Category Archives: goats

Goat Milk Soap – A Premium Homestead Product

First soap
My first soap: (L) Coconut Beach w/sea salt; (R) Coconut Cream

One of the great benefits to having dairy goats on My Lil Farm is making my own goat milk soap. I often see these bars of soap sold at vendor events, boutique shops and spas at a premium. The benefits of using goat milk on the skin has gone back for centuries. It’s even said that the milk baths that Cleopatra took were goat milk baths. Some of the benefits from using unpasteurized goat milk on the skin are listed below.

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids such as lactic acid help to remove dead skin cells from the surface which leave your skin smoother and younger feeling. Most soaps sold commercially are water based and contain many harsh chemicals.
  • Cream and fat are essential to a high-quality soap. Many people believe soaps high in oils and fat will leave their skin oily feeling, however it’s the fats that act as a surfactant to remove dirt and the excess oils from the skin, and this occurs without drying out the skin.
  • Vitamin A is particularly high in goat milk. Vitamin A is used in many antiaging creams which is necessary to repair damaged skin and maintain healthy skin. This is great also for people suffering from acne or psoriasis.
  • Minerals such as selenium can also be found in goat milk. There are studies that show that selenium has an important role in preventing skin cancer. Many areas of the country have soil that is not rich in selenium, but if your goats have this supplement added to their diets, this can also be a great benefit of goat milk soap.

    Soap supplies
    Some of my soap making supplies

Personally, for me, in addition to all the benefits listed above, I just really like making my own soap. I can make the fragrances I want and I know exactly what is in the soap. I feel clean and my skin feels amazing after using it. I can generally make a batch of 9 bars and it will last me several months. I have found some great sources online to buy my fragrances, colors and some of my supplies. I have also made some great bars of soap that my husband and son love to use with knockoff men’s cologne scents. Really, the reason I started making soap was because my goats were producing so much milk that I had to find something, anything, to do with it because it was just painful to pour all that milk down the drain. Since goat milk soap requires frozen unpasteurized goat milk, I can freeze the milk in ice cube trays and then store it in a gallon freezer bag in my deep freeze until I am ready to use it.

Nigerian dwarfs
My Ladies, Mattie, Mocha and Latte
Too Much Milk
Too much milk! This was 4 gallons in 3 days

I will never forget the first time I made soap. You would have thought I was preparing for a very dangerous science experiment. My son could sense it too, he was watching from the living room and told me he’d man the vinegar and call 911 if I needed him to. I do have a tendency to be over cautious, but I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time, and after all, lye can cause a significant chemical burn to the skin (ever see Fight Club?). With that being said, I am still very cautious. The bowels and spoons I use, I don’t use for anything else other than soap making. I will clean my counters and kitchen sink before I start and do my lye mixing down in the sink, just in case it spills. I always make sure I have a gallon of vinegar open next to the sink in case I get lye on the skin and need to pour it over that area to neutralize the lye. I also make sure EVERYONE knows that I am making soap and they cannot come into the kitchen until I am done and everything is cleaned up. The lye mixture looks a bit like white frosting and I have heard stories where unsuspecting family members have happened upon the mixture mid process and licked the spoon, only to acquire a chemical burn to the esophagus. Likewise, when the mixture is curing in the refrigerator, it can look and smell like a dessert. I use a spare refrigerator and label the soap clearly.

With all that being said, soap making really is easy. From start to clean-up it generally takes me 35-45 minutes. It’s like making a cake, but there’s no cooking and you wear personal protective equipment. If you don’t have access to goat milk, you can substitute with whole milk from the store. Of course it won’t have all the benefits, but it still makes a nice soap.

Soap dessert
Espresso Bars with coffee beans prior to being cut

Here is my recipe that makes approximately 9 bars of soap. I use a scale and weigh in grams to keep my proportions precise.

Ingredients:

  • 247 grams of Olive Oil
  • 165 grams Palm Oil
  • 48 grams Coconut Oil
  • 42 grams Castor Oil
  • 124 grams Shea Butter
  • 42 grams Fragrance Oil

 

  • 250 grams Frozen Goat Milk
  • 117 grams Lye

Supplies:

  • Glass or stainless-steel bowels
  • Stainless-steel spoon
  • Hand held blender
  • Soap Molds or Freezer Paper and a Disposable Aluminum Pan
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Goggles-vented (the kind you used in school for science experiments)
  • Thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Vinegar (on standby to neutralize the lye if you get it on your skin)
  • Long Sleeved Shirt

Directions:

Measure and mix all the oils (except the fragrance oil). The palm and coconut oils will have to be microwaved to bring into the fluid form.

Heat the oil mixture to 127 degrees F.

Mix the shea butter into the heated oils and let melt in.

Put the frozen goat milk in a separate tempered glass dish and set that dish in ice water bath in the sink. The lye creates an exothermic reaction and will cause the milk to get really hot which will discolor it to a less attractive brown. Slowly add the lye about ¼ teaspoon at a time and stir continuously until it is dissolved. The cubes will melt as the chemical reaction occurs. Use the thermometer to keep the temp below 80 degrees F. If it starts to rise too quickly, just continue to stir the frozen cubes without adding more lye until the temp comes down. Then resume adding small amounts of lye. This part of the process is what takes the longest.

About the time this lye mixing process is done, the oils should have cooled to about 80-90 degrees F. You don’t want more than a 10 degree difference between the lye mixture and the oils when they come together. Now add in the fragrance into the other oils and stir. If you add the fragrance when the oils are too hot, the heat can affect the fragrance.

Bring the lye milk mixture over to the oils and quickly pour into the oils.

Use a hand mixer and pulse to stimulate the sapinofication process (another chemical reaction). This is when you will be glad you are wearing your goggles, gloves and long-sleeved shirt. If you don’t pulse long enough, the mixture will be very fluid, if too long, it is very very thick. You want it about the thickness of frosting right after it is made. If you wish to add coloring it is during the pulsing process that you would want to add that. You could also pour off half if you want to get creative for a two-toned soap bar.

Pour your mixture into molds or the disposable aluminum pan lined with freezer paper (shiny side up). Try to make sure you get all the air bubbles out and smooth the surface. It won’t really settle after this, so the shape you have is what it will be. While pouring the mixture into the molds, sometimes I will add coffee beans, oatmeal or the large grained sea salt to act as an exfoliant. These usually compliment whatever fragrances I have chosen. If you are going for the two-toned look, pour in the first color, then slowly top with the second color. You can use a wooden skewer to trace through and make swirls.

Place the molds in the refrigerator for 24 hours. You can then remove them from the molds and place on a wire rack to continue the curing process. Wear gloves when removing. If you placed your mixture in a pan, it’s at this point you can cut them into bars. The soap is still soft enough that if pieces break off you can replace it and smooth it out with your hands, a little like soft clay.

Set your bars aside for a minimum of 9 weeks. The chemical process is still happening and the lye can burn if you use the soap too soon. I like to wait at least 3 months before I use mine. If the soaps are still soft, they will melt really fast in the shower and they get used up more quickly.

That is it. You can wrap up your bars or tie bows around them and sell them if you choose, or you can keep them all to yourself. I will warn you, once people find out that you are making goat milk soap, they will be asking you for bars to buy all the time.

Soap
Soap Curing: Cinnamon, Espresso Bars and a Drakkar scented soap for men

Dairy Goats – Lessons From My First Year

Mocha and her quads
Mocha and her quads

Growing up we never had goats and I can’t exactly say what it was that made me decide to take on goats as an adult, much less dairy goats. I mean, I had never milked anything before. I think there was a lot that went into the decision to produce our own dairy. At the top of that list was knowing exactly what was given to my dairy animals, so I knew my animals were healthy and fed the way I wanted. I had a lot of discussions with friends and some very thought provoking conversations. It was right after one of those conversations I just knew I needed to do this. That idea that had been brewing in the back of my mind became a decision.

Ok, I want dairy goats. Now what? I started reading everything I could online. What are the best breeds. What are the best temperaments? What goats produced the most? What goats produced the best tasting milk? It was while doing all of that reading, that I also came across all the benefits of goat milk. I had read how most people who say they are lactose intolerant are actually just intolerant to the l-casein that is in cow milk and not in goat milk. I also learned how goat milk is the most widely consumed milk in the world and that really, only in America, is it seen as something unusual. I also learned that goat milk is the most similar to human milk structurally and that it is so much easier on the digestive system. The more I read, the more I became certain that we had made the right decision.

After doing a lot of research, I had narrowed it down to 2 breeds, the Nubian with the long super floppy cute ears and the Nigerian Dwarf. The Nubian seemed to have all kinds of accolades for their sweet temperament and the quantity of milk they can produce, and of course those super cute ears were a great side benefit. The Nigerian Dwarf had a lot praise regarding how sweet their milk was and how good it tasted, but the volume of milk was much lower. I joined some Facebook goat for sale groups and soon learned that WOW this could quickly turn into an expensive hobby. Of course, while doing all this research, I was still talking all about the goats I wanted at work and that is when I found someone who had some Nigerian Dwarfs for sale at a reasonable price. So that was it, Nigerian Dwarfs were going to be the goats we got.

Bringing goats home
Bringing them to their new home

We made arrangements to go and look at them and ended up buying 3 females name Annie, Mocha and Latte. We left them for 3 weeks after we bought them to get them bred. I think in all the time I spent talking with people, that was the one fact that most people don’t know. In order to have milk, the female must first have a kid. She will then provide milk for about the next 9 months and then you have to freshen them by breeding them again to have another kid. No babies, no milk.

So it was the first week of October that we brought home our first 3 goats. With some help from my parents, we had made an enclosure with some fencing and T-posts and had a shed for them to get in out of the weather. They were pretty easy to contain. I will talk about goat enclosures and the difficulties in containing the larger breed of goats another time. So, there we had it, we were officially goat herders.

That fall was the easy part, all we had to do was feed and water them and watch them get fatter and fatter as their kids grew. These 3 goats were so sweet in their temperament. I would let them out and they would follow us around like little dogs, pushing their noses into our hands begging for some scratches. I absolutely fell in love with them.

goats getting fatter
Getting fatter with kids

Then came the next bit of research, kidding. How to recognize when the goats were about to have their kids and what to do after they were born. I learned that you could feel an area just in from of their tail along their spine and as they approached delivery, you could actually encircle the spine in that area with your fingers due to all the relaxation in the muscles that took place. I also started looking under their tails every day as the time approached, watching for discharge and any sign of an impending birth. I thought everything was going as planned and, of course, that’s when it didn’t.

That year in February, when they were all three due, we had one of the worst snow accumulations that I can remember in a very long time. It was an incredibly stressful winter. That’s when I went out to feed them, about 3 weeks before they were due and I found Annie wasn’t able to stand up. I called the vet and we started B vitamin shots, subcutaneous fluids and supplemental nourishment. She wasn’t getting better. I was calling the vet daily and she said that if we didn’t see improvement, I may have to bring her in for a c-section, but we wanted to hang on as long as possible. I was preparing for the worst. She wasn’t able to stand, she had stopped trying, and she was starting not to eat. Then one day after getting home from work, I went out and saw that she had delivered. Three little kids were on the floor behind her and she still hadn’t moved. I was heartbroken. I went in after towels and trash bags and began looking the kids over. They weren’t moving. It was when I got to the last kid, the one closest to Annie, that I heard a small whimper. She was still alive. I began rubbing her and getting her warm. I had already shut the other 2 goats outside as I began to work on the kid. She perked right up and I was so happy to have saved one. I brought her inside, and gave her to our son to hold and keep warm. I was sending my husband to the local farm store to get bottles and formula for the kid. It was still miserably cold outside with a foot of snow on the ground. I was going back out to check on Annie and when I opened the door, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was Latte, standing by the shed door with a kid half out of her. She was delivering today too!!! At that moment, all the composure I had developed as an ER nurse went right out the window. My husband was about to get in the truck to go to town when he heard me yelling for him to come back. I grabbed another towel and caught the kid right before she landed on the frozen ground. WHEW! What a day.

First year kidding
Our Son With Annie, Latte and Mocha and the First Two Kids

Ultimately, Annie did not make it more than 2 more days. I was able to get Latte to stand and take on feeding Annie’s kid as well as her own. However, at that point, I was a little traumatized and didn’t trust leaving the kids out in the exceptionally cold weather that year. Although I had shut the goats inside and had a space heater, keeping it above freezing, I just could bear to lose another kid. So we started bringing them in at night to bottle feed… every 2 hours. My son had a lot of school cancelled at the time, so he was up with me helping. It was a great experience for him. Three weeks later, Mocha delivered quadruplets. She was a great and experienced mother and they did well after that.

After a month of the kids getting mother’s milk, it was time to start to transition them to formula and I was starting to milk Mocha and Latte for us to consume. I was the only one able to milk them because they were so small, my husband couldn’t get a grip with his big hands to hand milk them. I soon invested in a suction milker and we were in business. Twice a day those two girls got milked. My husband had built me a milking stand and they loved it because they knew they would get their sweet feed while I milked. That’s when I learned to pasteurize and process our own dairy. I will also save that for a future post.

First milking
The First Milking With the Hand Milker

In hindsight, I think Annie had toxemia. I often wonder if I had provided more supplements or nutrition, if there would have been a better outcome. I think it was just a combination of that and the exceptionally harsh winter. I did learn some very valuable lessons though. First, I won’t every have winter kids again. Breeding will always be for May or June kids. Second, I have learned to stagger their breedings, I need a couple of weeks between each birth. Two simultaneous births were just a lot. Three, goats are heartbreakers. You can do everything right, and sometimes they just don’t make it. They are more fragile than most people think. Finally, I absolutely love raising and keeping goats. They are so sweet and what they give is so much more than what they take. As hard as that first year was, I fell in love with these sweet girls. Yep, just call me the crazy goat lady.

Nursery
The nursery