Winter on Madeline Island is the season where Lake Superior is frozen, and all is relatively quiet on our farm. If we want to leave our island home, all we have to do is drive right onto the ice road to cross the frozen lake to the mainland. It’s a time of preparation and reflection.
The snow lies thick on the ground, and each day there is a soft new layer of Lake Effect snow. Each winter day, we check the sheep to see how they are progressing in their pregnancies. We should start having new lambs in early March. The barn is ready, supplies are stocked, and the sheep shearer is due in less than a month. It’s always fun to anticipate when the first lamb will arrive. Who will lamb first? Will she have twins? What colors will they be? Every year the kids and I sit around and think of a theme for lamb names. This year, it’s islands. Our lambs will have names from not just in the Apostles Islands, where we live, but all over the world.
This is also a time of readying the farm and the store for the busy spring and summer season. Even though it’s just February and Valentine’s Day is at the forefront of our days, we are making soap every day in preparation for busy, warmer days. In order to have enough to fill the retail stores and website, we try to make at least two or three loaves of handmade, cold-process soap a day.
We are also trying new recipes, seeking out the best ingredients, and finishing soaps for inventory. There is so much to do! Right now, we are trying out a black sea salt recipe that will be wonderful for light exfoliation and an oatmeal stout soap with a nice, masculine fragrance. Look for these new soaps in a few weeks to come!