Good Clean Fun - Home on the Range Blog at - 237567

Home on the Range

Good Clean Fun 
May 27, 2011 11:15 am 
Updated: Jun. 9, 2011 9:04 am

Living on a ranch, there is just no excuse to ever, ever, EVER be bored. There are always plenty of things that need to be done. Convincing Moose that he is still a COW and cannot continue to drink goats milk forever is one of them. There is also feeding calves, orphan lambs and goats, or milking goats and cows, playing with the dogs, watching the chickens putter around, riding my horse and helping move cattle, brand, clean cabins, work in the garden, mow the pasture or do housework,  or on days when I am not feeling quite up to snuff, there are always other options…like maybe, reading, stained glass work, crochet, cooking, or, today’s choice, making soap.

I really should have made more earlier this year, but between the goats who were born in January, the bottle lambs in March and chicks in the house and now the bottle calves, I have been off my routine. Today I set out to correct that. It has been pouring rain and I’ve been hurting, so weed-eating and mowing have to wait and the garden is put on hold. I got the cheat-grass in the pasture mowed already, so no big deal…I mean after all, doesn’t everybody mow the Back Forty, before they do their yard??
Today is soap making day and I thought you all might like to follow along on this little procedure. Lots of folks, including me, like to cook and bake when it’s cold and gloomy outside. But I have discovered that soap brings many of the same benefits without making me FAT!

I ordered some new soap fragrances for spring and summer, so I have lots to choose from. I also got some new micas for color so of course, we have to play with those. I never got swirling down the way I want it with my deep molds, so this would be a good time to experiment with it.

We are going to make Cold Process, or CP soap…although, since I plan to put it in the oven to gel, its CPOP or Cold Process Oven Process, but lets not split hairs.

It’s important to clean the kitchen up and eliminate the clutter first. So, out with the calf bottles and nipples, gastric tubes, syringes, vaccines, chicken feed container, milk pails, cheese pots and livestock thermometer.

Next, I get all the ingredients and necessary implements and tools out. That would be my oils, lye, fragrance oils, stainless steel pots (mine are dedicated just to soaping) stick blender, measuring cups, gloves, goggles, postal scale (precise measurements are critical), molds, freezer paper for lining the molds, colorants and my formula. The recipe is one I have formulated previously and made a lot of and of course, checked my specs out on ‘soapcalc’, one of the online lye calculators which is a ‘must-do’ for safe soapmaking.

I measure out my solid oils, in this case coconut oil and Crisco, but with our milk soaps we will use lard or tallow, which is awesome in soap. These go in my big pot to melt on the stove.

With goggles and gloves on, I measure my lye into a plastic container, then in a separate stainless steel pot measure the liquid into which I will mix the lye. You always pour your lye into the liquid, never, ever, ever the other way around. I use lye beads, which can bounce around due to static electricity and can get in your eyes, so I also use a dryer sheet to wipe down the containers I pour into and out of.
My liquid of choice might be water, or goat/cow milk, tea, coffee, beer or something else depending on what kind of soap I am going for. I even have one I will be making with tea made from stinging nettles that is supposed to help with skin ailments. That is high on my list lately. Liquids may be frozen to keep the lye from overheating it, like with 100% milk, honey, or cloves and often just room temperature if I am adding at trace, depending on what I am soaping. All the ingredients, from the oils to the liquids bring different qualities to the soap.

I don my goggles and gloves, open the back door and a window, and with the pot in the sink, as a precaution, I slowly and carefully pour my lye into the water. It begins to heat up immediately and caustic vapors begin to rise and I have to keep my face turned so as not to breath in the fumes. It’s at this moment I am glad not to have a phone, or a whole lot of friends and neighbors who stop by. A few minutes later, the lye mix settles down.

Once my hard oils have melted, I combine my liquid oils with them and when my oils and lye mix cool to the temperatures I want, I pour the lye mix into the oils, careful not to splash. I use a stick blender in bursts to help bring the mixture to what is known as ‘trace’.  Today I am going to only bring it to a very thin trace as I want my ‘swirls’ to penetrate better when I pour my soap in the molds. I dip about a cup of the mix into a glass measure cup and add colorant until I reach the color I like. I color the rest of the oils in the big pot, and add my fragrance oils, stirring thoroughly.

I pour it all in my molds, which are already lined with freezer paper, add the lids and set it aside to saponify, usually overnight. I am going to help speed the cure a bit by ‘oven processing’ the soap. I check the flashpoints of the fragrance oils and set the oven to 150 for 2 hours with the soap inside. Then I turn off the oven and leave it all in there for the night.

This means dinner has to be cooked on the stove tonite. I can probably cut the soap log into bars in the morning, and set then out to cure for about 4-6 weeks.

Meanwhile, back to feeding calves, goats, sheep, pups, and clean out a freezer. It konked out a couple weeks ago. Nothing like having a freezer failure when its full up and you are 4 hours from town where you can replace it, IF you had the money. We rescued what we could and true to form, I forgot we left a few bags of tomatoes in there and a couple other items I was going to quickly pressure can…so today, I have to clean out the ‘science project’ and re-purpose the freezer.

Last winter my little house was a wreck from all the soaping supplies and the curing of hundreds of bars of soap. There just isn’t any place to put it, as our little cracker box is so small there isn’t even a broom closet! But I am thinking the big upright freezer might be an answer to part of my problem. If I can put a de-humidifier inside of it, and alter the racks, I can fit a LOT of soap in there to cure and store! It will keep out the light so colors don’t fade and with the de-humidifier, they should cure at a much faster rate. I just have to figure out where to put the freezer...
May 27, 2011 11:46 am
Wow another great blog and an interesting look into yet another part of your complex and complicated life style. You are a wonder! I so enjoy your stories and pictures. Always pull me in and I love the way you tell these 'episodes'. You could write a book. Thanks!
May 27, 2011 1:03 pm
Petey, just stopped in to say---You ROCK!!!! Love You, love your photos, love your blog!!! Thank you, Toni
May 27, 2011 2:17 pm
You are amazing! I love your blogs!
May 27, 2011 2:25 pm
Thanks guys. There are just so many choices of things to do, and this is a pretty fun one...not to mention homemade soap is soooo good for your skin!
May 27, 2011 4:37 pm
And this you do on a day that "you're NOT feeling up to snuff" - - oh my gosh!! I can't imagine what you do on a day you're feeling up to snuff!! You are a wonder Petey - - do you sell your soap or is it just for personal use? It sounds heavenly!
May 27, 2011 5:11 pm
I do sell my soap, actually, but I have sort of gotten behind on my web page and all, because I haven't kept up with my inventory well! Small time, cottage business...VERY small time...
May 27, 2011 6:15 pm
Amazing woman, you are! Such a wealth of information and very meaningful, helpful instructions. The wooden mold boxes remind me of a few "antique" cheese boxes I have around. they would be great soap boxes, lined as you have shown. Now, on to finding the recipes! Another project on my bucket list!
May 27, 2011 7:06 pm
How do I get to the web page?
May 27, 2011 7:17 pm
May 27, 2011 8:06 pm
Thanks Petey - - btw - Moose is looking fat and happy - it's going to be funny when he's a 3000 pound Charolais bull following Prissy thinking this little goat is his mama. lol!
May 27, 2011 8:09 pm
I've never read your blog before, and wow! I wish I had your kind of energy! I only use handmade, organic soaps, and I'd love to try one of yours...I'm going to your website. And I love your pictures! "Happy Goats Are in Oregon" is priceless! I'm a born-and-raised Oregonian, and I don't think I could ever live anywhere else. Where is Princeton, BTW? Since you mention a 250,000 acre ranch, I'm thinking Southeast? Beautiful country down there. My husband and I went sunstone-hunting in Plush a few years ago. Anyway, glad to meet you and I'll be visiting often!
May 27, 2011 8:12 pm
I love homemade soap and always have a few bars in the house. Thanks for sharing how it is made. Do you make your own laundry soap as well. I have and I love the stuff. It makes 10 gallons at a time though so since I moved into an apartment I haven't been able to make any.
May 28, 2011 8:04 am
Kelly-yes, we are in SE Oregon on the Alvord Desert at the base of the Steens. Princeton is a shack 80 miles W with a sign that says "POST OFFICE", but of course, you can't go in. They deliver our mail 3x a week. :)
May 28, 2011 8:05 am
Mich, yes I do make my own laundry soap. I make in powder form instead of gel.
May 28, 2011 9:22 am
I had to laugh about the "POST OFFICE" SIGN" as an indicator of where you live - - my situation is similar - - there is one light where the county road I live off of intersects with the main highway - - and the only reason a light got put in was because the logging trucks kept pulling out in low gear (of course) and they would be broadsided by highway trucks in a higher gear. Not good.
May 28, 2011 2:09 pm
You are amazing. With all the animal husbandry you do, you would be entitled to just loaf on an off day. I bookmarked your soap site, I see my girls getting handmade soap for Christmas.
May 28, 2011 2:40 pm
I have also bookmarked your website - I'm going to treat myself to some great soap. I want my skin to feel as good with handmade soap as my tummy feels with homemade food.
May 29, 2011 4:35 am
Hey Petey, where do u get it soap recipes from? I would live to try my hand at soapmaking too.. Except I don't know the first thing about it.. Any good websites u know that can teach me? Would love to have homemade soap :)
May 29, 2011 5:02 am
Wow! So interesting as always! I wonder who is the first to discover that lye works in soap? Going to your site!
May 29, 2011 9:36 am
One of the best blogs I've seen on AR in a long time!! How cool. I am one of those people that's rarely bored and I don't have HALF as much to do as you!! I can't imagine how you get it all done, actually. I bookmarked your page for my daughter...she uses homemade soap exclusively, so it's nice to have a new option.
May 29, 2011 1:07 pm
Hey, Miz Petey. You sure don't let the dust settle! Sorry about your freezer shut-down, but you may have the very plan for re-purposing. I'm too chicken to mess with lye...I'm pretty sure, but find your soap-making ways fascinating (again this year).
May 29, 2011 1:44 pm
I really don't know much about soap making and was contemplating learning the art but the following article scared me off for good.. What do u think about it? Would like to have input from someone I "know".. Thanx a lot..
May 30, 2011 9:07 am
WOOHOO! I need to get an order in! LOVE love love that stuff! Great blog, Petey!
May 30, 2011 1:08 pm
Petey, I love the homemade soap! My MIL makes it, and she makes our laundry soap. I like both better than the store bought kind and they are MUCH cheaper! @CUPPYCAKE: working with the lye is all about safety, gloves, goggles, mask, and ventilation. Petey is right about having no distractions while making it. MIL turns of phone and announces that she's in the garage making it and nobody bothers her until she's done.
May 30, 2011 4:36 pm
cuppycake, there are some excellent websites on soapmaking. I waited 7 years before getting up the nerve to work with the lye, and trust me, its really NOT that scary. Just respect it and take the proper precautions. here is a good tutorial
May 30, 2011 5:05 pm
well, bulls ran into my satellite dish awhile back, and a recent wind has now finished off what they started when they broke the radiotransmitter so my internet is in and out. If I disappear for a few days, its cuz we are trying to find someone who will make a 5 hour drive for a service call!!
May 30, 2011 6:35 pm
How very cool petey! I looked into soap making awhile back and it overwhelmed me lol! I agree with others- you seem to have boundless energy! Thanks for sharing, and I too plan on ordering some soap...DD and I will both love it, I am sure :)
May 31, 2011 2:40 am
ooohh.. Thanx Petey & Mangel.. I should try this soon :) Is the curing soap caustic too until its done curing (usually 4-6 weeks I believe)? I've heard that too.. just wanna be really sure..
May 31, 2011 3:53 am
if you 'hot process' it, or oven process, it speeds the curing, however, it should still cure for a few weeks. The soap improves with age and will shrink a bit as the moisture cures out of it. You can tell if it is still caustic or not by sticking it to your tongue, or almost to your tongue and seeing if it "zaps". I would research the soap sites, get on the 'boards' and all your questions can be answered there. Then go for it! :)
May 31, 2011 2:02 pm
Thanx so much petey.. Will do.. :D
May 31, 2011 5:32 pm
I think I'll by-pass the "zapping" thing and just let the "pros" do the soap-making part and I'll do what I do best - - the buying part! LOL!!
May 31, 2011 6:57 pm
LOL! It will sure wake up your tastebuds if it hasn't saponified yet!
May 31, 2011 7:08 pm
Maybe someday I can make soap but right now I'll have to enjou your efforts from afar.
May 31, 2011 7:28 pm
Wow - as usual & expected - another very entertaining and informative blog. I am so fascinated by your lifestyle!!!
May 31, 2011 7:45 pm
As always, a great blog Petey!
Jun. 1, 2011 5:31 am
Love your comment that soap-making doesn't make you fat like cooking does! I can relate! Please post your web-site so I can take a look.
Jun. 1, 2011 8:59 am
Bibi, the website is I don't have a TON of inventory at the moment, and the site is not complete, but you can find some information there and contact me if you need to! :)
Jun. 2, 2011 3:50 pm
You should hold workshop classes on your farm sometime. Maybe for Allrecipe subscribers ONLY. LOL Really thanks for sharing. Im growing lavender and I have been wanting to make some soap. You have insired me to DO IT! Thanks, Ann
Jun. 9, 2011 9:04 am
more and more people I know are getting into making their own soaps either for personal use or to sell.... when I am not busy with work, sewing, gardening, housework,etc... MAYBE I will give it a whirl! :D Thanks Petey for a marvelous blog! (yet again!)
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Tehachapi, California, USA
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Princeton, Oregon, USA

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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
My cooking triumphs
Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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