Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowy landscape, but thinking GREEN

We've been getting some snow to make things Christmas-y. I don't mind the snow as much as I mind the COLD temps. Poor Bramble Cordelia was limping with a frozen foot the other morning when temps were around -20F. I made sure to put out plenty of bedding in their 3-sided shelter, but I'm afraid she slept outside. I think I will remove her from the breeding pen and put her in with the ewe lambs who have access to the pole building.

We've been keeping the woodstove stoked and trying to keep up with shoveling out the driveways and paths to the barns and woodpile. We'll need to get a couple loads of hay from the west 40 over in Ogilvie, so that means THAT driveway needs plowing too. Stan loves the Kawasaki Mule for snow plowing. He does all of our plowing plus some of the neighbor's driveways (and a path down the road to the neighbor's place). Yes, that Mule is really handy, I love it too for hauling things around the place and cleaning out pastures and the little barn.

Even though it's snowy white outside here in Minnesota, I've been thinking green lately.
I can't believe how much plastic we use and throw away everyday at work -- the garbage liners, the gloves, the food packaging -- it's just a shame. In my view, the more we can do to consume as little as possible and make use of the garbage we generate, the better. We need to be good stewards of the land and the resources we have been blessed with. That's part of the reason why we keep a dog and chickens. With them around, there are very few scraps for the compost pile. It's also the reason I check the thrift stores and the auctions and why I try to make use of everything our sheep have to offer - the meat, the hides, the lambs, the wool, the skulls, and even the manure. They provide so much that we can use, and with proper management, they can even improve our land. It's truly amazing.

So with green thoughts in mind, I thought I would share my latest forays into making laundry soap.

I used to buy the 5 gallon buckets of powdered laundry soap, they weighed 30 lbs and were priced at only $8 or $9. After the detergent was gone, I had a nice new 5 gallon bucket with handle for watering the sheep. :-)

Since I haven't been able to find that laundry soap anymore, I started making my own out of one grated bar of Fels Naptha, one cup of Twenty Mule Team Borax and one cup of washing soda. I use only 2 tablespoons of this mixture per load, and the cost is about 9 cents a load. An added bonus when using this soap is there is no need for fabric softener.
Yes, I know the Fels Naptha contains petroleum products and I should make my own laundry soap bars out of lard, water and lye. One of these days I will, but I have to confess that I love the smell of the Fels Naptha.
Anyway, I was pretty excited about using this homemade laundry soap until my mother said she had tried homemade laundry soap and it left her clothes dingy. Suddenly my whites did seem dingy... so for washing our whites, I still use a little commercial detergent, bleach, and fabric softener. But I love the Angora brand fabric softener at FleetFarm because it comes in small packets. You just mix a half gallon of water with one packet and there is very little waste packaging. It's very inexpensive too.

9 comments:

  1. Ugh...speaking of waste, you should see how much food we waste at Wal-mart every day. It makes me want to cry. At least one full shopping cart a day, and that's just what I see. People come up to the counter and say "Oh, I don't want this" and hand you a package of steak or a few frozen TV dinners. Makes me sick. And there's nothing we can do about it. :(

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  2. I know what you mean about the food Rayna. I didn't want to get into that aspect because I'm not real sure what exactly happens to all the outdated food. I know some things (wilted lettuce, unused sample display foods) go directly in the garbage, but I thought I heard that some things go to a pig farmer. I hope that's the case.

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  3. With a more local place like your store it probably does. Unfortunately, Wal-mart is afraid of law suits if someone decides to eat it instead of feeding it to their animals :(

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  4. Same here-I used to work at Piggly Wiggly bakery dep. They through away so much stuff and you can't take it home for animals ect. One interesting thing, there is a bread factory that used to donate the extra bread to food pantries and the druggies would "take it back" to stores in the area saying that they were sold stale bread and get money to buy smokes and drugs. At least the bread company give bread to farmers if they pick it up.(I know some one who feeds it to beef and goats.) If it weren't for the farmers the company would have to PAY to through it away!

    Some of my sheep were limping too.:(

    Laura

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  5. A low cost, green eco friendly, healthy natural way to do laundry is to make a homemade liquid from soapberries which grow on the Chinaberry tree and have been used for thousands of years. They work very effectively.

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  6. Ira, I looked up the Chinaberry tree and I'm pretty glad it doesn't grow in this area. It's an invasive species and the berries are toxic to birds and animals. http://www.invasive.org/weedcd/pdfs/wow/chinaberry-tree.pdf

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  7. Sorry, I meant to say the Chinaberry tree seeds are toxic to humans and livestock, they are dispersed by birds.

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  8. My friend told me about your blog. I have a photo on mine of a picnic table that looks similar to yours but you have more snow in MN than we have in Ohio. Interesting about the laundry deter. I will have to check out the angora softner from farm & fleet. What do you do with the sheep skulls?

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  9. Hi Annette, thanks for leaving a comment. The sheep skulls so far have actually just been decorations. With the big spiraling horns, they are very impressive objects. But you could also the horns for buttons, or cut off the end to make a blowing type (sound-making) horn out of the horn sheath. In younger rams, the horn sheath easily slips off the horn core.
    About the homemade laundry soap, I am definiteley going to make my own lard and lye soap rather than buy Fels Naphtha bars again. The last Fels bar I used was rather oily and would not dissolve. I love the smell, but I don't want chunks of that stuff in my clothes. I have to make the pilgrimmage to Fleet Farm for more fabric softener too. It's an hour drive for me to get there, but that is probably my favorite store. LOL.

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