Sunday, June 14, 2015

Farmer's Daughter joins Common Ground

Welcome to Deer Creek in Southwest Nebraska.  As a new member of Common Ground I would like to take this time to introduce you to myself and family on our farm in Frontier County.  My name is Andrea (Farr) Sayer and I grew up on our family homestead 10 miles north of Cambridge Ne. I am a farmer's daughter, wife of a mechanic, mother of three, and co-owner of our own small farm DJ's Creek Farm. I'm now 41 years old and happily married to Gregg for 21 years.  We have three children Tyson Avery (whom has joined our lord and savior in June of 2009), Dillon James age 17, and Amelia Lea age 15.  Both of our children are currently in high school as a junior and freshman respectively. Gregg is the owner of his own mechanic shop (Doyle Auto Repair) in McCook NE.

I'm am the 5th generation of farmers in my family and I have enjoyed a wonderful life because of his great benefit.  You see being a farmer means that the clock doesn't exactly run on the worlds time schedule.  Yes we still use clocks because when we go to town to do business we have to be there when the business is open.  But for the most part we run on 'farm time'.  And for those of you new to the experience of farm life this basically means that the farm comes first and you do your best to be sure she is taken care of.  From crops to livestock their needs must come first.  I get to see many sunrises and lots of great sunsets while working on my families farm and my own micro farm.  Lunch or as we call it Dinner can be held anywhere from 12:30 - 2:00 most days on our farm.  We currently employ 3 full time and 1 part time hired men to meet the needs of our family farm.  That is in addition to my parents, myself, and my son whom currently manage and operate our land and livestock.  We have 5000 acres of land on which we have irrigated and dry land row crops and about 350 head of cow/calf pairs, and 80 head of horses.

My speciality comes in the accounting work, livestock production, and the general clean up and repairs around the farmstead.  I do help my mother with the meal preparation and clean up for the crew each day as well as maintenance of our garden during the summer and the canning in the fall.  I also am the primary care giver to the livestock of our micro farm.  I usually arrive some where around 7:30 - 8:00 each morning to start milking my Nubian dairy goats, feeding our Boer goats, and caring for our hogs.  My morning chores generally take me anywhere from 2-2 1/2 hours then I turn my attention to the family farms operation.  I will work from my chore time until around 7:00 - 7:30 doing bookwork, creating and cleaning up meals, scrubbing and cleaning the main mudroom and the general work of caring for the maintenance in and around the farmstead.  Then I switch gears back to my micro farm and restart the choring schedule which will take about another 11/2 to 2 hours.  There by putting me home somewhere around 8:30 or 9:00 at night.  Might seem like a crazy life and a long day but every time I eat a piece of fresh beef, enjoy a glass of goats milk, or clean up with my great hand made goat soap I know it is worth every moment.

We are currently in my favorite time of the year because its summer and my children are free from the time restrictions of school and come to the farm more to enjoy their lives and learn how to operate this farm for their generation.  Dillon is currently working anywhere from 10-12 hours a day on the farm learning to row crop corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum for cattle feed.  Yes we use GMO products on our farm and I'm proud to say that we feel these are safe and effective tools that have allowed us to produce food for our livestock and for our dinning table.  Amelia is busy working with some of the livestock and learning how to clean and maintain the farm equipment.  Every time I see their smiling faces over a new skill they have learn my heart melts.

As for our life in town where we have a home I would say it is sparse but effective for our needs.  We are rarely at home but when we are my home is filled with teenagers that I get the opportunity to introduce to the wonders of what farming does for everyone in the world.  The kids friends often tag along to do chores and the always enjoy the benefits of a great meal.  From beef to pork it is all raised on our farm and then we enjoy it at our table.  Add to that the raw goat and cows milk and they all feel they have a great meal.  They also enjoy my sending them soap to either cure their acne or just make them smell wonderful.

I hope this helps you to know me and my passions just a bit better.  I love being an American farmer and I also love sharing my knowledge with everyone I meet.  Just this past week I have been in Phoenix AZ where I have shared my love for Nubian Dairy goats, the positive benefits of eating Nebraska fed beef, and my love for creating hand made goats milk soap.  Just about everyone I met came way from our brief conversation with more understanding of why I love what I do and how it benefits them.  My biggest share is that if what I do is not good enough for my family to eat or use I don't do it because I won't have a 6th generation of family farmers if I don't preserve the lifestyle I grew up in.

Until we meet again.  Eat your local meat from the store, enjoy your dairy products, and look for a great handmade soap that will benefit your entire family.  I have enjoyed sharing a slice into my life and look forward to us meeting on Common Ground.

Sincerely yours,
Andrea Sayer
Proud to be an American Farmer

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Test Panel Spring 2015

Welcome back to life on Deer Creek.  It has been a very busy winter/spring and I feel like summer will be here before I can turn around.  So many interesting new adventures have taken place in 2015 that sometimes I just about forget to take the time to sit back and praise God for all the wonderful things going on in my life.  Good or Bad I know he has the wheel and that thru him I can endure anything.

Back in February while we were waiting for our first Nubian doe Miss Emmeline to have kids I nervously was up and down all night for like three days straight.  As this was her first kidding and my first kidding of 2015 so not only was I anxious to see what we would get (boys, girls, color, markings, etc) but I was worried about how easy the birth would be for her and if she would need assistance with the kidding.  So like many times trying not to wake my family I would sneak off to my computer to check facebook or my email.  And that was when I got the fabulous news that Sayer Soapworks @ DJ's Creek Farm had been chosen from over 100 applicants to be a scent test sampler for Bramble Berry Inc.  I was like YES! I'M A ROCK STAR!!.  I even had to go wake my husband and tell him that he was now living with a soap making rock star.  This news made my month and I was still waiting for the new lives of the litter of triplets to make their way into the world.  Well just to let you all know the babies arrived safely on a Sunday morning during church service time on Feb 22.  We had 2 bucks and and a beautiful doe.  The buckling's have both found their new homes. Super Nova lives in St. Francis Kansas with Tish Havel and family and Rolo lives in North Platte Nebraska with Kasey Rutherford and family.  The doeling is named Miss Bertie (Miss B.) and will remain on our farm.  Emmeline did a great job and we are so proud of this breeding.

But then the worry of how would I do this challenge and would I be able to get the desired results from this SOAP panel that I had hoped for began creeping into the back of my mind.  As you all know I soap with pure goat milk soap and wonderful oils.  I enjoy cold process the best but to be honest I had never made a small batch that would only contain 1 oz of fragrance and with no opportunity to remake the soaps I was worried.  So I decided the fairest way to test these fragrances would be to use the exact same recipe with each batch.  Now if you have ever made goat milk soap you know that it can turn a very tan to a brown color all on its own with out the aid of fragrant oils that can also cause discoloration.  My basic recipe that I decided to make calls for goats milk, lye, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, and shea butter.  I then choose that I would use a different Bramble Berry colorant in each batch but that the fragrant oil would not be in the colored part of the soap so I could tell if discoloration occurred in this recipe.
So being me I didn't make the soaps all in the correct order of #1 thru #8.  I just picked them up sniffed the scent and tried to imagine what this soap was to look like and what I wanted to achieve by making them each.  I found that some scents accelerated too quickly and that some left you with plenty of time to play and swirl your soaps.  Over all there are some that discolored and some that did not but in the end all 8 samples made great soap and would work for most people in the soap making business.  The following will be my analyzes of each scent and if I would personally choose to use them in my business.
From the above photo you can see what each soap ended up turning out like once it was cured.  I even took them to a show and asked for public opinion on which scents were their favorites and if they would consider purchasing them in the future if they were available.  Left to right top to bottom are #1 thru #8.

Soap scent #1 had a chocolate berry coffee scent to me an smells great once soaped.  However this scent did cause definite discoloration in the soap and I know if I had not left the Bubblegum Pink out of the scent that the soap would have ended up a muted coloration.  So in my opinion this scent is not one a person should worry about using alot of colorant with unless you do use them in the manor I used.  I tried a hanger swirl with this soap and to do some decorative piping on the top but this scent caused no acceleration and was very slow to set up and therefore being under a time constraint this soap did not end up with decorative piped tops.  So for my final recommendation on this scent I would add the following tips: high discoloration, no acceleration, and plenty of time for fancy swirls or intricate decorating. This was one of the top 4 choices by the customers.

Soap scent #2 was made toward the end of my experiment in this contest and by then I could tell that the soap would discolor just from the smell of the fragrant oil.  Therefore I choose to use the Fizzy Lemonade colorant as just a top on the soap.  To me it carries a very buttery pastry type scent and you could be tempted to eat it.  However this did not encourage customers to want to bath with it but instead wish they could eat it.

Soap scent #3 was one that had no discoloration or acceleration.  I used Ultramarine Blue for my colorant and tried a drop swirl down the center.  As you can tell it needs to be pored in at a thinner trace but still worked out good.  Customers seemed to really like this scent as well.  Over all I love the fact that you could do so much with this scent as far as swirling and decorating your soap.  This soap has a pleasant scent.

Soap scent #4 again has no discoloration and did accelerate while I was soaping with it. Therefore I had to just layer the color and scented soap as I had no time to work with it.  I used Brick Red for the colorant and it turned out different but still pretty in the final soap.  However it was not a scent customers liked.  It was too strange to the nose and they definitely had no desire to purchase it.. Pictured below as it was molded.

Soap scent #5 has severe discoloration and moderate acceleration.  I started using Fizzy Lemonade and had to add Wow Tangerine to keep the discoloration from completely over powering the color I had chose for this soap.  It has a rich orange neroli scent that a few customers recognized from another company.  However I didn't like the extreme discoloration and acceleration in this scent.  I'm not sure I would spend my time working with it.

Soap scent #6 was a mild discoloration and I used it with purple colorant.  I found this fragrance to have a definite soap/linen smell.  It reminded me of laundry detergent.  Some customers liked it but most did not.  However it was very easy to work with and would make a great scent for those whom like to make their own laundry detergents.  

Soap Scent #7 was very mild discoloration and no acceleration.  I used Ultramarine pink with this scent and I really loved the way the bar turned out.  It has a nice floral scent that was admired my several at the show.  Very easy to soap with and I would use this scent again in my collection if it were available and I'm not a floral fan.

Soap Scent #8 has almost no discoloration and mild to moderate acceleration.  I used Ultramarine Violet for the center colorant and tried a drop swirl again.  The only recommendation I can make for this scent is to swirl or mix at a light trace not a medium trace to get the swirls you are looking for.  Customers seemed to love it, but it was not a personal favorite.

Over all the customers loved soaps #1, 3,5, and 8.  Some chose #4 & 7 but no one chose #2 or 6.  I hope this helps in your companies decision as to what fragrance to release this next season.  I know I will be back for more of your great products.  And I hope my exploration of these scents in goats milk has made an impact on your company and the direction it will head.  Thank you for the opportunity to work with you on this project.
Looking forward to sharing more fun and exciting experiences with you all as the year continues.  I'm glad to have had the opportunity to share this scent challenge with you all and I look forward to sharing some of our great soap with you all.  Please feel free to contact me via my website to purchase your soap.  You may either go directly to our shopping on etsy from here or simply drop me a line asking for our current soap list.  Your business will be appreciated just as your following us in our farm life is appreciated.

So until we meet again my your life be filled with blessings.  Jeremiah 29:11.

Sincerely yours,

Andrea Sayer
Proud to be an American Farmer

Friday, April 10, 2015

Life on Deer Creek Spring 2015

Welcome back to Deer Creek.  Its been a busy month since I last touched base with you and we have seen quite a few babies hit the ground.  From cattle to goats I have had my hands full this last month or so.  We have had several calves born and for whatever the reason end up spending a few hours or weeks in the barn being fed by bottle from our Jersey milk cow.  This is not the first time we have ever had a milk cow on the farm, but it is the first time that I can tell you I had to help with the chores and responsibilties of having a milk cow on the farm.  I think the last time we had milk cows full time I was about 6 years old and lets just say that was a few decades ago. 

This past January my dad decided with the price of cattle so high it would be a good idea to have a milk cow to supplement any calves that got sick, lost thier mother, or were not claimed by thier mother.  And we have definately had our hands full with calves in and out of the barn.  It has been an unusual spring in the fact that we have had several sets of twins born on the farm and that seem to leave one calf in the barn each time a set is born.  Plus with calving out around 150 head of heifers between all the herds we have had our hands full of momma's whom had trouble having thier calves and with those whom refused to care for thier calves.  On any given week we have had 2-3 calves rotate thru the barn.

But with all this rotation you would think we would have plenty of calves to drink the milk one dairy cow could produce.  However she is an excellent milker producing over 4 gallon of very rich creamy milk a day and it seems that the past week we have had more milk than we could find a use for so we started making different types of ice cream.  My mom has tried plain vanilla, chocolate chip, and today she made a cinamon version.  So far they have all been a hit and she plans to take some to our church social dinner this Sunday.  So lets just say we are eating well here on Deer Creek and if its been awhile since you had a batch of fresh homemade ice cream well I think its time you found a way to get yourself some.  I think it tastes so much better than the store bought and it is not loaded with the corn syrup and artifical ingredients that we as a society have a tendancy to over eat.

I've also been sharing this same barn with the goats.  It is really quite the sight to see a Jersey dariy cow in a stand milking beside a Nubian dairy goat.  This took some adjustment periods, but they now have pretty much gotten used to each other so you can milk a goat and the cow at the same time.  Right now we are milking everything by hand, but I hope to get our milking machine back into working condition by late spring or early summer so the flies won't be so bad while I milk.

I have had 7 nubian kids to feed each day and they are growing like weeds.  4 of the 7 are sold and I am retaining 2 of the does for our own herd.  This only leaves me 1 buck for sale at this time.  I have a caprine bucket system that I feed them on and I think it is so funny to watch them all attack the bucket at once for a feeding.  It takes the kids less than 5 minutes to be done with the bucket of milk. And then they are ready for play time and lots of attention being cuddled and played with.

Last week end I had one of the bucks picked up to go to his new home along with 2 4-h show piglets.  I'm very glad we could help the Havel family get started with thier 4-H projects this year. Good luck Kinley with your projects. We also had the Long family come and get 3 show pigs on easter weekend. We will be down to Beaver City in July to see how this family does with thier projects.  And today I sent a second buckling to his new home with the Rutherford family. They only brought the two youngest kids of 7 down to pick up thier buckling but I know he will be spoiled and well taken care of by this family.  I think thier children would have taken one of everything I had to offer on the farm.  It's always exciting to see how children react to life on the farm.

In addition to the Nubian goats taking up space in the barn Dillon (my son) finally got two sets of boar goats this past week as well.  So they too have been taking up stalls in the barn to make sure they are extra healthy before I send them back out into a pen and to deal with our weather that seems to change hourly.  This year our boar goats were born a bit later than we are used to so we have only til July to get them to a minimum of 55# for fair.  This will mean that I will have to feed the mommas extra well and keep the kids up to insure they eat thier pellets and supplements instead of just running the creek and eating whatever they find that tastes good that day.  Goats are natural grazers and I think it is really cool when they can move from location to location eating a bit here and there.  Last year I was amazed that when turned loose for the day they basically made the same trip every day and returned to thier pen for bed at dark each night.

We will soon be looking at starting to plant the spring crops.  We already have the oats drilled and we are gearing up with the planter to be ready to put the corn in the ground.  Hard to believe that winter is basically over and that spring is well into its movement.  But here on Deer Creek I know there is never a dull moment or a stop between seasons.  So I will keep you updated as we go forward with our year.  

Please pray for rain as we are heading into another terrible drought in our area and could really use the moisture to help us continue to survive here on the farm. 
  1. Agriculture employs more than 24 million American workers (17% of the total U.S. work force). Today's American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. In 1960, that number was 25.8. Raising beef cattle is the single largest segment of American agriculture.
 It is a proven fact that the American farmer now feeds over 155 people per day.  Therefore please ask God to grace us with moisture so we can continue to feed the world. 

Sincerely yours,

Andrea Sayer
Proud to be an American Farmer 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cherry's trip on Deer Creek

Welcome back to my life on deer creek.  As I have mentioned before I am proud to say I'm a 5th generation family farmer and I grew up on a beautiful farmstead located in Frontier County Nebraska on Deer Creek.  My parents bought our farmstead when I was a baby and we moved down on the creek in the Spring of 1974.  Over the years I have seen a great many things happen on the winding creek banks I call home.  We have had a tornado or two and many hail storms and flash floods from when the rains would come from up above us in the state.  Several times the creek banks have ran full to the brim in my lifetime and occasionally they have even flooded into our home.  We have experienced years with severe blizzards and ice storms that have left us without power for days into weeks.

I truly love this creek that I grew up on.  I have spent many a day on the banks of it riding horseback for just a quite trail ride or doing serious business like rounding up cattle.  Either way this creek has brought lost of pleasant memories and times into my life.  At the top of our creek property is a place called horseshoe bend.  And I can remember as a young teen whenever I would say "well everyone is doing it" my parents would ask me "and if they jumped of horseshoe bend would you follow them?".  Of course my answer was no because when you stand at the bottom of this bend in the creek and look up the tallest trees don't even reach the top of the bend.  I would guess this to be a 400+ foot drop off.

We have a lot of wildlife that live along this creek from beaver to coyotes and deer to wild turkeys.  There is not a day that goes by that you can't enjoy some of Gods great creatures in full view.  I don't hunt but my dad and son do and they always enjoy a quite day on the creek looking for the game they are currently hunting.  We work hard to make sure we leave wildlife plenty of space on our land so that we co-exist in harmony.  Fact of the matter the beavers just moved back to our section of the creek a few years past and we don't allow anyone to trap them so they will be here for future generations to enjoy.

But the story I want to share with you all today is about the evening of January 30, 2015.  My daughter and niece each have a Jersey dairy heifer that just turned a year old on January 8th.  I went outside to start my evening chores and I noticed that the heifers were not in their pen.  Now these calves are well halter broke as the two girls plan to show them in 4-H and they have never been out of their private pen except to go on walks with the girls up and down the driveway and over to the second barn yard on the farm.  Well after some looking I find that one of the two is in the pen with our older Jersey milk cow but the other is missing.  Now I have no idea how they got out of their pen or where the second calf could be but I start driving toward the second barn yard looking for her.  At this moment I think I'm looking for my niece's calf Diva Daisy.  I don't find her but upon driving to the backside of their pen I find where they got out at; a small wire broke on the back pen gate and they pushed it out.  So I head around to fix the pen still wondering where Diva Daisy could be.  As I'm wiring the gate back into place I hear a cry of the calf but I can't see her.  Their pen runs right along the creek bank with about a 5 foot walk space before you go off the embankment.  Well needless to say I'm sure you all know where I'm going with this story now.  I look down over the drop off and find her pinned in a cradle of broken trees about 30 foot down.

I have no idea if she is okay or not at this point only that it is getting dark and she is stuck and crying for help.  I hurry and get the hired men and my dad to help me.  We realize we can't go off the embankment to get her the way she went down and that we need to wind our way around the creek and come in from the bottom to see if she is okay.  James goes in ahead of me while my dad is still trying to see how we are going to lift her back up the side of the creek.  Finally I follow James into the creek because I can't hear him or see him anymore.  It is barely light out and down on the creek it is getting very dark.  After climbing up and down the sides of the creek and falling into the water several times to walk/climb my way to her I finally can see she is about 20 feet still up the embankment tangled in a tree cradle.  Now at this point I'm worried she has broke a leg, neck or her back and won't be able to be saved.  James says "stay back she could fall on you". But me being a worried care giver of this animal and super attached to her I have to get closer.  So I start trying to climb/crawl my way up the steep slick side of the creek.  All the while I am talking to this calf trying to calm her down.  She recognizes my voice and flips over and walks out the the tangle of trees to me.

She is on a small bank about 5 foot above me and I can't get to her when I realize its not my niece's calf Diva Daisy, but instead my daughter's calf Cherry.  I keep talking to her to keep her calm and the other two hired men Doug and Jason show up with a wrench to try to lift her up out of the creek.  They toss me down a lariat rope and ask if I can get it around her neck to help stabilize her as we lift her out by her back legs.  I finally crawl up the bank and reach her pulling myself by small sapling trees.  Once I put the rope around her neck she decides she is safe and that we should take a walk.  So she heads down the embankment for the creek.  Now I know she can't get out of the creek the way I came in because there are too many large trees fallen in the path way.  So our only option is to climb up a 25 foot slippery embankment and if we make it up to the top we can walk out across a field and be picked up in a trailer to get the 3 miles back home.  Keep in mind I'm only about 50 feet from her pen right now down in the bottom of the creek.

Well this is one determined calf and she starts up the embankment with me, but with 5 feet to go she falls down on her belly and can't go any farther.  So me and the men rig her rope into a halter and we proceed to pull/lift her up the last 5 feet.  She probably weighs in at about 700 lbs, but we got the job done.  Once we had her on top the bank she just laid there exhausted.  I was worried if she was hurt somewhere and couldn't get up again.  However after a few minutes I decided maybe she would feel safer if I removed the rope and let her think she was free.  She got up shortly after that and came right over to me ready to be lead out of the creek.  Thank God my daughter and niece did a good job teaching her to be gentle and to lead.  I will admit these calves are the first halter broke cattle we have had on our farm since I was 10 or so.  But since they will be milk cattle in the future we felt this was an important part of raising them.

My dad met us at the gate to the field with a trailer and she loaded right up and was brought back around to the house.  Where I found that by a miracle she didn't have any injuries and was just fine.  She joined Diva Daisy and their pen mate Delta for her evening routine of oats.  The next day she was a bit stiff but by Sunday she was back to her normal self.

Now I will admit this was a very unusual thing that happened to our family here on Deer Creek but it was not the first time a animal was trapped on the creek and needed help getting out.  We have had beef cattle get stuck in the mud.  We had a horse once picked up in a tornado and set back down in what appeared to be a log cabin by the way the trees fell during the storm.  And she was also un-injured and we had to use a chainsaw to get her out of the trees and back home.  Another time I was riding with a friend Nick Mead chasing cattle when he and is horse just disappeared on the other side of the creek from me.  Only to ride over and find them both okay but in a cave out that suddenly dropped them down into a 10 foot hole.  Mother nature takes her own course here on Deer Creek and we as the caretakers must work with her for the benefit of our livestock and ourselves.

Thank you for joining me on another short day as "the farmer's daughter from deer creek".  I have enjoyed sharing some more of my life story with you and I hope you will continue to follow me as I share more of my life next time.

Sincerely yours,

Andrea Sayer
Proud to be an American Farmer

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Soapmaker

Being the farmers daughter from deer creek I grew up with dreams like any other farm kid.  I used to wonder about who I would marry and what my role might be in the family farm.  Of course some days after a really long day on the farm I would occasionally wonder what it would be like not to return to the farm as well.  Because we all know the heart of a child can be fickle it is quite amazing to me that I have ended up where I am in life.

When I was 17 almost 18 I headed off for college at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture with the dream of not spending more than one year at this small college so close to home and transferring in to Lincoln at the University of Nebraska to study agronomy.  Now this was a pretty far fetched dream considering I was totally allergic to just about every field crop grown and could never even think about going to the fields after pollination or during harvest without a trip or two to the hospital.  But still I wanted to end up the leader in a Seed Corn sales company so I could attend meetings world wide and promote their brand of seed while of course earning my once a year cruise with colleagues so I could see the world.  Little did I know that what my real dream for a career would become and that if a guidance counselor would have listened to my reasons for wanting to be in my chosen career that they might have suggested I go into a career as an Ag advocate ambassador doing public speaking around the world about the benefits of agriculture.

Then while still in my first year on college I met and got engaged to the love of my life.  And as anyone in love knows your heart wants what your heart wants.  He is a wonderful loving man and we will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary this year.  Yes he grew up with an agricultural background but wanted nothing more than to be and auto technician.  Which I am proud to say he is a great one and that we are in the process of  purchasing the small shop he has worked at for the past 10 years.  However, during our years together at one point he tried to step into the role of the farmers son-in-law and work on the family farm.  That lasted all of a year.  Just was not a good fit for any of us.  This took place while I was busy working at a local coop as the bookkeeper because I just didn't know if there really was a place for me on the family farm.

However when our oldest son was 18 months old and started refusing to come home with me from the farm at night we as a family knew things had to change.  Grandma and Grandpa were his whole world and so was that farm.  So I quit the coop and went to work with my parents on the family farm so I could raise my kids in the great lifestyle I had been raised in.  And this had been a great fit for over 18 years.  But along the way I have faced so many challenges its amazing I'm still on the farm or even sane and yes I know the sane part can be debated by many.

You see I went on to have a second son and a daughter.  But along came tragedy in my life by the stack.  Shortly after my youngest son was born my younger sister (Amanda the middle daughter) was killed in an unexplained to this day single vehicle accident.  This hit our family way below the belt like it does to all families with a tragic death and we were reeling to the bottom.  But before we could hit bottom my oldest son (Tyson) was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.  And I had just found out I was pregnant with our daughter at the time.  So I spent years running him to and from treatment while my parents and husband raised both of my other children (Dillon and Amelia).  Fact of the matter I walked out the door 6 days after Amelia was born to return to Omaha with Tyson for treatment and never came home to stay til after she was 18 months old.  Oh we visited back to the farm as much as his treatments would allow but for all real purposes we were a separated family due to cancer.  Amelia would end up donating her bone marrow to Tyson to save his life and it worked.  We came home and worked at becoming a family under one roof again.  This was with a lot of struggle and prayer that we made it work.  Dillon had abandonment issues having been 18 months old when I left and Amelia had attachment issues to only Grandma and her Daddy.  But this trying period was not in vain.  It made us grow and become a close knit family. My children still find refuge in the farm.

But as fate would have it tragedy would strike again a short 9 years later when Tyson was killed in a freak ATV accident on the farm while spraying musk thistle.  The accident he had would probably have left a healthy person with just bruises and story to tell.  For him however it broke his spleen and liver causing him to die.  Now my world hit rock bottom.  For months I didn't know if I was coming or going and I definitely like all people in this situation had no idea how to handle my grief or how to be a good parent while dealing with my grief.  There is a period of about 4 years that I just functioned but not in a good way.

Its during this period that I decided if Dillon or Amelia wanted to try it they could.  After all the fear that they might die too was and still is in the back of my mind and I wanted them to have everything life could possibly offer them.  So we ended up with boar meat goats, Nubian dairy goats, and hogs on our family farm.  These were what they wanted to do in 4-H.  Now remember I rode a horse and that was my entertainment as a child and my 4-H project.  Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that a horse is very different from a goat or a hog.  But I gave it my all and learned all I could along side my kids, husband, and parents about their projects.  And along the way we developed our own small niche in the family farm.  We call our project become business DJ's Creek Farm.  And we are located on my family farm Bob Farr's farm and ranch.  My parents have encouraged us and our business choice every step along the way.  Even going so far as to buy Amelia a Jersey dairy calf to add to the chaos.  But in doing this we are teaching our children the love of agriculture and farm life along with the fact that hard work is part of life.  We are also ingraining them with the same motto I grew up with that the family that works together.....plays together.

And I'm sure by now you are wondering why did she title this blog "The Soap maker".  Well that is because during all this transformation I sometimes didn't quite know where I was headed personally or what path God had in store for me next.  Yes I was busy being a farmers daughter, an auto technician's wife, and a good farm mother to my children but nothing I was doing was anything that brought out my personality or creative abilities that were bottled inside.  Remember before when I said if only a counselor would have listened to my dreams they would have realized I could have made a great job as an advocate for agriculture.  Well while upstarting DJ's Creek Farm it became increasingly obvious that we had more goat milk than we knew what to do with and we were not big enough to become a licensed dairy.  So I spent about a year just feeding the hogs what we couldn't use as a family.  However, this didn't help the dairy goats pay their way very well.  And I started brainstorming how I could make that division of our small business turn a profit.  We couldn't justify becoming a licensed dairy due to cost and size, but in my research I found out that goat milk soap was an art that was becoming very popular.  So I taught myself to make soap over the Internet.  With the help of many great u-tube videos and some wonderful facebook chat pages I learned to create beautiful soap and products that are healthy for your skin and that my customers love.  It also gave me that outlet to be an advocate for agriculture.  See we now have a subdivision of DJ's Creek Farm that we call Sayer Soapworks and thru Sayer Soapworks I attend craft shows all over a tri-state area of Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado.  It is at these craft show that I'm able to tell my families story in agriculture and share that as a 5th generation family farmer I milk the goats to bring you the soap.  My customers love that I have such a rich heritage behind the love for creating beautiful handmade soaps just like our generations before us did for survival.  Back then our ancestors made soap out of necessity now I create art out of soap and sell it for your benefit to your health and skin.  I have finally found one of my many hats on the family farm and I am proud to say that I'm an American Farmer who happens to make you goat milk soap.

Til we meet again my God bless you and your family.

Sincerely yours,

Andrea Sayer
"The Farmers Daughter on Deer Creek"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"The family that works together....plays together"

Ever wonder what it would have been like to live on a farm?  How about where your food comes from?  Or just what kind of lifestyle the daughter of a farmer must have had?  I'm glad you are following me and would love to introduce you to my life.

My name is Andrea (Farr) Sayer and I have been a farmers daughter for 41 years.  I am currently the 5th generation to be raised on our family farm.  I grew up with two younger sisters Amanda & Crystal and we were very blessed to be raised on a farm in Nebraska.  My parents taught us the value of hard work and the rewards that come from that work.  As a child our motto was "the family that works together... plays together"  And we did exactly that.  In order to have time to go to the lake, take off for a horse show, or go to the fair we all had to pull our weight to make sure the farm work was done.

I remember many times wishing I could be like the "town kids" who got to be in girl scouts, baseball teams and other activities.  What I didn't realize until I grew up was just how lucky I was and how many kids would have traded me places.  I got the privilege of learning to ride a horse very well and to learn to drive a tractor and care for and raise livestock of all kinds.  We had horses, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and even dairy cattle during my years growing up on our farm.  Of course we had a few dogs and lots of cats too.  Most kids beg for one pet and I had a farm full of them.  But with the animals came chores and responsibility.  At the time I wished for less to do and more free time.  But you know something now I'm glad I had the opportunity to be country born and raised.

I got to have a double life of sorts...........see during the school year I attended the local school and had friends in my school.  I was very active in high school with clubs and activities.  My favorite being FFA.  However, as soon as the school year ended it was time to 4-H where I ran with a totally different crowd of kids.  We spent every weekend on horseback at a horse show in 100* plus weather and loved every minute of it.  These kids knew me as the farm girl I was..........not afraid to scoop some shit or do some work so I could spend the weekend riding a horse and making friends.  A white long sleeved shirt, wrangler jeans, and a black stetson were my trademark for the weekend.  I participated in everything from showmanship to barrel racing and for the most part I was good.  My mom and sisters were with me every weekend, but it was only on special weekends (like when it rained) that my dad got to come watch us perform.  I remember how proud he and mom were of us but since the only way to pay for us to do this was through hard work dad sacrificed a lot to let us play.

Fact of the matter when it came to the major event in my young life such as graduation from high school and college.  I prayed very hard that it would rain so he would not only be there but not be late getting there because something needed done on the farm.  You see when livestock depends on you for their life you don't stop just because you want to.  And when a crop needs water, weeding, or harvesting you better be there at that time.  My parents always did their best by me making sure they were at the events that mattered most in my life.  But the sacrificed alot to do that.  Like never taking a vacation for the first 20 years of their married lives.  I was in college before they went on a trip that was more than a couple days and didn't involve picking up parts.

You see being a farmers daughter means you learn to pray and be grateful for what you have which is love.  Because every day your family gambles with mother nature and God on the chance to make a living that season.  Some years are full of bounty and others are very lean.......but through it all you learn the greatest gift you have is your family and that God really does control everything that matters.

Thank you for joining me.

Sincerely yours,

Andrea Sayer