Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Being Industrious

Today I was awake at 4:00 and up before 5:00. We're getting old.
Yes, that's the back-end of a hen you see.
That's Lady Grey, who is broody on a clutch of eleven eggs, give or take. This morning she hatched out the first one!
I spent much time this morning in the chicken coop making the nesting box better for chicks - cleaning, gently shifting eggs, cleaning water and helping the new chick drink, getting chick feed, etc., etc. I enjoy chicken work.

I sat down about 6:30 to watch Mary Berry on "Who Do You Think You Are?" Did you know her great-great grandfather was a baker too? After a bit, I got antsy and decided to make a new product for my soap business: shampoo bars. (By 8:00, I had them in molds and was eating breakfast at last.)

Gumbo Lily recommended that I make this item, and I agreed. As I poured it into the molds, the shampoo was the color and consistency of lemon curd.
It's scented with rosemary and a dash of peppermint.
I don't think I'll be going back to my Prell. 
The recipe came from Wellness Mama, a respected site. We'll see if it's up to snuff!
I bought premium all-natural lard. In the past, people have been turned off by lard, but it's lovely for your skin and hair and makes a good bar.

I'm also making warming pouches filled with flax seed. Have you tried one? I bought one about five years ago from a friend in Oriental. She's since moved, so I feel the market is fair game for warming pouches. They're easy to make. Flax seed is the best filler for these lovely muscle helpers. Pop them in the microwave for 30 - 60 seconds and put them on your neck. I've used mine so much. Here are the fabrics I chose:
I still need to price these new items, and I promise I'm crunching the numbers to ensure I don't lose money on their sales. 

Oh! And guess what? I got a new piano student this week. An older gentleman called me after seeing my advertisement at the post office. I take that as a good indication that I'm on the right track. Now it's 9:00, and soon I'll drive to the music store in town to choose practice books for my new student. That will be fun! All that I've done since 5:00 this morning has technically been "work," but it doesn't feel so. Many, many thanks for your kind words of support for me as I step out into more avenues of from-home work. You have been wonderful, friends!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Farm Update: July 3

I haven't done a farm post in nearly two months. I have various excuses: rain, rain, and then a bit more rain. A wedding. The outrageous heat. But truthfully, I had energy for one blog, not two. There you have the unvarnished truth.

For future reference, here are a few stats:

*3 chicks survive from the May clutch. I think two are hens, but unsure still. They are nine weeks old today.
*Ethel is broody on four Ameracauna eggs, one week in. 
*It's a bad tomato year. I have about 25 plants in the garden, but the Mini Orange plants are performing badly because of excessive rain - rotten fruit. The 2 plants in pots with drainage did better.
*Matt's Wild Cherry tomato plants are doing okay. The 3 plants that overwintered on the porch have done extremely well. I should try that again. I had abundant cherry tomatoes all through June, which is early. The rope trellising is not a good solution for tomatoes. We need a new plan. Cages are too short for vining varieties.
*Cucumbers are bearing very well. The pickling variety turn yellow quickly. But the rope trellising is perfect for cucumbers. We will do that each year.

*I started my Blue Lake bean plants too late. I have 8 plants in a bed fenced against rabbits. Difficult to weed. Pepper plants also in there, and growing well.
*The greens bed was fabulous. We could not eat or sell even a majority of it.
*Babies' Breath and Chamomile did not grow well. Heavy rain destroyed the first and heat/weeds destroyed the second.
*Carrots appear to be growing well. No sign of orange root yet. I sowed seeds on March 29.
*A good year for onions, which were put in as sets last fall. At the end of June their tops were down enough to pull them. They're curing on the front porch. Then I think we'll store them in the frig.

* Each year our potato harvest improves. Adam harvested them today. He'll brush off the dirt and we'll store them in the spare bedroom.

*I've had decent farm sales at the market, selling nearly everything. 
*I have so much tomato sauce left over from last year that I'm cooking it down and turning it all into tomato paste, which Adam uses most readily in cooking.
Reduced by half, after simmering for a day

*We ate some peas this year, but did not freeze any. We don't tend to remember what's in the deep freezer, and garden produce sits there for a long time, uneaten. Need to improve on that.
* I made a batch of tea tree soap in February, one of lavender in March, and just made a mixed batch last week. I've steadily made batches of Healing Herb Ointment, Bee Balm, and Insect Repellent Lotion Bars, all of which sell well. I'll make a bit of ointment for ourselves today because we use it so often.
*Herb beds are doing very well, if weedy. I made a large batch of herbal tea (mint, lemon balm, tarragon, lemongrass), and sold the first tin of it at the market on Saturday.

*Adam's willow tree starts are doing extremely well. Thicker wands have grown better than thinner ones. 
*My seven loofah vines are looking very good. They won't bear until autumn. I sold almost all of my last year's loofah scrubs.

I think that's about it! If you want to know more about what's happening in our lives -- the roof, the wedding, the dogs -- skip on over to my other blog, Through a Glass Darkly. Thanks for stopping by!