Simple Life Farm, Arley AL

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Last week I drove to Arley, Alabama where I met Cheryl Patton and her Simple Life Farm. She's gorgeous.

You know how there are people in the world that are just good for you, because they are such good people? It makes you feel good to have them in your life and the other way around too? Yes.

Cheryl's farm - Simple Life Farm - was homesteaded in 1890. It's 40 acres of chickens, donkeys, bees, and goats, plus a white peacock and a guinea hen. She uses solar power and does a lot of common-sense recycling.

One thing I found out is that Cheryl has a business degree from Alabama and left a successful position to come home and live a 'simple life'. She's fantastically well-rounded: well-educated, a pilot, beekeeper, *and* a goat farmer.

And she makes rose petal jelly too.

The day I visited, Cheryl was excited over the pair of antique washing machines she had just gotten, and...can you believe?...we decided to try them out and do some laundry. Outside! The setup is washing machine, through the rollers into rinse water, then through the rollers again to be hung on the line.

Cheryl shaved some lye soap and added hot water, shook to combine:

There was something about being out in the sunshine, talking about the old fashioned ways of doing things, and washing laundry with that clean lye soap smell wafting in the air that was just perfection.

Oh, and the donkey named Moses Yoder was doing his part, straightening out our freshly-laundered towels on the line.

This is the inside of Cheryl's shop, where she makes her soaps:

I brought home some pure beeswax candles that Cheryl makes herself, from the bee hives on the farm:

a variety of soaps, some using botanicals from the herb garden, goat milk, and one that she picks kudzu for:

Of course I had to have the kudzu shampoo!

This is a small block of the lye soap that was used when we were washing laundry. It's hard to explain but this lye soap smells like old-fashioned clean.
Wish I had remembered to bring home some eggs from her chickens!

Cheryl is one of the instructors at the upcoming session of the Alabama Folk School. Her course description:

Individuals will learn how to safely make herbal soaps using sodium hydroxide, essential oils and natural colorants, if desired. Students will also make a natural, soy candle and experience traditional hand-rolled beeswax candle-making. Depending on seasonal availability, students will make a batch of apple butter, learning how to use pressure-canning equipment. And this class wouldn't be complete without a trip to Simple Life Farm! Each student will make enough soap to take home for personal use or to give as unique gifts, two different types of candles, and apple butter (or other jelly or jam). You will leave knowing how to make simple but beautiful gifts and how to can your own foods.

Cheryl's farm and shop is open to the public at 10105 County Road 41 in Arley (zip 35541), but it's very highly recommended that you call before visiting just to make certain she'll be in: 205/384.6079. Her email is
goatmilk ---at--- sonet ...dot... net

Local boutiques carry Simple Life soaps and lotions, but Cheryl also keeps an eBay store so she can sell anywhere in the US - it's here.

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