It’s A Farmhouse
Now I know why it’s called a farmhouse. Because a lot of farming happens inside the house.
I have found living creatures in my shower, and so much stuff happens in our garage that I’m afraid to park a car inside. Afraid the tires might stick to the floor and the car would have to be freed with a torch.
Right now, dozens of luffas are drying on a rack covering the bathtub.
We started growing luffas a few years ago. Until then, I thought a luffa was a sponge harvested from the floor of the ocean. You know, something exotic. But luffas are grown pretty much like pole beans. You set up a trellis (We use cattle panels held up by metal t-posts.) and let the vines crawl up to the top and spread. The luffas start out looking like a cucumber, but after a few weeks they are 10 times larger than a cuke. Honeybees love their yellow flowers.
After they are peeled and the seeds are removed, they have to be dried. On a rack that used to be a wire shelf in a closet. Over the bathtub. Forever.
We extract our honey in the garage. Anyone who works with honey knows it’s pretty near impossible to extract without getting the sweet sticky stuff on you and on the floor. Okay, well maybe Martha Stewart doesn’t make a mess when she extracts, but we’re not Martha.
Our kitchen looks like a scene from the TV series “Breaking Bad.”
When goat milk soap is being made, more counter and sink space is used than when Paula Deen makes her pineapple gooey butter cake. To make soap safely, one must wear safety goggles, rubber gloves and an apron that reminds me of those 40-pound lead things you have to wear when you’re in the X-ray room. Seriously.
Long ago I learned that on soap-making days you prepare some snacks and tuck them away in the fridge. Or line your pockets with chocolate-covered granola bars, AKA Little Debbie’s.
And the dining room table is, well, there’s no other way to say this. It looks and smells like something really nice exploded. Bars of soap, neatly cut slices of luffa sitting in muffin pans ready to be filled with soap, enough essential oils in little black bottles to set up a traveling medicine show, honey in bottles, empty bottles crying out for honey, and empty glass jars.
If you go to the store to buy Mason jars and find that they don’t have any, that’s because we have them all. Every one of them. And their lids. Some people fill their china cabinet shelves with Noritake. Not us. We’re into jars.
We collect molds of every conceivable shape for soap-making. Hearts, goats, bees, honeycomb, Celtic knots, trees of life, cowboy boots, a running horse, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Did I mention we have kept poults–baby turkeys–in the bathtub?
But, hey, after all, it is a farmhouse.
Larry McDermott, a retired journalist, is an organic farmer and beekeeper in Rutherfordton, where he raises dairy goats, chickens and turkeys.