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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Goat's milk bath and beauty

For the next several weeks I am going to feature 2 artisan shops a week.  Since Christmas is now less than 3 months away, I want you to get some really good ideas for Christmas presents.  Most handmade artisans take a great deal of pride in their and work very hard.  Yes I know there are always a few bad apples in any barrel  but don't let that discourage you from finding the wonderful gifts often with fabulous prices and most artisans except custom orders as well.  The artisan feature for at least the month of October will be posted on Saturdays and Thursdays starting this week.

By Ginger Besser Ballard:

Sugar scrub soaps

I started out with three goats (does to be precise).  I feel madly in love with them and decided that I wanted to breed them and have goat's milk.  I wanted to do everything with that milk (drink it, make cheese, ice cream, yogurt and goat's milk soap and lotion soon went on the list.  At first I gave it away to family, friends and coworkers.  I had so many requests to sell it that I started a web site even though I was working full time.  I retired 4 years ago.  Three years ago I started selling at the local farmer's market.  My customers at the market became my teachers they would tell me what kind of products they would like to see and featuring different goats on the labels was another idea they gave me.  They also tell me which fragrances and essential oils they like.

At this time I am selling on my own web site, Etsy and Craft Cafe as well as at the Fort Smith farmer's market.  Business has increased every year and my days are full making soaps and various other products.  I have made some wonderful new friends and get to work with my goats as well, which I love.

For people to really understand the goat's milk world, they would need to know a bit about kidding.  After all without kids there would be no goat's milk.  This year I had 11 kids 9 of which were bucks and I bottle feed all of them.  Usually have so many bucks is a big problem but this year there was a big demand and I sold all of them for breeding.  Usually we band the bucks (a neutering like process  and sell them as companions, pets or for cleaning up brush, etc.  I kept one of the doelings that I call Hadley.  She was born on St. Patrick's day and is very spoiled and very beautiful.  My days start with bottle feeding the kids and milking all of the moms.  Next I strain and prep the milk.  I pasteurize the milk for the kids to protect them from any disease that could be passed on.  Personally I drink the milk raw.  Then I freeze the milk for the soap so it won't burn when I add the lye.  I use 100% goat's milk in my goat's milk soaps (no water at all).

I measure and prepare the lye and oils then depending on the fragrance or how quickly I need the soap, I either make it cold process or hot process.  Cold process makes a very beautiful bar and I find the best mold to use is the one shaped like a  kid goat.  If I have a fragrance that is known for ricing (the soap actually looks like there is rice in it) or seizing I use the hot process to make the soap.  My favorite way of doing hot process is using the oven.

After I get my soaps and other products made for any orders then it's back to the goats.  My favorite activity  with them is our walk through the woods.  It can be quiet entertaining when the kids are little.  We also have 3 dogs that live with the goats.  One is an Australian shepherd and the other two showed up as puppies on our door step early one morning about 5 years ago.

Milking is done twice a day especially when lactation first starts, once early in the morning and then again in the evening.  My days can be quiet long taking care of the goats.

For cold process soaps, I make a lye solution with the milk and then any butters or oils to be added are melted (yes some oils do harden at cooler temperatures), then I add any room temperature oils then stir until trace and then add the fragrance oils.  The mixture then gets poured into the mold and about 24 hours later I take the soaps out of the mold.  Cold process soap makes a prettier bar that lasts longer but unfortunately the cure time is 4 to 8 weeks.

Hot process soaps can be cooked in a crock pot or the oven, the amount of time to cook depends on the amount of soap being made.  After cooking, the soap I add the fragrance oil and hand whip to get the mixture consistent.  Then it is poured into the mold and sets for 12 hours or so.  Hot process makes a really nice sudsy soap and you can use it almost immediately but it doesn't last as long as cold process soap.

I have been selling online for about 6 years now and it is my third year at the farmer's market.  I use a stainless steel pot for my soap making along with silicone spatulas, heavy plastic stir spoons and a very heavy immersion blender.  For molds various plastic molds can be used or even a pvc pipe, drawer dividers (found in the organization section of most stores) or wooden molds lined with butcher's paper.  I learned to make soaps through research and then trial and error from there.  Besides soaps, I make lotions, lip balms, sugar scrubs, lotion bars, solid perfumes, bath salts, whipped body butter, liquid soap and soap in foamers (liquid soaps and foaming soaps will be available online in the near future).  I vary my lotions and soaps by changing the oils, herbs and fragrances or essential oils.

You can find these goat's milk products by visiting her Craft Cafe shop or her Etsy shop or even her web site.  If you would like to see her tweets of new products or specials and sales or just converse with her here is her Twitter account.  You can also find her on Wanelo or Pinterest and finally you can also visit her Facebook page


  1. Thank you for such an informative post ... and for sharing a bit about kidding. I really know nothing about raising goats. I'm so glad that your animals are sold for companions, pets or "mowers". It seems that they all have a happy life! :-)

    1. I make every effort to "vet" people wanting to purchase goats. First they need to understand that goats are adorable but do require preventative care. They need housing and good fences for their protection and you can't have just one goat. :)) They are herd animals and would be very lonely!

      I'm glad you enjoyed the blog that Laura wrote about!! Stop by and visit us.

  2. Looking at your Etsy shop... I love your packaging with the pictures of the goats! So adorable.