Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just another manic Sunday.

You know, the usual stuff like chores (demonstrated here by husband, Papa, and co-owner of South Pork Ranch)

The sheen on his shoulders is not baby oil to show off his muscles, it is old fashioned sweat, which has been applied to show off his muscles. It wasn't even 9 am and the sun was high and hot with no wind. Must still be summer.

We did take a bit longer for breakfast today. I made both bacon and sausage links because really. how can it be Sunday without bacon ? Promptly afterwards we made rooster rounds. We recently were gifted a Banty rooster and wanted to make sure everyone was still playing nice with him in the farm yard.

Banty looked good. No harm, no fowl. He's an amazing little guy, and the rooster is cool too. The GK's can touch him anywhere (they are very gentle) and he never makes any attempt to peck. He even walks up to them to be picked up. Now you know I hate those blogs that go on and on about the angelic qualities of poultry except of course when it comes to mine. I mean come on. Just look at those EYES

So full of wisdom and strength, so full of sweetness and light, so full of empathy and good will to all poultry kind through out the land. Sniff...he's so handsome too, regal even.His dark red comb the  hue of cherry jello almost. Don't tell me he doesn't take YOUR breath away as well. And if Banty is not enough to make you swear off chicken a la queen just take a glance at Sunset here:

A Black Spanish heritage turkey, he was a gift from a customer of ours in appreciation of our sharing some semen from our Red Wattle Boar ,Mad Max. Actually Mad Max was the one who did the semen "sharing" but this is no time to split hairs now is it?

Our GK Allana named it, Sunset,  for no good reason at all. That's just how she rolls. Having been with us since a wee little Turk he is also quite subdued and maybe even reasonably smart...for a turkey. Just the other day we saw him move AWAY from a moving vehicle. A good start indeed

Following poultry roll call, I went down to the barn for my pedicure appointment. I am the type of freak who enjoys cleaning all the manure and other debris off the milk tank room floor and walls. I start with hot hot bleach water to wash our calf bottles and buckets then splash it all around the room to share the germicidal moment. Bleach is an approved cleanser for organic farms and its a good thing because I am very fond of bleach. Its the nurse in me. The Deliverence HILLBILLY in me however, prefers to do all this cleaning in my bare feet.

Any little cut or scrape I might have on my foot is immediately sterilized and my toenails are a whiter shade of pale by the time all washing is completed.

I ended the day with a few photographs of a recently made soap. I call it...
Pretty Boy Lloyd soap. No particular reason, I just roll that way.

And now a word about my soap photography. In the beginning it really stunk, then I tried using a "white box" made with foam board and my pics improved. Or my soap making did, hard to tell which came first the sicken or the keg, (I'm making beer soap tomorrow by the way) but either way my soap was more presentable.

But tonight I walked out to our farm store where these bars were located and just plopped them down on our old wooden counter which was painted yellow. Worked well I think. Keep it simple Stupid. Keep it simple.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bored Smored

I am ALWAYS shocked whenever I hear anyone say these two words.

"I'm Bored"

I cannot comprehend that statement. I have so much to do in so little time that I am never ever ever bored.
I, in fact, find myself totally unable to keep up with all that has been occurring lately. Just a few highlights:

Yesterday was Chicago delivery day. We met up with Jared Van Camp and Zeeshan of Old Town Social the very first restaurant to buy our whole pork carcasses over 2 years ago. Yesterdays delivery will be a very famous pig for Jared. He is being filmed TODAY by the Discovery channel for their show The Meat Guy which will be shown on their 3D network. Jared will be taking apart one of our copper haired, certified organic, raw milk fed, Red Wattle hogs.  Piece by piece he will compare it to the carcass of a confinement hog.

This is a big deal. No, we're not a big deal, we're still just two sweaty, smelly, pig and cow farmers but the show will be a big deal as viewers will be able to see with their own eyes the real difference in quality and taste. Well, the viewers won't taste the actual product but if I know Jared he'll be cooking up some fine plates of pork for the TV crew to inhale after the show.

Thank you Jared for choosing our farm, our pig.
Stunt Sow Morticia standing in for the Red Wattle Sow who sacrificed
her hide, her loins, her jowls in order to bring attention to the
fine meat produced by Red Wattles all over the world.
THEN...we recently heard that Joliet Junior College in scenic Joliet, Illinois just won their national culinary competition in Dallas Texas. If you follow the link and look at the entree section under the menu on the left you'll see "suckling pig"  The suckling pig (2 of them ) came from our farm due to the voice of our daughter in law Tab Brownell.

Tab is a student at JJC's Culinary school, a dream she has worked on making a reality, for a very long time, and when she heard the chefs mention they needed suckling pigs she told them of our farm. A few calls back and forth to Chef Bucci and we decided to donate a sucking pig. ( What can I say ?...We really love Tab) They loved it and bought two more to use in this competition. We are very grateful Chef choose our little piggies to compete with and we are even more grateful for the physical strength God has given us to do the work required to raise these fine animals.

In addition, our Farm Store gets busier every day. When we once had 3-4 customers a week it is now common to have 3-4 customers a day. Not exactly Whole Foods customer numbers but strong activity for us. We might have to hire a carry out boy. I will call him Buster. Or maybe Gunther.

One gentleman buys many many gallons of raw milk each week which he feeds his Confinement Pigs as he has discovered the great improvement in their overall looks and health. He has done well in recent swine shows with his "secret" feed ingredient and continues to come back for our raw milk every week. In addition, he stops at our store and picks up a little organic meat for his family. The fact that he wears sunglasses and a ski mask is of no concern to us. The helicopter which hovers overhead each time he makes a purchase, is basically just amusing. At least this time it is not shining down on me.

These top secret purchases make  us gleeful. We live in a area of GMO corn and CAFO animals. Locals are not regular customers of ours.  Organic is still looked at suspiciously by our neighbor farmers and, very few small farms around us even have livestock in their fields anymore, if they own them at all. So when a local farmer tries our products and then keeps coming back for feels quite awesome.

One more reason for not blogging  much this week; it seems my rural writing career is taking off. I've been writing for an online magazine The Renegade Farmer for a few months now.  Every Saturday a new piece. In addition, Graze Magazine, a national grass farmer focused publication asked me to write an article about our farm. It came out last week and recieved positive comment.

Yup, one farmer wrote "nice" in the comment area on their website. Can't get much more positive than that. The fact that his name was the same as my husbands is pure coincidence. After all that media frenzy, the editor contacted me yesterday and asked if I would be a regular writer for Graze, traveling and interviewing farmers about their farms.

Yes, I said.  Yes.  ( I am such a maroon.) So much for simplifying our lives. You might ask yourself,  "Was anyone really surprised Jay Lo and Marc Anthony are divorcing?" or an even more focused question such as, "Why does this packing- peanuts- for- brains -woman keep taking on more work when she keeps telling us she wants a less chaotic life?"

The answer would be, because we need to build up our new sources of income before we sell off the current sources of income. Sort of the storm before the calm.

So now I lay me down to sleep. Until I pick up the grandkids and resume job number whatever. Doesn't matter, I just know its the best paying job I have with the most unending benefits. One job that will remain the same before, during and after our big life change, at least that is my daily prayer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Angry Soap

I know all of you out there in blog land think only the best of me and that sharing something about myself which is not so flattering could be detrimental to your delicate constitutions but the fact is...

I sometimes get angry.

Last night was one of those times. Wish I could tell you my anger was related to unfair treatment of a minority or abuse of a child but no. Its much more selfish than that. I was just angry because I felt mistreated. You know, wronged. There you have it.

I was in fact soooo angry I felt I didn't.
Instead I made soap. Now, I have made emotional happy soap before and sad boo hoo snot all over my face soap before but this is my first you-have-really-ticked-me-off-soap. I was up until 0200 with this angry and unattractive side of meself.

I started with my new supply of Maddar Root Powder from Botanie Soap. Even alone in the bag the stuff smelled very yummy and sensual. You know how you do after having one of those mud fights with Aidan Quinn ? Yeah, like that. I added a little of my oil mix to make it more blendable, then got to work. I've been playing with Rice Bran Oil in place of Olive Oil lately and diggin' the results. Also enjoying the addition of Mango Butter as well.

After lye was calibrated and mixed with water, oils were melted and blended, I did a little Top Note, Middle Note, Base Note Internet research. I came up with a Grapefruit, Blood Orange, Cassia mix. Oh my oh my. Smelled like heaven was located in a huge Grapefruit-Cinnamon-Orange plantation. Then I started playing with the Maddar Root oil. No, I have no idea what Maddar root powder is. Maybe YOU could look something up for once.

Sorry, angry soap making farmwife talking.

After a very light trace I poured a cups worth into a bowl adding just a splash of the EO's and a smidgen of the Maddar Root Oil. Mixed, set aside. Poured some more. Added MORE color and MORE of the EO's and set aside. And so on and so on then I started the layering.

I'm not good at layering. I always get too hot.

In between a couple of the layers I sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar. It was closer to me than the cocoa.
When all was said and done I wrapped it in a towel and set it aside to gel. 60 seconds later I unwrapped it. What if it heats too much and cracks ? What if it only partially gels ? What if I forget I put it on the floor, see the towel in the am, yank it off the floor grumbling at the thoughtless yahoo who left another towel on the floor and fling my new soap violently through the air causing it to splatter all over the walls leaving huge oil stains and causing the first person we show the house to NOT to buy it ?!?!

Yeah. What if THAT happens ?

I rewrapped it. It came out fine. The finest soap I have ever made.

I may need to change my soap label to Angry Midlife Farmwife if this keeps up. Speaking of new label, here it is.
She doesn't look one bit angry does she ? How does she do it ?

La wee piglet bambino update

The update update. Mamma Debbie, registered and greatly adored Red Wattle Sow of South Pork Ranch has not yet dropped her bundle of squiggly pigglies who may or may not got to market some day. For those of you who have no clue refer to my blog of 7 days ago.

Since that day 9 of you submitted your guesses. Because it was a short window for submitting those brilliant predictions (just for the duration of that one post) your odds of winning are quite good.

But then I said to myself. "HEY ! You did not give your loyal bloggers much time to participate did you ? DID YOU ?!?"  I must admit I did not. Impatience, why must you vex me so, you Sow ?

Therefore, I am going to extend this maternity contest in an odd way. I like odd. Have you seen my peace sign shoes from Alegria ?

Now you understand my oddness. So the rest of the contest will go this way. Regarding the total number of pigs born (when and if they ever arrive) please tell me how many boys and how many girls ? Yes, those of you who entered the first contest (date, time and number) may also enter this contest. Therefore it is possible that some of you
could win TWICE. The last day to enter this contest is the day the pigs are born.

The prize is the same. A $25 gift ccertificate to be used in our Farm Store, a South Pork Ranch T-shirt or 4 bars of my soap, and I have been cranking out some great looking great smelling soap lately let me tell you.

Once again, its READY, SET, GO !!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Versatile or just ADD ?

Versatile Blogger. That's me according to Briny Bar Soaps
and Miscellanea who recently showered me
 (OK, just my blog) with praise. How fun is that ?

The rules:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you in a new post and remember to thank them. 

2. Share 7 Random things about yourself
 Professional hitchhiker 1971-1979
 My Nickname as a child was Donut.
 I want to change my name to Elzeba
 If I could get skinny again the first thing I would do is take my horse swimming
 I don't miss nursing. I miss hospice which was more than nursing. I do miss my nurse friends dearly
 My nose is registered as a lethal weapon. I can smell gas 4 miles away. Human and natural
 In my next life I would like to be a hoarder in a world where hoarders are respected like royalty.

3.  Award 7 new blogs with this award and contact them to let them know they've won.

 New blogs ? Hmmmm. Since I do not know when most folks started blogging I am going
 to give the award to bloggers who are truly (in my goofball opinion) versatile. One more thing. There are so many great blogs out there but I tried to pick a few who had not been honored beforeas far as I could tell.

 Sugar Mountain Farm Far from new but the first blog I ever  
 followed. Walter and family are amazing in all they do to promote real farm WORK and raise
 high quality food. He will not have the time to stop and give others the award but that is
 OK because he shares enough about his work on his blog to benefit thousands.

 Our Crazy Farm. lady is the cream of the crop when
 it comes to Faith. I read her because she humbles me over and over and over

 Nakin Soaps. This lady's depth in blogging is deeper than my
 own personal width. The colors she obtains from things like rhubarb roots is amazing. I
 learn soaping, photography, history of herbs all on my blog.
 Five Acres and a Dream Leigh works so hard I think she
 cans, fixes fence, animal tends in her sleep

  Rare Lesser Spotted Oh this man ! I just call him 
 "Rare". He is a class act blogger. Has taken to me to many classy places I never would
 have been granted entry to without his obvious influence in the community.

  A Mission Impossible Jarmara here is not near the
 darkly Gothic gal you might think she is when you first see her blog. She is instead a very
 dedicated and hard working writer. I love her dedication to the craft.

 Home on The Hill  Art is not young or new but he is
 reliable, brave and can garden in a tire like no other.

See that ? See how versatile I was. I picked a soap blog, some farm blogs, a writing blog,
a classy guy blog versatile...and in need of more meds to settle my synapses enough
to pick just ONE area of interest.
        Good luck.

Who said that ?!?



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waaaa Waaaaa Waaaa

Yup. That would be me whining about the heat. After all its not like this is July in Illinois or something. Last summer we were spoiled like banana's left on the school bus in a paper sack after a field  trip to Brookfield zoo. Spoiled I tell you.

I don't believe it got over 90 degrees for more than 10 minutes last year thus the reason these 100 degree plus days are wearing us down.

Down baby, down. Really it was hot.

     "How Hot Was It ?"

It was so hot 115 years worth of oils and sweat from thousands of hand grips gone by, oozed their way back up through our wood railing in our staircase. Other peoples DNA dripping all over the place. Ewww and ewww.

It was so hot that I did not even notice farm store customer number 4's odd looks at me until he drove away and I realized I had stuck the end of the hose (with its cold running water) into the waistband of my shorts. In truth I had forgotten completely about that dang hose (I had been cleaning the milk parlor thank you very much) until I started walking away and when I reached the end of the hose I was yanked backwards onto my keister. Good thing my keister is well kushioned.

It was so hot that the husband came in at 2:30pm, announced he was LAYING DOWN and promptly took a nap in our bedroom, the only room in the house with an AC unit. He had only worked 8 hrs so far, the slacker. He felt better after a couple hr rest but then announced our ONE and ONLY AC unit was acting odd and may be breaking down.

Just great. Looks like we'll be sleeping in one of the freezers in the farm store. Again.

Even with all that I still had a fabulous morning with my sister Mary who came by to help me sort items for my garage sale this weekend. Even though she has a life and a home and a family of her own. Not only did she help me sort, she also treated this Quasi-Hoarder with great sensitivity.

"NO !" She barked. "You do not need to keep a partially torn Wolf poster just because Kyle once owned it and might decide to collect all things wolf again like he did when he was 10."( he turns 21 in a few days) Yes with her love and support "I SAID NO !" We managed to fill many boxes with all things collectible while remaining mostly worthless. It felt great to de-junk several areas. I just hope she saved enough patience to help me go through my Christmas closet next week.

In the midst of downsizing the household Keith and Sasha (U of I Grad student) worked hard to provide extra shade  for our Red Wattle sow Debbie due to farrow any day now. See contest rules below

Guess which weed pigs won't eat ?
The hanging of the blue tarp came after they hand dug a nice water hole for Miss Debbie and carried buckets of water to partially fill it. She best show her gratitude with a large healthy litter.

And speaking of litters...Its time to play Wattle Wattle who has the most Wattles. Here are the rules
     Via comments on THIS post or email at
            Guess the date, time and number of piglets birthed.
     You must give me all three: date, exact time and number of piglets to be a valid entry
     The last day to enter is July 25, 2011

To help you guess. Debbie's usual litter size is 8-10
Her due date (according to our rarely accurate records) is July 28
The winner will receive your choice of one of the following . A $25 gift certificate to use in our Farm Store, a South Pork Ranch T-shirt or 4 bars of my handmade semi-artisan all natural soap which I will mail to you no matter what odd little corner of our world you might live in.

Ready ? Set ? GO!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wanted: Something less

So, our farm has been listed with our realtor for a little over a week. A few days ago he brought 5 of his agents out here so Keith and I could do a walk and talk with them.

We spent a little time touring the house but spent the most time outside. Afterwards I asked what any old HGTV groupie would ask. "So, what can we improve upon before you start showing ?"

Long pause.

Finally, Mr. Lyons himself, the firms first owner said. "I have no idea. I'm totally overwhelmed."
He was referring to all the parts of our business, the organic meat business (grocery stores, restaurants, private customers), the farm store, the raw milk business,my new soap making business,  the livestock we raise, the certified organic land, the house...

He was referring to our lives. Yeah, we're a little overwhelmed too. Especially when its 106 outside. True temperature. Not heat index, but actually heat of 106F. But, pity us not as we chose this life and now we are choosing something more manageable. A small home . Maybe one like this

Other than needing a porch, preferably wrap-a-round, this looks good to me. But Keith thought we might need a couple hundred more square feet for family visits. So we went back to one of my favorite blogs (Walter Jeffries) and his Tiny Cottage. Just 252 square feet for a family of 5.

I spent several hours the other night reading every post Walter wrote about his tiny cottage and decided...he was nuts.

Nuts in a good way. Nuts in the way of making less be so much more when you are organized and creative. Nuts in how he made a curved CONCRETE roof without once dropping any of it on his kids heads.

 Keith however was still thinking he needed a tad more space. Apparently being cooped up with me in tinyland frightened him. So today he and ,I along with sister Mary and husband Dave toured the Anti-Tiny-Cottage when we looked at modular homes, those built in factories and delivered to your home site.

We thought them to be efficient, attractive and cookie cutter. Well made for the $115 sq foot price tag but not what we had in mind. Still it gave me some great ideas about space allocation and showers ! One home had this cool dual shower that could be entered from either side. I will replace the plastic wall the model home had, with the colored bottle wall Walter has in his Tiny Cottage !

Yes. Its fun to dream.

But in the meantime the temperature has plummeted to 100 and I best go water a few husbands...I mean chickens.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Ah, who knew soap could be so controversial ? So imbued with intense feelings, opinion and gut reactions ? So inlaid with angst, painful grief and joyous accomplishment ?

After the international outcry in regards to my last post I'll tell you the honest truth.
I was done with this hobby turned bad. I decided to burn all my soap bars.

I stacked them all into a large pile in my 1910 claw foot bathtub. Shoving a few of my Midwife Farmwife soap labels under and around the pile I struck a match and lit the mountain of Egg yolk-lavender-Javawood (my favorite and the hardest to say goodbye to) Patchouli Oatmeal and yes, even the source of all controversy, my SUPER NOVA soap.

I stood back. At first just a few whiffs of scent. Then a full blown bonfire of essential oils dripping through Mango butter and Babassu oils creating a purple haze of color. Suddenly the aroma shifted. The smoky base note  mixed with the Clary Sage-Geranium bar or was it the Sandalwood Coffee bar ? Anyway the scent became magically unreal, ethereal, surreal and really uh...good.

What have I done ?!?! Quick as a middle aged, chubbified, Yaya can move I turned on the bathtub faucets and frantically splashed water over my pile of angry fire. That's when it happened. Even thinking about it now I am bereft. The fire went out and the soap...the soap...the soap began to bubble. Softly at first and then picking up speed as the water trickled through the kitty wampus stacked bars, bubbles just bubbled up every where crawling up the sides of the tub in an attempt to escape the still searing heat.  I stood back. Silent in awe as the tub began to overflow with water and bubbles and the scent of charcoal Jasmine and raw cream.

What to do ? What to do ?

I took a bath.

Photo from Google. Choosen because it looks just like me

The best bath of my life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wishy Washy Wednesday

Yes, I am so aware this is Thursday. However, I decided last week I would post pics about soap on Wednesdays and I took the pictures yesterday on Wednesday so it counts.

Yes, I'm a little testy. I just learned I am not an "artisan soaper." No, no one was brave enough to tell me this to my face. I figured it out myself. I am a member of MENSA for dummies you know. We go by the nickname of Mummies.

I have been soaping for almost 8 months. I have finally decided on a very good hard bar which is not too drying and just the right amount of moisturizing. I have also decided on essential oils rather than fragrance oils. I have committed myself to all natural colors. You know brown from bats wings and green from cow tank algae. My problem is putting it all together into one beautiful bar.

I read all the other soap blogs I can. I spy on all the FlickR soap pics. I drool over the really big soap folk like Cocobong. So much so that I start to thinking I AM COCOBONG. For example she posted this awesome bar this week . Isn't it gorgeous ?

I knew I could do it. After all what does she have that I don't have beside talent and about 20 more years soap experience than I do. (She started soaping at age 8). Come on,  how hard can an inlay be ?
So I gave it my best shot.

Hard to tell the two apart is it not ? Besides the moon in the upper right hand corner I even inlaid a CELTIC circle. Two inlays for the price of one. (Like anyone would buy this piece of baby-puke-yellow-with-poor-excuses-for-art-piece-of-ear-wax-crap-disguised-as-soap). I did not have the same colors as Cocobong but I thought I would do a purple soap with white inlays. My brilliant idea for natural purple was pureed beets. As you can see not all the beet pieces were liquefied and the gel process made my white moon turn a lovely inside of a rotten banana brown.

BUT, after two days the bar is nice and hard and smells so pretty. Not enough to save it from the basement though. All my bad soaps go down there to the husbands shower. As long as it lathers he's keen on it . Good thing'cause this lovely wife of his has been lathering at the mouth ever since she unmolded this bar of soap that even maximum security prisoners would think too ugly to use.

I even tried photographing it with our lovely evening sunset in the background

Made a world of difference did it not ?  It did not.
So you don't lose complete trust in mys soaping skills, I also made some Lavender soap. No coloring and just a few lavender pieces in the top layer...

Which of course turned brown with the gel process. Will I ever learn ? It seems unlikely.
I did save the day with a different farm product of ours. Keith and U of I grad student Sasha harvested honey and bottled 27 pints. My photos of this were easier on the eye.
I used that white foam board trick. Sweet huh ?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Les Miserable Farmers

24 hours ago we were sweating unlike pigs, who do not sweat so stop saying you sweat like one because it is just wrong wrong wrong. Yes, we were all miserable. Except the GK's who had no problem keeping cool like kids of generations ago...with a water gun and a flooded sandbox.
Speaking of which, this sandbox has served the family for over 18 years which might explain the rather large femur bone found in it yesterday. We are assuming it is not human as the nail was unpainted. Kids merely reported it to Yaya Security. It was disposed of and playtime continued.

Now you know why I don't believe in tiny bottles of antibacterial gels. Really, what would be the point around here ?

Some of us, I mean them, worker harder than others the past few days. This guy, believe or not actually VOLUNTEERED to work this hard.
Sasha, shown above, is a grad student at U of I. He interviewed us a few months ago and then called us a few weeks ago to see if he could work for us for experience alone. We debated about it a very long time. Risk and liability vs free labor. Six seconds later we said  YES !

We have gifted him with some measly packages of meat and eggs but really not enough money in the world some days to do this rotten farm job. It was 136 degrees when I took this shot but I braved the heat thinking Sasha might need it if he wanted to get out of anything at home later this week.

Many many thanks to Sasha and our long standing intern Aaron (in the loft stacking these bales) as well as to sons Jason and Kyle who helped earlier in the week. If all goes well and the farm sells soon Keith will only have about 1/10 the number of bales to put away for the winter next year.Oh happy day.

Our porcine herd also made it through the heat wave, but not without extra spa hours. Pigs need water and mud and more water. One of my favorite farm jobs is the hose job, until they begin to shake all that funked on manure and mud all over me. Again, I refer to the antibiotic gels...the point would be ?

Don't worry, after a day like this I wash very well in the shower with this great handmade soap full of wonderfully smelling essential oils and moisturizing butters like Mango. The 1:1 Clorox solution I dip my whole bod in afterwards is helpful too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Peas and Thank You

So, no garden this year as we know not where we will be at the end of the summer. If the farm sells quickly we'll be moving and building all at one time. It could happen ! My sister Teresa  listed her house recently and it sold 10 minutes later. Thus I could not  imagine I would be able to can and freeze produce while getting our house in order. Especially with the showing of the farm now beginning. Its hard enough to keep things picked up let alone deal with visitors while my Balls are scattered all over the kitchen.

Sad though, seeing our garden filled with weeds, I mean green cover crop, instead of cukes. The bright side of that equation is our little Farmers Market sponsored by the Stewards of The Land. Each week I scoop up the really good stuff at the end of the morning. I come home with very fresh VERY LOCAL produce, all chemical free and the other farmers have less unsold produce to take home.

Last week, I let my 3 Gk's do the shopping. Each picked the veggies or fruit they wanted and when it came time to eat it for supper all were willing to at least try the selections since the veggies were theirs.

Snap peas were a big hit. Sweet and beautiful they also served as a wonderful play item. Not exactly Don Corleone in The God Father but very close

" I have a sentimental weakness for my children and
 I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen"
                                                          -  The God Father
Little brother must copy all things Allana, at least for now. In a few years he'll have no use for her except to borrow her car or steal a T-shirt from her. So for now, a bit of play time at the supper table is OK by me.
"What did he say, badda-beep, badda-boop, badda-boop, badda-beep,
he wants us to send Michael to hear the proposition
and the promise is the deal is so good we can't refuse. Ha. "
                                                         -Santino Corleone
In addition to peas there were green beans, cabbage and mulberries. The berries were wonderful with a little bit of sugar and fresh raw cream. Tonight I plan to puree the leftover mulberries and use them for soap coloring. I'll either get a fantastic purple blue or a dark grey or if I am really lucky, a mediocre brown. Anyway, its worth a try.

Have a berry good day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Store (and everything else) is OPEN

Farm Store at South Pork Ranch
32796 E 750 N. Rd
Funny thing happened on the way to selling our has escalated. This is a very very good thing. In order to sell it as the great organic meat business it is, we have to have you So that the next people who buy it will When we opened our little Farm Store back in November, just 8 months ago, we really had no idea how it would go. We hoped well. Because well is good or is it good equals well ? I always mix those two around.

Back then, we had a solid raw milk customer base who often asked us for the other items one might expect on a farm. You know eggs, bacon, antique bird baths, that sort of thing. So we thought having the store just a few yards away from the raw milk receptacle  (because "receptacle" is far classier than "tank" that's why) would make it just a little easier to buy 100% grass fed, certified organic beef and pasture raised, milk fed certified organic pork.

Why yes that did sound like a blatant advertisement for our farm meat. Probably because IT WAS. Just one more benefit to having your own blog.

And speaking of cool customers ! We have them. Our Customer of the Week AWARD goes to a lovely young couple who shall go unnamed to protect their privacy. So for now lets just call them, oh say...Bart and Kat, just for now. I have no idea what their real names are because they always pay cash. Mysterious huh ?

Now you might think I am giving them the Customer of the Week AWARD because of the cool way they dress. Kat is all beautifully tall and exotic with these cool groovy clothes while Bart is all beautifully less tall and equally exotic in a Mid Western way. He also wears cool groovy clothes. But, that is not the reason. Nope, they win the Customer of the Week AWARD because of the way they fill out their sales slip.

You see, sometimes Keith and I are occupied with a shuffleboard game or playing with our CB radios and we can't make it out to the store. So folks will be forced to self serve. Bart and Kat (if that was their real names) are professionals at completing their transactions.

They complete all the columns perfectly and IN ENGLISH. I really like that part. I used to read French but only when Sister Marie Tres' Bien was standing over me with a rock hard loaf of French Bread. Now I only read English. Also, Bart and Kat will add extra descriptions of what they buy such as "Tea-Tree Soap" instead of just soap. But the best thing is...they overpay. YES!  Our burger is $4.99 a pound but they always pay us $5.oo. Always.

Therefore, this week Bat and Kart (really, their privacy is very important to me) will receive one FREE bar of soap. Tea-Tree, Peppermint, Galway Bay whatever they like. So you two, in the Description area just write FREE bar, in case I am not in the store to award you myself. Thanks again Kat and Bart for being such fantastic customers. You rock. (Don't you hate it when middle aged grey haired matrons say that ? Me too. That's why I do it)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We're moving on out.

Be careful what you ask for, it just might get listed.  MLS # 104586 Now its real and exciting and a little sad but mostly we are ready for our next phase of life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Butter me up

We've been milking cows  for 18 years.

Cream. Certified Organic Raw cream.
 But I didn't start making butter until 6 months ago.

Spinning around in a food processor for several minutes
 I thought it was hard.
That it might require effort

It gets thick, really really...
Imagine my surprise

THICK. Stop the food processor. Scoop some whipped cream into a bowl
and add some sweetener. Now go take it into a dark corner
and eat it slowly and uninterrupted.
My shock and Awe

Press that "on" button again and wait..wait...for the
 When I realized all it took

For the fat, the BUTTER, to separate from the liquid, now the
Was time

Squeeze out the buttermilk and swish the balls of butter
around in icy cold water. Do it again. Yes again
Pat dry. Add a little salt to taste
Cook with it
Saute with it
Bake with it
Eat it with your fingers (if you are 3)
Spread it all over your toast
 All good things take time and are worth WAITING for.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A bubbly sort of evening

I dream of soap. Its easier than dreaming about selling our farm, moving all our stuff, selling all our stuff, finding new places for stuff, finding new land, building a new house and on and on.

Tonight I not only dreamed but I created. Tried my first egg yolk soap being careful to temper the yolks with oil first to avoid curdles or cooking. Made my lye solution with a half frozen light  raw cream. Scented with Lime EO. It was so pretty pouring into my now famous diaper wipe mold

This is not it. This is my berrycream soap made 6 days ago pictured outside on our porch supports.I mixed 1/4 cup of pureed strawberries and  1/4 cup pureed raspberries in the soap just before molding and scented with orange EO. It smells fabulous and has a rosier color than this photo. I'm still playing around with soap photography. Plan to make one of those white boxes soon but in the meantime I like playing outside with farmy backgrounds.

While blogging, I am waiting for my lye water to cool enough to make a batch of pure lavender soap. Friend (and chef) Mustard and his friend Val were just here (hey !) and he admitted to buying some of my lavender soap.(Thank you)  He's not the first guy to do so so I thought I better stock up. I ordered some alkanet from Organic Creations but it is on back order. Could all your PROFESSIONAL soapers slow down on your alkanet use a little so we newbies can get a little.? Much appreciated. What other natural products can I use for blue and purple soap coloring. Anyone ?

I also perfected my wave last week

Very funny. I'm talking soap wave. See below your goof.

This was my coffee soap and the pink in the topping came from just a touch of paprika. The white Vinca's are some of the only annuals I planted this year and because I planted so few they are actually getting watered this year. Less really is more...except when it comes to soap

A new trick of mine is to take all my soap shavings, leftovers etc... and fill my office windowsills with them. Of course I put some paper towels under the soap, I'm not completely whacked. I'm just half whacked. When the cool breeze comes in at night my office smells heavenly.

And here we have my first attempt at coloring with red clay. I only used a 1/2 Tbs but I like the muted color. I scented it with patchouli EO , I think. All I know is when I sniff it It brings out the Jane in me. I want to swing upside down from our apple tree and yell Cow-A-Bungee !

Wouldn't Keith like that ?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A stroll Through the Gardens of South Pork Ranch...bring your rubbers.

My blog friend, I call him "Rare" was gracious enough to show me his English garden (Ya know 'cause he lives in England) via his blog several days ago.   All I had to do was ask ! So now I must return the favor and show him our very Non-English Garden, although after seeing his I am dying for some order in mine. It used to have order. When I worked full time as a hospice director, my evenings and weekends were often spent in the garden. I had enough time to even keep ridiculous flowery notebooks about my gardens. Can you imagine ?

Now, I'm lucky to buy a pack of seeds, tear it open with my teeth and broadcast it in the yard hoping they will find a little dirt and grow something...anything. But soon, we hope to be able to get back to those things that give us pleasure. Have I mentioned lately our farm is for sale ?

So here it is. The Gardens of South Pork Ranch. Lets start off the veranda shall we ? As one steps out the front door and out onto our chipped, red painted porch you will see

a hail storm. See the little white specks ? Yeah hail at 0700 in the ridiculous am. In the top right corner are three rose bushes and two lily patches. You will not see any mulch. Never got around to that this year. If you look to the left you will see

more rain and to the left of center between the trees is our large hogcienda. This 3 sided abode houses 5
sows and one boar, Mad Max. They also have several acres around the house where they can come and go at will. On a clear summer's eve, if we are lucky, we can witness hog breeding, allowing us to dash into the hose and jot the date on our high tech piece of poster board.

Continuing left around the house you will see

an entirely different day ! The two fine young men in a heated game of horseshoes (it was very hot that day) are oldest son Colton on the right and youngest son Kyle on the left. Behind them through the overgrowth of untrimmed trees and carefully cultivated weeds you'll notice the barn red color of the red horse barn.

OK, I have lost the patience needed to find photos I've taken in my Kodak Photo Folders and put them in order as if I was really walking around tour like. So random yard photos it is. This next building is my favorite. A tiny brick garage that we believe was built when our home was,in 1895.

In front of it two raised beds. One filled with herbs and the other with salad items like lettuces and onions. They are my only planted vegetable garden this year. The red plastic container to the left is the gas can which is always out because I am always mowing or haven't you heard ? The back of that little cottage looks like this

Looking at this I am reminded how mush I love this shady venue. Why haven't I put a chair and table out here and taken more time to read a book or sip a mint Julep? Most likely because I am not found of mint

Dashing around to the way back yard is our largest barn, the "cow barn" which houses our dairy herd when shelter is needed (they are on pasture 90% of the day) or milking must be done. It also shelters  chickens, ducks, more hogs, dogs, whatever. Our 3 GK's and herd dog Fannie are very busy trying to round up those dang piglets who are loose AGAIN. Only if I greased those piglets ,could this event be any more fun.

Our little chicken house is directly off the back door making it convenient for snatching a few eggs for breakfast. Built by Keith and our sons it is one sturdy egg mobile. Behind it are the fields we went for pasture.

The chicken house also doubles as a  duck manor.

Abandoned by their mother several weeks ago and hand fed after that, these 3 Daffy's had no problem getting in view for their close ups. I was lucky I didn't lose an eye close as I was. See the grain flying out of the mouth of duck number one? Yup, I was close all right.

So enough. I'll end the walk with the front of the house which looked grand a couple of weeks ago when the roses were in full bloom and the weeds were still slightly behind.

Have I mentioned our certified organic farm is for sale ? I can't remember. Yes the mower is included in the sale as are the ducks.