Thursday, March 31, 2016

Making soap.

 I have been trying to make at least 2 batches of soap every few days now. So far I have 2 of the honey oatmeal, a blueberry oatmeal, honeysuckle, rose, orange patchouli, and another with Nag Champa, bergamot and chamomile with calendula petas. This one has sunflower oil as well as castor oil. The others have castor oil too. I like the way castor oil makes the soap more bubbly.

With these 2 soaps, I tried the way Suzanne over at made hers for a whiter goat milk soap. I don't think these are very much lighter than the ones I made before, but they are considerably lighter than they would have been had I not used this method. I did use a few fragrance oils, which usually makes soap darker. I put these 2 molds in the freezer for 2 hours. (my freezer still smells so good! I hope it doesn't affect the food in there.) They have not darkened the 2 days since I cut them. So I think I have successfully made a lighter 100% goat milk soap using some fragrance oils. I will for sure use this method on the Dragon's Blood soap I'll be making soon. It always turns a dark chocolate color.

Almost forgot to say that I use totally frozen fresh raw goat milk too. That makes the soap light anyway. But making the liquid as cold as possible keeps it from burning when adding the lye to it. Especially use frozen when using anything acidic, like juice, wine or kombucha!

I have been making dandelion tea for the past month now. Last year it really helped my allergies. And it's SO good! It's also really good exercise, all that walking and bending and squatting. Just good all around!

And I just have to talk about this dog. Stella always has to have something in her mouth. Always. Lately she's helped bring in wood for the fire. She's so sweet and helpful. But she is filthy and stinky! She so needs a good bath and a shave. Bubba does too. All over the house they leave dog hairs. We sweep sometimes twice a day and still there is dog hair all over. I have a friend who is a dog groomer. I'll take them both to her in April to be shaved and bathed. But they'll come right home and roll in some kind of nastiness somewhere. Just because.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sheep shearing. Done!

This morning at 10:30, the shearers came. I had the sheep all ready to go. They got all set up and grabbed a sheep.

It was Cara. She did so good too. Her wool is really nice.

She went back in with the other sheep. All was fine.

Then Campbelle left. When she came back in, Cara thought she looked a little different, so she started head butting her. A lot. It was kind of funny that Cara thought Campbelle looked different when she did too. But she didn't know that.

The alpacas hung out with the goats during shearing. They'd check in with them from time to time, just to make sure their girls were ok. When the guys would go in to grab another sheep, there would be a little ruckus and the boys would come running over to make sure no one got hurt. They are such good boys. They love their girls.

This was Darla. Her front hooves were really bad. We had to use Koppertox on them. Poor girl.

                                                                 Now 3 nekked sheep!

Here's Annabelle. She did so good. Just laid there and let them shear off all her wool. Good girl.

This is Adalaide. Her wool had always been really tight and crimpy. Well, it was all matted and I just threw most of it away. It wasn't usable at all. There was a little bit that could be used.  But look at her after being sheared. She's so pretty.

7 down, 1 to go. The little black sheep, Cameron. She might not look black, but she is.

Just look at this. I have got to get coats for these guys. Especially her. Her wool would be totally black with a coat.

All done and back out with the boys. They had to sniff them all to make sure they were their girls. Just in case.

                                                                             All is well!

8 nekked sheep, grazing on the green hill. Happy sheep! They might not think it at the time, but I do believe they like being sheared. And they are all in good health. Did not need to be wormed at all. All had very pink eyelids. I really think constantly moving them from place to place has kept the parasites at bay.

And here are the full bags of wool. That little white bag is Adalaide's. The rest are very full. I am happy with it. Now, to skirt it and then I'll think about sending all this to a mill to be made into roving. Because I still have a lot of last year's wool!

And it just took 5 hours this time!! Matt is getting better. Last year, it took him 8 hours to shear 6 sheep, then had to come back to do the other 6 sheep and it took about that long again. So 8 sheep in 5 hours. And while shearing Darla, he had to stop at least 20 times to change the blade out. She has SO much lanolin. So she took about 45 minutes. And only 1 little tiny nick. Little bitty tiny one. So he has greatly improved.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kombucha, lilacs, honey and lots of fire wood.

A year ago, when I stopped using sugar, I stopped drinking kombucha. I kept all these scobys though. They never did go bad this whole time and I have never added more tea.

So a few weeks ago I decided to try it again. You can see the scoby hanging down, that's the one I started with. She grew a baby, which is on top.

Yesterday, I noticed that dark stuff at the bottom. I had not seen it until then. Just strange.

This is the new scoby. Looks fine to me. So I went ahead and strained the tea off this morning. That black stuff was just a little bit of "slime" so it's all good.

I made a 2nd ferment, using blueberries and grated ginger. I hope it turns out as good as I think it will. I'll know in a few days.

This is on one of my lilac bushes! Some flowers! I have had these bushes about 6 years now and these are the first flowers. I am very happy to see them!

Last week I went to Hixon to get 15 gallons of honey. 3 5 gallon containers. One of them went to a friend, so we didn't have to pour that. Just 10 gallons. The good part about being the person who goes to get the honey and pour it all into jars is that there is always a little extra. Like a quart and a pint. This and a gallon should last us til I get honey from my bees in June. IF they don't swarm. Which I hope I caught them in time last week. They are still here!!!!

ANd the wood fairy struck again a few days ago! Wood shed is full and the rack is full!! We are set for a few months next winter already. I really like our wood fairy.

I think I have 2 more pottery classes left. Then I called and signed up for a sewing 101 class that starts April 12th for 6 weeks. I am excited about this class. They will teach about my sewing machine and how to cut and read a pattern, which I really need help with bad. So more classes for me!

I was making soap awhile ago and a friend called. Her doe was in labor. Her first kidding. So I got to help birth a kid over the phone while making soap today. How cool! Everything turned out great and she had a beautiful little single doe kid! Just another day on the farm.

Monday, March 28, 2016

1 week old today

 These little cuties are 1 week today! They are so sweet and adorable. I love them.

This is Sorren, the only buck kid. He's doing really good, despite a bad scare with his umbilical cord. But it's all good now.

And cute little Rika. She fell asleep in my lap yesterday, while the rest of the kids were jumping all over me and eating my hair.

Olga is a really good mother too. These are her first kids. They seem to favor her left teat, so the right needs to be milked a lot. Which is not easy, let me tell ya. Her teats are not long at all. In fact, I can only get my thumb and index finger on them. Fun, right? It takes at least 30 minutes to get just that side milked. I can't even imagine what her udder will be like when I start putting the kids in a crate at night. I might just have to invest in a milking machine, just for her.

Just look at these cute little elf ears on Astrid! She is the sweetest little kid ever. This is how she is a lot, jumping on my leg.

Astrid and Isla are 3 weeks old now. My how time flies.

I love this! They were both laid out in the sun this morning. So peaceful!

We had a wonderful day with my family yesterday. They all came out for Easter dinner. My mom even dyed some eggs. Chloe and Coryn said they were too old to hunt eggs, so I did. My daughters hid them and I went out with my egg basket. Found them all, with a little help from Abby. So fun! Who's too old to hunt eggs? Not me.

I hope you all had a wonderful day, celebrating our risen Lord!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Appalachian egg basket

 I went to a basket weaving class last Saturday. I always wondered why it's called basket weaving. I found out. For 3 hours, I was weaving this little egg basket! You'd think something so small wouldn't have taken so long. But it did.

The handle is wisteria, the ribs privet and the rest is kudzu. This was still a little wet when I took these pictures. And I had to wait to snip off all the little loose ends. It's not perfect, but I love it. And I made it myself! If I had thought about it more and not just plowed into it, I would have made the kudzu go the same way. Like use the outside of the vine, not let it get all twisted. You can see how it's light and dark. Some of the ladies had designs where some was light then some was dark. But mine is all willy nilly, just like me. When I make another one, I'll be more careful.

It's just perfect for the 8 eggs my 8 hens lay nearly every day! I don't think it would hold 9 eggs.

It was not a good time to have a basket class, right at the end of winter. Bill said the best time to gather kudzu is in winter. Well, too late now, right? But I can use other materials, like honeysuckle. Which takes dye really good. I have tons of honeysuckle and dye. I will have to boil the vines 1 1/2 hours, then strip the bark. I also have plenty of wisteria and privet too. So there might be some more basket weaving in my future. It really was fun to create something useful from weeds.
 I saw this door in my mom's garage last week. She said we could have it. I've been wanting a new back door ever since we've lived here and this was perfect. It was 1" too wide though, so my husband has been cutting and sanding it to get it to fit. It's still not right yet.

This is the back door. It's horrible! And so narrow too.

I've been planting in the garden already! I don't know if I have ever planted this early. So far I have planted kale, collards, mixed greens, radishes, lettuce, 3 different kinds of onions, beets and dandelions. Yes, I bought dandelion seeds to plant in my garden. I've been picking them all over the garden, but thought it'd be nice to have a dedicated row just for them. And these are a different variety. So we shall see how they do.

And the other day, I put up 2 cattle panels a little more than half way down the driveway, so the sheep and alpacas can mow the tall grass for us. It's a long driveway, but didn't take them too long to eat it down. Just a few days. So I'll probably let them out there once a week and we won't have to mow here!

I don't know what happened, but here's the back door in, but not quite where it fits yet. Still have some work to do so that I can go in and out. But I love it. I'll have to make some curtains though, because the sun comes right in back here and gets really hot.

It's a beautiful Good Friday here. The family is all coming here for Easter dinner Sunday. I hope to go to church, then the Chattanooga market before dinner. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Astrid, the sheep herding goat.

Sheep crossing! Going through the new gate to the outback.

                                                          Sugar, saying hello to the babies.

Can you see little Astrid between the tree? I think she thinks she's a sheep. She loves them.

The sheep think she's herding them. It's so funny. She runs, then they run.

Here she is, running around them, keeping them in a pack. Good girl!

Cara's giving her a hard time. Astrid wants her to go back to the sheep. She finally did.

That was fun!  After they do this for awhile, the sheep go their way and the goats go theirs.