A Wood Stove and Other Things

Organic tree fertilizerWhile we are busy trying to sell our home in the valley so we can permanently move up to our mountain property, we have been able to sneak up to the future homestead a few times these past few weeks to get a few chores done.

One important task to accomplish was feeding our fruit and nut trees.  We stopped at an organic nursery on our way up to the future homestead and found a great organic fertilizer. It has kelp and worm compost and other wonderful things in it, providing not just the NPK that you find in chemical fertilizers, but lots of micronutrients such as boron and copper that are essential for tree health!  We also raked away the last of the leaves and pine needles to prevent any pests from over-wintering in them, and widened the watering berm a bit because the drip line has expanded with the ever-growing trees.  We did a drastic pruning this year, so the trees are actually shorter, but we need to make sure that the trees have a strong scaffolding shape for the future. Unfortunately we got a borer in the largest cherry tree last year, so we cut out as much of the damaged wood as possible and are keeping our fingers crossed that the tree will survive.cap and vent for an outhouse

Another necessary chore was to put a rain cap on the outhouse vent.  When using a venting an outhousecomposting toilet (which is essentially what an outhouse is), excessive moisture is the biggest enemy!  Instead of human waste composting with minimal smell, excessively wet waste will stink to high heavens and become a putrid sludge instead of compost.

If you are eating right now, I apologize.  😉

We found several caps at our local hardware box store and decided on the one in the picture above one.  It appears that it will do a great job allowing for air flow, yet keep rain out of the vent pipe. Just what we need! Though we haven’t had much rain here in California this winter (we are in our fourth year of drought), the weather report said that quite a bit of rain was expected in the next couple of days, and they were right!  We got the vent on just in time!

february blooming almond tree

Almond tree blossoms in February

Speaking of the weather and the orchard trees:  it has been just too warm up on our future homestead!  Our almond tree is blooming and the pomegranate is starting to leaf out!  This is way too early.  We shouldn’t see this until at least the end of February and more often well into March.  Unfortunately, this probably means we won’t get any almonds this year because a freeze or very heavy downpour of rain will either kill the blossoms or knock them off of the tree entirely.  Oh well.  The tree is only starting it’s third year in our orchard, so I didn’t expect much of a harvest anyway.  Last year it had two almonds that fell off the tree mid-summer.

pomegranate tree leafing out

The pomegranate trees are already getting leaves!

Last, but by no means least, is our new wood stove!  Isn’t she cute?  It’s a little tiny thing, but just perfect for cooking on!  We decided to fire her up right away to burn off that new cooking on a small wood stovepaint smell.  Boy did it stink!  Phew!  According to the instructions that came with the wood stove, we will have to do this a few more times before the burned paint smell is gone, but that’s not a problem.  So now, when our home in the valley is sold and we move up to our mountain property and start building our new homestead, we will have a great way to cook outside without having to use up a lot of expensive propane!

While bringing some wood over to the new wood stove to burn, I found this mushroom on one of the logs!  Isn’t it beautiful?wood stove 7 This wood has been piled up for a couple of years and there were several other types of fungi growing on the wood – slowly but surely decomposing the cellulose – adding nutrients to the organic layer of duff on the forest floor.  Mother Nature at her best!

Thanks for coming over for a visit!

 

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Turkey & Hamburger Soap

Yup.  I did it.  I made soap out of

dun dun duuuuuunnnnn…….

Make soap from turkey fat and hamburger grease

 

Hamburger grease and turkey fat!

Eewwww, you might say.  Well, let me tell you, it actually made quite a nice bar of soap!

Seriously! How to make soap from hamburger grease and turkey fat

Just look at this pretty, creamy white bar of soap!

If this is something you might fancy doing, just save all of your (previously discarded) cooking fats!

All of them. Just keep your hamburger grease in one container, your chicken fat in another, etc., because each fat requires just a slightly different amount of lye (sodium hydroxide) for the chemical reaction of saponification to work it’s soapmaking magic!

When I boiled the Thanksgiving turkey carcass, along with all the skin and parts unknown, before it cooled down too much I strained the broth into a large saucepan, then set it into the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning I had a nice creamy layer of turkey fat sitting on top of some wonderfully healthy turkey broth.  Just carefully lift the fat off the top of the broth, scrape anything off the bottom that isn’t clean white fat, pop it into a container and then into the freezer!  You can also do this with chicken fat, duck fat, just about any kind of poultry you have! Once you have enough for a batch of soap – Make Soap!

Soap from Hamburger grease

You can pour your hamburger grease into a paper cup, cleaned milk carton, cleaned tin can – whatever you have (thought it’s harder to get it out of a can). When hardened, pop it out of the container and store in a baggie or some sort of air-tight container in the freezer.

The hamburger fat?  Well, to be technical, hamburger fat is really just another name for tallow!  When you brown your hamburger, save the fat that you drain off into a cup or tin can, then pour in just a touch of hot water and set it in the fridge to cool. Once the fat is congealed on the top of the water, you have tallow!

Did you know you can also make soap with bacon grease?  Yes Indeedy!

Because of the chemical process called saponification, you can make soap out of just about any kind of fat or oil known to man!  I suppose that if the SHTF anytime soon, I could make soap out of chipmunk fat, though I’m not sure how much chipmunk fat it would take to get a pound of soap!

Sorry, Simon, Alvin and Theodore!  Just joking……. maybe.  😉

So, here is what I did:

After saving my fats, I had 390 grams of turkey fat and 192 grams of tallow.  I went to the handy-dandy calculator at Brambleberry.com and plugged these numbers into their calculator and found that I would need 192 grams of liquid (for this batch I used water, but you could also use milk, tea, coffee, etc.) and 77.29 grams of lye (sodium hydroxide).  The yield would be 850 grams, which is a little less than two pounds of soap.  Cool!

I won’t go through all the details about how to make soap here, you can find that just about anywhere.  You can also peruse several of my other soap making recipes on the soapmaking tab above, or CLICK HERE.

soap made from turkey fat

This soap cut very easily and was a beautiful creamy white color.

Anyway, I decided, when I reached trace, that I would add in some Rosemary essential oil along with Clary Sage. Not because I was afraid of what turkey and tallow soap would smell like, because I have already found out that the chemical reaction of the lye and the fats make the soap smell clean and very pleasant – even without added scents!  But because I enjoy experimenting with different scents!  I am blessed that my daughter-in-law, Wendy, is a distributor of How to make soap with turkey fatDoTerra, a wonderful brand of essential oil.  In fact, for Christmas she gave me some more, along with a wonderful, handy dandy holder! If you would like to try DoTerra essential oils, you can go to her webpage HERE.  So, when I tested the sage and rosemary EO’s together by taking off the lids and holding the two bottles together, swirling them beneath my nose, I liked the combination. I further tested the blend by adding one drop of the Clary Sage on a napkin, then added one drop of Rosemary right on top, let it sit and blend for a few minutes, then smelled it again. I really liked the blend of these two scents.  It was woodsy and clean smelling with just a hint of manliness – a little like one of my husband’s favorite aftershaves. Also, the scent seemed to barrel it’s way right into my sinuses – so I thought this would be a wonderful combination of scents during the winter cold and flu season!      Right?

Besides….    doesn’t sage go well with turkey? 🙂

Well…  ahem…   I wouldn’t call it a mistake….     maybe just a little faux pas.

You see – the soap is reallyHow to make soap out of cooking fats nice and seems to clean well with a good creamy lather. However, every time I smell it I am reminded of Turkey stuffing!  The sage scent took over and I think I added too much!  I also found that I don’t need to use as much DoTerra as I would other essential oils.

Next time I make turkey fat soap, I think I will use a citrus blend. 😉

The soap itself is just a bit softer than a pure tallow or pure lard soap would be, but it’s hard enough to work well in the bath or shower, or at the sink for handwashing.  As you can see from the picture above, I got seven nice sized bars of soap.  Not bad from something most people just throw away!

how to make soap from cooking grease

Have you made soap with any animal fat other than lard or tallow?

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