Monday, May 28, 2012

Great Day To Make Soap

It is really hot outside.  The dogs are already back inside under the ceiling fan. Smart animals, they are. I did go out this morning after feeding critters and finished up the mowing in the orchard. It kind of looks like it might just rain some. Fine with me.

So I am making soap. And bread. More on that in a minute.

First batch is from the  base I made a few weeks ago. I remelted 3 lbs. with 36oz. of goat milk. Then when it was all melted really good, I added lots of Patchouli EO and Sweet Orange EO. And some grated orange rind. Put some orange rind on top in the mold. It smells SO GOOD! This is my very favorite soap ever.

Next I made a veggie base. Then added at trace about 2 1/2 T of finely ground coconut and about 2 1/2 oz. of rosewood EO. I put coconut on top in the mold.

I am now waiting on the lye to get near 100 degrees to melt the oil for some peppermint soap. I'll add about 2 oz. of peppermint EO and some crushed dried peppermint leaves from my herb garden. Then put some on top as well. So 3 batches of soap today. Not bad.

I was just thinking how comfortable I am now making soap. Maybe a little too comfortable. I usually wear gloves and do the lye on the back porch. Today I did it in the kitchen. With no gloves. I know I should be way more careful with the lye solution. But it's just way too hot outside for it to cool. So I am doing it the slow way and just letting it cool on it's own in the kitchen.  I have plenty of time. While it's cooling I get the oils in the pot and set on the stove and get my molds ready and all the oils lined up. And the blankets on the dining room table.

So now the bread. I have been making the best bread ever. I just love crunchy chewy sour dough type breads. And they are about $4-$6 at Wholefoods. So I found a recipe in a Mother Earth News magazine. I make it at least once a week now. But yesterday I added chopped crushed fresh rosemary leaves and crushed garlic cloves chopped up. It just came out of the oven and smells so good. The only bad part about this bread is I have to wait an hour to eat it after it comes out of the oven.

I have made the cranberry walnut bread too. So yummy! If anyone wants the recipe, I can post it. I am taking pictures of all this so when I learn how to get them in here again, I'll show all this good stuff.

I am waiting on my order from Brambleberry to come hopefully tomorrow. Then I will make some more soaps. This is fun! And makes my house smell really good and clean.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Wanna Live In A Condo

In downtown Chattanooga. A highrise. No grass anywhere. Not even any plants on the balcony. Only a few chairs and a table with an umbrella. And a small fridge with ice cold drinks. That is what I am thinking right now.

I am tired. It seems like I am mowing grass somewhere on this property every day. There is always something to do somewhere. In the garden. In the house. In the goat yard. In the barn. In the sheep pasture. In the gardens. In the chicken yard. Last night I added on to the chicken run area because I got 10 more laying hens. They're just 3 months old. But I already had 29 hens and Mr. Rooney. So this makes 39 hens. Well, actually, I think 2 of the Barred Rock young chicks I got a few months ago could quite possible be roosters. They are quite alot bigger than the other one I got at the same time. They have really long white legs. I was looking at my older BR hen, Judy Moody, and she has short yellow legs. Hmmm...

So I was out there in the field behind the chicken house getting the netting on the other side of the fence. They had just mowed and baled hay so I was feeling like it would be ok to go out there. But next to the fence was still really tall. I made my dog Bubba go with me. For protection. He's a good snake killing dog, for the record. So got that all done. The chickens all thanked me this morning as they were eating the grass in the new run. They have alot more room now.

It just seems like something has to be done, or has to be fixed. Or mowed again. And it's been 93 the past few days. I finally broke down and turned the AC on yesterday morning. I might as well enjoy it.

But as I was taking my sheets and towels off the line just now, I was thinking how at least I can do all this myself. I can walk. I am still young and can do things. I am thankful I can mow. And that the grass is green. Just a few weeks ago the grass was crunchy from no rain. Now it's growing like crazy again. And flowers are blooming. And birds are drinking in the bird bath that has water in it. And we do have water. I can take a nice cool shower after sweating profusely. And jump in my bed with freshly cleaned sheets dried in the sun all day under a beautiful blue sky. Yes, I am thankful. Mighty thankful.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sweet Rain!

It started sprinkling yesterday evening. And kept on all night. A nice gentle steady rain that was needed so badly. I had just finished planting the one row of Kentucky Wonder beans in the North garden to finsih that garden up. And tilled another row for Blue Lake beans in the South garden. And had started putting up the long branches I have been saving  for all the running beans. I thought I had alot. But only got half way down the Macasslen bean row and about 1/4 down the Kentucky Wonder row. And I have 2 more rows to go. I had cut a bunch of bamboo a few weeks ago at a friend's place so need to go get them. But I got the beans that were already trying to run right now. I had to replant most of them a few weeks ago.

And my friend came to get the only buck we had this year. He is a Nubian and full of spots. So cute. I hated to let him go but no way I could keep him. I just have his mother and sister. I'll be getting a new buck and another doe that are Nubian in about a month. I think I need to retire Abby. She is 10 and it is taking so long for her milk to get where we can drink it. Same thing last year. I would love to find a place where she could go live the rest of her life, like a goat retirement center. I'm checking this out.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2 More Ewe Lambs!

I got 2 more ewe lambs today. From the lady that I got 2 from last year. These were born in February. They are mostly Finn with a little Suffolk. They are both not really white but a soft white color. Both kind of wild. So it might take awhile to egt them to come near me. I have some names I have been thinking about. I know one of them, probably the smaller one, will be Adalaide. And I was thinking the other day that Amarillo would be a really cute name. I also like Azalea. But I think the other ewe will be Amarillo. So I now have 4 ewe lambs and 5 year old ewes. Plus the 3 ram lambs.

Now I am wondering what to do about a ram. Or rams. Since I have wool sheep and hair sheep, I was thinking I'd need at least 2 rams of the same breeds. I was going to just use my 3 rams that were born here. Then butcher them in the fall. That's what I did with the ram that bred 4 of my ewes. So I might just do what I had planned, then next year buy a ram that I could use for all the ewes. I don't want too many rams.

So my flock is growing.

I went the other day to look at some Nubian goats. I had found this guy on Craig's list last year. I went to see his goats and fell in love with them. They are just beautiful animals. And so healthy and shiny and very well cared for and loved. He has several generations there. They   all have names too.

So when I got to his place Friday, he had so many babies all over the place. I don't know how anyone could make up their mind on which ones to get. They were all beautiful. But I did pick out a doe and a buck. And changed my mind several times later. But he is really picky about when he weans his kids. And when they are ready to go. And to who. He told me to call in a few weeks. So I will. And I will be ready to go get them.

I could still kick myself for not getting the 2 does he had for sale last year. For $150. for both of them. But I was not really wanting to get young does right then. I so wish I had gotten them. Especially at that price. But now I think I am more at that place where I could take a doe kid. Since I am keeping Sandy and Abby's doe kids from this year, I will have young kids.

I am so tired. I have had a busy day. I tilled more garden rows and planted more beans, okra and field peas. It looked like we might get some rain here, but it hit Chattanooga instead. We have chances for rain Monday and Tuesday too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So Many Tomatoes

I have around 236, give or take a few. Something got 2 of them sometime in the last few days. Right at the base of the stem. If that's a cut worm, why doesn't it get every single tomato plant, not just one here and there? Doesn't make sense to me.

I have Better Boy, Big Boy, Early Girl, Pink Girl, Lemon Boy, Mr. Stripey, lots of Rutgers, Roma, Better Bush, Marian, Bradley, Mountain Spring. I know there are more. Anyway, I have alot of tomato plants. This year I planted them in 2's down the rows so I could use 1 stake between the 2 plants. Or fence. Or cages. I know now that I should have put fence up first, then plants. And then put them a little closer together. This way I will just tie the plants onto the fence with hay twine. I save all my hay twine for this purpose.

I have been outside all day today doing this. I did take some breaks. And had to go to town to get a prescription for a lady I take care of. And delivered eggs while I was out. And I am still not all the way done. I will have to finish tomorrow morning. Then tie  all the bigger plants. I'll wait to tie the smaller plants til they get bigger.

This market gardening is alot of work. I am the only one doing it too. But at least I am getting excercise. Which I desperately need right now. And tomorrow is market day! I love the market.

How does your garden grow?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Some good ways to eat kale...

And not even know you are. I never thought I would like the little green leaves. But I grew 2 100' rows of it. Mainly to sell at market. But when they don't all sell, I have to come up with ways to eat it. So here are a few.

I love smoothies. You can put just about anything in a smoothie and add yogurt and honey and put a few big hands full of kale. The blender just chops it up into little tiny green dots. No one will even know that there is a leafy green in their yummy smoothie. Just a great way to get some good green veggie goodness.

Another way is in a Frittata. I love these. I just saute any veggie, like onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, zuchinni, squash, brocolli. Go ahead and whip up your nice fresh eggs from the coop and grate or crumble some good fresh cheese or some you just made. Like Chevre or Feta is great in this. Oh, and have your oven pre heated to about 400. Then a few minutes before adding eggs, put a few big hands full of kale. You can also add Swiss chard and or spinach too. I have done it with all 3. Take off burner and pour eggs all over top and sprinkle cheese all over. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes, depending on how big it is and how many eggs you put in. When it's not jiggly in the middle, it's done.

A friend told me about this a few weeks ago and I have made it twice already. Brown some good somewhat spicy sausage with chopped onions, peppers, garlic, mushrooms. When brown , add your kale, a few good hands full. While this is sauteing, cook some pasta. I used Gluten Free the 1st time and some good home made sausage from the slaughterhouse where I get my dog bones. It was SO good. And just right spicy. The 2nd time I used Jimmy Dean regular and it was not nearly as good. I had to add some Creole seasoning to spice it up. So when pasta is done, drain and pour sausage-kale mixture over it. And enjoy! It is even better the next day as leftovers.

My favorite way to cook all that kale is to add to collard greens with a big ole smoked ham bone. You talk about some flippin' good food. Right there is all ya need for a good meal. Well, maybe a good cast iron pan of corn bread slathered in home made butter.

And of course it can be added to any soup too. I had made some chicken and rice and added some kale to it. I liked it.

So go pick some kale and get creative! And healthy while you're at it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This is Crazy

So yesterday I was having lunch with a friend at one of our little family type restaurants in town. I know the owner, so asked to speak to her. I wanted to know when they would be wanting fresh local produce. She said they are not allowed to buy anything from anyone who is not from a certified operation. She said I could become one of those, but it would cost a fortune plus take forever. I just think this is so crazy.

Ya know what the really crazy stupid part to this is? That those very same people who eat the food that comes from these massive farms, can go to a local farmer's market and buy better stuff. So what is the big deal, people who make all these crazy stupid rules???? Really! I wanna know.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making Soap

I just made 2 new batches of soap. They are on the table all wrapped up til morning. I made the first batch with lard, olive oil and coconut oil. I have been wanting to make a soap using lard for a long time and finally just did it. I added Lemongrass EO and then the zest of 2 lemons. It's a pretty yellow color already so I can't wait to see how it looks after it's cured.

The 2nd batch is just a vegetable base that I am going to cure a few weeks then remill it and add goat milk and Patchouli and Sweet Orange EO. I LOVE this soap.

I have also wanted to make a soap using beef tallow. I have heard that it's VERY nasty and stinky and to NOT melt the fat in the house. I do have a little house next door with a kitchen. I may just do it over there. I've been saving my beef fat when I get bones from the slaughterhouse for the dogs. So I have several bags of fat in the freezer. Just need to make tallow now. Any tips or hints from anyone who has done this before?

I also went into the chicken coop and shoveled up buckets of wonderful comopted chicken s*** to side dress all my gardens with. This is some of the nicest "dirt" on this property. I use all my sheep and goat manure too. Along with the straw and hay they drop. So the gardens are looking really good right now. Especially after all that nice rain yesterday,

Farmer's market was pretty good. There were only 5 of us selling. I sold more soap and rolls than greens. That's ok though. I love them. I bought a bag of fresh collards so I'll cook them with some kale. So had a good day. But it wears me out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Farmer's Market and RAIN!

It's Wednesday and that's farmer's market day. Ours is from 3-6. I love being able to pick in the mornings and then get some other things done. Like bake bread and rolls to sell. Get cleaned up. Get clean clothes on. All that necessary stuff. Make sure I have everything I need when I get there.  And thank goodness it's under a huge open air ag place. With lots of saw dust that get in the sandles and flip flops. But kids love that.

So today I will pick later than usual because it is raining!!! And cool. Windows are open again. Sheep are SO happy! They are out grazing in the drizzly rain. The goats HATE it. They will not even step out of the barn. For anything. Well, it was a little drizzly when it was time to milk mthis morning.  Abby and Sandy will run to the milk parlor for good sweet feed. But that would be the ONLY reason they would go out in the rain. I have had to go to them to milk when it was raining real hard.

This means that the lettuce and greens will be nice and cool and perky today! And not much washing to do. I love market days. I love the other vendors and the customers that come. I am also trying to sell all last years goat milk soaps so I can make more. I am in love with Patchouli soap. Love it! And lemongrass. I just love it all. I am also taking Kambucha scoby. I sold 2 last week.

Have all the markets where you all live opened yet? What are yours like? I have got to take pictures.

I am so very thankful for this MUCH needed rain. It's a good soaking rain. The grass was getting quite crunchy here. And brown already. And this is just the beginning of May. We are so ahead right now. It's kind of scary. I have had to water about every other day and I don't usually have to do that. This might be a really hot dry year.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mulch And Other Stuff

So this morning I put a nice layer of wet newspapers down 3 rows in my North garden. It looked so nice. Well, then later on I looked out there and there is my nice dried out newspapers flying all over the garden. It does dry out in the sun and the wind. I hadn't gotten back out to put old hay down on top of it yet. So I ran out there and threw some dirt on top til I can get back out there to mulch. And I am praying all these clouds floating around will have a little rain in them to wet those newspapers some.

I am just one person doing all this work. And I cannot seem to keep up with it all. I was outside just now and noticed the poor droopy tomato plants I had planted about 4 days ago. I had not mulched them yet and they were trying to tell me they needed mulch. Really badly. So I just did that. I have had this huge round bale of really old hay for a few years now that I have been pulling hay off of. SO I grabbed a wagon load and quickly mulched them all. The others have been mulched and are doing well. I counted them all the other day after planting the rest and I have 198 tomato plants. 4 had died or I would have had 202. AND I have room for about 30-50 more. That's alot of tomatoes. I need to stake them all now. I am going to use some fencing down the middle of the row and tie the plants on. I planted 2 pretty close together so I could do that. I also have lots of posts to use. I am going to use the useless tomato cages for the cucumbers.

I just tilled up the parts of the rows of beans and re planted McCasslen, Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake beans. Also went ahead and planted cucumbers where I had planted some squash and zuchinni seeds. They never came up. They are between the okra rows. I have only had 4 zuchinni seeds to sprout so far. I think I got a bad batch of seeds. I'll get more and try again. Gotta have zuchinni. The squash has done pretty good. I am mulching them all next and tilling where some didn't come up and will re plant seeds. So much to do.

So what's growing in your neck of the woods now? I would love to hear.

I just took bread out of the oven. This is the best bread. And so easy to make. It's like a hard crust, soft inside sour dough type bread. I love this bread. It sits after I make the dough for 12-18 hours. It's all bubbly and smells so good. I like this bread for a good thick cut bacon and tomato sandwich. No other bread works for that. And has to be ripe home grown tomato too. So I have a ways to go for that to happen. (I was supposed to let the bread sit for an hour before cutting. Uh oh!)

I turned the AC on yesterday. It feels amazing! Anyone else done that yet?

I hear raindrops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is raining! For a few minutes anyway. Thank You, Lord! (And it is still raining.)

Oh, I put 10 Buff eggs under Hot Momma broody hen this morning. She has been broody for a week now and I have thrown her off the nest every day. Then I thought this morning that I should go ahead and set some good Buff eggs under her because I will be needing more hens soon anyway. So I fixed her a nice nest with fresh good smelling hay and 10 pretty eggs in a milk crate and she jumped right on in. And broke an egg. So had to wait for another egg to get laid and stuck that one under her. She is a happy Hot Momma hen now! So in 21 days, I hope to have 10 brand new little chicks. Watch them all be little mini Mr. Rooney's. Just my luck.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Do Green Beans Grow In Dog Hair?

Because that's what's on my living room floor at the moment. I could actually grow a whole new dog with all the hair in my house at the moment. Because I have been outside doing gardens and yard work the past 4 months now because we have had such a mild winter. And I have not cleaned my house!! Because it has not rained in forever. And I keep saying that if it would just rain long enough for me to be inside, I might just clean this nasty house. But IT HAS NOT RAINED in forever! So I have stuff growing in my house.

My seeder was not getting seeds through so I asked my husband to fix it. That man is SO attached to his recliner, he had to fix it there. In the living room. In dog hair. So he says to put some seeds in the seeder hopper thing. So I did. Then he says to roll it along the floor to see if any seeds come out. Well, of course they did. Because he's a guy and things work for guys. So he did some guy things to it and it works fine now. Of course. He's a guy. And I did not get ALL the green bean seeds up when I swept last week.

So hubby's coming home this morning and I thought I might just vacuume up some of the new dog on the floor and also found some green bean seeds under his recliner nesting in some of that dog hair. If only it would rain now, we could just pick green beans in the living room. Hey, maybe hubby could just sit in his nice comfy cozy recliner and pick us some dinner! Cool!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Well, it's been almost a year since I posted here. Geeze, what have I been doing?

The past few months I have been starting 2 huge market gardens. Have already been to the farmer's market twice so far with kale, lettuce, Swiss chard and onions. Been planting like crazy here. Just brought home another flat of tomatoe plants. WE NEED RAIN!!

Also in March my 5 ewes all had single lambs. We have 3 ram lambs and 2 ewe lambs. I will keep the 2 ewe lambs of course, to make my flock bigger. I went with all A names for this year. So the 1st born is a Finn ram named Abraham. He is all black. He is Darla's. She was pregnant with a Finn ram when I got her. I hope he stays all black. Lucinda, the Finn ewe, is blackish-reddish-brown and I want to use him to breed her. And the 2 ewe lambs. Then next is Adele. She is so cute. She is Leelah's. I went ahead and docked their tails since they are more wool sheep. Then next came Axle. He looks just like his momma, Gracie, who is a Katahdin hair sheep. I had to call my friend up the road to hold Gracie so I could pull his big self out. Then came Alfie. He is Fiona's. Then about 3 weeks ago Lucinda had Annabelle. She is SO pretty. Kind of gray with black circles around both eyes. I docked her tail too. It finally came off today. She is adorable.

Also had goat kids. Just 2 does were pregnant. Abby had a single little doeling on March 10th. I named her Iris Josie after my mom and neice who,s birthdays were the 8th and 9th of March. She is a little stinker, like her big sister, Zarah. Then Sandy had twins, a doe finally, after 4 years of all bucks, and a buck, who is amazingly gorgeous. I will keep the doeling. I named her Brie. The buck already is spoken for. He will go to a friend's farm in a few weeks. I named him Brick. He's all spotted. Just so cute. So now I am milking again!!

So I have been really busy lately. And need to get out there and get some chicken manure and til it in for the tomatoes. I am waiting for the sun to go behind the trees first though. It's so hot. And this is only the 4th of May. My sheep are miserable already. I told them this is nothing yet. I'll have to put a fan out there for them, poor things.

I hope everyone is doing well. I want to put some pictures up of all my babies. I will soon. Happy Spring and happy planting.