This weekend we are at Flower and Garden Show at Statehouse Convention Center. if you are in the area come by and see us. We are in the booth with White Wagon Farm.
For the past few days, we have been regularly monitoring “Oreo”, one of our foundation does. We knew she was close to kidding and that is exciting as well as tense. We always expect the best, but prepare for the worst. This weekend, in doing some research, we came upon some interesting tidbits about goat farming. One of the statements was, ” If the weather is 20 degrees an wet your goat will have two does. If the weather is 45 degrees and sunny you will have two bucks.” Does are far more valuable as they produce the milk. That just seems to be the way it is on the farm. Most difficult things happen at the most unfavorable times…. Back to my story… When I arrived home this afternoon, our chocolate lab was at the fence having a fit. He was barking running in circles and was genuinely upset. When I got to the gate and I opened it, he charged past me. Well I figured I better follow him to see what had him in such a tizzy. Joe runs directly to the goat yard, sits, and stares at the hay loft. Lo and behold, there stand two brand new kids. Somehow even being in the house or yard all day he knew that we had new kids. Now it’s up to me to see how they are and what we have, bucks or does. As I enter the pasture, my first question is are they getting nourishment? In just a few minutes, they are greedily suckling from their mom. Upon my quick inspection I discover we indeed have two precious does. Wow, easy birth, great weather, and two does! Life is good.
Saturday morning 11:20, my daughter, Chris and I are in the kitchen preparing for a baby shower. My husband runs to the door,”We have a baby on the ground.” Now this could be considered an issue in some households, but it is just spring at ours. We have goats and it is kidding season. The baby shower we were preparing for was not for a goat, but for our first grandchild. Preparations will have to wait.
We ran out to the goat house and lo and behold, we are blessed to witness our first kid of the season. We have a little doe. She is cappuccino in color and still very wet and wobbly. Her momma is Double Stuff, the baby of Oreo. This is Double Stuff’s first baby. She is a young momma and we are surprised at how well she is handling her new role. The most important thing when a new kid is born, is to make sure that nourishment is acquired quickly. We always have Nutri-drench available to give that quick boost. This is a cocoction of vitamins and electrolytes to help a new kid after the difficult birth process. Within thirty minutes, our tiny doe is on her feet and looking to momma for precious colostrum.
By the time Chris and I must leave for the shower, our new arrival has not had her colostrum. Today it will be my husband on kid duty. His job is to make sure she gets nourishment. Waiting for the little ones to get that first nursing session done is quite tense. Usually it takes a bit to make sure that there is a connection. This is a very important step. Animals are very adept at hiding if they aren’t well, so it can be difficult to tell if kids are well or hiding symptoms of dehydration. He is very diligent and really keeps an eye on her. While we are at the shower, we are keeping up with the events on the farm. Baby is trying. Momma is trying. Baby is staying close. Momma is pushing her back to her teats. But still no visual success of nursing.
As we arrive back home, baby seems strong, but there is still no evidence of her having nursed. Our daughter is a veterinarian, we had her do a physical and it seems she is the perfect specimen of health. We all utter a sigh of relief. As I said animals are very adept, and it seems she has found nourishment without our help. And so the kidding begins.
This is our fourth year in business and we have to deal with increases in our raw materials as well. When we started this venture, the economy was not at it’s best and we had no idea if our products would even move. At first, I was not able to buy my ingredients for making soap from wholesalers, so I was paying retail prices for items. We really had a hard time making a profit on each bar of soap. My idea was to produce a quality bar, made from quality vegetable based ingredients at a reasonable price. I wanted everyone to be able to afford good soap. Soon people were purchasing our bars and we were having to look at making more, lots more. The process in which I was buying raw materials had to change. I began looking to wholesale sources for the oils that go into the soap. These oils were affordable but not the quality I was looking for. We had several batches that were complete losses! Not good at all for your bottom line. As time passed and we studied more, we were able to find suppliers with the quality we desired. However, in order to keep our costs in line, we had to start receiving larger orders of oils and butters. This in turn meant making more soap so that we could use the oils in a timely fashion. If the oils are not used, there can be an issue of spoilage. More soap provided us the opportunity to reach more potential customers. Which in turn lead to a greater volume in sales. As we have gone through this transformation we have been able to keep our cost per bar reasonable and yet offer a rich emollient bar of soap at an affordable price.
We are pleased with our products, and are very grateful to be able to offer them at such a reasonable price, while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Today is soap making day. I thought I would share the experience. When we make soap, we usually make seven batches. Each batch is seven pounds. First, all of the ingredients must be assembled. We use several different oils,frozen cubes of goat’s milk, lye, scents and herbs or spices. The soap is processed in the kitchen. Once we have gathered all of the items needed to make the soap, we get all of the tools ready to begin the process. This consists of a large, heavy stainless steel pot, silicone spatulas, silicone mats, thermometers, a scale, gloves, measuring cups, an electric emulsion mixer, wooden molds, and a scale. One bat
ch is made at a time. The oils are measured out and placed in the pan, which is on low heat. While the oils are gently warming, the cubes of milk and the lye are carefully mixed. At this point you must get the oil and the milk mixture to the same temperature in order to blend them into your soap product. Once this is accomplished, you can add herbs, additives and scent. The next step is to emulsify this until it thickens to about the consistency of thick gravy. When this happens, the soap is poured into the molds. It will remain in the molds for several days. Once the soap has set a few days, it is removed from molds and cut into bars. From this point, it drys a couple of weeks, then it is trimmed and sets a bit more. In about another week the soap is tied and tagged and ready for market.