Friday, August 31, 2012

And the walls...come tumbling down

Dear Jericho,

We only meant to take off the roof. The steel (on the side you can't see) wasn't all that old. less than 10 years, and would be useful for other projects. So with the help of trusty intern Aaron, the husband got to work. you might recall how the barn originally looked back in the late 1890's when it was built. Sorry, no pictures, I was born a wee bit later.

But when we bought the farm 17 years ago, the barn I speak of was already almost 100 years old. It was tough looking but fairly sturdy. We put goats in it. And sometimes chickens. And then Calves

Last year we put pigs in there and that was the beginning of the end. You might recall this picture
Blog follower Cro or was it Tom ? John ?  Walt? Alvin? One of them made the comment "Won't be long before they eat the whole thing. Well, it wasn't long at all.

But like I said, they had a little help from Keith and Company. Yes, we had moved all the pigs out of that lot before destruction day but still there were squatters to deal with.

One of our calves felt the need to explore the source of all the noise. Not finding the answers he needed down below he took things to the top level.

The calf came down on his own all safe and sound so you can cancel all those calls to PETA , OK?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Manure Preneur

I follow a brilliant woman in Ireland, Lorna Sixsmith, who manages home, farm, kids and her own successful business of teaching others how to promote their business via the Internet. In a nutshell: She blogs about blogging.  On a recent Face Book post she asked followers their opinions of the terms "mumpreneur" and "dadpreneur" in regards to men and woman who run their own businesses. See it HERE

My opinion: utter silliness.  No, not Lorna, I already told you she's brilliant, see her blog Here, I'm talking about the pop vulture terms that are being thrown out there. She asks if we think the wording is degrading, especially in regards to women. Well, no. The terms are ridiculous whether you're wearing chore boots or chore heels

Our society is overflowing with titles while sorely lacking in actual workers. Calling a hard working woman who juggles home, children, husband (I can so juggle him, he's on the light side) and maybe an outside job...a "mumpreneuer" does not award her any more respect or dignity than she already has earned independently.

 Titles can not award those attributes, just look at the goofs we call President , (present leader included) and if we hang our hats on the name badges instead of on the work accomplished, what will we do when we accidentally toss  the name badge in the Maytag with the rest of the uniform?

It's not that I am so up on the high road I have never sloshed around in the title pond, no, in fact I have coveted titles for many a year but to admit the following is a required part of my recovering manager therapy. Embarrassing as it may be, here goes.

In 1988 at the raw age of 28 I was hired for my first nurse management job. The title on my office door (yup, had my own desk and black speaker phone too) read "Hospice Patient Care Coordinator" I thought I was very hot stuff. And I was quite happy with the name given since I understood much of my job did indeed involve the coordination of patient care. Seemed logical huh?

Then, about 6 weeks into the job, after filling out numerous application forms for State Licensure  and them Medicare Certification  of the program, and then becoming even more empowered (HATE that word, every time I hear a woman say it I visualize a long power cord coming out her tush and being plugged into a wall with sparks flying out and about) when I hired and fired the same person in 24 hours, I realized I was actually engaged in the responsibilities of a  program DIRECTOR.

I approached my boss about a name change. She  wasn't too thrilled with my request since she was already DIRECTOR of Nursing. We couldn't really have two directors now could we? It's embarrassing to admit how much I whined and moaned and groaned about that silly title until I got my way and my new name tag. My salary stayed the same, my duties were the same but my that was different.

Big deal.

So now nearly 25 years later I am reduced to more work and responsibility than I have ever had, since Keith and I own and OWE everything and ironically, I am without any official title. Unless you count the "Barn Goddess" name given to me by our accountant who puts the same thing under my name on our tax form every year. Who am I to complain?

It looks a whole lot more attractive  than the other farm wife option, "Manure Preneuer."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saponification Sunday...Lava Lamp Liason

1965. Chicago. I was six and a family of boys who were supposed to be babysitting me and their little brother, my then best buddy, were spending a little time "recreating" to the mellow tunes of Iron Butterfly.

It was my first memory of a Lava Lamp, a slowly boiling, rolling, rumbling mass of color on color within an oil base encased in a tall cylinder of glass. All the grooviest leather headband folk had one.

I flash backed to that particular brand of art when I created this soap last week. It was supposed to be a "spoon swirl" soap . I had it all planned out mixing up several different colors of soap tinted with Indigo, Turmeric, Wheat Grass, and Titanium Dioxide plus a little Red Moroccan Clay but then forgot what my plan was and just dumped a bunch of white soap on the bottom of the mold before I recalled the plan to "spoon" in the layers.

But as the dementia faded (about the same time the soap starting getting really thick) I realized I needed to work fast  and pretty soon I was splashing soap around like Farrah Fawcett did that time she flung paint all over a huge canvas and then rolled naked on it. I had soap everywhere, while Farrah had paint in regions even Ryan didn't know existed.

Which is why I should never teach a soap making class.

24 hours later I unmolded the log of soap (while still scraping soap off cupboards and kitchen floor) and decided it was sort of dull. The colors had faded (one of the downfalls of using natural colorants) but when I flipped one of the bars over I noticed a close resemblance to the aforementioned Lava Lamp.

Made with Babassu, Rice Bran, Castor, Olive and Sweet Almond oils along with a hefty pinch of Tussah Silk I have high hopes for this bar. Next time I make this batch I'll have to substitute some hemp oil for the olive oil, just for old times sake.

And now a questions for you antique buffs out there. I bought this very heavy soap dish, meant to be embedded into a wall, last week at a local Antique Store. The store owner thought it may have come from an old school. The lovely beast weighs nearly 6 pounds and is made of iron and covered with many layers of  white enamel paint, lead paint I'll bet. Any ideas on value, age, origin? Many thanks in advance. Now hit the showers.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Buying Your First Horse. Do As I say Not As I do

Just finished another article for  The Renegade Farmer. All about buying your first horse. If you get a chance to hop over there and leave a comment or two I will be forever grateful. I mean it. Forever. Or at least as long as I can remember to do so.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Rain Finally Fell on The Plain

After listening to me complain about the lack of rain for so long, I thought you'd like to see what we got hit with a couple days ago.

Pure joy

Almost two inches of rain
 The ground sucked it up as fast as it fell, barely leaving any puddles.
But we did get a little of this afterwards

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't BEE afraid

Uneducated as I was , when we first ventured into the apairy world, I did not want Keith to keep our bee hives on our property. Seeing poor little Thomas J. (My Girl ) die after multiple bee stings warped my view.

But over time and after watching my skilled hubbie with the bees and then reading what I could, I came around. First the hives were at a friends house many miles away, then they were behind the barn, then they moved up by our machine shed and THEN I allowed them to be located about 50 feet from our house.

And I made him get a EPI-PEN to keep in our truck. (Old nurses never die they just lose their patience (patients)

I also learned to garden side by side with them bees, planting the kind of flowers they suggested (bumble bees wanted sunflower, honey bees wanted glads and cosmos) and filled up my bird baths for bee watering.

Earlier this summer our grandaughter Allana started fretting about the bees. Now, I have been very comfortable about them for at least a year and I suppose she picked up on some of my earlier discomfort but it didn't make sense as she was such a bug lover the first 7 years of her life. (Just ask her mother who had to put up with every Tom, Dick and Hairy caterpillar our GK insisted on bringing back home after spending the day on our farm)

Her "fretting" became a real fear to the point that she would not go outside if she saw or heard a bee. If we were walking outside with her, she would suddenly rush to our side and grab on tight or hide behind us.

I felt so bad for her. She is normally a very brave little chickie.

So we did what I am sure any grandparent would do. Buy a book on bees? Naaaa. Sit down on google and discuss with her how rare a bee stick is? Naaaa. Take her to a therapist. No way.

We bought her her very first bee suit.

One with a zip on hood and leather gloves. All in her size so she could move well, and then she and Keith sepnt an entire day tending to our bees. They watered them and harvested the honey, gently wiping the bees off their hives as they pulled out the supers. Then they extracted the honey and filtered it. Later they bottled it, labeled it and stocked it in our farm store.

The next day when she and I were walking in my secret garden she saw several bees and announced "Don't worry Yaya, they are too busy collecting pollen to notice us. She still walked away a little quickly but there was no panicked arm grabbing.

It's nice to have our little bug lover back.

You can get your own mini-bee suit HERE

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saponification Sunday...Other Womens Soap

I did a reckless thing a couple of weeks ago. Wild and Reckless. Wild, Reckless and Impulsive.

I bought another woman's soap. Actually it was four women but I had good cause...all of them...are better than mine. How do I know, you query? Well, I've been stalking them, via their blogs, their web sites, their Face Books, their you-tubes, a few interviews with their neighbors, coffee with their post men, their whatevers.

Why? You query yet a second time? Because I am advanced. An advanced beginner. I am at that point in my soap making that I fully understand that there is little I fully understand and no matter how much I point my cursor over other soapers swirls and waves, I will never advance until I take a few showers...with other women's soap.

So I picked 4 that I have been admiring for awhile,  Caron and Michelle of Two Blooms Design Studio, Kendra of Amathia Soapworks, Joanna of Product Body and Becky of Heirloom Soapworks.
I decided to do this primarily out of guilt. Reading their blogs, learning from their videos, eyeing their creations all for FREE seemed wrong. It was time to put my husbands hard earned money where MY mouth was. (Kidding, I threw a little of my own soap selling money into the Paypal Pot)

It's not like I haven't bought other handmade soap before, most recently grabbed up several things from Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks, ( Her lotions!!!! Oh my goodness her lotions are tres' fab) which was what initially got me thinking about my selfish ways of watching and not buying.

Now, the purpose of this post is not to compare and contrast (oh, how I miss Cocobong) that would be as ridiculous as me giving diet and exercise advise. Well, even more ridiculous, I did lose a bunch of weight once, I have never been an expert saponifier) No, the purpose was to further educate my limited oil plus lye equals suds self, sort of  a reverse critique.

This is what I learned overall. All four ladies made beautiful pieces of artistic soap that smelled of Heaven as I would imagine Heaven to smell. All four delivered their soaps to me FAST, (I ordered two soaps from each on the same day) Even that duo from another country got my soaps to me in just three days! All four took great care in packaging allowing their soaps to arrive in perfect shape. This was the most shocking part. You see I have been doing a little overkill on the shipping of my own soaps. Tissue wrap followed by pretty paper napkins and then bubble wrap (each bar) and then foam peanuts in a box with lots of tape and a the final touch of a large metal combination lock.

Yes, my postage costs were a wee high.

These ladies used shrink wrap (3 of 4 did) one used a sturdy individual cut out cardboard box and they all then shipped in padded envelopes. Simple, cost effective and more than adequate. All of their postage fees were within $1.00 of each other.

They also had great tops.

Lets take it from the top: Bamboo from Heirloom Soapworks, Raspberry Vanilla Luxury Soap from Two Blooms Design Studio,
Gaia (Spicy patchouli vanilla) from Amathia Soapworks
and The Sea Bar from Product Body

What's up with that one skinny green bar you wonder? Well that one belongs to Becky of Heirloom Soap works. It is her Bamboo Bar, the first one of the 8 bars I unwrapped and I was totally sucked in to its Aromatic Delightfullness. I actually took a shower with it while unwrapping the other bars I received that day, it was that hard to put down. I have washed everybody and every body's body with it since it arrived.

Don't believe me? Just smell our Turkey.

So to summarize, I learned the following
     1. Shrink wrap is great but well made boxes are good too.
     2. Labels must be detailed and easy to read. (mine isn't)
     3. Mailing materials must be adequate but should not weigh more than the post mistress.
     4. Fast shipping is well appreciated. (I could be faster)
     5. Whatever you charge for your had better be worth it!  (Theirs was)
     6. A picture is NOT worth a thousand words. All of these soaps were better than their pictures.
     7. Just like a good writer must read read read, a good soap making must shower shower shower!

And finally, here is the soap I made myself this week. Another batch of "High Woad" as in A Good Soaper must always take the High Woad.

Made of Coconut, Olive, Castor and Sweet Almond Oil, colored with Moroccan Red Clay, Woad Powder and Titanium Dioxide. Scented with Bergamot, Lavender, Lemongrass, Pink Grapefruit and Amyris EO's Available for purchase Oct 1. STILL just $4.00 a bar as I am STILL a beginner. Contact me at to order.

                                  Freshly cut and untrimmed

PS Before you bark at me about not buying any mens soap so I can learn from them with more arm pit hair...give me time. I can only stalk one gender at a time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hog Heaven

When we prepare our sows for farrowing we consider a few things. Will the area have good shelter from the elements? Will it be safe from other big footed creatures? Is it accessible for us to monitor new piglets and mama sow? Is the decor acceptable to the expectant sow?

Decor is crucial.

Sows like privacy and shabby chic design. They are over the pink and green stuff  of the 80's restaurants and prefer earth tones and romantic prairie essense. We have discovered that the best source of such earth tones is a great big smoldering pile of

You guessed it...manure. Not your average sloppy smelly manure, no, this manure is well packed and underneath is filled with good microbes, earth worms and other creepie crawlies that piggies love. Because much of it has been stored in this area for over 6 months, ( the result of daily free stall cleaning of the dairy herd) it is composting as I am composing. Warm and breaking down while the top layer is dry and cushy it makes an ideal maternity ward.  To make it even better, Keith laid out a thick golden comforter crafted from organic straw.

I would sleep there. Wouldn't you?
But apparently it was not good enough for Miss Dot who checked into the Motel 7 across the way, giving birth easily to a litter of 11 half breeds. (Half Red Wattle, Half Breed)

After delivery, the farm experts were notified and heads were officially counted again

"I see 6"
"No, it's 8."
"Is not it's 9"
We settled on 11. Math has never been the strong suit for South Pork Ranch employees.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gimpy Gone but Not Forgotten

You might recall several months ago my blog about Gimpy the piglet with the bad leg. Born last October I blogged about her leg deformity HERE. We struggled at first about how long to keep her, how long would her leg support her etc...

Her back right leg was bent and at just 6 weeks it looked liked this. (middle hog, back right leg)

But something as minor as a gimpy leg did not slow this little gilr in any way. She ran wild with her siblings, ate like you know...a pig...and grew as well as the rest of them. We watched her closely at first wondering if the off balance gait would cause her pain but it never seemed to.

She never went off her feed, she kept up all her social obligations, she flirted with the boar across the way when she came of age and she grew into one big fat beautiful sow (just look at that cute face) all of which allowed her to meet her destiny at the locker last week.

That leg even  improved slightly and she was able to put more weight on it then in the early months. Normally we take our hogs to market at about 6-7 months (with an average hanging weight of about 200 pounds) but due to the slow growing pastures this summer because of the drought, we kept a few hogs longer than normal.

Gimpy was one of them so when we took her to market she was 10 months old.  She weighed in at over 325 pounds with a hanging weight of 277 pounds. Not bad for a crippled ham. Not bad at all you hero hog you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saponification Sunday...Badlands Soap

Do you know Wall Drug? If you've ever been on that long dull highway that drags endlessly across South Dakota (I-90) then you know of what I speak. It is a sad Oasis on the edge of the Badlands, a place to pull over, buy a few overpriced Jackalopes, hit the toilet with four crabby kids, grab a few donuts and some thick black coffee and then get back on the road to Rapid.

Prior to THAT road trip there was another. In this version instead of being a young mother I was an even younger woman making my way cross country with a backpack and an extended thumb. I was picked up by a seemingly nice trucker fellow who turned bitter halfway through the same Badlands area. "Disappointed " over my unwillingness to make his day, he tossed me and my backpack out of the cab of his semi as it continued to move forward like.

Fortunately, my backpack hit the ground first and I landed on the backpack. No harm done...except to my feet. After walking several miles through those Badlands in the middle of a very hot summer, my blistered heels and I were  finally given another ride by an elderly couple who had none of the ulterior motives the young trucker did. Lesson was learned. It was the last time I ever hitchhiked.

This soap I made last week brought it all back.

Introducing,Badlands , the soap
I did not plan the look or the colors really , mixing Indigo Powder with Clove powder and a little Titanium Dioxide. I ended up with the colors of a common Badlands Sunset and I love it. Scented with the masculine Amyris Essential Oil, I was even happier to see the crackly effect of the TD making the bar look quasi desert-like.

Badlands,South Dakota, the place
My rather dangerous teen years expressed as a bar of soap once again demonstrating how much I've cleaned up my act.

Friday, August 10, 2012

By By Guys.

So 48 hours later and the Pity Party is over, more or less. Several thunderstorms passed through recently and although the rain still completely missed us it did hit those north of us and it brought in a brisk cool front.

80 degree days and 60 degree nights certainly boosted our spirits. Working outside is pleasurable again. I deeply appreciated all the comments I got on my last post, you folks are most excellent. Now, it's back to business.

Horses. I got horses, but not for long. It's time to say goodbye to the horses, (at least these two) for the following reasons.

I have issues. Back issues. This will be my first and hopefully last time to talk about physical woes on this blog as who needs to hear another middle aged goof whine about their decaying bod?  But 25 years of lifting, & pulling patients not to mention carrying a few doctors, coupled with one major lumbar surgery and 9 "minor" back procedures (anyone who refers to 6 inch needles being stuck between vertebra while fully conscious as "minor" must be some kind of...uh...nurse) has left me in the place I am now: unable to ride the bone jangling Quarter Horse.

I refuse to give up horses completely but these friendly fellows must go. Doolin the wonder donkey will stay. I wouldn't wish him on anyone. Farts constantly when he walks, interrupts conversations, refuses to keep his clothes on ,  stops, drops and rolls when you are in the middle of trimming his feet,  etc etc etc...

The actual horses Nora, the bay age 11, and Gus the Dunn, age 17  both have enough years left on them to be well enjoyed by someone with a back of steel as I move on to a steed that is smooth and loose, a gaited horse as they are referred to. Specifically I am looking for a Rocky Mountain Horse. I've done my research and I believe this breed will take me through middle age and beyond.

Rocky Mountain Horse in the
witness protection progarm

My problem with Nora and Gus though is that neither has been ridden in over a year. My back issues began escalating right about the same time our farm business activity did, so something had to give and it was riding. Nora was the wonderful mare who went with me to the weekend training with Chris Cox. You can read about it HERE  It was the highlight of both of our riding careers. She is so bright, so willing and still so green broke. Now, after being on vacation for a year you could say she is light green broke.

My Nora. 11 years young. 15 Hands. Easy keeper,
Sound, great health. Loves people
Fast learner. Great ground manners
but sorely lacks saddle time.

Gus was a trail horse at a kids camp for many years before I bought him for my grand kids to use. He will walk with a child on his back until the end of time BUT if you ask hime to canter he will say no. If you insist he canter he will blow up like a rocket and pile drive you into the nearest dirt mound. Just ask my farrier who felt confident enough to "tune him up" just last week.

Gus. Age 17. Sound. Great pasture pet for you
or other horse.  Will walk while you lead,
but try to canter and he's full of bad deeds.

So there you have it, a couple of mounts who need a lot of work to be called mounts again. The price is right. FREE. You haul (I live in Chatsworth, Illinois) If you feel like a challenge, if you call yourself a cowboy or cowgirl and your health insurance is up to date, they are yours for the hauling. Take one, take both, take out a new life insurance policy.

Seriously, if you are an experienced rider looking for a challenge and a very likely excellent mount after you put in hard time, Nora is for you. If you want a pasture mate for your other horses, a pet who will soak up all the brush and curry time you have, then Gus is for you.

And if you are in possession of a well broke gaited trail horse (looks and papers unimportant) and you are willing to trade that creature for cold hard cash, then I'm your middle-aged-somewhat-vetebrally-challenged (prior) cow-girl. Call me 815-635-3414 or email me at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Farm House Blues

Hay today....Gone Tomorrow

So after the vacation we took last week, all 48 hours of it, is over and done with , the malaise or is it ennui , or better yet just plain old blues has set in.

Our farm remains on the wanted list. We are hopeful it will be wanted enough for some hard working, dream seeking, bank loving individuals or couple or large family unit, or church group or hippie commune to actually show us the money so we can move on to the next phase of our lives.

The phase of way less.

But, although we have had 4 serious lookers in the last year we have not had one serious offer.  Those who had all the ambition and excitement in the world...did not have the finacial backing. Those with great financial backing...realized the farm would be more work than they had planned. Those who had both, have yet to make themselves known!!

A couple of months ago we separated out the house and 10 acres from the rest of the business so instead of offering the whole kit and caboodle (house, land, buildings, animals, equipment, inventory etc...) for an asking price of $410,000, instead we are now offering just the house, the 10 acres and all the EMPTY buildings for $199,000. If someone stills want the livestock and equipment, any and all can be added to the base price.

We also continue to make improvements. A brand new back deck is going up next week. Several new windows have been installed, New doors on the milk house, A large and useful pantry will be built just off the kitchen in September. And still no offers. We have been told by many that our price is fair and even so we are willing to negotiate but without a starting place there can be no negotiating.Yes, it's true the economy is less than perfect but banks are again willing to make loans to those with good credit but the drought here has made things even worse as food and gas and utilities are beginning to escalate.

It will likely only get worse.

We are, some mornings fairly depressed over it all. The non-stop heat and ever dying landscape around us does not help. It's difficult to maintain a farm that looks good to prospective buyers when the grass is the shade of a paper bag and the pastures are turning into dirt lots.  Flower beds have been let go (with the exception of the secret garden, I need one place of color and joy) and the veggie garden has also been allowed to die off in spots, those spots that wouldn't  produce now no matter how much water they got.

This morning Accuweather called for a 75% of serious Thunderstorm to continue the next two days

We got about 8 drops of spit from the sky. So we continue to water animals who need it and we continue to feed up the hay that should've lasted us thru March but probably won't last us thru October at  zone. best. The water pressure is showing signs that the well may be getting to a danger zone. We are getting letters in the mail to encourage us to apply for government assistance available to farmers who are facing similar hardships as we are but we're well aware that any "assistance" will most likely lead to increased taxes and that is NOT what this country needs more of right now

Yeah, I'm playing the blues tonight, feeling low, down in the dumps, and spinning the Eagles "Desperado' over and over on the turntable in my head  etc etc....I am tired of the platitudes oi voice to myself such as "it could be worse" or " you have it better than a lot of folks" I understand that we are blessed to have all the meat we could possibly eat for the next 2 years and enough land to continue growing something...maybe soon only cactus, but at least that is something.

Yes, all of that is true. But tonight, as a card carrying totally free American and full grown adult, I choose to have my own pity party. You may come if you want but the first one who tells me 'chin up" is likely to get a poke in the eye...or lower.

Like the shoulder.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saponification Sunday...Coffee Hound

My parents never had much money. Without college educations and coming from some pretty socioeconomically disadvantaged (Poor) homes, they did well to keep food on the table and  other luxuries for their six kids. We often went without fresh fruit, a can of syrupy sweet peaches would suffice, and clothes were passed from one cousin to another, from one sibling to another. I'm not whining, I'm just setting the scene.

But my folks always had two and cigarettes.

I don't begrudge them the fags. They had stressful lives and even though both were raised by serious alcoholics, as opposed  to the alcoholic who takes it on merely as a hobby, my folks never turned to the bottle the way both their fathers had.

I hold them in high regard for that.

They did however lean heavily on the packs of cigs and the pots of swig. They adored their coffee. Black and as reheated as possible. No coffee was ever wasted. No quest or relative or even the odd Parish priest ever  came into our home without an offer of coffee. No financial meeting between my parents was ever held ("if we pay the electric bill, we can't afford to put gas in the wagon, so lets send the check and forget to sign it and by the time they send it back to us we should have your next pay check,) without coffee.

No family event was celebrated, ("you're six now? Hey you're old enough for  kid coffee !"  **
No Christmas gifts were wrapped, no argument was ever started or finished...without coffee. And so without further going ons I dedicate this bar of soap...Java-Wood to Don and Dusty OShaughnessy the original coffee hounds.

Made with Coconut, Olive, Sweet Almond, Castor oils and Coffee butter it is one super lathering rich feeling bar. I used strong black coffee for the liquid in my lye water plus a pinch of clove powder for the deep color. I also throw in a few coffee grounds as my folks old stove top percolator always added some grounds for texture in their own cups. The top is colored with a little titanium dioxide and the whole thing is scented with Cedar Wood and Cinnamon essential Oils.

Now I gotta go make another pot of coffee before bed. It's the only way I can sleep. Thanks a lot mom and dad.

** Kid Coffee Recipe    4 oz old reheated coffee. Stir in approximately 1/2 cup of sugar and some milk, (usually powdered which explains why I was so attracted to my dairy farmer husband), enough to turn the old coffee a rich concrete grey color. Then yell at said kid to "SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO TO SLEEP!"  20 minutes after administration and wonder why they cannot.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Moon Lighting


I'm not here.

I'm over here on The Renegade Farmer

You know what they say, Have Soapbox, Will Travel. And if you have a moment to make a comment over there, many thanks. My editor will appreciate it. I'll be indebted as well.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Miss Effie, a woman after me own art.

On our way back from our weekend away in Galena we stopped at blog buddy's farm ,Miss Effie's   u-Pick Flowers  in Donahue Iowa.  So glad we did.

I met Miss Effie, AKA Cathy Lefrenz, at a bee workshop last summer. (Thank you Zan for linking us) over ice tea and talk of incompetent heath care and hard to keep above water farm businesses, we bonded and have kept in touch via the FB and blog trains.

But seeing people in person...always better.

Cathy (on left) responding to my telling her Romney is the better candidate
What can I say? She may be a liberal but she still rocks the homesteading world.

Cathy and her guy run Miss Effie's u-Pick Flower Farm and The Summer  Kitchen which is her on-farm retail store. In their 11th season they raise flowers made for you to cut and then bring home. She encourages you "to pack it full" and charges a paltry $15 for something fresh, beautiful and chemical free.

It's worth the moola just to walk around her farm on a hill with its painted buildings, hideaway picnic spots just as the corn- zebo and additional  breezeway shaped like a huge birdhouse. Her talent for making use of old china (tree ornaments and flower bed borders) made me want to start collecting useless tableware again.

Because when you use something that is pretty and  a little fragile hanging it in unexpected places and it makes people is no longer useless. The same rational Keith uses for keeping me around or so he says.

Scattered about her farm is the kind of "inventory" dearest to our hearts. Older things that not only bring back childhood memories, whether one  lived on a farm or not, but that she and Cliff still put to good use today. Like wooden pallets turned garden tool organizer.

Her little Farm Store is cuter than mine and I won't have it! Sure I have more frozen T-bones in mine but she has aprons that are more than  a  homesteader's fashion statement. Hand sewn with beautiful reversible, 100% cotton,  country chic fabric and made like steel construction, they also double as a collection device for eggs, produce, piglets, runaway toddlers  and anything else you might want to carry from place to place on your farm or farm-like yard.

The creation was prettier than several of my wedding dresses. It doesn't matter how many is "several" I can't believe you even asked. Moving on...

I am seriously thinking about sending one of these to blog friend John at Going Gently. He would the hit of all of Trelawnyd in this styling egg gathering frock. And if I hear one more word out of either Tom or Cro, I'll quick ship one to them as well.

The most amazing thing about Miss Effie's is that her flowers on her farm were ALIVE.  Can you imagine the hours and hours and hours of watering time spent to keep her little oasis going?  Like us she has a good well.  Many others in our area have not been so fortunate.

This am the Department of Agriculture has officially announced that 99 of the 102 counties in Illinois are now considered disaster areas. Just one more label to add to our farm signs. "Welcome to South Pork Ranch...a real disaster"

Back to Miss Effie. Visit her. Picnic on her farm. Bring home some flowers, some homemade jam, handcrafted soap and of course the Cadillac of aprons. Tell her that Conservative  Romney lover from Illinois sent you.

If you have cash she might still let you in. She and I both still believe in Fair Trade.