I have milked most of the dairy goat breeds. I made the decision a few years ago to milk the smaller type goats, mostly nigerian dwarfs and mini manchas. I was milking full size goats for years by hand and eventually started to develop carpel tunnel. After one summer of milking an ornery goat named Winifred, I developed right thumb tendonitis. It was so bad I had to see a physical therapist for two months.
Physical Therapist: “How did you injure your thumb?”
Me: “Milking Fred.”
Physical Therapist: “Who is Fred?”
The conversation went down hill from there. What my physical therapist explained to me was that repetitive stress injuries get worse if you keep doing them. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to get better. He said this several times, I think mostly because he thought I wasn’t getting his point. I got the point and I also made up my mind to get a milking machine.
Goat milking machines and equipment can vary in price just like any thing else. There are high end professional types (the first ones I looked at) all the way down to simple foot pump operated vacuums that don’t require electricity. The professional types are usually engineered to milk multiple goats and come with a hearty price tag. The smaller, one goat at a time type milkers, have a variable price range but can usually be found in the hundred dollar range. My husband immediately poo-pooed the hearty price tag models and suggested I look for a used one on Craig’s List.
In the end I found one on Amazon.com of all crazy places. A nice fellow named Dan who lives in Florida makes a hand held, battery powered vacuum milking machine. I think what sold me on his product was the youtube video he produced with his goat Nancy, who had to go to the bathroom several times during the instructional video. Nancy was not too keen on being in the video, in fact she didn’t look to keen about being milked either. Here is a link to the video:
This hand held milker actually works great. I find that I still need to hand milk a small amount after I remove the milker in order to completely empty out the doe but this is not such a big deal and the cats are quite excited to get that milk. The tubing assembly is easy to clean and I hang it to dry over the sink on a laundry rack. This milker has saved me from physical therapy and the goats like it just fine. I call that a win-win.
I suffer from a bit of an obsessive personality, plus I like to make stuff. So I guess I obsessively make stuff. My husband LOVES to remind me how I used to make Chinese food for dinner. All the time, practically every night. It’s just that I like to figure stuff out, and the way I figure is by DOING. Making Soap is no different. I have spent the last ten years learning the ins and outs of soap making. I am still learning. Maybe that is what makes the process so attractive to me. Each batch is slightly different, chemistry and art coming together to produce a beautiful, handcrafted product. Okay that description might be a bit poetic even for me, basically I keep making soap trying to better the process and the product. Like trying to increase your golf score. (Please note that I can’t golf at all. Play the whole game with a number three wood. That’s a club with some substance).
So how much handcrafted product can one realistically store in one’s home? When it became difficult to find a place to sit down in my office (the laundry room), I suspected we might have storage problems. Considering it was also difficult to sit at the kitchen table and dining room table, the issues became more critical, like people are coming over for dinner, where will they sit? Was a business born? Not quite. I have no business back ground. I majored in biology and chemistry. Not sales and marketing. I can’t even spell business without needing an autocorrect. But I love making soap so I guess a business was born when no one at my house could sit down.
Soap needs to “cure” for six weeks after you cut it before it is safe to use. There was soap all over our house and I needed to sell it. I had a fairly regular amount of sales from local friends but I needed to think bigger. Necessity might be the mother of invention but I try not to invent the wheel if someone else has already done it. So I opened an Etsy shop online. The first day was very nerve wracking trying to figure everything out but I gradually got the hang of it and learn more every day. Check out my shop by following this link (actually you may have to copy and paste it into your browser as I figure out the technicalities of this blog!):
here is another link:
We sell lotion bars (hard to describe but amazing!) and body yum (like body butter-think ‘thick lotion’). We can also make custom orders for wedding favors etc. with 6-8 weeks notice.
The best part about buying soap from a local soaper??? There are too many things to list! You can pronounce all of the ingredients! It’s not made in China! It’s good for your skin! (High quality oils and all natural ingredients make all the difference in soap). Not only are you supporting a small farm and a small business but you are also supporting an artisan craft.
Great Soap Comes from Happy Goats!