Monday, October 31, 2011

The right to market your farm products. Who Knew ?

Eggs? Yes. Grain? Yes. Meat? Yes. Milk ? NO
Why not ?!?!
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to hear Michael Schmidt speak live while being interviewed by Zan Asha of The Renegade Farmer. He was on day 31 of his hunger strike and admittedly very weak after losing more than 40 pounds. I was moved by his committment, his dedication and his faith. Please take a few minutes to listen to him yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Some key points he made in answer to the question "If you die during this hunger strike, who will lead us ?" Michael said

I  am not the leader. each person must take on the leadership of their own life. You have the power to stand up to unjust laws. To deal with liberty is to be responsible for it."

Several of my own blog followers have recently wondered if Michael's hunger strike was over kill for something as minor as raw milk. He addressed that as well when he said.

"After WWII  I realized that people had become sensitive to the fact that if you don't act now it can become too late to act at all." Referring to Hitlers atrocities and the worlds apathy.

In other words raw milk is not the issue entirely. With each loss of each freedom, small and large it becomes for all of us "death by a thousand cuts." He encouraged us to defy the current dictatorship, to get the government out of our stomachs, our kitchens and our farms and he finished with this,

         "You cannot be afraid. You must carry a glass of raw milk in front of you like a torch."

And speaking of torches, we are continuing to carry ours here on South Pork Ranch. After speaking directly with the IDPH's Division Chief of Food, Drugs and Dairies William Beaty last Friday I still have no answers to my questions regarding the prohibition of raw milk advertising in Illinois and the answers to the 9 questions NASDA  (National Association of State Department of Agriculture)published in their raw milk survey this past summer. I will continue with my phone calls, letters etc..

In the meantime I found a nice little gold nugget in the Illinois Compiled Statutes under AGRICULTURE (505 ILCS 70/) Farm Products Marketing Act. It says:

(505 ILCS 70/1) (from Ch. 5, par. 91)
Sec. 1. Every farmer, fruit and vine grower, and gardener, shall have an undisputed right to sell the produce of his farm, orchard, vineyard and garden in any place or market where such articles are usually sold, and in any quantity he may think proper, without paying any state, county or city tax, or license, for doing so, any law, city or town ordinance to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, that the corporate authorities of any such city, town or village may prohibit the obstruction of its streets, alleys and public places for any such purpose: And, provided further, that nothing in this Act shall be so construed as to authorize the sale of spirituous, vinous or malt liquors, contrary to laws which now are or hereafter may be in force prohibiting the sale there of.

Of course I am no attorney but it seems that if there is an act titled "Farm Products Marketing Act" that it might very well indeed conflict with the law (as yet unproven by any of the  official contacts I have asked to verify in the last two weeks) which prohibits the advertising of raw milk. In addition this Statute states not only that farmers have the undisputed right to sell the produce of his farm, it also states the farmer does not have to pay taxes or license for doing so. Is that not amazing ? Once again our own government writing laws that contradict laws about laws no one is aware is.

But now I am.  Knowledge is definitely power. Not that I want to be all that powerful but I do want to have all my smucks in a row when our farm is raided by the univited. And if you don't think that can't happen please watch the movie FARMAGEDDON at least listen to Michael Schmidt's entire interview.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Good Bye Tide. Hello Homemade Laundry Soap

Yes, its true. I failed NaNoBloMo. I was doing so well, 29 posts in 29 days and then it just all fell apart, right about the same time I fell asleep.

Last night while  putting the GK's to bed, I was lying there next to the grand daughter who was telling me all about the origins of the velociraptor of the latter Cretaceous period (she is 7) thinking I would blog as soon as my science lesson was completed.

Next thing I know Keith is waking me up, from a distance of course because I have this tendency to come FLYING out of bed. Chalk it up to over a decade of sleeping with a beeper at my head when I was a hospice director. I was so tired from our big day of making homemade laundry soap (oh yeah ? YOU look at the following pictures and tell me how easy creating something wonderful for your clothes is when you're working with little people.( I was going to say "midgets" but people are so sensitive lately so thought I better make it little people. )

As I was rambling, I went into my own bed and slept without blogging. So here I am at day 30 of NoBloWriMo one post short of a full blog.

Laundry soap...why? Because I am already making all my own body soap, shampoo and dish soap so why not ? One day someone will buy this farm we love but have under grown, and therefore we must continue to work towards self sufficiency in all areas in order to survive on our new tiny farm of the future

The recipe is not complicated. One part washing soda, one part borax (please note; not Borat) and one part shredded homemade soap. Some people use Fels Naptha soap bar soap if they have not ventured into the homemade bar soap world. For me though, it is a great way to use up soap pieces, sample bars or those they work just fine but turned out tres' ugly.

Shred the bar soap with a grater. Don't worry if you get a little knuckle skin and blood in there, it'll wash out. BAHAHAHA Get a large bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Keep in mind, the smaller the helpers, the bigger the bowl should be.

Now you can use it just as it is mixed at this point OR you can put the mixture in a food processor and pulverize the heck out of it. The choice is yours. Since I will be selling this in my little farm store I choose to pulverize.

Below is the pulverized version on the left (just hit pulse on your food processor 6-7 times) and the non-pulverized version with the bar soap still in grated form. Both types will dissolve well.

Your next task will be packaging. I am using canning jars and will offer our customers $1 off their next soap purchase for each laundry soap jar returned. We found here at South Pork Ranch that a funeral works great, no wait, a funnel works well for getting the soap into the canning jar. Still, though, the kids kept calling it a funeral cause it made me laugh so hard the first time the four year old called it that.

Soon, we discovered that due to the cheap labor involved we could afford to set up an assembly line.

Seriously, each GK will receive a portion of the profits from each sale. They worked hard ! Of course it took about 3 hours to fill 4 jars so they will be salaried, not paid by the hour. Please don't tell their union. Afterwards, the custodian was paged and clean up took place.

The final product in its basic packaging consists of 27 ounces of all-natural laundry soap free of perfumes, artificial colors and other garbage just not needed. Only 2 Tablespoons are required for each large load of laundry and since there are virtually no suds it can be used in the newer HE top loading machines. In addition, the natural water softening qualities of the Borax eliminates the need for fabric softener. Cost to our customers $10. The striking orange bow , hand cut and tied of course, is complimentary.

All that to say...I was too tired to blog yesterday. Tomorrow is Monday and I will be back on my raw milk campaign. Do I have news to share with you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

EKG Soap and Raw Milk updates

When the going gets tough, the tough make soap that look just like their own cardiac rhythm. I call it 5th degree block soap ans it will be for sale in 4 weeks after cure time. You can buy it in my farm store or at line by sending me an email at  $4 bar plus S&H

Keep in mind I am not a professional soaper. I just play one on my blog. These pics were taken as the soap was immediately released form its high tech diaper wipe mold and cut with my husbands miter box and my heavy duty kitchen knife I bought in Arthur from Miller Goods. If anyone knows how to cut things up, its the Amish I always say. They are rough and untrimmed, just the way I like my...oh never mind.

Definitely not the best rhythm, although I do see an occasional P wave. Your thoughts ?

The view from the top is nicer. My big meat fork made some nice waves.

A few bars at a time and you get the gist. Its peppermint soap, made with Rice Bran, Palm, Coconut, Sunflower and Castor Oils, colored with French Red Clay and scented weren't paying attention were you ? PEPPERMINT. No, I wasn't yelling. My finger slipped unto that shift key by accident.

And now because you soap voyeurs like to see the same bars from different angles I present you with

Yes, I am aware that bar number 3 on the far wide has a wider bottom than Twiggy standing next to it. Its a thyroid thing. Leave it alone.

Finally, one more for good measure. And there you have it my first CHRISTMAS soap because I believe in Christmas, not just "holidays."

And now a Raw Milk Advertising update.  I am in day 5 of my drive towards getting some answers form my own Illinois government while Michael Schmidt is on day 29 of his hunger strike. I am very happy to report that my friend Zan Asha (and my editor at The Renegade Farmer) has spoken with Michael and will be interviewing him THIS SUNDAY on the Renegade Radio. Please tune in and learn so much more about this special crusader.

This am I reached a real live person at the Illinois Department of Public Health ( after many phone calls, voice mails and emails) Mr William Beauty, the division chief at IDPH Springfield, was quite pleasant as I asked again where I could find the specific answers that Illinois sent to NASDA  in answer to the raw milk survey sent to all the states last spring. I also asked him where I could find the exact law that prohibited advertising of raw milk sales in Illinois.

He admitted he did not know the answer to either question which bothers me not as it is a big department and their is no way one individual can know all things. He promised he would find the answers and get back to me.

We'll see.

In the meantime...

Raw Milk for Sale 
at South Pork Ranch
32796 E 750 N Rd
Chatsworth, Il

$5 a gallon    Bring your own container

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NaBloWriMo you are killing me !

I joined NaBloWriMo and took the "one post a day for a month" challenge. But tonight I am wiped. So forgive me with this short post. I can't do it all man.

Instead, please enjoy my lovely Nora. Age 10.

Her wild look. Hair unkempt.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The hours of Midlife Farmwife under Strife

"Tiiiime is on my side. Yes it is"

And we all know Mick Jagger was smoking more than ham when he wrote that song don't we? 'Cause time sure isn't on my side that is for certain, at least today it wasn't. Of course it didn't help any that I didn't drag my sorry donkey out of bed until...get this..9 AM for the love of Mike, I mean Mick.

My excuse for that is a good one. I was up writing ( still with the novel) until 2, and before that I had very important research to do. I had to see if Aiden Quinn was as attractive in Songcatcher as he was in Legends of the Fall. So I watched Songcatcher one more time and yeah, the unkempt hillbilly look really was worth staying up for.

Getting up at the crack of mid morning set me behind all day. We didn't have our farm mtg until noon, which isn't so smart when you're trying to plan your day and the day is half gone. But the good news is lots of raw milk customers today. Lots as in many and several had mentioned following the tribulations of Michael Schmidt. Michael is now on day 27 of his hunger strike as he continues to fight for the right to drink raw milk. A modern day hero.

How far did I get today with the state of Illinois regarding raw milk advertising.? Not far. Caught in our day to day stuff (like taking an order for a half hog from a man named Dragon I kid you not)  We also had beef customers to notify about their future steaks going to the locker tomorrow, tax forms to fax to a prospective buyer, soap to make (two batches) animals chores to do, locker appointments to make, store receipts to enter in Slowen (thank you Rare in the UK) for that one, excetera, excetera, excetera.

So raw milk wise...I did not make a single phone call. Funny thing, no one from Illinois Dept of Agriculture called or emailed me either. You would have thought they might've checked in to make sure I was OK at least. Fickle. Those folks are just plain fickle.

But at least Keith had fun today. Our sow Leopard farrowed last night. 6 live piglets and one still born. When Keith went out to feed her she left the litter and came right out of her little house to eat  with some afterbirth trailing ever so attractively behind her like the old lady coming out of the loo with toilet paper tail stuck in the back of her polyester elastic waisted pants. He thought certainly she was done farrowing. But noooooooo, when he checked on her this am he noticed a small nest built outside of Leopards house at the far end of her pasture. The nest was empty. Fortunately he glanced in the right direction and about 10 feet away IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COW PATH were 2 babies huddled together.

Once again he distracted mommy with some feed so he could scoop up the traveling wilderpiggies and return them to Hotel Hog. Counting, he now came up with nine total piglets. Good job Leopard, now see if you can keep them all together for a couple days OK ?

And speaking of new arrivals check out This fine young blogger is my 110the follower and I was her first. Its nice to be first for a change. Even my 3 yr old GK beats me up the stairs now. Oh, heck what am I saying ? He beat me up the stairs when he was 18 mos old.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gimpy Von Piglet and Raw Milk Update

Its looks easy we know. You build a fence, electrify it, build a shed and fill with bedding, feed them, water them and if you're lucky after about 6 months you will have this

Thick, tasty, slabs of heaven on earth AKA bacon. Doesn't look like that stuff from the local supermarket does it ? Primarily because it comes from an animal who spends its entire life OUTSIDE with dirt under its feet and sky overhead. Our hogs have shelter if they want to go in it but often, even in winter they will nap outside all huddled together. The lovely fat above comes from being fed organic raw milk every day. The meatier parts come from pasture grass, organic hay and organic grain.

Its wonderful when a plan comes together.

Then, sometimes plans go in another direction. For example, our sow Spot farrowed a lovely litter but one baby had a deformed  leg. One of her back legs was bent at a severe right angle leaving the bottom third of her leg completely contracted and immobile. We figured the little girl wouldn't make it and decided to "watch her." We thought we would probably need to euthanize her.

So we "watched her" as I said. We "watched her"  nurse right along side her siblings fighting for a good teat as well as the others. We "watched her" tumble into the mud hole and pull herself out with her other three very strong legs. We "watched her" follow her siblings around the pasture and then we "watched her" sneak under the electric fence and into the garden dragging her bum leg behind her. And we "watched her" run like the wind, OK limp real fast like Forrest Gump in his leg braces when I stood on the porch and yelled at them "BAD PIGS!" and clapping my hands, making them run out of my flower beds and back to their mama

Piglet with bad leg is the one facing away from camera. She's a little shy
It is our hope that her other three legs will be able to support her weight as she grows to market size which will be about 250 pounds live weight. If we feel she is is pain (poor appetite, declining body condition, inability to run like a fool all over the yard with her BAD PIG siblings) then we'll use her as a roaster hog. In the meantime she seems to be enjoying her wild ride here at South Pork Ranch. I've even been thinking about having Keith rig up our old donkey cart to work as her fourth leg. But then I'd get all attached and instead of just tossing the cat out of our bed at night...we'll you get the picture.

Raw Milk Advertising in Illinois Continued

Started with return call to NASDA and asked again for the actual answers given by Illinois representatives in the recent NASDA raw milk survey sent to all the states last spring.
The woman who answered the phone said, Its all on our web site now" after we discovered yesterday it was not.  The specific questions in the NASDA survey were:
1. Is the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption legal in your state?
2. Do your state laws or regulations expressly prohibit animal share raw milk operations?
3. Do your state laws or regulations authorize raw milk sales only on the farm?
4. Are raw milk sales at retail stores or markets, separate from the farm, legal in your state?
5. Does your state have any microbial standards for raw milk sold to the consumer? If yes, please specify.
6. Is sampling for compliance with the above standard(s) conducted at the farm bulk tank, or at the final
7. Are there any county or local government bans on raw milk sales in your state?
8. Approximately how many producers of milk to be sold raw are operating in your state?
9. What has changed regarding the regulation of raw milk since the 2008 survey?

So I checked. Still not there. Only the SUMMARY of the survey results is posted on NASDA's site.I asked again for Bob the contact name she gave me yesterday. He was "not available." I asked her to have him contact me but when I asked if she still had my contact info she admitted "Not anymore"

Gave her my contact info again.

Called Illinois Dept of Agriculture as I was told yesterday by Steve Divencenzo (Dept of Food Drugs and Dairies) he would email me the actual answers to the 9 questions and he had not yet. Got his voice mail. Left detailed message.

At end of day I did get an email from NASDA from intern Shellie Dalluge who told me I should call Illinois Dept of Agriculture and talk to William Beaty the division chief for Food, Drugs and Dairy. I will start with him tomorrow.

So there you have it. I just have one question. "How did the state of Illinois respond to the 9 questions in the raw milk survey sent to all 50 states by NASDA this past summer?"  To date I have made 4 phone calls , talking with 2 individuals, have left two voice mails and received 1 email but none of that has resulted in an answer to the question.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Annual Hay Rack Ride and Raw Milk Issues continued

Every year we have a hay rack ride. A great excuse to bundle up, slow down, eat treats and hang with family.This year we were very short on adult females as daughter and both daughter-in-laws were all working. That's what you get when you all work in heath care, a weekend schedule.

So with lots of drinks and snacks and blankets on board we headed out to the wilds of rural Chatsworth

Giggling girls probably had the best time

But young men and little boys enjoyed the ever popular and oh so high tech rock-scissors-paper game

Youngest son Kyle and our youngest grandson Wes
(son of daughter Raven, the night shift nurse)

The highlight of the ride is always tricking someone into getting off the wagon and then leaving them behind

Oldest son Colton demonstrates that turning 30 has not affected his ability
to chase a speeding hay wagon one bit. Puff-Huff-Puff-Puff
Getting family, especially MEN to pose for pics is always fun. You would think they would learn to just  pose and smile as the more they argue the longer it takes. You would think. Getting blogger to work so I can load photos in less than one hour each would be nice too. You would think. Therefore end of family hay rack ride photos you lucky people you.

Raw Milk Advertising in Illinois Continued

Michael Schmidt is on day 25 of his hunger strike. So, as promised, today was was Monday and I started making phone calls. This time around I am working from the top down. My reasoning being when I reach someone on the local level who tells me an untruth I will have the date and source and individuals name at the top levels to back me up. Well, its a theory anyway.

I started with NASDA, an organization brand new to me I am sad to admit. But then again the layers of  US government are so deep its hard to know what you know and what you don't know. NASDA is The National State Department of Agriculture, not to be confused with the plain old Department of Agriculture. NASDA's mission is

"to represent the state departments of agriculture in the development, implementation, and communication of sound public policy and programs which support and promote the American agricultural industry, while protecting consumers and the environment."

Apparently in July 2011 NASDA sent a Raw Milk survey to every state in the US. The survey had 9 very interesting questions which each state then returned to NASDA. The summarized results were published but I wanted to specifically see the exact responses made by Illinois and I wanted to see the individuals name who answered the survey. NASDA's web site would not allow me to open the survey in its entirety. So I called NASDA. A very nice woman felt confident I could indeed see the results but was unable to do so herself when she got on NASDA's web site.

She gave me a contact name, Bob,  to call "tomorrow." And I will.

Next I called the Illinois Department of Agriculture to see if I could get the answers to the raw milk survey which they gave to NASDA, from that direction. Several transfers got me to Steve who was pleasant but stated it would take him a little time to find those answers his department sent to NASDA. He said he would email them to me "tomorrow."

Stay tuned as I work my way through the US law layers looking for answers to my questions about why its illegal to advertise raw milk sales and how, pray tell, might I go about changing that law?  Something tells me I am going to discover so much more on this little road trip of mine then I bargained for.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Raw Milk Advertising in Illinois Day 4

Michael Schmidt is on day 24 of his hunger strike and I am on Day 4 of my resolve to change the law in Illinois which prohibits the dairy farmer from advertising that he has raw milk for sale. Special thanks to The Bovine Blog for re posting my blog done yesterday. Communication regarding these issues is begging to snowball, hopefully it will be with enough force to cause Canada's Premier Dalton McGuinty to take notice.

Tomorrow I will begin making my phone calls to government officials in Illinois as I move towards my promise of changing the raw milk advertising law. Hopefully it will go better than Max Kane's recent attempts. You don't know Max ? Another raw milk warrior you need to meet. Watch him here as he tries to get the FDA to act in a logical manner.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Take a (Raw Milk) Stand

I've been thinking about Michael Schmidt's heart.

Nothing except water for the last 23 days is seriously dangerous. Our hearts are made of muscle which are stimulated with the most awesomely unique electrical system in the universe. This system depends on the correct balance of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium. When the balance is out of whack...heart attacks can happen.

Now you know why I am worried about Michael's heart.

Its very easy for any of us to ask, "Is this really worth it?" referring to Michael's self imposed hunger strike in order to get an audience with Canadian Prime Minister Dalton McGuinty to discuss the  raw milk issues he is battling. "Why would anyone risk their life over raw milk?"  I have asked myself the same question, and discovered the battle is about so much more than a glass of white liquid that has never been pasteurized or homogenized.

The battle is about our freedoms and more frighteningly so, our willingness to allow these freedoms to be taken from us one by one without resistance. No wonder the Canadian government, OUR GOVERNMENT continues to remove freedoms, too many to mention in one tiny Midlife Farmwife blog, day after day after day...very few of us are brave enough, motivated enough to say anything, let alone take action.

Instead, we mumble "No big deal" or "It doesn't really affect me" and whoosh there it goes, another freedom, a right, a way of life, a liberty, is stolen right from under our Payless Lose More feet. Not only have we become inattentive we have become lazy, slovenly and lethargic.

Tomorrow is Monday and my phone calls to those in higher offices will begin regarding the Illinois law that prohibits the advertising of our raw milk. While waiting for the offices of Higher-Ups to open , I focused my efforts today on Michael's plight involving myself even more  and I invite you to join me. You don't have to be a farmer, or a raw milk drinker but if are ready to take back the freedoms we were born with then do something. Join a local tea party, get acquainted with your representatives and if you want to specifically help Michael with his (OUR) raw milk issues please follow this link and take 10 actions RIGHT NOW.

Before Michael's heart gives out.

P.S. Our farm South Pork Ranch is offering FREE RAW MILK (up to one gallon per person) For any of you who wish to join me in the 24 hr raw milk fast scheduled to take place Tuesday Oct. 24 as a show of continued solidarity for Michael Schmidt. All you have to do is come to our farm that morning with your own container. CHEERS!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Raw Milk Advertising in Illinois Day 2

First I must comment on yesterdays blog comments. Outstanding. Seems I have hit a nerve in regards to the right of a farmer to grow and sell AND ADVERTISE his own products, and in the case of this writer, raw milk. Keith and I have talked often about this issue and are ready to move forward with our own little battle here in the Midwest. This morning we posted signs, for the first time in 17 years, about the price of our raw milk. We posted the signs on our own property, in the milk house where customers come to fill their own containers and in our farm store where they can buy containers but cannot buy pre-filled milk bottles.

"You tell them Anastasia"
"No,  Lucinda, you tell them"
"OK we'll both tell them "
"RAW MILK for sale $5 a gallon !"

In case this is your first visit to my blog...This is Michael Schmidt's 21st day without food as he fights for individual freedom in food choice. This will be umpteenth post on raw milk laws in Illinois but only my second post since making the commitment to take action towards changing a law related to advertising raw milk sales.

Read more about Michaels struggles

To understand more about the changes I am proposing its important to understand the law as it stands in Illinois today. So many farmers as well as consumers in general believe it is illegal to sell raw milk in Illinois. It is not.
Raw milk builds muscles

I started with the web site for the Illinois General Assembly and went to the section that deals specifically with Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products Act. The link for that section is   Be warned, it is lengthy and in my opinion confusing and as you wade through it, should you choose to lose precious moments of your life you will never get back, you might notice that direct off the farms sales is indeed mentioned...but oh so quietly. I highlighted it for you.

410 ILCS 635/8) (from Ch. 56 1/2, par. 2208)
Sec. 8. After the effective date of this Act, no person shall sell or distribute, offer to sell or distribute any milk or milk product for human use or consumption unless such milk or milk product has been pasteurized and has been produced and processed in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Department.
The term "sell or distribute for use or consumption" means to sell or distribute to a person for human use or consumption and not for processing or resale in any form.
The pasteurization requirement of this Section shall not be applicable to milk produced in accordance with Department rules and regulations if sold or distributed on the premises of the dairy farm.
(Source: P.A. 83‑102.)

Note again, in the entire section of The Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products Act there is no mention of how the consumer can buy the milk from the farmer (with their own container) or the part about No Advertising which is the bone I am here to expose, pick apart and attempt to change. That is deeply hidden somewhere else which I'll share tomorrow.

On Monday I will start with the phone calls and letters to my representatives. Stay turned and buckle your seat belts.

A Sidetrip to Soapville

Later today I will post more about our raw milk brigade but right now its Bubble Time ! I made some soap yesterday as both a distraction and a joy. I do love making soap and since all your clean freaks keep buying whatever I make (Thank you K.E and D.R.) I had to make more.

Still playing with all the natural colors via root powders, clays, charcoal, plant leaves, it makes me feel so...earthy. I have pretty much decided, after 10 months, on a basic cold process recipe but experimenting with scents as well as colors. My favorite EO combo is now Lavender-Lemongrass-Blood Orange in a 1:2:1 concentration. Very fresh and sexy smelling. Yes, SEXY. Even though I've been married forever, have 4 kids and 3 GK's I can still talk about sexy if I want to


"Jeez, what was that all about?"
"Heck, if I know, you know how she gets sometimes"
"Tell, me about it"

So, if the voices are done I'll continue. I made up 3 batches and was most happy with this one. Colors were done with wheat grass powder (the greens), indigo powder (the blues), orange peel powder (the yellow) and Titanium dioxide (the white).

The soap got very thick as I mixed in the powder but since this is the second time I used these colorants I was ready for it. I slapped the soaps into the mold and SLAMMED it hard on the counter. So very therapeutic. I still got a few air bubbles but that's the fun about about handcrafted, its imperfect. Just like moi.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Raw Milk for Sale $5 a Gallon

There it is.

The announcement that we sell raw milk here on
South Pork Ranch in Chatsworth, Illinois.

If Michael Schmidt can stand up for what he believes in, so can I. Enough is enough. I am no longer going to sit here in the relative solitude and comfort of my home and turn my back on a fellow dairy farmer whose "crime" was to sell a perfectly wonderful farm product, raw milk, to individuals who wanted it.

Although Michael's battle is in Canada,  the problem of government overstepping it boundaries and putting their noses where they have not been invited, is occurring here in the US as well. Thomas Jefferson said it best

I've mentioned before on this blog the inconsistencies of the Illinois Department of Public Health in regards to raw milk sales. I've also briefly discussed my frustration with IDPH in getting CLEAR answers to my questions regarding these laws. Not only was the buck passed, it was passed so fast you would've thought it had been covered in dried  cow manure and ignited.

I have struggled for sometime about what to do in this regard. Keep quiet like a good farm girl, selling the milk as we are "allowed" to do (oh thank you wise and wonderful OZ for allowing us to sell our farm product that we produced with our own hands, the grace of God and the physical efforts of some fine bovines) but NOT advertising the availability of the same milk OR standing up for my First Amendment right of free speech.

I've decided to speak up. Its the least I can do for Michael Schmidt and other class act farmers like him. Its the least I can do for our farm. You might think "Really ? All this drama over raw milk ?" Well, yes because the removal of our rights, the oppression of government often starts in small ways when we aren't looking or worse yet, when we don't care enough  to look.

I plan to address this issue on this blog  every day for a good amount of time as I begin the arduous task of getting some real answers from our local and then state government and it is again my intention to change this law in Illinois. If we can raise the cow, harvest the milk, drink the milk and sell the milk then why can we not ADVERTISE the sale of raw milk? After all you can legally advertise all these items in Illinois

Abortion Services
Adult Book Stores
"Escort" Services

How is it that advertising raw milk sales is more harmful to society than any of the above ?

Don't fret. I will also do some fun stuff like soap making and general farm shenanigans. Life is serious enough,  it is also meant to be enjoyed. In the meantime I would like to remind you...

Raw Milk for Sale $5 a gallon 
You must come directly to our farm, you must bring your own container
You do not need to wear a disguise

South Pork Ranch LLC
32796 E 750 N. Rd
Chatsworth, Il  60921

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do you know Michael?

You should. Michael Schmidt is fighting the fight the rest of us wish we had the courage to fight. Some might think its about the right to drink raw milk but it goes so much deeper than that. Michael is leading the way against big government who believe in far too many countries that it is their job to tell us how to run our lives.

We are fortunate (so far) here in Illinois in regards to the sales of raw milk. It can be done by the farmer as long as you, the consume,r come to our farms with your own containers. I cannot advertise that I sell raw milk but the minute you step on my property I can tell you all about it, including how much it is...and I will. There is also no law stopping our current customers from advertising our raw milk.  They can tell all their friends.  A few hoops to jump through but none like Michael has to endure.

On day 19 of his hunger strike Michael looks exhausted. He is willing to die for this cause. How far would you go to change a law that threatens your freedom ? Take a moment or ten and read about this special person. Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Being Careful What I Wished For

I would be lost without the relatives. They make the best comments. Recently one said "I wish I had a job like you where I could do whatever I wanted all day long."

Isn't that adorable, the way he/she imagines my life to be one of unending, buckwheat honey coated joy and bliss? I suppose they were referring to the fact that we have no time cards to punch, no policy manuals to memorize, no trainees to train. no bosses to patootie kiss.

Instead our day starts very early and only ends when the fat lady snores. At no time do I glance up at the clock and say to myself, "only 5 more minutes to go, better grab my lunch bag." Rather, I glance at the clock and  mumble, "How did it get to be 6 pm already ? I still have 10 invoices to finish, and ten emails to answer and 10 calves to water (well OK, Keith usually does the evening chores) get the point.

And in case you did not get it, the point is, we chose this lifestyle just like the aforementioned relative chose his/hers.  I've walked in those shoes before where the day ended when my boss said "goodnight" and I do miss that sometimes but I will not be goofy enough to tell you (out loud) how easy I think your job is.

Would be so cool if you limited your comments about the luxury of self-employed farming until you got out of my earshot. Oh,  and on the way down the driveway, could you stop at that big metal barrel and throw some feed at our Red Wattle Boar Mad Max.?

I lost track of time.

Just one more thing that cannot be grown
in a eight hour day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

No more excuses

This whole thing started the fall I went to the Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana with my not-quite-all-there friends Stacey and Kristy. At the time Kristy was about 10 and 1/2  months pregnant  which explains the not -all-there part. What woman in her right mind would take off with the likes of us so close to her past due date? And what kind of irresponsible  women would drag along an immensely preggers woman in the heat of the Indian Summer just to over eat at the Elephant Ear booth ?

We rented a trailer , complete with slanting floor and broken Lazy Boy recliner, as all the other FINE roach motels were already booked. That's what you get for waiting till the day before to make reservations, the covered bridge festival is very big in these here parts.

 On day one, wandering through the hundreds of booths, I found the most beautiful book.

Handcrafted and leather bound with homemade paper inside, I was stricken and had to have it. Had to have it. Had to. I blame the Celtic Cross for the weakness that consumed me.

It was $50. I have never in my life spent that kind of money on any book let alone one that had no words inside. I picked it up, put it down, talked to the maker of the book, walked away, came back, picked it up again and then...I...

bought two of them.

I knew then they would hold all the first words, drafts, ideas, character profiles for my first novel. It took far more time than I planned but the journal now looks like this:

Finally filled from cover to cover, I think ready for an editor don't you? That would be amusing to send in a manuscript in this shape and then do one of those candid camera deals to see their reactions. Yeah, not so funny when they toss more than 2 years of work and a fine leather journal down the incinerator chute.

The scribbles above were completed the week I did NaNoWriMo in County Clare snuggled beside the peat fire in that most excellent petite cottage in Oughterard. Over the next year I put the mess together on my laptop. Twenty six chapters at first. Then I worked very hard on Chapter one (again) and braved sending it to six relatives I trusted  to give me REAL feedback, and they did. My novel was reduced to 20 chapters and no ending. all came to a screeching halt in April when farm needs outweighed so much else. The whole summer cruised past and I revised very little. But it nagged at me and it hurt my heart to think about my characters just fading away. I began to whine about the unfairness of it all to Keith who as always, listened well. I tried to write in the mornings, what a bust. Between customers, farmers markets, deliveries, phone calls, farm chores and that kitchen intruder constantly stirring sugar in his coffee with that little metal spoon, screeching against the cheaply made coffee cup and with each rotation peeling a few more frayed nerves from their synapses... I thought I would have to give up entirely. I mean really what was I thinking ? I despise mornings.

Then the spoon stirring guy said this...he attention this is really good...he said, "Why don't you write in the evening ?"

I was gobsmacked. Of course, why didn't I ? The farm store would be closed, the milk customers . whom I LOVE DEARLY, would be home making great custards and yogurts from our raw milk and the crazed bloke with the possessed spoon would be working hard outside doing evening chores.

Instead of filling those hours with Quicken entries or housework or meal prep...I could write.  I could, really. I checked and there were no laws or local ordinances against such. And so I did. For the last three weeks, we have moved supper time up from 9pm to 5:30pm and Quicken is done in the am. At 6 pm I head upstairs. In fact, I look forward to that 6pm bell all day. After two weeks it became a habit and I trusted it would remain a permanent pattern enough to rearrange the combo library/quest room/female GK room and make it my writing den.

My writers den is taking shape. With resources in one central location
excuses for novel completion are dwindling.

Major revision work has been accomplished (in the room and in the book) and of course much more is to be done but this is the most consistent  novel writing I have done since that week in Ireland in November 2009.

I can't imagine any of this would have occurred if that notebook had been covered in vinyl.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lofty Ambitions

Our middle GK is the farmy one. At least for now, you know how those things change, but she has always loved the farm and all its critters and activities. She especially loves the hay loft and often begs us to take her up there. Usually Keith does it as it kinda their thing, but last weekend she wanted me too, so I did. On the way down to the barn I stopped to go through some old books Keith's mom had given us hoping if I sorted through one box a week for awhile I could dent the "mother" lode.

I am a major sucker for old books.

Allana spotted a book with a horse on the cover  (Black Beauty) and wanted to take it with us to the barn. After we looked around the loft for orphan chicks, she asked if we could stay longer. I had no board meetings scheduled that day (or ever again I hope for as long as I live) so I said yes. I sat next to her and started reading to her.

When it was time to go I got up, walked a few feet away from her, looked back and saw this.

My memory's eyes saw this:

My father painted this as as gift to his wife, my mother, for her 55th birthday. The date on the back of the picture was December 1985. My mother had told him about her "library" as a child. She would sneak up to HER grandparents hay loft in the hills of southern Indiana, to read all alone and undisturbed. My mother loved to read novels, and always had a book "going" somewhere in the house while we were growing up. Bookmarks were made of anything handy; paint chips, match book covers, grocery store receipts, parts of Sundays church bulletin, whatever. She in fact died with a book in her hand, a romance, but I have since forgiven her for that. (Both the genre and the early death.) She also had a cup of coffee and a burned out cigarette next to her on the couch as well when we found her. Always living (and dying) on the edge that mother of mine.

It was difficult to stop staring at Allana while she was reading. I was so grateful I had my camera with me. No, the photo was not staged BUT I am embarrassed to admit that this weekend I did try to recreate the scene again. I had the GK dress in jeans and a white shirt and we grabbed a red book instead of blue and a blanket for her backdrop. But the weather was cool and windy and GK was not in the mood and after a couple shots I quit, chastising myself for the inability to  accept gifts as they are given me instead of always seeking improvement.

At 52 you would think I would have learned the art of simple satisfaction. You would think.

 I dismantled our props and told the GK we could look for baby chicks as she wanted to do in the first place. Now that was a gift SHE was very satisfied with.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kit Kat Soap

Its a temporary name, until I can think of something more artistic or dare I say it , sculptural ?
Anyway, its soap. You probably thought I'd given up my saponifaction habit since I've been yakking about non-sudsing topics so much of late, but taint true. I've just slowed a little due to all the other details of my life. But I must get cracking again as our farm store customers are buying up my soap faster and faster each week. Yesterday one fabulous chick bought SEVEN bars ! (Thank you DN. Thank you very much!)

I have this feeling that one day Keith will die and I will find 3000 bars of my soap hidden away in the barn after he bought it all  back from the people he PAID to buy it from me. He's nice that way.

I love how natural powders, clays, roots, herbs, flowers never come out the same no matter
how many times you color with them. Or perhaps it has more to do with my "technique."

This here soap bar was great fun. Created with palm, coconut, olive, canola oils and mango butter the lighter orange/yellow color comes from Annato seed powder. Another wild experiment in the all natural coloring arena as well as the embed improvisations. I started pouring this soap AND THEN decided to cut up a hot process bar that smelled great (Cassia essential oil) but was so dull looking after being colored with Clove powder. Shoving two long bars of the HP soap into the cold process soap and then pouring more CP in the mold and I got this Kit Kat bar thingy.

Or maybe you are thinking piano they would look through the eyes of the totally inebriated. Either way I scented the CP with clove and blood orange essential oils and when mixed with the cassia of the HP embeds, the bar smells good enough to serve for dessert. Which is exactly what happened in my sons house.

I gave him a bar of this for his 30th birthday, just what every 30 year old man wants for that special day and  his little dog Abby became interested jumping up on my sons leg. So he lowered the soap bar down for her to smell and she of course BIT into the bar. So much for not testing my products on animals. Her face afterwards was pretty funny. Of course she suffered no ill effects as the bar was free of all chemicals and dyes. Funny dang dog..

Friday, October 14, 2011

Status Report

Way way too tired to blog tonight so instead I am going to cheat and refer you to the farm blog I started when we put the farm up for sale a couple of months ago. I've done more work on it, then asked my Facebook friends to share with their contacts. (And they told two friends and they told two friends)
By the end of the day yesterday I had over 500 page views, even though it still needs work. Thank you everyone ! Of those 500 there must be someone who really wants to own and run an organic farm. I just know there is.

In the meantime, if you did not do this already as my FB friend would you consider sharing this link on your own blog?  I promise if you ever need me to promote another blog of yours I will do the very same thing for you.

YOU are the best.  No, YOU are..NO, YOUUU are .

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When Harry met Sally...the farm adaptation.

Several weeks ago we arranged for a trade. "You give me a fine looking virile young man and I will give you the same" we said to the other party. Dates and places were agreed upon. Soon one of our Red Wattle boars, whose blood line was just fine, thank you very much, but too well known among the female RW's at South Pork Ranch, was traded to another team.
His replacement was named Wally and we liked him immediately. Heralding from Wickham Farms in Iowa He was not quite a year old but  shaping up nicely. I especially loved the fiery gold strands in his body hair. What red blooded female wouldn't?  After allowing him some time to adapt to us and his new digs we sweetened his life even more by introducing him to a young RW girl named Sophie. Sophie is of the Kiss My Grass Farm fame (now on hiatus, the farm not Sophie)

At first they were not impressed with each other. He said she had a picky way of ordering her food in a restaurant. She said he ate like a slobbering, drooling, grain mashing, flatulating, grunting pig.

Wally left, Sophie right.
Over time, and realizing that there were not that many other RW's in the farm yard to select genetic material from, they agreed to a casual friendship, a date now and then, the occasional shared trough of soured milk.  It was not immediate but after a few more weeks, they began to look to the future.

With the camera woman holding a bucket of raw milk, "looking to the future"
 became piglets play.
     Personal displays of affection were witnessed and the clock was set ahead to three months, three weeks, three days, three hours and three minutes.

Sophie began taking long extended naps, even in the middle of the day.

Protective Wally left,  Gestating Sophie right.

You'd nap often too if you had 8-12 infants on the way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Hawks Eye View

In 2007 an aerial view was taken of our farm and in a weak moment when the company responsible came knocking on the door, I bought the photo. Dang things are not cheap ! My husbands birthday was coming up so out came the checkbook. Fortunately he was worth it. Looking at it now, I am disturbed ( we could just leave it at that but I won't) by the debris in the farm yard. Seems pilots take photos, just like company seem to drop by...whenever the dishes or in this case...the silage tunnels, have not been put away.
Main livestock barn upper left. Machine shed and shop in the middle.
 Little white blob in the garden, right side 2/3 of the way napping

Since the photo was taken 5 years ago, many of the junk piles are gone, a few new piles have taken their place, but overall the farm is much tidier. Now that our farm has been listed for sale for 3 months with no lookers I thought I needed to get busy with promoting its sale so I started with this pic. After all it was just hanging on the wall gathering another web I might as well make it earn its keep.

I pulled up the web site I started 3 months ago and went to work. Still several hours of work to go but it looks and reads much better. Do me a favor and check it out will you ? Leave some comments on those pages directly or on this post if you prefer.

Then if each of you could forward the site to just 1000 of your closest friends I am sure we will be able to connect with that one person, that one family, that one small company or town that is dying to invest in a small organic farm. I knew I could count on your guys. You're the best.

Tomorrow I make soap. This work work work stuff is ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Buckwheat ? Dat You ?

Why yes it is, Buckwheat honey is spilling all over the place hear on South Pork Ranch. I wasn't home while the Midlife Farm-man (see, it doesn't rhyme, that is why I won't use it again) and the GK's harvested some long awaited for Buckwheat honey, the tall darkly sweet stranger of the honey world.

I love this years crop, its all mysterious looking and because it is deemed "rare" I covet it all the more. Seems farmers don't plant buckwheat as a green cover crop like they used to so bees have no way to utilize the flower they love the most. But one of our hives is just 1/3 of a mile from our neighbors buckwheat field so strange dark stuff...WELCOME.

I was surprised at how much the Gk's liked it as it does have a distinct flavor. I do believe though when it comes to kids, anything they are involved in cooking, baking, milking, harvesting makes all the difference in what they will eat, or at least try.

Ignorant glut that I am,  I was unaware that buckwheat honey is full of fabulous things such as antioxidants, even more than oranges and strawberries. It has also been used recently in several controlled trials as a cough suppressant in children under the age of 6. Seems is soothes irritated bronchial tissue and its viscosity makes it last longer than over the counter syrups. With none of the side effects of dextramorphan. often prescribed for annoying coughs, physicians are now encouraging moms to keep RAW buckwheat honey in their cupboards. Always check with your MD before giving any honey to a child under the age of 1. Opinions vary

My very favorite Buckwheat
This purple- black queen bee is also full of vitamins and minerals which make it healthier to slather on your wee ones pancakes and french toast then the average corn syrup concoctions. It will last forever in your cabinets and if it gets cold and crystallizes just plop it in some hot water. Buckwheat honey can be hard to find and expensive but you'll be happy to know we have a limited supply here right now in our farm store. Same price as our regular honey cause the bees told us it was no extra trouble really. The supply is limited as the GK's consumed a fair amount while "assisting" with the bottling process.

Good help...hard to find.

P.S. Please do send me hate email about my choice of google pics. Some of my very best friends wore afros in the 70's , myself included.