I love this time of year. Everything is growing and we're eating out of the garden. Yesterday we had broccoli chicken. Only the broccoli came out of the garden. We've been having chinese cabbage quite a bit. It's starting to bolt, but I'm definitely growing that again. It was easy and prolific and something we eat, what else do you want? The strawberries are ripe and luscious. The kids picked a big bowl of them, but they never made it to the freezer. I'm lucky if anything comes in the house! When I greatly enlarged my strawberry bed last year my goal was to get enough strawberries that some made it into the house. It seems I have succeeded, but just barely. Let's see, the green onions are a daily treat. We have fresh lettuce. The radishes are already done and they were fine. I'll be buying new batteries for the camara so I can show off pictures, right now you'll just have to take my word for it-- the garden is good.
I'm having a glitch on the blog, so I'm writing separate from the pictures. The kids came out to help with working the market and they had fun shopping around while they were there. If you look really hard you can see me in both the pictures.
Today was busy. Between working the farmer's market and finishing/delivering a big fancy reception cake I'm tired. I am really enjoying being a vendor at the Farmer's Market. I can talk to everyone and tons of people are interested in the soap/lip balms and hand spun yarn. I'm not really selling much of the hand spun yarn but people are totally interested and love to talk about it. I sold out of lip balm today and I just made two dozen tubes. Next week I need to make more. I'm having fun with it. There are so many really nice people there and they love to chit chat. I knew someone out there had to want homemade products and sure enough there are. It's fun to figure out what people are looking for. Last week someone asked for goat's milk soap and I made it and sure enough it was a good seller. This week I need to find gardener's soap and something the battles poison ivy. I found recipes for them. Did I mention this is tons better than substitute teaching?
Well, I had my first chance to be a vendor at the farmer's market and I can definitely say I liked it better than substitute teaching. I think it went pretty well. My goal was to make more than the entrance fee and I did, even though the weather wasn't that great and it was my very first time there. One guy asked me if I made a living doing this and I thought that was pretty funny. I'm just trying to justify my hobby! My favorite comment of the day was a lady who bought some of the lip balm and used it. Later on I was explaining to someone else that my balm was similar to Burt's bee balm and she walked over and said, "It's much better than Burt's."
Sheesh. This whole idea of being a vendor at the Farmer's Market is taking over my life. Right now I'm making soap like crazy (which is really fun) but I have no idea what sort of thing people are looking for. I guess all businesses start like this-- close your eyes and jump.
I'm so proud of my daughters. As a special treat for church on Mother's Day they taught the children in Primary yesterday so that the moms, who normally teach, could attend Relief Society with the other women. It was so fun to hear how their lessons went. The kids they taught obviously had fun. As the Relief Society President it was especially gratifying to have so many of our sisters together for the Relief Society lesson.
More wonderful things the girls did-- they cooked for me. This is a tradition in our house. On Mother's Day the girls cook. Actually it started out years ago as Daddy cooking for me on Mother's day but the girls took over the job (insistently) as soon as they thought they were old enough. They really bust out the cooking yesterday! For breakfast they made pancakes with fresh raspberries. For dinner they made Chicken Cordan Bleu and Ratatouille. For dessert they made strawberry tunnel cake. It was kind of amazing. They enjoy cooking.
I'm going to apply to be a vendor at the local farmer's market. I've never done anything like this before but it just feels like it is time. I've been looking for months and months for the type of products I am making. I love knowing exactly what is in the soaps and beauty products I use. I can not be the only person who is looking for this sort of thing. I'm planning on selling soap/beauty products and hand spun yarns and anything else I have extras of here at the homestead. I'm bringing the samples in today to be juried.
These are the garlic I planted way last fall. They grew a bit in the fall then they didn't really do much of anything over the winter but as soon as spring hit they went crazy. This is one healthy looking garlic patch. A couple of the squares are planted with garlic I bought from a seed company ($5 a bulb!!!!) the rest are from cheap (but healthy looking) garlic I bought at the store. I can't tell a bit of difference in how they are growing. I'll let you know at harvest time whether there is any difference at all. All the literature (probably written by the seed companies) said it was absolutely essential to buy garlic bulbs for planting from a seed company NOT from a grocery store.
The top photo is the regular potatoes (yukon gold, I think). The bottom picture is of my sweet potatoes. That's black plastic covering the dirt, supposedly helps heat up the soil. I'm so proud of my sweet potatoes. I started the slips from potatoes I raised last year. As you can tell I wasn't able to grow enough slips to fill the bed, so I'm going to buy some extras from a local supplier, but all the ones you see in the photo are from one of last year's sweet potato. I tried to get slips from two sweet potatoes but only only gave me any.
The top photo is mainly onions with some tomatoes on the side, the bottom photo is of the broccoli I raised from seed. Broccoli is easy to grow, but it takes a long time. I manage to kill all of my seed raised tomatoes, but the broccoli always does fine. So if I can't kill it it must be an easy to grow vegetable.
Here's how garden looks today. The grass finally got ahead of the chickens, so it looks better. I have all the garden squares enclosed with chicken wire (which is a necessity when you have chickie girls). Doesn't it all look green and pretty? The "V" of strings is for climbing beans. Half of that bed has yard-long beans, a chinese vegetable and the other half of the bed is Fortex, a gift from my mother. The garden bed towards the front is Chinese cabbage. I'm very impressed with that vegetable! I love to cook Chinese food and these are easy to grow.
I have never tried to learn any craft as discouraging as tanning buckskin. I stretched it on a frame and then worked most of the day on the softening. The frame broke near the end, and I finished softening by hand. This was a huge amount of work and I'm not happy with the end product. I think I need a teacher. I'm just not figuring this one out.
I'm having way too much fun here at the homestead. I bought beeswax from a local bee keeper and made lip balms. It took a few tries with the recipe to get something I was happy with, but I think they turned out great. The balm in the tubes is a bit stiffer, but it is silkier than any chapstick product I've ever used. I called it "Bee Balm." The tins have "Hodgson's Homestead summer berry lip balm." Which my way of saying it has a mild fruity flavor to it. I even made labels for them. If I have any more fun with this I'm going to have to go into business. Somebody has to use up all this stuff I'm making! One of the big attractions is I know what goes into my products. Everytime I read a label I'm grossed out by the large number of items I can't even pronounce and sound an awful lot like poison. I know every item in these lip balms is edible, even though I doubt I really want to eat much beeswax.
This is my first attempt to make shampoo. Actually it is just liquid soap, but formulated to be gentle to hair. Come to think of it, that's exactly what they are selling in the store, huh? This was not an easy project. Cold process soap, or bar soap, is a pretty straight forward, but this shampoo took many steps and it isn't finished yet. At this point I have to let it sit around for a couple of weeks and then help it gel up a bit, then re-bottle it in bathtub appropriate bottles. I put a men's cologne scent in the blue shampoo and an Herbal scent in the peach shampoo. The formula is the same, just different scents. I hope this works, it was a very interesting project.