Saturday, October 26, 2013

homemade laundry soap

If there is something I can make instead of buying it already made..I'm going to do it! Laundry soap has to be one of the most economical things to make vs. buying You may not get that Tide or Gain smell but is that really such a bad thing? All those fake scents aren't what they're cracked up to be anyway. 
 I used to sell buckets and buckets of my goat milk laundry soap at the farmers market and here's how I make it!

2 boxes of washing soda (arm & hammer - 55oz)
1 box of borax (20 mule team - 76oz)
1 large 8oz or more bar of soap (I made my own goat milk bar of soap specifically for laundry and used only essential oils to scent or left it completely unscented - if not using a concentrated laundry soap bar, you may need to add another bar of soap)
1 cup of baking soda (if you do not like baking soda, you can easily omit it or add extra's like oxy-clean in addition to the baking soda or instead)

I used a stick blender to grind the grated soap and a little borax together to get the soap to a consistency I liked. Then added all ingredients to a bucket and mixed well with my hand. This will fill a 2 gallon bucket and be over 190oz of laundry soap. This is not detergent, so it is mild, non-sudsing and safe for all washing machines. Even the front loaders. And it got really special rave reviews from those that were looking for that gentle but sufficient clean for clothe diapers.
1 tablespoon will wash 1 normal sized load - heavily soiled load may need 2 tablespoons. Wallah and you're set for laundry soap for a loooong time and depending on where you get your'll spend less than $20 for 2 gallons of it which will wash over 400 loads. And you have complete control over your ingredients. What is not to love about homemade!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

harvest celebration farm dinner

In celebration of our milking season coming to a near end, we held a small community fall harvest dinner here at the farm. We provided the chili, drinks and of course a little cheese and all who came were asked to bring a side to share. A really fun evening of friends, neighbors, family, moonlight, warm fire and really great food! Apparently I was too busy chatting and relaxing and slacked on the picture taking. But here's a few of what I did take and also a little about the stew pot and our pork chili...and just in case you want to make chili for a small army sometime in the future, I've included the recipe!

After weeks of looking and looking at used pots, we finally decided to start our own heirloom hand me down and purchase a brand new cast iron 18 gallon pot.

It needed to be seasoned but what an awesome pot and just the size I had in mind. It is obviously way too huge to fit in the oven for seasoning, so we opted to season it on an open fire outside. We greased, heated and cooled it several times before the pot itself no longer smoked when it was hot and the inside of the pot was smooth enough to cook in. 
greasing the pot

seasoning the pot
We will likely keep repeating the process a couple more times before the pot is seasoned the way it needs to be. But in the meantime, we will cook in it!

ingredient #1 - our own pastured and milk fed pork

 ~Pork Chili~
10 pounds of pork roasts (cooked separately and deboned - add only meat to your pot)
I used a 10lb bag of pintos and 3lbs of navy beans 
(soaked overnight then drained - navy beans are a natural soup thickener)
15 gallons of liquid (combo of the broth from the pork, water and chicken broth)
15 chile and banana peppers (diced)
6 onions (diced)
12 garlic cloves (diced)
1 large bunch of cilantro
cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne & red pepper to taste
~ We sat the pot on rebar over an open fire. We used cinder blocks to run the rebar through for the pot to sit on - the heavier the rebar the better..cuz this pot is HEAVY. You could also hang it over the fire but the rebar & cinder block set up was the simplest for us. Once it's secure and sitting evenly, add all ingredients to your pot. You will want to get the liquid to a slow boil, so build your fire up and then let it die down to adjust your heat. We simmered the stew for 7 hours and it was perfect. 
our son Derek was the chili stirrer and kept the fire going

the finished chili with lots of added all natural smoke flavor...delish!

Happy Fall Y'all!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

chicken & dumplings

 It's chicken & dumplin' weather here this week. And what warms you to your bones more than a hearty homemade soup that's been simmering on the stove most of the day. Mmmm mm. Even though I've improvised the soup, this is how my mom always made her dumplings. As a little girl, I can remember watching her do this. Watching her at work in the kitchen are some of my favorite childhood memories and this was one of my favorite meals that she made! And the majority of the time, the fryer she used was one that we raised and processed ourselves..which is a whole different story for another day. But if you need a good dumplin' ya go!

2-3lb whole fryer
1 gallon or more of water
chunk carrots, celery, onions & minced garlic
~In a dutch oven, if you have one, simmer all together for a couple of hours or more until tender. Remove chicken, debone and then return meat to your stock.
Add to your chicken & stock:
4 potatoes - diced
salt & pepper to taste
(you may need to add more water at this time, depending on how long you've simmered your chicken and how much water has cooked down. Use your judgement)
~Simmer until potatoes are tender. While potatoes are cooking, make the dumplings.
cutting the dough into square dumplings
dropping the dumplings into boiling soup
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of water (or a little more if needed for the dough to hold together)
~Roll out about 1/4" thick and cut into squares - drop into boiling soup and cover. Simmer for about 20 min. until done.
Cheers to tasty food ~

This post is part of the Clever Chicks Blog Hop
The Chicken Chick

merry mitts ~ new & improved ~ herbal antiseptic

 Just a new little inspiration I've been working on..A couple of years ago I created Merry Mitts and ever since, I have been working on making it even better. And by George, I think I've finally got it! I started with infusing a blend of my finest oils with my favorite skin soothing herbs ~ calendula, echinacea, rosemary, lavender & comfrey. Most of which, I grow myself and always using organic growing methods. I've also added the healing essential oils of myrrh & tea tree and then finally put in the necessary naturally collected beeswax and the organic african shea butter to create the balm like consistency I'm looking for. It also contains vitamin E and grapefruit seed extract to improve and prolong its natural shelf life. Each tin weighs approximately .5ounces.

If you're looking for a lovely all natural little salve packed full of healing properties, I hope you'll consider giving my Merry Mitts a try. Cheers to healthier skin ~

Click here to purchase Merry Mitts in our little online farm store:
Merry Mitts

Sunday, October 6, 2013

hanna's home

As I walked down to the barn this morning, there was a cool calm in the air and the fields were quiet and still. The sunrise was telling me, today's a new beginning with a new story to be told. 
Hanna & Willa Bee sharing some love
 And so I will begin. Yesterday was the day I took Hanna to her new farm. After spending some last moments together with my guardian girls, Hanna jumped in the back of my little car and off we went. She loves to ride and it was a beautiful day for a drive! 

Hanna's ready
 beauty along the way
taking a break and soaking up every sweet minute together
a reassuring snuggle for me and Hanna as we arrive at her new farm
I had decided not to say goodbye to Hanna..after all there is no final farewell between friends. Instead I continue to reassure her and we spend the ride enjoying each others company. Even though it seems she knows these are our last moments together, her trust in me never wavers. My feelings this day were all over the place..excitement for Hanna as she begins this new chapter in her life but I also can't help but grieve a little for me too. 

 Inside all of us, lies our home. Our home is where our hearts are at, it is no different for a dog. And so I find comfort in knowing Hanna has found her way home. She is now equipped to live without me, her instincts have been nurtured and her spirit has blossomed with unmeasurable strength and courage. Hanna is flying today, on her own farm..and I am so proud of her!
checking out her new paddock

  Meeting Trish, one of the farm owners and Hanna's new guardian.

Hanna walking the perimeters while her new goat family checks her out

Hanna's smile says it all.

In less than 8 weeks, a dog was owner surrendered with her sister to a local kill animal shelter. She was adopted out almost immediately and then returned, for reasons unknown. Her euthanasia was then scheduled for August 20, I took her home on August 19 and she became Hanna. Hanna's story is meant to not just inspire but also to share hope, for where there is hope there is life. And where there is life, there is a happy Hanna..all she needed was a chance.

You can read more about Hanna here: Hanna's Journey ~ A Guardian's Tale to Greatness

Thank you to all who have followed along with Hanna & I through this journey, for your generous encouragement and support! Knowing Hanna is a gift, loving her was opening it.