Spring time at Coon Hollow Farm

Spring time at Coon Hollow Farm
Our Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep and their lambs

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sugar Bush...

 Well the Sugar Bush is alive and awaken by the maple sugaring season. The temperatures are exactly where they need to be. Tim has tapped 25 trees and awaits the sap to flow. In this picture to the right, is just a few of our trees.
If you drive by our property you will see buckets hanging from the trees in anticipation for a good day when the sap is flowing. You need warm days and cold nights to get sap and the weather we are having is perfect for this. Sunny warm days are especially good days for sugaring.
 This year Tim has incorporated a 50 gallon sap storage container that he acquired from a food manufacturing company. This idea was inspired by our friend Greg (thanks Greg!). Here, our dog "Jesse" stands on the snow mound Tim created to keep his sap cold.
Maple Sugaring can take time and Tim is almost "Zen" while he sits and waits patiently for his sap to boil down into yummy maple syrup!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Norman says...

Norman says, "One month until Spring"! Yes that's right one month to go! I always enjoy a good long winter but it sure has been a long, cold, snowy and trying winter, but the end is in the horizon. With exactly one month to go, we have begun to tap the maple trees, began planning the extension to the small barn, ordered seeds and have begun
to dream of warmer months ahead!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Signs of Spring are upon us!

I spent some time down in the barnyard this morning and have confirmed we are having lambs! In this picture to the left is "Rose". She is filling out, and with 6+ weeks to go she has a swollen vulva as well as her milk bag is starting to swell. 
This is a top view of her from the front, man is she getting big! These will be her first lambs and I am thinking she may twin for her first time. "Rose" is big like her dad "Harley", but just the same she is getting big fast!
Belle is also showing signs of lambs. She carries her lambs well though, she barely gets big and then pops out 2 healthy twins. This is going to be "Belle's" last year of having lambs, she's getting up there in age and has been a great mom. She has done her part of restoring this heritage breed and made her mark with her beautiful lambs.
All is going along well and with 39 days until Spring it can't come fast enough!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rose Petal Soap inspired by Valentine's Day!

Yesterday I was inspired to make a batch of Rose Petal Goat's Milk Soap. Many of you who know me, know I have been making soap now for about 18+ years. I would never use store bought soap, never!
In this picture to the left is the goats milk and lye. You have to keep the milk and lye very cold. If not it will turn orange and then it is ruined. I used snow and ice from the back porch to keep it cold!
 Good time proven equipment is everything. Here is my old enamel pan that has made hundreds of batches of soap. She never fails me. When you decide to start making soap you must only use pans and equipment for just that. Many of my things are marked as you can barely see on the spoon above, it says "Soap Making Spoon" on it.
I invested in this Oster Blender some time ago. It is a key tool for making goats milk soap. It saves time and energy on stiring. When making soap you have to use either, glass, stainless steel or plasic. Never aluminum, the lye will eat right thru it.
 Another fine tool I use is a coffee grinder (on the right) to grind down my herbs. It works fast and efficient and saves a lot of time. On the left is a mold I use to make soap discs, it is from the Crystal Light mixes. There is a use for just about anything!
Here is my honey bee mold. It molds the cutest little honey bee soaps. Great for guests or a little something to add to a gift basket. I love to keep them in the bathroom maybe because I love honeybees!
Another recycled idea is using disposable kitchen containers and also the small ones are Gerber Babyfood containers from the fruits I give the baby squirrels and raccoons. These work wonders and mold up a nice little soap. The bigger ones will be 3 oz bars and the smaller ones are 2 oz bars.
This is my wooden mold for those tried and true soap bars. I love this mold and it too has seen many bars of soap over the years.
The oil I used was called "Black Rose" and smells beautiful, and reminds me of my Grandmother. I went to use a pink mineral dye and grab a darker one instead, but it looks nice and I can't wait to see how it comes out once it cures. Curing time will take a couple of weeks to let it become beautiful soap!