Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adventures in Soap Making

This morning we made a batch of laundry soap and a batch of dish washing soap. The Fels-Naptha used for the laundry soap grated into a beautiful creamy yellow consistency. Similar to macaroni and cheese, but not as tempting to eat! Did you know that Fels-Naptha has its roots in Yanceyville, North Carolina?!

Grated Fels-Naptha
When we started to heat up the water with the Fels-Naptha it created mesmerizing clouds in the bottom of the pan.
Melting Fels-Naptha
For not being a sudsy soap, it did make suds while adding the borax and the washing soda. Hopefully this will not cause any problems for our final product.
Mixing the ingredients and created some suds
Pouring the ingredients and additional water into a bucket for the final step in the laundry soap
We also made dish washing liquid soap from a recipe found online.  One of the most fascinating occurrences was when we put white vinegar into the mixture of castile soap and water. It turned milky white and congealed!
Congealing dish soap after adding vinegar
After we finished & calculated our costs we realized the use of castile soap in our recipe for the dish washing soap increased the cost so we did not really save a whole lot of money with this recipe. Perhaps if we find a recipe without castile soap in it, there might be a chance of it being a money saver. The laundry soap is certainly a money saver, and for the little amount of time it takes to put it all together, it is worth it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Friends of ours placed innoculated mushroom logs on our property in late spring. We have started to reap the benefits of these logs and have been harvesting shiitake mushrooms!
They vary in size, but are tasty no matter how big! It is tricky to find them all, and easy to miss a few each time we check.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


 We have started taking orders for our eggs and have worked out bi-weekly deliveries for several groups of people.
The chickens have been keeping up their end of the deal by laying enough eggs for each order! We are also happy that our new layers are able to contribute to the cause.
 We are keeping organized by labeling each carton and putting an informational sheet about eggs in the carton.
Coolers, loaded and ready for delivery.  This is an exciting new development for our farm.  We appreciate our customers!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not-so-Graceful Guineas

A while ago we let the guineas out of their pen to wander the property. Releasing them has confirmed our suspicion that they are not the brightest critters in the world, particularly when it comes to maneuvering around objects.  They are entertaining when they roost on top of various buildings on the farm. . .

Guineas on top of the brooder house

When it comes to the guineas being separated from one another, they cannot seem to figure out how to go around fences or doors in order to be together again!

 The guineas will spend hours running along fences making noises at one another and trying to figure out how to be reunited. Thus, not-so-graceful guineas!

Also, not so many guineas any more as we lost 2 (during the night) to predators the week before Christmas.  The remaining 3 must be the ones with survival skills because they have not returned to the tree from which the 2 dearly departed were taken and now sleep in the large hen-a-bago with the Rhode Island Reds and Partridge Rocks.  During the day they roam about the farm and, alas, the neighbor's yard.  As the sun begins to set they head back to the roosts inside hen-a-bago 2.  We haven't lost any more so it seems to be a plan that's working for them--and for us.  We like these goofy looking (and acting), noisy, tick-eating guys or gals--we still are not sure what we have.    

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Before and After-- Looking Back at our Animals!

We were looking through our photographs the other day and realizing just how much our animals (or farm staff) have grown over the last season! In this post we share some photos of the "before and after" of the no-longer-babies so you can see how much they have grown! 


Charlie with baby Simon, still at breeder's facility before the kid is old enough to come to the farm.


Getting there, not quite adult yet, but growing larger! 


Babies, our first run of chicks--a straight run mixed variety of heavy, dual-purpose breeds.

Adolescent Rhode Island Reds and Partridge Rocks



Babies aka keets


Getting there, not quite adults, but we are starting to see more of their adult features! 

Unfortunately, we are also seeing fewer guineas as 3 have been taken by predators.  Apparently guineas are especially enjoyed by hungry wild critters such as raccoon and owls who hunt at night when guineas are vulnerable due to their natural desire to roost in trees. We have three surviving guineas who seem to be smart enough to keep themselves alive by sleeping each night in the large hen-a-bago with the Rhode Island Reds and Partridge Rocks. 
Photo, courtesy of Jami Ansell
Our guardian livestock dog
The day she arrived at the farm in June 2011.

Adolescent, she still has some growing up to do! 
Photo, courtesy of Jami Ansell
Photo, courtesy of Jami Ansell
Our first year with our hard-working staff of animals has been both an adventure and a learning experience!