I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~ Thoreau

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Excuses, excuses...

Yes, I know the last post was in August and I am also aware that it is now November. My only excuse (completely untrue I have many excuses but this one was voted "best excuse" by the voices in my head) is that as I de-facebooked my life I have spent less and less time at the computer and by default have spent less and less time obsessing over the blog. It is true without Facebook at the forefront of my thought processes I have had a lot more time to do real-life activities and a much smaller captive audience for my snark so I have turned to other outlets (like incessantly annoying our local librarians and joining a senior citizen's book club) but this morning I find myself with some time on my hands and in need of a distraction.

Pablo is sick and the vet cannot see us until ten thirty, I have made laundry detergent, cleaned cages, washed dishes and am waiting on the dryer to stop so in an effort to stay busy and assuage my guilt I decided updating the blog was an appropriate task. It is not that I have willingly abandoned the blog but more like I have fallen so far behind that I do not know where to even begin to catch up. I have considered abandoning the blog completely and starting anew but that seems unfair to people who actually read it, I thought about trying to go back and update every aspect but that seems insurmountable, so I think the best option will be just to start where I am, update a few pertinent bits discuss somethings we are excited about and march on.

I really do not spend even a fraction of the time I previously did on the computer so I cannot promise that blog entries will come with the regularity they once did but I know there are people out there reading this who are trying to do some of the same things we are and I want to keep those lines of communication open so we can share and help each other grow.


I just got done making my third or fourth batch of laundry detergent so I will start there with the updates. In the past I have made the batches with lever2000 because that is the bath soap we buy (when we use store bought soap) and no one in our family seems allergic to it. While we were traveling over the summer I found Fel Naptha in a small five and dime. I had been unable to locate it locally. This was the laundry soap recommended on many of the detergent making websites I originally researched so I picked up a couple of bars and stored them for future laundry use.

The original recipe I found called for a whole bar of Fel Naptha but the bars are huge and the scent is strong. We all have sensitive skin so I cut one bar in half and used that this morning to make a new batch of detergent. As I tweaked the recipe and have started to use ingredients on hand over the course of this venture let me share my most recent concoction:

1.5c borax powder
1.5c baking soda (not the cooking kind I will explain)
1/2 bar of Fel Naptha
5 gallons of HOT water (roughly about 4" from the top of the 6 gallon bucket)

I found the Fel Naptha melted surprisingly quickly on the stove, much faster than the previously used bath bars, that was pleasant because in the past melting the bar has been the most time consuming of the steps.

I switched from washing soda to baking soda not out of a dissatisfaction with the washing soda but instead because I always have big economy bags of baking soda on hand. When I first ran out of washing soda I did a little research about substituting baking soda (the kind I have is label not for cooking I generally used it in the cat boxes to keep the odor down) and some of the discussions I read complained that clothes did not get as clean with baking soda instead of washing soda. I have not noticed any difference in the level of clean, Fred's uniforms still seem to be clean and fresh and since the cost of baking soda versus washing soda is even cheaper, and I always have it on hand so no special trip to the store is required, I have continued to use it.

(I will note the reason I put hot in all capital letters is because baking soda does not seem to dissolve as easily as washing soda so I have found that boiling a couple kettles of water instead of just straight hot tap water is necessary to fully melt the ingredients.)

As you can see I am quite pleased with our homemade detergent and have continued to use it. It saves an enormous amount of money and I know exactly what is in it. Making it at home has also become much easier with practice and we have the added peace of mind of knowing there is one less plastic container we are throwing into the landfill every few weeks.


I also want to tell you a little bit about our vacation this fall. Fred and I took a long weekend and went up to Seven Springs, PA for the Mother Earth News Fair. I cannot even begin to tell you how exciting it was to be surrounded by people who live like us to varying degrees. It is so much fun to commune with people who think like you and do not look at you like you have two heads.

One of the funniest things we noticed was that in a course of conversation if someone mentioned something seen on TV and we told them we did not have TV they rushed to clarify that they too did not have television that they had instead seen it on the internet or at a doctor's office, friend's house, etc. Apparently, it is a badge of honor among the hippie jet set not to have television. Fred and I are completely used to people looking at us like we said "we eat dog poop" when it comes up we do not have TV. It was a refreshing and highly amusing exercise to count how many people advised us they too eschewed television after we discovered this quirk.

The weekend was packed with classes and seminars. We took bizarre, fun classes like "How to Finance a Green Cemetery" and "How to Build Your Electric Motorcycle with Recycled Parts" and we took more practical classes like "Building Your Basic Herbal Apothecary" and "Organic Beekeeping." Some of my favorite classes taught about nutrition, eating raw, baking bread everyday (this was taught by the authors of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" AMAZING!) and using herbs both in cooking and medicine.

I am proud to say we implimented much of what we learned and we met so many interesting and friendly people we have created for ourselves a whole new network of cohorts. We really did not want to come home but the Fair ended (as all good things must) and the homestead needed us. Since Grandma and Elvis had what can best be described as a personality clash, we had to get home lest Elvis end up in the pot.

By the time we arrived home Grandma had come up with some, lets say, "creative" homestead management techniques. Apparently, the first night Grandma tried to put Elvis in bed he was having none of it and he proceeded to sound the goose equivalent of a "stranger danger" alarm for the better part of thirty minutes. Grandma gave up and let him spend the night on the porch. By the next morning Elvis had screwed up his courage (he must have spent the night on the porch giving himself positive goose affirmations) and decided it was his job to protect the homestead from the interloping grandma.

What ensued can only be described as chaos, and although I am sure Elvis has his own tale, an indignant Grandma was the only survivor coherent enough to share the story. It seems Elvis decided Grandma was the enemy and snuck up on her, biting her several times and chasing her from the yard. Since he shares the yard with the chickens Grandma could not simply abandon him to his fate, heaving his food over the fence as she would have preferred, but was instead forced to arm herself with a broom and chase him about the yard while she tended her much beloved flock of gran-chickens.

Oh how I wish we had set up a hidden camera.

As you can imagine, Grandma was seriously indignant and disgruntled upon our return. Elvis appeared no worse for wear from the subsequent broomings and of course went on to try and make a complete liar out of Grandma and her tales of evil-goose-gone-bad by immediately climbing on my lap and nestling under my arm as soon as I sat down on the porch steps. The only theory we have come up with is that Elvis was convinced Grandma had kidnapped me and was intent on protecting the rest of his flock (aka the chickens).

Thankfully Grandma is not abandoning us. She will continue to care for our flock but has advised us she will only enter the back yard broom in hand. I have warned Elvis but I guess we will have to wait for another vacation to see if he heeds my advice or his stand off with Grandma continues.


I am sure there are lots of other things I could ramble on about but that is probably all the updates you care to digest at the moment.

Much love and as always thank you for reading,


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