Monday, August 2, 2010

A really long post that gets more exciting as it goes!

The bountiful harvest from our community garden. Notice I don't show you a picture of all the weeds in the garden. That's symbolic for something worth mentioning. Below I will share with you much of the bountiful harvest God's given us in our lives. Please don't assume that our lives are perfect or that we are because we share our happy news with you. We'll share the yuck too, but only in metered doses due to the public nature of this medium. We are sinners, who somebody had to die for and we are completely undeserving of all the good that we share. Come, rejoice with us!!

Good ole' Gwennie and Wing-Wing (above)

Meet "Stumpy" our foster chicken. We took her in after her pen mates were pecking her to death (literally) a good month ago. This is the first time she's been able to have her picture taken, she was in too bad of shape for public viewing. The picture definitely shows her better side. Her back end is still naked as a jay bird. Her name was "Frizz" as she's a Frizzle breed, but she had a Biblical name change after her wing feathers were completely pecked off, now all you see are little stumps like you dip in sauce on Wing Night. She's the smallest of the chickens because she's a bantam but she is the oldest and subsequently our only "layer" right now. We get one small egg a day from old Stumpy. She's feisty, runs with a giant waddle that makes me laugh out loud and lays her eggs in the corner of the coop where she makes her nest since she can't fly up to the laying boxes.

We had a rough week this week with the chickens and lost our Mutsu (above left). We actually lost two chickens this week, but after a brown tailed hawk swooped down to attack, the remaining 8 chickens ran into the corn field behind us to hide and came back with one of the missing chickens (a no name Welsummer) and so we have nine. We had some hope that Mutsu might also make a miraculous return, but our hope is dwindling as each day passes. Her Polish buddy, Ping, misses her very much, but is beginning to move on with her life. Glad I took these pictures the day before she went missing!

Remember in a previous chicken post, that beautiful chick who, I said, should be named because she's so beautiful, but we hadn't thought of anything? Well, we thought of a name! Meet "Mrs. Crooked Toes"! Yes, she's married. It's arranged anyways, Mr. Rooster will be joining the flock shortly (each hen has chosen to keep her own last name for the sake of individuality in their polygamist family- I checked and this is kosher for chickens). I'm praying we don't lose anymore chickens, we've gone from 11 of our own to 8, plus Stumpy makes nine now.

The above are the last of the pictures taken with my camera. Ben took it apart to fix the smoking problem it had and we agreed it wasn't worth trying to put back together. Thankfully, my mom gave me her old camera a while back and if I can find the charger for it's battery I'll be in business again. I kinda need to find it before I get another order for virtual tours. I did three last week. I don't think taking panoramic shots with my cell phone would be a good idea.

I have a confession. I've been holding out on you all. Big time. My laundry life has been so exciting that I'm not even sure why you've ever read this blog before now. I've decided to come out of the closet, the time has come. Hold on to your britches! I have been making my own laundry detergent since January of this year. I liked it so much I found a recipe for fabric softener too. Then I started making shampoo for Ben. He loves it. I haven't told you all because I didn't want it to be a passing phase I was going through, like, "Guess what I'm doing everybody!" but then stop doing it, y'know? So, now that I've been doing it for seven months, I can officially share with the world what I'm doing. I also bought a drying rack from Amish country last Fall and hung our laundry to dry in front of the wood stove all winter long. Spring came and I took a break from hang drying, but was reinspired when Ben's sister, Debbi, moved in with us for the Summer. She hand washed all her clothes when she moved in as she spent her Spring semester in Uganda. She now lets us throw her clothes in the wash with ours, but she still bathes out of a bucket like she did there.

Anyways, the move to make my own laundry detergent came when our friend, Matt Sebree, sent me this recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Yields 10 gallons. (cost approx. $5-$8 dollars a batch)


4 cups of hot tap water
1 bar of Burt's Bee's body soap or any other natural soap you feel safe using
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super washing Soda (not baking soda and not the A & H laundry detergent)
1/2 cup of Borax

Equipment needed:

Cheese grater
5 gallon bucket with lid (an ale pale with a spigot works great)
Tall stirring spoon
Smaller containers for dispensing


1. Grate bar of soap into sauce pan with hot tap water and still continually over medium heat until dissolved
2. Fill 5 gallon bucket half full with hot tap water.
3. Add melted soap, washing soda, and borax.
4. Stir well until dissolved and fill bucket to the 5 gallon mark with more hot tap water.
5. Stir, cover, and allow to sit overnight.
6. Optional: add an essential oils such as lavender, rosemary or tea tree oil (good anti-bacterial oil)

This 5 gallons of liquid is your concentrate, to use:

1. Stir well
2. Mix it 50/50 with water in an old laundry detergent bottle for easy dispensing.
3. Use 1/2 cup with regular washing machines or 1/4 cup in HE machines.

This batch will yield 10 gallons of chemical free and safe laundry detergent.
Can be used as a pre-treatment
For an inexpensive alternative to fabric softener, add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle (will not leave smell and increase the absorbency of your towels)

One batch lasted our family of four (and random guests who stay for weeks/months at a time) six months. So, I just made my second batch of it. It makes a ton!!! Note: Use hot/warm water to dilute at the end, as it ends up super lumpy otherwise. I have tried two different laundry softener recipes and much much much prefer this one to the recipes that have one to one ratio of baking soda and vinegar as the baking soda ends up all over the laundry room. I used this website to pick out a good shampoo recipe. I make the Step 2: Stimulate recipe for Ben and am still searching for the perfect recipe for me. Next on my "make it myself" agenda is HAIR GEL! I found this recipe and am excited to try it!

Finally, I saved the best for last! On August 19th, our family will welcome a 24 year old girl from Jakarta, Indonesia who will live with us for one year! She is sort of a missionary to America. She comes to us via the IVEP program (International Volunteer Exchange Program) and is sponsored by two churches. One of the churches has a coffee shop as a ministry and she'll be working there twenty hours a week and the other church is ours, where she'll be doing random miscellaneous jobs for twenty hours a week. We are excited to meet her, get to know her personality and culture. Maybe we'll even learn how to make some Indonesian food! We are busy preparing her room and reorganizing the house for her arrival. We look forward to meeting you, Marcella!

Good news! I found the charger, it was labeled "CAMERA" Thanks for the clue, Dad! Thanks for the hand-me-down, Mom!!


Marcella said...

Hi Rebecca! I'm Marcella and i'm so excited in reading your blog.. Can't wait to meet you and your family.. and I think I will learn so many many things from you :)

Becca said...

Thanks for the FB add! It's going to be really different here, isn't it!? I hope you're not overwhelmed! We'll do our very best to make you feel at home!

Marcella said...

Yes, it's going to be really different.. but it'll be a great experience for me.. Thanks a lot! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Becca! I don't know if you remember me, but I interviewed you a long time ago for the T-R about moms who blog and I've been following your blog ever since.

I wanted to tell you that I tried this laundry detergent and I LOVE it. I will never again buy the commercial stuff. Thanks for the great post!