Monday, October 1, 2007

Centuries collide

Today would have been a great day if I didn't live in the 21st century and if my only obligations were on this farm. I made cheese yesterday, which of course, migrated into today, because it has to drain overnight. Then this morning, I blanched and froze nine pounds of tomatoes. It was when I started making soap that the day turned to ...

My first batch of soap seized, and it was totally my fault. For the non-soapmakers out there, seizing is like winding up with mashed potatoes when you want pudding. Imagine trying to get thick mashed potatoes into a mold. Doesn't work. You need a pudding consistency to pour into molds. Mashed potatoes don't pour. So, how did I wind up in self-deprecating pity and angst? I was trying to teach my youngest how to make soap, and I should have been paying closer attention. She got the oils so hot that we should not have been using them to make soap. But after an hour, the oils were still 120 degrees, and I was impatient. Using the fragrance oil that I was using, I knew that I should not start mixing until the oils were down to 100 degrees, but the day was wearing on, and I started mixing. As predicted, I had mashed potatoes in no time. I was freaking out. Katherine asked me what to do, and I said that I had never had this happen so badly before. The soap was hardening in the pot! I had read about rebatching, but I've never done it -- and it's probably been three or four years since I read about it. But I added a cup of water to the pot and put it on stove. In no time, I had a soupy consistency of soap. Katherine stirred for a few minutes, and we poured it into molds. It will be interesting to see what we wind up with.

For the second batch (plan was to make four batches today), I got all the oils measured and melted except the olive oil, and I got the milk measured. When I went to weigh the lye, the scale stopped working. I thought it was the battery, but I put a new battery in there, and it still didn't work. I saw water in the display, and upon further investigation, I discovered that Jonathan had WASHED the digital scale. It's kind of amazing that it worked at all. So, I am stuck with a bunch of mixed up oils that are now getting hard.

I had a long list of things to do today, including farm chores and school assignments, as well as grading for the classes I'm teaching. I was so excited about the prospect of today. I thought it was going to be one of those days that ended with a huge feeling of accomplishment. Instead, I'm just frustrated. And as I'm typing, I hear the coyotes howling outside. I thought that was yesterday's news, but I am starting to wonder if they'll ever leave.

1 comment:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I am feeling a combination of admiration and empathy for you - admiration for how much you got done and that you can make soap, empathy for a project gone south and the frustration that brings. Hang in there! (Like we have a choice? :-)

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