Category Archives: Events & Schedule

City goat, country goat

When I was a kid, we had a garden.  It wasn’t much, but it kept our family in fresh vegetables during a pretty bad recession.  But I was a kid.  All I understood was that we had zucchini every. single. night.  All of us kids were tired of zucchini.  One night, my parents explained that we had a lot of zucchini, and that was why we ate it every night.

I was a kid.  I decided to fix the problem.  My logic was too much zucchini = we’re sick of it; no zucchini = all better.

So I loaded up a little wagon with zucchini.  I dragged it around the block, selling that blasted zucchini door-to-door.  There was a lot of zucchini.  The wagon was heavy.  Walking up and down all those sidewalks was exhausting.

So I took my little traveling veggie stand to the nearby apartment complex, where the doors were closer to each other.  There were a LOT of people there who were really happy to buy fresh zucchini.  They acted like they had never eaten zucchini every night.  They were happy to give me money in exchange for making the zucchini go away.

It turned into a regular route with whatever was giving us a bumper crop.  Seniors were my best customers.  I was too young to understand how much work it was for them to haul groceries on the bus.  Every time they gave me money for those blasted zucchinis, they thanked me with such enthusiasm and sincerity, it confused me.

Did they know these were zucchinis?!

As I grew up, I understood a little better.  Our garden wasn’t much, but it was more than a lot of people had.  Zucchini was – after eating it every day – my least favorite vegetable ever.  But for a lot of people, it was a taste of summer, of old times when they had their own garden, or just something fresh in a world of scratch-and-dent canned veggies.

Those zucchinis stuck with me.  (I enjoy them again, by the way.)

My cousins had a farm.  By the time I was old enough to know anything, there wasn’t a lot of farming left.  I collected eggs when I visited, and rode horses.  I got to spend a summer with them, join 4H, take a horse into competition and collect some ribbons.  I loved it.  My cousins were kind of over it, but they gave me an incredible experience anyway.  And the other horse – sort of forgotten in pasture – got some riding time when her teenaged owner saw the farm again with my fresh eyes.  She went back to 4H that summer and collected some ribbons, herself.

It doesn’t take a perfect farm to make a difference.  And, sometimes, sharing a little farm means something and rejuvenates a little, too.

Our farm now isn’t much, but we’re working on it.  We sacrificed a lot to save up for a farm, and we have been working insanely hard since the day we moved in.  We didn’t inherit the privilege of farming, we worked for it, but we still see it as a privilege.  And we hope to share tidbits when we can.  Our farm isn’t set up for visitors, but taking baby goats out to the market today was great.

We had some kids who’d never seen a goat before.  We had some kids who had only seen goats at the zoo – which is sort of out-of-context for a farm animal that can be a beloved member of the family and a milk producer, too.  And we had a lot of adults who wanted to hug a baby goat.  It was really fun taking pictures for people, and watching kids decide whether they wanted to pet the strange animal in front of them.  It was fun hearing parents remember growing up with goats.  Stories they may not have shared with their children yet.  Now the kids would have a reference point for what a goat is.  We heard a lot of kids exclaim with surprise “she’s so soft!”  Baby goats are fresh and clean, and, yes, soft like kittens (and small and cuddly like kittens, too).  One kid wanted a kiss from a baby goat.  We taught her how we kiss goats – a little bit of space, air kisses, maybe touch noses.

Then our little truckload of goats turned into a pumpkin.  We promised to stay until 1 pm, then rush the babies back to their Mamma after giving her a 2 hour break.  At 12:51, the babies started looking tired and hungry.  At 1, we packed them up and rushed them home.

We took them right back to Mamma, they dove right in for a drink of milk, Mamma sniffed them all over, and then they curled up for a nap after their adventure.  We were really proud of them.  They were troopers, walking up to the fence to meet new people, or just curling up for a nap in our arms while people petted them and enjoyed a little break.  They enjoyed napping in any secure embrace, and we hope to see some of those pictures, too.

Our thanks to the Market Sprouts folks at Hillsboro Farmers’ Market for making the babies’ little outing possible!

Father’s Day gifts; our June schedule

Our top Father’s Day soaps:

Redneck soap – for dads with a sense of humor, this is the soap.  It’s made with vegetable shortening.  Crisco soap!  (Phil hates me for making this.  It cheapens the place up.)  But seriously, this is a nostalgic soap, shortening was the easy way to make soap back in the day.  So, sure, it’s not our usual non-GMO, organic, good-enough-to-eat ingredients, but it’s an old classic that I couldn’t resist, and it’s got lots of our usual great oils in there, too.

Camo – smells like grass, likes like camo; colors are all natural.  True story: Phil was dropping off some camo soap when he picked up hay.  Our hay guy’s horse wandered in, sniffed the soap, and licked his chops eagerly.  The horse was Phil’s best buddy for the rest of his visit.  So we can honestly say our camo soap is horse-approved!

Anise (Hunters and Fishers) soap: Scented with Anise essential oil.  Folks claim anise does the best job of cleaning human smells from your skin so the critters don’t smell you coming.  I dunno, but it smells nice and manly.  Swirled with oxides.

Cedar – manly scent, nice soap.

And our usual suspects, of course!

We’ll be at the farmer’s markets 3 weekends this month; doing farm chores the other weekend:

Hillsboro on Saturday June 7th; Orenco on Sunday June 8th.

Scappoose on Saturday, June 14th.

Hillsboro on Saturday June 21st; Orenco on Sunday June 22nd.

Farm chores June 28th.

Our general schedule will be

Hillsboro the 1st and 3rd Saturdays every month;

Orenco the 1st and 3rd Sundays;

Scappoose the 2nd Saturday every month.

Thanks for reading!  See you at the farmer’s markets!

We’re expecting

Our puppy-dog of a LaMancha, Abbey, is “making her udder”.  The important parts are there all along, but they start to grow as they begin making milk for the babies.  The udder goes from flat and unnoticeable to a small bulge to a big, beautiful udder.

Some goats start “making” an udder a month before birth.  Some don’t come in until after the babies arrive.  Usually, we see it a week to three weeks before birth.  The growing udder is a sign that birth is coming.  We have to monitor other signs to know when to start waiting eagerly and worrying (I always worry).

So we came home from Sunday’s market and built out a kidding stall.  We aren’t a big farm, so we set up kidding stalls as needed, then take them down to free up space.  We don’t need it quite yet, but we’re giving Abbey time to get used to it.

I’m always excited to meet our new goat kids.  Each one has a unique personality, and I swear they come in prettier every year!

(I think our mini Nubians have the cutest udders ever in the history of udders.  Little grapefruit-sized balls of milky goodness.  I have turned into a goat geek.  I “aaawwww!” at tiny baby poops and spent a solid week after Mini’s udder came in, making Phil look at it and exclaiming “isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!?!”)

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

With a name like Mamma Goat, you might think we have a certain affection for mammas.  Well, it’s true.  Mammas are special.  So, if you’re stumped on how to honor your special Mamma, here are some thoughts to get your creativity flowing.

Sometimes, the best gift is a hug.

Sometimes, the best gift is a hug. Curl up on the couch and watch Mom’s favorite movie. Or just bask in the sunshine together.

For the gardener, a pair of nice gloves to protect Mom’s hands, a knee pad for more comfort kneeling, and a promise to do the weeding this month (or some seedlings from the farmer’s market).  A nice lotion and our honey-shea soap (Buckwheat Honey) add a nice touch of luxury and care.  You’ll find lots of started plants at the farmer’s market this weekend.  Would Mom love to spend an afternoon planting her new treasures with you?  Maybe you should get a pair of gloves for yourself, too!

Give Mom a goat.  Well, give a goat in her honor, through Heifer International.  Goat shares start at $10; for $120, Heifer will give a needy family the gift of a goat – a long-term lift from poverty – in Mom’s honor.  Wrap up a goat milk soap with a note telling Mom about her gift.  Maybe bees are Mom’s thing?  Heifer has those, too, and we can hook you up with a honey soap for Mom.  For $20, Heifer can give a family an entire flock of chickens, or ducks, or geese, and llama shares start at $20; sheep shares start at $10.  We don’t have felted soaps right now, but Nuts About Berries does, and you’ll find them at the farmer’s market, too.  What’s a felted soap?  It’s soap wrapped in raw wool, llama fiber, or alpaca fiber, and then hand rubbed until it forms a soft, scrubby pouch around the soap.  It’s like a bath scrubby or washcloth, but much, much nicer!

Moms love spending time with their kids.

Moms love spending time with their kids.

Take Mom for a hike.  Our Take a Hike soap has a fresh burst of Citronella.  Add a foot massage, some heel balm, and a picnic lunch for a special day out with your favorite Mamma.

Try to spot Mom's favorite flowers and birds.  And lend her a hand on the steep parts.

Try to spot Mom’s favorite flowers and birds. And lend her a hand on the steep parts.

How about Thai?  Give Mom one of our Lemongrass soaps, one of our virgin-coconut oil soaps, and take her out to your favorite Thai restaurant.

Does Mom love farm blogs?  How about a copy of the Chickens in the Road book, and one of our Redneck soaps (made with shortening, like some of the Crisco recipes in the book!)?

Lavender!  Always a favorite!  Box up one of our lavender soaps with a lavender bath salt, maybe add a potted lavender plant, or seeds and a seed starter?

Did you enjoy tea parties with Mom?  How about a selection of gourmet teas and one of our green tea (artificial fragrance) soaps (99% natural, though!)?  Add a nice set of teacups and fresh baked pastries or flavored honeys from the farmer’s market for a grown-up tea party with the special woman in your life.

If Mom is more of a caffeine afficionado, pack up some special coffees, some luscious toppings like gourmet cocoa powder, whip up homemade whipped cream, and maybe tuck in a bar of our Mocha coffee scrub soap and some chocolates from the farmer’s market.

For the gourmet mom, some fresh veggies from the farmer’s market, a knife sharpening service or a gift certificate to her favorite kitchen store, and a nice kitchen soap may be in order.  Stop by the New Seasons Market booth for a recipe, and maybe it’s your turn to cook for mom?  Maybe a flavored vodka (available at the farmer’s market) to spice up one of her signature sauces?  Or some local chocolates?  Fresh free-range eggs?  If your mom’s a gourmet, you’re sure to find some great, unique gifts at the farmer’s market this weekend!

For the mother of your children, maybe carve both your initials into a bar of soap, old-timey style*.  Add a few kid-free hours to soak in the tub, or read a nice book (provided by you), uninterrupted.  Bring her a mug of her favorite beverage, light some candles, and take the kids to the park (or to the farmer’s market to pick up dinner fixins).

Personalize your gift.  Most of our packaging can be personalized with permanent markers.  All of our soaps can be packed in a cotton drawstring bag on request, and you can write your heartfelt message right on the bag.  Our brown gift boxes can also be drawn on, written on, or decorated with stickers.  Our handprint shopping bags take ink like a champ, whether pen or stamps, so you can spend time personalizing with the kids to make Mom’s gift totally unique.  If you want to go all out, you can even decorate our wood crates before filling them with plants, gourmet tidbits, or a whole lot of soap.  (A thin layer of sealant will make your message permanent).

Oh, and if you’re thinking flowers – yep, the farmer’s market has that, too.  Fresh, local flowers, gorgeous and fragrant.  By the stem, for you to arrange ’em as pretty as you want, or already arranged into gorgeous bouquets (I watched them made all day last Saturday, beautiful).

* Soap is hard, but it can be carved if you’re careful.  Use an ice pick or a mechanical pencil with the pencil lead retracted.  Wipe the tip of the mechanical pencil clean before carving so you don’t leave lead in the soap.  A narrow philips screwdriver will work, too.  Carve lightly and repeat until you get the desired result.

Drop off bags and bars for kids

I posted before about the IMpossible drive, a great program that collects duffel bags, suitcases, and care items for foster kids in transition.  The impressive thing about the program is that it is run by kids themselves.

Well, I’ll be going through our closets and cupboards and pulling out the old suitcases, blankets, unopened soaps, spare toothbrushes, etc. that we’re really never going to use.  I hope you’ll join us.  Maybe you don’t use those chemical soaps anymore?  If you’ve got some unopened bars laying around, there’s someone out there who could really use it.

If you have something to share and don’t have time to take it to Portland, maybe Hillsboro would be more convenient?  Mamma Goat’s farmer’s market booth will be a casual dropoff point for donations.  If you have anything big, please call or e-mail us beforehand (we’ll be hauling our display and inventory in a prius most days, but we’ll bring the old farm truck if we know we have something big to bring back).

Your duffel bags, suitcases, and care items can provide comfort to a child in transition, and a little hug that lets them know we want them to thrive.  With community support, the kids running this program can provide comfort and reassurance to 1500 children this year.  And we can help make it happen by donating spare blankets, unwanted shampoos, unused journals, school supplies, new toothbrushes and similar little items that don’t mean much to us but mean a whole lot to the kids receiving them.

A really great cause

May is a great time to clean out the closet and let go of those old suitcases and duffel bags we’ll never use.

Oregon Foster Youth Connection is a program that facilitates great programs run by foster youth. The kids do the work and get to meet kids like themselves – good kids who want to make the world a better place, even if they’re not in a great place right now, family-wise.

One of the kids told me that she saw a TV program about foster kids who had only have a trash bag to carry their belongings as they move into a new home, a difficult transition period to begin with. Can you imagine having life as you knew it tossed away, and then carrying everything you own in a trash bag?  Well, these kids decided to help other foster youth transition with a little more dignity and comfort.

They have a program called I’Mpossible. They collect donated duffel bags and suitcases, plus things to put inside, like blankets, personal care items and school supplies.  They’re hoping to provide 1,500 young people with a bag and care items.

Can you donate a suitcase or duffel bag?

Maybe you have some (unopened) soaps or body washes that you don’t want anymore?  They’re also looking for personal care items, feminine hygiene products, hair brushes, school supplies, notebooks and journals, teen books, and blankets.

Collection dates are May 1-29, and there are three official drop sites in Portland.  For addresses and details, go to http://oryouthconnection.org/.

Earth Day Sustainability Fair

If you work for a major silicon manufacturer in the Portland, Oregon area, I hope you’ll come out to the Sustainability Fair on Wednesday!  We’ll be there, handing out samples of soap and answering questions about natural soap, goat milk soap, goats, and even alpaca fertilizer!

If you miss it, we’ll be posting some of the information here on the blog.  But we’d sure love to meet you on Wednesday!