homesteading

Lessons Learned

 Lesson number 1—- Plan ahead The very first lesson I learned when I  moved far from the maddening crowd, is that if you run out of something you are out, period. You are always welcome to improvise or you just make do. Driving to town because you ran out of butter and running into Piggly wiggly or Wal-Mart to just grab a pound of one item is not practical. Failure to keep an eye on supplies causes chaos. In the essence of lesson number one and an irate teen daughter, I have learned to make my own laundry soap.  Our youngest daughter was, dare I say, a bit on the spoiled side. One Saturday afternoon she needed a special pair of jeans washed for a night in town with friends. “Mom.” Came the terrifying scream from the bathroom where she had loaded the washer with her clothes.

“Mom, you’re out of laundry detergent.” Now almost in tears, “How am I supposed to wash my jeans? I need to wash my jeans, Mother!”

To avoid a teen nuclear meltdown, I happened to see this recipe on the internet awhile back and decided now would be as good a time as any to give it a try. Thank the moon, sun and stars I had this stuff on hand.

To make laundry detergent. . . 1 bar of soap, the recipe said any kind of bar soap would do, but I like Fels-Naptha laundry soap. It is a bar type soap made especially for laundry.

1 cup of Borax Pappys tea and soap 006 1 cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda

Start by finding 2 large 1 gallon containers such as empty milk jugs. Put a large 2 gallon pot on the stove and empty 1 gallon of water into it. Start heating the water while you are grating the bar of soap. Once the soap is grated pour it into the pot of water and cook until it dissolves, stirring occasionally. When the grated soap is mostly dissolved add the Borax and washing soda to the pot. Use a whisk to smooth  the powders into the mixture. Continue whisking or stirring until it looks smooth, it will begin to coagulate. Turn off heat and add another gallon of water. Stir well. Cool, then pour into milk jugs for storage.

To use add 1/2 to 1 cup to a wash load. Well-a! Melt down averted. Well, at least that one was. I made another batch today and since we are into mosquito season I added a few drops each of Orange, lemon and citronella essential oils. If I hang the clothes out doors the oils should act as a bug repellent. Hey, it’s worth a try, especially up here where a huge black swarm of mosquitos can carry off small barnyard animals. Update–I just found this on the internet. You can successfully treat and prevent poison ivy, sumac and oak rash with Fels-Naptha soap. It is supposed to help dry up the rash. Also, the article said the soap was great for aphid and other insect control. I haven’t seen any aphids in the greenhouse yet, but I’m sure they will show up. When they do I will give this a try and report back my findings.

Lesson number 2–A flashlight  This lesson  is about remembering to carry a flashlight when out doors at night. Once in a while, living in their territory as we do, we meet wild life up close and personal.  Such was the case one night when I went out to close up the chickens. It was late in the evening in early summer after a rain. There was a thick, humid blanket of darkness hanging in the air. I couldn’t see a thing. “Not a problem”, I thought to myself, “the chicken coop was only a few yards from the back door.” So I bounded out the back door as it slammed shut, I was suddenly paralyzed in my tracks by a blood curdling howwwwwwwl. The hair on the back of my neck stood at attention and goose bumps crawled around on my arms. Not more that 25 yards, standing on the crest of a small rise in my back yard was an enormous grey wolf. I couldn’t see him, but I could sure feel him that close. How could I possibly know how big he was if I couldn’t see him, you ask? The deep, rich song of his howl gave his size away. He was Alpha male, no question about it. Generally, wolves won’t bother you, at least that is what I have been told. But at that moment it didn’t matter, it felt like a scene right out of an old English werewolf horror film. I back traced my steps until I hit the porch and made a dash for the door. Completely shaken I sat in a kitchen chair for a few moments to recuperate. Although I was a bit shaken, it could have been worse. I could have been perfumed by a skunk. Besides a flashlight makes chores a whole lot easier. It’s kind of cool to sweep the edge of the woods at night with a bright flashlight and see 20 pairs of neon green eyes glowing back at you.

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