Happy New Year 2017!

It’s the third day of the new year. I’ve spent these last few days fixing up an upstairs bedroom for my daughter. It feels great to finally get to the point of clearing out the whole interior of the room, which has been used for storage for the past 7 years. I have been working on it for a year and a half now, but with such a small house, and part of it being used for my soap business, there never seems to be a place to put extra stuff that is not in use, but also needs to be kept. We have thrown away, given away, sold, or donated about half the contents of the house. We are getting there, slowly.

New Years eve Ciara, my smallest goat, kidded 3 weeks early with a still-born doe kid. I am not sure what prompted her to go into an early labor and delivery, but she seems fine now. No milk yet though. I was hoping for milk because I’m having to buy it now to make soap since all the girls are dried up prior to kidding season, which should start in 3 weeks.

I did not make any New Years resolutions because I really could not think of anything I wanted to change…except everything, but it’s a gradual process, like fixing up that upstairs bedroom, and eventually the whole farmhouse. I’ve done six other rooms in the house so far. In the past I would only look at the work still to be done, and feel overwhelmed, and depressed, and then not do anything at all productive. Now, I look at the small parts of each project, and concentrate on those…a little each day to completion.

One thing I did decide to do for New Years, based on a challenge from a friend, was to change my diet to paleo/primal. I started on the last day of the old year and so far have stuck to it. Easily. I have managed to add a few unwanted pounds over the past year and would like to say goodbye to those. I tried WW, but I stayed constantly hungry and I hate tracking what I eat. With Primal eating, you don’t track, but you eliminate all grains, most sugars, and most processed foods. Replacing grains with healthy fats is something I’ve done before with good results, so I hope to see those results again. Adding in more veggies is always a challenge too.

This is day 4 and I feel great. The second day I did not feel very good but now it’s going much better. The best part is that I am not hardly even hungry. Yesterday I only ate one time. I was going to eat again but I wasn’t hungry, and didn’t feel like it. So I didn’t. I still need to find a paleo-friendly salad dressing (without canola oil or sugar) that I like. I could not find a single one at the grocery store when I looked.

Well, it’s raining here this morning, but the horses and goats still need to be fed. I have to carry hay through the rain to put it in their shelters…another project I am working on…hay under the same cover as the animals.

I wish you all a wonderful new year! If you have any delicious paleo dressing recipes, please do share!

My Etsy Soap Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interior

Advertisements

Of a Smokey Stove and a Cold Morning

images

I might say, it’s a wee bit cold in the castle this morning. The chimney is a little clogged but the clean out cap is solidly rusted on…thanks to a chimney sweep who removed the old, cumbersome chimney cap and replaced it with a new version that never kept the rain out, turning the chimney pipe into a steam heater, solidly gluing deposits of burned wood to the sides of the pipe. Summer dried the deposits out and loosened them, and gravity made sure they all fell to the bottom of the pipe, effectively inhibiting the flow of smoke up the chimney.

We have a fire going this morning, but it’s a bit smokey upon opening the stove door. A chimney sweep is being sourced at this time, after my failed attempts at removing the cap as well as the entire lower pipe piece. None of the pipe moves without moving the stove, and I am no match for a 1000 pound wood stove.

The clogged stove pipe reminds me of a few interesting insights I’ve experienced lately, being less focused on my personal problems, and more focused on things that make me feel good, like a clean sink, a swept floor, that sort of thing. It’s funny how that happens. It’s always unexpected, and only happens after you take your focus off the thing you are trying to figure out.

Kind of like a clogged chimney, where the heat and smoke don’t flow freely, and when looked at, back up out of the stove door as soon as it’s opened. When we look at our problems, and focus on them, they clog up our minds and our bodies, making us depressed, anxious, and a bit crazy. But taking the focus OFF of our problems and the things we DON’T like, and focusing instead on the things in our lives we DO like, even little things, or anything else, besides our problems, we clear the way for solutions and answers to flow freely to us, uninhibited.

So, I play games with my five year old grandson with no guilt at all. In the grocery store, we pretend we are crawling through the ductwork in the ceiling, at home we play genies and gems on the computer, get excited over new pokemon we’ve caught or hatched, animate the dogs and stuffed animals, and make up new dances and short plays…

Everyone should have access to a five-year old child. We could all throw away our prozac while constructing an imaginary world that is a lot more fun and less problematic than our “real lives”.

And that is all.

Construct

Cherry’s Valentine

I took this video this morning of our little Valentines Day present. Meet Miss Valentine. Her mamas name is Cherry Blossom, so we’ve dubbed her Cherry’s Valentine in honor of her pretty mama. Valentine has gotten her “sea legs” and is jumping and hopping around all over the place. Please excuse my poor video-making abilities. I’ve only done a few videos so far and haven’t really gotten the hang of my editor yet. Hence, it took me 6 tries to get something that wasn’t completely goofy looking. Hope you enjoy it.

On a Cold Winters Day

It’s a cold, cold morning here, and the weather kind of fits how I am feeling inside right now. My sweet Miley, our doe with Listeriosis, lost the battle yesterday and my heart is broken. Some people may never know how much an animals spirit can bond with their own. But I am not one of those people. Luckily, the losses around here are very infrequent and rare.

Night before last Miley kept me awake all night long. She just could not get comfortable and she was obviously miserable. I had hoped so much that the paralyzing effects of this insidious bacterium would resolve with treatment. But it only got worse. It was around midnight that I felt her not wanting to be here anymore. It was too much for her and I made the decision to call the vet early that morning. He was able to come yesterday and agreed with me that we had done all that was possible and she was ready to be free. And we let her leave this world as gently as possible.

I have spent the last two days crying. This is only the second doe I have ever lost in 10 years of raising goats. I might not have felt so bad if Miley was old, but she was only 8, and my favorite goat to milk, ever. She had a soft and quiet voice and absolutely never stood at the gate screaming like some of the other goats do. I still have Miley’s mother and daughter, and her two buck kids from this year. Everyone else in the herd so far remains perfectly healthy.

In consulting with my vet, we were trying to pinpoint possible places where she could have picked up enough of the bacteria to make her so ill. Listeria, as I have learned, is everywhere, even inside of an animals mouth, and in humans too. It is when they are allowed access, my vet feels, through a possible cut in the mouth, such as from a thorn or hay that is too course, that they get into the blood stream and then into the brain.

I am taking her for necropsy today, hoping to learn something that may help prevent this in the future.

On a brighter note, Cherry is expecting kids soon! She was due yesterday, but my girls usually go over a couple of days. She is huge though, so I am thinking there are possibly three in there. Thankfully, she was happily chewing cud this morning with no signs of kidding today, which means I can get necessary things done this morning without worrying about her kidding in the freezing weather, unassisted….If I am lucky, she will hold off until tomorrow so I can be here all day.

I am looking forward to the early spring as predicted by Punxsutawney Phil, Weather Prophet Extraordinary. I hope he wasn’t joking!

Goat Listeriosis. Day #4 Down.

Today marks the 4th day Miley has been been down with Listeriosis and unable to rise. I have been feeding her with a syringe, and offering her warm water at each feeding which she tries soooo hard to lap up. I can occasionally hear her swallow while she is lapping, but it’s slow going and exhausting for me to hold the water pan for her because I also have to prop her body up with my legs and pillows. Once propped up, feeding her with the syringe is a little easier because I can do it from the front of her and not have to hold her upright at the same time. I have not weighed her in a few years, but she is probably around 140 pounds. She’s a smaller Alpine, thankfully.

12714455_10208657335492511_1893838818_n

This picture was taken this morning. The paralysis affects her mostly on her right side. (left side in the picture). Her ear droops on that side, as does her eye and she cannot chew food or swallow on that side. Her eye looks opaque because when she first went down in the straw, she went down on her paralyzed side with her head thrown back stiffly and she ground that poor eyeball into the straw with a lot of pressure. It actually looks a lot better today. I am treating it with penicillin and it doesn’t look like she damaged the eyeball itself. The swelling seems to be just in the covering of her eye, which has started to recede with treatment and getting it out of the straw and dirt.

12714242_10208657346132777_2030442379_n

Here she is propped up a bit after a feeding. You can see her affected eye a little better in this picture. It’s winter here, and cold near the floor so I keep her covered to help reduce any stress she might have trying to stay warm. There is a woodstove in the room too, so it’s pretty warm higher up, just a little drafty down where she is.

12666371_10208657350612889_1052166784_n

This is how i am trying to reduce pressure on her limbs. They are stiff and tend to stick out. I wish I could get her up and laying on her other side because there is a lot of pressure on that hind leg that is underneath her. She is on a mattress, which helps, but over the long term, I am not sure if that leg will suffer damage from being under constant pressure. I do turn her over now and then but it is very stressful to both of us as I have no help and she is so heavy, and I cannot leave her on the affected side because she twitches and breaths heavier than normal so I know she does not tolerate it well.

This afternoon, after I gave her coconut water with baby cereal and a bottle of high-protein boost, with 350 calories, plus water, after I got finished she acted like she wanted to eat my fingers. She seemed to have had enough of the syringing, so I went and got her a pan of chaffhay which is a very soft and moist alfalfa hay product. She went after it with GUSTO, and I was so amazed I took this video! I didn’t let her eat too much because I am not sure if she is swallowing it well or not. I will offer her more a little later and see how she does.

 

For this video Miley asked to wear my Rosary that a lady from church gave me years ago. I think she likes it and it looks great on her. I told her she could wear it anytime she wanted too.

I am expecting a shipment of Usnea this afternoon by fedex express. I read online where it helped another goat with Listeriosis, and am hoping it will help Miley. I have contacted a few people/herbalists about this herbal extract and how to use it, but have not heard back from anyone yet. If anyone out there knows the best way to use Usnea for this condition in a goat, please contact me or leave a comment, and I will get it on my phone.

 

Felted Soap Making Tutorial

Need a gift idea for that friend or relative that has everything? How about a soft and woolly felted soap? Felted soaps take less than 30 minutes from start to finish and can be made to look any way  you’d like. The finished product can even be further embellished with some fancy needle-felting which I will cover in another post.

Why felted soap?

*A felted soap is a soap and washcloth all in one.

*Felted soaps are much less likely to slide out of your hand in the shower, so are great for older people or children who have a hard time gripping a slippery soap.

*Wool is naturally antimicrobial

.*Felted soaps will last MUCH longer than non-felted soaps.

*After the soap is all used up, you’ll be left with a little wool pouch that can be refilled with soap scraps, or used as a scubby for your bathroom.

Any soap can be felted. I use my own handmade soap, but any soap will work. For the wool, I use roving, but bats can also be used. I have never been able to find any kind of roving or wool bats locally, but it’s easy to order online from supply houses such as The Woolery. 

The first thing you do is break off a length of roving. I usually use about 18 inches, or 4 to 5 soap-lengths worth, depending on the thickness of the roving.

12666382_10208604928742375_424326634_n

You’ll then pull that piece of roving in half, and take one piece, and spread it out to width of your soap, like this.

12650287_10208604927662348_1861449655_n

You will slide your bar to the end of the roving closest to you, and roll the soap up into the roving tightly.

12648036_10208604921302189_224937258_n

After you’ve got the roving rolled over your soap the long-way, you’ll turn your soap and wrap it the other way.

12650422_10208604907821852_647865328_n

You can add in different colors if you’d like. Here you can see I added some white for my final layer.

12626160_10208604906421817_1034459853_n

Once you’ve got it wrapped all over, insert the soap carefully into a piece of panty hose. I usually cut a knee-high in half and tie a knot in the open end, making two pieces to wrap soaps in and that seems to be just the right size.

12648069_10208604898221612_1584987377_n

Once you’ve got your soap wrapped up like this, you will put on a pair of plastic gloves to protect your hands from hot water, and then carefully dip the soap in the water. I use a kettle with the heat set on low-med.

Once the soap is dipped and thoroughly wet, take it to the sink (or you can do it over the kettle if you’d like to) and carefully squeeze the water out of it. You’ll feel the wool starting to shrink around the soap when you do this. Once you’ve gotten most of the water out, then use your hands to rub the soap. The friction of the rubbing, along with the soap, will cause the barbs on the wool to begin to mat together, creating the felting. This is what is known as wet-felting and can be used to make many different and beautiful items.

12650461_10208604893381491_1759418717_n

Once the wool feels fairly tight around the soap, roll the soap up in towels and squeeze until you get all of the water out that you can, then carefully peel off the panty hose from around it. Some of the wool fibers will stick to the hose, but as long as you are careful, it won’t matter.

12674092_10208604870580921_47460696_n

Here are some of the soaps I did today. I make these to order and each one of these is different, so I pin a little tag to it until it’s dry and I can get a label on it.

12674616_10208604866700824_1375055146_n

Felting soaps is easy, but if you are pressed for time, or would prefer to order them already felted, you can purchase a custom batch just for you from our Etsy shop.

Have found an easier way to felt soaps? (LOL, I am ALWAYS looking for ways to make it easier, and most of all, FASTER! If so, please comment below, and happy felting!

Easy Kombucha Growing For Dummies

Making Kombucha used to be a royal pain in my already busy weekly schedule. I bought special bottles, did second fermentations, added fruits and fermented again, strained, studied, made tea and forgot about it, etc. Often, my Kombucha did not even get made for weeks at a time. My health suffered. I needed a better way. The lazy woman’s way. And I stumbled across it completely by accident, while trying yet another method, the continuous brew method.

I bought a large vessel with a spigot at Walmart, on sale and hoped to make a continuous batch of Kombucha that would not require rinsing, washing, etc. each week. The first week my spigot got plugged with Kombucha goo and refused to work ever again. So I started doing what a lazy woman would do, and ladling the Kombucha from the top of the vessel. I got all sorts of stringy stuff in my ladel, but guess what I am doing with my Kombucha? Making smoothies. Who cares if smoothies have lots of pro-biotic rich strings floating around? Not me. The blender takes care of all that.

I do not drink Kombucha straight. I much prefer water. But each morning, I consume approximately 16 or more ounces of Kombucha, in the form of liquid in my smoothies, and it is totally awesome! Sometimes I add pieces of Kombucha mother-scoby, and it makes no difference at all in my smoothie.

The Scoby’s in my large vessel are enormous now, but when I add another gallon of tea, it takes only a couple of days for it to ferment, instead of a week or more. The kombucha in this vessel is rather strong, but in smoothies, it adds the perfect degree of tartness.

I may not be a Kombucha expert, but this method has worked for me for months now, with very little effort on my part.  Have YOU discovered easier ways of brewing and consuming Kombucha? If so, please share in the comments, and have a great Kombucha day!

Baby Goats!

Is there anything more adorable than baby goats? This little girl’s name is Snowflake and she is the daughter of our Ciara and Elijah, both registered Alpine Dairy Goats. She is one of our keeper does and will be the fourth generation of this line. Her dam, grand-dam, and great, great, grand-dam all live here on the farm and are all currently in milk. All three of these girls can milk for several years without being re-bred. I don’t actually know how many years they can go but Mikey went 5 years (and was actually “dried” off twice when she had false pregnancies), and both Miley and Ciara went three years without being re-bred or kidding. All three girls finally started to dry off when they became heavy bred this year, but before that, I could not get them to dry up, so gave up. We’ve enjoyed a once-a-day milking schedule with them and plenty of year-round milk for soap making.