Monday, September 3, 2012

Prose, Pictures, and the Practical

High white clouds drift lazily in the September blue sky.  Although quite warm outside, a small breeze makes for a pleasant place in the shade.  It is Labor Day and we're resting today.

Most of the time we work really hard.  And, Weekend Farmer Husband and I enjoy it. Most of our children do too, at least to a point.  But today, on purpose, we started and stayed slow, and it feels richly satisfying.

It's not that we didn't "do" anything though.  Animals have been properly cared for and appreciated.  Water has been administered to thirsty plants.  Meals are planned, prepared, cleaned up after.  A friend and some of his family came, we forged a new threshold of relationship as we processed a couple of his noisy rooster companions, now meant for his family table instead of their created role as daylight criers.

This is our normal.  A high labor high yield lifestyle.  And, we're only slowly beginning to understand that this may not be normative.

Recently, a good friend suggested that the content here should reflect the practical of what we've learned, how we "do".  After all, we were pretty run of the mill suburbanites a short two years ago.  Disconnected from food production, from land, from the span of seasons and how it impacts what we eat and how we live, reliant on grids, city water treatment plants, municipal salt and snow trucks, among an unnamed myriad of other services and conveniences, frankly, it was a good and happy life.  But, we had no idea of what it really meant when we decided to move out of town.

At first, we simply desired more space and the liberty afforded by downsizing our home.  For the first time in 17 years of parenting we committed me full time to supporting Weekend Farmer Husband, raising our children, giving my consistent attention to home educating and managing our home.

The curve was long and thankfully very gentle.  And somewhere along the way, influenced by books, movies, and convinced by the Holy Spirit, we found ourselves committed not only to "living out of town", but to land stewardship, animal husbandry, food production, health, the family table, and living with deeply rooted gratitude within our means and with eyes wide open for opportunity.

We didn't plan.  We just started.  And that's how we continue - we are perhaps the Clampetts of "Just Do It".  Sorry Nike.  I suspect your marketing team had something else in mind.

Our experience has been that most of what we purpose to do, wish we could do, or might like to do is achievable if we're willing to labor for it.  And we are.

Some of you have been very complimentary about the yield you can see from our efforts.  And, oh how your words are like honey.  Without outside encouragement our efforts always flag.  So, please, keep it comin'! But, sometimes you make the mistake of assuming that we're special, or different, or somehow more equipped than you are. And that from the outside looking in, the idyllic pictures portray a kind of life that you could never have.

Not true.

I won't diminish the idea that perhaps we've been given an uncommon gift in this new life we're forging.

Conversely, I hope you won't limit hope that you too could and maybe will someday do what we do, learn what we've learned, and lay hold of this high labor high yield lifestyle that allows for mellow September afternoons filled with iced tea on the front porch, chickens clucking in the barn, and night cool closing in on cows in pasture and family gathered satisfied and well.

And since some of you have asked, here's something practical that we use with good success on the farm.  This formula is readily available on the internet - other blogs and Pinterest for sure, but I offer our farm tested, family satisfying, adapted home made Powdered Laundry Soap Recipe:


Two Bars Castille Soap
( I use Dr. Bronner's Lavender or Peppermint bar soap. It's available at my local super market, or click on this to source it from Amazon))

One large box of Baking Soda
(Yup, just plain old baking soda found in the baking aisle of your local market.  I use the 64oz/4lb. size)

Lavender or Peppermint Essential Oil
(These too my local supermarket carries.  Lots of blogs I read recommend this site/company, but I've not personally purchased anything from them)

Cut the bars of soap into small pieces.  Dicing is probably too fine...shall we try to define this as chunks?

Add about 1/4 of your chunks to your food processer fitted with mixing /chopping blade.

Add about 1/4 of the baking soda.

Pulse until combined.
(Watch out - the baking soda will "poof" out a bit and you might find yourself feeling a little sneezy with a strange salty taste in your mouth! )

While blade is spinning add 5 +/- drops of essential oil

Repeat above steps until you've combined all the baking soda and soap.

Place in a seal-able container (we use an old gallon ice cream tub) or containers and place in a place convenient to your laundry routine.

I use about 1/8th cup per load.

Some thoughts:
I'm risking a bad memory here and possible correction from you dear reader, but I think this gives me 80+ loads.
You can use less, more, or no essential oil.  The fragrance and its strength is according to your personal preference.
The oil does not leave any stains/residue on your clothing.
I have front loading HE washers and this formula has performed very well for us.
DO NOT use vinegar as a softner/rinse aid - it'll be the horror movie version of middle school science class all over your laundry area!
Depending on sales, coupons, and "buying it right" this costs me just under $10 per batch.
Our current favorite fragrance is lavender and there's just the faintest trace of lingering fragrance once the load finishes cycling.
If making this with the help of your children (and by all means, include them - then they'll know how to "do" too), please remember that essential oils are very powerful and avoid direct contact with skin.

Ok- so many words!

I'd love to hear from you - what would you like to learn more about?
If you try this, what results did you achieve?
Shall we make this a conversation? Yes? Please!


  1. Thanks Laura and Kent for your help silencing the roosters. Their mouths shut as ours open to partake! Thanks for fitting us into your restful day. The birds are sitting quietly in the sink waiting patiently to be set in the freezer. Bless you and your commitment to work the land for us not so country bumpkins. :)

    1. You are most kindly welcome. We are grateful for your appreciative affirmations!

  2. I still think you are special :) ...special to me.

    1. Hadn't considered it that way...but, you're right. We do have something special dear friend!