Thursday, October 31, 2013

Off with their heads...and their feathers...and legs...

Years ago when our boys were in 4-H we raised and then butchered broilers. Well, the guys did the dirty work while I packed the birdies in bags.

I hated the smell of fresh chicken in a tank of hot water and avoided the whole slaughter area as much as I could. (But I have no problem slicing out the little gonads of piglets...go figure)  So when the boys grew up and took with them their free labor we gave up on the broilers and focused on the beef, dairy and pork.

I know, pure laziness.

But we found ourselves yearning for good foul again. And after eating a few of the chickens grown out doors by two other farmers we know, we decided to enter the broiler arena again. We bought these Freedom Rangers s few months ago and experimented with their feed.

In addition to the organic grain we fed and the grass, bugs, worms and dirt they harvested on their own as we moved their cage to fresh ground daily, we also fed them raw milk. Lots of raw milk instead of water.

That is correct. They never got water, only raw milk and man or man stay away from the spam, that chicken meat was the moistest I have even eaten. Served with oven browned potatoes and green beans It was the perfect meal for this cool rainy fall night.

The whole butchering process , done by 3 and observed by one intern , took only 10 minutes per bird. That is ten minutes from the time we took the bird away from its friends, until it was jammed into a Glad Freezer Bag. The process went like this.

Yes, some are graphic, leave the room and come back if you need to.

First, convince the birds you are taking them for a ride in the country. Grab the closet one.

 Next, hand the lucky duck, I mean chicken to Keith

Who will cut the head off for a quick death. Note the high tech blood collection chamber made of Terra Cotta Drainage pipe and old white bucket. Then take the bird into the scalding tank for a quick hot dip to loosen the feathers.

About 45 secs in a 150 degree tank of water. After the feathers are easy to pull off, said bird is taken to the feather beater machine.

See those black rubber fingers? When they are revolving very quickly they do a most excellent job of removing the majority of loosened feathers. But not ALL of the feathers. Like these tiny little pin feathers.

They have to be removed by hand. When those pesky little feathers are gone the bird is passed over to the guy with the knife who gently guts them, working hard to NOT puncture the intestines or other organs. He does this by reaching deep into the birds abdominal cavity, loosening up the attaching ligaments and then pulling them up and out. If done well you'll hear a sucking sound followed by a large BURP of sorts.

It was at this point our new intern, a lovely gal who wants so badly to learn homesteading, turned white and began to lose her cookies (or whatever else it was she had had for breakfast) She later explained it was the first time she had ever seen the inside of ANYTHING! Poor thing. I take for granted that others have not seen the things I have seen in my lifetime. Oh well...
She hung in there and with each butchered bird she was able to get closer and closer to the carcass without upchucking. She even took one home with her but I doubt she cooked it up that night!

So there you have it. 3 birds in my hand is worth 10 in the bush, or something like that
23 birds done means one chicken each week for the rest of the winter.







Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We Have A Winner ! Congratulations Dwayne!

After several days of watching Mrs. nothing...we are thrilled to report the live birth of 8 tiny wee Red Wattle Piglets. Born at 12:15 am on Oct 30 (today)

The contest entries were amazing. Between my blog and two Facebook pages I had 32 entries. Many of you were familiar blog followers but several were new to me. Stalkers I presume who needed the promise of free soap and chops to come out of the shadows.

Choosing the winner was not easy since I had to wade through entries like this

Date: Probably on the cusp (to make life complicated).
Time; As inconvenient as possible (they always are).
Number: Far too few (We're talking $'s per piglet here).
And This
3 on the 28th (between 23.40 - 23.59 p.m.)
5 on the 29th (before 3.30 a.m.)
But if you're asleep as she popping them out:

8 on the 29th (before 3.30 a.m.)
You people...

Finally though and with much checking and double checking...The winner is Mr. Dwayne Murphy who guessed Oct 30, 6:56 am with 12 babies. So Dwayne if you live near us you can come to our farm store to pick out $25 worth of goodies or I can mail you a care package of non-perishables. Please email me at . CONGRATULATIONS!

I will have baby pictures soon, maybe even a scrapbook.  In the meantime, carry on.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saponification Sunday...Rebatch Match

Just FYI...I'll be posting about Mrs. Dalloway soon. In the meantime, lets talk soap.

Mostly I make Cold Process soap. Lye water plus oils, mix, mold, let sit, unmold, cut and cure.
Occasionally I make Hot Process Soap. Lye water plus oils, mix, cooked in the crock pot, slammed into a mold, Let sit, unmold, cut and use right away if you choose.

And on days I am feeling the need to recycle soap bits, or fix a batch that is safe recipe wise but just plain ugly, I will rebatch.

I personally love the way my rebatched soap turns out but one reader told me last year, it looked like cat puke. So I crawled in the corner to lick my wounds and decided I would NEVER post about rebatched soap again.

But I have a terrible memory.

So here I am, back again to talk about rebatched soap. And if you think it resembles cat puke than I would recommend you spend less time following your cat around after its' eaten Chinese and more time making the soap the way you chose to do it.

These instructions are for 7 bars of soap weighing approximately 5.5  each

Step 1.
     Gather up the soap you want to rebatch. Approximately 8 bars worth . Each bar weighing about 5 oz each. Or to make more sense, you'll need 40 oz of dry soap. Fresh soap (less than two weeks old) works best. This time I choose some red and white bars that smelled wonderful but looked like someone had spilled a thick layer of concealed blood over the top of white bricks. I also added in a pink bar of soap just for fun. Cut them into chunks of various sizes. Perfection not needed.

Rebatched soap requires a rebatched photo. This is from a batch I did last year
Step 2
     Throw all the pieces into an OLD crock pot. Put the crock pot on high if you are going to be in the house. Add 1/2 cup water. Put it on low if you are someone who forgets about the soap and goes to a birthday party in ANOTHER STATE.

Step 3.
     If on high heat, stir every 30 minutes or so. You do not need to mix well . Just get under the soap pieces and turn over two-three times. It may take 3 hours to get the soap well melted (on high) 6 hours on low.

Step 4
     Prepare your mold. I use an old diaper wipe container and line it with freezer paper. The shiny side goes up against the soap. When the soap is very soft and gelatinous, with some hunks not completely melted, I will then stir in the essential oil of my choice. 1-2 oz for this size batch. I chose Geranium Rose. No need to worry about the batch seizing as this EO is known for since the soap is already...soap. Stir in the EO well

The results after approximately an hour of cooking in the crock pot on high.

Step 5.
     Now glop the soap into your mold. After filled slam it hard on the counter to get rid of all air bubbles. You do have your safety glasses on, right? Hot soap in your eyes is dangerous! Set it aside to cool

A good cheese and potato casserole? Not quite

Your rebatched soap should be hard enough by morning to unmold and cut. It is at this point safe to use but may be a bit soft. Will of course be even better to use in one week. The pics above were from last year and the soaps I used were browns and tans with a few black pieces.

This time, my colors were red , made from madder root powder and white made from the addition of titanium dioxide  and the final result was this:

Sorry, took these pics in the kitchen in late evening.
Bad lighting  photo excuse #99

The soap is not stunning but it is in my cat-puke tolerant opinion, attractive enough. Adding the EO at the very end of the cook keeps its scent from burning off. But again make sure you mix it in well. The soap will be much too thick to use any kind of a hand mixer so you will need to use a good solid spoon. I like wood best.

Some other alternative methods...instead of or along with adding water to the chopped up old soap pieces prior to melting, you can also add good quality oil. I have in the past used Castor oil, organic sunflower oil, avocado oil to name a few. I will only use 2 oz of additional oil. Because the lye is already tied up in the old soap bars this oil does not have any lye to bind with thus your soap may not lather as well, may feel a little greasier but frankly I have not experienced either of those problems when I rebatched using additional oil instead of water

So, have fun!

Friday, October 25, 2013


If you are a fan of Virginia Woolf, as I am, or you've seen the movie (or read the book)  The Hours , you will recognize the name "Mrs. Dalloway" But if not it is no matter because we're not discussing literature tonight, we're discussing pig belly futures.

Mrs. Dalloway is one of our registered Red Wattle breeding Sows. She is 2 years old, sweet and kind with a lovely copper color. She is also pregnant with her third litter. The baby daddy is Wally.  Her actual due date is tomorrow Oct 26, based on the romantic activity witnessed by the farmer, three months, three weeks and three days ago.


That "romantic activity" is always quite disturbing to us. It's not so much the wine (Boones Farm) and Music (Air Supply, which I HATE)  or even the fact that they insist on  performing publically, as those motivators are just irritating, but the burning candles running along all three sides of the wood framed Hogcienda are just plain dangerous!  Apparently Wally is too cheap to invest in a few of those battery operated candles.

So, as you can see Mrs. Dalloway is well rounded and ready for motherhood, again. Man is she going to be ticked off when she sees the angle of this picture. Oh's not my fault she's been fairly lazy these last few weeks.

See what I mean?
So lets have some fun at chubby Mrs. Dalloway's expense shall we? The contest goes as follows:
1. Guess the date of the birth
2. Guess the time of the birth
3. Guess the number of LIVE piglets born.
Keep in mind, her first litter produced 9 babies and her second one had 11.
You may enter only once. Leave your guesses in the comment section. OR on my Facebook Page
Any guesses that come in after the birth won't be considered. Sorry. How do I know you aren't just laying out there next to her maternity house counting babies as they pop out?
The winner is the one who is closest in all three areas and will be announced on this blog. The prize will be $25 of merchandise from our farm store (if you live close enough to drive over to Chatsworth, Illinois) or if not I'll email you and offer you a fine selection of items from our store, $25 worth, and I will mail them to you. Think handcrafted soaps, herbal teas, healing salves, GMO-free popcorn, raw honey, organic jams and jellies etc...
Yes, if you live out of the US of A you may play. Because I'm all generous like that you know.
Now hurry up and get your guesses in. The clock is ticking!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Everyone needs a Black Cat at this time of year, one that reads...even spookier.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Raw Milk Monday. (Lack of) Progress Report

Please note: If you are new to my blog you can catch up on the reasons for my raw milk passion and the struggles our own farm have experienced, by reading any of the previous posts on the topic I have written over the last 3 years . To do so, simply enter "Raw Milk" in the search bar under the picture of our house, on the right.

About this time last year a group of individuals got together to discuss raw milk in Illinois. The group at that time did not include any raw milk farmers or consumers. the very folk who produced and consumed the milk.

But details like that slid right by those in power as important details often do.

So this group, that did include government officials and representatives from the Big Milk companies, wrote down along list of rules about a subject few of them had any knowledge of. Many of them had never even tasted raw milk or been  to a farm that specialized in its production.

But, somehow, someway, some one let it slip to a farmer who does produce and sell and consume raw milk that these meetings were taking place and that farmer used her high tech skills (phone calls) and rallied the troops.

Now, nearly a years after the Illinois Department of Public Health realized they had only policies about raw milk and no enforceable LAWS, we are still meeting and discussing and arguing and some days I will admit we are even learning.

But still, no final rules.

Which I am very happy about. If we the farmers and consumers had never gotten involved, never gotten angry, never gotten serious, never gotten HOARSE (from repeating our selves over and over and not being heard) we'd be following or in many cases, breaking, rules written by the uninformed...our state government.

Yet, we are not. And raw milk is being produced and sold and safely consumed by THOUSANDS in our state. Because of the fuss IDPH has made about the need for rules even though the CDC cannot support their fears with any legitimate illness reports, more and more people are educating themselves about this nutritious, wholesome, great tasting food.

Our own farm cannot keep up with the demand.
All the farmers in the Dairy Work Group cannot keep up with the demand.
All the dairy cows from one end of our state to the other, from the northern town of Winthrop Harbor to the most southern town of Cairo, cannot keep up with the demand.

So, Illinois Department of Public Health, I have to ask you. Why are you continuing down this road to attempt to limit raw milk sales when there is

No Need
No Desire
No Reason to do so.

Really, THIS is your priority ?
Next month the Dairy Work Group meets again. And if we have to meet again and again and again to get our point across, then we will. Just watch us.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Apple Overload

 After several years of either no apples or poor apples, this fall has been amazing in its abundance of the juicy red (and Yellow) fruit.

Today, with the GK's to help, we hit the apple trees hard. I worked the ground while Keith crawled up in the tree.

Tossing apples to the GK's who sorted out the good, the bad and the ugly we had several boxes and pails ready to go to our basement for winter storage, to our daughter-in-law the chef for pies (we hope) to my sister as a bribe for watching the GK's while we went to brunch in the am, and to the pigs.

The chef will get the best of the best, we'll get those almost as good and the piggies will get the rest. Many of the apples on the ground have already been half eaten by the horrible yellow/orange lady bugs that had bombarded us this October, which means they'll be partially decomposed and even easier for the pigs to chew.

Plus the hogs will get the added benefit of the ladybug proteins!

It's amazing, talking about the apples still up in the tree, that so few show any pest gnawing at all considering that we never spray any kind of pesticides on our property. They are big, firm and oh so sweet! Even Ashland the Shepard had to chew up a few.

Our biggest dilemma is what to do with them all. Applesauce? Apple butter? Apple Jelly? Apple pies? Taffy Apples? Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Farm for Sale Update

The Poor Farm is Rich with trees
Abandoned van, filled with trash, now gone.

Time marches on...and still no sale and yet, our future looms in front of us...waiting. We continue to show  South Pork Ranch  to interested people, one or so each month. At present there is an investor from Chicago who is weighing out the possibilities of purchasing our farm and then hiring competent folk to mange it day to day.

It would be ideal for those people who so want to do what we are doing but don't have the cash. In the meantime, while investor contacts potential future farmers, Keith and I continue to work on our new place, The Poor Farm.

To date, we've paid for the land, $43,000 for 7 acres and multiple derelict buildings, $500 plus in lawyer fees, had the land surveyed at the cost of $1000, contacted Com Ed for electrical work , will run another $1500, contacted the well people to test and cap the present well , estimates pending. We also toured an Earth Home Model and paid for a book of plans, $25.

It's easy to see how "The Poor Farm" got its name.

If our farm sells soon we'll need temporary housing up there, maybe a mobile home for, we hope, less than $5000. So far we've managed to do it without a mortgage but doing it that way means cutting back in many other areas of our life.

We're happy to do that. This is our lifelong dream and dreams rarely come without hard work.

At least once a week, we spend time on the Poor Farm , walking around and making plans for our future very small home, the pond we will dig, the family graveyard, and picking up trash left by the previous owner.  Most recently using that trash for target practice has proven a wonderful stress reducer. It's great having a place to shoot that is isolated and without any livestock to scare (yet) . Especially when that time is spent with my three grown sons who continue to tolerate their mother, the non-sharp shooter of the bunch.

We are looking forward to the winter when all the high grass dies back and we can see the real lay of the land, how the parcel drains the rain, where best to push a house into a hillside, the ideal location for future gardens, tree houses and root cellars.

Who knew having TWO farms would so dramatically decrease the stress we were feeling with the management of just ONE farm !

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eating my words...Again

Last summer when I had new horse fencing installed, against my husbands better instincts, I promised him I would be the one who would maintain it.

Little did I know I would actually have to do just that. Our normal fencing around our pastures is just plain electric wire and in a Post awhile back  I talked about how I disliked that type of fence. So I comparison shopped and while we could not afford the beautiful white board fencing seen in Kentucky Derby towns, we were able to swing the wide electric tape stuff.

Keith didn't like it then and he doesn't like it now.

But I was convinced it was best for my four legged hobbies even though they bring in no revenue whatsoever and should be entitled to nothing more than twine around their pastures. I have been proven wrong, not terribly wrong, just some wrong as in slightly wrong.

The electric tape close up looks like this

This piece above is 1/2 inch wide and is deeply woven plastic and metal wire. It's only fault, in my opinion , and as Keith warned, is in high winds. About every two months a section will break. It does help to twist the tape when putting it up. The good news, for me since I promised to do the repair work, is that it is easy to fix. I show your how HERE
But lately we've had a problem with not breakage so much but with decreased voltage in the fence. The equines were staying put but  the hogs we have in one section of this pasture kept ending up in the horse pasture. Meaning they were not getting shocked enough. Or they had taught Fannie how to block the current with her thick matt of fur.
So we investigated. Even though I said I would do the fixing part I don't know squat about electricity. All I know is I swear like a heathen in purple fish net stockings when I get a jolt. So Keith volunteered his services and his handy dandy voltage meter.
No, I will not sink so low as to make a remark about a mans "voltage meter." You'll have to do that yourself.
The Device verified less power in several areas even though no part of the fence had broken wires. We did have tall grass in some regions which may have been adding to the problem but even when cleared we still did not have much of a power increase.
But with more in depth investigation we discovered that the corners which normally look like this
are now after a year and a half , burning out at the junction. This is noticeable only when you pull the tape slightly toward you. Could have something to do with our problem. So I traveled around the pasture and spliced in new wire, not difficult to do, and sure enough

Our voltage strength was much improved.

And below is proof I am capable of fixing my own horse fence, or at least capable enough to stand close to it and take a photo. Yes, I know, I am Queen ManurePreneur !


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saponification Sunday

Same gripe. Different day.

I really don't mind so much how you raise your beef, feed your pig, tend your garden or MAKE YOUR SOAP, please just be honest. (and humane!) If you believe your product is good enough to sell, you should be proud of the feed, lodging, ingredients that are involved.

What I really hate is when someone insinuates or outright lies about what their product ingredients. I recently visited a small farm sort of like ours, a couple hours away, where they give demonstrations about life in times past. I enjoyed the horse drawn plow event and the blackberry pie made in a wood oven (yummy) but I was deeply disappointed when I spoke with the woman making soap "Like the pioneers did"

I always wanted to try making soap with real wood ash lye over a wood stove, just for a better understanding of the history of soap if no other reason. But we arrived just after the soap making  demo, still the pioneer dressed woman, explained it all to me when I asked a few questions.

She told me her soap is made with lye crystals instead of real wood ash  ash , which I understood knowing the amount of time it would take to create your own ash lye from a hard wood fire, but then she admitted she doesn't even make soap indoors because it stinks so bad.



I love the way my house smells when I make soap even unscented soap. When I asked about the oils she used she leaned in close to me and said "I use leftover Crisco from a restaurant"


No wonder her kitchen smells bad. Plain new Crisco is bad enough, I tried it once in the early days as I was doing my own research on making soap, but can you imagine using Crisco that had already been used to fry steaks, saute onions, fry potatoes etc...Yuck

I asked why she did not use lard as the pioneers did, and her answer? Lard was too hard to find and too expensive. Now, she sells these rock hard, bad smelling soap bars in big 6 oz chunks for just $1.00. So why does she not just up her price while upping the quality of her base oils?

I did not want to embarrass her in front of some other farm visitors and because it's likely she volunteers her time for this farm event, I felt a letter to the organization she works for might be a better choice. Some of you might wonder why so worked up about a piece of soap so I'll tell you.

Poorly made handmade soap, even if done by volunteers at a small community event who are selling it very cheap, reflects on all handmade soap. Folks who buy this soap will automatically associate lye soap with bad soap. They will likely pass by the next handmade soap vendor thy see at the farmers market or outdoor craft fair convinced that soap made with lye is harsh, barely lathers and smells bad.

In addition, making and selling this kind of soap can be dangerous. Not knowing the exact oil makeup of Crisco (the oil blends are not consistent, sometimes it has lots of coconut oil, other times more Palm oil) makes it impossible to calculate an accurate lye to oil ratio. Not to mention the other "additives" like French Fry pieces or burned up hunks of deep fried Cod.
My own lye soap made with Olive Oil, water and nothing else
Too little lye just makes mushy soap but too much lye or Lye heavy soap can leave lye that has not been able to bind to the oil molecules and thus could cause burns to the user. So, who else has run into situations about this and what have you done about it? Would love to know.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

She who eats the dead

 Yes, you read that right. She who eats the dead, like mice and rats and deceased birds, which tends to make her breath slightly off.

She also sleeps much of the day and runs around at night.

We have no idea where she goes and who she is running with. She often breaks curfew.

She never combs her hair or takes a bath unless you call running though tall muddy weeds a bath.

She takes food from her own kind and is prone to extreme jealousy.

So extreme she's been seen holding down her competitor (poor Ashland) with her snarling teeth just because he irritated her. But I can remove a juicy porkchop from her mouth and she merely looks sad.

And she never snarls at her master or her masters children or her masters children's children.

And I trust her


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Less is not More

Just 5 months away from a luscious shoulder roast dinner

The hardest thing lately has been telling people No.   As in...

No. We do not have any bacon left and
No. We do not have any ground beef left
No. I cannot make the pig or beef grow faster and
No. I cannot make the cow produce 100% cream

It appears I cannot make the whole world happy at one time, or at even just the carnivores. I have been a huge source of disappointment to the protein lovers we know. Always telling them there will be more meat coming (there is, around Oct 30 ) but then watching it sell out before everyone can make it to Chatsworth to get their piece of the (Shepard's) pie.

I remember a point in our lives a few years back when we had 7 freezers full of meat, another cow and two pigs to be picked up at the locker and no where to put over 600 pounds of burger, steaks, chops and roast. . We had a few customers trickling into the store but no grocery store orders pending.  We were eating burger 3 meals a day.

I was petrified our power would go out or one of the freezers would fail. I seriously considered a BOGO sale but watching my husband work so hard outside later that day, I knew I could not insult him that way.

But, it all worked out. The meat sold, the freezer stayed cold, the orders came in, and the local food pantry was happy to receive a donation.  Now we are faced with the opposite dilemma. The kind of problem many business owners would be very happy to have. Too many customers and not enough product.

But this issue has its problems as well. If customers come to buy a product and finds it missing too often, they will go elsewhere. If they go elsewhere for meat they might go elsewhere for the other items, our chicken, our soap, our flour.

They might go elsewhere for eggs and sunflower oil.

They might get their raw milk from the black market sellers on the corner of Ashland and Wilson.

They might pet someone else's Great Pyrenees and then Fannie, dejected and depressed will go to another farm to take care of their animals.

Then the coyotes will invade and kill off our ducks which means we'll lose our fly eaters.

And then the flies will roar in like those bad bikers roar into Sturgis every August, which will remind me of my bucket list and then Keith will leave me when he hears me talking about that Harley (The Super Glide Sport) because I promised him I would never get a bike while he is still alive, as if I could even get my tree-trunk leg over the seat.

And now you know why...
I don't sleep at night.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Saponification Sunday/Monday...Which Witch? Bark or Leaf?

I like experimentation. In the old days several decades ago, that meant hoping into a semi with an unknown driver and traveling to unknown worlds. Dangerous yes, and fun, but really kids it was as I said, DANGEROUS. Now, my wild experimentation is limited to...


For example, when it was dark at night and my husband was fast asleep I dug deep into my bag of tricks ( a basket filled with bags of suspicious looking powders and clays) and pulled out a heaping zip lock filled with with hazel powder.

Witch Hazel BARK Powder On a very cool piece of Granite given to me by
a friend (Thanks CK!)

Can't even remember buying it, let alone what I was going to use it for but details like that are meaningless when one is an artist and the  creative bell is slamming around in a dazed and confused cerebellum .

Headaches? What headaches?

An interesting powder, even though rather bland in appearance, it's earthiness was appealing to me. I'm not a blue glitter kind of gal so this bag of silty fine debris did beckon to me. I did some research

Seems  the Witch Hazel Powder can come from the bark or the leaves of the plant. I had the bark variety. It is known to possess  stringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anesthetic properties.

 Over time it has been used to treat everything, including: backache, hemorrhoids, (by injecting the powder mixed with water into the rectum) wounds, tumors, insect bites, eye inflammation, nosebleed, vaginitis, venereal disease, and skin ulcers externally; and internally (as a tea) for colds, heavy menstruation, diarrhea, and anxiety.

Today, the bark powder is most often used externally to treat bruises, cuts, bedsores, sunburn, poison ivy, other skin ailments, sore muscles, and minor swelling. As a nurse, I cannot imagine treating any decubiti (bedsore) with something this scratchy or worse yet putting it in an inflamed eye (Ouch!!) but would be cool if it works.

Would tick off the pharmacy companies though, since a 4 oz bag  of this powder is less than $5 . But due to strict FDA laws I can make no such claim on my soap labels, in regards to any of the above.

 Nor would I want to. Imagine my grief knowing that my soap failed to fix your hemorrhoids. I would hate even more, the visual that would give me.

Too late.

And, for those of you who enjoy a nice fairytale, some people believe Witch hazel is a strong protective charm which is powerful in spells to end love and mend a broken heart

Now, as a soap, I can tell you this. The addition of just 1 tsp to 2 pounds of oil colored it only slightly as you can see. It made the soap a bit  scratchy but did not interfere with bubbles at all. I did add Tussah silk to my lye water which might have helped the bar feel less rough.

10 minutes after rinsing my skin felt very good and so although it did not make the prettiest soap, even with a few small pieces of leftover white soap added, it did make a good, usable  soap. I scented it with Pink Grapefruit, Eucalyptus and Lavender Essential oils which was quite pleasant. And the powder did cause the soap to thicken well and made it easy to create waves on top.

Would I use it again? Not sure. Will give it a few weeks to see how my skin likes it. In the meantime I think I'll stick to my regular orange pekoe tea and I certainly won't be injecting it anywhere the sun don't shine.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Lord, help the mister...

I don't usually blog much about my personal life. Oh, here and there I will bore you with the occasional GK tale. Or I will wax farmetic about my husband, the man I will never deserve. But as far as details go, I tend to stick more towards the gruesome details of a good castration before I will delve too deeply into my family.

But I am in the mood for an exception. Meet my sisters...

I am the elderly gray one, the others from the left are Mary, Teresa and Peg. I love them dearly and I take them for granted all the time. Recently someone pointed out to me that not all sisters are as close as we O'Shaughnessy females. I mean not only are we geographically close , each lives within an hour of me, but we are close in the "lets have coffee and pie" kind of way.
We genuinely like each others company.
Don't misunderstand. We're not perfect. We have been known to squabble. We hurt each others feelings. We don't always listen well. We eat off each others plates for Gods' sake...but as a rule we like hanging out with each other and we really enjoy a good sister trip.
Over the decades we've gotten to know each other fairly well. The dinky stuff like favorite movies, favorite clothing styles, current diet and exercise routines (we are always trying to get healthier)
We also know that if one of us picked up the phone and yelled  HELP ! The others would appear on that sisters doorstep, immediately.
Years and years ago there were five of us. But Bernie Jo was challenged from day 1 of her birth and died at the age of 11. Pneumonia complications. Because I was 14 then and knew her best, my other sisters were too young, I still wonder what our trips might be like if there had still been 5 of us.
Not in a sad, melancholy way, Bernie Jo's place in heaven is well earned, but I will at times think how much more fun we could be having. I'm selfish that way. As if  those other three female siblings are not enough and I must have more.
Believe me , they are more than enough :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bloat. The worst kind of Stomach Ache

When a calf acts like a pig, it can mean real trouble.

Last evening, just as the sun was setting, Keith noticed one of our calves reclining on its side. This is often a bad sign. Occasionally a calf will lay flat out in the sunshine, basking, but when the sun is down a calf on its side...not good.

Upon closer inspection it was obvious to Keith that the little guys belly was far too big, and he was bloating up with gas. Cause? He most likely was a real pig during the last hay feeding and dove deep down in the wheelbarrow full of hay flakes hogging all the very fine, very tender hay leaves. Yummy stuff. Or the bigger calves ate first and he got what fell to the bottom, the tastier finer leaves.

However his "reward" was not so sweet.

Seems that these smaller leaves with fine particle matter will float up on top of the stomach fluid , specifically in the rumen, and this fluid ferments too fast developing large amounts of gas. If the calf is able to eructate (belch) or expel the gas rectally (the nerves that cause these reflexes are impaired with the increases pressure) he might correct the problem himself but if the pressure gets too great too fast, belching stops and the animal gets in trouble.

If untreated the distended rumen will press up against the diaphragm, preventing inhalation and the animal will suffocate and die.

Fortunately, we did catch it before we lost him. We tried walking the little guy first, he did get up easy enough. I prodded him from the back with a small stick and the occasional WHUMP on his back side while Keith went out to pasture to bring the cows in for milking But 25 minutes later he was worse. No gas, no manure expelled, no belching and his left side (where the rumen in located ) was growing before my eyes.

And his gait was staggering. In addition his side made that tell tale tight drum noise when I flicked it with my fingers. Keith came back and agreed with the retired nurses assessment, so he brought out the big guns, a puncture trochar and a cannula.

He showed me the best spot to puncture the upper abd. on the left flack about 8 inches below the spine and after tying the calf to a post he jabbed him firmly. Pulling out the trochar but leaving in the metal cannula we were able to immediately hear air escaping.

Within just 2-3 minutes, the calf's belly was markedly improved and back to near normal size. The cannula was removed and the wound watched.

The calf , you could tell, felt immediately better and walked away normally. Keith checked on him several times before going to bed and again early this am.

 This morning I did some more research about cattle bloat and read that pasture raised animals (like ours) who are fed alfalfa in the fall, especially when the nights are cool and the dew is heavy in the am (he was, and  it was)  will bloat twice as often as in summer. The month of October is the worst. Bingo!

Now, almost 24 hours later and the little steer calf is doing well. I wonder what we'll do for excitement THIS evening?