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  • Tina



Just because something is old and worn out doesn’t mean it should be discarded. This sentiment is true for the animals on our farm. We have a gaggle of geese, six of whom are pushing the ripe old age of 25+ years. Gustav, the Gimpy Goose, is the original O.G. O.G stands for Old Gangster or Old Goose; both names apply. Gustav went from being the head goose and leader to being an abused outcast. As he grows older and frailer, the other geese chase him away from the feed, leave him on his own, and push him around. It has become a bleak existence for poor Gustav.


I have become Gustav’s great protector. I keep a long stick with me and use it to shoo the other geese away from him so he can eat in peace. He gets a full scoop of feed all to himself, and I sit patiently waiting for him to finish his meal. I have begun to provide fresh water for him in a large pan because he has taken to hanging out near the barn and house. He drinks while eating his grain and then uses the water to bathe himself. We have become quite the pair. I sit and talk to him quietly while he eats or bathes, and he has begun to call for me when I go outside.


Our relationship has progressed to where he allows me to pick him up and carry him about the farm. His old leg injury has developed into severe arthritis; at least, that is what I am guessing. Now, he can only walk a few steps and sits down rather clumsily, going face first and landing upon his breast before tucking his legs underneath him. I know he must be tired and hurting if he allows me to pick him up. To my surprise, he doesn’t protest. He rests his head on my shoulder or the crook of my arm and is content to be carried to the shade, near the water, or into the coop. For safety reasons, I have begun to put him to bed inside the small green coop with the baby ducks. It has become our routine to gather him up, cuddle him while Jordan catches the baby ducks, puts them inside the coop at night, and then put Gustav to bed. I believe the poor old fellow appreciates the kindness.


I am the only one he allows near him. Both The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder have tried to pick him up, but he tries to limp away, hissing and nipping at them. Poor Jenna came over on Saturday to do the barn chores for us and was greeted by a biting Gustav when she opened the duckling coop. She texted me to tell me she did not let the ducks out or put Gustav out because he bit her. I had to laugh. Jenna isn’t afraid to go in with big, bossy pigs, but my grumpy old Gustav makes her say, “Nope,” and walk away.


Eric has offered to put Gustav down, but I have protested, and he only makes a half-hearted suggestion. Gustav is old and decrepit, but his quality of life is still good. He continues to enjoy grazing in the front yard, splashing in the baby pool set up for the baby ducks, and is content to be carried around like a baby. As long as Gustav is happy, healthy, and content, I will continue to baby him and keep him safe. Just because he is old doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value. If I am honest, I rather enjoy my new pet and our newfound relationship of trust and friendship. We can gimp around together, nipping and hissing at The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder. They earn the nipping and hissing.


On this muggy July Monday, stay safe, be smart, find the value in the old and decrepit, and keep washing your hands.

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I believe all people who cook have a go-to recipe or a type of food they fall back on that they know will turn out okay no matter what. For me, this food is soup. I love soup! Soup represents warmth, comfort, and old-fashioned heartiness. My bean, however, has a very different opinion of soup.


Last fall, I bought a foodie magazine of all soup recipes. Honestly, there wasn’t a recipe in this collection that didn’t sound good to me. I was making soup for dinner two nights a week for several weeks. I was happy. I thought The Bibbed Wonder was happy. My bean didn’t complain, so I assumed she was happy. I gleefully planned my weekly menus thinking soup twice a week was a grand idea. I incorporated sandwiches or different types of bread into each meal. Often, I included a salad as well. Life was good and filled with delicious soup. At least, that is what I believed. Sigh.


At the beginning of the school year, my bean struggled with math. Shockingly, Jordan was not hitting it off with her math teacher; she was frustrated, received no feedback or direction, and was intimidated by her teacher. My daughter is not used to not being able to connect with someone. Seventh-grade math class was her first experience feeling as though an adult in a position of authority did not have a vested interest in her well-being or success. To say she didn’t handle it well is an understatement.


Her attitude toward learning took a nose dive. She often came home frustrated and angry that she could not get any help, felt blown off, and her grade reflected how she felt. Jordan’s grade hovered around failure. For my overachieving little bean, this was the worst thing ever. There were many nights she simply melted down and cried because she didn’t understand the concepts and didn’t receive any direction from the teacher. The Bibbed Wonder is a certified math teacher, and he spent many hours with her working on homework, reviewing, and prepping for tests. It didn’t matter what they did; her grades were not where they should be, which devastated Jordan.


I emailed the teacher asking for insight and resources to help Jordan improve her grade. I didn’t receive a response until a week later. The answer was an apology for not responding but didn’t address my concerns or offer me any guidance. I then sat Jordan down, and we talked about how she would not “hit it off” with all teachers. Not all teachers are warm and fuzzy. Teachers are people, and not everyone likes everyone else. I told her she needed to accept that this would not be a friendly relationship, do her work, keep her head down, and bring her work home to review with her dad. I told her this was a life lesson; one must learn how to get along with different personalities to succeed.


Meanwhile, I was doing my homework on this teacher behind the scenes. I reached out to a fellow mom and teacher in the school to get her insight on the situation. My instincts were correct. This guy was doing the bare minimum in the classroom. He was indeed on his phone all the time. He was not following the protocol set in place by the math department. The school had received so many complaints about him, his teaching, the failure rate of his students, and his attitude that he was receiving training from other teachers in his department. Sigh. This was going to be a tough year.


All the while, I am at home making soup twice a week, thinking I am making “food for the soul” and lecturing my child on how to get along with an adult who, if he were a child, I would warn my girl to steer clear of and not engage. After one particularly tough day, The Bean came home crying because she had failed another math test. As she walked down the sidewalk to the house, she pointed her little finger in the air like an angry politician and declared she was done with math class and the teacher, and she was sick of soup! She wanted something hearty to eat! She went on to rant that soup was a lumpy beverage and not a meal! Even if you add a sandwich, it doesn’t make it a meal. It was a lumpy beverage with a sandwich!


This dear reader was news to me. I readjusted my weekly menus to include soup once every two weeks. The math class in question was divided between two teachers. My bean was one of the lucky ones who moved to a different teacher. Amazingly, her attitude and grade improved. She once again was earning solid A’s in math class. Her new teacher was caring and knowledgeable and did a fantastic job in the classroom. This young woman became one of Jordan’s favorite teachers, and math became one of her favorite subjects. I reached out to this new teacher on several occasions, thanking her for the great job she was doing with my daughter. Once again, life on the farm was well-balanced.


After the dust had settled, I asked my bean why she didn’t say something sooner about not liking all the soups. She informed me she liked soup. She just didn’t like soup twice a week. She told me her favorite soup was my chicken noodle soup, which incidentally is not in the soup-making bible I had been following. Today, dear reader, I will share with you my bean-approved, “hearty enough for a meal once in a while” chicken noodle soup. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and for love of all that’s holy, don’t serve it more than once a month, or there will be tyranny.



The Bean’s Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup


Ingredients


2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

1 Package Kluski Thin Egg Noodles

3 Large Carrots

3 Ribs of Celery

1 Small Can of Mushrooms

1 Medium Onion

2 Quarts of Homemade Chicken Broth or Store Bought Chicken Broth

6 Cups Water

4 Tablespoons Better Than Bullion Roasted Chicken Soup Starter

2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme

2 Teaspoons Pepper



Directions


In a large stockpot, boil chicken breasts in 6 cups of water. While the chicken is cooking, finely chop carrots, celery, and onion. (I use a food processor because it is faster, and The Bean can’t pick out the vegetables if they are chopped this finely). Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the water, reserving water. Add chicken broth, chopped vegetables, seasoning, and soup starter to the pot. Bring all to a boil allowing to simmer for ten minutes. Chop chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and set them aside. Once soup stock has reached boiling, add noodles and follow package directions for cooking. Once noodles are cooked, add the chopped chicken breast and the mushrooms. Simmer for another ten minutes.


This warm and hearty soup can be served with soft, warm rolls and a salad to complete the meal.



I hope, dear reader, you enjoy this bean-approved soup recipe. We had it for dinner last night, and The Bean ate two bowls. She declared this “the best soup ever.” I don’t know about that, but I do know I am happy when she is happy.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear reader. If you are looking for something to do on a warm July Saturday morning, you could join us at the Ligonier Country Market. All the ingredients for the soup recipe are fresh and available there. Also, with a bit of luck and accurate logistics, our body wash labels are scheduled to arrive between noon and two p.m. today. You could be the first to experience our labor of love! Insert a wink.


Stay safe, be smart, remember there truly is too much of a good thing sometimes, such as soup, and keep washing your hands.

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  • Tina



Well, my dear reader, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the body wash. With any luck, the labels will be delivered today. Once the labels are delivered, it is game on! Eric worked diligently yesterday to bottle our first big batch of Milk and Honey scented body wash. Our little pump that has so much riding upon it is as slow as molasses in January. My antsy little bibbed buddy spends a lot of time prancing and making his fingers twitch while waiting for the pump to fill the bottles. It is almost painful to watch. Besides my husband being twitchy, the body wash process is going well.


I am pleased to share that we are offering four scents in our body wash. We allowed the numbers to dictate our scent choices. Our overall sales show that the top seller is Milk and Honey. In second place was Lavender, third place was Patchouli, and fourth place was Manly Man. I was not surprised by Milk and Honey or Lavender, but Patchouli threw me. Patchouli has a cult-like following. At the market, we play a game where we try to guess someone’s favorite scent. Often, patchouli lovers are easy to spot. I find that patchouli lovers frequently, but not always, are from the baby boomer generation and have a very laid-back attitude. Sometimes they sport tye-dye or classic band t-shirts. Those are the patchouli lovers who are easy to guess. Although more and more often, we are finding patchouli lovers of all ages following mainstream dress trends. Patchouli would not be on my list of first choices for a body wash scent. I do believe our patchouli-loving fan base will be delighted with the body wash. Patchouli oil is powerful, and the scent shines in the body wash.


I was also surprised by Manly Man being in the top four best sellers. I like the scent of Manly Man, but I would have guessed Almond or Toasted Marshmallow to be in the top four scents. Depending on how well received the body wash is with our soap family, these four scents are just the beginning. I hope to eventually offer body wash in all our scents, including the seasonals. My vision for the company often makes my bib overall wearing wonder buns twitch.


I went to the soap studio on Tuesday at 2 in the afternoon with my head full of ideas. I spent a few hours researching handmade natural or recycled bath poufs. I informed my twitchy bibbed buddy we need custom bath poufs. While I was at it, I told him we needed to finalize our pictures for our 2023 calendar. (Thank you, Peter, for the great idea!) For giggles and grins, I added we needed to find a local company to create embroidered hats, sweatshirts, and t-shirts with our logo. For good measure, I said that this should all happen before the Christmas rush.


I thought my bibbed wonder’s head was going to explode. He took a long draw on his pipe, looked me square in the eye, and told me to go to the house. I was informed I am the reason he contemplates a murder/suicide…mostly a murder. He also told me to write down my ideas, roll them in a tight little ball, and shove them in a not-so-very polite place. He’s rude. However rude he is, he did declare all my ideas good ideas. He takes issue with my time frame. I informed him he’d better start working harder if he wanted to keep his happy home. Again, he referenced the murder idea. Sigh, it’s good that we love each other and have a strong sense of humor.


Although I may be unable to convince him to complete all my goals in a very short time frame, I am happy our body wash will be ready by next week. I believe, dear reader, you, as our soap family, will be pleased with our body wash. I give you a fair warning; there will be a plethora of social media posts, special offers, as well as market specials, and online deals. We’re very excited and hope you are too.


As always, stay safe, be smart, don’t do things to make your significant other contemplate your demise, and keep washing your hands.

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