It’s early this morning. About 4 am: A little later when I finally post this. I am sitting by my wood cook stove here at the farm drinking my coffee and pondering.
My mind is racing as it often does this time of year. Do I have all the seeds ordered I need for my medicinal and food gardens? Will the babies in the barn survive these cold nights? Will it ever stop snowing? When should we till the garden?
I always feel overwhelmed this time of year, but in a weirdly exhilarating way. On the one hand I have too much to do. On the other hand, I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this season in my own personal cycle of life.
Urban folks probably have no idea how busy this time of year is for us farmers. We are boutique and more of a homestead than a big farm. But we do everything by hand ourselves. It is a full time job. But, while most folks are relaxing for winter still, for us things totally kick up a notch from now until about June. Seed starts, babies in the barn, prepping the gardens, etc.
Well, rather than be overwhelmed I then drift to my project the last few days with my daughter: making buttermilk goats soap using our own buttermilk from our goats and tallow from our grass fed cow.
Our daughter has started her own farm / lifestyle company called ReWild Co. (www.re-wild-company.com) where she focuses on farm made apparel, apothecary and wildcrafting. So, we spent the last few days making soap over our wood cook stove.
Here is the process we used.
Ingredients: grass fed beef tallow, olive oil, coconut oil & goat buttermilk
Meanwhile I am mixing the buttermilk goats soap outside with the lye.
Above we are mixing the lye/buttermilk that had reached 95 degrees with the coconut, tallow & olive oil that also reached 95 degrees. You want them both the same temperature. Then you mix them in a mixer or by hand until the soap ‘traces’. Trace is when the soap is thick enough, you can drip a line of soap across the top of the mixture and the trail will stay somewhat formed and visible for a short time atop the mix.
Once it starts tracing we add essential oils for wellness and scent. Then we pour into our molds that have been wiped inside with mineral oil so they remove from the molds easier the following day.
We let them sit in the mold a couple of days. Because these molds have patterns, you want them to come out of the mold clean without some of the soap staying inside the pattern of the mold. A trick is to freeze the soap/mold for about 30 minutes so the soap comes out cleanly from the mold.
Once you take the soap out of the molds, you cut them into their final shape. Then, you let them cure for 4-6 weeks. We use a shelf with wire base and we turn them every day so the water evaporates out and it creates a perfect mild a sudsy medicinal soap bar that everyone loves.
I feel really good being able to make such beautiful and useful things from resources that come from our own land. There are so many steps in the process, from kidding so we have milk from the does, to milking twice a day every day all season long (from about February through September), then the process of making butter and butter milk with the milk, then storing the buttermilk for soap making (we freeze it), then the process of the soap.
It’s a long and time consuming process, but it is so rewarding. It has become the cycle of life that I, my husband and my daughter live by. It has become our family rhythm. And, that is just for the soap. We also raise wool and fiber from our sheep and alpacas. There is a similar pattern to the cycle life with that. Then there is the raising of medicinal plants, food (eggs, meat, dairy, fruit, nuts, vegetables and craft items like gourds).
Yes, it is overwhelming this time of year. The snow is falling again. I take another sip of coffee. But, I am so proud of our skills, our farm and the resources we generate and use sustainably. It makes it all so impactful to me and my family. And, now our daughter has decided to launch a company so these benefits can be offered to others. http://www.re-wild-company.com. I’d love for you to check out her products in her store.
Well, it’s getting light now. I must pour myself one more cup of coffee, then put another log on the fire. Then I’ll bottle feed my house goat kid I am watching sleep then feed the puppies in the other room, then go out and see if we have any new kids or lambs in the barn.
Have a wonderful day.