The tree is up, the gifts are nearly wrapped (that’s a nice way of saying that I haven’t gotten that far), and I have even made a fresh batch of kombucha to help me get through this month. Normally, I am a big fan of the charms of the holiday season and even more so of the special foods that it brings, but this year I feel like I am at a bit of a stalemate with December. I had no idea how much paperwork and prying was involved with purchasing a house. Consider me educated! With a nearly four-year old in the house, we are trying extra hard to keep the house and moving business out of everyday conversation so that she can focus on what is most important: family, cookies, glitter, and Santa.
Despite my drowning need to get our whole house and yard and animals andcoopsandcagesandfencingandcannedfoodsandandandand packed up by mid-January, I still have to keep this little, tiny farm running. That means harvesting the last of the scraggly veggies from the garden, breeding rabbits in time to be born and weaned before the big move, daily feeding chores, weekly cleaning chores, and it even means that I still have to shovel chicken poop.
There won’t be too many DIY projects between now and “the big move”, but I can guarantee you, there will be more than enough to quench your DIY thirst in the new year! Here is what I have on tap for 2014:
Our 2014 Build List
• buy/find/wish for the ever elusive “goat fence”
• build an inexpensive and deer-sturdy garden fence
• build and plant hügelkultur garden (to conserve our well water)
• plant a hügelkultur fruit orchard
• put together some sort of plan for a grey water system
• build a mega-sized fodder system
• build a new cob oven
• build a goat milking stanchion
• put a back door onto the new dairy shed
What are your plans or goals for 2014?
My second batch turned out soooo much better than my first. This time I switched it up a teeny bit and used 80% organic olive oil and 20% lard (for more of a lather), organic milk, with 4 tablespoons of Frühlingskabine honey. My new and improved soap is a consistent creamy texture, smells nice, and even made some suds when I washed my hands from cutting it into bars. Success! Now I just have to learn patience and wait 4-6 weeks for it to cure and harden before using it. Erg…
I used a 6% super fat in my recipe just to be on the safe side. This recipe uses 56 ounces of fats/oils. I used this lye calculator to figure out how much lye to use.
I think I did pretty darn well for my first batch of soap from scratch. I didn’t burn myself, I didn’t spill lye on my clothes, I kept it away from the kid and the dog, I pre-drilled holes on my homemade mold box and didn’t split the wood, and the soap even set up like it was supposed to! Taking the time to pre-drill holes while building was probably my biggest accomplishment during this whole project.
I mean really guys– I wish you knew how accident prone I am. I once sliced through my fingertip with a wood burner. A few years ago I attached my hand to a wall via nail gun. I can’t even count how many times I have burned myself on the oven… and waffle iron… and cook pan. I am so notorious for hurting myself that last year, my mother bought me elbow-length oven mitts. It’s bad.
Aaaaanyway. The soap looks and smells awesome! The wooden loaf mold I made worked like a charm. Since I lined it with parchment paper, the soap slipped right out without so much as a thought. I sliced the loaf up into about 12 generous bars (and cut off the sad looking parts) and set them up in an open box to cure over the next four weeks. Some of the bars are a little misshapen so I am thinking of felting them and then giving them as holiday gifts. I’d hate to sell my first batch just because I am so inexperienced. I’d like to use this same recipe again and make a nicer looking soap. Then I will sell some of my Old School Soap with Frühlingskabine honey in our online Etsy shop.
Excuse my dark indoor photo…
Excuse my sickly man voice… (I have a cold.)
Yesterday we ran out of regular bar soap in the house. So what does a crazy wannabe-homesteader do when she runs out of soap? She makes some. From scratch. I’m talkin’ old school fat and lye sop here, not that easy melt-and-pour stuff.
While I was out picking up cold-process soap making supplies, I also grabbed some store bought bar soap. Because guys– it’s going to be like three weeks before I can use this homemade stuff and I would like to wash my hands between now and then. In order to start on my “old school soap” journey, I had to buy a $20 immersion/stick blender, a bottle of 100% lye (sodium hydroxide labeled for use as drain cleaner at Tractor Supply), a crazy amount of olive oil, and some parchment paper. Luckily I had some scrap wood from a previous building project so I could easily make my own loaf-size soap mold for free. Thank goodness I am a scrap wood hoarder!
I can’t show you my lovely, magical soap or soap mold just yet (because it is hibernating for 24-hours), but I can tell you that it looks and smells incredible. Now let’s just hope that it turns out! My old school soap is 100% organic olive oil with our Frühlingskabine honey mixed in. I don’t know if the color will hold, but when I mixed the honey in, it turned almost a pumpkin color! Amazing! I have never made soap from scratch before so I can’t help but be impressed with the color, the process, and the fact that I didn’t burn myself or screw my hand to the workbench. Baby steps people.
Look forward to pictures and results of my little honey-fied experiment tomorrow! Hold your breath, keep your fingers crossed, and knock on wood for me.
Bam! The most popular breeds and how much to feed them. You asked and I delivered.
I will work on a chicken version tomorrow, but for now, here is a handy chart for feeding rabbits sprouted fodder. Remember, sprouted fodder can be barley, wheat, or oats for the best results and protein content. This chart was made using popular rabbit breeds so if your breed is not featured simply use this formula for figuring out how much sprouted fodder to feed:
(Rabbit weight) x 6% = (Weight of fodder to feed)
(Rabbit weight) x 0.06 = (Weight of fodder to feed)