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Postage Stamp Farm: The Lightbulb Goes On

I have been sprouting grains for my chickens. Not because they are spoiled (noooo…not at all!) but because I am going through serious egg withdrawal. I haven’t had good mayonnaise since the end of summer..or egg salad..or quiche..or any rich yolky gluten free baked goodies. The Winter egg ration is upon us.
I am fortunate to be able to buy good pastured eggs from a friend..but even her flock is on the down low right now. I really want my girls to start laying again.
We went through this last Winter. Put lights up in the coop, insulated it to keep them super snug and toasty, fed them yogurt, meat scraps…all futile attempts to fight nature to have more of those orbs of delicious eggyness.
This year I am trying 2 new things (if it doesn’t get them laying again, hopefully at least it will boost their nutrient levels and make for a bountiful Spring!)
We are adding Redmond Salt to the water…a small amount (chickens are very sensitive to sodium). Hoping the mineral content will give them a boost.
The other thing I am doing is sprouting grains for them. I had 2 packets of seeds for sprouting (bought on sale of course) and figured I would give it a shot..a little green goodness to cheer some chicken spirits in the dreary part of the year.
The sprouting part is easy..take a to-go container with a clear lid, or any similar thing. Put a soggy paper towel in the bottom, sprinkle your seeds on, put the lid on and put in a sunny spot. You’ll have sprouts within a week. Dump the sprouts off the towel and repeat.
Of course, never being one to do things without overkill, I decided I needed to have several rounds going so I can rotate them out and always have sprouts ready. >Insert sounds of screeching brakes< Whoa there missy..we already feed organic, we dehydrate brew grains, we snag extra veggie ends from health food stores for them..now we’re going to spend money on sprouting seeds?? Hmmm….let me think about the wisdom of this.
Not easily daunted..I searched the great grand interwebs for good deals on sprouting seeds. It’s not really a thing that exists (at least on my budget).
Another cup of coffee poured..and the light bulb flares forth in glory. DUH! We sell whole grain feed..which is made of….seeds….>facepalm<
Will post the progress of the experiment, excited at the prospect of getting a double nutritional whammy out of our chicken feed.

TO BE CONTINUED……

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Blackberry, Blackberry. Musings on the Postage Stamp Farm

I was out this morning doing the normal stuff..giving the chickens brew grains, letting the dogs do their business. The sun feels glorious in the Winter time and the ground almost tricks your senses in to smelling Spring as it warms (not yet dear Earth..sleep a while longer!)
The yard is overwhelming at this point..stacks of things that never got put away because of that arctic snap, compost bins full to overflowing, stalks still standing denying the ground their nutrients. Frustration..so many things to take care of right now, and it becomes difficult to prioritize. The clock ticks and the sun approaches the tipping point back to days of longer light.
I am struck by the though that I want to give it up..with the fatigue issues and joint pains this year, mixed with poor performance in the garden last year. I consider throwing clover seed down this Spring and just letting it take over.
I rest my hands on the beehives, wanting to see in and make sure they are ok. In response, a few fly out. They are strangers in this climate, and they have adapted. Nature has her ways.
Walking back in to the house, I look over at the blackberry trellis (badly in need of repair after getting blown over by the last wind…add one more thing to the list of to-dos).
I have struggled with that blackberry bramble for years..planting it, watering it, giving it different offerings of compost and fertilizer to encourage it…
Most years it barely grows. No matter how much I beg and bribe, it does not seem as adaptable as the bees.
This morning, amid the wreckage of the trellis, there is a blackberry shoot, standing straight out of the ground, almost defiant. On the end of that shoot, is a small cluster of green leaves. We have already been through winds, arctic temperatures, little moisture..and the plant I gave up on persists..brandishing some leaves in defiance of overwhelming. I sit for a moment and contemplate it, and my own self talk. I wonder if plants and bees ever think to themselves that things are overwhelming. I doubt it. Their genetic programming and the grand larger scales of life I can only touch in my mind occasionally resonate that life is imperative. There are no obstacles only adaptation or becoming obsolete. This morning, I will let those rebellious little leaves take root in my brain, and thank the earth for her dreaming messages.

 

the-earth-is-a-sleeping-lady

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Being an Artisan in a Wal-Mart World

It’s a common lament…as an artisan you invest your knowledge, skill and time in what you create. You finally take the brave leap to bring your artistry to the world, and no one buys. You get compliments, people say your work is great, but then they walk away without taking home some of your hard crafted goodness. You start to question why you ever thought it was a good idea to share your passion to begin with. Elizabeth Kuble Ross clearly illustrated the stages of grief. Let me illustrate the stages of creating and being an artisan..shamelessly heisted from the internet:

Creative Process

1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is crap.
4. I am crap
5. This might be ok
6. This is awesome

We as a culture have become used to cheap and plentiful. I don’t think anyone is exempt from this way of thinking..we look for the best bang for our buck and the best value for our hard earned money. Most of us like to think we are consummate hagglers. With the internet we have an entire world of products at the click of a mouse.

As artisans, we strive to make a product that stands out, that people see the value in. We dream of the customer that understands the knowledge, sweat, and occasional band-aids and scrapes we put in to our work. We want people to understand that yes, you could go buy yarn at Wal-Mart or cheese at Costco..but it’s not the same. It’s mass produced versus hand produced. We try to figure out ways to get people to see the gleaming gems we produce amid the cookie cutter piles of coal.

Here’s the hard part. It’s not always the customer that has a skewed perception of the value of things we produce. Often times, it’s us as well.

It is difficult to present yourself with confidence. You know all of the mistakes made on an item, the cover ups and fixes, the fudging process when you get stuck..it happens. We are people creating, not machines.

You agonize over how to price your work. Is it too expensive? Too cheap? Am I actually making any money after investing in materials?

For us, our skills may come to us easily now. When I spin a skein of yarn, I rarely think about my initial struggles to wrangle a lump of fiber in to a cohesive string. I can do it now while watching a movie or having a conversation. What I produce is time consuming, but not necessarily difficult for me any more. It is a struggle to price it at the value I know it’s worth. I forget that not everyone out there can judge a fleece quality, wash it without damaging it, card or comb it, spin it, ply it, dye it..what is common place to me is a baffling mystery to others. Think about your own work, and the process it takes to create. You may think “well, anyone can do this really” but many people can’t, won’t, or don’t want to.

So…as an artisan…we fight the public perception of our value, and our own perception. Phew..that’s gonna be tough. Been thinking about this a lot and would like to offer suggestions to both sides, in an effort to play mediator and make the world a happier place. In part one, let’s look at our side. Part two will discuss how to be a good customer when shopping artisan products.

1.  You are an artist. Act like one. I don’t mean dressing up in wild clothes, putting on airs of mystique and speaking in vague references (unless that’s your thing..but own it!). When people ask what you do, tell them, and tell them un-apologetically. I struggled with this one a lot personally. I wanted a fiber arts business..it is my deep down passion and something I love doing more than anything else. But calling myself an artist? Well..I’ve only been doing it xyz number of years..I dunno. Own it. Introduce yourself as it. You ARE an artisan cheese maker. You ARE a wood crafter. You ARE a fiber artist…get it? Let it open up conversations (it will!). Consider your response to someone who seems unsure when you ask them what they do, or responds as if they have no value..what impression do you get? Learn to discuss what you do with others..just make sure you don’t dominate the conversation and get so technical their eyes glaze over.

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2.Define your image. When we think image we tend to get hung up. Take a moment and think of what that word “image” brings to mind. Do you see business suits? Hats and gloves? Think about what you create and what you feel while you are creating it. Miss Bee Haven for me is the wild woman who plays with bees and cooks up comfort food. Her hair is a mess but clean..you come in to her house and she sits you down for good eats…served with a side of honey or home made jam. The bees buzz happily around her and give her inspiration. My yarns are all named after myth and fairy tale characters…the woman who sits at her wheel and passes on wisdom through stories to wile away the dark cold winter nights. What feeling do you want your work to evoke?Are you urban? A free spirit? Meticulous and absorbed in your creation? How do you convey that to your buying public? It doesn’t matter if it is based in reality. Next time you go to the store, cruise the meat and eggs packages…pictures of farms, sunrises, picket fences..most of us know this is not the reality of the people working to make those products..you are being fed an image that evokes an emotional response. If you as a customer were looking for a child’s dress to give as a gift, would you be more drawn to a picture of a dress on a rack, or a dress on a child in the sun crunching through Autumn leaves and smiling? Can’t think of an image you like? Look for a theme in what you create…ask other artisans for help and feedback.

3.Don’t undervalue your work. This is tricky. We want to price things so that they sell, but we also want a return on the time and effort it took to create it. It is easy to be tempted to price too low, but often low prices cause low confidence in customers. If your price is too low, people question what is wrong with the item, and what kind of quality your product is. If you are looking at 2 hand crafted wooden bowls made out of the same wood, using the same techniques and finishes..one bowl is $10 and one bowl is $20 which would you perceive as the better quality item? The flip side is over pricing. People seek value, and dollars can be difficult to part with, even if you understand the quality and craftsmanship behind an item.

4.Present you work like you mean it..especially on line. This ties in to image. If you are selling on line, take time to photograph your work well. Put it in settings that are in line with your image. Search for pictures of similar items on line. Which ones are you drawn to and appeal to you? The biggest problems in photographing your work are lighting (too much, obvious flash reflection, or not enough), and clutter. If you’ve ever sold a house, the realtor will tell you to make the house as empty as possible for viewing. You love your stuff, and your stuff made it feel like home. A customer wants to visualize their stuff, and may have different ideas of what home is. Practice presenting your work in a way that lets the customer’s mind picture what they would use it for.

In a market setting, have enough space to present you work without overwhelming the customer. Utilize different levels an heights to present objects. You may have 20 hand thrown goblets for sale, but if you put them all out at once your customers are blinded to the individuality of the pieces. Creating is messy business in many cases. People may be interested in your process, but the final presentation should reflect the beauty or functionality of what you create.

10152478_10204218562936748_4812615540257912100_nThe process

14012_10204270495635033_4452869502647256275_n                                                                                                       The presentation (Thank you Corie Weaver  for allowing me to use these images!)

5. Let customers know what you’re made of. That amazing wind chime that sparkles and catches every ray of sun? It was made out of driftwood and sea glass picked up while walking on a Spring day by a river full of music from the snow melting…the flattened spoons were found while perusing flea markets full of tons of items you *could* have used, but you chose those specific spoons. Be realistic about the items and ingredients that create your masterpiece, but don’t be afraid to describe them poetically. If your product is utilitarian (a sweater, home baked bread, spray room freshener) be sure to let people know what the ingredients are, and be willing to answer questions. If there is a reasonable way to demonstrate what you make, do it. A binder with examples of your work, Having your tools on site..get creative. People need to know visually if possible that this is hand created. I used to bring my spinning wheel to markets and spin. It covered up my introverted anxiety, attracted attention, and illustrated that yarn making is not a quick process.

6.Fake it till’ ya make it. We all suffer self doubt with our creations. We invest emotions in to our products. When we sell them, customers can sniff out any hesitancy we may have about how wonderful they are.

I had a $68 dollar skein of yarn..I swear it was appropriately priced based on the cost and rarity of the fiber. It was painstakingly dyed to bring out the fiber texture and butter soft feel. A woman picked it up and squished it in her hands..cue the panic button! That $68 would make my booth fee..it was my best skein by far..if it sold I would feel sooo validated as an artisan.

She told me she was looking for a gift for a friend, and wanted something so unique that only she could give it. Her friend was a knitter. She thought the skein was beautiful and so very soft. I explained to her that it was yak down..her smile got bigger..my anxiety got bigger. She held it away from her and flipped the price tag over (sweat sweat sweat). I see her pause in hesitation. Do I lower my price a little? Do I tell her it took me at least 8 hours to create? She expressed her hesitation (I’m worthless as a spinner, my stuff is over priced. I remember when that skein was causing me grief while plying it…). I kept my mouth shut. I reminded myself that to her, I am an artist.  Her hesitation was over the color. Her friend LOVED green. The yarn was 10 different shades of green. She wasn’t sure what shades of green her friend loved. (Oh happy artisan, my yarn is awesome, your friend will be getting the most unique quality present in the world!).

I assumed price was an issue, which made me question my validity as an artisan. I was wise to zip it, smile, and let her sort out her thoughts…they had nothing to do with my insecurities. She bought the yarn after I told her with that many shades of green, one of them had to be a favorite, and she could compliment it well by adding other skeins in different shades. Phew. You can always spazz out after the customer walks away.

Selling is a skill, and you develop it just like you developed your artists skills..practice, and more practice.

7.I f you know another artist, swap selling each other’s work. I have made MORE sales when I have walked away from my table and had someone watch it. My husband sold my PERSONAL hand spun husky fur hat that I left at my booth..while I went to the bathroom…for more than I ever would have priced it for. And it had my hair cooties on it and the woman was aware of that.  This was (un)scientifically confirmed by my mother. When she would ask my aunt to watch her booth, she sold more bags. At a local small fair, my friend and I swapped booths. She made amazing earrings, I had my yarn. She could be excited about my work for me, without anxiety, I could do the same. Customers caught the vibe. Excitement is contagious. So is your anxiety.

8.And finally….criticism is your friend. Most of us ask for opinions on our work from family an friends. We want to hear that it is amazing and beautiful and worth every penny we charge for it. And family an friends will happily oblige and tell us this while our inventory sits there full and our pockets sit there empty. Talk to people about your work and practice keeping your defensive line backer in check..people in general are polite and don’t want to be insulting..if they are worried you will knock them over with contradictions and defensive answers, they will give you the smile and polite answer they sense you want to hear.

I made some beautiful skeins of yarn..people complimented them, squished them, oohed and ahhhed over the colors…and then walked away. I finally got the courage to ask people about my work..politely, treating it as they would be giving me a gift that cost them nothing to give. One woman finally told me that she loved the yarn, it was beautiful, but she couldn’t picture anything to make out of just one skein. Lo and behold, I now make my yarn and many other items in lots. Single skeins are not the fore front of my display, but off to the side. Listen to what your customer wants, and ask for honest feed back. Allow it to help shape your process. Family and friends may be a good ego boost, but they also don’t want to hurt your feelings.

So..let’s hear it..what tricks and tips do you have in your artisan bag? What makes you get up every morning and continue to pursue the things you love?

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For the Hate of Cleaning

The hubby and I have an agreement, he earns the paycheck, I stretch it as far as it can go.
This wasn’t easy for me to arrive at. Years of struggling with a slew of chronic illnesses that dropped like a bomb out of the sky took away my ability to work full time, and up ended life as I know it. I wouldn’t change my life for the world (even though some days it would be nice to have more energy or predict bad days)…it has brought me to a place of understanding I might not otherwise have experienced, and has brought a slew of wonderful skills and appreciations I might not have enjoyed. It taught me resourcefulness, and learning to live in each moment.

Last year I bought a book that I have grown to love. Her ability to weave a story, the practical advice and breakdown of the seasonal life really impacted the way I thought about what I do. I have adopted the term Householder as my official job title. I have threatened people that if you call me a house wife, I might cut you. A householder is a more pleasing image. The Viking women with their belts of tools organizing, brewing, keeping the bees, yelling at the chickens..you know,  running the ‘stead. The one that holds this place together..mostly. (The book is A Householder’s Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest).
I am also fortunate to live with someone who understands there are certain times when the house is held together by things like tomato sauce on the ceiling, or potato peelings on the floor…that seed starter mix ground in to the hardwood floors adds patina, not grime. Having dogs ain’t nothing on planting and canning season here…

I do want a cozy clean house for most days. Call me crazy. My mom mentioned my grandmother’s famous saying this morning: “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” My mom asked her once what happens if there isn’t a place for it, and my grandma responded with “then you have too much stuff”. Hmmmm…I seem to have adopted my mom’s love of stuff. I figure that’s what closed doors are for. Grandma was also wise and said if you are having company, and haven’t had time to clean, pull the vacuum out..it looks like you were in the middle of cleaning and merely interrupted. I’m a modern kind of girl..I put my muck boots on and a few twigs in my hair. Who has time to clean when there is….stuff…outside that needs to be done?

Autumn and Winter roll around eventually, and it’s time to get things tidied up. I thought I would share a few of my favorite tricks. We don’t use chemical cleaners in the house for the most part..everything from the laundry soap to the stuff that removes apple butter from the walls is as natural as possible.

Lemons and Salt or Baking Soda: I keep a big bag of lemons in the cupboard. They are my go to for cleaning almost everything. I have my sister to thank for this one..she taught me to clean my cast iron with them.
For cast iron: cut a lemon in half. Sprinkle some kosher salt in your cast iron. Scrub with the lemon. Do this while the pan is still warm. Rinse with warm water and dry well. I keep my pans so seasoned they make teflon cry..this method of cleaning preserves that slick finish and keeps them ready to use.

If you have stainless steel appliances, or one of those glass top stoves, sprinkle baking soda on it, and rub with half a lemon. This works better than ANY commercial cleaner I have found. Scrub, walk away for a few minutes, then wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth. Rinse the cloth and repeat. Sparkly. This works for sinks, rust stains, enamel cook ware, mineral stains from hard water…you name it.
If the initial scrubbing doesn’t lift stains from your enamel pots, add water, cover and boil with the half a lemon and a good amount of baking soda.
If you have a garbage disposal, toss the scrubbed out lemons in when you are done to clean and freshen your disposal.

funny-lemons-son-dad-run

I Hate Cleaning Bathroom Cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with half vinegar, half dish soap (any brand works, but I prefer the ones without dyes and artificial fragrance). Add about 1/4 tsp per pint of clove oil. Spray down showers and tubs, the shower curtain or or door, any shiny metal, and spray extra well in the tub on mildew areas. The first time you may have to scrub a little bit if there is gunk built up..after that spray once per week to keep things sparkly. While the shower is soaking, spray the inside of the toilet, the sink bowls and fixtures. This solution is a little fumy, so turn on the vent or crack a window. Whistle Dixie, check Facebook, or stare vacantly out a window for 10 minutes. Rinse down the shower/tub. Swish the toilet bowl with a brush and let it continue to sit until you need to flush the toilet again. Use a green scrubby pad gently on the sink and surrounding area. Rinse sink area with a damp microfiber cloth. Use the same cloth lightly rinsed to wipe down the rest of the toilet.
The clove oil in the mix is pretty potent against mildew. It doesn’t bleach the spores like most cleaners, it actually kills them. Wintergreen or a mix of the two does just as well..I just don’t like the pepto bismol smell of the wintergreen as much.
I spray the shower at night before bed..if you do this, be kind anyone living with you an hang the spray bottle on the shower head or faucet to warn other people that you’ve made a skating rink out of the shower..it’s slick stuff.

Home Made Smells Better than Febreeze: In a quart size spray bottle add 1 Tbs baking soda, water, and a decent amount of essential oil of your choice. Peppermint is said to repel spiders, lavender and rosemary smell awesome and have other repellent qualities. Shake well before each use. Spray on ALL the things..curtains, pillows, rugs.
I will confess this is also my home made “shampoo” I have been pooless for over a year now. My hair maintenance at this point is rinsing my scalp with warm water. On days I need to freshen up or have done something stinky like clean the chicken coop, I spray this on my roots and brush through with a natural bristle brush.

Laundry Soap: (hint, buy baking soda in BULK..it cleans sooo many things!) In a tub with a seal-able lid add: 2 cups Borax (note: Borax is safe..contrary to sites that warn about death and dismemberment if you use it..they are confusing the natural mineral in Borax with sodium borate which won’t dismember you but IS toxic). 2 cups washing soda (make your own washing soda by baking pan of baking soda at 400 degrees for a few hours until it turns grainy. Science!) 2 ground up bars of either castile soap, or home made high-lye coconut oil soap. (instructions here). I run the soap through my food processor, but you can go old school an use a cheese grater…I feel sorry for your wrists.  Blend it all together. Use 2-3 tablespoons per load of laundry, a little more if it’s extra grungy.
Interesting note..I stopped using regular detergent after chemical sensitivities drove me nuts. We had an HE washer at the time that was HORRIBLE..always smelled like mildew, even after breaking down and running bleach through it. Some models never completely drain the water, which mildews and then stinks. After switching to the home made detergent, we never had a mildew smell anymore.
Add vinegar to fabric softener area for softening. For whites, sheets, and kitchen towels, add another 1/2 cup of borax to the load. If you make the cleaning version of the coconut soap, keep a bar in your laundry area for treating stains..wet end of the bar, rub on the stain, throw in the wash.

 

Fabric Softener: Get a few skeins of undyed wool yarn. Wind in a TIGHT ball and tie off. Throw in with a load of clothes washed in hot water, then throw in the dryer. Throw it back in the wash every few months. Like the soap helping with the mildew problem, moving away from synthetic fabric softener helped the dryer. Lint screens build up with fabric softener, lowering  the efficiency of your dryer. If you switch to the wooly ball method, wash your lint screen really well to get the build up off…clothes dry faster, you save more money.  If you line dry, spray clothing after it is hung with half vinegar, half water. The smell goes away as it dries.
Our clothes are actually SOFTER since we stopped using synthetic softener. Just make sure the dogs don’t run off with the dryer balls…

All Purpose Cleaner: Half water, half vinegar, a few drops of scented oil if you want. Mirrors, counter tops, tile and vinyl floors…grab a microfiber cloth and go for it.

Ye Olde Hot Rag: We keep a large supply of microfiber cloths on hand..re-usable, and stand up to a lot of abuse, unlike paper towels. The trick to using them is to use them damp or wet. Dry is great for cleaning glass and windows, but if you need to soak something up, or wash something down..wet it first. For baked on stuff or things that have sat too long and become sticky, wet with hot water and place it over the gunk. Wait a few minutes and then wipe up.

So this wasn’t my usual introspective post, or filled with musings about things love in my life..but I hope it helps make your day a little easier so you can get back to DOING those things you love in life..If cleaning is one of them, please send me your phone number. I need to talk to you.

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Feathers Were Flying

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons on the postage stamp farm. Most years, it heralds and end to a season of hard work, never clean finger nails, and putting up the bounty of the earth to enjoy for Winter. This year was not like other years, and I have been reflecting that Fall is also a rough time for a lot of people. Mourning and loss come to the fore front of the mind, each leaf that blazes color eventually falls to the ground and eventually turns to dust. Cycles within cycles..dust enriching the ground that grows what sustains us.
Summer was rough. Chronic illnesses flared up, the weather wrecked havoc on carefully tended seedlings and plants, things that grew with abundance years before seemed to kind of flop along with my physical state.
The things that keep us from becoming dust? Friends who share your passions, friends that teach us new things and are softly lit mirrors of all that is good and all that needs work within ourselves. Friends that encourage your blaze of colorful existence. I could sit an post about the failures of gardens, the crazy weather, the “I wish I could haves”. The contentment is there though, the bounty and abundance of new and old friends made it a season to remember.
There is still much to do..a bucket of green tomatoes sits ripening on the kitchen floor. The table still needs to be excavated from seeds, drying herbs, canning jars and who knows what else is buried under there. Onions wait to be chopped and dehydrated for Winter stews. And looming in the back of my mind is the harvesting of last years chickens. I tried to ignore the feathers on the ground and in the coop..but today the message was clear. Life sustains life. Gratitude makes some necessary acts easier.
While hanging out with a friend canning collard greens and sharpening knives for the inevitable there was chatter and laughter and thought filled conversation. We took a break to go sit outside and there was a pile of feathers on the patio. My heart momentarily stopped and I had to do a head count of birds in the yard. All were out pecking and scratching away. Lala the special was hanging out on the patio quacking like her normal chicken self.

Next inspection was Sam..who has been getting kind of rowdy with the Ladies again. His paws and snout are clean and clear of any mischief. Relief, followed by sadness. The beginning of molt means harvest is one day closer. Something in me knew to sharpen those knives to as near a painless edge as I can manage. I looked at Pot Pie and Dumplin scratching in the dirt. While I am grateful to raise our own food (as much as possible) there are times it comes with a heavy heart.

May we all live lives of verdant green and warm nights full of possibility. May we blaze forth in color in the right time and place. May we realize that harvest has many aspects and definitions. May we be grateful for the breath we draw, the sensations on our skin, the love of friends. Someday it will be us whispering down from our hold on the tree, all life transitions. May we live our days with meaning.

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Bloominkraft now offers organic poultry feed

BYOB! (bring your own bucket..) We are now offering certified organic, corn free/soy free chicken feed…full of beneficial herbs and probiotics.
Buckets sold in 25 pound/5 gallon buckets. NO minimum order, just pick up a bucket when you need it.
This is a high quality, whole grain (not crumble or pellet) complete feed. (See ingredients below)
Don’t have a bucket? We have some reclaimed food grade buckets for a few extra bucks.
We accept cash, credit card and PayPal. Pay in person or through the site, whichever is easiest for you.
Check availability through the website, or message me here on FaceBook.
Price: $18.00 per bucket.
Pick up days: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am- 7 pm. Fridays 12 pm-6pm. Any other pick up times, please contact me.
Website: www.bloominkraft.com

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Beauty and the Bee

It’s Miss Bee Haven here. We haven’t posted to the blog for a while due to it being SPRING! We have been splitting hives, failing at swarm management, and planting our little postage stamp urban farm like mad! (We have over 40 varieties of edibles planted on our 1/4 acre lot, the bees should be reeeaaally happy here in a few months!)
Now the seeds are in the ground, and the bees have (mostly) calmed down, we turn our thoughts back to our favorite topic at the end of Spring (when fingernails are dirty and everything is sweaty.)

PAMPERING OURSELVES aaaaaaaaah.

Miss Bee Haven is the name of the harvested (responsibly of course) side of keeping bees. We always make sure our bees have what they need to survive before we take any of their precious hive products.
Did you know that everything our favorite fuzzy insects produce is beneficial? Down right luxurious? Over the next few posts I will share some of these tried and true beauty secrets with you, as well as talk about the benefits of ALL of the hive products.

On a personal note, I have fought very hard over the last few years to eliminate as many toxins from our home, including beauty and hygiene products. The reason for this is simple..6 years ago I became truly and horribly ill.  I realized a lot of it may have been caused by diet, and nasty stuff in our environment. I have slowly but persistently eliminated almost all chemically laden skin and health products from our home..no small feat!

Most of you know your skin is the biggest organ in the body. What you put on it, you might as well eat! Everything I make as far as personal care items, contains food quality ingredients I would eat….even if it weren’t as tasty as a spoonful of honey! They nourish the skin, hair, body..inside and out. They have the benefit of being time tested.

And as a last disclaimer, related to the above tidbits of personal info..I have to admit I have not washed my hair for 4 months…with store bought shampoos or conditioners. (I could already hear you exclaiming “eeeeeewwwww!”) My hair is shiny, super soft, and as far as I can tell non-smelly. You can google a bazillion different “pooless” recipes. For the most part, I just use baking soda, apple cider vinegar and a little essential oil for a nice scent.

Thanks to Empowered Sustenance, I now have a new hair treat… Honey shampoo! My only disagreement with this post is that it is made in a larger batch (if you go ‘pooless you don’t have to wash your hair as often). Honey is a precise balance of moisture content and contains naturally occurring yeasts and molds; diluting it with water can give these free reign to start a breeding frenzy..which won’t smell nice)

Here’s my little twist on it. That empty bottle of honey in the cupboard..you know, the one with a glob of honey stuck in the bottom that won’t ooze out no matter how patient you are? Take it in the shower with you, and mix it with enough warm water to make it an easily pour-able liquid. Wet your hair with warm water, and squirt the honey water in to the roots. Massage like crazy (happy sounds optional) If you have longer or thicker hair, use a little more honey. I liked this because it really does use up every last drop of honey in a bottle.
Let it sit for a few minutes while you wash, shave, make funny faces, sing…and then rinse. No conditioner needed. (if you HAVE to use shampoo, use this afterwards)

My hair was incredibly shiny after this, and I could detangle it with no problems! Ohh..and is smells good too! You can’t over do this one, and it is cheaper than almost every chemically laden cheap shampoo. You do need to know though, that if you decide to go ‘pooless, there is an adjustment period. Your hair looks a little weird for a few days from all of the synthetic waxes being stripped off. AFTER that transition period though, you should notice hair that is much softer, easier to keep clean, and ridiculously shiny!

Let me know how it works for you!

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OUCH!  So you got stung by a bee?  Well, here’s some truths about bee stings:

  • The area WILL swell, and become red.  This is a normal reaction to the venom.  This is NOT a severe allergic reaction.  Those TRULY allergic to be venom (anaphylaxis) will need to be RUSHED to a hospital. Only 1-2% of the population is truly allergic to bee venom.
  • If you were stung multiple times by the same bug, you did not get stung by a bee.  Wasps and many other stinging insects do not have stings that are barbed, and they can sting you multiple times.
  • The best way to reduce the reaction from a bee sting is to remove the stinger as soon as you can.  You do not need to remove the sting in any special way.  Just get it out quickly!  The smaller the amount of venom injected, the less severe your reaction will be.
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Did you know?  Bees Don’t ALWAYS die when they use their sting. When bees sting our skin, the barbs on their sting get caught in our skin, taking the stinger, venom sack, and other portions of the insides of the bee with it.  bees can, however, sting other insects, and certain other animals without engaging the barbs on the sting.

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If you see a swarm:  First, ENJOY it!  Here’s why:

  • The bees in a swarm are leaving home, to find a new home.  They have filled their bellies with honey and are at the lowest sting danger ever.  Since they have no home to defend, they have VERY little reason to sting, unless highly provoked.
  • Bees are dying off at an alarming rate.  Remember when you were little, and 3-4 of your friends got a bee sting every summer?  Any more, your children will be lucky if 3-4 of their friends SEE a bee over the summer.
  • Call a beekeeper!  We’ll come remove a swarm in the open for free.  720-333-3336
  • Please do not swat at the swarm once they land, or spray them with ANYTHING.  Call a beekeeper.