Lovin' time at Coon Hollow Farm

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

A swarm and a touch of luck

The other day I happened up to the hives and saw this cluster of bees hanging on the side of one of the hives. Having been 8 years a beekeeper I knew this was possibly a small swarm. I quickly ran to get a nuc box and gently brushed them into the box all while looking for the queen but didn't see her.

Yesterday morning I suited up while it was still cool and checked the nuc bees. They were still clustered so I shooked them loose and their she was! She was the queen from the recent hive I had added some bees from an observation hive I take care of. I used the newspaper method and it appeared they took their time chewing through the newspaper and created a queen instead! While checking the other hive for their new queen, I went through all the frames and could not find her. While closing up she landed on the top screen. I quickly flipped it and put her into the hive. So luck was on my side on two levels! What was becoming a discouraging season has quickly changed to a better season with 3 hives growing strong!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cutting and curing soap

A week or more ago I made a fabulous batch of Milk, Honey and Oatmeal soap. The smell was amazing in the house! After making a batch of soap you need it to sit in the mold until it is ready to be removed. It takes at least 24 hours for the saponification process to happen, which is the chemical reaction and neutralization of the fats and acids.

One thing you look for is separation of the soap from the wall of the mold.

I then invert my mold and watch as it gently begins to separate, gently pressing down to allow it to release. Rushing the process can make the soap break so let it go gently and slow.

If all goes right, your soap will slide right out. I cover the counter with wax paper. This helps in clean up and makes less mess.

Here we are, a nicely cured block of soap ready to be cut.

When using any kind of large mold, measure the top, sides and bottom. Weigh your soap batch. This batch is 8 pounds. It is 15" by 10" in diameter and the height of my soap is approx. 2 inches give or take.

I cut it into 2" by 4" bars giving me 30 bars. You can calculate how much you spent on supplies to estimate what you can charge.

Not all your bars will be precise unless you have a soap cutting board. I prefer to cut it by eye. This batch netted me anywhere from close to 3 1/2 to 4 oz bars.

I placed them on a screen drying rack that I acquired a while back. I love to get cool things that are purposeful.

The bars were trimmed up and smoothed and will sit a few more weeks for additional drying and curing.

The bars are layered allowing air to get to them so they can dry nicely.

I place a couple towels over them to keep dust and anything else in this crazy house from them. As I write this, I have a batch in the kitchen underway with one of my favorite scents I invented, Citrus and Honeysuckle!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I made a pillow!!!

If any of you were on the edge of your seat wondering what I made with the roving and the size 50 needles, it was a pillow! The camera didn't pick up the beautiful browns and whites mixed in to the roving.

I am going through my fiber stash and have so many bags of "Babydoll" sheep wool. It is so soft but short fibers that don't spin well. I just don't like working with it until now! I used full roving and knitted a pillow. I then made a pillow form with some material I have as well as some fiber fill. I cast on 8 stitches across and did a basic stockinette stitch for 10 rows and then ran one pearl stich at the seam. Each stitch takes anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 inches of roving!  It is unbelievably soft!!!!

So now I am inspired, I have added some alpaca roving to the "Babydoll" roving and am knitting another pillow. This is even softer!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

What am I doing?

What do you think I am going to do with this "Babydoll" roving?

And what am I going to make with these 35 or 50 needles? Stay tuned to see!!!