Conversing with Mother Nature

ANOTHER snow system? Goodie. Look Mother Nature, out here at the ranch, we need running water in all the barns, so please keep the temperature above 35. Otherwise I have to haul water buckets to four different pens. Do you know how much water weights? Yes, of course you do. Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. Well, 8 pounds times 4 gallons is heavy the first time but by the time I’ve hauled water to the different pens, I’m worn out, more than likely wet, definitely cold, and not happy. That’s why I’m asking you to please keep the temperature above 35? When the automatic watering systems work on their own I have time and energy to make my goat milk skin care products. Not to mention what this weather does to my skin. Not good. It’s a good thing I have a factory full of lotion.

While we’re talking, would you mind turning down the MPH of the wind? We live on a hill so we get the full-blown effect of your winds. You’re blowing off roof shingles. Getting a roofer out here to replace a few shingles is pricie at best. That is IF we can find a roofer who’ll come out this far just to replace a few shingles. Most of them want to replace the roof. Granted we could use a new roof, but not now, please. We need more fencing first. We would appreciate you leaving the roof alone for three more years. You’re consideration would be greatly appreciated.

We’ll talk about the mud later, if you don’t mind. I have chores to do. But if you’re thinking about how much more rain, sleet and snow you think we need. how about you letting up a bit. You know like 35 degrees, gentle breezes, with intermittent showers and mostly sunny.

Thank you for listening, Mother Nature. Nice talking with you.

Family is always first

Family is still the most important thing in the world to me. Like many of us, I lose sight of this from time to time: Thinking of my businesses, dogs, cats, chickens, goats, milking, laundry, and other day-to-day tidings.

Absentmindedly focusing only on the now and could be, I was immediately reminded of family when I received a call from the manager of my mother’s apartment wanting to know what happened last night. That’s a scary question coming from anyone but from where my mother lives, it became a sharp, significant concern. As the story unfolded I became acutely aware that mother could no longer live alone. She’s 86 and has dementia.

For the past four years, she has been surrounded by wonderful people. Neighbors who dropped by for a chat, visited for a few minutes, took turns checking on her, calling her to see how she was doing, and offering to do something to help. Many kept her company until her next nap or the next football game came on TV. Thank you all for what you have meant to mother. But a time comes with neighbors can no longer provide the care and concern that is needed. It is time for family.

I received my call this morning. By the time I arrived at her apartment, the nightly puzzle began fitting together. Mother is getting more confused in the evenings than during the day. Her frequent falls aren’t helping either. Sometime she doesn’t remember falling much less remember whether she’s taken her pills or not.

She took the wrong sleeping pill last week. I so carefully counted each and every pill as I put them in the her weekly organizer but she managed to pick out the pill she wanted to help her sleep. Trouble is that it was a strong pill. We decided to let her sleep it off while we talked about increasing our care. We hovered over her for three days. She’s fine — just confused and forgetful.

She’s home with me now so I can watch her more carefully. Between the four dogs and our alarm system, we’ll know where she is every minute of the day.

Mother is taking a nap now but when she awakens, will she remember where she is. Apparently dementia strikes in the blink of an eye as her memory fades and she becomes confused. I’ve seen a bit of it in her but I suspect her confusion will increase. Hopefully slowly but it will increase.

I’ll continue producing my goat milk bath products whenever possible. But please know that when mother calls, I will be with her.

Prayers are most appreciated.

My Job

I have the absolute most perfect job on the planet. I raise nubian dairy goats and make goat milk bath and beauty products with their milk. Working from home has been a lifetime dream of mine. I just didn’t know that it would take 10 acres, miles of fences, several outbuildings, and livestock to fulfill it.

I birth the babies, milk the mamas, and make the soaps and lotions. That’s starting at the beginning, isn’t it. Actually, the beginning goes back to breeding the right buck to the right doe to get a confirmationally strong baby and body condition. But that beginning goes back even further, too. Sigh … there is no end to getting the right start. You just start where you are then figure out the rest.

Most folks who breed goats were lucky enough to be born on the farm and continued in the family business. My closest encounter with farm life was spending summers with my grandparents — both sides. So maybe I’m reclaiming my youth. That’s good. My childhood memories of running up and down cotton rows, crawling through an abandoned pig pens, and collecting eggs from the hen house are warm and fuzzy if not a bit black and muddy. But one of my favorite memories was of taking the halter off my horse Dolly. She wouldn’t let me put it on, my grandfather had to do that. BUT she would lower her head so I could take it off.

Think about that for a moment. A huge animal (horse) knew that a smaller animal (me at 8 years old) would do what the huge animal wanted simply by lowering its head. Working/playing with animals ignited a passion within me at a very early age. Thank you Dolly. Unfortunately that passion became hidden when my teenage hormones erupted.

Don’t many of us lose our minds when hormones erupt? … moving on … . These hormones took over. I got married too early had a beautiful baby boy, then got a divorce when the guy took off his navy uniform. ugh … . Yup, uniforms do make ’em look better!

Didn’t graduate from high school. But have managed to earn two graduate degrees and have enough college hours for three more degrees. School was a p-r-e-t-t-y good deal after all. I became a sponge and just couldn’t get enough learning.

That learning passion continues even today. I’m always researching and improving my goat milk bath and beauty products as well as working to improve my goat herd’s creditability. There’s no end and I like it that way.

Now I need a horse so I can name her Dolly. Actually, we need two horses. This current husband of mine has been around for more than 30 years and is my soul mate. He’ll have to name his own horse, though.

My Job

I have the absolute most perfect job on the planet. I raise nubian dairy goats and make goat milk bath and beauty products with their milk. Working from home has been a lifetime dream of mine. I just didn’t know that it would take 10 acres, miles of fences, several outbuildings, and livestock to fulfill it.

I birth the babies, milk the mamas, and make the soaps and lotions. That’s starting at the beginning, isn’t it. Actually, the beginning goes back to breeding the right buck to the right doe to get a confirmationally strong baby and body condition. But that beginning goes back even further, too. Sigh … there is no end to getting the right start. You just start where you are then figure out the rest.

Most folks who breed goats were lucky enough to be born on the farm and continued in the family business. My closest encounter with farm life was spending summers with my grandparents — both sides. So maybe I’m reclaiming my youth. That’s good. My childhood memories of running up and down cotton rows, crawling through an abandoned pig pens, and collecting eggs from the hen house are warm and fuzzy if not a bit black and muddy. But one of my favorite memories was of taking the halter off my horse Dolly. She wouldn’t let me put it on, my grandfather had to do that. BUT she would lower her head so I could take it off.

Think about that for a moment. A huge animal (horse) knew that a smaller animal (me at 8 years old) would do what the huge animal wanted simply by lowering its head. Working/playing with animals ignited a passion within me at a very early age. Thank you Dolly.

Unfortunately that passion became hidden when my teenage hormones erupted. Don’t many of us lose our minds when hormones erupt? … moving on … .

These hormones took over. I got married too early had a beautiful baby boy, then got a divorce when the guy took off his navy uniform. ugh … . Yup, uniforms do make ’em look better!

Didn’t graduate from high school. But have managed to earn two graduate degrees and have enough college hours for three more degrees. School was a p-r-e-t-t-y good deal after all. I became a sponge and just couldn’t get enough learning.

That learning passion continues even today. I’m always researching and improving my goat milk bath and beauty products as well as working to improve my goat herd’s creditability. There’s no end and I like it that way.

Now I need a horse so I can name her Dolly. Actually, we need two horses. This current husband of mine has been around for more than 30 years and is my soul mate. He’ll have to name his own horse, though.

Goat Milk Soaps at God’s Country Outfitters, Albemarle, NC

What a delightful time we had at GCO’s event. GCO has hosted this Hospice of Stanly fund raiser for the past two years, and we’ve been there, too. GCO has been a customer for several years so anything Nathan needs, we do our best to accommodate.

Like last year, we donated several products for the hospice auction. Actually, all the vendors donated special products or services to help rise money for hospice. Listening to the auctioneer’s chant always gets folks in the mood for spending. Cool.

Throughout the day, we chatted with customers and folks came by our booth to meet Natalie. I’m amazed at how many folks had goats in their youth. Love your stories. Yes, goats are incredible creatures. We’re blessed to have them.

Our favorite spot is by the fire hydrant. It’s perfect for goat poop and protection. However, we always bring a broom and dust pan for cleaning up after our goats. It’s OUR poop. We haul it in; we haul it out. Moving on … .

October begins our festival season here in North Carolina so we always have tons of soaps for the events. Usually the weather is perfect with gentle breezes and an occasional slight overcast.

The umbrella came in handy, though. It’s light weight enough that we could move it throughout the day making sure the ladies had shade, got to protect those fair skins. Remember: too much sun can be harmful to your skin. Always use a sun screen.

Attending festivals is new to us but we’ll be pros by the end of the season because we’re going to attend as many as possible. Our camp is made up of light weight tables, portable everything, as many wheels as possible, and fresh, good looking merchandise.

This year we unveiled our Sensual Sandalwood Goat Milk Soap with Natalie’s photograph on the label. Have I mentioned that all our products have a picture of a goat? It’s our way of honoring the herd that makes our goat milk soaps and lotions possible.

Goats are excellent companions. They get in and out of the truck by themselves. They can carry their weight in supplies (with care), and they work for water and grass. Natalie drew a crowd and let dozens of folks pet her while I was working with customers and talking about our goat milk skin care products.

As soon as we make more decisions on which festivals we’ll be attending, I’ll broadcast our schedule so you can come meet us. Meeting customers is truly enriching for me. I look forward to chatting with you.

More later … Pat

Goat Milk Bath and Beauty at Badin Festival

JordanNatalieMia_edited-1Festival season is always my favorite time of year. We attend as many local events as we can because they are so much fun. I get to meet you and talk with you about your skin care needs; and thankfully, many of you share your beauty care regimes with me. Skin care is important to all of us, at any age.

Most of these venues allow us to bring a goat so we double our fun.

This year we brought Natalie. She’s five months old and was a perfect lady. We didn’t know how she would react because this is the first time she’s been off the ranch. She met oodles of new friends who wanted to pet her and even allowed a baby to play with her ears – for a moment. However, when she did get stressed, she jumped onto Jordan’s lap. Yup, Jordan was a busy lady, too. Natalie was exhausted and slept all the way home.

A special ‘thank you’ goes to Jordan’s friend, Mia, who helped with the soaps and the goat. Mia, you made our event even more fun and stress-free. Thank you for being with us.

Our goat milk bath soaps and beauty lotions were received very well. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. As usual the favorite essential oil aroma was lavender. I’ll make more lotion today.

Lemon was introduced as our newest soap and coordinating lotion. Most folks liked it for its citrus sensation and agreed that it would feel tingly on their toes.

I’m working on our festival schedule and will publisher it as soon as it’s more organized.

Thank you for coming by our booth. It was fun to see how many of you used the magic word and received a free soap sample. Be on the lookout for the next magic word so you can get your next free soap sample.

Happy soaping, Pat

Soap Making Process Makes or Breaks End Product

Having a recipe for making soap is one thing but knowing how to put all the ingredients together makes a huge difference. When? How? What temperature? For how long? … are all critical questions that can be answered by taking a few minutes before you begin to stop and think about what your getting ready to do.

I’ll be writing an instructional series on how to make soap. But more pointedly, I’ll be focusing on how you can develop your own process for making soaps. It’s been my experience that the process one uses to make soaps makes a significant difference in the end result. Since theses instructional steps are being developed and released concurrently, I’m not sure at this point exactly how many steps will be included.

My plan is to work through my process then let you know what works for me. Some of my recommendations may not work for you, and that’s fine, but at least you will have a model process to change. You’ll have a beginning, so to speak. By working with a tested process, you will have a better understanding of equipment layout, storage needs, and space planning.

My experience in these fields is buttressed by years of store planning and architectural/interior design, as well as years of writing information technology process manuals and teaching writing courses at the university level.

Getting Ready

If this is the first time you’ve made soap, then you are probably working with a recipe/formula you got from an experience soap maker. Chances are good the author included some preliminary instructions on how to put these ingredients together. But, did the author write the recipe for a beginning soap maker or for an experienced soap maker who has a degree ‘presumed knowledge’. The nuances make a difference.

Thoroughly understand your recipe. Be aware of the caustic materials, the temperatures, the flash points, the precautions, the neutralizers, and the ventilation needed to be safe.

Get your ingredients out where you can see them. Make sure you have enough of everything that your recipe calls for. Having these ingredients together will also help you remember to put all of them in your mix; forgetting an oil critically alters your end product.

Working with lye is dangerous. You must exercise caution with every step. Lye can burn your skin and inhaling its fumes can burn your mucus membranes as well as your eyes! Be careful! Know all precautions. Place neutralizers throughout your work space and have emergency phone numbers where everyone one can see them.

Gather all your equipment in one spot; make sure you have all the tools you’ll need BEFORE beginning because you will not have time to go searching for missing equipment or ingredients once the chemistry starts working. Put your equipment is in its proper place. This way that spoon you desperately need will be where you need it when you need it instead of across the room or in a closed drawer.

TIP: A ‘walk-through’ helps. What I mean by this is walking-through what the recipe instructions tell you to do; kind of like role-playing but without the ingredients. Go through every step the author suggests just to make sure you understand which tools work with each step. This is how I learned where to put my stainless steal spoons versus my rubber spatula; and where to store my stove and my immersion blender.

Clean or otherwise prepare your countertops and tools. I say this because I make goat milk soaps and lotions and everything that touches milk must be sanitized for milk to produce its best results.

Your room must be clean, well lit and have adequate ventilation and exits. Just in case you need to leave quickly. No children, no pets and no items on floors that might cause you to trip, slip or fall.

For you graphic learners, I have translated the above text into a process chart.

GettingStartedThis concludes the Getting Ready steps. Next I’ll address more of the actual preparation of soap making. That will take more time to develop so please be patient with me. I’m working on it.

May your soapmaking be joyful!

Goat Milk Oatmeal Soap Recipe

One of my favorite books about milk soaps was written by Casey Makela in 1997. Milk-Based Soaps: Making Natural, Skin-Nourishing Soap contains recipes for soaps as well as benefits and reasons why milk is so good for your skin.
My copy is tattered and torn on a page or two but it’s loved and well-worn. Every time I read this book some new bit of knowledge reveals itself. It’s fun reading my old notes on a few pages, seeing my thought process as I was learning soapmaking.
Of all the recipes about milk soaps, my favorite is Oatmeal Soap (page 66). Oatmeal goat milk soap was the first soap I made and always keep in stock because it makes my skin feel wonderful every time I use it — without exception. The recipe follows:
Oatmeal Soap (makes 32 4-ounce bars)
3 pounds pure vegetable shortening
17 ounces extra-light olive oil
12 ounces safflower oil
8 ounces canola oil
3 pounds goat milk (one gallon weights 8 pounds)
12 ounces pour sodium hydroxide (lye)
1 ounce borax
1/4 ounce white sugar
1/4 ounce glycerin
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 ounce almond fragrance oil
1/4 ounce vanilla fragrance oil
Special instructions. Prepare the oatmeal by putting 1/2 cup of rolled oats in the blender and grating it for 60 seconds, or until you get a medium-course powder.
Refining the oatmeal in this manner helps it to better blend into the soap, an creates a more finely textured soap.
Add the oatmeal when you run the liquid mixture through the blender for the first time, and add the fragrance oils when you run the liquid mixture through the blender for the second time.
I highly recommend getting this book if you’re interested in making milk soaps. Then read it about 7 times so you’ll ‘get it’.
Space is too limited here to discuss PROCESS but it is critical. To learn more about process, go to the following website.
Kathy’s Soapmaking Links lead to a wealth of information on soapmaking and soapmakers who share their talents and skills. These links are excellent places to begin your research on how to make soap.
http://millersoap.com/soaplinks.html
Happy soaping!