Monday, January 24, 2011

An Easy Way to Process Beeswax

Here is a neat trick I came up with today to purify your beeswax with very little waste.

I've been reading a lot about soap making lately and that is where I got the idea to use a Pringles can to pour the hot wax into as some people will use them as a soap mold.  The beauty of the Pringles can is that you can peel it off cleanly and throw it away when you are done.

The wax settles into a long slender column with a very little area of debris to scrape away.

This is what I did:

  1. Clean out a Pringles can (you can use a little water.)
  2. Fill a small glass sauce pan (or a glass bowl) with water and pour it into the Pringles can to be sure the volumes are similar (you don't want to exceed the volume of the Pringles can.)
  3. Place your wax into the sauce pan (or a glass bowl set within another pan of water like a double boiler.)
  4. Add some water to the wax.
  5. Gently heat to a simmer on your stove top, watching it closely and being careful not to spill.  Wax is flammable!
  6. Place a second pot of water on another burner and bring it to boiling.  You will need this to top off the can.
  7. Meanwhile, take a pair of pantyhose and cut off a large section of the foot.  This will be your sieve to pour the wax through.  Fit it over the Pringles can and push it down inside a little.  Secure it with a rubber band if needed.
  8. Place a paper towel beneath the Pringles can to catch any spills.
  9. Carefully pour the hot beeswax through the pantyhose into the can, water and all.
  10. Remove the pantyhose and discard.
  11. Pour in enough of the boiling water to bring the wax all the way to the top.  This will prevent wasting any wax may have stuck to the inside of the can as you poured it in.
  12. Set the can of wax aside to cool completely.  This will take several hours at least.
  13. Once the wax is solid, cut off the bottom of the can and drain away the water.
  14. Peel away the can.
And now you have a tall, slender column of clean and pure beeswax.  You can easily shave away the thin layer of debris from the bottom without wasting hardly any of your valuable beeswax.

The glass pan or bowl is most easily cleaned by placing it in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes to melt any residual wax.  Grasp it with a potholder and use a couple of paper towels to rub it clean.  Repeat if necessary until all the wax is gone.

I am going to use some of this wax to make hard lotion bars and some hot process soap.  I've got to order a few ingredients first.  I'm really looking forward to this as a fun winter project.  I've been feeling so cooped up lately!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Full Load

Now that's a load of firewood!

My Bright-and-Shining-Farmer has had to pull a lot of over-time here lately, so we've had to resort to buying some firewood until he can get back out there to cut some.

How many places do you know that will stack it to the top of the cab (much less stack it--period).  God bless the Amish!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ava's First Ride

Today I found and edited this video I that took last November of Ava's first ride on Journey, my gaited paint gelding.  I meant to post this before and forgot.

She's a natural, right?  :)  Ava was not afraid at all.

That was such a pleasant, golden, fall day.  The perfect kind of day for making special memories like this one!

I wish I'd had my new camera at that time.  It takes HD video and much better pictures than my old point-and-click.  But I did get some nice shots anyway and these two I framed for my Dad for a Christmas present and a copy for myself as well.

I'm hoping she will just fall in love with horses (which is so easy for a kid to do anyway) and want to ride in 4-H and shows.  I never got that opportunity as a child, so I look forward to living vicariously through Ava!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cat Watching

We don't feed the birds, but sometimes I feed the barn kitties.

They aren't tame and you can't catch them.  But they'll get really brave when it comes to a stewed chicken.  This is the closest they've let us get to them and the first chance I've had to snap a few shots.

With the barn kitties on duty, I've had only a couple of short-lived mice in the house this fall and none in the chicken barn.  I spilled a little feed recently and out of curiosity left it there for over a week and there have been no mice to eat it.  Since we freaked out and killed our big black snake last summer (it got really close to the swing set), I am really glad to have the barn kitties around to keep the mice under control.

The problem lies in keeping the barn kitties under control!  I've heard that they make kitty birth-control especially for feral cats that you can add to their food.  I'll have to ask the vet about that...

Ava and Boogie enjoyed a little cat watching today.  It's becoming a consuming hobby.

I love spending time with you, Boogie.  We have so much in common.

I love you, Boogie.  You're my best friend.  You know that?

Do you suppose, Boogie, that maybe one day we could have a kitty?

But I could never love a kitty more than you.

I'm kinda getting bored of watching the barn kitty eat.  Aren't you, Boogie?
Here, let me see your paw.  How 'bout I paint your toenails for you?
No?  But why not?

Ten minutes of cat watching was enough for Ava.  She sang to them for awhile.  And she sang to the dog for awhile.  Then she wandered off to find something else to do.

But Boogie sat transfixed, like zoning out on cat TV.  Did you notice that she never moved an inch in the previous pictures? 

I just don't trust these cats.

What are you going to do about this, Mom?


But they mock me!
Hey, do ya mind?  We're trying to eat here!

Sigh...  I wish I could get my paws on those cats.
Last count there were three.

There used to be five.  I don't know what became of the other two.

They ate almost the whole chicken carcass.  Maybe I'll buy a big bag of cheap cat food and start feeding them.  I am a softy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mother of Vinegar

If you've ever had doubts as to what that is and whether or not your vinegar has it, wonder no more...

Yep, it really does look like snot.

And while that fact might put you off...quite a bit...have no fear.  These are good bacteria, going to work for you!

So if you get some, save it, and it will make your next batch of apple cider vinegar (ACV) go so much quicker.

If you have never made your own raw apple cider vinegar before, you should certainly give it a try because it is very, very easy to do.  For more on that, check out this informative how-to article courtesy of Ohio State University.

This past September, I used my own homegrown Red Delicious apples to make my first batch of raw ACV.  My tree puts out so many and they do not keep very long.  I did not press my cider, but instead ran my apples through a juicer and strained the juice well.  You will end up with a little sediment in the bottom, no matter how well you strain it, but it won't hurt anything. 

Fresh, organic apples are best for this.  You can also purchase fresh, unpasteurized cider in season and use that.  Just be sure it contains no preservatives.

Why go to all this trouble?  Read about the many benefits of using this old fashioned home remedy and maybe you'll want to try some too.  Whether you make your own (free) or buy it (very affordable), it is worth checking out.  But don't expect any miracles out of the clear, filtered ACV you usually find in the grocery store.  It is not at all the same stuff.  Look for raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized ACV.  Your local whole foods store will likely have it.

I have been taking half an ounce of my vinegar in a 16 oz. glass of water every morning and evening for two months now.  I can definitely tell an improvement in my energy levels and my digestion.  I lost 12 pounds quite easily in the first month (prior to the over-abundance of Christmas goodies which temporarily stalled me out).  I found that without planning it or even thinking about it, my carb cravings were drastically minimized which made it easier to stay within a set number of calories each day.  And my sinuses which are tormented by the wood stove this time of year were also much less bothersome.

Well, here I set out to simply show you a picture of what the "mother" looks like and now I have gone on to try to talk you into making your own raw ACV (as so obviously you should!  ;) )  Through many articles, I never did come across any images online to help me identify it when I first started this batch.  Toward the end of the process, you will notice it just appears one day, floating on the surface.  Eventually (and I assume that this is the result of the daily stirring) it will end up in the bottom of the jar.  I hear that you may not always get one, but if you do be sure to save it to jump-start your next batch!

I keep mine in a smaller jar with a little of the vinegar in with it and twice now the main jar of vinegar has gone on to develope a new one.  It is perfectly fine to keep them together in one jar, but I remove mine to make it easier to take out my dose of vinegar with a turkey baster.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rooster Went a Courtin'

It's 10 o'clock; do you know where your chickens are?

Remember that public service announcement that would come on just before the evening news?

I looked out my back window this afternoon to see my neighbor's two handsome young roosters strutting and making passes at a few of my Black Star pullets.

These seven girls are my rebels anyway, always escaping the safety of the 4-foot-high fence that surrounds their designated pasture. The fenceline on the side between us and our neighbor's horses is just a little lower than the rest and they've figured that out.  Daily they hop over into their pasture, go up a few yards and hop back over into my yard.

I regularly have to go out after dark and escort them all back into the henhouse because they can't figure out how to get back over the fence. Like most rebellious young'uns, they are not as clever as they think they are!

The boys see me coming and go hide behind the compost pile, pretending to mind their own business. They seem to know better than to cross the Mama.

That's right boys, you get on home now! It's quite a piece to walk back up the hill to their own territory.

I suppose if I ever want to hatch some chicks, it would just be easier to borrow their roosters than put up with one of my own. Haha.

Undoubtedly, they'll return. These wild pullets of mine were definitely flirting back!

The neighbors also have a 3-year-old son who occasionally comes over for a playdate with Ava. Twelve years from now, he'll probably be sneaking over here too.  Gonna have to keep an eye on that one!  Just kidding!  ;)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 in Review

The following stats were to delivered to by inbox, courtesy of, which was where my blog was hosted for the majority of the past year.

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here's a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads: This blog is on fire!

(LOL, I bet they say that to everybody.)

Crunchy numbers

Featured image
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010. That's about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 50 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 61 posts. There were 180 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 62mb. That's about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 4th with 67 views. The most popular post that day was A Little Color on a Dreary Day.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and (All my favorite forums that I frequent.)

Some visitors came searching, mostly for deworming chickens, ivermectin for chickens, where to find morel mushrooms, ivermectin/bees, and Jason Perlak. (Maybe I should drop him an email and let him know he's famous! :) )

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

A Little Color on a Dreary Day October 2010
1 comment
(This was one of my favorites too.)

Opening the Bees April 2010
1 comment

Honey for my Honey June 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on
(My favorite memory from 2010!)

Jelly from Wild Grapes October 2010
(I really liked how the photography turned out on this one.)

SeedsNTrades Shareware February 2010

Well, there you have it. 2010 was a good year for me. I feel I made a lot of improvements in my life this past year and set my mind toward more to come. There's so much I want to do. I love having this blog to collect my thoughts and record my progress, as well as the day to day humor and blessings in it all. One Sunny Acre will hopefully chronicle many more goals accomplished for 2011 as I work to fully appreciate and utilize the good things in life God has graciously given me and to be a better servant for Him. I feel so blessed. I am so thankful for my family and my home.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How to Make Suet Snowmen

I had seen a suet snowman similar to these on a blog somewhere a couple of months ago, a gift the author had received and she was showing him off.  A little searching on the internet turned up no further useful info, but I figured they couldn't be that hard to make.  Something akin to working with playdough?

I am cute, aren't I?  Please don't feed me to the birds!
 You will need the following:
  • a large pot, a cookie sheet, a spoon and a rubber spatula
  • 15 oz. of tallow (or a block of pre-made suet, with or without seeds, etc in it)
  • 3 cups, any combination of:  birdseed, black oil sunflower seed, raw peanuts, raisins
  • 3 bamboo skewers
  • wire cutters
  • paring knife
  • one small carrot
  • small twigs for arms
  • scraps of fabric to make hats and scarves
  • needle and thread -or- fabric glue
  • hot glue gun
Weigh out your 15 ounces of tallow.  I used tallow that I rendered from a very fat doe my dad brought us during deer season.  Or you can buy beef fat from the butcher and render it for tallow.  Or you can skip that messy part altogether and just buy a couple blocks of pre-made suet anywhere you buy your feed for the wild birds.  Sometimes you can get it plain, but usually it will already have the seed or other goodies in it.

In a large pot, melt the tallow gently over low-medium heat.  Don't let it boil or simmer.  You want to remove it from the heat just as soon as it has all turned to liquid.  Tallow is flammable.  Be careful not to spill it on your burner. 

Measure out your 3 cups of seed.  If you are using raw peanuts or raisins, chop them coarsely.  I used the blender and powdered mine a little too fine, which gave my snowmen a peanut buttery appearance.  If you don't overdo this part, the suet will present itself much whiter.

Add your seeds, peanuts, etc. to the liquid tallow and stir it in.  Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

Now, you wait.  Set your pot in the fridge for a bit to let it cool and thicken.  I set mine outside on the porch and later caught the barn kitties taking a sample!  Check it frequently and give it a stir.  You are watching for it to reach a cookie dough consistency.

Once it has firmed up enough so that you can handle it, use the palms of your hands to roll out 5 sets of balls:  small, medium, large for your snowman's body.  If it is sticking badly to your hands, put it back into the fridge a little longer.  It won't be messy if it is firm enough.

Pop your cookie sheet of balls into the fridge for 10 minutes or so before proceeding.  When you take them back out, you can roll them a bit smoother if you like.  Stack them to look like a snowman.

Take your bamboo skewers and impale them from the head all the way to the bottom of the snowman.  This will keep him from toppling over.  Cut the skewer off, leaving at least an inch sticking out to later secure his hat.

All five snowmen assembled:

Use a few more black oil sunflower seeds for each snowman's features and a sliver of carrot for his nose.  Poke in the twigs and trim to size for his arms.

At first, I thought I wouldn't bother poking seeds in for a mouth, but then I realized these snowmen were looking kinda somber.  Perhaps they were contemplating their fate and weren't happy about it.

A few more seeds for a that's better!

Pop your tray of happy-looking snowmen into the freezer to chill while you work on their hats and scarves.  I bought a remnant of fuzzy, warm, red flannel and had some scraps of wooly, white, cotton fabric on hand that was left over from the stuffed toy sheep I made for my daughter's mobile she had as a baby.  Use whatever you have on hand or whatever colors suit you.  Have fun with it.  :)

You can sew your hats on a sewing machine if you like, or by hand, or to be quick - just use fabric glue.

Scarves are easy.  Just cut 12" long by 3/4" wide strips of fabric and fray the edges.

A half an hour later, I go to retrieve my snowmen from the freezer where they are just chillin' and relaxin'.  They like this kind of weather.

Try on your hats and trim the bamboo skewer a little shorter if necessary.  A drop of hot glue will hold the hat firmly in place.  Tie their scarves snuggly about their necks.

These guys are finished and ready to be gifted to my friends and family.  I gave them as Christmas presents, but as easy as they are to make, why not make a few for yourself (well, for the birds, really) or as a nice surprise gift anytime during the wintery season.

I enjoyed the different reactions they got from their recipients.  My grandma was tickled pink and ready to put hers on the birdfeeder for Christmas day.  While my husband's grandma at first thought it was a cookie or something edible (for people) as it did smell a lot like a peanut butter cookie.  She loves snowmen and decided she'd keep him in the fridge to enjoy for years to come - hers will never be sacrificed to the birds!  These cheerful little fellas will bring a smile to whomever is lucky enough to receive one.

I don't believe they will last long once set before the birds!