Thursday, April 30, 2009

Plastic Bricks Museum

I received the monthly Country Living magazine today from my power company.

I like to browse the magazine from time to time, forgetting that most are Ohio-based stories.

I stumbled across an article about a Toy and Plastic Brick Museum, was in awe of the creativity and skill in the museum pieces. Talk about talent.

I remember walking across the dark living room shag carpet when my youngest son was not quite school age yet, stepping on a Lego, ouch(!), and reminding myself, "That boy loves his

After looking up the Toy and Plastic Brick Museum on the internet I found their blog, and their location, Bellaire, Ohio. Cool! I wanted to leave comments on their blog, but it apparently is a closed type of thing. Shoot!

I am not into toys, but I do think a hobby and creativity helps everyone. It could be soap, it could be weaving or spinning, gardening, you name it, but the old saying, "Everyone needs a hobby," is oh so true!!!

Anyhow...the picture above is my favorite from their blog! Which one do you like?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Colors Of Spring

Today was a day to work in the office. I worked on placing supply orders, balanced books, and then I stepped outside to enjoy the day for a few minutes.

The colors of spring bring so much hope to the heart. I love the cool days, yet I love the hot sun. There is no better sleeping weather at night than when there is a cool breeze!

And, yes, there are dandelions everywhere. But truly, they are pretty! And they mean spring is back.

And yes, there are weeds that need mowed on the slope, but they also bring the beauty of spring with them.

How about those wonderful colors when the maples are first getting their new spring leaves?

And the different colors of green?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Goat Dairy Diary Part III

As promised, I am continuing the posts on the dairy goats, and other breeds as well.

The questions are great!

What is my favorite breed? The nubian dairy goat. There is something special about a nubian kid. It could be the long ears that reach way below the muzzle. It could be the lankiness (dairy characteristics) of the kids. It could also be the sweetness of a nubian bottle kid. But it goes further than that. I love the nubian milk the best, especially for cheese and soap making.

Similar to cows, different goat dairy breeds produce a higher and lower butterfat. In my herd, the saanans produce the most milk, followed up by the alpines, but the nubians have the highest butterfat. Reach for some refrigerated goat milk after a nubian has been in milk for a week or so, and what you find is cream on top. That is some rich milk!

I covered two questions, I prefer the nubian personality and their milk for the soap. But wanted to add, the only downfall to a nubian is that they can be very vocal. I used to say, "But, my nubians are not noisy!" Oh, yes, some of them now are! Carmella, for example, lets out a hoot sort of noise when she is excited. Cammille tends to follow suit, and does not stop until she is satisfied. So does Bosco, the buck. Oh yes, when he sees me coming to feed the HOOT is sounded, loud and clear. The nut!

Do you own any toggs (toggenbergs)? No. They are a nice breed. My girlfriend up the road raises and shows them. She purchases some fine toggs from across the U.S. .

What breeds and genders do you raise? About half of the herd are boers. I keep the boer does right at 30, with 3 breeding age bucks that I switch from time to time. The other half of the herd are nubian, alpine, saanans, and crosses of all three. My favorite cross breed are the snubians (produced from a saanan dam and nubian sire). They have nice udders, volumes of milk, and are fairly easy to handle. They seem to come to the milk stand naturally, in all aspects.

How many does do you milk? I currently have 9 girls in milk. My number is normally at 11. The remainder of the herd is younger. They will be involved in the milking process some day, a rotational type of set up over the years. But not yet. I breed at a later age.

It is said that a dairy doe produces more milk over a lifetime if she is bred at a younger age, but I personally do not want to have to pull another kid. I would rather the doe gain some girth and mature before she is subjected to kidding. My entire focus now is keep the does that are good mothers (boers), keep the does that produce nice kids (without troubled presentations), and keep the does that produce good milk. It makes it difficult to decide who to part with, eventually.

Love the questions, keep 'em flowing...just like that good rich milk!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lemongrass Poppyseed Goat Milk Soap

I have some blogging and comments to catch up on!

First, I thought I would showcase my lemongrass poppyseed goat milk soap.

Lemongrass is not extracted from lemons, but it has a very lemony scent, dark yellow to amber in color. Lemongrass is a grass, the essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the grass.

I have a few customers that regularly ask for lemongrass soap. It was also one of my original soaps, before the addition of goat milk. These particular customers are younger, with oily skin. If you have a friend or family member that loves the scent of lemons, or one that fights oily skin, this could be their soap!

The poppyseed provides gentle exfoliation.

Today's soap is in the mold. I make soap in loaves, cutting the loaf into bars approximately 24 hours later. Todays soap (like the lemongrass poppyseed) is also an all natural soap, no colorants, scented with tangerine, sweet orange, grapefruit, and a touch of lavender essential oils. It smells clean to me!

One of my customers ordered up all of the smaller sized bars of unscented goat milk soap today. So, unscented goat milk soap has been removed from the discount section on the website. There are full sized bars remaining, just no discounted smaller bars.

That is it for the shop talk today!

I need to catch up on comments and questions next.

Having a beautiful day too? I hope so!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ahhh...Spring's Promise

Tyra and I spent a few moments outdoors a bit ago. The day promises to be another bright and sunny one, filled with warmth, and the promise that we can enjoy the outdoors again for a while, which renews me inside and out!

We have a number of older lilac bushes here, 5 perhaps. They received some freeze damage this spring, but they still smell wonderful, especially in the early morning cool!

Heading outside with a cup of coffee to enjoy the birds and solitude.

Tyra agrees...she says, "Lets stay out here for a while!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not Finished Yet, As The Doe Says

Well, there is one thing for certain when you own goats, you never know everything for certain.

But isn't that true about life, expect the ups, downs, in and outs, and the surprises? If we don't expect them, we will be in a load of trouble.

Today is day 155 for Bonnie, my oldest dairy doe. I assumed she had not settled. No udder, tight ligaments, and no signs of pregnancy, except her voracious appetite and pushiness with other does has been a bit more pronounced the last couple of days. As I let her out of the gate this morning she moved with a noticible amount of slowness. I immediately said out loud, "Oh oh," as I reached between her legs as she passed through. Yep, milk came in. Giggle. We are not finished with the kidding season yet.

The old girl is outside today, walking around like nothing is up, now loosening in the ligaments, and beginning to show signs of impending labor. I keep hoping for it to start, as we are having friends over for cards tonight for the first time in months. But, no, nature isn't quite on that schedule today. And that is okay.

Waiting...waiting...and it will happen, in it's own time. It is the code of the doe, she will kid when she is good and ready. :)

Have a great Saturday! It is beautiful here today!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goat Milk Soap-Orange Mint & Honey Oatmeal

Occasionally I like to showcase a soap or two.

The soap pictured every day on the blog is orange mint goat milk soap. It generally is a light orange (or very pale peach) color, all natural. The scent is from sweet orange oil with a touch of peppermint and spearmint. This was one of my original soaps, crafted in my shop before I included goat milk in my soaps. One of my customers calls it, "My chewing gum soap." I am not sure that it smells like chewing gum, but it is fresh and clean, light and airy. I love the soap myself!

Pictured today is honey oatmeal goat milk soap. This soap also goes back a number of years, the second handmade soap that I originally made. Many customers have commented that they use this soap for shaving (and never went back to shaving cream). Oatmeal has some healing properties for scrapes, sunburns and skin irritation. I grind the oatmeal before it goes in the soap, subsequently the soap contains small particles which gives it an exfoliation property as well. The lather is rather rich, creamy, not so much bubbly. Honey is included, which makes for the variances in the soap color. This unscented soap has a nut-like scent, pure. I never knew this fact before I made soap, honey is a natural humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture.

Both orange mint and honey oatmeal goat milk soaps are included on my website, in the soap category and the (Y) discounted products category as well.

Sunny Day On The Hill

When you own animals, and especially livestock, they sometimes give you a "heart attack" when you catch them lounging. I took this picture from afar, lost a bit of clarity from the distance, but there sat a group of girls, many of them being my dairy girls in milk, all twisted around, enjoying this gorgeous 80 degree, breezy and sunny day! Look at Carmella (far right), twisted around like a pretzel.

The worst look to a sleeping animal (horse, cow, goat, and even dog) is when they lay completely flat, motionless, on their side. Like looking at a newborn baby, one deep in sleep, are they breathing? Let out a sigh of relief, they are!

As a livestock owner you learn to sharpen your senses when you look at your animals. It becomes internal habit. When you glance at the animals it goes a lot further than enjoyment. You look at actions, body movements, eating patterns, and even how they "speak." A herder catches a goat that is "off," for example, early on just by seeing the slightest change in their behavior.

By the way...I received more questions, and I have more answers, for part III of the dairy goat diary, coming up in a few days!

Anyhow...I am just sharing a sunny day photo taken from the office window a few moments ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Goat Dairy Diary Part II

I was not sure what to talk about today, but it all gelled!

I had a busy morning with the goats, trying to get out of the barn and clean up before the order of grain was delivered, also knowing that I needed to get to Country Home Crafts where some of my products are displayed to deliver some of the newest goat milk soaps. I got it all accomplished, but it left me feeling slightly depleted.

After lunch I worked on putting an order together and did an inventory of the essential oils and fragrances in the shop.

A few days ago, after receiving some really good questions (in my opinion), I talked about my farm schedule and answered a few questions in the blog post The Goat Dairy Farm Diary (To Answer Questions).

Today, Lynnanne asked a few more great gave me something to write about!

"I'm curious as to why the dairy goats are bottle fed and most of the meat goats are not??" It is fairly common practice to bottle raise vs. dam raise dairy animals (calves, lambs, and goats). This is done for several reasons, mainly to protect and ensure the health of the udder. In commercial dairy operations the kids are pulled and fed milk replacer, the goat milk is gathered and sold, or the milk is used to make cheese. In my situation, I choose to bottle feed the dairy kids to protect the udder, and to prevent disease in the kids (that can be passed through the dam's milk, such as CAE). My hope is to someday have the commercial dairy (goat or cow) that I dream of. I pasteurize the goat milk that I collect, using some of the milk in the soap and goat milk lotion, and during deficit times I will mix part milk replacer with part goat milk when I bottle feed. As you know, many of us follow different practices with our herds. I am not opposed to leaving dairy kids on the dams. My philosophy with fellow herders or farmers is, what works for you is best!

"What prompted you to go into goats and goat milk soap?" The interest in soap came first. I began making soap in 2003 (with a soap interest that began as a youngster). My initial investment in goats was geared towards meat goats (boers), but as soon as I got my first dairy goat (Carmella, a nubian) I was hooked. After not making soap for a few years, and after realizing that it was very difficult to obtain a dairy license in Ohio, and also realizing that I was itching to make soap again, I decided to get the goat milk soap ball rolling, full speed ahead. And again, I was hooked. I love goat milk soap! And I am very excited to be able to show a product that is crafted as a product from my hard work on the farm. There is nothing like fresh goat milk. I drink it, I make cheese out of it, and of course, soap and lotion too!

I am ready for more questions...I thank you!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Color In The Goat Milk Soaps

There is a touch of color on the curing racks at Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps these days. Spring is in the air, and with spring comes color!

I wanted to briefly touch on color in my soaps...

In the past I believed in adding nothing to my soaps that was not natural. For instance, if I had 25 varieties of soaps to sell, one would hold fragrance, the remainder of the soaps would be handcrafted with pure essential oils (and herbal and/or complexion clay for coloring).

I have steered away from that way of thinking, but only to a degree.

I have tested ultramarine colorants (blue, violet, green and some pink). These are skin safe colorants, but are created in a laboratory.

Some of the yellow colorants are supplied by oxides, also skin safe.

As it stands, there are certain scents that simply cannot be obtained via an essential oil (natural), such as lilac or cherry. These types of scents are fragrance oils.

My newest line of soaps will give a variety of choices: colorants, fragrances, all natural (essential oils, herbals and natural colorants), and some with no scent or color at all (unscented goat milk soap, oatmeal and honey goat milk soap).

The soap descriptions in the website's soap store will state fragrance, essential oil, colorant (ultramarine) or pigment. My thinking is, whatever your skin needs, or your preferences are, you should be able to find something in the shop that suits your needs.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ocean Goat Milk Soap To The Curing Rack

Well, not quite in the ocean, but the inspiration Ocean Breeze, crystal clear blue green water, white sand, a warm refreshing breeze, and gentle frothy waves. Bits of unscented white goat milk soap make for the white sand and sea foam. The scent is a combination that mimics a fresh clean breeze (touches of rose, lily, spearmint, citrus, orange, lime).

Then came the relaxing cup of tea with a touch of orange and cinnamon. There is no tea involved in this soap, but it was the "have a cup of tea with me" painting in my mind. Lightly scented with sweet orange oil and "sticks" of cinnamon goat milk soap inbedded throughout.

The Goat Dairy Farm Diary (To Answer Questions)

A small break from goat milk soap soap talk to answer some farm related questions...this is one of my barn white boards, photo taken a few weeks ago.

On this board I record kidding information (date, dam's name or ear tag number, the number of kids, and the kid's sex).

This board plays an important role on my farm. It determines when the kids are weaned (either bottle or dam raised), and it helps me to determine when a kid can be sold. And, since I am part of the USDA Scrapies program, when the information is copied to paper, it is the record keeping that I am held to.

I'll answer some wonderful questions now:

Do you dam or bottle raise your kids? Both. The boer kids are dam raised (except for those that are special needs cases, such as an abandoned or very sick kid). The dairy kids are always bottle raised on pasteurized milk. When there is a deficit in milk, and there is one right now, the kids nurse on both fresh goat milk and a fraction of milk replacer. I always inch more towards the fresh goat milk (pasteurized) due to the cost, and mostly due to the nutritional value in the "real" goat milk. I have 29 bottle kids today.

How long does it take you to milk? That is difficult to say. It depends upon how many does are in milk and what time of day it is. My day runs like this: 6:30-9:00 (answer email, check in on blog and contacts, prepare milk, eat breakfast, place orders out for shipment), 9:00-10:45 (feed and milk), 10:45-11:00 (break), 11:00-11:30 (prepare for making soap or other bath products, answer email, or prepare for what I plan to do after lunch), 11:30-12:15 (lunch), 12:15-2:30 (make soap or bath products, work on website, pasteurize milk, post on blog, answer email, and other business related duties), 2:30-3:00 (rest), 3:00-4:00 (prepare milk for bottle kids and clean up), 4:00-5:30 (feed and milk), 5:30-6:00 (rest, answer email, read online), 6:00-6:30 (prepare dinner), 6:30-9:00 (prepare customer orders, answer email, relax, and work anything else in that I can, along with another short feeding for the bottle kids). 9:00 (call a friend and then I zombie out). I consider anything after that time "family" time. I love it...shut the door, turn off the phone, enjoy the quiet!

How many does do you keep in milk? Right now I have 8, I generally keep 11 on rotation.

Do you take vacations? No. I do not miss vacations. I do, sometimes, feel as if I am chasing my tail. My schedule is not always as tight as it is right now. After the kids are born the herd more than doubles. But later, after months begin to pass, there are certain times in the year where feeding can take 20 minutes, twice a day. But then there are other duties to catch up on such as hoove trimming (which is needed right now).

How long are the kids on milk? A kid that is a wether (castrated male), one that has grown well, is weaned between 2 1/2 and 3 months old. A doeling is left on the boer dam until the next breeding season. The doeling is then removed to ensure she is not bred at a young age. And kid's are fed different amounts of milk depending upon their age, and at different times (hence the importance of the white board record keeping again). Right now I have 25 goats on 2 bottles a day, some on 1/2 bottles (10 ounces), some on full bottles twice a day, and 4 that are on 3 feedings a day (full bottles).

I hope that helps with some of your questions, and let me tell you this, your questions are more than okay to ask!

I also keep calendar's in the barn of due dates, wormings (only when needed), medications (I try to go as natural as possible on this farm), and other records. Fun I need a nap, but I am late for preparing milk for feeding! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Goat Milk Soaps To The Curing Rack 4/17

Ask me if I like this one...go ahead, ask me. I love it!

Not only are the colors beautiful, it smells wonderful. It reminds me of something fresh, like fresh mowed grass along with something citrusy, yet perhaps something sweet as a bottom note(spring flowers?), not cakey sweet. The scent is a combination of grapefruit, tangerine, citrus and petitgrain. I am very happy with the results.

This second soap, violet and blue, is a lightly stated combination of pineapple, grapefruit and orange. Made me think of a tropical drink, blue in color, enjoyed at an ocean cabana, with the carefree breeze and sunshine surrounding. A soap that both smells and looks fun!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And We Have A Winner

Drum roll...the winner is...Lynnanne!

This was a random drawing, for any commentor that joined in on the survey. I appreciate the short answers, and I appreciate the long answers. I very well could have added a professional looking poll widget to the blog for this contest but I wanted to hear comments, feedback, and I wanted to see the readers. The response was fantastic! It was a success.

Many answers were (and I agree): "goes hand in hand," equal value. I will report back with what I compile, and of course, this is not an exact science, just a close match.

One of the future posts will be a discussion on packaging. I have some ideas, and some that have swung past me as well. Open feedback is excellent, even when you have to take the hammer in hand to make me understand what you are trying to say! Remember, I have about 130 goats on the farm right now (kids and moms). Zombiefied (but waking back up)!

And I have some brand new soaps to show the world. One that I am totally in love with!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Goat Milk Soap Giveaway

If you can answer a few quick questions, I want to send a bar of soap to you, your choice! And if I receive enough comments, I will send a bar of soap to two people (randomly chosen).

If you were shopping for handcrafted goat milk soap today, in what order would the following be of importance to you: price, color, size, scent, other (please define)?

Is all natural, or nearly all natural, important to you?

Which type of scents do you prefer (floral, woodsy/earthy, fruity, etc...)? Or, name a few scents/types if you can!

This is a survey, of sorts, but I also want to thank my commenters. I follow every post, and each reciprocated word is appreciated!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Blues Here

What a glorius day!

A day to mow the grass, one of my favorite chores. It isn't a chore when you love to do it, right?

A day to enjoy the blue and purple spring flowers.

A day to reflect on the old red white and blue on the front porch.

A day to enjoy the husband in the blue coat loving one of the last bottle babies. What a beautiful nubian cross doeling she is.

And finally, a beautiful day to make soap, blue and purple, and other spring and summer colors (green, gold, pink). The scents, mmmm, I made the soap right before lunch and I can honestly say my stomach was growling by the time I took the photo. The soap smells wonderful! I will cut them tomorrow and tell you more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Time For A Change

Just as the tide rolls in and out, so does the need for change.

Regarding everything that I do on a routine basis, a few of my friends have asked, "What is your secret, how do you do it all?," "How do you take a vacation, or do you?," and have said, "You are a worker!"

I do not try to do it all, I try to not do it all. As soon as the kidding season has just about ended on our farm, or even when something has changed that requires new steps in life, for example, I always begin to clear my mind and figure out what to do next.

I recently had a wonderful email conversation with a trusted friend regarding a change in my life that was not easy. The change involved something that I had held onto for a number of years, and it had become clear to me to let it go, however something held me back each time I tossed that thought around. It consumed time and energy that I could no longer afford. Once I made that change I felt complete relief, peace, even a sense of liberation. In the email response from my friend, she quoted my own words back to me, I have lost my go-juice for it all. I need something new in my life, and I need to let some things go. Sometimes we have to put the emotional side of things behind us. And sometimes what drags us down is right in front of our noses. When we wake up, we have to move on!


To keep a balance in my life, I determine what is most important, what must be accomplished from day to day, and I weed out the rest. I hope to never let emotions hold me back so badly in the future. Emotions are not always reality. Yes, they hold a certain degree of wisdom, but facts are facts. And I have said it once, and will say it again, we have to lead ourselves down our own paths in life. Do what is right for ourselves financially, physically, socially, spiritually, and mentally. You will find peace. I did.

New Goat Milk Soaps

It has been a busy few days here at Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps!

First, I want to apologize to any website viewers that may have seen soaps in the website soap store priced at 350.00, they really should have been priced at 3.50 a bar! The corrections have been made.

Now, for the soaps were added to the website yesterday. They are both colorful and fun scents. Some of the new scents are: Cool Citrus, Moroccan Dreams, Earthy Vanilla, and Lilac Wave.

The chunkier soaps were added into the stock as well. These bars currently sell for 4.25 a bar (no price increase yet), weighing in at 4.0+ ounces per bar. Any, and all, bars weighing in at less than 4.0 ounces have been moved to the discount "Y" (Y A Sale?) section of the online soap store.

The Brown Bag special continues, and the special does include any soaps from the discount section. They are all wonderful quality soaps, just not the chunkier bars that I want to consider full sized! Approximate weights 3.5-3.7 ounces each. The Buy Now button is located at the bottom of the Soap Store page on the website. This is a great buy for goat milk soap!

The new order of shea butter has arrived. Lotion will be back in production, and if time allows, whipped shea butter will be a focus later in this week!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Visit To The Milk Room

I have a few blog posts to publish about the farm duties. This one surrounds the milking process.

In the photo, left to right is udder wash, dish soap, bleach, the milk bucket with inflators, the Fight Bac spray, clean towels and rags, and the milk buckets to carry the milk back up to the house (or place in the barn refrigerator if I have chores to run before returning to the house).

In the photo, above the milk bucket are the PVC pipes, pressure guage, etc.., for the milk machine itself. The milk machine is a very old Surge model, not pictured. It is located on the other side the room. I actually have two machines, one as a back up. My husband ran vacuum lines around the room so that I would not have to deal with the machine running on the milking side of things. I love to hear the old machine run, by the way! I check the oil once a year, always at a good level. The belt has been in good shape for a long time. It just plugs away. I am afraid I might jinx myself if I say more.

I generally have 11 girls in milk. Right now I have 7. I use a machine because it speeds the process up, and because I have carpel tunnel syndrome. Milking out one single doe by hand is a struggle, but a very peaceful task for me.

Milking should be done at a set time each day. I milk twice a day. My milkings are not spaced 12 hours apart, but they are consistently done within the same 30-45 minutes. If a milk schedule is off, even by a few hours, and even on one day, the does can, and probably will, based on my experience, begin to produce less milk. The hormones in the body say, "Hey, we are not so needed any more, lets shut this milk stand down!" Well, something like that. :)

My girls normally line up outside of the milk room door. Each year we fall into a pattern, and the goats pick up on it. They know the order in which they come into the door, and usually I do not have to call a single name to get them to do what they need to do. Goats like patterns and are not very easy to deal with when things are amiss.

Milking involves (the short list):
-Cleaning and drying the udder (clean towels to wash, clean towels to dry each udder with)
-Milking (but not completely stripping out, to prevent mastitis)
-Treating the teats after each milking (mastitis prevention)
-Pouring the milk into the milk cans for transportation
-Scrubbing the empty milk bucket with a brush and running sanitizer and water, several times, through the hoses, inflators and the bucket

Milk handling (the short list):
-Cool the milk as soon as possible (never leave it sit warm, unless pasteurizing immediately)
-Filtering the milk
-Pasteurizing (and I have drank it raw, filtered and chilled immediately, a real treat)
-Cooling the milk again. I cool my milk in the freezer to ensure it cools as soon as possible. Using an ice bath is very helpful as well. Licensed dairy's are required to chill the milk to a certain temperature in a very short period of time. I am not licensed as a dairy (the soap company is), therefore I cannot sell my milk to anyone, but I do my best to keep the milk as fresh as possible for bottling and/or freezing. Milk can be kept frozen for up to one year.

I hope you enjoyed the visit. Next I am going to provide a farm journal of sorts, shortened version.

Oops...Kid Goat In Trouble

Yesterday evening I was washing dishes and heard the unmistakable sound of a kid goat in trouble. The larger goats, with horns, can really put out a holler when they have their heads stuck. The younger kids tend to not get stuck, but it happens from time to time. They are "Curious George's," as I like to call them!

A moment after I heard the kid goat obviously working hard at releasing herself, I heard hysterical giggles from my husband. He calls to me, "Come here, quickly!" Barely able to talk through his laughter, he says, "Hurry, you have to see this!" I had my camera next to me since I had been taking photos of the new Annie's Goat Hill goat milk soaps a few moments earlier.

The tiny doeling had her head stuck in his coat pocket! Curiousity had gotten the best of her. She was fine. But then we laughed again until tears flowed because the kid then decided to just stand there, head stuck in all of her glory. She didn't seem to mind. Tee hee...there I go again!

It is a busy Monday! I have a newsletter to work on (for this week's release), paperwork at the desk, and some grain for the goats to pick up. I squeeze a lot of activity in between feedings.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

All Things Anew, Happy Easter

Each spring a pair of canadian geese return to our pond. We would like to believe they are the same pair, and as those with knowledge have written, they likely are the same pair. They do mate for life and they do return to the same "home" spot year after year.

About 4 evenings ago I noticed momma goose making a next. She is now resting on it.

We have heavy frost this morning and something told me to walk down to the pond with camera in hand. Tyra went with me. She does not bother anything that belongs on our farm. As we gazed at the goose, I realized that she indeed has frost on her back. She has been setting for a very long time, obviously, and is not going to give up. Can you imagine?

In about 18 days we should see the fuzzy yellow goslings emerge. And then we will begin to enjoy the rest of the pond activities as we see the young ones grow and learn. It never ceases to amaze me how geese teach with body language.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Heavy frost this morning on the back lots -

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Inventory Brings Near Future Announcements

We had some chores to run. Then we headed to our respective duties (mine in the shop, his working on mowers). Today is the day to spruce the mowers back up so they can start cutting the green stuff. Did I tell you that I love to mow? I can think like a crazy woman while mowing. I should carry a pad of Post It Notes and a pen with me when I mow. Ooops...I am regressing already! Help me!!!

Joking aside, I really do not feel well today. I hardly ever catch a bug of any sort. Oh, I will admit, I get the aches and pains occasionally, or perhaps a stomach ache, but to actually catch something from a germ, seldom. Today is quite different. The head is coming off. If you see a head rolling, can you send it to Ohio for me?

Joking aside again, instead of making soap today I decided to do a much needed inventory. The results! Announcements to be made here within the next several days and in the April newsletter, which you can sign up for by clicking on the newsletter link (envelope) at the bottom of the Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps home page.

I will drop a few small hints for now: more soaps going into the Brown Bag Special, more soaps added to the "Y" A Sale discount soap group, and a line of (10 I believe) new soaps to be added. More on that...I am excited!

Have a wonderful Easter weekend...I hope yours is as pretty as this one is right now.

Tiny Tot Dairy Kid

Kids do not want to sit still for photographing. Nope, they do not!

This particular doeling my husband nic-named Tiny Tot. In our household my husband is in charge of feeding the youngest of the dairy kids. He comes up with some great names, and falls in love with them all the same.

Tiny Tot is growing like a weed at 20 ounces of milk at a sitting (our set maximum), but her little hooves are no bigger than the tip of my thumb. Her momma is a pure bred nubian, dad is a full blood boer. Tiny Tot arrived with the dairy body conformations and the boer color markings. She will grow out to a nice doe size, no doubt about it.

She says, "Sorry for the blur...I am ready for the BOTTLE!!!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Organization and Cleanliness - Goat Milk Lotion

I have heard some lotion disaster stories lately, not very fun for the crafter, and thought I would help my fellow learning lotion makers just a tad here. And, for my friends and customers, you will get a hint as to how things are handled in my shop when formulating lotion.

For the lotion makers, it is all about organization and cleanliness।

When I make lotion I lay it all out beforehand, each and every ingredient and tool. The containers for the ingredients are scrupulously clean before I begin measuring ingredients. And before I work with the clean containers and tools in the shop, they are wiped down with clean towels soaked in alcohol.

The goat milk in my lotion is fresh and pasteurized.

Another hint, plastic lotion containers should not be reused. You can scrub, boil, soak, bleach, and cleanse with alcohol, and you will more than likely still find lovely unwanted growth in your fresh lotion batch when reusing plastic containers. Best to keep a stock of new containers on hand.

Never cap the lotion while the formula is still warm. This prevents water condensation from formingunder the cap. Before the product cools, shake it at least once (wear sterilized gloves or wipe the hands with alcohol first). Once the product cools, shake it once more before capping.

So to share some of the disaaster stories (I am sooo sorry), "My lotion exploded in the bottle," "There were specks of mold in the bottle after a week," eeewwww, "The product separated and I am not happy with it!" We all have batches that are not just right, I had one today. I will be purchasing new shea butter before any more lotion is made. Sometimes it goes grainy and is not suitable for lotion (but fine for soap), quality means everything. When making lotion, or any bath product, organization and cleanliness is key.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Less Can Be More

No, I do not keep all of these items on my desk...just some of them like the steno pad (to-do list), the Post-It notes in every room, along with a pen, for ideas (so I do not have to depend upon memory), and of course, there is always paperwork to do. The files in the shop, the files in my desk, the files in the locked fire proof cabinet. The emails to follow on both the PDA and the PC. The land line phone so I can still send faxes. The camera is always charged up. Sound familiar? And look waht I did yesterday, announced my Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter contact names. And thank you, friends, sincerely, I will be showing up again! Your emails and contacts meant so very much to me.

I have been in deep thought this week. The kidding season is coming to an end and the brain is functioning much better. Going from the typical "I am having kids" zombie state to "I am beginning to see the light again, and my brain is growing sharp again," is a great time. It means enjoying the kids even more, and it usually mean re-thinking life itself for me. I have been working on personal goals this week...better to start them later in the year than not at all!!!

I have a very good talent, as most women seem to possess, and many men. A talent that is not so good sometimes. And it seems to be a growing state of being for the population in general at the present. The talent is multi-tasking. I can multi-task like I have earned a crown for it. While multi-tasking is necessary at times, it is not always good. This is where I am saying less is more.

Have you ever caught yourself sitting down at your computer, with four different windows open, attempting to complete many tasks all at once? Uh-huh, that is me. If you shadowed me at work you would notice the following on many occasions; I am paying a bill in one window, sending an email in another, blogging in one more window, and updating the website all at the same time. And guess what is happening while I am doing this? My blood pressure is slightly rising because the satellite cannot keep up with my requests, I am irritated at Blogger because it seems way too slow, and I am thinking about what I need to do and cannot do because the computer is moving so slowly. What is up with that? It is nonsense, and I will be making a huge effort to make a change. Remember the old saying patience is a virtue? It is. Do you see yourself in any of this?

We do a much better job when we handle few tasks at once. First of all, we can think. Second, we are much more happy. Third, the outcome really is that we focus on what is most important and begin to see success.

Today I practiced what I preached. I fed the bottle babies, fed the rest of the herd, washed the dishes and mopped the floor (amazing that I completed something that I had not had time to do recently). I sent the husband to town to run a few chores. When he came back, I was ready for lunch, and ready to head out to the shop to make lotion. And it felt good to have accomplished so very much. I did just what was absolutely necessary. At one point I caught myself trying to send an email while water was heating up in the kitchen, and I caught myself looking up the to-do list while putting goat milk in the freezer, and later I caught myself with phone in hand, ready to send a message to someone! One thing at a time, one thing at a time. And everything in its own time! And less stress...ahhhh.

Again, less is more because there is no irritation, and the job gets done with a lot of quality and progress is able to been seen.

Life was probably not made to be this crazy, was it? When we feel overwhelmed, or feel like we cannot get it all done, our minds and bodies are telling us something. What do we need to get rid of, what do we need to focus on? Because when we are fretting, we are not doing a good job of anything. We are making mistakes and we are not thinking clearly. And what else is happening? Life is zooming by us 100 MPH. That is not good.

Did I lose you in the long post?

Honestly, I had decided to not write any more of these types of blog posts because I am not an expert, just someone that feels compassionate enough to write her thoughts down from time to time. The decision to not write flew away quickly! My philosophy has been, I hope I touch just one life when I do get the urge to share these thoughts!

Goat Kids Mountain Climbing

I have a few escape artists on the prowl. They love to climb.

I was bottle feeding some of the kids and did not think anything about the door to the feed and milk room being open. Actually, my thought was that they can do no harm because they would not be able to climb 4 bales high. What was I thinking? I knew better. I did not start raising goats yesterday. Tee hee.

I heard a crash and 5 young goats came running out. I still did not get excited.

After finishing the bottles, I gathered up my bottle bucket and my sitting stool and headed to the feed room. Oh oh. What a mess I found! I had left a 1/3 of a bale (untied) on top of the bales of hay. It had been knocked to the floor. Oh yeah, you betcha', it was pretty well scattered. Another bale, still tied, was pushed to the ground. And there were young goats hopping everywhere. Yes, that is hay stacked 4 bales deep.

And, like a comedy act, when they realized they were going to have to leave, they jumped, 4 bales down, straight out the door. How do they do it? :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Four Kids At Work

I was bottle feeding in the barn yesterday and saw heads bob up and down, out of the wheel barrow. I quietly removed my phone from my pocket to catch a moment of the scene. One (doe on the right) almost fled the scene (notice the open mouth, the baa warning signal was being announced).

They love the fresh scrap hay in the bottom of the wheel barrow, it is quite the enterprise to them now!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Annie Needs Friends

Mr. Moo whispered into my ear , "Annie needs friends." I asked the kindly bull calve what that meant. He replied, "Annie joined Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter and she needs friends." I nodded, " I see," or do I?

If you know me well enough, you know Annie is a goat. But, Mary (me) has been slacking. She joined all three media's quite some time ago and knows, based on her friend's and mentor's urgings, she needs to get the accounts active.

So, if you are a member and wish to contact me, or can throw me some helpful usage hints, or just want to say identities are:

Twitter: anniesgoathill

Facebook: Mary Humphrey

MySpace: Mary @ Annies Goat Hill

And, I giggled as I looked my identities in the world I used 3 different names I do not know! I may make a change at some point so that they match up...even though, well, they are related. Right? :)

Shea Butter For The Hair

I recently personally discovered the wonders of shea butter for the hair, quite by accident I will admit.

Shea butter has been used on the skin and hair for centuries, as I wrote in a prior article. Shea butter is definitely not the most current buzz, but will always be a beauty staple because of its qualities.

In my soap shop I whipped up a recipe of shea butter a few weeks ago. After not quite being happy with the results, I found that I need to make another batch, but next time with unrefined shea butter, the best that I can get my hands on. Using refined shea butter is acceptable (for soap and other uses), but does not always give the needed results when working with a specific formula (deliberate skin and hair care).

Now I will tell you how I discovered the benefits of shea butter for my own hair. I have fine hair, but not thin, and I wear my hair in slightly long layers and fairly straight. My hair is not colored. Because of my fine hair, and because I have to wash it often to remove oil from the scalp, I had pretty much made up my mind that shea butter would not be a good product for my hair. Wrong, wrong, and wrong! One evening I applied whipped shea butter to my hands. It is a wonderful treatment for the nails, cuticles, and dry skin of the hands. After applying to the hands, I waited a few moments for absorption before reaching for the hair dryer (I dry with my head held upside down, running my fingers through for volume). As I dried, I thought to myself, "Oh, oh, this will lead to a flat hair day! Oh well, the goats do not care!" The results were surprising...the end result was that I still had volume, and my hair acted and looked healthier than normal, even the next day! What this tells me is, whipped shea butter really is a wonderful versatile product for the skin and the hair, a 2 in 1 product. You can use less, and you can use more, and the results are amazing. And how better can you get than natural?

I cannot wait to receive the unrefined quality shea butter that I have on order, and whip up a few batches (along with other skin and hair helpful ingredients), for placement on the Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps store shelf!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Tractor Project, and Weekend This and That

Our weekend consisted of helping our friend move the new tractor project into his garage, using the prior tractor project (still a work in progress, nearly a year now) to do the work. I love these projects. The guys really get sparked, and I have learned a lot too.

Our friend, Bob, lives in-town, and is the talk of his small town whenever a new "old" tractor is brought in on his trailer.

The rest of our weekend was spent resting in between does kidding. We had a nice set of triplets born yesterday. I have a list of only 4 does left to freshen. Things are starting to wind down on the kidding calendar! It will remain busy for the next couple of months, as long as we have bottle kids, and until the barn and lot begin to clear out again (return to our set numbers).

Today I took a photo of the spring flowers that popped up in front of the house a few days ago. They likely will not survive for long in the wind/snow/sleet and dropping temps that we are experiencing. The photo is a bit blurry, but the colors came out gorgeous. I think the camera was cold too! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Not A Machine

On this beautiful Sunday I have several things in the works. Part of which is good old housework (that I never get much done, and I realize it cannot be a priority), catching up with people, and feeding newborn dairy goats. Yes, it is busy, and I am tired. What am I going to do about it? Write some thoughts here, head for a power nap, and then tend to the animals. I do all of this because I want to. It is not a burden. If a part of this were a burden, I would be figuring out how to make it what it should be, a joy.

Something has been on my mind. I am not an expert, but I still feel the need to write when something sways me. I never want to lead anyone down the wrong path. Honestly, I am not trying to lead anyone, period. But when I feel strongly, I write.

A few days ago, after I said to a wonderful lady that I am close to that I was swamped, but happy, doing what I want to do, the person replied to me, "I feel like a machine." It saddened me that someone would feel like a machine.

We are not machines, we were created to be human. We started our lives without a care, but we were made to grow, to think, but not to work so hard that we do not exist inside. When we feel like a machine we are lacking something. And it often means we need some "me time." "Me time" could be an hour, a day, or even a regular time and place to ourselves.

Everyone deserves a hobby, or a task that makes them feel good about themselves. It will not be tasking work as long as you enjoy what you are doing. We all need healthy outlets. The outlet may be your own business (doing something that you are passionate about), exercising (and I need to do a LOT more deliberate exercise myself), time alone, sleep (but not too much)...or just doing something that uses your mind, stirs your inner-soul, and helps you to feel good about life again.

I am not going to preach, because I have no right to do that. I can only speak from my own heart. To wrap this up...if you find yourself feeling like something less than human from day to day, do something about it. Be happy. We can all do it! Serving others is not a bad thing, but make sure you serve yourself too! When I feel that weariness I begin to evaluate several things, such as, what do I need to give up? What do I need to do for myself? And what can I change? If I cannot change something for the better (and I do not try to change others), then I find a way to do what makes me feel happy otherwise. Do what is best for you, nobody else will do it for you, it is not their job!

Take care...and I hope you are having a beautiful Sunday too!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Love Those Ears

How about the ears on the wether? Thought you would smile at this one!

Today's Goat Milk Soap Unveiling

The first is the Orange Cream goat milk soap, cut yesterday morning. Orange with a light vanilla scented topping. Good enough to eat? I love the color.

And I am not opposed to publishing the "oopsies." In the Annie's Goat Hill soap shop I do not have many throw aways, seriously, a total of 4 batches since I started making soap in 2003. After contemplation, I ditched the first batch of goat milk soap last year because the lather was too sticky (not even good enough to give to a shelter, always a consideration). I "people" test each and every batch at curing. Another batch was not appealing to the nose at all, and I will guarantee it would not have been pleasant to any human being. :)

Anyhow, I did not cut this next batch until a few minutes ago. I had to do quite the chop job on it. It was not a total throw away. The top has been slivered off, too soft, and experience tells me it would not have hardened. It no longer looked like creamed spinach, thankfully, but unfortunately it looked like dark blue or purple ink. I was able to save a few bars, and I am hoping they will be usable once cured. If anything, a special gift for someone. I call it Unripened Berries.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Nature Of A Goat

To say that I am fond of goats is rather an understatement. I find goats to be very interesting.

A goat can be comical, stubborn, affectionate (yes, they can), smart, sneaky and the list goes on.

I can think of no other animal that can provide friendship, milk, and even meat, as well as a goat can.

This particular doe, Cammille, a reverse spotted nubian, is one that acts like she has a mind of her own (she does), but she sneaks in the affectionate act when you are not looking. The bottle fed doeling pen is right in front of Cammille's pen. Each day, as I bottle feed the girls, I feel the tips of a goat's ears lightly brushing across the top of my head. And I often get the chin laid on the top of my head as well. When I look up, I get the nose against nose...but wait...this is Cammille showing affection. She is slipping! :) Cammille, you cannot tell in this photo, is a big strong girl. One that will be with me on the farm as long as I can take care of goats, and as long as the good Lord allows her to remain here. Her daughter, pictured in my blog post on 3/21/09, is a beauty as well, even though she is the product of a nubian/boer breeding, I am strongly considering raising her as a dairy goat. A gift to me!

If you can stand some more goat talk. I have to tell you the youngster story behind Cammille. She is fondly nic-named "Snake Eyes." When she was young she would get this "look" in her eyes, and she would stand very still and quiet as the look crossed her face. The next thing you knew she would head butt every animal around here, hence the nic-name, the sneaky little doeling, Cammille!

Anyhow, that is my goat talk for the day.

Have a good evening!