Saturday, January 31, 2009

Girls On The Hill After The Snow And Ice

The kids got to run today, and they really enjoyed themselves. We had several things that kept part of the herd in the barn this week. We had snow, thick ice, snow again, and then the side door that the dairy herd exits from froze solidly shut. Today they got to experience the great escape!

The doelings in this photo range in age from 6 to 10 months.

The doe second to the left in the photo is nic-named Ski Slope because of her fun ears. Her mother is an american nubian, her daddy is an american alpine. He made a sneak midnight visit at some point, obviously, and returned home before we caught him. Tee hee. Anyhow, she is a nice doe. A chatter box. A joy.

The photo below is a close up of one of the alpine doeling twins, the youngest kids on the farm (until we have one tonight, perhaps).

I worked in the shop most of the morning. Today was a lotion making day. I have an upcoming store placement that I am preparing for.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ingredient Article #5 - Shea Butter

Shea butter, sometimes called shea nut butter, is a common natural fat used in soap, lotion and cosmetic formulations.

Shea butter is derived from the fruit (kernel, nut, seed) of the shea tree, strictly from West Africa. The harvest process is a female activity, and is very beneficial to the West African economy. A 20 year old shea tree begins to produce the shea nut. Shea trees, interesting enough, do not reach full production until they are 45 years old!

The fruit of the shea tree contains 50% fat, yellowish or ivory shea butter, which is obtained through a crushing and boiling process.

One surprising fact about shea butter is that it is also used for cooking in West Africa. Some use shea butter as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate.

Shea butter contains antioxidant properties, such as vitamin A and E. It is a moisturizer and emollient. Shea butter is used to treat scars, eczema, burns, rashes, blemishes, dry skin, itching, skin allergies, and wrinkles.

Speaking of allergies, there is debate regarding allergic reactions to shea butter. Even though shea butter is derived from the nut of the shea tree, many say that the nut does not fall into the "normal" category of nut allergy families. If you have an allergy to nuts, I would advise talking to your allergist prior to using a product that contains shea butter.

Did you know that shea butter, when applied directly to the skin, can provide a light ultraviolet protection, sometimes as high as SPF6? Do not count on it as an ultimate natural sun protection product, as the SPF value does vary.

As promised, I will be following up with an ingredient article on palm oil. It is taking a bit more research, but it is on the way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


It troubles me when I read blogs and cannot leave comments. If you can leave comments tonight, or any time soon, please let me know if you encounter the same troubles at times. Sluggish moving along, and not able to leave comments. I appreciate each and every comment, and read every one that is left, and I try to do the same!

Does Ready To Kid

Ouchie...the shoulders, knees and ankles hurt from walking and slipping in the snow/ice/snow mixture. I do not live on a mountain, by any means, but the only flat piece of land I have is right at the house. The tiniest flat yard surrounds my house, that is it. I am ready for spring!

I checked the boer girls tonight. Some are growing closer towards the big kidding event. I am seeing milk beginning to come in. I didn't see the taught udders that come with imminent labor, but they are growing closer.

This is a picture from a prior kidding season. Annie always has some handsome kids.

I was lost for things to write about today, but I just remembered a phone call that I received this morning. I knew I had to share bits and pieces with you.

My friend has her milk house filled with bottle kids, all 37 of them, rescued from freezing in the recent cold snap. At one point all of the kids were in the house! This is the part of our conversation that began to make me giggle. I began spurting, to be honest. As my laughter began, I said to her, "It is not funny." She replied, "No, it is not, but the story is." She and her husband had so may Rubbermaid tubs of kids in the house they began to divide them between rooms. For those of you that have never had bottle kids in the house. Let me tell you, they can be noisy. My maximum number has been 19. I cannot imagine 37! And there are always a couple of screamers. Kids that scream can sound similar to newborn human babies. She said that she and her husband where so tired they slept on the floor several times, for several nights, they were simply exhausted. They are my age. :)

So, they made their feeding rounds from room to room. Bedroom kids fed this hour, living room kids fed next hour, laundry room kids next. At one point she said there was one kid that just would not be quiet, including right after he had been fed. So she put him away, in a nice cozy warm room for a while. She just had to had silence. Her husband came into the house, headed straight to the bathroom, and then all she could hear was, "Helen!!!! Why is there a kid in the bathroom????" Ha ha ha...not funny, right???

The things we do!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice and Snow Pics

Many of us received the storm...and I will enjoy seeing all of the pics.

I jumped on the photo bandwagon this morning right as the 2nd punch of the storm hit. We received a lot of ice and then the heavy snow came in today.

At least the birds could still get into their feeders:

Looking down towards the pond:

Looking down towards the other end of the pond:

Ice on some of the shrubs...looked like frozen waterfalls!

Blue Sky now!

Winter Storm Warning Soap Part 2 she is!

The Winter Storm Warning Soap turned out rather interesting.

The colors will continue to fade, but they will remain pretty, no doubt!

It sure does smell wonderful to me, but I cannot let the cat out of the bag just yet...lets see what happens on the curing rack for a few weeks. :)

Where's The Truck?

I snapped this one as I entered into the shop earlier this morning to cut the mysterious soap batch made yesterday. We received heavy snow from 9-12:00. The sun just popped out! It is gorgeous out there! I have an entire string of pics, and now I want to go take more. The ice and snow is beautiful.

Ice and Soap Do Mix

Hello! Yes, Mother Nature is being active this morning!

The internet signal (satellite) has been off and on, the power has flickered as well, but all is well.

This is a pic from my front porch. The branches are pretty much forming a veil across the front yard, around the sidewalk area. Pretty, indeed.

Heavy snow is moving in, along with temps that are about 10-15 degrees colder, within the next hour.

I am going to cut that beautiful batch of soap that I poured into the mold yesterday. And I think I will make more, as long as I have power. Hopefully I can post to the blog again later.

I am also working on a plan to upgrade to equipment that will allow me to post regardless of the weather. For now, I do have dial up back up. If you need anything, I check emails throughout every day.
Hope everyone is safe! And remember, one step closer to spring!!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Storm Warning Soap

Now, my friends, are you looking at this soap and saying, "Yuck...what in the world is that?" So am I!

I headed into the shop today with a scent on my mind. I knew how I was going to obtain it, and I got it. It was one of those wake up at 2:00 A.M., with something in the head, that just would not go away until it is tried sort of things. I like it.

The color is near what I was shooting for. We will know more tomorrow when I cut the log.

What I truly like about batches like this one is, it isn't quite what I sought after, but I accidentally found something that I really like. Everything goes down on paper when I am in one of these moods. If it doesn't, I cannot create it the second time. That is the fun of this, we can tag it a true artisan project.

Anyhow, for now, this is Winter Storm Warning Soap. Later I will tell more about it. I first have to decide what it smells like. Who knows, I may name this soap after someone that I know. Can you imagine, an Annie's Goat Hill soap named after you?

Now my husband will truly think the nutty formulator has gone mad! :)

More on this tomorrow...

AGH News

Good Morning!

I have signal this morning, very surprising. We are to receive up to 12" of ice and snow before the weather system passes on.

This lovely photo is orange mint goat milk soap. I am going to include it as a spring soap of the month. If you have any soap of the month requests, please give me a holler!

The February scent of the month will be lavender! Updated information on lavender deals will be announced on the news page this week.

If you are to receive a coupon, they are being mailed today. Thank you for your recent newsletter subscriptions!

Last, but not least, my policy is to not change a product, nor will I delete a product, without first asking my customers. For those of you that purchased rose blend goat milk soap, if you are interested in purchasing in the future, let me know. If you wish to purchase more rose blend, I'll get some on the curing rack! If not, I might discontinue. So, let me know, it is up to you!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Holstein's Of The Dairy Goats

Many people have asked me, "What breed are the best dairy goat milkers?" Hands down, my vote is a snubian. What is a snubian? A cross between a saanan and a nubian.

For those of you not familiar with goats, you really can catch a lot of flack for choosing one breed over the other. But I live in my own little goat world out here, preferring to not show, and also preferring to see who becomes the best milkers on my farm. I mix and match, and I'll admit, I have some "different looking" dairy goats from time to time.

The doe in the photograph is Chameaqua. Her dam is an American Saanan, her sire is a pure bred Nubian. The genes for white are fairly strong in this breeding. The ears are not pendulous, as in a nubian, but they are not erect as in a saanan.

My saanans come from a very thin line. I wish they would put on weight, they tend to look more on the emaciated side. Someone once asked me, after they connected to my dam's lines, "Do they put their food into their hips, or into their milk?" Without a single thought, they put their energy sources into their milk. They eat like horses, and milk like crazy.

The snubians have the best of both worlds. They are blessed with the wonderful richness of nubian milk (very high fat content in nubian goat milk), and they carry through with the very high volume of a saanan.

I have two snubians up and coming behind Chameaqua. I cannot wait to see if they also naturally take to the milk stand!

One more excellent point for snubians, they grow like weeds! I have never, ever, had a kid on my farm that grew like these youngsters do.

One particular snubian (thank you to the list that I copied from) belongs to Yvonne Roberts, a friend that I chat with from time to time. The doe is amongst the top 5 experimental breed milkers in the United States (GCH R R RESOURCES PEPPERMINT STICK 2*M). Way to go Ms. Peppermint and Yvonne!

Well, that is my goat talk for today. I'll come back next week and showcase another.

Happy Monday! Stay dry...and hopefully we will all be able to post while the latest winter storm pushes its way through.

Internet Connection In The Country

Not a pretty picture for a Monday morning blog post. Not hardly! But with a sense of humor, thought it was fitting to tell about how we deal with weather out here, and internet satellite. Nothing new to some of you, in fact, many of you!

I remember the day when I had a black and white TV, no cable, no satellite, and I could still get 4 major channels tuned in on the old set. Never did I think I would live in a house in the country with two satellite dishes on the back of the house. Do you ever look at those things and think they make a house look like some sort of strange receiving station?

The guys wanted to put the dishes on the front of the house. Gulp. No way. I do not live in a mansion, but I thought it just was not a good idea!

We live "out there" but not so out there. DSL is 1/4 of a mile away. The report to us was, "No, never will be strung down your road." Okay...fine. We have a great high speed internet. I am very happy with it, however, when the clouds get heavy, guess what? No signal. The TV signal is a strong one. Normally we are under a tornado watch type of situation before we lose that puppy.

The forecast for the next several days includes heavy snow and possibly ice, through Wednesday A.M. . I looked at tonight's forecast online a bit ago, "Thickening and lowering clouds... ." Uh huh...that means no signal.

Dial up is another story. I can receive email, which means I stay in touch. When I receive an order, I can fill it, but there is not enough speed for the blog, website updates, or anything beyond email. So...we shall see.

Living in the country comes with its joys, and a few sacrifices, but I am very happy!

Today we are going to pick up some hay, grain, and a few other supplies, and then bunker in. I figure we will see warmer days in about 4 weeks, and I will definitely have that in mind! Spring is right around the bend! Perhaps I will get some more seed catalogs in the mail today!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Butterfly Award

I am honored to report that I have received a Butterfly Award from Alix, of Casa Hice. Alix is a fun lady, one that is a joy to talk with, a supportive friend, and one that definitely writes an entertaining blog! You might not want to take a sip of coffee or pop before you sit down to Ms. Alix's blog!

Blogging is a great way to make new friends, connections across the globe. I feel blessed that we have the means to network with so many people. Being able to write is something that I treasure, and being able to read other's blogs is something I look forward to each day!

All blogs take time and effort. Blogs that are simple are just as valuable as those that are elegant and fancy. Spilling your heart, knowledge, and passions out in print, for the world to see, deserves acknowledgement. But choosing one single blog to give an award to, or ten blogs to give an award to, is very difficult (for me). The reason is, they all deserve an award because they were put together by someone with thought behind them.

So, here is what I am going to do. I am going to post the rules for the butterfly award, but the rules I am going to follow will be bent slightly. My goal is to choose at least a recipient per month for a Butterfly Award. This means that my award giving might stretch over a 10 month span.

When I give an award, it will be given for whatever reason I see fit at that time. It might be awarded to someone having winter doldrums that needs brightening up, it could be given to someone that has a great blog, it might be given for one particular interesting blog post, and it might just be awarded randomly.

That is my plan...and here are the blog rules that have been handed down to all recipients of the Butterfly Award:

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Award up to ten other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

6. Is my own rule, HAVE FUN!!!

Today I have decided to award one blog. This is being given to a lady that has been a good friend, Amy, of I (love) Nubians, make mine Mini!, Pine Pod farm.

I met Amy going on 4 years ago through a goat forum. She is a positive young woman, one that lovingly tends to her goats and farm critters, and is very dedicated to her family and friends.

Amy helps me in many situations. Just the other day, for example, a blogger reported that they were not seeing photos correctly on one of my blog posts. I knew I could email Amy and that she would be Johnny-on-the-spot, reporting what she saw. She did it, and I know I can trust every word she says. That is friendship. A good genuine friend! Thank you, Amy!!!!

I will have my eyes and ears open to more award just never know. I could award the remaining 9 tomorrow, but I'll take my time more than likely! :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

This is the recipe for oatmeal cookies, re: the Nearly Forgotten Oatmeal Cookie blog post. :)

The cookies are soft to chewy, not crunchy.

1C butter flavored crisco (I subbed with 1/2 C butter and 1/2 C canola oil)

1 C sugar

1 C brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

3 Tbsp. milk

2C flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 c. quick oats (I used the type of oats that you normally boil/cook)

1 C chopped nuts

Add first 6 ingredients together. Mix in next 4 ingredients and fold in oats and chopped nuts. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Nearly Forgotten Oatmeal Cookies

There is a story behind this nearly forgotten statement. Last night I told Bob that I would bake oatmeal cookies for him in exchange for making a light box. As he was making the box, I looked at my calendar, my notes, and I looked throughout the house for something that I just knew I was forgetting. Uh huh...LOL...have you guessed by now? I forgot to make the cookies! He kept it under his hat until nearly bedtime. When I saw the silly grin on his face I asked him what he was up to, he said, "Hmmm...I think I recall a 7 letter word that has something to do with building a light box." Ha ha only took a moment, I figured out oatmeal...outmeal cookies!

When we got married, I also happily married this (greater than) 25 year old Kitchen Aid mixer. I love that baby!

The top photo shows some of my cookbooks. I love the tried and true books. My grandmother and aunt are in many of the church and small Missouri town books that I have on my shelf (about 15 of these types of books). I do not cook as often as I would like. I LOVE to cook! I need so much more time in my life. As it is, I cook when I can work it in. It makes me sad, but I have to pick and choose. Speaking of pick, I also have a picky husband. So, there isn't a lot of variety, but I sneak things in now and then!

Cookies ready to hit the oven...'re home. Martha Stewart would be proud. Warm cookies and milk! And of course, we always drink from a jelly jar. Nothing else is presentable, and nothing else makes milk taste so good! And if you are wondering, I drink the goat milk, he goes for cow (unless I include goat milk in a recipe).

Finally...quit your belly aching! Love you, dear.

Dairy Goat Milk Transporting

One of my favorite things in life are goats. We have meat and dairy goats on the farm. I am interested in all, however, dairy is my passion.

I love visiting the local cow dairies. I love dairy cows. I am a city girl, gone country 8 years ago. You should hear the comments that emit from my mouth. I do not look at houses or cars. I comment about pick up trucks, tractors, barns, and more importantly, udders. I constantly look at animals, udders, backs. Did I ever think I would know the difference between the profile of a dairy cow or a beef cow? LOL! I do. Look at the hips, it shows. If I were rich, and could afford the large dairy barns, huge amounts of pasture, and if I could pay the helping hands, I would run both a cow and goat dairy!

As I looked at the calendar this morning I realized that my dairy hiatis is about to end. Cammille will freshen once again sometime around 1/19/09. The rest of the girls follow shortly behind. Until then, I am working out of the freezers. Yes, that is freezer with an "s," plural, and I could easily say plural(s), if there were such a word!

I have a commercial freezer in my soap shop, filled to the brim with milk. My kitchen side by side freezer is filled with milk. I have an upright freezer in my laundry room, filled with milk. My side by side in the barn is filled with milk. My friend's freezer, 15 minutes way, is filled with milk. Gulp! I think I have milk. Milk...good for the soul.

Normally, no matter when I put the boer buck in with the girls, they decide to start kidding out sometime between 1/29-2/2. And, normally, there are several things occuring around that date. Last year it was a blizzard. I have plenty of blizzard kid pics (in the house) from that week last year. The year before, it was a siberian express, meaning, the temps were below zero each morning and kids were hitting the ground in numbers. I had 20 kids in the house for 3 weeks! More on that someday. It was a hilarious, exhausting, fiasco!

This pic has a story behind it. One of the freezers is not frost free. I still had girls in milk when we bought the commercial freezer for the soap shop. So, my husband came up with a milk transport plan. Our green machine came out, lined with a twin size fitted sheet, and the milk was transported out and away from the old freezer. It saved on the backs, and it brought on some fun, a LOT of laughter! My husband and I do some goofy stuff, and laugh at the same antics for many-many years. Anyhow, we proceded to fill the commercial freezer with the transported milk and was able to defrost the old freezer. Thank you to the green machine!

Why so much milk in the freezers? A newborn goat kid takes a lot of bottles, and even when I resort to milk replacer, I mix it with goat milk. If a kid takes 2 bottles a day, multiply that by 3 months, and multiply that by 20-something kids! I bottle feed all dairy kids. A freezer empties very quickly.

So far this year, no boer kids have been born in abnormal temps, nor any adverse weather, in fact, no boer kids yet at all. Someone asked me a few days ago, "Are they pregnant?" Yeah, they are! The first possible due date was 12/9, but guess what? They know it is not yet 1/29, or 2/ is on the way...they are holding out. Of course, they are goats!

Take care...have a great Saturday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Light Box and Lotion Sample Day

Today's projects include making a light box and formulating several batches of lotion.

There are a number of easy to follow instructions on the internet for making light boxes. If you need a place to photograph products or crafts, these boxes are an inexpensive route to take.

I bottled up 1 oz. lotion samples in the shop earlier today. With the shipment of each order I enclose a sample. The samples formerly were soaps only. Now I will be including either a lotion or a soap, and I hope to be able to give customers the option of their choice in the near future!

Our snow is completely gone now! The sun is shining again today. It sure does make the spring fever worse. The only remedy to that one is spring! I received several garden, flower, and pond related catalogs in the mail yesterday. I think Bob and I made a good dent in the pages already!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday In The Office

This is the view from my office window. Taken just minutes ago! How about that sunshine? What a change from this photo I took yesterday morning:

I have spring fever! The blue sky, bright sun, and the water dripping off of the trees and roofs from melted snow, not to mention, the sight of mud and brown grass, makes me have a lot of hope for the end of winter some day soon! We can be optimistic, right? We can have a lot warmer temperatures by the end of February? Right? Sure we can!

I do not have anything meaty to talk about today. No new soap. I decided to install the accounting program on the newest computer, thinking it would be a breeze. Nope, it needs an upgrade before I can begin. So, I am sitting here at 1:30 as the upgrade installs. Babysitting technology. Blah (as I stick out my tongue)!

What this will mean, though, is better customer receipts and quicker running programs. As I told my husband last week, "It will be done right!" Yes, ma'am!

Annie's Goat Hill (AGH) will begin sending out an e-mail based newsletter in February. If you are interested, the subscription sign up box is located on the bottom of the AGH site index page. The news page also includes some outlined information regarding the newsletter. And, I am offering a one-time discounted coupon for signing up!

I am going to update the testimonials page this week. If you have any comments to add, please send me an email (, or post a comment here. Very much appreciated!

I hope everyone is having a gorgeous day like this one in SW Ohio! Take Care!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Soap Success - Inauguration Soap Day #2

Cutting was just completed a short while ago. On the curing racks they go! I am happy. :)

As a re-cap, the middle picture is the soap within minutes of being poured into the molds yesterday. The soap (in the middle pic) in the mold on the right was to be teal, green and white colored soap. See the peach in the photo, dotted throughout the soap? It made for some beautiful teal soap today! No peach. For those of you that are from the hippy era, and even those that are younger, this soap is scented (in my opinion) sort of mystical, far eastern. If you like patchouli, and this one is totaly different than patchouli, I believe you will like this one! I will say more about it in upcoming posts. I am one to get droplets of oils all over me when I soap. I keep a clean room, clean tables, clean instruments, but when I soap, I come out smelling good. I could wear the scent of this particular soap every day, I love it!

The soap on the left (in the middle pic) is pink grapefruit and mint green. Cut, (in the right pic) it is some gorgeous soap as well! Right now the mint is overpowering the grapefruit, but I believe it will settle down.

Anyhow...I hope you have had fun with this! I did!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Soap

After watching President Obama's acceptance speech I headed to the soap shop. I had not made soap for many weeks. I need to get the curing racks back in action!! I pulled muscles in my back while lifting hay last night, so I watched the speech on a heating pad, which helped by the way, and for that I am grateful! I am a go, go, go type of person. So, I got up, put on my coat, and announced, "Off to the shop. I cannot call in sick today!"

These are the two batches that I just poured into molds. I did not go red/white/blue. I was in a green color mood. The soap on the left is grapefruit mint. It will not be as dark in color once it cures. The soap on the right, hmmm, quite the different story. I'll start a new paragraph dedicated just to the soap on the right, tee hee.

I'll start with, I have been making soap since 2003. Today is the first day that I have used a colorant other than herbs, essential oils or complextion clays. With that being said now, I'll also tell you that I hate to read instructions! Yes, I am one of those people that likes to try things on my own and then go back and read. Don't ask me why, even I do not know why. I learn a lot more that way, always have. But, things go wrong from time to time., I made one batch of soap that was supposed to be teal with white and green swirls. Hmmm...does the soap on the right look like teal, white and green to you? Naw...It is more of a peach cottage cheese with white and green swirls. Ha ha ha. I am not sure if it is going to "take," for a few other reasons that only a soaper easily detects. So, I may be throwing it out. I hope not!

I have been lucky, my record stands at 2 batches of soap thrown in the trash can in 2008. The one on the right just might be another. Tee hee. I hope not, it smells devine!! One of the batches that I threw away stunk, yes, it absolutely stunk! It was supposed to be a replica of a famous perfume, instead it was P-U-fumey!!!! I tried to like it. I cannot politely tell you here what it smelled like. My husband walked into the shop the day that I cut that loaf into bars and asked me what stunk so bad, and he cannot smell anything! I opened the trash can and dumped the soap. Took the trash bag out of the room as well. Funny! It had to go!

Anyhow, that is my soaping story for the day. Tomorrow I will cut the loaves into bars and share pics then too. I took a new shot inside the soap room today, just to show you how bright of a day we are having. I didn't even flip on the fluorescent lights. It was nice!

Take care...enjoy!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Favorite Shopping Spot

I am dreaming this evening...of my old time favorite shopping spot, Nashville, Indiana.

This is one of the shops. Moss grows on the roof in the summer months. :) Many are fun shops, many with gorgeous rustic and country types of wares.

I lived about one hour away from Nashville, which made it easy for me to visit 4-5 times a year. Up early, off to Nashville, many times by myself.

My stops started with the For Bare Feet shop. Fun, comfortable, locally made socks. I have a pair with flashy fawn boxers on them. Of course, they stay hidden under my pants. I bought dalmation socks one year, along with dalmation t-shirts for my nieces. They wore them out, worn as PJ's for years.

I had my perfume formulated at The French Connection. They do an excellent job for decent prices! Now, of course, I wear my own.

I shopped at the herb store (I cannot remember the name), to purchase hand made soap. The soap was not wrapped. It layed in stacks on an old wooden chopping block type of table. Brown paper bags layed neatly by the soaps. It was a sack your own soap type of deal. I believe you could buy 5 soaps, get the 6th one free. Oh my, the pathchouli was to die for!

I always had to go the the shops with the whimsicle gardens, such as Ruth's Garden. And I had to hit up the candle shops. I allowed myself to pick up about 5 candles each trip. :)

And I cannot leave out the fresh hot cashew nuts in the Nut House!

Mmm..mmm...the memories! Have you been there?

I miss the little town! I do not think it is quite so rustic as it used to be. It is more of a tourist attraction than it is an artist colony (how it started), but to me it still holds its magic.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday's Thoughts

Young Miss Amelie says Good Sunday Morning to you!

I met a very nice lady a few days ago, Alix. Alix has a great blog, Casa Hice! Yesterday, she wrote an enjoyable article about William The Wonder Goat. I think Alix will see goats in her future again! For my friends that are goat or animal lovers, you will want to read Alix's post, and for those of you that want to help a nice lady (who is also in a winter slump, like the rest of us), yep you heard me, the winter doldrums, please visit her blog!

It was a warm 30-something degrees this morning as I walked down to the pond before dawn to feed the ducks. It felt great! A true heat wave, makes me want to read a book in the yard swing and bask in sunshine. We really do not have sunshine today, and the temperatures are dropping, along with wind and snow showers, but I did enjoy those few moments outside this morning with the quiet and the much warmer temps.

We are visiting with friends today. Our dear friend, Bob, has been struggling with figuring out how to print labels from his computer. This is the same friend that had never touched a computer before last spring. He has since adopted his "friend," and I give him a blue ribbon for his accomplishments. He is going to get a lesson in label printing today, along with a set of labels from my office. Bless his heart. :)

This week I am geared up for soap making. I have colorants that I am going to work with. Honestly, I have never used colorants that were not based on herbal, complexion clay, or essential oils. So...I will be making some fun colored soaps, and I'll share pics with all of you. One day this week I will tell about the colorants and the wonderful package of goodies that they arrived in.

Beginning February 1, I am going to run a soap of the month special. I believe I have the first scent picked out. It is a popular one! I'll match up the lotions, and some bath salts as well.

I also wanted to say, if you have any thoughts on scents that you would like to see in a soap or lotion, I have big listening ears. I am welcome to any ideas! I try so very hard to keep myself out of the box of selling what I like personally, what you like might be different from what I like.

Anyhow...I need to end this rambling for the day. :) I can get carried away pretty easily! Enjoy your Sunday, relax, enjoy the reprise from the arctic freeze (if you have warmer temps today), if not, get the extra covers out and hibernate!

Soapaholics Anonymous Giveaway

Good Sunday Morning!

Heidi, of Soapaholics Anonymous, has announced a giveaway. I have been following Elaine's blog for quite some time, bookmarked on my computer way before I started my own blog. She has a wonderful blog, beautiful soap, a very nice person, with a wonderful Etsy shop, and always has been helpful with questions that I have asked. She is now going to carry soap making items such as infused oils. Please check out the Soapaholics Anonymous blog. I think you will be amazed by it too!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dreaming of Sunshine

The girls will be back soon! :)

Mid-January Goal Review

The hands of time moves quickly! January the 17th, wow!

Today is a cold, damp day, so I am sitting in the office, with the heater turned up to its maximum, using the one body part that does not normally get cold, my brain. It is not frozen yet. :)

I started bringing the thoughts of goals back to the surface. I am serious about the goals that I set this year. I have to be! I am very aware that the only way to be successful is to do it. Nobody will be doing it for me. If I want to do the things that I want to do, reach the goals that I have set, be the person I want to be, then only I can make that happen. I verbally tell all of my friends these same things on any occasion, because I care!

With this in mind, this morning I decided to check the list of goals that I so carefully put on paper several weeks ago.

Oh boy...if I were to give myself a score on progress with the personal list, I would have to give myself a big fat F. Failure! But, wait, I know it is not failure. Failure would fall under the definition of, "I did not make it, and I never tried again." So, as an act of redemption, and because I will succeed, I am going to break the list down into smaller, more obtainable goals. And I will not look back! I give myself until Monday night to re-write the list...again, measurable, and obtainable.

Then I moved on to reviewing the business goals. Much better! I am
right on target, and many of the goals are ahead of target. Yesssss! Gold star...but I also see where I will improve on the remaining goals, making them successful, by breaking them down into smaller steps.

I know this can be boring stuff, but it keeps me encouraged. And with the financial issues across the globe this year, I truly feel our best defence is to chin up, suck it up, and do whatever we can do to improve on ourselves! I hope you are encouraged too!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coffee Pots, Platters and Websites

What do coffee pots, platters and websites have in common? Nothing, but I smile as I say that.

My eyes are tired. I started working on the website this morning at 7:15 A.M., I just now finished my project. The navigation has been updated, with an easier to read site map added. If you visit some time, please let me know if you find a broken link or see something that needs repairing.

My feet and legs are cold. I never get cold inside the house, but a day of sitting at the desk has done me in. I have an oil filled heater behind me, I turned it up on high about an hour ago. The corner that my office sits in is the oldest corner in my house. I would venture to say it could be 100 years old. Anyhow, it is a whopping 8 degrees now, wind chill -4. The sunshine is pretty though, quite the fooler! And...I am jumping for joy...I just saw that we are having a heat wave tomorrow, 29 degrees is the expected high! The girls will be back outside, stretching those poor leg muscles back out!

I took several pictures this week of different areas of the house, along with things that I like to collect. The coffee pot and platter in this picture came from the same place as the chair and mirror (blog post several days ago). The man that owned all of these things lived in a very old renovated barn. That coffee pot sat on top of the huge cast iron stove in the dairy room for many years. I love it, and I was thrilled to have been given it!

I am excited to tell that I received a wonderful "Good Pack" today from Anne-Marie, CEO, Brambleberry. I have not had the opportunity yet today to open the bottles of essential oils and fragrances, but it is going to happen within the next several hours! You betcha'! Anne-Marie sent a lovely bar of soap, a soap mold, and some colorants as well. I will share all of these items with you, as well as showcase the very much appreciated hand written card within the next several days! Anne-Marie is an absolute inspiration to me. I never expected anything from commenting on Anne-Marie's Soap Queen blog, my comments come from my heart. I truly treasure the Good Pack! Thank you!

Well, that wraps up the news in my part of Ohio for the day! I need to do some reading and commenting. From the looks of the thumbnail pics, everyone has been busy! :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Spring Fever

It seems we all have spring fever! There is not a lot that we can do for this ailment, there are no special remedies to sooth our souls. We simply dream of what we will be doing when the thaw sets in. As many of us do, myself included, we make the best use of the time. In my case, I will work in the soap shop as much as possible, and I am working on the office. The brand new shredder is going to be worn out very quickly! :)

Yesterday I walked into my kitchen and caught a glimpse of my canning jars. These jars are at least 5 years old. To the left is a jar filled with dried dill weed. Do you know, I can walk past that jar and be caught by the scent of dill wafting through the air? I love it! To the right are tomatoes, yellow and red banana peppers, and finally a jar of jalapenos and other hot peppers. It has been a very long time since I canned! I miss it, and plan to work it back into my daily life this summer.

My plans for the summer are to move our yard shed. Put some siding on it to make it appear as a cabin of sorts. I am going to begin my cottage/whimsical garden, with a picked fence surrounding!Part of the garden will contain seasonal vegetables, part will be herbs for the soaps and cooking, and part will be zinnias and marigolds (easy to grow), and I hope to start a path of roses (I miss them terribly), along with some other perennial plants. This project will take years, and money, so I can be patient. It will be a fun work in progress! One of my favorite places, and I do not live nearby now, is Nashville, Indiana. I spent a great deal of time there, not so much spending money, but appreciating the gardens that surrounded the various shops. This picture is similar to the types of shops that I so much enjoyed.

My grandmother was quite the gardener. There was no better slaw maker in southeast Missouri! She used a hand held grater, such as the one displayed on a collection shelf in my kitchen. I love the red handle!
Do not look too closely, tee hee, I see cob webs! I think we have a lot to learn from our elders, and others. We can save a bundle of money for ourselves and be much happier people, just by putting a little effort into our lives to sustain some of our own nutritional needs. many votes are there for 80 degrees, sunshine on our backs, watching our vegetable gardens grow, and even canning and freezing to make us healthier and to save money? Put one in for me! Wait...perhaps I will cheat, put 2 or more in for me. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lotion In The Shop Today

I worked in the shop today. It was refreshing to be out there after sitting at the desk this past week.

Today was a lotion making day. I have new scents to put on the website: honeysuckle, vanilla, berry, unscented, plumeria, lavender and baby powder.

I have a very bad case of spring fever! I cannot wait to start my cottage type/whimsical garden. I plan to get canning going again too. I have to make it happen! I'll write more about that tomorrow.

I love a good plumeria scent. I wish we could grow them here. Today's photo shows a pink plumeria. I looked at several pictures this morning, plumeria blooms beautiful colors (white, yellow, pink, red and pastels). The plant thrives in the more tropical regions, some of the very southern states can grow plumeria. I also read that the plant can be moved to a basement for the winter. I am not quite ready to try that, but I do hope to start a small greenhouse eventually. The plumeria starts to flower in the summer, stays in flower for 3 months, and sometimes carries the flowering season into the fall.

We have snow coming into Ohio today. I just glanced at the radar. The snow line is about 2 miles away. The pond froze over last night, and it is covered with snow now as well. I hate to see the ducks not have water to play in!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Temperatures and Livestock

People often ask me how cold is too cold for the livestock? I will aim my response at cattle and goats.

In my opinion, the answer greatly depends upon the condition of the animal. An animal in good body condition, with a nice winter coat, no present illnesses, can do well in lower temperatures. I even believe, similar to our local Mennonites that urge their children to play outside in the winter, animals are healthier when they romp outdoors throughout various seasons.

The general rule of thumb for outdoor temperature safety is 32 degrees. With a lack of wind, sunshine, and no snow or rain in the picture, animals can be comfortable at 32 degrees. When the temperature drops below that point, ensure the animals have a place where they can take shelter to warmer when needed.

If it is raining, the rule of thumb is 60 degrees. This does not mean that the animals cannot be left in the pasture at 59 degrees, on a day with light sprinkles. When the temperatures drop below 60 degrees, and the coat of an animal becomes wet (down to the skin), it becomes more difficult for them to retain their body heat. Adequate shelter, such as a lean to, should be provided.

In the winter, animals have difficulty browsing and grazing, so quality hay is more important. Grain is a good additive, but quality hay is what keeps the animal warm. The better quality hay, the better a ruminant animal is able to regulate their own body temperatures.

A few more words...livestock generally do not shiver. When they shiver, they might be too cold, or could be ill. There are exceptions to this rule. I do have one full grown nubian doe that shivers every morning, but only because she is excited to get outdoors. Newborn animals cannot retain their own body heat very well, and they are susceptible to frostbite, the outlines above are for animals that are well on their feet.

The picture above was taken from my office winter last winter. Today the girls are indoors, the windchill is in the single digits, with snow flurries.

I plan to get back into the soap room tomorrow. I need about 7 new batches of lotions on the shelves by Monday. That is my goal date for the website addition. I had to run to town today, picked up new stick blenders. I have a habit of dropping them on the floor. That is quite the no-no on a concrete shop floor!

Take care...stay warm!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Primitive Soap Balls

Update, and no update (as I roll my eyes), the hugely pregnant does are still holding onto those kids. :)

Today I am filling orders and working on packaging for new bath products.

For some reason I began reflecting on my childhood a bit ago, remembering when I began my interest in soap.

I was about 8 years old. We went on a school field trip to a replica of a pioneer village. I loved the big two story house! I loved the fireplaces, the cooking hearths, the old wobbly glass window panes, and the primitive furniture. I still adore these things!

During the field trip we walked outdoors from shop to shop. We stopped at the wood shop, the candle making shop, the wool spinning shop, and the iron smith shop. If someone would have asked me if I wanted to turn the century clock back, I would have let out a big "yes!"

Before we left the village we stopped at the souvenir shop. I think my mother had given me 50 cents that day. I didn't want candy, nor did I want a toy, I was fascinated by the rustic balls of soap displayed in the big wash tins along the back wall. So I bought my first bar of soap! Pretty similar to the soap in this photo!

A few years later, I think I ended up being the only youngster I knew that had a couple of shoe boxes full of soap under her bed. I had pretty Avon soap shaped like handkerchiefs, hand crafted soap, tar soap, oatmeal soap, every scent I could get my hands on. What a strange thing for a kid to love, but I did. I didn't think anything of it!

I never thought about making my own soap way back then. It didn't cross my mind! But somehow I eventually found what I was looking for. Now, more than 4 decades later, I want to make soap balls! I would love to see a vintage jar with soap balls in it!

This is why I urge people to do what their dreams are hinting what you feel creative at. You just never know! And when you allow your creativity to come forward, happiness follows right behind

If anyone knows how to make soap balls, I am ready to learn!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday On The Farm

Sunday...the day of rest. I try to not write a lot on a Sunday. Not talking much is difficult for me. Enough said about that. :)

It is a cold morning here in Ohio. We just put a front behind us that brought rain, ice, and fog with it. This morning the remnant is frozen mud. I do not mind the cold, in the 20's, nor the frozen mud. The temporary lack of mud is a good thing, and it will be back later this evening!

This is a picture of Annie's kids from several years ago. She always has beautiful twin kids, normally bucks.

On the subject of kids, I have several things in alignment today (and this week). A full moon, boer goats that have not started kidding yet, udders coming in, ligaments loosening, and at least one (as of this morning) with an udder that tells me kids within 24-48 hours. Last but not least, we are going to see single digit mornings this week.

As an 8-year on the job farmer, I have learned several things. One is to watch the weather forecast. In the summer it can mean running the water hoses to the vegetable garden. In the winter it can mean plugging the barn monitor in to ensure I do not have newborn kids with frozen ears. It definitely takes calendars, weather forecasts, and my attention. If I get quiet, or if I start writing weird things, you'll know the ball has started rolling. I don't mind a correction now and then, I might need it! :)

Take care...and have a beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Water Needs - Us And Our Animals

When I enter the barn in the mornings, I always stop and give attention to the goats that are obviously wanting it. There is something about the eyes of a have to love one to know what I mean. They speak through their eyes, there is a definite connection. Sometimes I give attention to those that do not want it. Once they trust a human, and learn to like being touched, they seem to be much hardier animals. For those of you that raise goats, you know as well as I do, there will always be more than a few that seem to crave attention! As I made my rounds this morning, and as I held Aleecia's face between my gloved hands, kissing her on top of her head (yes, I kiss goats), I remembered an article that I had read a few weeks back about the water needs of animals. I do not know where that article is at. This is my version.

Water is the number one need in both humans and animals. Animals, particularly livestock, actually need more water in the winter months than they do in the summer months. It is imperative, especially to a goat, to keep the water buckets clean and free of debris. Keeping the buckets in a position where they do not get soiled can be a challenge, but is a must. Contrary to the old popular statement, goats will not eat anything and everything. If their water bucket is not crystal clear, they will not drink water. I truly believe they would die of thirst before drinking from a filthy bucket.

There is conflicting information regarding how much water a goat will actually drink on a daily basis. And who is to say? Water consumption depends upon a lot of variables. I estimate the average needs on a good day right at a gallon a day, per goat. I have to pay close to attention to water consumption because we have tricky water amounts available in this area (the goats come first). It is said that goats require 4 times the amount of water than the dry matter that they eat. By my own calculations, this is closely true (based on the estimated weight of the grain and hay I feed each goat per day). Rule of thumb, provide as much water as they want. I want to add that pregnant goats tend to need a lot more water when later in pregnancy, and this, in itself, makes it even more important to ensure the water buckets are clean, and not frozen.

Now I will touch on human water needs. Our bodies are made up of 60-70% water. This means that we need to take in fluids to keep our internal balance in check. Some say 8-10, 8 ounce, glasses of water a day. Others say it is a matter of math, simply take your body weight and divide it in half to determine the minimum amount of water needed per day. Example: a person that weighs 150 pounds should drink no less than 75 ounces of water per day.

We all need pure water on a daily basis, but some of this can be obtained through drinking decaffeinated drinks, fruit juices, and milk. But, to keep the skin healthy, and to help regulate the organs and body weight, there is nothing better than water!

Many people do not know the symptoms of mild dehydration. Before I list these symptoms, I will never forget the day that I had a terrible headache. I felt lousy! Nothing seemed to help. I tried aspirin, then ibuprofen later in the day, I tried a nap, and the list goes on. Eventually I drank a bottle of water. Within 5 minutes my headache disappeared! Yep, the old light bulb clicked on again. So, with that in mind, the symptoms of mild dehydration are: chronic pain in the joints, muscle pain, constipation, and headaches. If you suffer from these ailments from time to time, or even on a daily basis, you want to take a look at your water consumption. One of the worst culprits leading to these symptoms is the consumption of diet sodas, with artificial sweeteners. That is a whole separate topic...another day!

Before I end this post, I wanted to add that I do not like drinking a lot of water either. Part of my problem is that I do not like the frequent trips to the restroom that seems to follow when we shift over to drinking healthy amounts of water. Let me assure you, the discomfort does not last forever. Over a couple of day's time, your body will adjust to drinking water. You will begin to crave water (your body begins to talk to you), and your trips to the bathroom become much less frequent. Now...I need to get on the ball and make this healthy switch back to water myself, AGAIN!

Friday, January 9, 2009

"Y' A Sale

Have you ever felt like you were unable to think when trying to name something? The older I get, the worse it gets! So I thought I would share in my fun...

Since the day I fired the soap making back up I have known that I was going to hold an odds and ends sale.

For a while I called it an Ugly Soap Sale. I still tend to like the name but it came with several connotations that I was not pleased with. First, the soaps are not necessarily ugly. However, the name does reflect my goofy sense of humor! The other problems were associated with limitations on the website.

The problem with my online store is that it lists the soaps in alphabetical order. You cannot point directly to one single product without doing a search. I did not want deeply discounted soaps mixed in with regularly priced soaps. I wanted a back room, back shelf sort of clearance "rack," just like you would find in a retail shop.

The thoughts continued...this morning I decided to add either an X, Y, or Z to the name of the discounted soaps (to throw the discounted names back). I thumbed through the dictionary, looking for a suitable soap/sale sort of name that begins with X, Y, or Z? No luck! I walked away, again. Mind you, I have been contemplating this name for the last few weeks. :)

As I took my male boxer outside for a break this morning, struggling with him to NOT eat all of the snow nature put in front of him, the light bulb in my head came on. I could see my website's first page with a new statement added, "Y" A Sale? Got it! A nice catchy phrase, linking to The Soap Store, with an explanation to why a sale!

I can see it now, in the discount section: Y Lavender Goat Milk Soap? Because this bar only weighs 3.5 ounces! But it really is great soap!

I love challenges...and I certainly love solving them. Ha! Save the there a lotion to fix that, keep the brain working? Just kidding.

By the way, the answer to "Y" A Sale? is...soaps that are smaller than acceptable weight (through shrinkage and mis-cuts), soaps that are out of season (such as the holiday scented one in this photo), or soaps that didn't sell all that well.

Stay warm, dry...and drop a comment when you can. I love them! They keep me in check. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter Skin Care Tips

Young or old, we all battle the effects of the winter season on our skin.

With the new lotion and face cream products being added to my store, and with myself happily seeing improvement in my own skin this season, I wanted to share a few winter skin care tips.

  • Remember to moisturize more in the winter. Switching from a water based moisturizer to one that is oil based is smart skin care during the colder months. Oil based products provide a protective layer on the skin, acting as a barrier to the harsh winds, snow, and cold of winter.

  • Do not forget the sun screen when working outdoors. Exposure to the sun can be skin damaging even during the winter months.

  • Drink enough water! If you cannot tolerate 10-12 glasses of water a day, supplement some of that liquid with decaffeinated drinks. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which accelerate dry skin.

  • Pay close attention to your hands. Hand skin tends to age faster than the rest of our bodies. Why? The skin on our hands is much thinner. Always remember to wear dry gloves, and moisturize the hands often.

  • Do not forget your feet. Dry socks are a must. You may need to slough off the dry skin areas of your feet with a pumice stone, or with a foot scrub, and then lavishly apply moisturizer to your feet as well. I find help with a pumice stone, heavy moisturizer, and then by wearing cotton socks in the evenings.

  • Heated winter air tends to be on the dry side. You may need to invest in a humidifier. If you are watching your pocketbook, boil a tiny bit of water on your stove once a day to keep the humidity levels higher in your home.

  • Dress in layers. Not only will this keep you much warmer (with lighter layers underneath), but it will also protect your skin from the elements.

  • Avoid very hot baths. I have problems with following this rule myself! I love a hot bubble bath. Hot baths make dry skin so much drier!

  • After bathing, slather on the moisturizer. It is best to moisturize while the skin is still fairly damp. This helps retain the natural moisture of your skin!

I have heard others say that our skin is the largest organ of our bodies. I find that statement interesting, and it compels me to try a little harder at taking care of myself.

Do you have any skin care tips to share? I love comments! :)