Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saponification Sunday...Help Wanted

I have the blues this week.

I really love blue soap, but I'm in a bit of a rut. Having a hard time finding the all natural colorants I prefer (as I snack on a a Hostess "Scary Cake" which is filled with many scary ingredients), I find myself returning over and over again to my two blue standbys: Indigo and Woad Powder.

Indigo powder comes from the ground up leaves of the Indigo plant  which originates in Southeast Asia. Woad is a plant native to the Mediterranean Area and a relative to the Brassica family of veggies like broccoli and cabbage. The plant is know for its neon yellow flowers. The leaves are harvested in their first year for use as a colorant.

I love them both for the deep, earthy blues that will pop up in your soap, the shades varying with the type of oil you use and the concentration of powder of course. Colors will range from light blue to deep purple-red. Both mix well with oils and I usually mix all my oils together first then pull up about 2 Tablespoon to mix with 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon of colorants . This concentration will easily color four pounds of soap.

Indigo Plant Image
To get the two shades, in the bar I made above, I just mixed up my soap (oils plus lye) poured off 2 cups and mixed in 1/2 Tbs of the oil/Indigo mix. Mixed. Then to the remaining soap I added the rest of the oil/indigo mix to get a deeper blue.

I poured a small amount (from on high) into my pot of lighter colored soap and poured half of that into my long  4 pound  mold. Then poured a bit more of the darker blue soap into the lighter blue soap and swirled it around in the pot as I poured it in a swirly motion into my mold which would explain the swirls of soap splashed all over my kitchen cabinets.

I have read about some individuals who actually have a separate office/building/room for their soap making but what would be the fun in THAT?

But still my problem for the blues remains. What other natural colorants are out there to color my soaps blue? Send your suggestions right here on my blog in the comment section or feel free to email me at Many thanks.

Scent? Well I used Ylang Ylang essentail oil don't Yknow Yknow.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dear Inspector...Bye Bye

Three file drawers are ready for yet another annual inspection.
Sir, Yes Sir.

So, we did it. We survived yet one more organic inspection, our fourth to be exact. You would think by now I would not get so worked up about a missing receipt here or a non-recorded mineral input approval there but not so much.

I blame it all on Sister Francis Marie the top mama at the OSF Mother house. She taught all of us nurse mangers back in the 80's that anything less than a perfect survey be it by the State, the Feds or JCAHO, was unacceptable. The stress was beyond words.

And even though it is three decades later (almost) and we're being evaluated on the care of our bovines VS our terminally ill, I still have a difficult time just taking a deep breath and going with the flow.

While Keith working very hard the last two days finishing up the loose ends outside while I loosened up the tight ends, inside, and after three hours of bonding with our MOSA inspector, it was all summed it up with these written words.

"Audit Trail Very Complete" and
"Nice Organic Operation"

What more could a couple of small family organic farmers ask for?


Well, I did ask for this antique patient file rack a few months ago when Keith spotted it in a shop in Arthur, Illinois. You elder nurses and MD's might recall this aluminum beauty used to roll patient charts in and out of rooms as the docs made their daily rounds. The practice took place long before patient confidentiality was popular, when it was normal for everyone and their dog to know who was laid up in the bed next to you with an infected buttock boil.

A bargain at just $25, (the rack, not the boil) it has proven extremely useful here on the farm, holding items like locker activity logs and livestock lists to name a few.

But as far as a successful inspection goes, I give all the Glory to God. I also must award large amounts of praise to my hubby (who puts up with his tightly strung spouse) and as well as to all our customers who support us with their business.'s back to the daily grind.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The G-Man Cometh

I have no business being here. None at all.

I have a ton of work to do.  In a little over 24 hours the inspector from MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association) will be here on our farm to check our compliance with over 200 organic standards which means ...He will snoop through my paperwork, poke his nose into our barns, run his hands over our livestock and most invasive of all...he will drink our coffee.

And I will smile and nod the entire time.

This is my old horse Johhny, long gone these many years.
Because it's my blog and I can put anything on it I want to.
That's why.

I learned many years ago the best way to survive a survey from a government official is to provide them with a sweet snack, lots of coffee and a mound of paperwork so high that even the most seasoned G-man will begin to miss the sub-standard -bed -bug -filled mattress at the 2 and 1/2 star hotel the certifying agency discovered for them last minute, on-line.

Honestly, being inspected by MOSA generally is fairly painless. They are very clear about what they need to see in terms of compliance( like a log that tracks every animal that came and left your farm) and they love it when your sales records for the past year are on one computer form rather than 300 tiny scrap pieces of paper.

Not that we've ever kept records that way.

We seriously do our best to follow the standards all year long but sometimes one slips through your manure laden fingers and you are a bit shocked when the inspector asks you to prove you've kept records about which animal grazed which pasture on which particular month.

But this is our 4th year of organic inspections and there should be no surprises.

Now where did I put that "Locker Activity" Log that tracks the day we sent each piggie to it's final destination?  I know it's here somewhere.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Saponification Sun-MonDay

Add another day gets past me! I think its Thursday, turns out its Sunday and then here it is Monday...But enough whining, lets get back to business. Indeed, if it really were still Sunday I'd be blogging about soap so lets.

I got two great packages in the mail Friday (or was it Tuesday?). The first was a box from blog buddy Julia Kalkbrenner AKA the famous Cocobong. I had been lusting after some suds of hers for some time and finally just begged her for some. I also deeply desired the soap dish she makes and those items showed up on my humble farm just when I was needing a pick me up.

Julia is, in my far from humble opinion, the mother earth of all soap makers.  She makes the kind of soap that smells and feels rich without ever being gaudy or flashy. The type that evolves into the perfect amount of lather that begs you to never put it down. And finally when I did I tossed it at my hubbie and announced he was to wash ONLY with this soap, Julia's Petitgrain scented masterpiece, until further notice.

Sensing compliance might lead to a greater reward, he readily agreed.

The handsome soap dish however, (above) remained in my bathroom with Julia's other soap bar to be used daily because I believe beautiful soap is to be admired and USED...often.

As if that wasn't enough happiness, the very next day I received the traveling soap box also started by Ms Cocobong many many months ago. The soaps within came from France , Germany and the US. The goal of the box is to take one soap you must must have, replace it with one of yours and send it on its way to the next recipient. The box with all three traveling bars :

That decision was nearly unbearable. I adore soaps made in other countries. They really are different, or at least that is how I perceive them and I tossed the idea back and forth of keeping the one from France or was it Germany ? France? Germany?

Finally, I chose the one made in...the USA. Why ? Because it was a SALT bar and I am a salt bar freak. I collect them while using them. Then I stack them up in my upstairs bath where only I can use them on my feet because THAT is the only real test to a great salt bar, my pony trotting feet.

This Salt Bar, the keeper of the three lovelies, came from Nicole at Girl with a Curl Soap Company This bar intrigues me because it had more than one oil in its makeup and everyone knows that only Coconut Oil really makes a salt bar lather, except for Nicole who had the nerve to add Castor oil to her salt bar!

I couldn't wait to test it but my 5 year old GK beat me to the punch and raced me to his tiny kid sink to try it out. Check out that creamy lather!!!!

And that lather was not created by a tough middle aged farm gal friction effort but by a dinky five year olds hands!  He also insisted on showing you the generous size of this cool bar with its pretty Pink Himalayan salt sprinkles on top
The packaging by the Girl with a Curl just finished off a perfect soap and in fact was so pretty if it had only been wrapped around a pice of dried  up seaweed I still would've been happy.

I won't go into detail about the two soaps I sent on to the next recipient, along with one of my own as was required, instead letting whoever chooses them tell you the details of those creations. But let me just say, it was a tough choice and I am so honored to be part of this international soap swap!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Secret Garden...End of Season One

In the worst summer of the worst drought in 40 years I held tight to one spot of beauty here on South Pork little secret garden. Thanks to the hard work of our friend Jay who took a pile of very old bricks and turned them into my own winding Yellow (red) brick road, my garden started out rather plain...

But evolved into something relaxing. Within a few short weeks, a few perennials and a few more annuals, this spot bloomed beyond my hopes and screams. (The screams occurred each time a nosy Peacock was found inside the perimeter ripping apart defenseless gladiola bulbs..) By Early July I had this to feast mu yese upon...
And then it all came together last week when the nights began to cool off, the rains began to fall and the garden blossomed out of control!!


The out of control part is purely may fault as weeding took a back seat to everything else in the back seat. But If you look at a   few areas up close...the weeds don't look so bad.
Red Hyacinth Bean Vine
Are these not cool? Red Hyacinth Bean which have stunning petite purple flowers and reddish purple bean pods. The vine has dark green leaves and it grows over 10 feet tall. The only is poisonous so as tempting as it might be to use as landscaping in your mother-in-laws yard DON"T DO IT!  If my memory serves me correctly they don't allow secret gardens in prison.

White Cosmos and painted ladder

The Cosmos are annuals that grow very easily in the Midwest, direct from seeds, and as planned, on a full moon night they show up nicely. Not too far away are Moon flowers, a cousins of Morning Glories. This variety also grows from seed that germinates even more quickly if left in a bowl of water overnight before planting.
While the Moon Flowers open up fully at night, it's cousin the blue Morning Glory struts its stuff in the am and even was so brave as to climb up and over not only the 6 foot high livestock panel but also the Evergreen Tree out behind the Secret Garden. 
The only problem with a garden full of end of sharing your space with a few bees.
Que Sera Sera, whatever will bee will bee...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Traveling Wilder-Piggies

Have pork will travel...sometimes.

Delivery of our pork is becoming less common. Up until this past winter we were delivering pork carcasses all over Chicago and we enjoyed it, but it became too much. The deliveries took all day and had to be done in between am and pm chores which meant delivery days were looooooong days.

So we quit.
Yup, that's us, big quitters. Something had to give before it all collapsed so we told our chefs the meat was still available but they would need to come to us, I mean the locker, if they wanted big hunks of meat.

But, restaurants are busy people too so they went to some other farmer friends of yours who could deliver. A good deal for all of us really because our farm store business makes up for what we lost in restaurant deliveries.

We will still deliver a small roaster hog from time to time though. If the timing is right and the direction is one we were heading anyway which is what happened last week. We had orders for two roaster hogs made well in advance, as you can't call us Thursday and expect a roaster hog on Friday people.

But Patrick is a well organized fellow and he ordered his piggie months ago. He even came down with pals Jared and Helma to check on its progress earlier this summer. Then another customer, Ivan, ordered a roaster for a party he was giving the same weekend.

Ivan lucked out as he called late, but the stars were in his favor as we going that direction and the locker had room for one more Kill and Chill, as they like to call them. You see, they kill it, scald it , to remove all the hair and then Chill it in their big cooler. We pick it up the next day and deliver it whole.

Thus after chores last Thursday we headed East to pick up the hogs at the locker than North East to Ivan's where he had ordered a pre-made Chinese Roasting box. Fortunately the 80 pound hog he ordered (it came in at 73 pounds thank you very much) fit nicely in the wooden and metal contraption. It looked like this:

Next we headed North West to Kinnikinnick Farm  where Patrick was having his party.

Patrick knows how to throw a party.

Not only did they rent all 5 of the  Coolest Tents ever (already set up for rentals at Kinnikinnick) they also talked the owners into letting them build their own hog roaster oven on the property. The oven was built based on the weight of the roaster they ordered, between 100-120 pounds. Fortunately for us and them, the hanging weight was exactly 120 pounds! Their roasting contraption looked like this:

That's Jared on the left and Patrick the Party Planner on the right. I do believe these are the biggest smiles I have ever seen on the faces of one (two) of our customers. Behind them is the wonderful farmhouse, built in the mid-1800's, belonging to Susan and David Cleverdon, the owners of Kinnikinnick Farm.

On the way home (A 10 hour round trip, Yikes) I mentioned to Keith how awful it would have been if something would've have interfered with our delivery of the hog. A sudden September snow storm perhaps. All those people expecting juicy pork chops, the money laid out for the roaster, the tent and farm rental. thus the reason we never tell our pigs ahead of time the special destiny chosen for each of them.

They could never take the pressure.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saponification Sunday. Coffe Au Late

Always running behind. Just once would like to run forward for a change.

In the midst of a week filled with deliveries several hundred miles away, regular farm work, organic inspection prep work (every year they check in, how nice is that?!?) and housework that should have been done in 2008, I did squeeze in a couple batches of soap.

I hate "squeezing it in"  I love making soap and I prefer to do it in a pleasurable, unrushed way. So, what to give up? Farm work? Non-negotiable, it pays the bills. Horses? Already have cut that in half. Writing? Also non-negotiable. It will pay the bills in the future.  Grandchildren? Really, REALLY non-negotiable. Cooking? Barely do it now.

Computer time? Yes. I spend time blogging, a necessity for our farm business but Face Book? Could easily cut that by 75%. So instead of an hour a day I am slashing you to 15 minutes. Surfing the net? Definately can cut that. Just because I run across the word megalomaniacal in an article doesn't mean I have to stop, Google it, Use it in a sentence and then blog about it. Does It?  No. It does not. Eating? YES !! I think I'll cut that down by 90%. I have enough fat reserves for at least of year so just eating 10 minutes a day should suffice.

Problem solved. I will stop eating

So back to soap. Made 5 batches on two nights. 3 were uncolored as will use for the felted bars I am making for Kathy Kupferschimds really fantastic Antique Shoppe. She asked for 25 of my felted soaps by Oct 1. Now that I have given up eating, I'm sure I'll make that deadline.

The soap I made for sale to other customers, is my number one bar, Java Wood. Second is Cro-Bar which I will make and blog about next week. Java Wood goes fast because I am surrounded by gardeners who love how the pieces of real coffee grounds gently exfoliate their dirty hands.

Scented with Cinnamon and Cedar Wood and made with 20 oz of very strong coffee, the cooks in our family like it as well because it removes the smell of onions and garlic. The layer of lighter colored soap on top goes over well with the artsy types we know so there you have it , the reasons this soap sells out fast.

It's not a difficult one to make. I use 26 oz of Babassu Oil, 26 Oz of Pomace Olive Oil, 6 oz of Castor and 6 oz of Sweet Almond oil. My lye water is made with 20 oz of very strong Coffee and 9oz of Lye. I let the coffee cool to room temp or it will bubble right out of my mixing pitcher. I add 1 oz Cinnamon Essential Oil and 1/2 oz Cedarwood EO. In a separate jar I mix (very well) 1 Tsp of Titanium Dioxide in 1 oz of  HOT water and set aside.

After mixing in the Lye water, you have to move fast because the EO's really accelerate  trace. Once mized well I pour out 1/3 of the soap mixture and let sit a minute while I throw in 1 tsp of used coffee grounds into the bigger batch of soap. I mix those in well with a spoon and pou very quickly into my loaf mold. The batter is thick so you'll need to bang the mold hard a couple times on the counter to get the air bubbles out.

Then I mix the TD water in with the smaller batch of soap and mix it well with my hand mixer. The extra water keeps that batter from getting too thick but it will get still get thick fast so don't dawdle. No going back to Google to see the history of the word megalomaniacal. Using a spatula to avoid layer breakthrough (almost as bad as tarter buildup) pour the top layer over the bottom layer.

For extra interest I plunged a small egg whisk in and out of the soap a few times to get that whispy look. If you're not into can skip that step. In fact this batches "wispy" looked more Blobby. Ah well.  Wispy is never as easy as it looks. Now toss the whole thing in the frig for 12 hours because those particular EO's along with the TD will heat up your soap ultra fast and the top will crack if you leave it at room temp.

After 12 hours take it out of the frig and let sit another 24 before unmolding and cutting. It will be ready to use in 4 weeks, even better if you can wait 8. And if you forget a batch upstairs in the spare room and dig it out 6 months will be fabulous!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Order in the Court...I mean Farm

I don't function well when routine begins to fail. If structure stumbles, so do I, I am indeed one of those goof who cannot sit down to write until my desk is clean, get ready to cook until the dishes are done (or at least hidden in the oven) or add new obligations to the calender until the old in the dumpster.

Last month when we tried to erased the previous month  and started to add September we realized the Erase Board had been erased too many times. We tried to clean it with turpentine, comet, good old Murphy's soap, but nothing worked. We had to cover it with brown paper to record all appointments but that was one big mess. And when our daily calender falls apart it seems so did everything else.

Which is why I haven't blogged in several days, I couldn't seem to find my computer. When I did I ordered the new Erase Board and shortly after, I taped in all the lines. Then old dates got added to new dates and so forth and so on and we are back in business. (Picture below is PRIOR to all the obligations being logged in. I like the calender all clean and clear like that)

At least now I know EXACTLY how far behind I am.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Equine on My Mind

Well, it's done.

A few weeks ago I took a cold harsh look at myself and my horse situation (I had not ridden my horse in a sorry year) and decided things had to change. Details are blogged about HERE

The transition is now complete. Both of my horses went to The Kankakee State Park Riding Stables where they will be given the jobs they deserve. Thank you Bob and Casey for seeing the potential in both my steeds.  Gus was delivered by us 10 days ago and the Nora was picked up here Sunday night by her new owner.

VERY SPECIAL thanks to Bob who worked with Nora for no less than 3 hours to get her convinced she could ride in a small trailer.  Nora may have been "free" but Bob paid for her dearly in time and a several removed skin layers from his hands as she ever so gently yanked that lead rope through them over and over. .

Even in the midst of a very sweaty evening as Bob brought her forward, backed her up, circled her, stood her on her head (her choice really) , he never lost his temper and he commented several times about Nora's beauty. I will miss her but I believe she is going to a good home.

Beautiful Stubborn Nora

So in between Gus's and Nora's leaving, a new gal came to the ranch. Not the Rocky Mountain Horse I was looking for but still a gaited horse as I needed. Please give a warm welcome to Ennis !

Hello Ennis, So Long, Bone-Jarring
Quarterhorse Gaits.
Purchased from Mary S., Ennis is a Missouri Fox Trotter, another of the Gaited type horses I knew I had to have in order for me and my ridiculous back to ride comfortably. Her registered name is Bo's Rockaway Baby Doll and her barn name was "Josie" but I wanted a new name for her, in the name of change you know.
I tried out several until I landed on Ennis, the name of a village in County Clare, Ireland not too far from the village of Doolin, the namesake of our miniature Donkey. Poor Doolin, he is so confused. Horses coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I caught him rifling through all his bill of sale papers last night desperately looking for that clause he thinks he saw about being able to stay  here for life. Being the ass he is I don't mind watching him sweat a little. Now back to the new girl...
Ennis is different.
This picture makes her look slimmer than she is.
Remind me to get on all fours for my next photo
She is well trained.
In the past, being younger and less bright I always bought horses not quite finished. Horses with "potential" The potential to kick, the potential to run, the potential to fall asleep while you rode them, all kinds of potential. Some of those horses worked out fine, my old Johnny that we owned for 13 years until we put him down at age 28 was one of them. Nora and I went the farthest as far as training together, even attending a professional clinic with Chris Cox two years ago.
But still she needed lots more work and due to our very intense farm growth, that just didn't happen.
Enter Ennis who comes from a home where the owner herself is well trained. It was evident in the first five minutes of my visit that Mary had put in hours and hours of work with this fine creature. An amazing woman, she pretty much interviewed me when I first looked at her horse. And she wanted us to trail ride together to make sure her horse and I were a good match. I was thrilled when she agreed to sell her to me! So different from buying a horse from a horse trader who kicks the animals tires a few times and seems in a rush to get your money before the horse bites your arm off.
Now home for almost two weeks, Ennis and I are are bonding. I have given myself permission to be with her often instead of feeling guilty when I spent time with the equines as I did in the past. Every day is new fun stuff. Ground games mixed with wet blanket rides. She is beginning to test me a little which means I am asking her to do more each ride and as she learns I may be soft but not a pushover, her respect grows as does mine.
I am still finding all her bells and whistles and she is loaded with them. She walks alongside me at my speed, slowing as I do, speeding up as I do. She backs with a look and a step (mine). She is free of all tail swishing or side stepping as I saddle her.   She picks up all four feet without a fuss or the need to have 911 pre-dialed on your cell phone. She lowers he head for bridling, she lounges around me like a butterfly instead of using the centrifugal force as a takeoff spot for a launch across the pasture.
Ennis nickers when I come outside.
I am horse happy again. Her downfall?  Well, she's tall. Very tall. Mounting and dismounting is a challenge. But I'll save that for another post. In the meantime if anyone has an extra cheery picker sitting around unused, send it my way. OK?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saponification Sunday. That was then, this is now.

My first bar of soap (above) was hideous. Oh sure, at first glance it doesn't look too bad but inside it was pure ugly. Made of store bought EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), Crisco Shortening and Lye Water, it barely made any suds and made my skin feel like I been to a Brillo Pad Spa.

I cut it up and showed it off like it was a brick of gold, I was so proud. My husband and number one fan grabbed one for the shower and even when he came out of the loo with bleeding limbs he still claimed it wonderful.

Which is probably why I went on to make even more soap. Nothing like false praise to keep a beginner in the race.

My next batch was even more glorious as I "advanced" to coloring my soap with a neon blue Crayola Crayon and I scented it with some old perfume I had. Evening in Paris I believe. Yes, it was THAT old. I think I may have used some coconut oil as it did give me some lather. A well meaning family member suggested I try selling some. Perhaps hoping there would be none left to gift her with.

Oh great, now I was really encouraged.

So I kept at it. I made tons of mistakes. I watched tons of You-Tube videos. Some were even about soap making...insert groan here...But why not? If you can learn to castrate pigs  via video You-Tube then why not soap making I rationalized. I am embarrassed to admit I never took a soap making class preferring to bumble through alone.

A wonderful daughter gave me a soap making book about a year into this new hobby. Should've bought myself one at the beginning but that would've been too easy. It helped tremendously.  As I got better, I pitched the crayons, latched on to using natural plants for colorings and essential oils for scents. I experimented with all kinds of GOOD oils and pitched the Crisco.

I even stopped using the Crisco in my cooking switching to the wonderful coconut oil I had laying around in 5 gallon buckets. Makes better soap and turns out better for our veins as well. I continued to learn by watching really good soapers make soap, reading endless soap blogs and getting totally hooked on the facebook Soap Page (The Soap Bar Blog)

Over the last two years both my soap making skills and my soap photography skills improved. And my husband no longer comes out the shower oozing ruptured RBC's

So to all you beginning soapers who wonder what you've gotten into and why...I really have no idea, just thought I'd share my soap story  :)

Carry on.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When Opportunity Knocks Twice.

First and foremost, since tomorrow is Friday and I'm a big fan (and regular contributer) of The Renegade Farmer, I'd like to invite all of you to pop over there and check out Farmhouse Friday. Thanks. Now back to our regular programming.

Some days here on the "Hobby Farm"  are just plain long while other days are long and wide. Especially those days when Keith and I are running in different directions which is quite the feat since we own only one vehicle.

A couple of days ago when a customer of ours asked if he could work with us today (yes, he volunteered) we said yes immediately. Extra help is always a great opportunity. Then when we received a phone call from a local newspaper wanting to do a story about us we also said Yes. Free publicity is also a great opportunity.

The fact that both folk were coming on the same day was no big deal, because as I said Keith goes one way and I go another. If we actually worked together in a side by side fashion, we wouldn't get anything done.

The morning took off with arrival of Matt who jumped right in to help me pack my meat order for delivery to Green Grocer in Chicago. Half way through the invoice prep the rep from the Fencing Company came to give us an estimate on some work we needed done. We walked and talked and shook hands and then I sent him on his way while Keith sent me on mine.


Back to Green Grocer. We really do love that store, they are so good at just taking whatever we have available and understand completely we just can't meat all their organic meat needs. The trip is long though, 5 hrs round trip when you include traffic, delivery time in and out of the store and a walk around the neighborhood so I can get my city fix before heading back to Mayberry RFD.

While I was frittering away the day Keith and Matt, milked cows, castrated seven,  5 days old Red Wattle Piglets (this is normally my job, I felt a little replaced but sometimes sacrifices must be made in the name of education) , fixed fence, finished more chores, waited on 6 store customers and ground grain for us and Matt's mum. (Hello Deb!)

Keith and Matt getting their stories straight so I
don't figure out they were watching The Pioneer Woman,
Ree Drummond,  on the Food Network all day

I made it home about 2:30, (speed? me?) spent some time with bookwork and then horse work tying pretty ribbons to our electric fence in order to keep my new horse safe while we turned her out to graze. Keith and Matt ran to another nearby town to pick up mineral needed to mix with our grain ration.

Shortly after they returned the reporter from The Leader showed up. Keith and I team tagged the young fellow in the kitchen while Matt operated heavy machinery all by himself. (Something you can do with a 30 year old intern VS a 16 year old one.)

After "the talk"
     "Yes we think pasture raised meat is better"
     "No, we don't have a staff of 10"
     "Yes, it would be cool if we could make organic juice and sell it in our store but we're old and would like to sleep once in a while"
we walked with our reporter Luke (I made an early reference to Obie Wan Kenobi but he was smart enough to ignore me) and introduced him to the gang.

LOOK at that green grass! We had rain and more rain and more the last two weeks and it shows.
About 6 everyone had to go home except Keith and I , so we went inside had a leisurely supper and hit the sack at 7:15.

Except we didn't. Horses had to be restructured. New horse off pasture, old horse back into pasture and frankly I have no idea where Doolin the donkey ended up nor do I care as long as I don't see his hairy dusty rump on my side of the bed I'm happy. One of those in our small full sized bed is enough.

Tomorrow all we have on the schedule our our regular chores, bookwork, horse work, and customer service. Not sure what we'll do with all our free time.

Have I mentioned lately our wonderful farm is for sale?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Old Dog and her New Trick

From Left Cathy Lafrenz, Deb Niemann and the Midlife Farmwife

One new trick...I can do. If I am given lots of time to practice. Two new tricks, I start to mumble in broken Gaelic and I put the milk in the pantry and the toilet bowl cleaner in the frig.

Blue cereal for breakfast? Never good. Especially for an organic farmer

The first new trick was learning Power Point for my presentation at Mid-America HomeSteading Conference in Joliet, Illinois this past Saturday. I was asked months ago to do two presentations; one on pastured beef and the other on pastured pork.

Public speaking is no problem. Sadly I was born with a microphone growing out of mouth that even after surgical removal continued to regrow. Finally my parents, tired of spending good cigarette money on my amplified mouth, called it quits and threw me to the wolves at age 16.

The wolves repeatedly threw me back, but THAT is another post all together.

So, the catch with the conference was this; the organizer of such, ( hard working, extremly well organized Deb Niemann of Antiquity Oaks)  suggested I use Power Point to give my presentations.

Now keep in mind, the 2 decades that I did LOTS of public speaking occurred in the dark ages. Literally. We used a thing called a slide projector and you put these small cardboard framed see-through pictures into it. You needed an entire cart on wheels to push your slide cartridges around and it was a well know fact...the more slides you owned, the more important your were.

I owned one set.

The room needed to be very dark back then, because the slides were notoriously poor having been developed from badly taken non-digital pictures.

But those days are past. No Boo no Hoo, slides were HEAVY!  And they would stick in the carosel. And the lightbulb in the slide projector never worked and you had to wiat 20 minutes for the AV geek to run home to get a replacement bulb. So using advanced tecnology for this conference did not bother me, but as is my norm,  I waited until the last minute to attack this Point of Power thing and then in a panic begged son number one to help me.  Which he did and soon I was dropping pics into imaginary frames likety split. Even more amazing I was able to save the whole deal on a pinkie drive?  finger drive ? Oh yeah, thumb...and I made it through my talks without too much trouble.

Conference wise, we expected 20 folks to show up, we hoped for 30 and we got over 50. It rained!  A perfect day to get off the farm and go sit in a mtg. I think friend Deb may have actually made enough to pay for the great lunch served. We met lots of new folks all wanting to learn much more about homesteading. Feeling their enthusiasm helped re-spark our own, a good thing after a very long, dry, hot and often discouraging summer.

As a speaker I was also able to attend some other sessions and in one, I learned how to make tinctures out of herbs. So funny. I've mixed alcohol and herbs together years ago but we never called it a "tincture"  Enough said.

I also sat in on Cathy Lafrenz's ( talk on starting the homestead business. Let me tell you this...she really is my most favorite Democrat in the world.! Vivaciously funny and work to the bones kind of gal, she motivates me every time I am with her.

I had a great day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Saponification Sunday...All washed up

So sorry. Such a crazed week. Working with a new horse, a fox trotter no less, speaking at homesteading conferences,(requiring this old dog to learn a new Power Point Trick)  child care (I've been a big baby all week), meat deliveries and store cleaning, Manure Preneur responsibilities, cough due to cold, mowing due to rain, ....has kept me from the soap box.

I promise next Sunday to be foaming at the mouth. I might even make some soap.
Until then a piece of well cured soap from the past. Brown Sugar Oatmeal.

Stop licking the screen. It's dirty enough