Friday, December 30, 2011

Hello, my name is....

Welcome to Farm House Friday , just another fabulously fun way to communicate via

"Know Your Farmer" is  just one more of the ever popular agricultural phrases making the rounds lately. For some customers it's as simple as asking a few questions while they are picking up their weekly supply of raw milk, burger of veggie CSA, while for others; it means spending several days working alongside us and actually getting dirty.

Most farmers love to talk about their operations
but don't expect them to sit still for long!
And then there is the whole range in between which includes the customer who decided that investing in our small farm store fit her needs better than investing in yet another Wall Street venture. That investment fit our needsfabulously  as well!

But the point is, we highly recommend you get to know a little about your farmer before you begin purchasing items from them directly. Just because someone calls himself a farmer, does not automatically infer wholesomeness. Sad to say there are "farmers" who raise little of their own produce or meat, contracting instead with other growers and then marketing the products as their own.

Attending a field day at a local farm is a great way
to walk and talk with "your" farmer
Bottom line: ask questions, LOTS of questions.
Some to consider of your meat farmer might be:

How are your animals raised?
What (specifically) are your animals fed?
Do your animal feeds contain antibiotics, hormones, steroids ?
Does your farm hold any certifications such as; certified organic by the National Organic Program, certified grass fed by The American Grass Fed Association, or certified humane by the Humane Farm Animal Care Organization  (keep in mind professional certifications does not automati-cally infer a well managed farm but it can make a good farm, better. Some certifications are cost prohibitive to small family farms)
 How are sick animals cared for on your farm?
Are your animals on pasture or feed lots?
How are your animals slaughtered?

And then one of the best questions you can ever ask...

May I visit your farm?

A visit to the farm you are interested in, will tell you far more than anything a farmer shares with you over the phone or via a shiny, happy brochure or professional web page. In fact, some of the most ethical farms have neither blogs, Face Book pages or Web Sites. What they do have is hard working people growing the best meat, vegetables and milk you will ever find, if you willing to take a drive and take a walk.

Keep in mind, farmers usually work where they live and one should not expect a farmer to drop whatever it is he is doing to give you a tour of his farm, but most farmers are very proud of their operations and are more than happy to make an appointment with you for a brief visit. Be respective of their work load and keep an eye out for the things your farmer may not talk about. Are the animals inquisitive and friendly towards the farmer or do they appear fearful? Are the shelters adequate against rain and snow and without overcrowding?  Is there evidence of clean water supply?

Finally, look at the animals. Are their eyes clear and bright without drainage? Do they have shiny coats of hair or are they dull and brittle? Are they standing knee deep in manure? Remember again, manure is part of farm life and although some areas may have more manure than others, as long as animals have places to go which are dry and clean, an immaculate barn is not necessary or practical.

The best way to get to know your farmer is simply to talk with him. Ask him or her or them WHY they do what they do and why is it important to them, and if you can spare a little time, volunteer a day to work with them side by side. The best way to learn is by doing. Farming is hard work.

Help is always wanted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Hog Night

Mad Max (left) and Leopard look to Spot for most of their communication needs
This am was wicked. Keith had to battle near white our conditions at 0600 on the way to the locker with a couple beef heading out to meet their (steak) maker. I tended to a few chores in his absence
such as tracking of wild farm animals in the freshly fallen snow

From left:oveweight farmwife, overweight pet turkey, just right weight Great Pyrenees

and I tried to catch a pic of the above three mooches as they were huddled all cute and sweet (all 1800 pounds of them combined) in their warm and well bedded hogcienda.

But they heard me coming and met me at the fence. Only a real pig would leave a nice clean bed to stand in line for a free handout. "Feed us Seymour" was grunted unnanimously. Please note, they normally have a fine pasture with lots of grass but recent rains and snows have turned everything into mud.

And I mean everything

Just one more reason I no longer wear open-toed heels on the farm
This time of year, the in between late fall and before deep winter time of year, is sometimes more of a pain than when it is mid January. At least then the ground is frozen and easy to walk on. After Keith returned from the locker we packed away another 200 pounds of pork in our little farm store The Spotted Wattle
Cheddar Cheese Bratwurst. Can you think of a better way to bring in the New Year?
We didn't expect many farm store customers this week due to the holidays but we were wrong, and very grateful. The more folks who buy from our store the less time I have to spend out on the streets, you know, carrying that big A-frame sign saying "get your milk fed pork chops right here."

It's a little embarassing.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas to all my blog friends and their families from The Midlife Farmwife.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas My Little Porkchop

 This Christmas is a first for my farmer husband and I. Instead of the usual mall bought, store found, eBay won, gift that everyone and their brother gets for the Holidays, we are giving our family something entirely different.

Meat. We're giving them meat.

Yes, I hear you, do they even make gift boxes for bacon? Why yes they do, in the form of an envelope; and a gift certificate to the farm they all grew up on. You see, up until last year when I was still working at my off the farm nursing job, we spent a large amount of cashola on Christmas. Like too many other Americans, we tended to spend as much as we made. If one toy was good for the grandchildren then why not four? If one adult son enjoyed model helicopters then by all means get him the largest one with all the accessories, and a years service agreement if the copter blades should come flying off and wing the innocent cat already hiding under the tree.

But this year, the cash flow slowed considerably as we struggled to support ourselves entirely by the income generated by farm sales. So when it came time to start the Christmas shopping ritual I realized that going further into debt for made-in-China-disposables that would not be remembered next year, was no longer appealing. Instead we took a long hard look around at all the richness we already had in place right here on our farm.

With only one aisle, our "Spotted Wattle" is no Super Store
but it serves its purpose well.
Homemade soaps, free range eggs, rolled rump roasts, bacon, and pork sausage patties, to name a few, all right there in our little farm store. A years worth of hard labor ready to be shared with those we loved most. So with the little bit of ink left in my printer and the clean backside of recycled paper, I made up gift certificates for each of our grown children.

But, I must admit, it felt a little wrong, as if I was cheating somehow. Isn't that truly ridiculous? Years ago homemade and home grown items were treasured and loved but as our country (and factories) grew, allowing us to produce more for less, we became accustomed to the over-the-top acquisition of stuff. Quantity replaced quality and homemade became synonymous with "cheap" regardless of the effort that went into the handcrafted world of gifting.

Homemade treasures, like this lovely swan ornament by artist Z. Asha
are always the best kind of gifts to give and receive.
Once, a few days ago, I almost gave up on the idea of giving our farm products to our children and found myself wandering around a Super Store with an empty cart screaming to be filled. Then I overheard a husband fighting with his wife about a gift they were selecting for her mother. She swore they had gotten her the same machine knitted hat/scarf/glove set last year while he swore it was HIS mother they had given it to. Neither of them were happy.

That's when I realized that even if I did give our grown kids burger this year they would probably be happy to get it again next year. And if not...well at least I had given them something we worked very hard to produce, something we could give with real pride. I then filled my cart with toilet paper-since we haven't figured out yet how to make THAT-and left the Super Store that was making me feel Super Empty.

So,this year for Christmas our four offspring and their spouses are getting farm raised, pasture grown, certified organic meat (or if they prefer homemade laundry soap), the best "labor of love" we could possibly give them. No batteries needed. But please don't worry about the wee grandchildren. I did cave into commercialism slightly and bought them one toy each.

You gotta be 18 in this family to get hot dogs for Christmas. Sorry.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Moo Shine

A friend of mine attended the ACRES annual conference and brought me back some great raw milk buttons, thank you  Kris!

Which was just a great way to let you know our battle to advertise raw milk, a product we produce here on our own farm, continues. No response from any one in government type offices in response to the ads we placed in the large local newspaper, not any return calls to the ones I placed but that's because I am sure they are all out and about selecting gifts for me to put under my tree.

In the meantime, I had our web master, number one son, update our web site to include the availability of raw milk. Here it is for your reading pleasure 

We really are so proud. It is the first time in the 15 years since we've had this website that we have ever openly advertised our non-homogenized and unpasteurized white beverage. Still a great deal at just $5 a gallon. A steal compared to the Chicago area where a new milk customer of ours recently told us he was paying $8 for a half gallon.

I'm thinking the reason behind that farmers price might have something to do with saving up for legal fees. Can't blame him one bit.

Aunt Daisy who art in Kewanee

Hello Renegade Farmer Readers and thanks for stopping by my blog on this Farmhouse Friday!

Last week we did it.

We ran away from home and the farm  for 36 outstanding hours. I had been missing my Aunt Daisy and it was time to visit. It had been a year since I had seen her so I was overdue. She's not getting any younger, in fact I think she is well over 100.

Aunt Daisy's fainting couch for the lightheaded
So, I called her and off we went. Less than 3 hrs away it was a nice jaunt into northwestern Illinois.

Located in Kewanee Illinois, Aunt Daisy's Bed and Breakfast is the place to go to relax. With extremely reasonable rates and the best homemade breakfast, not to mention comfortable beds, a killer bathtub, (literally, I almost died in the thing being as it is about 10 foot long and I am 5 foot short)  ) and two hosts who wait on you hand, foot and mouth (they are great conversationalists) it is a fine getaway.

From the moment we arrived until we had to be dragged away kicking and screaming, we felt pampered. The home is warm and cozy, filled with books for reading, videos for watching and candy for noshing.  In every corner are gorgeous collections of times past reminding you of the grandma's house you loved so dearly and spent so much time in, or the one you wished you'd spent more time enjoying but instead you ignored her while  away pursuing your Hollywood Starlet dream or the grandma's house you never had because she sold all her fine collectibles and spent the money cruising the seven seas leaving you without a single good memory. But I regress...Aunt Daisy's is a jewel in this world of hurry up and go and you'll never regret a moment spent there.

 Thank you Michele and Glen!

With every nook and Granny filled with decor in the Victorian
flavor, your eyes are never bored
All the specifics are here.

For years the home served as the Rectory for the Catholic Church and many
 weddings were held there. Seeing the guys and gals in their garb from
decades past was a blast
In addition to a great place to sleep and chill, Kewanee offers numerous antique stores, coffee shops, the famous Goods Furniture and a park lit up like a Christmas tree because it was, you know, it is indeed Christmas.

Wish I could say this was our house. I wish.
On the way home we stopped at Kightlingers Antiques where the insane owners covered the walls and ceiling with Christmas Trees and a few ornaments, 65 THOUSAND ornaments to be exact. Yes, I counted. You know how I feel about less than honest advertising. There were 65,002 !

No, I did not take any pictures. I'm not that bright.

However, if you throw a million or so lights up behind my keister I light up well enough

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lighten Up or Get Out

In the past I must admit, there have been times that a boss (or two or three) has suggested that I might want to lighten up a little. Seems I took things too seriously, expecting folks I worked with to act consistently and ethically. I have even been told to lower my standards.

Believe me...they've been lowered. Oh you might look at this daily agenda I created for my husband and I in order to keep track of our farm going ons, and think I have gone overboard but really I use to be far worse.

I USED to have clipboards for everything, like beef customers, pork customers, locker instructions, hog location whereabouts (you know, were they in pasture number 26 or number 27, date of birth, slaughter date, ) grocery store order blanks ...oh wait; I still have clipboards for all those things.

Well, its hard to keep track, we're only two people you know. Two middle aged, over worked -by our own inefficient design-dazed and often confused people. And the bottom line is, if I don't write it down, it does not get done because it has gotten lost in the grey touched with silver brain matter.

My husband tolerates this obsession of mine to stay organized, it benefits the business but can be so irritating. For example I won't let him jump ahead, in our daily farm mtg, to discuss accounts receivable until we have discussed accounts payable. Why? Because it would not be in alphabetical order of course.

But don't fret. I have my wild and unpredictable side. Proof is in the Peacock. Amazing, the fun one can have with a dry eraser,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saponification Sunday unless Its Monday

Yes, a few weeks ago I promised a post every Sunday about my soap making ventures. What happened? Well, I forgot.

Anise Soap Dessert Bars
For the after dinner shower
So sue me. How different is Monday from Sunday anyway? By my last was different by ONE measly letter. And besides, the soap I made this week isn't all that great but maybe together, collectively and as a group we can learn something.

Made from Coconut, Babassu and Lard
Colored with Alkanet
Dressed in faux black pearls
Here is what I learned.

I have an addiction to licorice. Not just any licorice but the bestest kind from my childhood, Good and Plenty Licorice. In fact I've been eating so much of it lately my teeth have indeed rotted out the back of my head and I've had to resort to wearing a ski mask 24/7...indoors and out.

Decorated with peelings of other leftover
soap bars, these take on the aura of a Rice Krispy Bar
In order to decrease my oral fixation with Glycyrrhiza glabra I am attempting to satisfy my cravings in an olfactory manner via Anise scented soap. In fact it is working so well as a substitute I have been swearing like the mother of a sailor just to validate washing out my mouth with a bar of it.

Enough about soap. How about that tablecloth? Marked down
from $34.99 to $5.99 at The Gathering Gilman, Illinois.
How could this miserly farmwife resist?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The (More Than) Great Pyrenees

Meet Fannie. At approximately 100 pounds and covered head to toe with thick white fur, she is one huge member of our farm family. Without her we'd have far fewer chickens, ducks, goats, peacocks and calves while the coyotes living in the woods nearby, would have fuller stomachs.

We'd also sleep much better at night.

But that is the small price you have to pay for one of the best livestock guard dogs to ever slobber on a farmer. Fannie is a Great Pyrenees who in my book more than lives up to her name. As I write this she is patrolling just outside my office window, returning each coyote yippity-yap with a deeply serious gruff bark of her own. Translated she is saying, "I'm on duty now, this is MY family and MY farm, don't even think about trespassing you lowly excuse for a predator you!" And off she goes around the house slowly and steadily increasing the diameter of her circle as the evening progresses.

By the middle of the night she will have parked herself far out in our pastures, the fuzzy Short Stop of South Pork Ranch. If the night is calm she will rest with the livestock. If the coyotes are wound up she will run back and forth around our property keeping the pesky Wile E. Coyotes at bay.

In the morning she will have returned to our inner circle, accompanying us on morning chores. If our grandchildren are visiting she latches onto them, following them as engage in top secret pine collecting missions, not leaving their sides until they return to the farmhouse.

Eventually, in the mid afternoon she will take a dog nap out in the open or inside a calf hutch often lying next to a newborn bovine to keep them company (and provide warmth); or perhaps she'll get a little snooze next to a farmer and his grandson.

Originating in Central Asia or Siberia ,the Pyrenees is also a relative of the St. Bernard, contributing to their development. It has a long history as a guard dog of sheep. While other early dog breeds made their way to Europe, the Great Pyrenees remained in the high mountain regions until the Middle ages, when the breed gradually gained popularity with the French nobility as a guard dog. By the late 17th century, every French noble wanted to own one. Armed with a spiky collar and thick coat, the Great Pyrenees protected vulnerable flocks from such predators as wolves and bear. The Great Pyrenees has proven to be a very versatile breed working as an avalanche rescue dog, as a cart-puller, sled dog, as a pack dog on ski trips, a flock guardian, dog of war, and as a companion and defender of family and property. The AKC officially recognized the Great Pyrenees in 1933.

We recognized the "greatness" of our Fannie as a puppy. From the first week she came to our farm it became obvious we belonged to her and it was her job to protect us. Greeting us at the door first thing in the morning and then tucking us in at night before she starts her rounds, she is worth every bit of the approximately 80 pounds of dog food (plus table scraps) she consumes each month. She remains outside all winter, tolerating low temperatures well, sometimes sleeping on top of our picnic table in order to keep a more elevated eye on "her" responsibilities. She is as gentle with kittens and chicks and children as she is ferocious towards any livestock predators.

She is the Great Pyrenees and no farm should be without one.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waitin' for the Gub'nor to call

Another fine group of hogs recently met their (sausage) maker. Thought you'd like to hear about the decision process, being as its extremely scientific and all.

The night before they are scheduled to arrive at the locker plant, we coerce several hogs from their big playing field into the livestock trailer with milk soaked grain. It's easy to load them as when they see Keith they see food. He is one of their favorite people.

I'm not sure why I am getting this look from farmer Keith, but I am sure that I deserve it.

Down below he is waiting patiently for me outside, to arrive from inside the warm farmhouse, to help him choose which hogs go to market and which ones need more time at the feed trough.

So once a good sized group is loaded we then look them over inside the trailer and pick those that seem to be similar in size, including a couple of Red Wattle Hogs which were specific customer requests. To help you identify the Red Wattle hog...look for the wattle.

The remaining selection process goes like this:

"What do you think?"
"I think they all look good"
"Do you think that one (points at hog with smaller ham size) should wait?"
"Yeah, I think so"

And a reprieve is granted.

Happy that their time has not yet come, the released captives return to the herd to eat, dig, root, play in mud yet another day. The goat ? Yeah, Miss Sugar there found her way into the pig pen a few months ago. Her little (then she was little) goatling followed her and now the two of them roam free with the hogs.

I should have such a tough life.

As darkness of evening falls on South Pork Ranch, the two releasees, now reunited with their pasture mates,  contemplate how they might curb their appetites and stay small enough to avoid the locker the next time their number is called.

Instead, they decide to start their diets...tomorrow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saponification Sunday

Soap making has become my all time stress reducer, next to reading, writing, horseback riding, Aiden Quinn watching, road tripping to the Windy City, spending a long vacation in a rental cottage in County Clare,gardening, and....that about covers it I guess.

 I make it when I am all alone, the lights are low (in the living room they are low because I am in the kitchen. Of course they are not low in the kitchen I am working with highly caustic lye. Lets be reasonable shall we?) and the music is relaxing. George Winston or John Denver , maybe even Tracey Chapman if I am feeling really hopeless in a relaxing sort of way. I also do it late at night as I don't like to be interrupted when I am in my creative mode trying to decide if it is Babassu I am feeling or am I just in a plain old Coconut Oil mood?

But the point is, soap making is for me, and me alone and I enjoy it immensely.  But I do run hot and cold when it comes to saponification methods. For instance I've been on a recent hot process kick. Sometimes I just like to see things boil over, besides me that is.  I colored this batch of hot process soap with Spirulina powder found at the Naturally Yours grocery in Normal, Illinois. Spirulina is a free-floating filamentous cyanobacteria characterized by cylindrical, multicellular trichomes in an open left-hand helix. (As opposed to a right hand helix don't cha know)

They occur naturally in tropical and subtropical lakes with high pH and high concentrations of carbonate and bicarbonate.  They occur in Africa, Asia and South America, then they hitch a ride to Central Illinois. Why anything would leave the warmth of Africa for the frosty heartland in December is beyond me.

It is a blue green algae and contains loads of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. People even eat it. In the bag it is a very dark spinach green color .A hint of blue may be seen when the soap is first cut into bars, but that hint of blue quickly disappears. What you end up with is green soap, sometimes light sometimes dark. And the green color of the spirulina seems to last a very long time. This batch was extremely dense and hard and bubbles up nicely due to the Castor oil I am a fan of. Funny how before I was a partisan soap maker I never imagined Castor Oil had any pleasant uses.

Spirulina cost a little more than other herbs or plant material that produce a green in soap, but considering the color you can get from a very small amount, and the length of time the color lasts, it’s well worth the price. For this batch I only needed 1 teaspoon of the powder for the 36 ounces of oil in my recipe. At about $4 an ounce you can color quite a few bars without much pocket book pain. ("pocket book"? How old am I for Pete's sake? Oh about 100 since I said "Pete's Sake")

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yeats, of Inisfree

The other day, after Keith and I were finished with our raw milk rally, we walked around the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago . We found the best book store, called Myopic.  The visit made me think, and now...

I have a confession to make. I'd appreciate it if you would keep it between us.

I read poetry

It could  even be said that I like poetry

A long time ago, in a land far away, I wrote some poetry.
Last night, I wrote a few more poems. Afterwards, it became very clear.

Well, really not so clear is it? Wonder if it was a camera thing or an operator thing? Anyway, poetry wise it became clear I have nothing in common with Yeats talent wise.

So I switched gears and several decades, and bought the Juno Charm written by Nuala Ni' Chonchu'ir  A beautiful book of poetry that I read cover to cover in one sitting. Turns out I have tons in common with that poet...

we're both woman. What are the odds of that?

Friday, December 9, 2011

A toast to raw milk

Sorry, I didn't blog yesterday. I was too busy being civilly disobedient. Well, OK, I myself was not civilly disobedient but I SUPPORTED those who were.

Keith and I attended the raw milk rally put on by The Raw Milk Freedom Riders in Independence Park on Irving Park Road in Chicago. The group had transported raw milk illegally across state lines breaking a ridiculous federal law prohibiting such. But this is a good group, a decent group and a friendly group. So helpful,in fact, that one of its members, Max Kane, took time to NOTIFY the FDA and invite them to the rally.

Now, how many hard criminals do you know that will make the effort to give heads up to Big Brother before a law is broken?  (Several of these "criminals" were young mothers with small children) Not many. But The Raw Milk Freedom Riders are unique. Read more about them here

The crowd was good sized and well mannered. With posters, megaphones and key speakers the point was made,and  a message was sent to our government. "Do not tell us what food to put in our bodies or the bodies of our children."

I am aware that some of you my faithful followers might find all this rather silly. How can raw milk have anything to do with my life? You might ask. But I must say it again and over and over need be; the issue is about the loss of your constitutional rights. The issue is about a government trying to protect us from fatty foods, unpasteurized foods, foods of the wrong color or texture when they should be protecting us from something a little more substantial, say...terrorist?!?!

So, Keith and I, your local small family farmers, were proud to stand with those who have done so much to bring this raw milk issue to the foreground. Hearing Michael Schmidt speak about how we must make a stand and do it now before its too late...

Micahel Schmidt, Raw Milk Warrior and Farmer

...was inspiring, especially knowing of his recent hunger strike in regards to his own legal issues on Glencolton Farms in Ontario. Michaels trials have been so intense, exhisting now for over 17 years, I was amazed at how he could still stand in front of us, still not backing down, still encouraging all of us to stand up for our rights and say NO to a government who has forgotten their place.

 Listening to Max Kane as he gave some of the best advice I have heard yet," Get friendly with your local sheriff. " was enlightening. Seems that the county sheriffs are not all that thrilled with the FDA butting in on their areas of jurisdiction. Max shared several examples of how local sheriffs were able to stop farm raids, advising us to contact our local sheriffs BEFORE we had uninvited visitors to our raw milk producing /selling and advertising farms. Advice, I will absolutely be following

Max Kane, Raw Milk Warrior
Liz Reitzig spoke about "her"farmer who also has been in the news. She was passionate about her right to care for her children as she and her husband saw fit, not as our government was telling her. Mother of 4 with one adorable infant strapped warmly in front of her, she pleaded for the group to "get between the government and your farmer. " Physically, if need be. She was amazing and reminded Keith and I about the power of our own customers as well as the power we have within ourselves to stand up for what we absolutely believe in. My camera failed me when Liz was speaking but you can see her here

David Gumpert, well known author and activist reminded us about those representatives on our side, including  Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, who introduced H.R. 1830, the Unpasteurized Milk Bill, which would end the FDA’s ban and permit the sale of raw milk across state lines. Several petitions were circulated at the rally as well in regards to several farmers in the country being arrested and charged with raw milk related "crimes"

All in all, the rally was an amazing event. As a fairly lazy American who mouths off frequently but until lately has not taken much action, I came away from Independence Park feeling energized and motivated. The battle we are fighting here on South Pork Ranch is small, but still important. Illinois allows us to sell raw milk but not TELL about our raw milk, prohibiting all advertising.

As of today, we are 6 weeks into publicly advertising our raw milk. We have no intention of stopping. I do however, fully intend to contact my local sheriff. As long as he doesn't have a partner with the last name of Fife, we should be fine.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like an over blown Christmas

As a child, I loved Christmas. As a teenager, I found it boring. As a young mother, I found it difficult to afford gifts and groceries. As a middle aged woman, I found it exhausting. As a more middle aged woman with grandchildren...I am loving it all over again. Even the over blown commercial symbols of Christmas.

 (Please don't ask me why he doesn't have a red nose. I have no idea where his red nose is. Why am I suddenly responsible for the inflated reindeer's nose? Can someone else be in charge of ensuring the reindeer comes to his photo session in approved drug store attire besides me? Do I not have enough to do this year without having to be responsible for the disobedient reindon't WHO WAS OBVIOUSLY OUT DRINKING THE NIGHT BEFORE AND LEFT HIS NOSE BURIED IN THE SLED OF SOME LOOPY FAKE BLONDIE REINDEERETTE?!?!?!

What sign? Oh, that sign. No, I do not know what the hidden message is behind "Stay fully stocked" nor do I want to.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saponification Sunday

Making soap, its a good thing, a relaxing thing, a goofy least for me. I might be able to quit and move on to something more meaningful like planting myself on Wall Street and protesting everything but you people keep buying the soap so I keep making it. Photographing it is another thing. These pics are so blurry I' be better off if I'd sketched the soap for you. Might be time for a new camera.

I decided a few months ago I would not be opening an ETSY store or even adding soap to our list of products on our farm's web site, and I am real happy about that decision. No pressure to produce large amounts, instead I can just soap as my supply in our tiny farm store ebbs and flows and as I get a few orders here and there from this blog. The whole process remains for me...a blissful hobby that pays for itself, most of the time.

This last week I continued to play with all natural additives, going back to a combination of Spirolina and Wheat Grass Powder  powder and a little bit of Orange Peel Powder. I really love doing geometric inbeds or is it embeds? Indents? Inbreeds? Anyway I like taking old pieces of  soap and sticking them in new soap. In fact, this bar involved hot process soap balls added to cold process soap and then cut again into squares and rectangles and placed in another batch of cold process soap.

"Frustrated sculptor", a blog follower once called me, really its more  manic-depressive farm wife with a stick wand.

I also have finally settled on one recipe for most of my bars. Here it is for your newbies who want to copy it. (For you experienced, elderly, ancient  and nearly desiccated soapers:if you see a way I could improve this recipe: hit me baby, I love input when it comes to soap)

Babasuu Oil             25%
Palm Oil or Lard     25%
Rice Bran Oil          25%
Castor Oil                  5%      
Sunflower Oil          10%
Canola Oil                25%

And regarding the lard, I Use the lard from our critically endangered Red Wattle Hogs. (Only 2000 in the world) We respect these animals and want their numbers to grow so we like to use as much of their gifts as possible to promote the breed.  Yes, it may seem odd, but to save them we do believe you must eat them. My lard soaps are super hard and last forever. I love them.

But some of our customers do not eat meat and buy only our milk and would never touch a bar of soap made with lard. Others buy both milk and meat and either kind of soap, and then there is the really fun group who are totally appalled by the soap with lard in it but have no problems buying tons of our bacon.

Oh how I love people.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Poking that great big, slobbering, fat, lazy, Brown bear

Thanks everyone for all the great comments. What a range of opinions, all the way from "Are you nuts ? Why don't you just SHUT UP before they drag you away Godfather Style?" to the more supportive "You are more saintly than Joan of Arc,  and it is wasn't so warm up there, I'd stand right next to you on that pile of ridiculous governmental rules and regs books you are burning."

Ok, I paraphrased a bit, but still your comments were great craic, if you think arguing about the higher-ups is fun---and I do. I think the best comment was this (Thank you Carolyn)

  One should absolutely NOT have to be frightened to do things like sell/advertise milk under cover of night just to avoid having the imbibes funded by our tax dollars from destroying your farm and family because of an asinine “law”.

To me THAT is the crux of the matter. Yes, I could be quiet and take advantage of them ignoring me, while continuing to advertise our raw milk, (perhaps in Morse code after the sun goes down) but WHY should I be so afraid of MY government? We elected them. They are supposed to be working for us, with us, not using fear tactics to get us to behave. I have asked repeatedly for information yet still no response. While some of my followers feel I have been overly aggressive, I feel I have been rather lax.

I have yet to write to my representatives, I was trying to give the folks in the Department of Agriculutre and Illinois Department of Public Health  time to respond and I beleive over 6weeks is time enough. So, again I move ahead, chipping away in Shawshank Redemption Style, in hopes of making the tunnel a little bigger for the next person who chooses to crawl out of it.

And in regards to Michael Schmidt's struggle in Canada. His raw milk issues are huge and long standing. So much more complicated than ours. Theirs laws are different than ours and my little battle here over just ONE aspect, the ability to advertise our raw milk sales, just can't be compared to Michael's. Other than he and I are both fighting for the absolute right to make a living from our farm products, we are chalk and cheese. He is however, my own hero in regards to what he is willing to sacrifice for his own freedoms. I too am literally willing to go to jail over this. I doubt very much it will ever come to that, the headlines too damaging. "Local Yaya goes to jail for advertising her farms raw milk in the Livingston County Shopping News" Film at 11.

My point is, this is not about just raw milk. Our standing up for the right to run ads in the paper, put signs up in town, post on blogs, publish articles in magazines, is about my right to make a living as a farmer without some every-two-weeks-paid-salary-with-my-tax-money uninformant telling me that I cannot tell you

bring your own container to
South Pork Ranch LLC
32796 E 750 N. Rd
Chatsworth, Illinois