Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Weeding the New Herb Bed

Last week, we had our first experience with WWOOF and WWOOFers. We were pleasantly surprised. Actually, that's a monumental understatement. We were ecstatic!


WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is an international organization connecting vetted volunteers with sustainable and organic farming operations throughout the world. In return for food, lodging, amenities, and a chance to learn about permaculture and sustainable living, volunteers provide their time and hard work as farm hands. The program started in the UK in 1971 and has grown through the years into an international operation.


We signed up last winter as a WWOOF-friendly farm through WWOOF USA, the US arm of WWOOF International. You can see part of our profile here, though you'll have to sign up or sign on to see the whole thing.

Super WWOOFers!

Last week, we had four volunteers descend on the farm. Lana and John, graduate students from Memphis, stayed for four days, and Jack and Cole, college boys from Tulane, stayed for six. Together, we:
  • Reclaimed the garden from the mid-summer Johnson Grass (which this month's Mother Earth News ranks in the top 10 worst garden weeds!);
  • Built and planted two raised, no-till permaculture beds that we'll re-use in rotation every year;
  • Built a beautiful cane trellis for our fall pole beans;
  • Mulched the tomatoes with old hay (don't try this with new hay, as it'll seed and double your weed problems);
  • Mulched and finished our work-in-progress herb garden near the house, started last spring;
  • Helped build a birthing paddock for JennyJenJen, the expectant donkey over at The Karma Farm, for our friend Claire; and
  • Cleared out and weeded around the fig trees. The chickens can do this for us until about early June, when summer weed growth outstrips their impressive weeding abilities.
And they did it all in one of the hottest weeks of the year! They also proved to be good-natured and easygoing, and seemed to enjoy their down time on the farm. This bunch, to a person, could have been poster children for WWOOF, and will always have a special place in our hearts. Thanks to John, Cole, Lana, and Jack for an amazing week!

The Next Chapter

We have two more volunteers coming this week -- they'll be here tomorrow around mid-day. We
can only hope they're as heaven-sent as the last batch... we'll keep you posted!

Look for future posts on each of our projects, and photos of all we've accomplished so far.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We made a simple lip balm last night using beeswax from our friends over at Oleo Acres! That gorgeous, rich yellow color comes from the natural color of the beeswax.

Our simple recipe is an adaptation from the Dreaming Earth Botanicals blog. It couldn't be easier:

You'll need:

1 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 oz of beeswax
5 - 15 drops of essential oil of choice (we used 12 drops lavender; peppermint is also particularly nice)
funnel (optional)

Heat a cup of olive oil on low heat on the stove until hot to the touch. Cut beeswax into small chunks (less than 1/2 inch) and drop into oil. Turn off the burner and stir until the beeswax dissolves into the warm oil. Allow to cool for about five minutes. While still liquid, thoroughly stir in at least five drops of essential oil. Dip in a finger, allow the mixture to harden, and test for smell and consistency. If you want a stronger scent, add two or three more drops and repeat your test. Don't over-do the oil -- too much essential oil can be irritating to lips instead of soothing, and too strong a smell can turn a pleasant sensory experience into an aversion.

Allow to cool for another minute. Stir to ensure even mixture. While still liquid, pour into containers of choice -- we prefer small, clear glass tubs. A funnel makes the pouring process cleaner, but isn't strictly necessary.

Let the mixture cool overnight to room temperature before screwing lids onto your containers.

This easy recipe can be adapted by adding honey, jojoba oil, a vitamin E capsule, or any number of other skin-softening agents. The best thing about lip balm is that it's a very easy recipe to "fix" -- if the consistency comes out incorrectly or you're unhappy with the flavor/smell, just use a knife to scrape the balm from the containers into a pot, heat on low heat, and adjust your recipe as desired. Wash your containers in hot, soapy water to melt away any remaining balm, allow them to dry thoroughly, cool them to room temperature, and refill with your new mixture.

The sky's the limit. Enjoy!