Saturday, November 14, 2009

Last night John and I attended a fun open house at Art 316, a huge building full of assorted art studios. We got to tour 15-20 artists spaces, view their artwork, and check out their fantastic tools and raw materials. I don't know much about art, but it sure was fascinating just to take a peek at their workspaces, catch the "flavor" of the behind-the-scenes everyday workspace of all kinds of artists. Now, I don't consider myself an artsist, but it sure gave me an appreciation of how much fun it is to view someone else's workspace! Now I know why people always want to peek in the Prairieland Herbs kitchen! :) So, I've assembled a few pictures of our everyday workspace, so those of you who aren't here can catch a flavor or OUR workspace. I hope you enjoy! All of the nice product shots you see on our website are John's work. His studio is a room in the basment (shown above), or our living room (shown below).

Donna and Maggie aren't afraid of garden machinery....or of getting dirty. :)

Our yearly calender, above, is ESSENTIAL. Without it, we don't have a clue what we're doing!

The shopping list is also key! There are always supplies to be ordered.....

Our office is tiny, but we do well with the space we have. The brown file folders hold all our labels. We often have "help" in the office....

Donna and Maggie built the shop, with help from a retired carpenter friend. We hired guys to pour the concrete and do the drywall, and enlisted some help with the plumbing and electrical installtion, but truly we had our hands in nearly every bit of building our shop. And, neither of us had any CLUE about building a building, before this adventure. It sure was an education!

Various and assorted pets roam the farm. Our dogs are always with us, cats come and go as they please, and you may see fowl or miniature horses wandering around too.

We teach classes here on the farm. Above, Donna is teaching a gardening class. Below, we see Karla teaching a soapmaking class in our classroom.

Our antique cash register, above, is a source of much comment! It's beautiful, we love it, and yes, it really works. Below is an interior shot of our shop.

Above, soy wax candles are cooling, and you can see beeswax loaves - the local beeswax we purchase has to be melted and filtered (cleaned) before we use it. Below is a whole bunch of patchouli shea butter balms, these were made as samples to be given away.

This is Maggie's kitchen. Oils are above the sink, essential oils to the left. There are also huge bins of salt, sugar, milk powder and herbs, buckets of shea butter and coconut oil, and tons of packaging, all carefully arranged to maximize the amount of stuff we can fit in a very small space.
These fridges hold our herbs, essential oils, and hydrosols.

Our still, set up outside the shop.

One of our main herb gardens.

THis is our packaging area - we have everything we need in a small area! Bags, tape, bubblewrap, many sizes of boxes, labels, shipping scale, etc.

Sometimes, the weeds get out of hand. (Okay....REGULARLY, the weeds get out of hand.)

The UPS guy visits us REGUARLY. This is a large shipment of assorted raw ingredient and packaging supplies.

This is the type of raw materials we get, in fairly large quantities. Above, 50 lbs. shea butter. Below, 11 lbs essential oils.

Sometimes, we have a bit of wine at work. :)

And here is where we dry our herbs, in a converted chickenhouse. :)

This would be a fairly typical day's worth of shipping.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Here's what our fantastic neighbors, Picket Fence Creamery, are cooking up for next week's Sample Sunday!


Join us for a 3-farm tour and
Thanksgiving Sample Sunday!
Nov. 22 Noon to 5 p.m. Admission is FREE
Kids...come out to the farm to see
(A live, Jersey calf complete with a box of FREE TOYS!)
*Pony rides, bottle calves, pigs, and cows!
*Food samples: pumpkin ice cream, cranberry wine, cheeseballs, pumpkin butter, pumpkin muffins, elk sticks, buffalo summer sausage, creamed honey, pasta salad, cashew and almond butters, Pella bakery goods and more!
*Guest vendors: Pella's VanderPloeg Bakery, Rosey Acres Winery, Runnells.
*Lunch: Hot sandwich, $3, coffee, milk, pop.
*Thanksgiving foods: milk, cream, butter, ice cream, home-grown turkey, beef rib roasts, brown sugar cured ham, buffalo and elk roasts, lamb, goose, duck, rabbit, chicken, eggs, Kalona noodles, gouda cheese, maple syrup, jams, spiced apple rings, 4-bean salad, honey, breads, pies, and MORE!
All Iowa wines - 2 for $22!
90% lean ground beef, $2.99/lb. with 10 lb. purchase
2 dozen farm eggs - $5
FREE 1/2 pint ice cream with $25 purchase!
OPEN NOV. 23-28 - 8 to 8 (open all day Thanksgiving!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Visit us this weekend at the First Annual Green Gifts Fair! The event is held at the Des Moines Social Center, on Sunday, November 15th, from 11-4. The vendor lineup is really great, we're excited to see all the wonderful local ecofriendly holiday gifts, and do some shopping. If there are any specific items you'd like us to bring, please let us know! We look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Our good friend Amber wrote this wonderful, and very honest review of our laundry soap, and gave me permission to post it here. Thanks so much Amber! :)

I forgot to give you a review of the homemade laundry soap. I am now on my third batch, so will be needing another package of the soap bars next time I visit you.
Brett was kind of negative about trying a new detergent, he is rather picky about things like that. He was convinced that switching would somehow ruin the washing machine. I think he got some kind of info to this effect from the guy who sold him the washer, but I really don't think he has the story straight... anyway...
I made the switch sometime in the Summer and didn't tell Brett. About a month or 2 later he made a comment about not going through very much Tide lately, so I fessed up. He said he had noticed his socks were a bit dingy, not as white. So I started using one heaping Tablespoon of the homemade powder detergent and about a Tablespoon or 2 of liquid Tide 2X. This seems to be a winning combination for me. Brett's clothes are often really, really dirty and greasy. He is a farmer and amateur mechanic, it comes with the job... I think we need the Tide in there to break down the grease, but a 1/2 cup or whatever the recommended amount is seems to be excessive to me. I just use a little drizzle. And every now and then I will wash the whites in all Tide, just to give them a boost of whitening, I guess.
I like the lavender scented detergent bars and will continue to prefer them. Also, a used a clothes line in the Summer and the clothes were not any stiffer with the homemade stuff than they were with Tide. We actually got used to our "cardboard bath towels" and their exfoliating properties! Ha!