Wednesday, October 26, 2011

They have a rough life

I love my chickens.  They are by no means pets, but they are quite spoiled nonetheless.  When we had just the Buff Orpingtons, they roamed the yard in their chicken tractor.  This past summer, we added some Rhode Island Reds to the mix.  As a result, the girls got a much larger coop and yard. 

They don't move around on the grass anymore, but they still get great treats.  The garden is finishing up and we're about to get our first frost and possible snow.  They always get weeds and yucky produce, but lately, it's been even more.  Today it's worm eaten chard, an over- ripe watermelon and some small, under-developed eggplants.  They get so excited when they see me.  They don't always get treats, but it's often enough.  The alarm goes out and all 7 pair of feet come running.

We own half a duplex and the other half is empty and for sale.  I've seen several people look at my chickens and make faces.  The other day I got to talk to one of the real estate agents.  She tells me that the first time someone said that the chickens were bad, she told them to go and look at the chickens close up.  "Look", she said, "They have fresh fruits and vegetables.  They eat better than we do.  Plus, they don't smell.  Someone takes very good care of these chickens."  
Today, they also got a layer of plastic over the run.  Chickens don't mind the rain, but snow does not make them particularly happy.  Their poor little toes get cold.  Since I want my chickens to be outside whenever possible, their run gets covered each year to keep the snow to a minimum.  Snow still gets in there, but not nearly as much.  These girls are valuable, hard working members of our little homestead.  They deserve to be treated well. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My latest obsession

When my friend Kerry emailed me about a soap class a few years ago, I was excited.  I thought it would be neat.  It seemed like something cool to learn how to do, but I wasn't sure, given my lack of interest in cosmetic things, if it would be something I would love.  The idea of making my own cheese seemed a bit more my speed.  The class was lots of fun and the soap turned out to be the best soap I had ever used.  My sensitive skin loved it.  My additive loathing self loved it.

So, Kerry and I made plans to make some more.  Last year we got together and made a whole bunch of soap for gifts and ourselves.  We ended up with a bunch of soap for gifts and personal use.  I'll admit to being a bit stingy with it, it's good stuff!

I still hadn't made any soap by myself.  We were getting low on soap and I didn't want to use the store bought stuff again.  It makes my skin feel funny.  The only solution was to bit the bullet and make it all by myself.  There is a surprising amount of stuff you need to make soap.  There are different oils, pots, blenders, additives if you like, and of course, the dreaded lye.  I got it all and even decided to get the fancy wooden mold.

It turned out to be even more fun when I got to pick out scents and additives.  My daughter and I picked out some neat scents and I was off.  We even got the supplies to make other nifty things like lip balm.  There are several batches curing in the kitchen right now.  The smell in my house is amazing.  

The only problem now is that I'm running out of racks to put all the soap on!