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Re-Stocking and Creating New Soaps

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Chickens Will Rooster Wherever, Even a Cold Metal Railing

Where else is a chicken to roost

The holidays are over, family is gone, and we are back to the day-to-day routine here at Wynott.  Bob and I both are back to our regular day jobs (which by themselves keep us on our toes) and back to the routine of chores for the animals and soap work.

The goats and chickens are not overly fond of the cold weather of winter.  We keep a nice thick layer of straw on the floor of the barn to keep that warm for the goats, and we try to let the chickens out to free range as much as possible.  Who wants to stay in a frozen (or muddy) run all day long?  So where does a chicken go when they get out of the run? To the walkway railing of course.  So glad we went to the effort of providing them a place to rest on their busy days of worm and bug catching….

Time to Restock These Empty Shelves with New Soap

Get a load of these empty shelves

Restocking

As I look at the shelves of soap, some of them are a bit bare, and in need of a bit of stocking.  This weekend, I wrapped 80 bars of new soap and made two batches of soap to fill up our shelves again after the busy holiday season

Look at all that new soap

Now this is the way the shelves are supposed to look…good and full

We were almost completely out of Patchouli/Rosemary and Cedarwood/Rosemary, so they are now curing on the shelf waiting for orders to start pouring in.  Next weekend, we will make even more and then . . . some creativity.

Our newest offering, liquid soap - new soap here!

Our first half a gallon of liquid soap

Trying New Soap

We consider the months of January through March our creative time.  We have some really exciting new soap ideas for 2016 and can’t wait to get started on them.  We have read lots of wonderful reviews on the benefits of Charcoal soap so that will be–Item #1.  We also have had lots of requests for a beach- scented soap.  I have ordered some coconut and vanilla oils as well as some grapefruit to start working on that–Item #2.  And lastly, we have had some requests for a liquid hand soap–Item #3.  Cant wait to get working on these after one more weekend of stock build-up.

Keep an eye out here and the table at the City Market come spring for these wonderful new soap items, and grab some to try.

What do you think of these new ideas? Any particularly entice you?  

Atlas, The Boxer, Our Family’s Best Friend

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Christmas holidays this year were a bit different here at Wynott Farm.  Our family did not come to visit until close to New Year’s, and Christmas itself was a bit of a challenge.  We lost an amazing pet and one of our “best friends.”  Although he did not start as a farm dog, he became an excellent one.  And although he started as a stud muffin, he became a member of our family.Always Attention, Atlas the Boxer

In January of 2004, the best little boxer puppy in all the world was born in a small town in Scotland.

In a previous life, before goats, Bob and I bred boxers and were in the midst of striving to develop a strong line of American boxers.  We had 4 adult boxers and a couple of puppies and made arrangements to import a boxer with great Italian breeding from a wonderful breeder, Camsail Boxers, in Scotland, as the corner stone of our breeding program.

In April of that year, we shipped this cute little puppy from overseas and picked him up from the baggage area at the airport.  Was he scared, shivering, and anxious after his trip in the airplane?  Absolutely not…. He bounded out of the air crate with a happy face and a look in his eye that seemed to say “OK, so what great adventure comes next?”

Although for a variety of reasons we really only had a couple litters of puppies after we got Atlas, we have never been sorry that we brought him home.

Our Boxer Atlas Keeps An Eye on the FarmyardAtlas loved to spend time with our family.  Although some male dogs wander to find the nearest attractive female and get blustery around other male dogs, that was never Atlas.  He enjoyed nothing more than the opportunity to carry a very large stick and hang around with the family and his other doggy buddies in the yard.  He was a dog that took great joy in his toys and was quite intense in his desire to get and maintain control of them.  Yet, he was welcoming of any other animal to our yard and into our home as long as we, his family, welcomed them.  He enjoyed watching the chickens and never chased one (boxers have a very strong prey drive, but if we told him no, no it was).  He loved to visit Ethel and Lucy through the goats’ fence and never got into as much as a tiff with them.

Atlas adored our children.  He greeted them with a full hearty wag of his little stubby tail from day one, and loved nothing more than seeing our kids walking through the front door.  He loved my mom when she came to live with us and seemed to have a sense of the care he needed to take around her as she walked with her walker.

Thus was our life with Atlas.  This wonderful dog, after 12 years as our family companion and pet, and 12 years of unabashed faithfulness, passed away on December 26.

Our Boxer Atlas, resting.

Atlas loved his head on a pillow. Almost human.

We will miss Atlas and his vibrance for doggy life, and Bob will truly miss his buddy….

 

Christmas Thankfulness

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As we near Christmas, we here at Wynott Farm are so thankful for this time of year.  Yet, during this very happy and exciting season, we are having quite a time with a significant illness in our extended family. Thus, we have been unable to find the opportunity to write a post this weekend.

So instead, enjoy these pictures of our beautiful goats and tell us about your favorite holiday traditions in the comments.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Thankfulnses

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Going Purple With Alkanet Root

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Today, I tried something new! (We’re on a roll – first badger-hair brushes and now this!)

What Sells Soap

In order to better our product, I have been looking at other soap makers’ products and wondering, “Why does their soap sell?”, or “Why does it not sell?”  One thing that seems to make soap appealing is color.  So today, I determined to add a bit of color to some of our soap.  Now, I don’t want too much color.  I really don’t think that pink polka dot soap would be nice, and one thing I have determined about our soap as we change and grow, it that it must always be a great shower bar. Only so much change is in order.

Alkanet Root

I took a look at options for adding color.  We do want to continue to have a natural product that doesn’t contain a lot of extra junk.  So I found this colorant for purple called Alkanet Root Powder.  I have also found that some micas add color, and I may try those in the future. But for now, I was just looking for a bit of purple to add a swirl to our lavender soap.

I made our usual batch of soap, which will give us about 120 bars. I mixed all of the ingredients as usual and then blended the soap until it just barely reached trace, that is, the point where a trace of texture is left on the surface of the soap when you pour it.  It had to be just right so that the next step would leave a pleasing swirl.  At this point, I poured 3/4 of my batch of soap into the soap mold, tapped it down, and stirred the bubbles out of the mixture.  I then added some Alkanet Root Powder to the 1/4 of the mixture left in my bucket.  I blended this a bit longer with the emersion blender to make sure that the color was well mixed into the soap, then poured the purple portion slowly into the mold along with the white portion.  I used a shiskabob skewer to swirl the purple into the white portion of the soap and set it to saponify.  Then, I let it sit until the next day . . .

The Results

Adding Color to Our Goat Milk Soap

The top of the poured soap in the mold before cutting.

Goat Milk Soap with Alkanet Root to Give it Color

The swirled soap after cutting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would love to get your opinion on the appearance of our newly swirled soap. Should I continue to add color to some of our other soaps?

Turning Handles – New Badger-Hair Shave Brushes

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Bob and I are, well, let’s just say that we are not spring chickens any more.  It seems that learning new tasks is just a bit more challenging than it once was.  Enter the handles for our new badger-hair shave brushes.

In building our soap business, we started to consider adding items to our inventory that would compliment our soap. One idea that came to mind a year ago was shaving brushes.  You see we produce a wonderful shaving soap in a puck form, and at the Charlottesville City Market, we sell some hand-thrown ceramic shaving mugs to use with the shaving soap, but up until now, we did not have a source for really nice shaving brushes with handles.

Finding the Materials

Bob found a source for lovely badger hair brushes that feel really wonderful on your face (or so I am told since I, Kathy,  have never experienced the facial shave), but we needed a source for handles.  Where oh where could our new handles come from?

Turning Handles for our new badger-hair shave brushesTurning Handles for our new badger-hair shave brushesBob is an amazing shopper.  He can find a used anything for an amazing price.  He set his mind to finding a lathe, and that he did.  A 1950’s Craftsman lathe.  It is a thing of beauty, a machine built for many, many years of service.  The stand is made of cast iron and requires 2 men to move it, and the motor runs as if it was made yesterday.  The leather belt that turns the machine is in amazing shape. This lathe was clearly well-cared-for; 50 years later, the paint is in excellent condition, and it works like a charm.

Making the Handles

We cut some dogwood into pieces about a year ago with this process in mind so they were nice and dry, and ready for turning, so a couple of weeks ago, we turned on the lathe and got to work.  Our son Derek has had some limited experience with a lathe, and I had a very small amount of experience just a “few” years ago when I (yes, I Kathy) took a shop class in high school (no comments from the peanut gallery on how long ago that must have been).  We put a piece of wood on the lathe and turned away.  It has been sort of fun to look at the shapes and finishes that we like, and we are quite pleaOne of our new handles for our badger-hair shave brushessed with the results that we have been able to produce so far.

Today, our friend Ricky, who has had some experience turning items on a lathe, came over to help us with some ideas.  He showed us an amazing product called Shellawax that when paired with some really fine grit sandpaper and a bit of elbow grease puts a really nice finish on the shaving brush handles.  Take a look at this handle turned today, soon to be paired up with a silvertip badger hair brush.

How about that? Old dogs really can learn new tricks.

Charlottesville City Market

By | Goats, soap, Uncategorized | No Comments

For the third year in a row, we are gearing up to sell our goat milk soap at the Charlottesville City Market’s Holiday Market.  It is a wonderful time of year.  Goat Milk Soap at Charlottesville City MarketThe City Market has lots of vendors–food, jewelry and holiday craft vendors as well as the produce and market vendors that are there all year long.  The air is crisp, and people are gearing up for shopping for Christmas and other winter holidays.  We, as usual, are up at the crack of dawn, getting the car packed up and ready to set up for a start time at the market of 8:00am.

Bob usually staffs the booth at the market, so you will most likely see him there talking about the wonderful benefits of goat milk soap for your skin and sharing about the ingredients and why the essential oils that we use are so much better for your skin than the chemical fragrance oils that some soap makers use.  He will also be happy to tell you about the personalities of the wonderful goats that produce the milk for our soaps or about the due dates of each of our does as we wait for them to grow babies.

Bob’s Charlottesville City Market Day Ritual

cortadoAt 5;00 AM, Bob gets up to enjoy his rich, deep, tasty cup of coffee.  His coffee drink of choice is a Cortado, which is equal parts espresso and steamed milk.  He likes a bit of syrup for flavor and then sits down for some music before starting his day.  This is a special time in the mornings that really helps him get charged up for the market and the business of his Saturdays.   He leaves our house for the market at 6:15, gets to Charlottesville City Market, and sets up the booth.  He sets out a few bars of goat milk soap of each scent, sets out our shaving soap and sets, and then decorates. Then, he is ready to go for the day.  That is when he goes around and visits with the other vendors before all of shoppers start to arrive.

Bob’s Meet and Greet

If you only knew Bob 30 years ago, you would wonder if he is the same guy.   He used to be a bit of an introvert, and he was definitely not one to go looking for people to speak to, but now, the City Market is truly one of his favorite times of the week.  He simply loves to visit with the other vendors and customers as well.  You will find that his face is almost always smiling, and he will talk to anyone  about anything. Just get him started and see……

See you at the Charlottesville City Market every Saturday between now and Christmas from 8:00am  to 1:00pm at 100 Water Street at the top row of the market furthest from Market Street. 

Giving Thanks

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thanksgiving dinner 2015

What a beautiful Thanksgiving Day we have here in Crozet, Virginia at Wynott Farm.  In America, it’s been easy for many of us to take a lot for granted.  Historians offer different accounts of the origins of Thanksgiving. None of that matters for us today.

We have our own enemies, fears, and daily struggles.  Like the Pilgrims, and the Native Americans, we can choose to give thanks, or not.  We can choose to honor those we might not be comfortable being around, or not, including of course, our own family.

From us at Wynott Farm, having completed two years in business, we want to express our deep gratitude to the retailers who have partnered with us in offering our soaps in their stores.  So, thank you to our friends at Whole Foods, Foods of All Nations, Rebecca’s Natural Foods, Integral Yoga, Michie Tavern, Parkway Pharmacy, Carter’s Fruit Stand in Afton, the Crozet Artisan Depot, Meadowbrook Pharmacy, the Virginia Shops, Cranberry’s Grocery of Staunton, the Cheese Shop in Stuart’s Draft, Grandma’s Pantry in Harrisonburg, Virginia Born & Bred and Cool Springs Organics in Lexington, and Good Foods Grocery in Richmond.  We also want to thank our vendor friends and the management team at the Charlottesville City Market, where we first began to offer our soaps.

As thankful as we are to have wonderful people and friends at the venues mentioned above, without our customers, we would not be in business.  So today, we also want to thank our customers.  We don’t know many of you who buy from the retailers selling our soaps, but we thank you just the same, and we would love to hear from you.  Meeting our customers, and hearing how much they value and love our soaps is so rewarding.  Just yesterday, Bob took a call from a man in Connecticut who wanted some help ordering through our online store at wynottfarm.com.  He said, “A week or two ago, we were at the City Market in Charlottesville, and bought a few of your small bars.  We really like your soap, and would like to buy more.”   So, to all of our customers, a heartfelt thank you!

To our friends who follow us through Facebook or Instagram, who have liked us or chosen to follow us, to read about our wonderful goats, and soaps, who have perhaps read our blog posts, and shared us with your friends, thank you too!

So, like the colonists, and th20151120_081614e Native Americans, today is a day for putting aside differences, for stepping out of our comfort zones, to care more about others than ourselves, and to express our thanks and appreciation for them, and for
our Creator, the giver of all good things.

 

 

Goat Milk Soap on the Kitchen Floor

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Early Soap Not much has changed except the label

Early Soap – Not much has changed except the label.

Early in our goat milk soap making endeavors, we used a simple mold made out of 2 x 4s.  This mold was 36 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide.  We lined the entire mold with freezer paper, a time-consuming process, and made enough soap to pour two molds at a time, or about 56 bars in a batch.

Our typical batch was made in a 5-gallon bucket, then lifted and poured on the kitchen counter.  That was a lot of lifting and reaching.  After we poured the soap, we then tapped the sides of the mold to make sure all of the air bubbles were out of the batch, and then let it cure for 24 hours before cutting it into bars.

One fateful day, we decided that it would save us a little energy by pouring the batch on the floor.  We lined the molds and placed them on the kitchen floor.  We proceeded to mix our batch of soap as usual and poured it easy as pie into the molds.  We tapped the sides and got them all ready to cure.  Only then did we think about the fact that we had to get these molds from the floor to the kitchen counter.

You see, we have 3 indoor dogs–a boxer, who at 13 years of age still acts like a puppy, and 2 energetic and curious miniature schnauzers.  We could not leave the soap on the floor for their sniffing pleasure as not only would it ruin the soap to have little nose marks in it, but it could also burn their little noses.   In the first 24 hours after making the soap, the soap is caustic.  The chemical reaction of saponification is taking place, and there is still caustic lye in the liquid soap mixture.  So we HAD to move it up to the kitchen counter to cure.

Bob took one end of the 36-inch long mold, and I took the other.  “On the count of 3, lift slowly and steadily,” Bob said.  One, Two, Three . . . Bob lifted faster than I did, and the soap sloshed just a little, then he slowed down and I sped up, and it sloshed the other way. Then he slowed down, and I sped up and over the sides of the mold went the liquid soap.  A good half of the soap ended up on the kitchen floor.

Thankfully, we had taken appropriate safety precautions.  The dogs were all safely closed in the pantry, and both Bob and I had our long utility gloves on.  No burns, no injuries, just a bit of spilled soap.  And what do they say, Don’t cry over spilled soap?   Oh, perhaps my liquid is wrong.Soap Making

In any case, we both had a good laugh and decided that pouring on the floor was not a great idea after all.  We let the soap mixture firm up a little on the floor and scooped it up with a large spoon, then had a sudsy mopping up of the rest…. No harm, no foul, and a great lesson learned.

Not much has changed here either except the size of our pots.

Drying Off the Does: Winter Goat Prep

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Well, that time has arrived again.  The time to work on drying off our does in preparation for winter.  Many goat owners keep their does in milk until about 2 months before they are due to kid in the spring. It is safe to do so as long as they are having their nutritional needs met with feed, hay, and appropriate mineral supplementation.

We, however, do not like milking in the cold of the winter.  We are milking wimps.

20151115_190754In the cold of the winter, we would prefer to enjoy the warmth of the fire in the fireplace (ok, so it is a propane fire place, but it is fire and it is warm so why quibble over the facts) in the evenings and decrease the stress on the bodies of our faithful does during the most miserable time of year for them.  So around this time of year, we start working on drying them off.

20151115_163205Our wonderful does  continue to produce milk as long as we ask it of them.  And if we are late for a milking, or if we were to miss one milking, they start to get quite uncomfortable.  So as we start to work on drying them off, we decrease the amount of grain that we give them by feeding them just once a day instead of twice a day for about a week.  Then since we already transitioned to once a day milking in the end of the summer, we now decrease to milking once every 36 hours.  We made this transition this weekend, and those poor girls were really uncomfortable yesterday.  Twice today, they have gone running for the barn thinking that for sure it MUST be time to be milked, only to be thwarted yet again.  This evening, our work will be in coaxing that first bit of milk out of a very tight udder and teat.

As God designed, after a few days of these 36 hour gaps between milking, the milk supply will drop just a bit, and they will not be nearly so uncomfortable.  Then, we will go to every 48 hour milkings.  The ladies will again be a bit uncomfy, but again, after a week or so, they will adjust, and again we will increase the amount of time between milking.  Finally, we will only milk when they seem to be full, and after about 3-4 weeks of this process, their bodies will shut off the message to make milk, and they will be ready for winter.IMG_20140317_091058_195

This is all a process that I dread in some ways.  We must watch closely for any sign of complications during this process, and even though we have never had any problems, I know that mastitis is always a possibility as are clogged milk ducts.  We also must make sure that we are meeting our does nutritional needs without making them chubby.  So we watch, and wait, and keep an eye on their body condition, and love on them, and enjoy them as usual.

In the mean time, our milk supply is in wonderful shape.  We have two freezers absolutely chock full of goat milk that is just waiting for soap making.

Now, we wait for spring, for new kids to arrive, and for the yearly cycle of the dairy goat owner to start again.

Addendum: Apparently the ladies are ready to dry off, too.  They were none too full tonight after 36 hours.  The decrease in food must be doing its job.  Perhaps this won’t take too long after all.  Good thing for this wimpy milker because cold weather is coming.

 

Our First Experience with Goat Milk Soap

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Up until now, our posts  have been about “farm life.”  Today, let’s talk about our first experience with goat milk soap. In many ways, our journey into the soap-making business happened as an “accident” of sorts.  An experiment gone wonderfully right!

Our First Experience with Goat Milk Soap

Our refrigerator gets fully quickly.

After we got goats, started enjoying the milking and enjoying the goats, the next question in our minds was what we could do with the glut of goat’s milk we were developing.  After reading a bit about soap making, we thought trying our hand at making soap would be fun.

At first, I was really concerned about the use of lye in the soap-making process.  It scared me.  I read stories about people spilling lye on themselves and getting burns.  I even read one story about a woman who was making soap and spilled the lye mixture on her dog, giving her dog some burns.  That put some fear in me, but I was still intrigued with the process. I did more reading, including blogs from soap makers who, with careful safety practices, never had accidents and seemed to really have fun with their soap making.  I also read about soap makers who made soap using goat milk for their families , whose problems with dry, flakey skin just disappeared.  I was ready to give it a try.

Bob and I went shopping.  We got safety equipment – goggles, utility gloves, special pots, and utensils to be reserved just for soap making – and some other items – a scale, olive oil, coconut oil, and essential oils.  Then, I used a wonderful website called Soapcalc to calculate the recipe that I wanted to use and the amount of Lye to use in my recipe, and we made our first batch of soap.

Our First Experience with Goat Milk Soap

Soap in the mold.

There is a bit of a delayed satisfaction with soap making. We had thought it would be a fun science experiment and would be nice to have some soap to use for our family.   After making our first batch, we had to leave it on a shelf in our guest bedroom for four weeks before we could try it out because it needs to cure for that long after making it.  It needs that time to dry out to a nice hard bar of soap and also to mellow as it were and to allow the ph of the soap to come closer to that of our skin so it is not too harsh.

After a long 4 weeks of waiting, we tried our first bar of soap. Wow were we pleased!  It not only smelled wonderful, but it was so gentle on our skin and was nice and bubbly.  We were so pleased with the outcome and really thought we would like to try again.

Our First Experience with Goat Milk Soap

Ready to Use!

So on to batch #2.  We made a few changes to our recipe, tweeking it to be just what we wanted it to be, made a bit larger mold to pour it into so we could make more than 10 bars at a time, and started all over again.  For the next 2 weeks in a row, we tried 2 more batches of soap with two different scents.  Again, we were so totally pleased with the outcome and anxiously awaited the four weeks of soap curing, and again, after four weeks, we were very pleased with the results.

Always the entrepreneur, Bob’s mind was clearly turning.  It was not long before he started thinking about how we could wrap the soap to look nice and how we could start to sell the soap . . . but more about that another day.

 

Our soap is always available to buy.  Just click Soap on our website and place your order.  Thanks.