Goat Milk Soap

Making soap can be one of the funnest and most challenging products to make with goat milk. Goat milk soap is one of the best soaps, in my opinion, because it doesn’t dry out my skin like other soaps, I know exactly what is in it, and I can buy all of the ingredients locally.

I usually make a big batch of soap in the fall because I like to give it away as homemade Christmas presents. My family loves my soap and they wish I would make more of it but making soap is a bit of a process that requires kid free time, which is a hot commodity for me.

white square ceramic ornament

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I first started making soap about 6 years ago after we bought our goats. The local college happened to have a community education class for making goat milk soap which seemed like fate. I signed myself, my sister, and my husband up to attend the night class. (Poor Trenton was the only guy there). I love taking community education classes and I was very happy to find this one. Since taking the class I make one or two batches of soap a year and I think I have a good recipe now, although I still tweek it a bit.

To make soap you need three basic ingredients:

  1. Lye
  2. Water/Milk
  3. Oils

A few pointers when making soap:

  • Wear long sleeves and gloves!
    • Working with lye is the reason I need kid free time. Although it will not violently burn your skin (Fight Club) it is not pleasant to get on you, which I do every time I make soap. The lye will irritate your skin even after you wash it off and feels like an annoying slow burn for a few hours.
  • Always add the lye to other ingredients not the other way around.
    • For instance, add the lye to your milk a little at a time until it is well mixed then add the lye mixture to your oils.
  • Use a variety of oils!
    • Different oils have different properties and will effect the quality of your soap. I use a mix of olive oil, coconut oil, lard, sunflower oil, and castor oil.
  • For lighter colored soap use a cold process method.
    • Using the cold process method with milk based soaps helps to keep the color lighter rather than a creamy coffee color.
  • Immersion blenders are wonderful.
    • To make soap you need to blend your oil and lye mixture which takes a lot of stirring. An immersion blender is the best way to mix your soap.
  • It is just as easy to make a large batch as a small one.
    • I have recently discovered this fine fact. I can make 5 pounds of soap with the same amount of clean up as 1 pound so I might as well make more soap at one time.

A good resource that I use when figuring out recipes is http://www.soapcalc.net/ because it will help you calculate how much lye, water(milk), and oils you need per batch. It will also rate the quality of your soap based on which oils you select and what percentage you want to use. I played with this website for a long time before I found a good mix that I liked and I still play with it a bit when I want to try an experimental recipe.

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The Experimental Batch:

Usually when I make soap I make 2 Ibs of one scent and 2 Ibs of another. I have just enough soap molds to make 5 Ibs of soap so I experiment with the last pound of soap. This year my experimental soap is an orange coffee soap.

I wanted to try to make orange oil by simmering dried orange peels and olive oil in a double boiler for a few hours. I then used this oil as my olive oil in the recipe. When I had mixed the soap to trace(when the soap starts to thicken) I added the used coffee grounds from my morning coffee. It turned the soap a lovely brown and the grounds will give the soap a scrubbing quality.

I thought about adding orange essential oil to it as an added scent but I am curious if the orange oil I made will offer an scent to the soap. Hence the experimental batch of soap.

This last weekend I taught my Aunt Candy how to make soap and we had a great time getting Christmas soap done. I’ll admit I am cutting it close this year because it takes 6-8 weeks for soap to cure. My family will receive their soap with a warning not to use it until the week after Christmas!

The TV Trap

I love having my kids outside helping me with projects but sometimes I fall into the TV trap.When the capricious weather is pouring rain or it is -20 outside I put in a movie while I work in the cold.

Right now the weather is still warm enough that the kids are outside with me while we put the goats out and feed horses. We have also been spending time playing on the swing set with Penelope and Fiona who both love to swing. Being outside is good for the kids but when it is extremely cold outside they can only handle it for a few minutes. In the middle of winter I usually only get 1/3 of the way through morning chores when their fingers get too cold for them to be outside. That is when I usually start to fall into the TV trap. It is easier for me to set up a movie for them rather than bundling them up to go outside then having to bring them back in 15 minutes later while I head back out. They watch a movie while I work but the more TV they watch the more they want to watch. It is a slippery slope situation.

black crt tv

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Fiona can be a little TV bug and I have even caught Penelope watching the TV when it is on. It bothers me when the baby starts watching TV and when Fiona gets upset when TV time is over. That is when I know she is watching too much. I have realized we have slipped down the slippery slope.(It has been an extremely wet fall here is Wisconsin.) I know when the weather is very cold it is better for them to stay inside so I have been working on limiting their screen time to only while I am outside and the weather is bad.

Soon it we will be the middle of winter when the thermometer can’t be bribed into climbing above zero. Being housebound during below zero weather is hard for them, and me, so I try to have a few activities for them.

Housebound Activities:

  • Reading Time: Even if your children can’t read yet (mine aren’t reading yet) they are associating the words on the page with the story the pictures tell. They also learn how to quietly work on an activity.
  • Drawing Time: Having paper and color crayons/pencils/markers around in the winter or during rainy weather is a must. Children work on fine motor skills such as holding a writing utensil properly and to associate it with making a pretty picture to show you. Fiona has been banned from markers because she just can’t help coloring on herself.
  • Play Dough- Using play dough is great for tactile engagement and lets them build something with their hands. Play dough is also a sensory tool to help children develop fine motor skills in different ways. They discover how to move their hands in order to manipulate the play dough how they want it.
  • Do the Dishes- This may sound like manual labor but your kids get to play in water with soapy bubbles. Not only are they going to get wet they are going to have a blast and you may get a few dishes done. Maybe…
  • Get Physical- After a few quite activities it would be a good idea to do some stretches, jumping jacks, or run in place. Something to work off the built up energy that needs an outlet.
  • Free Play- If you have the space a playroom is great for inside days because it gives the kids their own space to play as they wish. Place their toys in the room with designated bins to help with cleanup later because after a day inside the room will look as if a tornado hit. Make sure cleanup time is part of the routine because kids need to learn how to clean-up their own toys.
  • Make a Fort- Use a few light blanket and chairs to make a fort. Reading and coloring is soooo much more exciting when it is done inside a blanket fort. I would leave the playdough as a tabletop activity.
  • Games- Break out any age appropriate board games and card games to play and interact with your kids. A few of our personal favorites are Candy Land and Old Maid.
chocolate biscuits beside chocolate coffee

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Even when it is below freezing outside it can still be nice to let the kids out for a breath of freezingly fresh air. Bundle up and walk around the yard for 10 minutes. I know it takes longer than that to get bundled and unbundled but going out for a breather will be invigorating for you and the kids. I have an outdoor wood-stove that needs to be checked at least once in the afternoon so in the winter I bundle the kids up and we fill the wood-stove. They play in the snow a little before we all go in and have hot chocolate.

Sitting at the table with my kids drinking hot chocolate after we have played outside is one of the best parts of winter. It is also good socializing spent away from the TV!

 

Happy Halloween

candle creepy dark decoration

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Fall is a great time of year filled with lovely warm colors, apples, pumpkins, and ghosts. October is ending and it is time to celebrate the harvest and say goodbye to fall. Winter is coming.

The end of the harvest traditionally was celebrated with bonfires and feasts but in our corner we celebrate it with trips to the pumpkin patch, costumes, and candy.

I am close to my sisters and we like to get our families together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and whatever else pops up. Last week we celebrated my niece Lily’s birthday by going to the Burch Barn, which is a local pumpkin patch that has a long list of activities for the kids. We played in the giant shelled corn pit, flew down the huge slide on burlap bags, raced pedal tractors, and bounced in pumpkin and barn shaped bouncy houses.  I love taking the kids to the Burch Barn because at $5.00 a person it is the most affordable fall attraction for kids around. Each year they improve the attractions or add one. The only event that costs extra is to ride the “Grain Train” which are carts pulled by a tractor through the woods. The kids love this part because they get pulled by a tractor and there is a scavenger hunt to find items during the ride. They have to keep their eyes peeled for a buck, turkeys, a coyote, and a cheesehead among other items.

kimg0515I also love the fact that there are tables and chairs in the barns which make for great eating areas out of the wind. There are hot dogs to purchase for lunches but we usually make our own sandwiches to bring. This is a big draw for us because it is more affordable to bring our own picnic lunch. I didn’t have any trouble laying kids down for naps afterwards even Lucian, who is 5, passed out for about an hour and a half.

This year for Halloween we are going to have our own little troop of loggers. Not only is my father a dairy farmer, he is also a woodsman and my son looks up to his Papa. This year he wanted to be a logger and whatever Lucian is doing Fiona wants to do as well. That makes two little loggers and if there are two we might as well dress Penelope in flannel and make it three.kimg0529

We could go Trick-or-Treating in town but it is always very busy and our children are little. They only need a small amount of candy otherwise we eat Halloween candy all year. Fiona is also a bit of a runner and requires hand holding at all times so walking around town on a busy, busy night makes me nervous.

Our Trick-or-Treating rounds consist of auntie’s, grandma’s, and great grandma’s houses. This makes for long stretches in the car and short bouts of visiting but the family loves to see the costumes and to celebrate our traditions of the turning season.