Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just What Is It About Goat Milk Soap?

I have often wondered, just what is it about the goat milk soap that seems to help my skin, and per many customers, seems to help their skin (and their family members) as well?

I no longer suffer from acne, those types of break outs ended in my late 30's. What I do suffer from, however, is dry skin, and itchy bumpy skin especially in the winter months. I get the sandpaper skin effect behind the arms and the legs during the coldest of months.

I had a wonderful email conversation with an allergist/dermatologist out of Pennsylvania last week. She asked me several really good questions. I answered her as well as I could. I told her that I do not know if the benefits from goat milk products (that she is hearing about and observing from her patients) came from the soap itself (no added chemicals), or if the sensitive skin help came from the milk itself, or if the benefits came from the fact that it is pure soap (look on your store bought soap wrappers, most cannot legally describe themselves as soap)! The physician agreed, she did not know either, but she thought it was a combination of all of the above. She said many of her patients had come to her with improved skin, improved after using goat milk products, and that she was wondering why all of the benefits herself. So, I decided to do a bit of snooping around. I am a teach me type of person.

So, I began my Google search looking for studies on goat milk soap and goat milk products. I looked for results from actual studies. I did not find any. But what I did find satisfied by interest.

Here we go:

From the American Academy of Dermatology I began looking at their various online brochures. One in particular drew my interest. For dry skin it was recommended to use a mild soap, okay, we probably learned that in first grade. But, next (and I copy):

For severely dry skin, a moisturizer that contains urea or lactic acid may be helpful. Both ingredients help the skin hold water. These ingredients are so effective that over-the-counter and prescription moisturizers contain them. The one drawback is that these ingredients can be irritating if you have eczema or cracked skin.

Goat milk...high in lactic acid. There you go, bingo!

I continued to read on, do a bit of self-diagnosis, see the photo above, and I found other photos looking very familiar. My winter skin condition is called keratosis pilaris. It consists of tiny bumps, sometimes itchy, harmless, but bothersome...the treatment (to diminish the appearance and itching of the rash) also included creams and lotions that contain lactic acid. The condition never completely goes away it just looks better after treatment. Yes, I agree, I can attest to it diminishing!

I cannot rightfully say my products can cure your skin problems, I am not licensed to sell my products as a drug or medication. And I try so very hard to not sound like an irritating infomercial for goat milk soap, but my customers with sensitive and allergic skin are very happy campers, and so am I. Why? I believe it is a combination of things (as stated above) mild soap, no added preservatives, stabilizers or chemicals (other than those that contain fragrance and/or non-natural colorants), and the lactic acid (which works with the skin's PH balance).

Interesting...and I loved sharing it with you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Water, the Sustainer Of Life

We all know about water. Our bodies, without me looking the exact numbers up, are probably comprised of 95% water (if not more). All living life depends upon water.

Now to my story...

We bought a farm, not known to us, with a low water table. We generally have enough water for livestock, and then we conserve some for our own use.

We burned up a well pump recently because we had done so much laundry (from kidding season, winter, etc...). So, we installed a brand new pump, water a-plenty. But now?

Last night, an hour after I returned from the barn and cooled off (it was nearing 100 degrees), I began to prepare for dinner, no water. I knew, just knew, something was amiss. An hour later, no water. By then the water should have regenerated itself.

This morning, no water.

When I went to the barn to feed this morning I found the hose on the ground and a water spigot turned on. Yes, a goat had worked the handle up and away from the spigot. It had ran all evening and all night.

Bonnie sure was proud of herself, especially the spot on her head worn down to the skin. Guess what Bonnie's famous trick/line/title is, from her prior owner? "Back Rub Bonnie." Yes, she gives some serious back rubs. Plant your feed on the ground, space them apart, because when you get a back rub you need to retain your balance. Apparently she did a major back rub on the spigot, enough to move the handle up and allow the water to flow.

Is the well pump okay? I really do not know yet. It is working, but it will take quite some time to know if we are going to have to spend the bucks again for a replacement. The good news is, we do the job ourselves. It is still very costly.

There is now a lock on the water supply at the barn. No head rubs will ever move that arm again.

Life on the farm...tee hee...
By the way, as I wrote this blog post I looked up the water composition in a human body, 60%.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Weekend Tractor Project Part III

The old gal is starting to receive a new coat of paint, one section at a time. This is her instrument panel. The old Massey Ferguson red sure is a nice hue, not too bright, a beautiful deep cherry type of red.

New gauges await the instrument panel. We will need to let the panel sit for several days now, since it was just painted today.

The faded gal is going to love her new red!

It was good visiting with our friends today. We have been busy for a number of weekends. My husband has been studying, I have been working in the soap shop, and it has been too hot to throw open the garage doors (even though our friends have air inside the shop). Today we enjoyed our great friendship once again!

You can follow prior tractor project posts here.

Girls On The Hill...Beautiful June Day

Sometimes we write about a little bit of nothing...

And Aleecia says, as she stretches her neck way out, "That fencepost sure tastes good!" She is quite the attraction, spots and all. A beautiful, big girl. Always the first to come see what I am up to, and "chat."

Now, take a gander at Anona, her twin sister. Aleecia has the same markings, only with white spots on top. Anona has the long ear-thing a'goin' on! Can you tell, I love my nubians?

I still get called Annie from time to time. I just smile. Annie was our first bottle baby. She is very independant, yet, she does not know that she lumbers in the exact spot she did while young, waiting for her bottle. Goofy gal!!!
They are are all entertaining, a lot of work, but I would not trade it for the world.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Folded On The Boxer Raising

From an earlier endeavor...this is my boy, Spike.

My 5 year old boy weighs in at 90 pounds. A big one. I know how innocent he is. He would kill you upon contact...kill you by means of licking. I have heard him growl once, perhaps bark twice...at the trash truck. You know, that big machine that puts mankind at risk?

Spike is quite the snorer, Even when awake, you always know when he is around. My sister says, "Get that boy some sinus medicine!" He is loud. When he lays down he sounds like the air brake being released on a semi truck.

We think there is nothing between Spike's ears, empty headed. He just hangs around. His favorite things in life are tomatoes and apples (just like his late father, Samson). Forget the steaks, my boy is happy with the healthy stuff. And guess what he has to have done every single night? Mom is required to rub him right between his eyes. The natural sleeping pill. The big head and neck just sinks down. The eyes go dull. Down he goes. Hilarious.

Years ago I wanted to raise boxers. I still have 3, but I no longer breed. It is a huge responsibility. I had nice puppies, large litters, good sized pups, beautiful boxers but...after carefully raising two sets of litters, 20 puppies total, I decided to stick with goats. Puppies are a lot of work! And I tend to get too attached to them.

Spike is from our first litter.

Here is Spike at 4 weeks old, always weighed in 3 times more than his litter mates.

And again, below with his father at an even younger age.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just Like The Rose, Blossom!

Do you remember what happens when I feel compelled, overwhelmed with thoughts that I feel I need to share?

The thoughts go to the blog.

If there is one piece of advice that I cannot give enough of, it is: Take care of yourself. If you do not do it, do not expect anyone else to do it for you.

Does that sound rather harsh?


I am not just referring to physically taking care of yourself, even though mental can greatly affect your physical health, and in turn your physical well-being can put a huge stress on your mental health. What I was specifically referring to was, nurture yourself.

Allow yourself to blossom.

This particular idea (not a new one) has been on my mind a lot recently. And today when I saw the beautiful rose blossom opening with it's own brilliancy I saw the connection before my eyes.

Before the rose bud opened it looked normal. As it began to open I saw a bit of what appeared to be rust around the edges. Just like a person that is rusty at remembering to take care of themselves. The person that forgets, or does not realize, that the world is at their fingertips. And then the blossom opened with wonderful colors, and the more it opened, the more anticipation came with it for the future.

If you have a passion, act on it. If you have a talent, allow it to grow. If you love something, make sure it is in your life. Sometimes the smallest of things are the biggest of things in our own hearts.

I am going to go through a list of people that I have noticed blossoming (leaving names out, sorry peeps):

A lovely lady lost her home, but now has a nice apartment and a new car. She is secure in her job, yet she is not happy. Someone listened to her one day, she talked about "everything that she had lost." So the listener bought her a hummingbird feeder for her patio. Within a few hours she saw her first hummingbird. She cried. She realized that she had not lost everything, she just needed to remember what she loves, and she needed to remember that what she loves does not go away, it stays in her heart (the tiniest of things). And today she continues to grow, realizing the small things in life. And she is pursuing so much. She is no longer shut in to the pain, the world has many possibilities.

A wonderful friend is going through a tough time. She is taking better care of herself because it makes her feel good. She has had her hair re-done, her apartment painted (in the colors that makes her feel happy), and she is pursuing her dreams as a soap artist. Yes, a talented artisan! Through all of her troubles, she can still make her own heart sing.

A great friend has lost a lot of weight. She did not feel all that well before she lost the weight. She could have laid on the couch, moped, cried, allowed depression to take over, but no, she began daily and deliberate exercise. Today she revels in her new size, her new (younger) looks, but best of all, she feels fantastic, and she is vibrant and glowing. Not gloating. She took care of herself. Nobody else could have done it for her. She should be proud!

A dear friend has decided to build on her special talents. She decided to take her beautiful wares and sell them, offer them to others, open a shop where she takes the products that she has lovingly crafted to the public, and somewhere in her heart she has the urge to share that sense of joy with everyone that crosses her path. It took courage, but she has done it...for herself!

Do not forget what you love, despite the busyness and disappointments in life, do not forget who you are. You are special, and you have your own needs. Fulfill those needs.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ocean Breeze Comedy Scene

Today I was making great progress in the soap room. I made a batch of lotion for a new product set (to be announced) and I prepared another batch of lilac lotion for a potential customer who owns a lovely shop in Michigan.

I knew I needed to make a batch of Ocean Breeze goat milk soap. It is a must to keep 2 or 3 large batches on the curing racks at all times. And I have to agree with you all, it is good soap. It smells good. It lathers up softly, silky, and it leaves the skin feeling smooth, conditioned. I am not left with a dry skin feeling at all after bathing with Ocean Breeze.

So, today I prepared all of the ingredients, weighed, melted, etc..., and then I headed to the house for lunch.

20 minutes later I arrived back in the shop. I lined the large mold for the soap batch. Mixed the soap ingredients and immediately realized the batch seemed too small. My thought initially was, "Did I make a 1/2 batch?" I make smaller batches when I am testing a new recipe or fragrance. I thought through today's steps, all of them, and determined that I had measured out the full amounts of all ingredients.

As I questioned myself, the batch appeared to be going into trace (thickening) quicker than normal. "Think, Mary, think!" I told myself, as calmly as possible. You can start giggling here, by the way

As some of you are aware, Ocean Breeze also contains chips of white unscented goat milk soap (reminds me of a gently rolling ocean, white sand, sea foam).

I headed to the mold with the batch of very thick soap. Lined the mold with the chips, poured the soap. Well...there was NO pouring to it. I was having to lift it out by the large spoon full. As I pushed the last bits of white goat milk soap into the globs of soap, and saw that the mold was only 1/2 full, I suspected the culprit.

I had only added 1/2 of the oils!

What to do? What to do?

I knew I had a bad batch of soap either way I went, so I emptied the contents of the mold back into the soaping pot. And, yes, most definitely found the missing oils, right where I had left them. Again, could have already ruined the batch, so what the hay...might as well try it.

I began stirring all of that missing oil into the nearly solid mass of what should have been Ocean Breeze soap. To my surprise, it looked like lumpy pea soup with white chunks added. Ha ha ha. Lovely? Oh yeah, you betcha'.

My old arms got the work out. There was no electric gadget to whip through that mess. Stir and stir and stir. I had a vision of my restaurant quality stainless steel slotted spoon bending in half. Tee hee. Okay...stirred, and I finally figured it was time to try it again.

As I lifted the pot to carry it to the make table behind me I caught the corner of a container full of large utensils. Each and every knife, pail opener, you name it, fell handle first into the pot. So, each and every utensil was adorned with a nice thick blob of Ocean Breeze goat milk soap. I put the utensils on ignore status. I laid them on newspaper.

I poured the soap. It looked really peculiar. A little peculiar?

And the rest of the story is...the soap appears to be going through its normal process now. I think I saved it. I try to make Ocean Breeze a wavy type of soap. I want it to be irregular, but hmmm...not quite THAT irregular!

And the utensils...upon my return, I had to use a paring knife to clean the soap off of each and every handle.

I need a nap!

Normal Ocean Breeze...(today's batch above):

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Organization is Working

How is everyone? I am fine, great, happy...even though I still cannot arrange the photos within my blog again today...I am being tested!

I worked today...yes...I know, it is Sunday. The husband went to visit his tutor for assistance with an exam that he is re-taking this week and I decided to catch up a bit more in the soap shop while he was out.

I love the photo of the new Yuzu fragranced goat milk soap. I think my phone took a good shot of it. I took a new mug shot for the lotions. I'll work on it again. Gone are the kraft labels. As much as I would have liked to make them work they simply had no stickability (I made that word up, it might exist though). Uh huh.

Lotions are my focus this week. Even though I leave the lotions on the website, they never show a back order, I can tell you, especially this week. I was sold out! Very few bottles remained. But I like 'em fresh, so that is how they go out whenever I cannot replinish the entire supply. But...my goal is to have the supply completely refreshed by Wednesday, all 10 scents.

I have been doing some cleaning and organizing as well. See the planner on the desk? It is working! The corner in the photos is my shop "office" so to speak. I have a real office in the house, where I am sitting now. I am considering moving my old PC into the shop so I can hook up an unused printer for labels. But...I am sort of (hmmm) out of room. The husband has suggested that I begin using a part of his wood shop for storage. He says he is going to have to build a new building. Nooo...nooo....and noooo.

Since I took you for a visit into the shop today. I thought I would show you what I was listening to as well. The CD is called Church In The Wildwood, Volume II. I think it was put together specifically for the Cracker Barrel stores. There are no vocals, the instruments are: hammered dulcimer, autoharp, guitar, fiddle and mandelin. Beautiful! Peaceful. I listen to many different kinds of music. If you knew what I was playing in my truck this week you would think I was reverting back to the early 70's. So I will leave that up to your imagination.

Is anyone else having problems with posting photos, specifically when you post more than one, does Blogger still allow you to move the photos within the post? Starting yesterday I have not been able to. It looks rather dorky to me to post 3 or 4 photos in a row with no verbiage. But that is what I will do until I get the problem resolved.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The First Day of Summer - Tomorrow

Having Blogger problems. So, I decided (just for today) to leave the photos where they are and leave the writing where it is at! I am NOT going to fight it today.

I am not one that likes to complain about weather, nor do I like to make it a point of conversation everywhere that I go. I know it is hot for many of us, but somehow I just had to share. Photo taken in my truck on my way back up to the house from the evening feeding (20 minutes ago).

This is Ohio, pretty much north, and tomorrow is the first day of summer, so what gives with 93 degrees?

I love summer, dearly, dearly love it. I love heat. I do not like cold. I appreciate heat. Can I say that again so I will convince myself? I love heat.

We do not have central air. We cool the back of the house (where we lounge and where we sleep) with a large window unit. The front of the house (including the kitchen, this office, and 3 other rooms are not cooled). I have a ceiling fan in here with me. Ha. At night I love to hear the frogs and I love the fresh air. Seldom do I want the windows shut.
Yesterday I changed the ink in one of the printers. The page kept smearing afterwards. I began to think I had a bad ink cartridge. Hmmm...guess what the problem was? Humidity. The paper was bunching up. Uh huh...good clean crisp white paper taken right out of the ream. Crisp? NOT!!

I am summer gal, though. Give me 6 months of summer. I will take it. Just tell me the animals and world will not suffer from such a drastic change first.

Okay...next pic. Remember the tiny little rose plants I bought for 2.99 each? One is going to bloom! I have had beautiful roses in the past, not at this property. By the looks of this bud and the growth that I am seeing in all of the plants, I think I found a good spot for a rose display.

I did not put out a large garden this year. I need to rethink my kidding season timing next year because I need to work freezing and canning into my schedule. I miss those tasks. They give me peace a joy. As I sprinkled plant food amongst the beds today I saw 6 new green tomatoes. I need a big garden again. Did I ever tell you who taught me how to can? My husband. When we first married he converted a small "barn" in our yard, with loft to a summer kitchen for me. It was complete with a propane range, a small wall A/C unit, a table to work with, and storage for the canned goods. Nobody taught him how to can, he taught me out of memory from watching his mother when he was a child. Amazing.

I worked in the soap room for a while today. It is heated, cooled, very well insulated (put together better than this old house). And I am heading back out there for a bit later. Moved soaps down from the curing rack. Adding them to the website at some point this weekend. And Now I need to fill the empty curing rack spots with new soap! I sold all of my lotion this week. Lotion is something that I make without a lot of hassle, but that does not mean a thing. I need to eat, sleep, dream about lotion for one full day. Fill the warehouse as one of my good friends tell me. Then he turns right around and says in the next breath, "You need to rest." When I ask him about his contradiction, he giggles and says, "Well, you know me." Thank you!

Have any of you updated to Windows Explorer 8? And if the answer is yes, are you having any problems? It sure is messing with my use of Blogger! Sometimes I cannot leave comments. Sometimes I cannot see photos. And right now I cannot move photos within a non-published post. Arghhhh...computers, love them, don't love them, cannot live without them! And all the same...I am praying for patience. Loads of patience.

Stay cool...and hope you are enjoying your weekend, filled with many blessings!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Website Payment Problems...Head Still On Straight?

Just what is the goat lady up to today? The rolling head, still on straight? Has she lost her mind completely? Nah! Just almost.

Actually, I began the day by cutting the large batch of lemongrass poppyseed goat milk soap I made yesterday. It looked so pretty I picked up my phone and clicked a pic before the soap bars headed to the curing rack.

Afterwards, I made two large batches of goat milk soap. The first unscented. Seems rather popular these days. The second batch is lavender rosemary. Purposely, quite a bit lighter on the rosemary end of the soap this batch. Rosemary is a wonderful essential oil. I love the scent, but it also has such good skin care properties, such as antiseptic and assistant to dandruff and scaly skin. But it sure can wake up the old nose!

Then the day broke loose. The head starting spinning, rolling along (as I told Alix of Casa Hice) in an email.

If you experienced payment problems today, if the website did not accept your payment, or if you ever do experience problems, please carefully note what occurred and give me a call, or shoot me an email. As we all know, one tiny problem can mean one big problem is brewing. Luckily all of the customer payment issues were told to be unrelated, but my doubting mind (because I want perfection) still wonders...but life rolls on (and right now it feels like my head is off rolling somewhere).

I had a great conversation with a good customer from California today. Yesterday her husband asked, "Do we have any more of THAT soap?" The phone call was rather on the desperate end. The payment was not being accepted and the husband wanted more of THAT soap. People that call me get what they get, they get me, I am never going to try to be anyone else. If I break out in laughter, please laugh along with me. This is one short life, and I intend upon making it all that it can be. We got the order resolved, and Mr. CA is going to have some of THAT soap to shave with. By the way, THAT soap is Moroccan Dreams, and Sandalwood Blend, as well as Patchouli Blend. Mr. CA shaves with THAT soap. So do I (my legs love it).

Have a beautiful evening, day, morning, whenever you read this...and if you find my head anywhere...treat it nicely. I need it folks!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cinnamon Rose Goat Milk Soap

The past several weeks have been busy times in the shop with the filling of orders and keeping the inventory of soap and lotion stocked. You would think I would get sick of soap, but no, I still love to marvel at the soaps before I box them up and send them out. I even love to look at the lotions, and there isn't anything colorful about them. Silly goat woman I am!

I am limping along temporarily with the camera on my phone this week. I wanted to get a good photo of this soap, but it blurred to a point. This is the cinnamon rose soap that I told you about. It also contains rhassoul clay, which is rich in minerals and helps to tone the skin. Rhassoul clay removes surface oil effectively, yet it assists with reducing flakiness and dryness from both the skin and the scalp. Honestly, I thought I would not like the scent when the customer requested it, but I love it! It will most likely be a keeper. It is not overpowering! I have not ran off with an end piece yet to test in the bath, soap is always "people" tested for quality on my farm, but from the looks of it, and based on the oils and clay used, I think I am going to love it. It looks nice, almost creamy-like, smooth, and smells terrific. It will hit the website within a couple of weeks (to be announced here).

And, last but not least, I had to take a photo of my helping friends tonight. A goat is geared towards food. They always think they are hungry, it is what drives them! You can separate a bale of hay, divide it up, and the herd always shifts towards the last morsel you placed in the feeder. Go figure. Hey kids...the hay is the same from beginning to end! Thankfully this bale was still tied. The kids knocked the wheel barrow over as soon as I snapped the photo...the munchkins!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday's Dairy Goats and Sheep

Dairy goats and sheep? Wait a minute...that looks like a kitten to me. My apologies, my better camera is out of order. Pictures today are delivered via my phone and my old "bad" digital camera. But not so bad that we turn kittens into dairy goats and sheep.

Do you think these two could pass as future Mr. Yellow Tom's? Mr. Yellow Tom loves to rough house with one of these look-alikes already.

Nothing like a good old kitten fight. This is what I see and hear when the goats are not mulling around.

Moving on to the feeding of the boer goats. Dusty (a lovely boer/alpine) always needs a good head rub.

Moving on to the milk stand. Chandra the saanan says, "Hey, you have my milk...now let me go dive into the hay with my buddy Cammille."

And Cammille the nubian says, "You have my milk too...hold on Chandra, wait for me!"

And after everyone is milked out, and the final (2) bottle kids are fed, and the goats are humming and crunching happily on their hay, bedded down for the night...up the barn driveway the goat lady goes...toting warm goat milk back to the house on the hill...reflecting on her many blessings.

And what does the goat lady find when she enters the house? Visitors? There are two new sheep, Wee Little Sheep, beautiful Nativity Sheep on the kitchen table.

The beautiful sheep pair arrived on Friday in a postal box decorated in sheep photos, marked fragile. These beautiful sheep are indeed fragile, beautifully made from clay and covered with lambs' wool, lovingly handmade by Kathy. Sent to my Ohio home, chosen as winnings from being a commenter on Kathy's blog, Spot On Cedar Pond.

Not only was the shipping box beautifully decorated in photos of Kathy's wonderful Jacob Sheep, Kathy also added some additional personal touches. A stunning handmade card arrived with the package, displaying the yarn that Kathy so lovingly crafts (from shearing her sheep, to spinning and dyeing the yarn). With some beautiful spun strands of lamb's wool threaded through the card. I keep repeating the word beautiful, it really was awesome!

Now I will show you the gorgeous "decorating" of the shipping box!

Kathy is a good friend, an inspiration to me. She is one of the women in my life that have kept me on my toes, in faith. I look for her daily blog inspirations. I hope you visit Kathy's blog as well, and please do not forget to visit her Etsy shop either, where you will find her wonderful lamb's wool creations, Cedar Pond Wool Craft.
Have a relaxing Sunday evening!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Up With The Roosters

Yes, the title and photo says it all. The day came to life very early this morning! I can just hear him crowing, the bossy fellow.

The husband is heading in one direction this morning for business and I am heading to the shop to work on filling orders and rebuilding the lotion stock.

Yesterday I took large boxes full of Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps gift sets to the retail location that displays my products. Once I returned to my shop I cut the rosemary shampoo bars from the freshly made loaf, the initial shampoo bars (made here). More on that product in the near future. I will discuss shampoo bars and what rinses can/should be used to maintain the proper hair PH.

The Brown Bag Special will continue through 6/30/09. At that time I am going to archive the sale. It was fun while it lasted! Many of the 3.5 ounce (average) bars are dwindling in number, but there is a nice supply still available for the Brown Bag Special. I absolutely love the newer chunkier bars (average 4.5 ounces)! The Brown Bag special, for those of you new here, includes 5 bars of goat milk soap (the same quality soap as the 4.5 ounce bars) for 15.00, plus a 5.00 flat rate shipping fee (special rate only for shipping within continental U.S.). These are assorted soaps, packaged in a brown bag (no individually boxed soap)...just right to get through the remainder of this slow economy! If you wish to place an order, the instructions and buy here button are located at the bottom of the goat milk soap store page on my website.

By the way...you know how honest I am...no rooster here...but I imagined up a strong image of the colorful proud guy crowing away a bit ago!

Have a fun Friday!!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Busy In The Goat Milk Soap Shop

I am a busy lady this week.

A retail location where I sell some of my products needed a replenishment of gift sets. I have been putting various sets together that include lotion, soap and bath salt/fizzies. The store carries handcrafted furniture and primitive candles/tarts, handmade purses, and beautiful homespun items for the kitchen and bath. My gift crates (made from reclaimed wood) and simple packaging fit right in. It puts a smile on my face!

I am working on a wholesale project as well, and keeping up with customer orders.

I have also been successful with keeping the curing racks full. No gaps. Pull one batch down, move those soaps straight to the website, put a brand new batch right in its place (ready in 4 weeks).

It has been busy, but I am enjoying the blessings in my life! I hope you are doing the same!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mr. Yellow Tom Is A Helper Too

I am the sole Annie's Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps business person. I manage the goats (my husband helps with purchasing the hay and occasional goat treatments) and I operate the business end of everything. My hats include management, shipping, producing of product, accounting, finance, marketing and customer service. I love my hats...love, love, love them!

My closest friends ask me, "What are you going to do when you can no longer handle this on your own?" They see the growth, so do I. I do not know what the answer is. They are aware that I am aware. But, for now, it will be left to prayer. Leaving something to prayer does not mean that I do not think about it. My best thinking times are not done while sitting down and staring at blank space. I could be on the lawn mower, in the shower, or even feeding the goats in the barn. I do not worry about these questions, I just ponder from time to time. Making life's decisions, those that are not needing immediate attention, means (to me) to sit back and allow the random thoughts to roll through. It is like putting everything in a mixing tumbler. Let it roll gently, not violently, let everything big and little sift out. The answers will come.

I am way off track from my original topic here, but that is okay, and it all fits together! I like for people to know me for who I am, that is important.

As I was thinking about things in the barn this morning, preparing the milk machine for the girls, I saw yellow ears pop up out of the bucket that I toss used baling string into. Mr. Tom, the yellow cat from the last litter on the farm, had been napping in the bucket. The crazy fellow!

Mr. Yellow Tom was pretty much abused by his older brother, whom is fondly called My Boy on the farm. My Boy is a gentle cat that drank a lot of goat's milk as he was up and coming. I can rub his belly, play with him like a house cat. And when I find the teeth and nails getting over zealous, he listens to me when I say "that is enough." I find him following me around like a lost puppy. And I tell him, "Stay out of the road, I need you around for a while."

My Boy beat up on Mr. Yellow Tom when he was about 2 weeks ol. Mr. Yellow Tom would screech, the claws would fly, and I always said, "He (yellow) isn't going to make it." Well, those two are buddies, they were playing after all. And Mr. Yellow Tom ended up being pretty mean. You could not pick him up without a lot of human arm and leg damage.

Two weeks ago something changed. I found Mr. Yellow Tom rubbing against my legs in the milk room, "Meow, meow, meow." I decided to pick him up. Hmmm...what was that, purring? He now lives in the milk room 90% of the day. He is a fantastic mouser. He has a purpose, and he works for me, even though he does know it! He can sleep with the baling string any time that he likes. He earns it. And I do not need to pay a penny to the state for worker's comp...hmmm...he is quite the deal!

We have 6 brand new kittens now. Two yellow striped, two black and grey, and two black. The black kittens are mean. I am trying to make a Mr. Yellow Tom out of them, not sure I will be successful. But...each day they get a bowl of warm goat's milk. They could be well on their way towards earning their own Mr. Yellow Tom Awards!

A Beautiful Start To The Week

I love Sunday's.

As a child I insisted on Sunday School (SS), even if the rest of the family were going for donuts. Our building was seperated by miles from the "adult" church on the Army base. I loved SS, and even Vacation Bible School. Each and every Sunday I am reminded of those days. Carefree and filled with a warm beginning to the week!

I finally changed my calendar to June this morning. What a fantastic photo taken by Lynn M. Stone. I have seen several pieces of her goat photography. This one is simply beautiful. LOVE the colors!

The photo was difficult to take. Why? Notice the dark ring around the edges? Twice this week I dropped my camera on my shop floor, which is concrete. The zoom lense no longer focuses in and out as it should. So, temporarily, I will take close up photos of soap (the photo taken on in Introspection post below was one of them) with the broken camera, and distance photos with my old digital camera.

Anyhow...I did fill every single curing rack in the shop this week. I do not have a lot of racks. I probably need more. At one point during this past week I decided that just setting the goal of making more soap was not going to work, I needed to see measurable results. I did.

This week I am focusing on upping the production of goat milk lotion, creating shampoo bars (especially rosemary for Lynnanne). Non-business related, I need to get caught up on the lawn and weeding before the weather pattern brings the rain and storms in later this week.

But today, God's command for a day of rest, that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to relax, visit with friends this afternoon, come back home and relax again.

Please, enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Who Remembers Penny Candy?

Penny candy holds special memories for me.

I rarely eat candy. Now put a plate of cheese in front of me, or fruit, quite the treat. Candy, no.

I grew up with a father in the United States Army. We traveled quite a bit. We even moved three times in a matter of two years within the same large army base.

I really cannot remember where my father was stationed at at the time, he was definitely not home. That summer my mother would give 50 cents a month to my brother and I. She would walk with us to the Ben Franklin store, off base, and we would spend what seemed like a joyous hour finding all the treats that we could spend our wealth on. We would walk out with a little brown paper sack bulging with candy.

But wait...there were other things in that sack. Do you remember the little girl's fake watches? They had a metal face and a piece of elastic for the band? I loved the pink ones! My brother would buy little painted metal cars and still buy candy with his 50 cents.

And I believe the bubble gum was two pieces for a penny.

Fake lipstick candy. Candy necklaces, which I see children still enjoy.

But see, it isn't about the candy. It is about the memory. It is about taking that tiny amount of money and so carefully spending it. Maximizing it. Making sure it was not spent on something that went away in a few hours. And the memory of my mother, surely it was good for her to take that walk, and I would imagine it made her feel good to see her children happy. None of those things I was aware of because I was a child. As a child should be!

So...do you remember penny candy?

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Bit of Introspection, Thoughts to Share

I love to read. I do not spend a lot of money on books, but the library I do very much love!

I am not much of a television watcher. I can barely tell you one show from another except for those that my husband frequents (and then I probably would not remember the actors names, nor the name of the show). I do not sit long. I am more of a person that likes to stay busy, and I have never really thought about it until now!

Based on one of the books that I am reading, I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder test to identify my signature themes. At first, after a 30 minute test, I looked at my themes and thought, "how lame." No...wrong...none of us are lame. We are all designed to meet a purpose in life. I strongly believe God made us the way that we are for reasons. We are to grow in our natural born abilities!

My strengths are (in this order): Learner, Achiever, Empathy, Responsibility, and Focus.

Hmmm...I thought about the Learner and could not figure out how that could be good. Oh yes it can! How do I know about making soap? I began collecting it and became interested in it when I was 8 years old. I taught myself to make soap. I read a lot of books and did a lot of studying. I never witnessed a video or a single person making soap. Self taught. I also taught myself to raise a herd of goats. Again, tons of reading and studying. Then I thought about the job that I retired from, taught myself the ins and outs of government student loan rules and regulations. I took that 4" thick manual home a lot. And I loved trying to interpret it. I ended up teaching others, leading classes (even though I was a very shy person). It fit like a glove. Is that such a bad thing? Probably not. So...the moral of my story is, do not beat yourself up for what you are good at. Make it better!

We all have natural talents and we tend to not see them. We go from day to day and forget that we are special. No, I do not like to wag my tail. I am a private type of person, but I am passionate about talking with people.

Achiever...not a bad thing either. That explains why I feel I must accomplish something each day. I must do something that is worth my time. I can relax and rest, but I also must do at least one constructive thing. On the days when it feels like everything goes wrong, it is quite the battle for me. Then I stop and remember, I am human, and I laugh. Again, I feel there is a reason for everything. Perhaps a goofed up day is a signal that we need to rest!

Empathy...this does not mean that we know everything about everyone, it is a gift of instinct. I can easily sense what people are feeling, what they might need, or even what kind of day they are having. This is probably why I can easily talk to strangers, or chit chat on the dime. I do not try to be a mother hen, I just seem to easily understand.

Responsibility and Focus...again something that makes me tick. I have to have something to do that has meaning, and I love to focus in on something difficult until the job is done, and the job is done right. I catch myself planning out the steps...just how do I get to the end result?

I am not here today to talk about myself, I am here today to remind my friends that we all have special gifts. Perhaps we are not good at being a sales person (cold calls), or perhaps we are not an extrovert that needs a crowd around us, or perhaps we are not good at speaking in front of a crowd, but we all have special gifts and talents that we can focus on, appreciate, and grow in. We can brush up on our weaknesses a tad. But do not focus on what you cannot do, focus on the natural good in you, and run with it.

I go into my soap shop and I think about everything that I can accomplish. What can I create? Where have I gone in life (and I never focus on the negative past), and where do I want to go? That is what we are designed to do...do what we do best. I love hearing that others are happy with what I sell to them. It isn't all about the money, it is more about them finding a product that they really are satisfied with.

Introspect? Perhaps...but more that I wanted to share with you! I feel inspired.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Rain Said Goodbye!

The rain finally stopped!

Not only have we lost power three times this week, we have had enough rain to cause some of top soil on the slope to collect at the bottom, down at the barn. This morning it was like walking on ice, but actually worse.

The girls got to get exercise again today. They are fairly barn spoiled critters. They think they are not supposed to get their hooves wet.

The pond gets somewhat murky in the warm weather every year, but today it looked like the Mississippi River. Even the geese stayed on the banks.

Spring brings all sorts of weather here (as it does all of us). I love it when it is warm, and I love it when everything is green! I like an occasional rainy day, it feels "homey" to me somehow. But I sure feel chipper when the good old sun comes back out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spring Cleaning the Goat Milk Room

It is amazing how much work I can now do while each doe is on the milk stand during the morning feeding.

The evening milkings go very fast. When milking a dairy animal it is imperative that you milk on a regular schedule, or else the good old hormones silently step forward and say, "Hey, time to dry that udder up!" As long as the animal is milked on a regular basis, it does not matter if the spacing is 8 hours, or 12 hours apart. I milk twice a day and generally it falls within a 1/2 hour of 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The girls milk out more in the AM, less in the PM. But is a regular, steady pattern.

Back to the topic...my milk/feed room is a mess. It demands a good spring cleaning. A few days ago I gathered the used syringes and began the antibacterial soaking of them, the hot water treatment, the (mild) bleach water treatment, and the final drying and putting the syringes back together. This ends up being a crazy job. 3CC's, 6CC's, different manufacturers. But in the end I have wonderful sterile baggies of like-new syringes, all sorted, and ready to use again.

Today, while the girls were on the milk stand I began reorganizing the shelves of one of my supply cabinets. The top shelf is mainly needles, syringes, banding and ear tagging supplies. No, I do not use this many needles. Years ago I thought I had to have a needle size for everything. I had 1/2", 3/4", 1"...and then diameter sizes 22, 20, 19. Oh boy. I pretty much stick with one size now, except for the tiny 1/2" needles for the kids. It feels good to have 2 shelves back in shape. The 2nd shelf is common meds (non-refrigerated, non-biological type), notes, calendars, wormers. Tommorrow perhaps I will get into shelves 3 and 4. And I barely use any of this stuff anymore. I am more into the natural care of the animals. When they need treatment, they get it, but I think both animals and people are very much over-medicated in this day and age.

The rest of the room. If you could just see it, and you won't, yikes!! I am starting at one end and spring cleaning until acceptable. Kidding season does this to me, I begin the season totally organized. Everything in order, you name it. After kidding season, when the kids are weaned from bottles, etc..., I began to feel the lessening of time constraints and I begin to work towards reorganizing. And believe me, it needs it!

Off topic...today was a zoo. We woke up to no water. The well pump went out during a late night thunderstorm. And boy did we have the storms last night! More than once I put my hands on my phone and looked at the weather warnings in the dark. We lost electricity for a couple of hours again. I am hoping for a calm night tonight. And tomorrow, no water troubles. I fed rather late tonight, and I am praying that the girl's milking schedules do not suffer from the lateness!!

Wish me luck...I am heading back to the soap shop tomorrow. I hope to post pictures in a few days of a LOT more progress! Today was a tiny set back. We were plumbers, not soapers!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Progress In The Goat Milk Soap Shop

I have been telling everyone about my goals this week.

One of my soap related goals was to remove soaps from the curing rack, transfer them to holding boxes. Accomplished today, except for a few stragglers that ended up in bags in a display cabinet. Hmmm...need to make some room...somewhere...oh, where...but somewhere.... .

The next goal was to fill the curing rack with new soaps by the end of the day, Saturday. I am getting there...but I have a LONG way to go! The bottom shelf is only 1/2 full. The top shelf (you cannot see it) holds boxes of empty lotion bottles, cream jars, and lids. Those boxes will be removed by Saturday. And soap will be in their place.

Progress today...removed 5 batches, replaced with some new soaps to cure.

For those of you that have commented on some of my soaps, Cherries and Berries goat milk soaps are back on the curing rack, as well as full-sized Orange Mint, along with some other "favorites." Just 3 or 4 weeks and the soaps will be back on the website. The signal told me, "We want more."

Ocean Breeze has sold out, except for the bars that are on hold. You can see the new Ocean Breeze bars in the middle of the curing rack. A little more green than blue this time, but still, reminds me of white beaches and a beautiful clear ocean. Refreshing!

Take care...and I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit today in the goat milk soap shop. Perhaps I can create a version of Internet Smell A Vision?