A Visit to Terre Verde Farm

Rich goat milk graces every bar of soap we create at Pure Goat Soapworks.  Today I want to give you a glimpse of the beautiful farm our milk comes from, and show you the milking process.

Terre Verde Farm is owned by our friend Tammy March-Vispi in Allegan, MI.  We began our journey into soapmaking in 2012 when Kevin brought home 3 goats from Tammy.  I fell in love with making and using goat milk soap, but along the way we discovered that we weren’t cut out to be dairy goat farmers.  After a goat kidding (birthing) tragedy in 2015, we gave our herd of 8 goats to Tammy, and now get our milk from our former goats.

Seven-year-old Dominic was thrilled to come with me on our visit and get to see and play with the goat kids.

 Preparing to feed to goat kids at Terre Verde Farm

The first job was a fun one – feeding the kids!  At the moment, five kids are being bottle fed.  There was warm milk in bottles inside the bucket, and one of the kids was eager to help herself!  The goats had been grazing in the large pasture, but needed to be put inside the pen to drink their milk.  Once the kids were in the pen, it was time for everyone to eat.

Goat kids enjoy their milk at Terre Verde Farm

Next, we headed inside the barn to milk Ceecee.  She has been with Tammy for many years, and is one of her favorites.  Tammy cleaned the goat’s underside, and then milked by hand into a stainless steel canister.  Ceecee enjoyed some grain and vitamins while Tammy milked, and she was a pretty patient goat.

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The rest of the does wait for their turn on the milking stand, and when they are finished, Tammy brings the milk inside to be filtered through a milk strainer to remove any dust or impurities.  She then refrigerates the milk for her goat-share customers or freezes it.IMG_20160617_111218987

I brought home eight frozen gallons to use in upcoming batches of soap.  I’m thrilled to be able to get our milk from Tammy.  She adores her animals and takes wonderful care of them.

Terre Verde also offers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm shares.  Contact her through the Terre Verde Facebook page (link at top) for more information.

To browse our natural and artisan goat milk soaps made using milk from Terre Verde Farm, click here.

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Behind the Scenes Sneak Peak at Making Soap

Are you curious to know how we make artisan goat milk soap?  Fascinated by the combination of colors and fragrance?  When my eyes first gazed upon Kenna Cote’s Tiger Stripe Soap back in 2013, I was smitten.  I was mesmerized.  I was hooked.  I couldn’t believe that I was actually looking at soap!  I could scarcely imagine that I would some day be capable of creating anything as stunning as what I saw.   Hopefully today I can inspire you!  Here is a behinds the scenes look at how we make the artistic color design of our Arabian Nights – Sandalwood Goat Milk Soap at Pure Goat Soapworks.
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We begin by prepping our workspace and laying out all of the tools we will need to design our soap.  Here you can see that we have already lined our large tray mold with a trashcan liner.  It makes for easy soap removal and is lightening fast!  We also have pre-mixed our colorants.  The tiny squirt bottles have a mixture of reflective mica, mineral pigments, and glycerin in them.  The containers for the colorants are at the opposite end of the table, and already contain a mixture of mineral pigments and some of the warmed oils from our soap.  At this time we have already made our cold process goat milk soap batter and are ready for our color design.

Next we add some of our soap batter to the pre-mixed blue and gold colorants, and pour the balance of our soap into the mold.  Then we begin pouring the colored portion of the soap into lines.

Once all of the soap has been poured into lines, we can manipulate it to make gorgeous patters.  Arabian Nights features a pattern in soapmaking known as the Peacock Swirl.  Kevin custom made tools so we can quickly and evenly rake the soap.  Then we take another tool and make an s-pattern to recreate the peacock feather pattern.  When we are content with the look of the design, we insert the dividers, cover the mold, and wait patiently for at least 24 hours before we can unmold.

The final result stirs the same excitement in my heart as my first discovery of handcrafted artisan soap!  Are you smitten as well?  You can have your own piece of the magic here!Arabian-Nights-no-bkgrnd-web

 

Think Spring + Farmers Markets (Despite the Snow Storm!!)

Yes, I do realize that I am in Michigan, and despite the spring-like weather we’ve had over the past few days, I know we’re about to get blasted with up to 11 inches of snow, but… Spring is coming!  And with it comes the start of our farmers market season!

The Bank Street Kalamazoo Farmers Market is the largest, most vibrant market we participate in.  It has an upbeat, festival feel to it, fresh produce, food trucks, unique handmade gifts, and live music.  Saturday brings crowds of up to 8,000 people, or so I have been told, so come early – the market is open from 7am – 2pm – but it really clears out after 1pm.  It’s a wonderful start to your weekend.

Habanaro carmels.jpgMy favorite treat is a package of Habanero Caramels made by Cherri’s Chocol’Art.  They’re salty, sweet, and spicy.  I’m not usually a caramel fan, nor a fan of spicy foods, but these are absolutely amazing.  One of my customers so very kindly gave me a sample one Saturday morning last year, and eating them has turned into my weekly habit and reward for waking at 4:45am to make it to the market on time!

We’ve participated in the Allegan Farmers Market since 2013 (wow – this is our 4th season!) and are excited for the growth it has experienced.  The Allegan Farmers Market is a smaller market open on Thursdays from 8am – 2pm in Allegan on M-222.  Last year they added an on-site market manager, and vendors can now accept SNAP tokens, Double Up Food Bucks tokens, WIC Project Fresh coupons, or Senior Market Fresh coupons.  New for 2016 is a USDA grant that will give free rides to the market!

Both the Kalamazoo and Allegan markets open in the first week of May – we can’t wait to see you there!  But in the meantime, you can find us at Pure Goat Soapworks!

Why Use Handcrafted Goat Milk Soap?

Have you been intrigued by the idea using handcrafted soap?  Have you wondered how goat milk soap is made, and why it’s good for you?

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Nichole makes artisan goat milk soap at Pure Goat Soapworks

Soap is made by combining oils, lye, and water, or another liquid such as goat milk, in specific quantities.  The chemical reaction that makes soap is called saponification.  You might hear the word “lye” and think that soap is unsafe, but that is not true.  All soap is made with lye, but no lye remains in properly made soap.  It is used up in the chemical reaction that makes the soap.  To ensure that no lye remains in our soap, we “superfat” our soap – we add 5 – 7% more oils than are needed to make soap.  This makes our soap richer, and easier on your skin!

 

While we really like handcrafted soap, we adore goat milk soaps!  Why?  It adds a creaminess and richness to our soaps, and it is wonderful for sensitive skin!  Goat milk contains alpha-hydroxy acids which naturally remove dead skin cells by binding with them.  Your beautifully soft skin is then able to shine through!  Goat milk soaps are extremely gentle and safe to use.

Not all soaps labeled “goat milk soap” are created equally, so it’s really important to read the list of ingredients.  Our natural (no colorants added) goat milk soaps use 100% goat milk for the liquid portion, and our artisan color bars use more than 50% goat milk in the liquid portion.   (Goat milk contains natural sugars that darken and caramelize in the soap-making process.  We use >50% goat milk in our Artisan bars in order to lessen the amount of mineral colorants needed and to create lighter colored soap that better shows our designs.)