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Sunflower + Calendula Soap

Last week I had the opportunity to lead a soapmaking workshop with a small group of youth from the Sackville Community Garden. Using organic sunflower oil and dried calendula (a type of marigold with excellent skin soothing properties) from their garden we made a small batch of a lovely mild soap.

This was a first for me – I have never given a soapmaking workshop before. I have learned that my workshop space is not particularly well suited to having a group of people! I did enjoy the process and got a rare chance to experiment with a new recipe AND make soap in a rectangular mold for the first time (oh how it is so simple compared to round molds)! It remains to be seen how interested the youth were – their willingness to participate in the process – well, they were a bit stoic about the whole thing but maybe they’ll come to appreciate it later on.

Sunflower oil contains a high percentage of high-oleic acid oils which makes the soap much slower to harden than I am used to – after 48 hours they were still easily ‘smooshable’ when removing them from the molds.

Sunflower + Calendula Soap

This soap also contains a small amount of annatto seed infused in the lye, giving the soap a lovely light yellow colour and tiny reddish flecks. I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to the super-secret-and-highly-coveted Anointment soap formula.

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Spring {bee} Cleaning



Honey


Hopefully there aren’t too many of you having heart palpitations at the sight of so many bees! It was time to open the hive and check out how our colony did over the winter, clean out the detritus of the winter and get the hive ready for another season. We’re thrilled they made it through just fine and have about thirty pounds of honey to spare. We are working on getting that honey out of there so they have plenty of room for this year’s production (and we can enjoy the spoils) – this is proving more difficult than we thought since of course the engineers want to build their own centrifuge. We’re gathering parts…

I’m excited that oatmeal + honey soap will soon be made with honey by our own bee colony. Gathered from the clover and goldenrods of the Tantramar Marshes.

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Spring bees

Spring Bees

The bees are out! With high temperatures last week the bees were out looking for pollen, and unfortunately for it being March and all, there was none. We’ve put out “sugar water” feeders for them, which they enjoy by the dozens. Jeff also made up peanut-buttery looking “pollen substitute” from a combination of brewer’s yeast, soybean flour and water. This will provide important food for the larvae as they hatch to ensure our colony gets a good start to the season – otherwise the baby bees would hatch and starve to death, jeopardizing the entire colony.

The south-facing willow trees are already covered in fluffy pussy willows so blooms aren’t far behind – let’s home for a bumper honey yield this year and a successful colony!

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Fall Fair

he made it to the top of the hay fort!

:: Agricultural Field Day at our local farms – it took some scrambling but he made it to the top!

8th generation farm girl!

:: My friend Mary Ellen (LOVE the monogrammed coveralls), 8th generation to farm her family’s dairy farm, Prospect Acres and one of only a handful of women farmers. She showed us around the dairy farm and we learned how milk is produced.

barn cats

:: This kid is an animal whisperer – she has a true knack for working with and handling animals. She was able to handle the barn cats with no trouble at all and didn’t care in the least that we were on a DAIRY farm. I mean, there were cats. How could she focus on anything else?

ayrshire dairy cattle eating supper

:: Mary Ellen and her brother James breed registered Ayrshire cattle rather than the more common Holstein dairy cattle.

heaven for a little boy

:: This kid is a mechanic in training. Does it have a motor? If the answer is yes, he wants to know how it works.

All in all a very fun, full, fulfilling and enlightening weekend!

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Mike and the Goats vs. The Government

Meet Mike, a fellow Sackville Farmer’s Market vendor. I buy goat cheese from him because my children are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk. He’s being faced with going out of business because he can’t afford a very expensive piece of pasteurizing equipment the government says is required to make his cheese safe. He keeps a small herd of goats and makes all of his products by hand, the old fashioned way – not unlike the principles I use with Anointment.

A few years ago, I was faced with a similar situation. Health Canada “asked” that I refrain from selling Anointment products because the labeling was not up to date. It was not bilingual and the ingredients were listed in English rather than the industry standard “INCI” – International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients” language, which usually amounts to the latin names of the ingredients. There was nothing WRONG with the products, no health issue, no safety issue only labeling issues. Similar issues could be found on many, many mainstream cosmetic brands who hire celebrity spokespeople, but as an easy target, I was faced with a very difficult decision. I was in the process of updating the labels and had planned to do it as funds allowed. Instead, I was faced with a deadline by Health Canada that amounted to over $10,000 in research, translation, design and printing fees. That cost nearly crippled Anointment and when I inquired about “financial help to comply”, the safety officer merely shrugged her shoulders. In fact, the experience was so bad that I not only complained to the officer’s supervisor but to my MP as well.

It infuriates me to see another small scale producer who cares about his animals, cares about his product – and if you’ve ever talked to Mike, you KNOW he is passionate about what he does – being faced with the same issue. Yes, public safety is important, and if regulations are required and to be followed, I firmly believe there should be programs available to small businesses to meet these needs. Ten or twenty thousand dollars is more than most small businesses make in a year. Offer some solutions: a grant or interest-free loan, for example. If Canada truly has an interest in economic development, entrepreneurship and RURAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, offer us support rather than trying to shut us down at every turn.

As far as pasteurization goes, I know many a family who PREFER not to have their milk pasteurized. It is NOT routinely pasteurized in France and I’m pretty sure the French are not dropping dead in droves from E. Coli outbreaks. I have purchased cheese in Halifax made from raw Quebec milk. If they are heating the milk and cooling it, that’s good enough for me. I don’t need flash pasteurization!

Mike, I support you and I will buy a share in your farm to not only prove a point but because I believe in what you do.