Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Laundry Day

Yesterday was an interesting one and alot of fun. Over the weekend, our washing machine's belt had finally stretched to the point that it no longer would spin the drum to get the water out of the laundry. With 2 little ones in cloth diapers, I really needed to be able to do laundry. I ended up washing laundry by hand and hanging it out on the clothesline to dry. What a great experience it was!

While Micah, age 3 months, was napping I went to task washing the laundry. Abigail, age 2 yrs, was beside me "helping" as she swished around the wash cloths and flannel baby wipes around in the rinse water. By the time we were done, Micah had awaken. I put him in a baby carrier and the 3 of us went outdoors to hang up the wash. Abigail had such fun running around. At times, she would come over and help hand to me the clothespins. Later she helped to put the dried laundry into the basket. At one point as I was putting the wet laundry on the line, I glanced down to see Abigail dropping a kitten into the basket on top of the laundry. She is such a little monkey! All the while when we were outside, Micah was looking around and enjoying the breeze.

I loved the experience. While I don't see myself doing laundry by hand all the time, it is nice to know that if the situation comes up again, I know how to do the laundry without a machine. I also had the chance to really appreciate the homemade laundry soap. I was pleasantly surprised at how soft the wash water felt. My soap recipe is very simple. I grate very fine 3 bars of Ivory soap. Once grated I measure how much soap I have. The soap is poured into a large bowl. To this, I add Borax and washing soda in the ratio of: 1 part soap, 2 parts borax, 2 parts washing soda. I mix the ingredients together very well using my hands to break up any lumps that may be in the powdered ingredients. I store the soap in recycled metal baby formula cans with plastic lids. To use the soap, I use the little scoop that came with the baby formula, about a 1 Tablespoon measurement. I add 2-3 scoops of the soap to a large load of laundry. For presoaking the diapers, I use 1 scoop in the diaper pail of water. The soap works great on our laundry and smells very nice also.

I am so grateful that the washing machine belt had to be replaced. Had it not been for that fact, I would have missed out on a precious experience with my kids.

Organic Pest Control

Pest control seems to be a topic on many email groups as of late. For this reason, I wanted to share some information that I have found helpful. Having an organic homestead/farm can bring challenges in the area of pest control. Our homestead has lots of wooded area near the house. Between the woods vegetation and animals, we get fleas, ticks and many other natural pests. It is just a part of living in a rural area. The problem though is how to control these pests so that we don't have an infestation. In previous years, my husband has spread a granular product in the yard around the home and in the dog kennel areas to prevent ticks, fleas and other insects from being in the kennel and from coming into the home. Now that we are doing things organically, we cannot use that product.

A solution that we have found is Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous earth is a natural product. It is a sedimentary rock that is soft like a chalk. It is formed from decomposed diatoms, a hard-shelled algae. In powder form, the DE is a white to off white color and similar to pumis.

Farmers that I have met often feed a bit of DE to their animals on a daily basis to cure adn also prevent worms and parasites. It is a food grade material that is safe for humans as well. For feeding to your animals, you can check here for a website that give more detailed information and dosages.

Another use for DE is to spread it around your yard or in areas where you want to control insects. Safe enough to use in the home, you can sprinkle abit of it at the entry points where you have seen insects. It takes about 48 or so to have affect. The insects need to come in contact with it. Outdoors, you spread it in the areas around the home, animal pens, children's play areas, and your BBQ area.

Food grade Diatomaceous earth is available at feed stores or other farm supply stores that sell animal feed. You can find Diatomaceous earth sold as a swimming pool filter product but be aware that the type used in pool filters has chemicals added that are needed for filtering the pool water. The pool filter variety is not organic due to the added chemicals and I don't know what affect it would have if your pet came in contact with it and tried to eat it.