Cyber Monday — 5R Farm

by Sarah on December 2, 2013

You may or may not have noticed a little box on the sidebar of this here blog advertising 5R Farm.  It’s owned and run by my friends Stacy and Sean.  Stacy is the maker of soaps and lotions, as well as the chicken whisperer.  I’m not sure if the chickens came before the soaps and lotions, but I’m just happy it’s all coming together.  Stacy and I have been planning this little interview for quite some time and I am finally ready to get it published, just in time for holiday shopping!

UC:  How did you get into the farm business?  Was it something you always dreamed of, or was it an accident?

5R:  I have gardened in small urban backyards for many years and was constantly wishing that I had more space for a bigger garden. When I began keeping backyard chickens in addition to being an avid gardener, it wasn’t long before I realized that my urban backyard was not big enough to accommodate a flock of chickens and a large enough garden to grow everything that I wanted to grow. I also wanted to expand the size of the chicken flock to more than the 5 we had, but there was no room for any more chickens. So a couple of years ago my husband and I started looking at rural property within an hour of Portland, and within a few months we were the proud owners of 4.5 acres in St. Helens, Oregon.

UC:  I know you live in Portland, how often do you get to the farm?  Do you plan on living there full time ever?

5R:  I am very fortunate to work a 3/4-time schedule at my job in Portland, which allows me to get out to the farm for at least a couple of days every week. We hope to live at the farm full-time in the next few years, I just need to figure out the right work schedule/telecommute balance to allow us to do that. In the meantime, we have a friend that lives at the farm full-time who tends to the chickens and waters the garden while we’re away. {Since this interview, I believe Stacy is beginning her transition to the farm full time!}

UC:  Tell me about your soaps and lotions.  What are the main ingredients?  Are any of the ingredients grown on your farm?  What do you use for the nubbly bits?

5R:  The main ingredients are olive, coconut, palm, and castor oil, and cocoa butter. These ingredients are all very moisturizing and nourishing, and it’s nice to be able to identify all of the ingredients in the products you are using on your skin! I use several botanical ingredients to add color and texture to my soaps. The colorants include spices such as paprika, clove, and tumeric, and the exfoliating bits include coffee, ground oatmeal, ground almonds, and poppy seeds. I do not currently grow any of the ingredients on my farm, but that is something that is definitely on my to do list for the future.  The lotions are made with various combinations of vegetable oils, aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamin E. They are whipped which gives them a long-lasting creamy texture. I buy the essential oils and fragrance oils that I use in my soaps and lotions at a great soap-making supply store in Washington called Brambleberry.

More about soap here, lotions here, and gift sets here.  There is even liquid hand soap and laundry detergent!

UC:  What’s going on at the farm now?

5R:  We’ve gotten lots of projects accomplished last summer. We built a greenhouse using mostly repurposed materials (reused deck boards for the floor, re-used doors, old storm windows for the glass, and scrap corrugated plastic for skylights).  We also installed a bee hive and built a second chicken coop and chicken run. We are currently building a pergola on the back deck to provide shade in the summer and make a nice an outdoor space we can enjoy during the rainy season  as well.

We also installed our first bee hive in April of this year. The colony has grown in size from the 10,000 bees I purchased to probably approximately 50,000 bees now. The bees appear to be putting away a good amount of honey for the winter, and there may even be enough for us to harvest a some honey this fall. I’ve learned already that beekeeping is a challenging hobby. There is a lot to learn, and everyone’s hives will perform differently, so you really just have to learn by observing your hive and seeing what works for you. It can also be a bit intimidating, and it certainly helps to have a calm attitude when working around thousands of bees!

UC:  I’m really excited about your cheese making.  I’ve made some fresh cheeses, but never something to age like cheddar.  Was it difficult?  Are you aging, and if so, for how long?

5R:  It’s not difficult, but it does require attention to detail and precise temperature control during the cheese making process. The hard cheeses take a long time to make – up to 7 hours for the better cheddar recipes. Although it’s not a constant 7 hours of work, many of the steps are a half an hour apart, or every 5 minutes for an hour. I aged my cheddar for about 3 months, but I did not notice a huge difference in the quality of the aged versus fresh cheese. I have not found the perfect cheddar recipe yet, but there are some other recipes and ingredients I want to try in search of the perfect homemade cheddar. I’m really fond of the fresh cheeses too. I have a herbed queso blanco recipe that is super quick to make and is delicious.

UC:  Hmmm, maybe I will have to get that recipe to share.

I wholeheartedly encourage you all to visit her online shop and look around.  I am a ‘soap-of-the-month’ gal, and I love her lotions.  Any would be welcome under the tree for girls and boys alike.

Check out the 5R website!  There’s all kinds of cool stuff going on there.

I can personally vouch for these products, and was not paid to tell you this.


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