Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gardner’s Farm Update

The girly kid is getting big. We named her Sadie. She is such an acrobat. I should get her into dubstep music because she has got her parkour moves down. She is always bouncing from tree to tree and jumping over the other goats. So amusing.
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Since I found out that my neck is seriously messed up about a month and a half ago, I haven’t cleaned the pen. It’s pretty gross right now, but I haven’t been able to rally the troops to do it for me. But, I can’t do it right now. I think I messed it up in the mad rush to get it cleaned up after the thaw. I was working at a crazy pace whenever I had a chance to get everything ready for summer and now I’m having shooting pains in my arm. Not good. So,now, the spring cleaning is still not all done. I would have been able to get it all done if I were more of a tortoise and not a hare.
Our mornings are still freezing so the tomatoes, peppers, squash, and flower seeds are still tiny and on the kitchen table. The peas and carrots are going good though.
This is our new gigantic chicken castle. Well, actually it is the unfinished garage that was on our property repurposed as a chicken coop. It was a work in progress for about a month while we brooded some chicks and ducklings in our master bath. When they grew enough feathers to fly/jump out of the metal tub they were in, it was time to finish it up. I didn’t like the poo on the toilet seat cover. So today, we hung the door.
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Inside the chicken castle: Our friend gave us three adult chickens and this lovely tractor coop. She had an urban chicken set up and had had her fill of chicky-poop on her picnic table. I can’t blame her. We were happy to give them a good home and get eggs right away. Yay!
ggg 003 These are the babies we’ve been brooding for the last month. The ducks are so big now and still have no outer feathers. Still just all fluff, poor naked ducks. Keeping them all in the house for so long has made them very friendly. I’m glad to have birdy friends.
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Lots to do when the weather gets warm, but I’m glad to do it when I can. I hope my neck feels better soon so I can dig in full speed again. But not too frantically like last time!

Random Fact #9

I wear pajamas to do the outside chores every morning because they happen so early and I'm too lazy to put actual clothes on.  This is one of my favorite Morning Chores ensembles: gray thermal, pink elephant capri jammies, veregated handknit socks in browns, and I was wearing pack boots because they are easy on when my coordination is at a low. I'm sure the neighbors get a kick out of it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Random Fact #8

Easter is probably my favorite holiday because it embodies the promise new beginnings and spring time and baby animals are everywhere. That was a horrible run on sentence. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Helena Spring Craft Show

On Saturday I traveled two hours to Helena to try and give my Blue Zen skincare line some exposure. It was a long day.

Note the crazy eyes...

First off, set up started at 6:30 am. I was debating going up the night before and "motelling" it so I wouldn't have to leave at 4:30 in the morning. I decided I was tough and wouldn't spend the money. Coffee is my friend. I showered at night, set my alarm for 4am, and tried to get some sleep. Mia, my daughter, was coming with me.

At 5:24 Saturday morning, I was awakened by a puppy who needed to be let out to potty. I whipped upright and yelled, "SHIT!!" Apparently, my super modern, easy to set alarm clock didn't get set to go off on Saturday and Sunday, just the weekdays. Stupid easy-set alarm clock!

Anyway, I ran into Mia's room screaming something about being late. She was right up and dressed in 10 minutes. I was racing around the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen getting my ducks in a row to leave. By 5:59, we were out the door. We stopped for snacks and away we went.

I can't say I drove extra fast, but it only took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get to the Civic Center.

trying to look calm and cool

After a whirlwind set up I finally sat and relaxed. It ended up being a long day of hardly any traffic. But, I did make friends with some of the other vendors. We all agreed that this was not the best day ever for sales. Except for the guy with the amazing yard-art sculptures! Holy moly they were just practically walking out the door on their own. I would have bought one if I could.

I did, however, learn exactly how I want to set up my booth next time. I also learned what people like and what they don't like of mine. Good feedback. I made some friends and had a ball.

"Your lotion feels WONDERFUL!" *blush*

Mia was a big help. No whining, always smiling. She is becoming such a little lady, I have no idea where the time has gone. She was recruited to watch a booth while the owner took a break a couple times. She did a good job of being the smiling face and even made a transaction or two. 

The fair ended at 4 pm and by then I was exhausted and ready to go home. 

My confidence has been boosted and I can't wait for the next fair. I will be sure to double check my alarm. :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Surprise! Kids!

I had a plan for today. I was going to come home from work around noon thirty and spend the rest of the afternoon finishing up the readying for the craft fair in Helena on Saturday. I had more lotion to make, a couple of signs to print out, and some other last minute details I hadn’t gotten to yet.

But, Nature had other plans. Our big, fat, pregnant goat was overdue to have her kids and –Surprise!—they were born while I was working today.

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I guess there are worse things that could have interrupted my schedule! Nelly is a great mother. When I got home it was pretty evident that they had only been born less than an hour ago. They were still quite matted and they were laying right next to placenta. Two of them were up and walking, while one was still receiving the royal licky treatment from mom. I think I actually squealed!

Butter and Lily, the other 2 goats in the pen, were running circles like they were celebrating. New babies! New babies!

I got busy checking on the kids, making sure they had all their parts and who was a girl and who was a boy. There are 2 girls and a boy. The last born is the smallest. She was concerning me with her funny leg and squished up stance. She didn’t want to nurse either. I gave her some Nutra Drench ~ a supplement for newborn goats that helps them get the energy get started nursing and walking.

Then there was cleaning to get done. I got rid of the placenta (YUCK!) and swept up the area where they were lying and laid down some new straw. Mom got fresh water and a big meal of grain and hay. She was pretty excited for that.

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By the time I got done with that little baby girl was ready to nurse. She was screaming her head off, but mom was eating and not particularly interested in stopping. I picked up the little bundle and hauled her over to Nelly. After a few rather hilarious attempts, she finally figured out which end was the food end. When she’d had enough I put her down with big brother and sister to nap.


I suppose I still have a few hours left to get my fair together, but now I’m exhausted!

So, yeah, I’m going to be in Helena on this Saturday, March 31 for the Spring Craft Fair at the Civic Center. I’ll be bringing lotion, soap, and other arty goodies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring is HERE! Sort of...

So, it is spring. At least, that is what the calendar says. You wouldn't really know it around here. Sure, the snow is melted, mostly. And the ground is thawed, mostly. But it sure isn't green yet. Or warm.

There is a goat due to burst here shortly. That is a definitely a sign of spring. (Note the ice that refuses to melt right behind her.)

So is the fact that spring cleaning is in full swing. Everywhere I look there is mud to wade through, poo and moldy hay piles that need composting, pine needles that need raking, pine cones and pine branches that need picking up, fences that need mending, compost that needs turning and things that got blown out of place by the gale force winds that accompanied the snow this winter.

In case you haven't noticed, NONE of that is clean work. Or light work because nothing is really dry yet. The ground may be thawed, but it is a soggy bog of mud. Each step makes an audible sucking sound. It's gross.

I will be so excited when the ground dries up a bit, things green up and bud, and I can see if my raspberries survived the goat attack last fall. Till then, I'll be outside with muck fork in hand. When it's all cleaned up, I may have to throw a party just to celebrate the fact that I'm done.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Recently, Michael had been "hounding" me about getting a new dog.

His dog Ruckus disappeared a year ago without a trace. There's been no sense of closure to the disappearance and he wouldn't give up hope for a long time that he would return. But, after a year it doesn't look like it will happen.

He'd been searching the Humane Society and Animal Control websites nearly daily. At first it was to see if Ruckus turned up. Lately it was more to see if there was a dog that might fit the bill of a new family member. We weren't sure if we wanted an adult dog that we didn't have to potty train, or a new puppy that would be "ours" from the start.

Burton Guster Douglas, "Gus"

We (I) decided on this little guy yesterday. He's a 2 month old Catahoula/Lab cross. Michael had seen that there was a litter of 13 puppies at the pound. He looked up the Catahoula breed and they were a pretty neat sounding dog. But, I kept saying "NO. We don't need a puppy!"

I was curious, though. I went to the Humane Society the next day after work... just to look... and play with some puppies. This little nugget was the best mannered and mellowest of the bunch. Very playful and puppyish, but also respectful and affectionate. Holy cow, I couldn't stop playing with this little guy.

I called Michael and told him I'd found his dog. Turns out he's kind of my dog. I've been the one taking him out in the middle of the night. I'm the legs he curls up under when he tuckers himself out. I'm the one he runs to when someone says "Come!". I guess he just misses his mommy. Oh, Gus...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Day!

After a strangely dry start to this winter Montana has received a healthy dose of Jack Frost’s best fluffy white stuff.
Yesterday morning we awoke to a fresh 2 inches of fluff. Just enough to freshen a dreary dead landscape.
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The goat’s weren’t too put off by the snow.
snow 004In town, the trees took on an eerie quality. Their branches a high contrast jumble looking like dancing serpents.
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And the snow kept falling all day. By the time we got home a good 8 inches had fallen on our neighborhood. We had to shovel a spot for our car before we could park!
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When I woke up this morning, the snow had stopped falling. There’s over a foot of snow on the ground... and on our picnic table, and on the grill, and on the everything. So sorry, the barbeque has been canceled So has school and work. (shucks!)
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It’s snowing again now. I wonder how high that pile will get? And what am I going to do with myself today? Time to play!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Blue Zen

I have been reinventing myself lately.

Figuring out what means the most to me and what I want to focus on.

Mostly, that's been my family, my home, and my health. I've had some issues from back pain, fatigue, skin issues, and infections that won't go away and I am on a mission to get this all straightened out. I haven't given up on making art. But, right now, there are more important things to focus on.

I have been working on our garden. I want to grow as many herbs and veggies as I can for my family. Landscaping our home and making it a retreat for us and our friends has been a focus as well. I want my home to be my sanctuary.

I've redevoted myself to yoga. It has been really helping with my back pain and energy levels.

I started studying up and found out how to make soaps and lotions that were gentle and actually healing to the skin.

I started that because I was finding no relief from the gawd-awful eczema I've been getting on my hands and feet every summer. I've figured out it's an allergy. I know I can't handle SLS (sodium laurel sulfite) which is the foaming agent in most commercial soaps. It makes a nice lather, and a nice red, itchy rash on me. And I know I am allergic to knapweed. Knapweed is a noxious weed that grows ALL OVER this lovely land called Montana. It's even all over our property. Battling it every summer has made my hands get tough, crack and bleed and scab up. It's really fun.

I really believe in my creams and soaps so I made a etsy shop for them. So far, I'm making hand balms,  lotions, soaps and lip balms, but I have a feeling I will find more fun things to make in the future.

I started a batch of goat milk soap back in the beginning of December and it’s finally ready. I know that seems like a long time to wait for soap, but believe me it’s worth it.
I use the cold process method. That means I don’t cook the soap to death to get the lye in it to neutralize right away. It takes about 3 weeks of curing time to get a good hard, neutral bar of soap.
But my secret is double processing, also known as French milling, which takes longer. (I guess it’s not a secret because I just told you) I make a plain, unscented batch, let it cure for 2 weeks, then chop it up into little pieces, and melt it back down again and add glycerin for extra gentleness, essential oils, herbs and mineral color. Then it has to set for 3 more weeks. But, the result is a fabulous soap that cleans with a soft lather, smells wonderful, and is extra gentle on my sensitive skin.

If you would like to try some for yourself I sell sample sized jars. (above next to the lotion bottle) Like I said, I use it every day and I really believe in what I've made.