up more meat in Eureka, a 1/2 hog we had processed a couple of weeks ago. Hmmmm did I order those cheese filled brats ? Wow. what a stroke of brillance and just before the 4th as well.

Enough, lets wind this up shall we ? I visited the wonderful sister and then stopped back at Chenoa to get the REST of the meat I could not fit in the wagon this morning. Now that I had several empty coolers seems I can take the rest home.

Which I did . Keith met me at our store and we put all that meat away and more in the house and in the machine shed freezers. I noticed we had several packages of yummy beef liver and knuckle bones for soup making. Where was I going to put all those ? We moved things around, shifting meat from one shelf to another. Fianlly all of it put away.

Needless to say...we had popcorn for supper.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whole New LifeStyle for Sale. Apply Within.

Homestead update  A close relative of ours recently voiced concern about us selling the farm and heading towards the very simple life. When I told him we were not even sure we would have a TV in the new house that is not yet built on the new land that is not yet bought he said , pointing to our grand kids "But what about them ?! What will they do all day ?" 
Grumpy faces due to argument they were having about where to put
the wood stove in their blanket house.

Please note: not a single remote or Game Boy or mouse in any ones hands
When left to their own will use their imagination.
I understand that folks just don't understand why we are doing what we are doing. Who in their right mind would sell the farm they have worked on for so many years and the home they raised four children in? Who would hand over  the livestock bred and birthed over many generations to the point that the blood lines are healthy and productive ? Who would let go of an organic meat business that required hours and hours of desk, office and legislative work in order to sell great meat to even greater customers ?

We would.

We ache for so much...less. We imagine unmowed fields, some woods, a maybe a pond or creek. We dream of days spent growing and then preserving 95% of all our own food. We want just enough animals, just enough square footage in our home, just enough clothes, just enough THINGS. Dwindling trips to stores and diminishing needs for outside merchandise.

We ache for ...more. More time for family, for reading, for writing, for riding,(and Yes I admit it, for soaping )  and  for working our land the way we want. We want more time to worship, more time to sit around the table and visit without always thinking about all the things that must be done. More time to enjoy a few animals instead of being exhausted caring for so many.

I learned to make soap waves this week. Took several tries. By the time I was done
I had taken all the Dramamine in the house. Anchors aweigh !
Phone calls of interest keep coming in while I continue to send out financial statements to our tax man and our realtor who continue to work for the farms asking price. We are the only certified organic dairy and pork and beef farm in Central Illinois which makes finding "comparables" difficult. Our potential for ongoing growth is huge. So big we can't wait to walk away from it !

Its our own fault and our huge blessing. Our customers are outstanding , especially those we've had for several years, the ones who bought meat from us out of our basement freezers (braving spiders and crickets) and the ones who bought from me out of the cooler I would lug back and forth to work. Nurses and Doctors who valued raw milk, pastured meat and free range eggs were our best customers for several years. Without all of their support we never would have had the courage to approach restaurants, to reach out to grocery stores. They knew this business would grow and that I would leave my nursing career before I could even admit that to myself.

Our "success" was never just ours. HE helped the most and thus passing it on to another family another group of young ENERGETIC people will not be hard at all.

We're ready.

If YOU are ready for a great new lifestyle, and have always dreamed of your own organic farm business please call our Realtor Terry Sullivan an 815-842-1400. Just ask him about South Pork Ranch in Chatsworth. He'll be happy to take your call.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mow is Me

Got up at 0530 for no good reason. I just felt like it. Therefore had to make my own coffee. Keith often does this for me but he was sleeping off yesterday's 16 hr day. Stumbled around the house doing mindless things like drinking coffee, sniffing soap bars and ignoring the cat while he ignores me ignoring him. Keith woke. Farm meeting was had.

No. "Farm meeting" is not code for anything . It means we sat down with notebooks and talked about the farm activities for the day. No. "Activities" is not code for anything either. Can we just get through this blog one time without all the distractions ?

Intern Aaron arrived and morning milking commenced. Sun continues to rise blaring out happiness ,good will and hope for a glorious day.

I miss the night shift.

After milking (Keith was) and returning phone calls, emails, checking meat pickup and delivery schedule  for this week (me was) the morning was spent fighting the hag that is mother nature. Trees growing out of bricks that should be holding up our house and not giving life to trees. Trees swinging their dead limbs at me threatening to poke my eyes out when I am mowing. Trees in garden spaces where we did not plant any trees.

Youngest son Kyle came with his chain saw while Keith and Aaron used shovels and brute force to remove all these...these...these...TREES. When we were done tree remains were fed to goats and/or  put on the burn pile. When we went in for lunch The Arbor Foundation called and asked us to return our membership cards. We told them we were pretty sure we burned them but we sure did like those free address labels. Could they send more ?

Even innocent children have been plagued with trees
spouting randomly out of their heads.
The afternoon was filled with relentless mowing . This mowing thing would be a lot more fun if Keith could just look the other way but no. If the mower runs out of gas, he fills it. If a tire on the mower goes flat he fixes it. Blades bent ? He manhandles them back into shape. I can't get a break.

They are going to find me dead on that blasted mower. Stone cold dead with blades of green grass in my teeth and between my toes, making Celtic crop circles in the front yard.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bare Naked Soaping Ladies

Yes. I will give you a moment to get that visual OUT of your head.....Better ? All righty then. I am speaking of the group Bare Naked Ladies, one of my favorite, to which I was soaping tonight. The CD makes me happy and soaping makes me happy so here I am right now, happy. A good place to be.

He is another visual of happy

Newly weaned piglets following Keith AKA The Milk Man.
Inside those buckets are the magic of cultured raw milk mixed with
organic grain.
These 7 week old 1/2 Red Wattle piglets were recently weaned from their mother. Since they spent a good amount of their day roaming our farm anyway we felt they were ready to be moved to a cute little piglet dorm we have in the main barn. They went willingly but they also left willingly. They hear Keith and his rattly wagon and they go through the electric fence to meet him. At about 2 months they will decide they hate the fence and will stay away from it and inside their area where they belong. Our adult pigs have great respect for the electric fence but the little ones not so much.

Makes me wonder if their pain tolerance is higher or they are just dumber than the older pigs or smarter figuring the pain of the fence is short lived and the running free and wild is worth it ? It doesn't much matter as customers who come to buy meat and milk enjoy being escorted up the drive by live pork chops.

Enough about bacon lets talk lard, as in soap. Going mostly natural is working well for me. Nothing like sipping on a Diet Coke and snacking on Lays potato chips while I am mixing up all organic oils and steel cut oats for my soaps. One complex babe, yes tis she.

I turned the corner a few weeks ago when I looked at some of my more brightly colored soaps and decided I really liked the earthy ones. This soap was colored with organic coffee and scented with Sandalwood EO. Swirls were just made with the uncolored part of the soap batch and a wee bit of powdered sugar. Non-organic.If I'm anything, I'm inconsistent.

Made this soap with ground oatmeal and some organic pumpkin pie spices along with my new love, Mango Butter.

Scented with an Amyris, Rosemary EO combo it is heady and earthy and makes me want to light it up like a big fat...stick of incense. Yeah, thats it. Incense. (Of course I am kidding. Everyone knows marijuana is illegal, immoral  and interacts with Maalox in a nasty way)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Compared to me Forrest Gump was The Speed of Light

 So it seems bloggers are talking about me behind my post. Yeah, saying things like "Thank you" and "You Win"

I know! Takes a hunk of nerve to say things like that publicly and you front of others. One thing I learned in my decade (too long) of nurse management; Criticsize Privately and Praise Publicly."

Oh wait, that's exactly what My Baby John and Our Crazy Farm did. Never mind  and Thank you

Click here
and here

So now, as required, I will post seven things no one knows about me. REALLY ? No One ?!? I've been around the loch a few times which means sadly there might be some witnesses. Oh well, I'll try. First though please excuse me while I call Will County Police, anonymously of course, to check on the statute of limitations regarding a few items. One one-thousand, two one-thousand...its ringing...

And I am back. Here goes

1. When driving all alone I sing really loudly with a gravelly voice like I'm Janis Joplin or something
2. Sometimes its more like Melissa Ethridge
3. I count while doing things like filling the sink, watering flowers. Sure, call the doctor. I'll count to 10
4. My favorite movie really is not The Wizard of Oz.  Its Legend of The Falls even though its a stupid romance and Brad Pitt is so lame. Its because of Aiden Quinn . I heart him.
5. When I was 16 and ran away with the Molter twins for two weeks (yes, they were  boys) , we stole over 50 albums and sold them for gas money. Yes, I am ashamed and sorry and I know all the words to Arrowsmith's Toys in The Attic.
6. I sleep only about 3-4 hrs a night. Every night
7. I am afraid to walk past a mirror in the dark. See #6

So now I must elect 3 bloggers for the Stylish Blog Award. Hmmmmmm. Bribes will be taken. I am currently seeking essential oils of all kinds.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Although a fabulous band of the 60's and the home of Eric Clapton before he was known as Clapton, the Cream I am speaking of has nothing to do with guitars. But before I continue I must YouTube them and get a little fix.

I'm a little worried about the end of his guitar though. All that smoke must indicate an electrical problem eh ? Sooo where was I ? Oh yeah, woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb 'cross my head. Woke the GK's, drank coffee, packed up for the Farmers Market which we have done the last 6 Saturdays but today was cool 'cause another wonderful family was hosting it so all I had to do was set up (with Keith's help yeah) and then put out all my soaps in these great new display cabinets built by son Colton and Keith and then came home and made this HUGE breakfast for the GK's complete with Peanut Butter Pancakes and bacon ends which is the best bacon of all as it has the biggest fat hunks sent the kids outside to play in the "woods" which is just a patch of trees we never pulled about 50 feet from the house drank the rest of my cold coffee and decided to blog...

about cream.

(You think reading that was hard ?! You should live with all that in your head 24/7)

We have been enjoying lots of cream lately as Keith recently was able to repair a very vintage cream separator we obtained from the Jordan family. Who by the way we still owe for. They said they would take the amt due in return for milk but as yet they have not come for said milk should I just send them a check ?  (breathe Donna, breathe)

Sure you could start Frankensteins heart with this machine
could you not ?

After purchasing several new parts and playing with all those parts to get them in the correct cream separating order...Keith is now able to pour lots of raw milk into the big monster machine and get back the most awesome cream ever . The weirdest cream ever. So thick it hardly pours. Once I put it in my food processor it turns to whip cream so stiff I can tour the bowl over and it does not move. Allowing the blades to continue the butter breaks apart within three minute after that and is so bright yellow it looks tampered with. Tampered as in FD &C Yellow number 432938

Of course a bearing goes out after you've filled it with
 five gallons of milk. Murphys Raw.
And now a homestead update. Farm brochure being made by our Realtor and then MLS posting shall begin. We've had lots of interest and several phone calls. We spend our evenings looking online at small house plans but all are so goofy with their huge master bedrooms and king sized baths. We'll end up designing our own I'm sure. In the meantime junk is flying out the door and a few windows as we prepare for the biggest garage sale of our lives !

Friday, June 24, 2011

Soaping Addiction

Years ago, I went through a decorative painting phase. Donna Dewberry was the artist and she taught millions of folks how to "double load " their paintbrushes. Soon, all over the nation, in craft shops and antique stores, county fairs and school fundraisers, evidence of Ms Dewberry's technique was seen.

I was one of the stricken.

I even rented a booth in a local antique store and sold decoratively painted pots, suitcases, doors, windows, glassware and anything else with a paintable surface. Two of my sisters allowed me to paint flowers on their bathroom walls. The third sister claimed her landlord would not allow any wall painting.  She must have forgotten she owned her home.

 That summer I painted my donkeys ass (or was it my ass's donkey ?) and won Best Of Show  at the Melvin County Fair much to the embarrassment of my teenage children. About 6 months and $600 later in supplies, I decided the sunflowers with big squiggly leaves was not for me. The mailbox at the end of our lane was the last item I painted. If I remember right I sold $596 worth of  fabulous artwork, nearly breaking even minus the 6 months of booth rental.

Well, my husband thought it was fabulous. My greatest fan that guy. I could be making homemade bread out of sawdust and he'd not only eat it, he'd try to convince the schools to use it in their school lunch program.

That was 7 years ago. My granddaughters are still painting with the leftover bottles of acrylic paint. I may have overbought some supplies.

But that is NOT the same thing at all. For one thing, no one else has soap like I do. Unless they make it up as they go (short on coconut oil ? then a little motor oil should work just fine) and then pour it into a mold that is nothing more than an empty diaper wipe container. Do you people do that ? Do ya huh ? No, I didn't think so.

At first I saw beautiful fudge, now I see the huge roots of overgrown
molars in a dental X-ray. 
 So don't even compare my soap making habit with my cabbage rose making habit. I painted to make a little extra money. I soap because I am. There is something about making soap that is so relaxing, so Zennnnnnnnnn.  I also have a reason to look forward to mornings again. Will my swirl go all the way through ? Will the dreaded 1/2 gel stay away ? Will the lovely sea glass green I got once from olive oil infused parsley stay true in this batch of soap or will it turn that putrid pond scum green I created three weeks ago. ?

 Waiting all night or heaven forbid a full 24 hrs until results can be visualized as I cut into my soap loaf, is like waiting for Bill Murray to pick me to be on his volleyball team all over again. Excruciating.

I am telling you...this is serious business. I plan to be making soap until I sell at least enough to pay for that expensive essential oil order I nabbed off of EBay last week. Which means I'll be making soap until I'm 112.

But that's OK, that will give me plenty of time to improve my soap photography skills which stink. Either I have the wrong background
One wood table under a glaring overhead light turns
green soap yellow. Got it.
Or the wrong focus and over exposed,

At least this time the green soap looks a little green
Or the wrong label which covers up the soap.

             I really cannot believe I gave up saving lives for this all new kind of pain.                       
                                                   Yes, yes I can.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Those with a hose

It caught us off guard. We thought she was still a toddler carrying around her Rocket toy but turns out she is actually seven. Seven ?!?! So amazing how this time thing just goes on whether you want it to or not.

So we celebrated. First her mommy Raven and I and Keith and her siblings all motored up to Chicago to go to the Shedd Aquarium. It was Free Day. They should have called it You're Crazy if You come on Free Day. The line went all the way down Rt 55 and into Joliet. But then Keith AKA Papa, remembered he had his membership card to Brookfield Zoo which meant everyone could get in FREE without it being FREE Day. !

And then to make things even better, it started to rain, really rain so by the time we got to the zoo, there was like hardly anyone there. How lucky were we ? Fortunately the big Carousel still has a roof over its animals and the GK's got to "spin dry" a little.

 My father used to take us to the zoo, then we took our kids
now we're taking our kids kids. Will we make it long enough to
take our kids kids kids kids ? We hope so

He wanted to get up on the big animals like his sisters but the Peacock
looked more secure. We ride them at home all the time.
That was Wednesday. On Sunday the actual day of the birth,  Well seven years ago it was the actual day. Sunday was just a celebration of the actual day. I gave the GK's a SURPRISE breakfast of cookies (made by their mommy) and bacon (made by our pigs). Yummmmm. Then we took off for a SURPRISE trip to Campaign for toy buying. One toy because they are really cool kids and understand what a budget means.
It means one toy.

That afternoon was muggy and hot and also Fathers Day so cake was shared and water fights occurred.
A good time was had by most.
Ever notice how some kids just gravitate towards the hose while others
naturally avoid it all together ?

Like Papa, like grandson. Wet from rain but still able to walk
with hands in pocket. An age old tradition

The cake was not organic but the milk was organic AND raw
so it cancelled out the cake.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Support your local farmer...BUY SOMETHING

This may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you (those who are reading this blog for the very first time) but you should know; I'm opinionated.

I take no responsibility for this personality flaw. My father was opinionated and my mother was opinionated. My fathers father was opinionated and my mothers father was a rotten guy who never valued his family or cared to provide for them. HIS opinion never mattered. But I regress.

You could say I was  blessed in the opinion department. You could but I wouldn't. A few weeks ago The Renegade Farmer agreed to print my opinion on a regular basis. But of course they don't really know me and they still have plenty of time to change their minds.

Don't bother clicking on the picture as I can't get the link
to work that way. Just one more personal impairment on my part.
I am adept at making soap out of pig fat though.

In the meantime, I am grateful for this writing opportunity. If interested in reading this weeks article just click here   There is a spot for comments at the end of my article if you feel so inclined.

Many thanks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Doubting Thomas

The tide has turneth. It happened so quickly I almost got pulled under the riptide. Almost. Fortunately I expected the Naysayers would be rearing their ugly heads soon and I had prepared some FAQ's myself.

A recent conversation went like this.

It can't be done. You can't live on $6000 a year
Why not ? (just an arbitrary number we picked out the sky. We're hanging on to it because it irritates people)
Because you have to buy things
Like what ? (playing dumb...a strength of mine except I'm not always acting)
Well, sugar.
Yes sweetheart...(He was not amused) We have honey
You can't use honey for everything.
Why not ? (he'd cringe if he knew some of the unique ways I'd used honey over the years)

Long pause

What about health insurance ?
I might not get any.
What ?!?! You can't do that!
Sure I can, Its still America. I don't HAVE to get health insurance.(yet) I paid thousands into the system why can't I take some back ? (hinting I might apply for public aide. Not hardly)
What about entertainment ?
I think canning 150 jars of tomatoes will be entertaining enough.
What about clothes ?
We have enough clothes to last us 10 years. You can give us underwear for Christmas. I prefer mine with underwire.

My opponent remained unconvinced. I think the bottom line is: no one want to admit that we can indeed get by and possibly even thrive on a much smaller budget living a much simpler life. Since the 1950's we (the society "we" because I like to speak for all mankind) have convinced ourselves of many odd "truths." Such as the absolute need for two cars, three TVs , four bathrooms and five phones.

Trying to convince others that we want LESS has proven challenging. But we don't mind as we are enjoying the looks on peoples faces when we tell them we are considering a composting toilet and heating our home by wood stove alone while drying our clothes year round on a clothes line. Oh OK, if it really snows hard we might have to use our clothing rack set up by the stove.

And while folks cluck cluck behind our backs we are having a ball planning our new DEBT FREE life and our new tiny house.

When designing a new home its always best to call in the
professionals. Fortunately Wesley Lloyd Wright was available

With Keith at one end of the dream home and the girls at the other, Wes decides
on the perfect placement of the imaginary wood stove.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Midlife Farmwife Salad Bar

For many mnay years my husband and I kept a large garden. We kept it planted. We kept it weeded. ( most of the time) We kept it harvested. We kept it fertilized with horse, chicken and well rotted cow manures. We kept it watered.

And it kept us...well fed.

So this year when we decided NOT to plant our big garden it felt quite sad. Reason ? We do not know where we will be at the end of the summer when it will be time to can, freeze and/or dry. We might be in a whole new home or we might be right here staring at the FOR SALE sign at the end of the lane.

We also decided not to plant due to time restraints. In years past if garden produce needed to be attended to, grass mowing and housekeeping could wait. (Housekeeping can always wait. Mine has been waiting 3.5 years) But with our farm officially on the market we have other priorities such as front doors to fix, porches to paint, rooms to de-clutter, barns to repair. In fact, I will even be taking down the sheet I stapled to our upstairs bathroom ceiling over a decade ago. A DECADE AGO mind you, when I decided it would take too much time to remove all the peeling wallpaper up there so hey ! lets just staple a sheet up there.

Can you spell moron ? I thought you could.

Yes, this is lettuce in my salad bar bed. Don't remember the variety but
its so pretty I now wished I used for ground cover.

Irony. Are you grasping it ? We are not planting a big garden which would produce lots of veggies which would help support us, in order to have time to fix up the farm so it will sell and we can buy a new place with a big garden that we can plant in order to support ourselves.

So, no garden. Except the very little salad garden the GK's and I planted weeks ago. Made of recycled plastic milk bottles (why don't they just put more milk in those recycled milk bottles ?!?!) it has worked very well. Only 4 x 8 feet the amount of greens produced has been phenomenal and we've been eating from it all season. Lesson learned, smaller is often better, unless you are riding a mini-bike on the Stephenson.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


First off, thanks to my 7, count them SEVEN new followers I've picked up in the last couple days ever since I voiced concern over one follower abandoning me. Don't know how it happened that I would gain so many in such a short time, but grateful I am.  Rock.You people. Do.

So, I've been graced with some fun visuals the last couple of days and must share. Number one is pig related. At first glance it appears to be just a few tiny piglets nursing their mama in the peaceful tranquility of open pasture on a sunny, late spring day.

But, as you venture closer you realize its a group of PIGS who have failed to launch and see no problem with sucking the life out of their dear, sweet, self sacrificing mother.

Time for a little weaning party I would say.

Then, while driving home from Chicago last week after delivering several hog carcasses we found ourselves behind this clown. Obviously he did not agree with his bosses policy of calling with any complaints about the drivers performance.

Finally, I have this.

And to think I worried all day today if  MY shorts were too tight !

Monday, June 13, 2011

Psychotic Soaper

Before I go any farther I need help finding someone. I'd like to do a general search before calling the authorities. You see, I've lost (Jeez, this is so embarrassing) one of my followers. There I said it. I don't know if it was something I said (most likely) or maybe a photo I posted, but one day I had 60 followers and the next day it was 59.

If I were a self actualized blogger who wrote purely for the intrinsic value this would not bother me, but truth is I am shallow, weak and insecure and the loss of this one follower makes me feel all wobbly inside. How will I carry on ?

Like this; so I have this huge soaping problem. HUGE. I cannot settle on any one recipe. After soaping for 7 months I am still experimenting. I cannot commit to just one recipe, one set of fixed oils, for my bars. Instead I am all over Soapville.

My first (and last ?) salt soap. Don't know what happened. I swallowed
all the directions exactly.
I make cold process, I make hot process. Last night I combined the two. Is that even legal ?!?! I did hot process on top and cold on the bottom. But then I started to fret. What if cold wanted to be on the bottom ? I did not even slow down enough to ask.

With CP on top and HP on bottom, I was very excited when I seemed
to get the frosting topping looking pretty good.
Then I remembered I forgot to scent that part. Two out of three
ain't bad you Meatloaf.
 I use organic ingredients and natural ingredients (dirt is natural right ? ) I use essential oils , because you essentially have to be a millionaire to afford them) and I use fragrance oils. Yes I am aware that fragrance oils are made by toddlers in the country of Babalinka who work  for just three euros a day but I can't help it, I love the smells !  I use pure ingredients like pink clay to color my soaps most of the time but once, please don't tell the purist police, I did use a pink crayon. I know, I know, Just beat me but it wasn't really my fault anyway. I was coloring my kitchen cabinets and it sorta just fell into my hot oils. Normally I use paint to touch up cabinets but after spending all my money on EO's I had to use crayons.

See those gaps between the layers ? After making this lavender soap
I learned you should SPRAY alcohol between the layers instead of
SIPPING  alcohol between the layers. Details. Details.

And don't even get me started on oils. Too late. I've gone the unrefined Shea Butter from Free Trade Africa route all the way to...Canned Crisco from pay for trade grocery store employees. Yes I am aware of the evilness of this action but I had to try it.One nice HARD bar and great lather but I smelled like McDonald Fries when I got out of the shower. After that I went back to the Lard from our pigs. Really turned out to be a fantastic soap ingredient. Hard white bar with creamy lather and it felt good to use as many parts of the hogs that we butcher as we can instead of wasting so much of it.

 I blame all you other professional soapers out there. You know who you are with your Dublinesque glitter tops , your perfect spoon swirls, your gorgeous hand made wooden market stands, your 296 layers of colors in one 3.75 oz bar, not to mention your one night stands with Mr B.Berry all in the name of "research." One of you even thought it would be a good idea to start a  little Flickr group so I could drool over thousands of soap bars far better than mine. Thanks a lot you sadist you.

This soap was made with certified organic lard, raw cows milk
and ALGAE. Spirulina is a corkscrew shaped alga whose
dried powdered stems make a great soap colorant. This bar sold
out quickly at The farmers Market. I called it Boot Camp Soap.

I just feel I have to keep trying all these good, bad, ugly green things so I can really be satisfied when I finally settle down. I mean did YOU Marry the first guy you ever dated ? Oh....sorry.

One habit I have been very consistent about is my labeling. Whatever is in the soap goes on my label which turned out to be the best equalizer of all. If I am not proud of my ingredients then I better not be selling the soaps made with the funky stuff. So I didn't. All the bad soaps got made into Donkey washing soap, laundry soap or liquid dish soap. Which might explain why we have pink crayon tinged plates and undies.

Tea tree and peppermint CP soap. Smelled great, looked great
until the heat from the gel phase burned some of the
Peppermint leaves making it look like garlic bread.
 So I continue on with this new less than perfect love of mine. Trying to keep the bubbles out, the moisture in , the scent pleasant, the gel phase uniform,  I  will venture forth until I can commit to a recipe I can be proud of. One that ideally won't include a pound and 1/2 of sea salt. Maybe I should try that pond salt recipe instead.

Love contests ? Love soap ? Check this out
@Productbody is giving away $75 in handmade soap + body products. Enter via FB Like and/or tweet. Details:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving towards less

So the news is out via (anti) social media, the realtor has visited  the farm, the accountant has been accounted for, insurance agents, bankers, customers who are smart enough not to get all their info from the web have been told face to face.  We are moving forward. Soon we will have an asking price for our organic dairy, beef and pork farm/business which will include a very solid farm house age 115 years,  10.88 acres, barns, LIVESTOCK,  machine shed, equipment, farm store, and option to rent another 40 acres.

Soon , after lots of work gathering many figures we should have an asking price for our farm/house/business. Yesterday Keith and I walked the property sizing up what we have, what we think it is worth and what we think it is REALLY worth. An enlightening walk. Items I thought were long gone were still here under tall grass camouflage. Funny though how I am looking at this inventory a little differently.

If indeed we are going to survive on just $5000-$6000 a year we will need to hold on to items that we don't want to have to purchase down the road. So what do we sell now  ? What do we include in the farm sale? What do we need to save for later use on our new homestead and what can we dispose of ?

In the meantime we are also staying up late and looking at SMALL house plans. Some folks think small is 2000 sq feet. We want 600-800 sq feet. We feel we need just one tiny bedroom, one small bathroom and a HUGE  kitchen since after all that is where all the main work of cooking, canning, freezing, drying food will take place.

We are considering straw bale houses, log cabins, earth homes, cord wood houses and yeas even rubber tire houses. In the event our profit from the farm sale is not enough to buy land and build a new home we are also looking at alternative housing for the interim such as Yurts, Blurts ( which is a Yurt without an indoor bathroom) used mobile homes (never say never) and used RVs. I'm wondering how much The Elder family might charge to rent us their Shasta over the winter. And of course we will consider land with farm houses that need some TLC.

Land, trees, shelter. What more do you need ? OK maybe
 few windows would be good.
We are overall very excited about out new venture but continue with business as usual. Orders are still coming in for hog and beef carcasses and new milk customers show up every week.  Hay still needs to be put up in the barn and lawns must be mowed. Our Farm Store, The Spotted Wattle is well stocked and open for business everyday except Sunday.
The more livestock, the more hay. The more hay, the more equipment
the more equipment, the more debt. We are ready for SIMPLE.
Like Forrest always said, "Simple is as simple does"

We continue to add new restaurants as we have meat available. Welcome to Autre Monde in Berwyn who will be putting our meat on their menu very soon. We told them the first time we met we were putting the farm up for sale and still they wanted to buy our meat. How great are they ?

So very many decisions to be made now on a daily basis. But we welcome them. For one, we decided NOT to put in a garden this year (other than a small salad garden) and instead will buy all our veggies at The Stewards of The Land Farmers Market each Saturday. We'll be gardening full time soon enough. So keep us in your prayers and on your "places to shop" list. Tell the people you know who might be interested in running a great farm with loads of work but great potential for something fantastic. We have never been able to keep up with the demand  for pasture raised, healthy, antibiotic and hormone free meat. And if you have land for sale in the Pontiac, Fairbury, Chenoa, Cullom, Forrest, Chatsworth area...(5-15 acres) CALL US !

Don't forget to check out my article this week in The Renegade Farmer  and leave a comment on their site. The editors there work so hard to put together an excellent site for the non-traditional farmer.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Goodbye Cruel World

No worries. Not that serious. But we are saying goodbye. Not to blogging, heaven forbid. Nope. We are saying our farm.

WHAT ?!?!?

Its true Mon Ami, my mostest bestest man person and I have decided that things are going so well, too well in fact and we want off the Gravy Train. Oh don't be so shocked. It's not like we're planning to move to CHINA or something. Confused ? Join the pub. I'll let that soak in a minute while you gaze upon a related picture.

Shall we continue ?

OK then. Here's the rest of the story. Last week I was mowing the Never ending lawn and I realized I did not want to keep mowing the Never ending lawn. Like the big rig mama I am, I shut 'er down, walked over to Keith who was feeding hogs and said, "I'm done." He knew I was not talking about the Never rending lawn. He said, now pay attention as this is the really cool part, "Me too."

That's how the really big decisions get made here on South Pork Ranch LLC. We headed to the kitchen table where we talked quite a long time. For those of you with lives of your own I'll summarize. If you do not have a life of your own please send me $29.95 cash or check and I'll send you the entire transcript.

The big summary:
     Farm business going very well. New customers every day
     Keith and I working 80-100 hrs each , EACH week
     Can not keep up with the work. Need to hire full time employees
     We are working harder and harder and enjoying it less and less
     Instead...we want to homestead.

No, not the I have a turkey in my backyard therefore I homestead kind of homestead. We mean buy a few acres, build a tiny house, build a huge garden, raise a few animals and support ourselves DEBT FREE. We want to live off of say $5000 a year (to buy stuff like coffee)  which we would acquire through small on farm jobs like free lance writing, sales of a few head of livestock each year and dare I say it ? Soap making. We will barter for items we cannot make ourselves. We are going to sell or give away approximately 75% of our possessions in order to make this move. Are you starting to get the picture ?  We want to live off the land baby !
Our "one day" is here and now.

See that ? Way out there on the horizon ? It's our future.

But first things  first. We must put our farm, our house, our certified organic dairy, beef and pork business up for sale. We've already interviewed one realtor and we have already had one phone call from a gentlemen wanting to see the place next week. We have also seen one piece of prospective property to purchase. ONE is not a lonely number. (Quick, which sappy 70's rock band sang that tune? First one to tell me by commenting on this blog gets a FREE South Pork Ranch T-shirt. Soon to be a collectors item.) We are moving ahead and we need your help.

This is a map

Here is how. If you are a current customer of ours and you want to have these same products available to you in the future please keep buying from us. We want to sell the house, farm and business as a whole turn key certified organic operation; livestock, buildings, equipment, customer contacts and all. Prospective buyers will want to see our books, (but they can't have Angela's Ashes, its too dear) our income statements, budgets etc...They will also want to see customers coming and going. So please keep coming and going.

We will keep you up to date as this evolves. Until actual sale time it will be business as usual. This could take years . If you see us out and about please don't hesitate to ask us about our plans to sell the farm. Its not a secret.

Not anymore :)

But if you refer back to some of my posts and look a little closer you mind find that I had been leaving a few clues.

P.S. This is what we are hoping to buy. 5-10 acres. Part wooded, part pasture. A creek or pond would be fab. Old buildings OK but not required. Old house OK but not required. Water, electric and gas lines not needed. Secluded area off the beaten track would be ideal. No lawns need apply. MUST BE within 40 miles of Pontiac, Illinois. The GK's are far to excited about all of this to leave them behind. Wish us luck. We're going to need it.

P.S.S. As soon as all the figures are figured and the attorney gets together with the accountant and the realtor, I'll tell you all our farm and the asking price. Maybe one of you followers would like to relocate to the Prairie State. Hmmmmmm?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Evil Twin

So there I was, mowing my own business this morning when I decided to go in for a drink, HEY ! Its was hot. I deserved it. Of course have to check the email obsessive eejit I am and there right in front of me is an email get this...The Farmwife at Midlife. Now come on, is this a joke ? Nope, it was not. Seems some impostor named Catherine Pond in Kentucky found my website and wanted to acknowledge her plagiarism and beg forgiveness.

I jest. Catherine was kind enough to drop me an email to say hello and tell me she liked my blog. That's when I made the mistake, BIG mistake of checking out her blog.
Imagine my horror to find, its darn right wonderful, amazing, better organized than mine and to top it off she makes her kids swim in stock water tanks just like I have.

She even likes pantries. The one thing I do not have that I lust after. Not only does she have one she wrote a book about them. Did you get that ? She wrote a book. I am trying to write a book but life keeps interfering. Well, well ,well, seems like I have some catching up to do with Miss Farmwife at Midife. She just better watch her backside, I have a very competitive nature. What I do not have is a beautiful apron.

Do you people hear me ? No pantry, no special apron. I have no business calling myself The Midlife Farmwife. I need to turn in my iron skillets.

Seriously, check her out. She looks like loads of fun.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Number Game

I love giveaways, especially those from bloggers because they often give away the coolest stuff like handmade soap and signs ! Take a moment and visit this lady's great blog.  If you have a country/writer/illustrator/gardener heart you will love her.(This reminds me, I have two bars of soap to send to   b   I better get crackin, I mean wrappin')

The sad thing is...I have never made a cake that looked as good
as this soap loaf.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Runaway Hides

Every time its the same thing. You birth them, you nurse them, you share your bed with them. You protect them from all harm and you give ONLY good advice. After all that what do they do ? THEY LEAVE YOU. They think they have all the answers and they just walk out the door oblivious to the sound of your heart breaking. Crrrraaaack. They make it worse by going into another animals pasture and embarrassing you with their pignanigans.

But of course, as soon as things get a little tough or a little bit scary, say maybe the donkey nips them in the arse or the big mean red-orange tractor fires up close to them....they come runnin' back to the safety of the home pasture. Right THROUGH the electric fence, that basically can't give them much of a shock anymore due to the high grass someone has not bothered to mow yet. Yes as always, it comes back around to me

Run Joey Run Joey Run Joey Run
(first one to name that tune wins two free bars of handmade soap
mailed to your home ! Yes even if you live out of the US )

Mow is me.*

The "Mow is me" phrase is copyrighted by its creator S.L. Unauthorized use of said phrase is prohibited with out appropriate fee payment. The appropriate fee payment is $50 payable by cash or check. Because S. quite hermit like and prefers her privacy it is best if you send the money to me.Donna OShaughnessy 32796 E 750 N Rd  Chatsworth, Il 60921. I will forward all fees to her. Sure I will.