Goat Milk Soap

September 7, 2016

A bout a year ago dad got an idea. Dad always has the ideas. I don’t know how he got it, but he did. Dad wanted to make soap.

This did not happen immediately.

First we had the garden to look after, and as all you country dwellers know, that’s where all the Saturdays go too. Then, after that we took a vacation. Then school started again. Then we moved. All the while a beautiful five gallon bucket of coconut oil and some other gigantic containers filled with similar substances were sitting out in the shed. (Were currently just about everything is.)

Finally the Saturday came, golden and promising, when laborers heaved and toiled o’er tedious (but wonderful) buckets of shining oils. (Did you know that a five gallon bucket filled with coconut oil is REALY heavy??????????????????)  I won’t even mention getting the   lids off. Pain pain pain pain.

After we got the buckets in, the amounts were carefully weighed and deposited in a bowl, while dad carefully added lye to another bowl containing frozen goats milk (from our friends the Smiths.) in the form of ice cubes, while wearing goggles, of course. As far as scents go, we decided on peppermint and lavender. Peppermint is supposed to be a stress reliever, and is very nourishing for the scalp, and helps fight dandruff. Lavender has the same reliving qualities, and helps relax sore muscles. It also makes hair healthier.


 Goat’s milk soap can be used as a shampoo and as a body wash. Really none of us girls even have a need for conditioner, we’ve found that it makes hair limp. The goat milk soap is the only thing we use.

Now, making your own soap is not by any means cheaper than buying commercial soap. It is extremely better for your body, but of course, just like food, you are going to have to pay for quality. The ingredients we used were coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, (to make suds)  goat milk, of course, and essential oils. This recipe that we used we found at “Free Range Mamma”


Soap in Mold

Soap in Mold

26.5 oz. olive oil pomace                                                                                                               

16.5 oz. coconut oil

 10 oz. sustainably sourced Palm Kernal oil.

209 grams lye (see bottom of post )

2.7 oz. essential oils of your choice

20 oz. goat milk frozen in ice cube sized chunks

Directions: prepare your mold. Combine and milt olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil to 115F. VERY slowly, pour measured lye into semi-thawed (slushy) goat milk. Stir constantly. Measure temperature constantly. If milk heats up too fast it will turn orange and scorch, so do this step very slowly. Ideally you will get your lye mixture up to about 115F.

soap after cooling

soap after cooling

Combine lye mixture with oils when temperatures are the same (between 105-115F). Using a stick blender, blend combination until product reaches trace. Add any essential oils, dried herbs etc. At trace. Pour into mold and cover with either plastic wrap of cardboard. Cover with towels to keep from cooling too quickly. 24 hours later cut into bars. Set bars on towel in warm, dry location away from direct sunlight. Let them “saponify” for at least 4 weeks. Have fun!!!!!!!!!! 


WARNING: lye is very dangerous. WEAR GLOVES AND SAFETY GOGLES. Don’t let small children around it. “IT CAN RESULT IN SERIOUS INJURY.”   

soap curing on rack

soap curing on rack

How To

Starting Healthy Plants From Seed

March 14, 2016

Last year we decided not to buy potted plants for our garden, but to start from seed.  We tried this before, but crashed and landed flat on our faces. Starting mass quantities of seedlings requires DILIGENCE. Sure, after the first week I could have easily turned DILIGENCE into BACK BREAKING DILIGENCE to keep every plant alive, but really, it’s very rewarding and much cheaper than buying potted plants from a green house.

Some of the challenges we encountered were as follows:

 When the seedlings first come up, DON’T OVER WATER THEM. Babies are tender, and over watering can drown them. Make sure the soil is nice and moist, and they will be fine. When they get bigger, they will naturally need more water. Don’t skimp, but be careful. You know if you start seening pubddles that it's too much.

Second, as the plants get taller, they will start leaning more towards the area where there is the most sun. If they lean like this long enough, they will start to have a weak point in their stem. To prohibit this, just turn the trays around the opposite direction as needed. As far as what to start the seedlings in, we used bio-degradable egg cartons. You know, the kind that is stiff and looks like it’s made out of pressed brown paper.  These worked great and were easy to cut into individual sections and transplant once the seedlings out grew them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            







Another interesting thing that we tried was recycled newspaper pots. We had so much fun folding these as a family in our living room.   These are our heirloom tomatoes that we grew in the newspaper pots. Aren’t they lovely? We grew four kinds, Brandywine Pink, Burpee’s Super Steak, Black Krim, and Big Rainbow. Aaaaah. The Fruit of my labor.                                                                                                


These are some herbs that we were experimenting with. We planted basil, dill, cilantro, and mint. We had different success with the herbs.  Mint was a failure, and the cilantro did pretty well when we put it outdoors, but the dill and basil got absolutely huge! Success!!!

Plants in Pots


The Rabbits at The Abundant Farm

February 5, 2016

Sweat pea

“Hello everybodee! My name is Pokey! I am the cutest, softest, furriest, most loveable bunny of all. My adorable name is a true representation of my personality. You see, I have a habit of sticking my ’ittle bitty nose into everything. I am the last surviving Satin breed at The Abundant Farm. My fiancé, Yeti, died of a broken heart when I told him that I wouldn’t marry him for the world. That’s how I became the only Satin left. Sweet Pea told me that I had been cruel and outspoken, but I think I was just being honest. Satin bunnies are the best meat bread because they are sooooo soft, and sooooo lovable. I don’t know why everybody calls us meat rabbits, because everyone with a proper mind knows that just like all bunnies, us so called “meat rabbits” are herbivores, must just be one of those silly mix-ups you humans have.”




“Hello, my name is Sweet Pea, and before I get started, I would like to apologize for Pokey talking too much. I am a Champagne d’Argent, and was born on the same day as Pokey. But, as you can tell, Champagnes mature a lot faster than Satins. Sorry, Poke, I couldn’t help it. I was named Sweet Pea because I sit quietly and do what I am told, I don’t bite or scratch, not on purpose anyway, and I don’t get people’s fingers mixed up with carrots. (Unlike Pokey.) And, when I got to go inside the great big people hutch, and had to go potty, I was a good bunny and peed on the kitchen floor wear as Pokey peed on the couch.”





“Howdy, Pepper here. I am a great, big, strong buck. I am also called “Pepp-Pepp” and “Peppy” I was named Pepper because when I was first bought, I had a temper tantrum and tore Anna’s favorite flannel into shreds. So they named me Pepper,   


Grind Your Own Popcorn For Cornmeal

November 18, 2015

Home-ground cornmeal can be made from popcorn, ensuring the ingredients that go into your cornbread are non-GMO.

When you grind your own popcorn, you get a far fresher product with better nutritional value that hasn’t been genetically altered. Additionally, the beauty of grinding corn, as opposed to other grains, is you don’t have to worry with discarding the pericarp. That just means you don’t have to do any sifting of the flour. Check out the article we wrote for Hobby Farms magazine HERE.


Your Pumpkin is Causing Global Warming

October 30, 2015

5 ways to naturally dispose of your pumpkin

The energy Department is concerned about the potential link between pumpkins/jack-o’-lanterns and the production of methane gas. It isn’t as though the pumpkin just sets there and creates methane gas on your door step, but rather it is the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins being thrown in the trash each year after Halloween. It doesn’t appear from the Department of Energy website that there is a quantifiable amount of greenhouse gas produced by the decomposition of all these pumpkins. The Department of Energy has instead just lumped the pumpkins into the various landfills with all other garbage and is claiming the 254 million tons of municipal solid waste produced in the United States each year is the problem. I don’t have any idea why a person would throw a pumpkin in the trash once they were finished with it, but maybe they just haven’t thought about any other options. To that end, we, at The Abundant Farm, are here to help you make greater use of your pumpkin and save the world. Here are our Top 5 ways to use all of your pumpkin and keep it out of the landfill.

1. Eat it. There is really nothing tastier this time of year than pumpkin. Everywhere you look there is pumpkin flavored stuff. Why not make your own pumpkin puree to use in a variety of desserts. It couldn’t be easier. Just take a look at our post last year where we outlined the process.

2. Eat the seeds or save them to plant next year. I would suggest taking the seeds you scraped out of the pumpkin, rinsing them (get all the orange fibrous stuff off of them) and placing them in a bowl of salt water (water should easily cover the seeds and use a teaspoon of salt for every 2 cups of water) overnight. In the morning you can drain the water off the seeds, place them on a drying sheet in your dehydrated and have a healthy snack by the end of the day that packs more protein per 100g than cheese. If eating the seeds isn’t your thing. You might rinse your seeds and then put them in the dehydrator overnight (instead of soaking them in salt water). Place the seeds in an envelope ore something breathable (not a Ziploc plastic bag) and you will be ready to plant pumpkins again next year.

3. Feed your pumpkin to your chickens. Chickens love gourds of all kinds. They are absolutely amazing cleaners. They will eat every bit of the inside flesh of the pumpkin until you have only the rind left. Not only will you save your pumpkin from the landfill, but that chicken will produce a much darker yoked egg from all that beta carotene in the pumpkin. If you don’t have chickens, find someone that does. They would love to have your pumpkins for their chickens.

4. Compost your pumpkin. If you haven’t started a small compost pile, this is the perfect time of year to begin the process. You have plenty of nitrogen from your pumpkins and lots of leaf matter from your trees losing their leaves. Find a spot or simply set a few concrete blocks up in a square to keep your leaves from blowing away.

5. Fertilize your landscaping. Take the opportunity to cut the pumpkin into small pieces and place them around plants you have in your landscaping. If you are currently using mulch or rock in your landscaping, you can simply put the pieces of pumpkin under the rock or much half way between the stem of the plant and the widest point of the plant’s canopy.

I hope these ideas help keep your pumpkin out of the landfill. If you are near Crawfish Creek we will gladly take your spent pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns. If you have other ideas you would like to share, please leave us a comment.


Top 3 Ways To Limit Distraction In Your Homeschool

May 29, 2015

Top 3 Ways To Limit Distraction In Your Homeschool

Our homeschool year is quickly coming to a close.   I should say it is partially ending because it was a baby year at the Fowler household and that means that some students didn’t get some concepts as well as I would have liked so we will continue those….but for the most part, we will break for summer.

I love this time of year because I like to plan….sometimes too much.  There are sooo many ideas swimming in my head all the time waiting for a Christmas, summer, or even just a weekend break to to get tested.  But, does every idea need to be explored?  Probably not.  So this year instead of planning for the sake of planning (just because I think it is fun) I am going to subject myself to the strictest examination prior to any scheme I endeavor to start and prior to any book I allow myself to read.

  1.  What are the areas where no change is needed?

The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.  I tend to go over ground that I have already covered and try to change my methods.  My infant wasn’t sleeping through the night for months and in desperation, I went back in the archives of my mind and remembered an old method I used to use.  Let them cry for 15 minutes and if they are still crying, pick them up.  It wasn’t two nights she was sleeping through the night.  I am so glad I stopped strategizing and reading and being anxious about what I needed to do differently and just did what I knew to do.

  1.  Do I really WANT to follow through with this new thought?

My father-in-Iaw always says “ideas have consequences”.   I need to weigh the price of each new idea carefully and only learn more if I am willing to live with the consequences of the new idea.   It used to be that if I committed to something, I would sacrifice the important for the urgent in order that my word might be kept…like making my family eat another junk food meal in order to get the ministry meeting agenda typed (we didn’t even need an agenda) or leaving my house a wreck day after day, week after week because my mom’s group needed a “retreat” and I had to plan it (sounds like the retreat before the retreat).  Now that I don’t do much outside of life in my home, I plan curriculum….maybe excessively.  I read up on new ideas for my family which are often helpful…but not always executed! So, what’s the point?   I have explored so many books on education styles, methods and such I just want to not think so hard and just homeschool for a while.  Ditto for diet and health books.  I am limiting myself to only 1 or 2 “new idea books” for common placing.

  1.  Prioritize my planning.

I have put off some things that need to be planned in order to plan things I like.   If my husband is truly my head, it is a good idea to let the plans he has for the family get penciled in first.  I can’t monopolize all the family time and then shrug him off and say I don’t have time for what he wants to do.   Take this farm for example.  My husband wants us to physically work on it.  That takes my planning and fore sight to happen and some of the plans I have may have to take a back seat.

How To

Making Maple Syrup and Memories

March 20, 2015

Making Maple Syrup and Memories

The spile is inserted into the tree about 2 inches and comes with a hook to hang the bucket

Often times we have a preconceived notion about what is possible or even typical.  We tend to quickly purge the creativity out of our children just as it was removed from us when we were young.  It doesn’t matter if it is as simple as the correction a child gets during coloring time for making the grass purple or the sky green, or as complex as a systematic structure by which we place an ever decreasing value on the arts.  Either way, we gravitate toward the normative controls that make our life more uniform  and as we so often misunderstand, and misjudge, easier.  All that said, it is many times the development of the focus by which we, and ultimately our children will see and evaluate the challenges/opportunities posed to the in the world.  So, what happens when a family reads a book like “Miracles on Maple Hill” by Virginia Sorenson.  It could very well be a book that proves to be a good family read and you move on to another book that meshes well with the curriculum you have designed for your children.  What if the book spawns an interest in the application of what was read?  Well, that is exactly what happened with our family.  It just didn’t happen immediately.  It was a seed that was planted and eventually sprouted and grew. 

As a family we thought it might be interesting to look at the possibilities on the farm as far greater than what we typically see that lead to an exploration of our wooded area and a greater understanding of the opportunities that exist for a business through what is typically low to no revenue ground.  We were able to delineate opportunities for items like ginseng, gathering nuts like pecans, hickory nuts, walnuts, but it was the recognition of the abundance of maple trees that brought back to mind the opportunity from a great book. 

We found the production of maple syrup to be a fairly simple operation for a family to understand.  A great resource for us was Maple Syrup Production for the Beginner by Anni L. Davenport.  This 6 page paper from the School of Forest Resources at The Pennsylvania State University really gave us a comfort level with the process. 

Our experience producing maple syrup was fascinating and a relatively inexpensive venture for our family.  We found buckets, lids and spiles for sale on ebay for about $7.00 each.  Our initial purchase of 30 units was reasonable and was within the bounds of what we could manage on a daily basis.  Please note, once you tap your maple trees, the flow of sap will start within seconds and will continue until the temperature rises high enough that the tree starts to bud.  You will want to plan ahead and make sure you have some way to store the sap you are collecting.  It is not uncommon for a tree to provide  a few gallons of sap each day. The sap, much to our surprise was a completely clear liquid with just a hint of sweetness.  Without the help of our friends at Griffith Gardens we would not have had access to some of these very important resources as we collected, stored and began to boil the sap.  It is shocking to know that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce a single gallon of syrup.  Essentially you are boiling the water off and retaining that 2% – 4% sugar content in the sap.  This can be accomplished through a gas fired, wood fired or electric system to create a boil.  Just remember that surface area is your friend. You can see in the pictures the wood fired system we used to make syrup from the sugar bush at Crawfish Creek. 

In our experience, the production of maple syrup allowed a book to come alive.  It allowed our family to take on a project that combined skills oriented learning, the liberal arts and real world experience.  Ultimately, it’s projects like this that help our children with the “exploration gap” because their learning should be built in such a way that it requires them to think and apply knowledge to complex problems.   

How To

Top 7 Ways to Use Apple TV for Home Educating

March 11, 2015

I can’t wait to do a series on how to use Apple TV with my iPad to make my home educating more efficient.  So I guess I won’t.  The past month we’ve had strep or one of its cousins passed more or less among the 9 of us and I need to decompress with some happy thoughts even though the house is a mess and it’s time for me to go to bed. 

This Christmas I got Apple TV from my wonderful husband.  He loves to get me high-tech stuff to drag me into this century.  I have been accused of wanting to live like the Amish, but that’s a discussion for another day.  I had gone to a local homeschool group and the mothers in charge of that group used the device to broadcast educational material from the computer onto the larger television screen in the room.  My head became full of ideas for the use of this same tool in my “Circle Time” a.k.a. my group classing for everybody during which we cover everything from singing in harmony to Shakespeare and chemistry.  For a look at my weekly schedule head to this link…

So Every morning after breakfast we begin our school day around the television while I, armed with the iPad in “mirroring” mode, gather all the remotes before DD age 5 tunes into Word Girl.  Then all eyes go to the screen and all mouths are silenced as we sit in awe.  Whatever I have scheduled for the morning seems to be enhanced by the technology!

So without further ado, I will throw out some ideas from my homeschool to yours.

  1. Bible Time – I use the official English Standard Version ESV sight to flash our verse on the screen while the kids find it in their Bibles.  I love to use the books of the Bible list that appears when the Bible icon is activated for use in finding the book from which we are reading.  But the real treat comes when someone asks a question like…

“Mom, what is the difference between precepts and decrees?” I can quickly bring up the definition of each word from my trusted Webster Online Dictionary.

“Mom, where is Israel?”  I can quickly pop open the 3-D like Google World and watch the kids while I zoom in on the Jordan by satellite as it presently looks.  “ooooooooooohhhh” they always say.

“Mom, what does an ephod look like?” I can quickly pull up an image of an ephod and DDs age 3 through 7 start madly sketching an ephod and coloring it.  Ok, that didn’t really happen, but things like that have in the past.

  1. Singing Hymns – I use Cyberhymnal and Caleb Hugo sites for learning our sacred songs.  We attempt to memorize the “10” verse variety hymns which need a spiritually hungry heart to translate.  These are the kinds of hymns that leave me teary-eyed by verse three.  If they happen to be on Hugo’s sight, we practice singing the piece in harmony.  Fun!
  2. Scripture Memory – Now this idea I plan on implementing next week so I can’t say it will work for us…yet…but I think it is going to be “really great” as my DH always says.  I am going to turn the iPad camera on video to record a person reciting so they can watch themselves on the screen.  I love for the kds to do self-feedback, especially when it comes to “nose picking and tush scratching kinds of things.  During recitations the children can see for themselves what is appropriate.  Then I won’t need to interrupt or embarrass anybody. 
  3. Art Appreciation – We use Ambleside for our artist selections at present, which is wonderful, because they have the links to all the works.  I really can’t say enough about Ambleside.  I can even leave the pictures up throughout the day for continual admiration.  The much larger versions of the pictures on the TV (and through enlarging the picture on the iPad screen) we can notice little things that we otherwise would have missed in a little picture in a book.
  4. Checking Our School Schedules – Simply Charlotte Mason online scheduler is the best scheduler I have found for keeping my goals for each child organized!  Now everyone can glance at their agendas on the big screen instead of waiting for a turn at the iPad or laptop. 
  5. Drawing – When I have an online resource (I now make sure I find most sketch models online because it is soooo much easier) that I want many children to replicate; I can skip making all those copies. 
  6. Classical Conversations App – I can flash the CC app on the screen while we fold laundry which is great for the visual enhancement, but even more helpful because of the generous auditory volume provided by the iPad.

These are just a few of the ways I use Apple TV as a teaching tool.  How are you using technology to facilitate learning in your homeschool?

How To

Teamwork In Your Garden

February 24, 2015

Teamwork In Your Garden by Emily Fowler

This year my parents have decided to let each kid have his or her own garden. I was very excited at this, for there are so many plants that I thought would be fun to grow. We separated off into teams, which were

Team 1 – Anna (14) and Lydia (3)  

Team 2 – Emily (12) and Kate (5)    

Team 3 – Luke (10) and Leah (7)

Team 4 – mom, dad, and baby Adah (4 mos.) Adah probably won’t help much.

Mom said we need to have a plan for our gardens. So one day during circle time she handed out some graph paper and plastic sleeves. First we had to decide how many squares equaled a foot. Then, we had to look up how much room each plant needed. This part was time consuming. Instead of gluing the squares of graph paper to the big piece of graph paper, we attached them using tacky. This way we could move them around. This comes in handy when you suddenly find out that peas cannot be next to tomatoes. Then you don’t have to rearrange your whole plan.

Kate and I where interested in growing lots of herbs. I spent a lot of time researching all the different kinds of herbs and what they do for you. Because we wanted herbs so much, mom ordered a mix of all different kinds. Here is our herb garden.