Mike and I met and married at the turn of the century. No, not THAT century! We aren't that old! 1999, the turn of the last century. We started our adventure in a small cabin near Cascade Idaho. We thought we were pretty far out there, then the sub-divisions started. With the increased interference and traffic and noise and dust. Lots and lots of traffic, we wanted somewhere more private. Then a few years later we had the opportunity to purchase a large piece of land near Grangeville, Idaho.
The price was right, and the deal was made, and Mike and I had bought the Farm! We put the little cabin up for sale, but it would take 3 years for it to sell so we could head to greener pastures. The year after that happened, both my parents became ill and they were gone in 2 years. This was heart breaking for both of us. Even though they lived their lives in the Los Angeles area, they gave me the desire to live a self sufficient life.
My mother taught me how to cook from a very early age. She then turned our back yard flower beds into garden spots. Instead of roses and hedges, we had tomatoes and green beans, cucumbers and strawberries. Later, she taught herself how to can and of course, included me in those lessons. My father would have loved to move to a rural home and experiment with solar and wind power, even some of the things he learned from studying Nicoli Tesla, but he never got the chance. When we visited, he and Mike would spend long hours discussing alternative energy and the many other interests they had in common.
We were already off grid in our new farm, with solar power, composting toilets and spring fed water system. The estate gave us a chance to make the upgrades we knew were needed and to invest in our skills. The skills I wanted to learn required some special equipment we never seemed to have the money for.
My goals were to learn how to make soap, how to hand spin wool, and how to make cheese. I took a great soap making class and got started on that. Then we traded our little herd of cows for sheep and I bought a simple spinning wheel and learned how to knit the yarn I made with it. Just as I was on the brink of having enough sheep milk for making cheese, Mike suffered a small stroke and we had to re-evaluate what we were able to support. Two out of three isn't bad!
We made the hard choices and cut back our flocks. Jobs in the area became scarce and Mike's work as a private contractor was dwindling each month. So we looked into something we had heard about called 'work camping' and were nicely surprised in the variety of work there is out there if you can take your home along with you.
So we closed down the farm, packed the soap making supplies into a tote(because you never know), strapped the spinning wheel into the back seat, squeezed 50 pounds of wool and alpaca fiber into the travel trailer, and hit the road to see some of the country. We have traveled to Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. Then back to Idaho for a visit. Right now we are in Utah, we have met many great folks and I have been spinning and soap making everywhere we go.
The only real trouble I have had is finding good tallow. Partly because we refuse to use beef fat from unknown sources. This goes on our skin and even saponified, I didn't want any possible chemicals in my pure soap. All we have ever used is tallow from our own cows or purchased from local butchers that deal with small family farms. If our soap uses tallow, we mark that on it so you know partly because we have some customers that enjoy a vegetarian lifestyle and they seem to be very happy to buy our soaps with no animal fat in them.
Sometimes I have had to substitute palm oil, but the soap is still just as good, and some do like it better. I have used water from a 100 year old well in the foothills of California, one of the first wells in the Arizona desert, to Zion Park spring water here in Springdale Utah. All have made a good bar of soap, and added some local flavor.
I am still spinning wool from my little flock of Shetland and Finnsheep. I am always looking for nice alpaca fiber, as that seems to be everyone's favorite. Even with working, I have found time for farmer's markets and some small crafters events that keep the products flowing. Mike is thriving in the drier desert air and we just love seeing new areas and meeting folks with each new season.