New Things

There are some things that I thought I would never do. Actually, there are a lot of things I have never even thought about doing. They are good things, but just not on the radar. However, I’m a city girl married to a farm boy who loves cows, so the list is shrinking rapidly.

Lately, a new appreciation for fencing has grown in my heart. It’s a lot of work. It’s also a little messy.

Now, lest you think I actually did a lot of fencing recently, pulled barbed wire and dug post holes and such, I did not. But I did watch and help a little. In my book, holding up barbed wire and twisting it around a post and pounding the staple into the post all does count as a new experience.

Our latest household project has been repairing fence in a pasture to prepare it for cows. There was a large section of fence that actually needed to be replaced, so that was a learning experience for me.

Did you know there are several kinds of fencing that work on a farm? Do you know where and when to use barbed wire and stay wire and electric wire? How do you reinforce a wooden fence post? It’s a whole new world.

But learning experiences are great! Even if we don’t enjoy them in the moment, they add value and depth to our lives. 

So now we have a beautiful stretch of fencing and a pasture ready for cows…and I have learned a little bit of something new.

Soap Nuts — A Natural Detergent

Years ago, my sister introduced us to soap nuts. Sounds crazy, but they are wonderful! They do look like nuts, but they are for soap. You run them through the washing machine just like detergent pods — except you can use the nuts over again for multiple loads of laundry.

You can order them from various natural product web sites, or Amazon offers several options as well. I generally get a two pound bag at a time, which will last for about two years.

The nuts usually come with small fabric bags that you fill with 5-6 nuts, close, and throw in with the laundry until the nuts are used up. They will stop lathering when wet and feel all crushed up when they are done. At that point, you throw away (or compost) the nut residue and fill the bag up again.

They do well with smells and dirt, although I do treat some stains separately as needed.

Not only are they a fairly cheap option for laundry detergent, they are all natural and don’t leave residue on the clothes. With sensitive skin myself, I love the non-irritating option every day.

The bag of nuts can even be used as a quick and easy spot remover. Just scrub the spot with the wet bag and then air dry.

A friend even found that she didn’t need fabric softener once she switched to soap nuts. The clothes turned out to be softer than when she used a natural softener. I’ve never used softener, because of sensitivity, but I can also agree I don’t have a need now either. That saves money and additional “stuff” in the load.

Now, even though the order comes with little bags, I have taken that one step farther to create my own basket of pods. When one is done, I just toss the whole thing and grab a fresh one.

  • First I cut small squares, about 3″ square (like a sticky note), from the cheapest unbleached muslin I can find. They don’t have to look good or be perfectly straight, just roughly match up.

  • Then I take two squares at a time and sew them together on three sides. Again, not pretty or perfectly straight — just together. They only have to make it through 6 or so loads of laundry.

  • Once I have a bunch of those, I fill them with 4-6 soap nuts and sew the fourth side together.

  • Now I have a whole stash of pods to use for laundry.