Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Goatie Milk Soap Story

Have been wanting to post for sometime now about how Farmgirl started to make goats milk soap. Friends of ours down the road knew that we had goats. They had two older Nubian does that were pets and needed to downsize. One day, Beth asked me if I thought I would notice if she "threw" two goats into the pasture and would I notice??? Well I think I probally would since my goats were angoras and her goats didn't look a thing like mine...LOL

Hence I soon acquired in early summer two very demanding girls,
Oreo and Chloe! Since we are a breeding farm we knew that we would have to give them a job! Well after searching and finally finding, Fred, on Craigs List the girls were bred with the hopes that I would be able to figure out how to milk them!

February came and the girls both had sets of twins, one doe and three bucklings. Left the babies with their Mommas and after about a month started to milk them. After much spilled and kicked over milk the girls and I got into a routine twice a day. Well boy did I have milk...we had milk coming out of our ears! We drank it, we cooked with it and I made soap with it. The milk that I couldn't use right away we froze in 1/2 gallons bags.

After much trial and error...burned and boiled over messes, I finally started making some awesome soap! I ordered scents that I liked and started out small by selling some at a local festival. I sold the soap like gangbusters and then put some in the shop on etsy. It is a nice change from the fiber side of my farm buisness and it makes me feel good about producing another product from something I raise here on the farm!

Their are alot of steps that you must follow exactly...just like cooking and the most important part is saftey as the sodium hydroxide used is very caustic when mixing. It becomes noncaustic after the soap has cured for 6 weeks or so.

I wear long sleeved shirts, goggles and gloves...please don't stop by while I am making would be very afraid!

You must work very quickly and have all of your ingredients ready ahead of time.

The pots and utensils I use for making soap are used only for soap and labeled as such!

Here are pictures of the soap in the molds. They must cure in the molds for 24 hours and then they are released and cut by hand into individual bars.
PS they shrink so cut them big...:)
One thing that I do want to change is to add more scent to some of the recipes and to convert to all essential oils. Even though the essential oils are more expensive...I think it will be worth it in the long run! What do you think?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farmers Market! Phatfiber Samples for September

Septembers theme for the phatfiber sampler box is "The Farmers Market!" Lots of possibilites...just think of all of the summer produce, farm fresh eggs, flowers and baked goods...MMM...

I just love the Fall, after the heat of the summer I like to think about sweatshirts and sweaters, pumpkins and gourds and all of the glorious Fall colors. Shades of orange and yellow, greens and deep reds and burgundies! I wanted my samples to relflect some of these favorite Fall images.

I have some lovely warm and soft washed Cotswold fleeces that have this super wonderful curl. They are super clean and would be great dyed and spun up into yarn for a favorite sweater project! I tucked them in mini wicker pumpkins. The lids weren't attached to the base so I took a yarn needle and some green rafia and threaded it together and then attached the tags.

My two little girls love gourds, so I took several different types of fiber that I had dyed in different "gourdy" colors and then hand picked and blended them in a big basket. I took natural brown corriedale/bl cross wool from my ewe Godiva, dyed corriedale/bl from another ewe Gwennie in shades or orange, buttercup and sage, local dyed yellow Cotswold wool, black mohair that I overdyed green, its a neat almost jewel tone green! I also added my new favorite glitz, bronze angelina to give it a neat reflective sparkle.

My third and fourth samples were my favorite flowers that to me truly herald the Fall season Mums. Here in the east at every roadside stand, farmers market, grocery store and Home Depot you will find them in every shade. I made up two colorways with some hand dyed corriedale cross and mohair from the sheep and goats. I adore purple so purple was a given with some yellow mohair tucked in for the centers of the flowers. I also did a burgundy with lavender mohair centers. I had the idea to tuck them into green cups with a green napkin as the leaves of the Mums...maybe corny but cute...LOL.

Its a lot of hard work putting together 50 plus samples every month. I love the idea that it pushes me to step outside the box and out of my comfort zone. I only wish that I could get them together sooner as I hate rushing in the end to finish and mail them before the boxes go on sale...
Getting ready to box them up to mail off to Jessie the Phatfiber lady!

Friday, August 20, 2010

She Does a Little Dance...She Got Her Box!

I was down in the barn milking the dairy goats when I happened to peek out and guess what I saw! The box! The box was sitting precariously on top of the mailbox! Whoo Hoo the phatfairies had found me! For those that aren't in the know is a group of indie fiber artisans, which I have belonged to since February of 2009, that gather samples of their work on a monthly basis and then they are sold on to the fiber loving public! When you as a contributor send in at least 50 samples you also receive at no extra charge your own box to keep!

Every month their is a different theme and August of 2010 was Africa! First in the box their was a gold envelope with contributors buisness cards in them with all kinds of coupons and discounts on them! Their was a lovely note card from winemakers sister   she always has very unique items! Love your stuff Heather!

This month their were three patterns and two samples of upcycled yarn!

For the Love of Fluff!
Oh the lovely! The colors were just wonderful! Loved the crab fiber from she always has very unique and unusual fibers! A spinners delight and this box is all for me!
The whole shebang!

For the Love of Fluff! This is everything! A wonderful array of fiber, yarns and patterns from many talented artisans! The box enables you to sample the work of individual artists before making a decision to purchase a full size quantity from them!
Yeah Phatfiber!

The whole shebang!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chicky Momma!

We keep our chickens enclosed in a very large 60'x120' fenced enclosure with a 6ft. tall fence. We want them to be as free range as possible but we don't want them to be fox bait! Well about a year ago one one of our Rhode Island Reds figured out how to escape! Well we told this escapee that she would be fox food if she didn't go back in at night. One day I was working in the barn and I heard a peep peep peep...what could that be and lo and behold there in one of the kidding pens was Momma Rhode Island Red and her new chicks!

Well Momma Red hatched several clutches of chicks and these chicks grew up! One is currently the second fiddle white rooster and the others grew up into nice hens...guess what these hens can do!

You guessed it! Fly over the fence and what are they doing...hatching clutches of eggs! Well thats all fine and dandy but in April we purchased 100 pullet chicks to replace the hens we had that had stopped laying...if we only had known! With the hens hatching their own that means we get the roosters as well. The roosters will start to fight and then we will have a mess...need to find an Amish farmer in search of chicken dinner!

Another problem is that they aren't protected by the fence because they like to hatch their clutch in a quiet spot in the barn! I have lost several new chicks to nocturnal creatures! I also have a problem feeding the new chicks and giving them water. If I don't fence the Momma and chicks off from the goats and sheep they usually end up eating the chicken feed!
Pictured above is my laborious efforts to keep the crew at the end of the hall, the goats and sheep, from eating the chicken feed.
Then I have to stop Momma black hen from knocking the waterer over, all the while wearing heavy gloves and holding a scoop in my hand to ward her off! She will fly at you if you get too close!
I have Julia hollering to me from outside the pen, Momma are you alright "Why did you scream!"
Its hot, the sheep and goats are hollering! I'm trying to help this chicken and she keeps attacking me! I wonder why on earth  I am doing this...they very well could end up as fox food!
I guess its because I love being a farmgirl. I love having a connection to my animals and being able to help them when they can't always help themselves. Some wouldn't go to such extreme lenghts, but I will know that I tried.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Assateague Island Vacation

The week of the 26th of July Meghan, Julia and I ventured down to the beach to...huge with our friends Karen, her husband Kim and their daughter Kathlyn. Well truth be told I have never camped other than Echo Hill in 5th grade and Girl Scout camp!
It was fun...loved the fact that the horses were so close, although maybe not the 5 yr. old.

Just couldn't get over the fact that they were so tame. Our horses here at home would spook if you clapped your hands at them...not these.

This paint above is stallion...kinda made you a little leary. They had just decided about 7 of them that this was were they were goint to have their supper!

Julia loved the beach once she got used to the water...she said to me Mom...take a picture of me surfing...LOL

The girls both had a blast looking for seashells...their was an amazing amount of them. In fact the first day the girls collected so many I bet they had 25lbs. in a blanket.

Julia now surfing on the boogie board!

On Tuesday the water was so calm, that Kathlyn taught Meghan how to surf the waves using a boogie board! She felt so special! I was really proud of her!

The girls digging their way to China!

The campground and our little pup tent, thanks to my girlfriend Carol!

Julia hanging out and having some quiet time!

Julia, Kathlyn and Meghan hanging out one evening! I am grateful to Kathlyn for being such a super "big girl girlfriend" to the girls!
They played hard and were tired!

On Wednesday we left Assateague and went into West Ocean City to stay at a hotel where they had a "splashground"! The girls had fun and then we went to the pool and swam for a while. We had dinner with my brother Brian, his wife and their toddler that evening.
It was so nice to get away and relax...!

I borrowed a tent from a neighbor.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mason Dixon Fair 2010

Hot HOT AND HOT...and wet wetter and WET...Boy what a fair week. Ben and I rounded up the goats we were taking to the fair Sunday afternoon. Packed up the water buckets, halters, hay racks and the hay and straw and headed down the road to the fair! Fortunately we only live about 9 mi. from the fairgrounds. Got the goats unloaded and settled in their pens. My friend Ramonas birthday was the day before and her husband surprised her with a cake! We sang Happy Birthday ate cake and then we headed off for home!

Monday the girls and I headed down to the fairgrounds with more hay to feed and water the goats . Ramona was to feed that evening and Tuesday morning.
Tuesday afternoon we headed up to the fair for the show at 4 pm. The kids were excited and I was curious to see how we would do! Chris my oldest son came up from Baltimore to see the kids show. He became the official photographer and Ben's girlfriend Monica was the official ribbon holder! The girls did fantastic, especially little Julia and our goat Heidi won Supreme Grand Champion! Whoo Hoo