My homestead crafting for this month—rendering tallow, tallow lip balm, calendula salve; knitting baby socks and a baby hat, some scarves and cowls and little things I’m finishing up, and yet more work on the yo-yo quilt! Get er done!
Today I made a calendula salve! I made one previously, and have been absolutely loving it. I put it on all my wounds, bug bites, and skin irritations. Infected piercing? Calendula balm. Bad zit or acne? Calendula balm. I heard you should use it like neosporin (which some people like me have allergies to the neomyacin, so this is a good alternative.) I use it and just keep applying when my skin has absorbed it and it feels dry again.
Making it was a fun mess—well, it was only messy at the end when I poured it into tins. I started by infusing olive oil with calendula resina flower petals. This flower is a relative of the marigold, both very beneficial flowers. They are beautiful flowers, a rich yellow colour, so vibrant yet soft. They dry on a screen of recycled lace I put on a hanging quilting hoop, flat on their faces with their petals sticking straight out in every directions, each one a perfect, holy circle.
The flowers release their medicinal substance under the heat and it becomes infused with the oil. To this I added tallow, Shea butter, and beeswax with the embellishments of lemon, tea tree oil, and turmeric powder (all beneficial for the skin).
Once it all melts and is incorporated, I can pour it in its little tins from the double boiler (and of course the edge of the glass makes the liquid fall down the side 😂). I let it harden, add lids, and put in my stash for to sell and gift! $15 my friends! Message for sale!
Tallow, refined beef fat, is useful in cooking as well as homemade cosmetics products. It is shelf stable when rendered to purify it from imperfections (meat bits) and so so soft, soothing, and an ultimate joy to work into your skin—both as a finished cosmetic product and as I work with processing it!
I started this process at the Trackside butcher shop, purchasing first three, then five pounds respectively, of beef suet. My first recipes I planned on trying were bird food suet and tallow lip balm.
when I brought home the thawed tallow, I put the three lbs through my kitchen aid grater. After doing that, I can say it melted and processed way faster than just cutting up the suet—however it was quite a bear to grate, as it has lots of membranes that do not want to grate at all and then coat the grater. The second time, I just cut up the fat and put it in my rendering pot on very low heat with 2 cups water.
Melt, strain, sit and harden, and repeat is the process it takes to refine tallow. A few repeats should leave your tallow whiter than it starts, and free of floating chunky bits.
Once it was done, I poured melted tallow into my bird feed mix and let it harden for bird suet. I waited until it hardened into a bar to measure it out for my lip balm.
For the lip balm, I mixed tallow with beeswax, honey, and turmeric, and tried both pouring into a container to harden and letting it harden and whipping it—and I did like the whipped version better.
I love the tallow products so far! The lip balm is so soft, tastes just like a hint of honey but not much else, and the birds are eating up the suet really fast (I have a fine crop of songbirds and woodpeckers in my backyard). Next I plan to try a whipped body butter and a calendula salve. Stay tuned—and if you are interested, listen up in my shop, I actually have my lip balms available right now for sale! Blessings!
Please enjoy my video of my time at the Kentucky State Fair and going through all my 19 ribbons I won!
My goal/experiment with the home garden this year was to let everything grow that came up. I did not have many weeds at all, it was mostly covered with tomatoes, beans, and squash in my bed areas—and actually ended up getting completely covered up and unnavigable. Thus, I have it a haircut. I will keep the home garden more pruned in the future—that was the value Learned this year, pruning. I chose to do this experiment as I was a little bummed out at getting started with seeds very late. Even when you get started when you think it’s late, you can still get a shite ton of growth. Too much. So when it needs to be managed, manage it. (Though, I also had a lot of time restrictions on my plate this year…) For next year, I already have a different plan. Stay tuned to hear what it was. Also, I did want to share what I was most proud of this season, which was my cushaws. Cushaws are a type of squash crossed kind of like between a pumpkin and a zucchini, and I cook it in either pies or breads. Just skin, roast, blend, and substitute 2 cups for a can of “pumpkin” (which is usually actually just butternut squash).
After the haircut
Leather Britches (strung beans)
Oregano infused olive oil
Boneset and Pokeweed for dye
Various sunflower heads drying for seed
Calendula salve which I had made with calendula petal infused olive oil, and thus, needed to make more calendula olive oil
Fiber fun in the garden with alpaca wool from my cousin!
Well my folks, I’ve (maybe) finally decompressed from the state fair. One of my friends was like,”how do you do all the stuff you do???” Well my secret ended up being, I don’t always do everything. This summer I took a total break from my passion of Flamenco dancing at Flamenco Louisville—something I’ve been doing off and on for 15 years now. I took a big break from going out and seeing people as much as I did, which gave me time to be a hermit a little and go more internal for the summer. I had lots of other responsibilities that needed seeing to. Always the garden gets out of hand but this year whew… so I’ve been taking it all in and thinking how can I prepare now and move forward now to not have as much of the downsides of a busy schedule as I have had this summer. And as much as I want to just write out that seemingly simple two word goal “do everything”—girl 😂, no… However that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna still shoot for the moon! You know me!
So we all visited the fair (me, family, friends, club members, Kentuckians, others) for a good long time. It went well I think! I picked up my things (with a mild panic attack when we couldn’t find anything then realized there was a special pile for mine), I picked up my ribbons, critiques, and premiums, and made it home! Of course, myriad photo shoots ensued. Decorating of my room with ribbons, putting all the critiques in a safe place, and deciding where each entry item lives now. One yarn is getting ready to zoom off to her new home. A painting as well. Things moved to the famous Christmas present bag, things moved to the “hope chest” shelf in my closet. After a brief yet highly satisfying yarn reorganization, my room/workspace looked highly pleasing 🥰.
In all, I won 19 ribbons from the Kentucky state fair this year, with two firsts. My baby socks are just as precious each time I see them. My handspun headband was soooo satisfying to see that ribbon, satiny blue, seated atop its gold. I’m starting to think when I get my great wheel I should pick up some more Camaj Fiber Arts Merino Ohh Shiny gold fiber to spin on it so I can pretend to be Rumplestiltskin 😂.
Mom, two days into the fair, prompted me “so whatcha thinkin for next year?…” and I laughed really hard. I was ready to relax for a few months (from fair stuff). However, my mentor has spoken 😂 so I did, yes, start BRAINSTORMING ONLY for next year.
I also had a garden CTJ with myself. Tomatoes love me…? Maaaaaaybe not… well, Champagne Bubbles tomatoes love me. Sadly nothing else does. It’ll make a big huge unmanageable plant, but for some reason I only get Champagne Bubbles tomatoes… so I’m not gonna grow tomatoes next year. Nope. Everybody else does, so I can get them cheap in bulk from the farmers market and can them.
This way I will have more space for better plans. I’m also working hard at my community garden plot. When I got it it was a total 6 feet in every direction weed farm. Im working to get the weeds out again so I can put down cardboard to keep the weeds out now. Then more compost. Workin workin workin day by day.
But now, my focuses are working with alpaca and angora now to perfect a baby sock pattern and then start making some to donate to preemies in the nicu. And focusing on Fall Sale buildup. I’m going to be selling again at the Lawrenceberg Chicken Swap Sept 16, 30, and Oct 14. And I’ll keep everyone updated on those dates!
Hope you all are well—look up, fall is starting ❤️
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.