Soap making is an ancient art perfected by the common joe in his effort to live a clean life. It involves the process of saponification, an alchemy of sorts combining water, oil and highly corrosive lye to make a thing that helps to wash the dirt away from even your most sensitive areas. OK not so scientific a definition but you get the drift. I have been making soap for several years now and have tried several different kinds of soap. Everything from all veggie soaps to lard based ones. In my effort to become sustainable though i have decided to try to make Bear soap. This hunting season has been kind and we saved the fat from the bear we harvested. I rendered the fat, or cooked it down and filtered it to make it useable for soap making. This was much easier to do than i thought and with the turkey fryer outside there was no smelly house to deal with after.
Though i buy my lye from the store, eventually i will construct a way to harvest lye from wood ash in the old way. Just don't ask me for details yet-I'm still filtering through you tube videos of people blackening their kitchens trying to do this.
My husband has been asking for an unscented soap to use during hunting season and my hope is that this will be the answer. Though i wonder if bear fat is really the best fat to use for deer hunting soap considering that bears are omnivorous...
What the hell, I'm running out of soap and i have all this fat, I'm giving it a go!
The smell was not so good, though i think it was the method i used to render the fat- the dry method. I have since then read an article on the dry and wet methods of rendering. The wet being easier on the fat- you add water and boil the fat then cool the whole thing skimming the fat off of the water.
Oh well, the soap looks great and smells ok. It should be ready in time for rifle season this year so we shall see how scentless it really turns out to be...
Bread making for so long was something that intimidated me. So many variables- temperature and relative humidity, kneading, rising, baking... so many ways to mess up any one of the steps. For too many years i just avoided it and with it being such a basic thing we all consumed i was ashamed i hadn't learned how to make it. As with so many things my friend at Meduseld farms was far and beyond my abilities, making bread for her second nature. She inspired me and encouraged me to pursue the art of bread making with a bread machine. This awesome piece of modern equipment like the juicer, migrates in and out of kitchens with the seasons. Any second hand shop will most likely have one for sale, i got mine for 10$. With this cheat machine i got comfortable with the steps and stages by observation. My own little teacher inside a metal casing more than willing to show me the way however many times i needed. I began by letting the machine do all the work and gradually omitted the last step and removed the dough after the first rise, placing it in a pan for the final rise and then in the oven. I made the final transition just mixing and kneading, then allowing it to rise...
Tonight i made some Bear stew and while it was simmering away i made honey wheat spelt rolls with whipped honey butter. I am far from a master but i have no trepidation whatsoever now and cannot express to you just how glad i am that i bought that bread machine, you know the one i loaned to another bread-phobic housewife wanting fresh bread...
My first memory of shooting a gun was of my fathers Hawes 44 magnum. It was a massive handgun that weighed more than my right leg. It was stainless steel with a long barrel and a scope that seemed more appropriate for a rifle than a handgun. My father had ordered 300 grain bullets for this thing, they could purportedly take down an elephant. IT WAS AWESOME ! I always loved that gun, though it scared the living crap out of me to shoot it. My first shot was at a piece of plywood my father had drawn a silhouette of a man on in black marker. I stood a good 20 yards from the target holding this massive beauty. I took aim at the center of the targets chest both hands holding tight, legs spread just slightly. My father watching, my uncle watching, my brother watching. As i squeezed the trigger i kept thinking of the kick this thing had... Pow! My relief must have been palpable, and the exclamation of "HO-lee Shit Eva" had me looking at where i had actually hit my target. It was a perfect crotch shot. My father was proudly yucking it up about nobody messing with me as he carefully peeled the gun from my white knuckled hands. It was a good moment for me, and since then I have perfected my shot and only make crotch shoots when i mean to.
Things seem a little different now though. It's the "in" thing to hate guns, not for what they are but for what seemingly mad people use them for. You must be paranoid to own one and real paranoid to own more than one. If you happen to be a collector than forget it, you are a crazy prepper just itchin for a home invasion. I think my gun is the least dangerous thing I own. I do more damage with my tractor, and am way more dangerous with the car I drive. I think we all pose more of a threat with our vehicles than with guns. If you think of doctors with their prescription pads, the deaths from pharmaceuticals and their interactions-big pharma is like a shooting range where everyones a target. Funny how we can blame a thing just because some seemingly smart guy on T.V. said it was the problem. I wish we could get jazzed up enough to outlaw pesticide use of any kind, artificial fertilizers, and fluoride in everything. I wish the cops could spend more time apprehending criminals of a serious nature instead of arresting farmers for selling raw milk, which contrary to popular belief has killed less people than sushi.
My gun helps me to harvest sustainable meat in a humane way because I wield it with efficiency knowledge and care. The animals i harvest have a small carbon footprint because i don't need to feed them grain harvested with tractors and trucked in from afar. And for those of you who choose not to eat or use animal products for the perceived cruelty inflicted, read the secret life of plants - broccoli screams when its picked. Seriously.
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Maine, Eva's passion for living self sustainably began with Helen and Scott Nearing. Both were homesteaders who carved their lives from the land. Eva now lives in Eastern West Virginia, with her husband Dain and daughter Shayna, carving out her own life.