Monthly Archives: April 2014

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.

See you at the farmer’s markets?

Saturday mornings to early afternoons, Hillsboro Farmers Market runs a market in downtown Hillsboro.  Copied from their website:

Location & Hours
Opening Day 2014, May 3rd
Dates: May 3th – October 25th
Hours: May, June, July, August 8am-1:30pm
Hours: September, October 9am-1:30pm
Where: The Hillsboro Saturday Farmers’ Market is located on Main Street between 1st and 3rd Avenue, one block northwest of the 3rd Avenue MAX station.

Sundays, come out to Orenco:

Location & Hours
Dates: Sundays, May 4th-October 26th
Hours: 10am-2pm
Location: Orenco Station Parkway and NE 61st Avenue, just off Cornell Road.

We don’t know quite what to expect.  We either have enough soap to last the whole summer, or we’ll sell out the first weekend.  No idea.  We’re new to this market.  Well, if we sell out, we’ll make more.

But we have some great new soaps starting this weekend, some more that need to cure a little longer.  We have coconut oil household and laundry soap bars.  You can literally wash your dishes with all-natural goat milk soap.  We have no-coconut oil soap in a super mild formulation.  We have chocolatey soap.  We are finally releasing that castile soap – and at a bargain price, no less.

AND, we’ll be a casual drop-off for the IMpossible duffel bag drive.  We are sooo excited about this.  If you want to make a donation, we can accept any small donations any weekend.  If you want the organization to know who donated it, please put your name, mailing address, and e-mail address on a piece of paper firmly attached (tape or rubber ban will work).  We’re not directly affiliated and we don’t represent Children First, but we’ll happily gather donations and deliver them to the official drop sites in Portland for you.

If you have large donation item(s), please let us know in advance.  We’ll be driving a Prius to most market days, so we need to know beforehand if we need the old farm truck for hauling bigger stuff!

Thank you all so much!  See you at the farmers market!

Farmers markets opening soon

We’re planning to be at the Hillsboro Farmers markets the opening weekend of May 3rd.  Saturday downtown and Sunday at Orenco.

I say planning because there are a couple of requirements we still need to meet.  We have to have someone out to verify that we grow our own products.  They suggest the local ag extension agent might help, but he isn’t getting back to us about the farm site visit.  So we’re looking for an alternative.

So the first week is subject to cancellation, but, afterwards, we plan to be out there the first three weekends of every month.

Goats get bored on rainy days, too

Here’s the thing about goats.  They are so cute when they are playing on something you meant for them to play on.  They are so cute when they decide that a boulder is a playground.  And they are so rotten when they sneak out of their stall and play on the farm equipment.

My heart stopped yesterday when I found our tiniest mamma and 4 baby goats (BGs) lined up from top to bottom of the field mower.  600+ lbs of steel that’s only really stable when it’s connected to the tractor, and the goats decided it was practically an indoor boulder.  The bigger mamma was standing on my building supplies, ahem, fertilizing them.  And the bales of hay staged for the hay feeder are toppled every which way.  They were in an interlocked stack.  But goats are athletic.  Sometimes, they bank off of things just for fun/practice.  They can knock almost anything over.

Yeah, I fixed the gate they busted through.  If you’re thinking about getting goats – know that they love to climb, and they don’t think they need you to parcel out food to them.  It’s a good thing we keep the food solidly locked up.  Goats will gorge on feed and kill themselves by doing it.  I found the feed containers knocked all over, but still solidly locked.  Rotten goats.  And then the babies maahh’ed so sweetly to me.  “Come over and play!”  Even when I’m patching up the barn, they’re pretty irresistable.

New on the to-do list: make up a rainy-day activity kit for goats?  Maybe this is why conventional farms separate the babies.  Baby goats have such great energy, enthusiasm, and playfulness, it’s contagious.  It’s part of why we love to be around them, but they infect the mammas with play.

Eh.  We love watching mammas fly, too.  I’ll never forget the day our #1 mamma kicked up her heels for the first time.  Big, fat, pregnant goat performing aerial maneuvers just for fun.  Gorgeous.  It’s like they say – if mamma’s happy, everybody’s happy.  And babies make mammas happy, it seems.

Our goats get extra hugs for Earth Day

Goats celebrate Earth Day every day.

Big livestock like cows tend to compact soil because they concentrate so much weight on their hooves.  Goats’ lighter body mass makes them gentler on the soil.   Compacted soil can become so hard and dense that nothing grows there.  Goats trod gently, leaving their pastures in good shape.

Goats eat noxious weeds.  It’s why they’re used for clearing firebreaks.  They can utilize a lot of weeds for food.  We are rehabbing our farm and dealing with a lot of noxious weeds.  The goats are a big help.  They eat new growth, which weakens the plant.  The plant has to use stored energy to regrow, and eventually, many weeds just stop coming back because they don’t have the energy reserves left.  Some plants, the goats won’t eat the plant, but they’ll eat the flower.  Then the flower can’t become seeds that spread the weed.

KitHoldingBlackberryOur top black-berry eater, daughter of Too Much Bucks Chief’s Ko Kona

Some weeds are toxic to goats, but only in large quantities (often because the weeds contain tannins).  Goats sometimes eat a sub-lethal dose of those weeds to self-medicate; the tannins can be toxic to internal parasites before they reach a toxic level for goats!

Yep, goats don’t take a lot of medicines.  When you medicate a cow to promote production and growth, any medicine the cow’s body doesn’t absorb can end up in the compost, ground, or runoff.  Yuck.  There aren’t many medicines made for goats, and happy goats don’t need a whole lot.  Like people, stress can make goats sick, but happiness can help their immune system!  That’s one of the reasons we let our Mammas raise their own babies.  We want them to have healthy immune systems so they stay naturally healthy.

Moms love spending time with their kids.

Moms love spending time with their kids.

This hillside was solid weeds before the goats fixed it up,

with help from their trusty sidekick alpacas.

A good thing and bad thing about goats is that they poop everywhere.  (Sometimes, on my foot.)  But that’s fertile compost coming out, and goats spread it around.  What they take out of the land in food, they give some back in fertilizer.  The small pellets decompose into soil fertility.  Since it’s spread around, it tends to break down into the soil and fertilize the entire grazing area.  You know how your dog can leave spots on the lawn where he uses the bathroom?  That’s because there’s too much fertility in one spot.  Fertility is good if it’s not too concentrated.

Goat fertilizer is good stuff.  It doesn’t take a factory to make it, either.  It helps plants grow, but, unlike manufactured fertilizers, it also improves the quality of the soil.  It adds humus (plant debris that helps the soil stay loose, helping deliver oxygen to plant roots).  It also supports beneficial microbial growth and earthworm activity in the soil.  Earthworms loosen the soil, too, so keeping them happy is a bonus.


And then there’s goat milk soap – also good stuff for Mamma Earth.  Goat milk helps the soap be gentler and cleaner rinsing, so there’s less irritation to the skin.  If you don’t strip away the skin’s natural oils, you don’t need as much lotion (often made with chemicals), either.  Choose an all-natural formula, and there’s nothing but biodegradable, natural ingredients going down the drain – and into the sewage plant – and out of the sewage plant – and into the waters downstream from the sewage plant.

One of the properties of goat milk soap is saponified proteins from the milk.  They help “lock” oils into the lather to help it rinse away easier.  That makes it good for laundry soap and household cleaning, too, because it reduces “redeposition” without using chemical anti-redeposition agents.  Can goats save the world?  Maybe not, but they can definitely improve it!

Jpeg Our sweet Maggie, hot off the presses (another Kona daughter)

So, if you have goats, give ’em an extra hug or pat today, because they’re very Earth-friendly.  (Yes, some goats actually like being hugged!)  If you don’t have goats to hug, maybe send ours some good energy while you use their soap – they’re hugging Mamma Earth for you.

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

BG Training

Kit napping, Rhodan piled on

A BG is a Baby Goat. They have to be trained. First, they learn that people are safe, not scary. Then they learn that people are nice. We hope for them to learn that we are part of their world, not just farm machines that deposit food and replenish buckets.

You could also call this chore “hanging out with adorable baby goats” or “awesome!” But it is not optional.

So I cuddle BGs (if they’re willing). I hang around the barn, waiting for babies to sniff me. Waiting for them to fall in love with me. Sometimes, it’s a lot of waiting (not unlike my 20s). But I always get my goat!

Now, that picture up there might look like “aw, you’re so lucky!” but it’s actually me being hard at work. No, seriously! I mean it!

I love this part of my job, even on days when it’s stressful to find time for it. So, yeah, I’m so lucky! They are cute as heck, full of joyous energy, and sometimes they’re quiet and cuddly.

That pic – I had Kit cuddled in my lap and Rhodan hopped up, lost his footing, legs splayed, and decided “this is nice” and went to sleep. We didn’t get the picture when Jack piled on, because I have a 3-goat lap and Mocha wanted to be part of the goat pile. The pile collapses when 4 goats try to squeeze into my lap!

Do you make shampoo bars, shaving soap, etc.?

We do make hair soap. We’re in testing on the shave soap (want to be a tester? contact us.  We’re getting great lather with excellent stability – we think you’ll like it!). A bar of soap is a unique delivery method for lather. Unlike liquid shampoos and shaving creams, soap doesn’t need a load of preservatives. Water is life. Any product with water has to have a preservative (legally, and ethically). I’m always looking for safe, nearly-natural preservatives for our lotion recipe, but a shampoo bar or shaving bar won’t need a preservative at all.  Soap is sort of self-preserving.

We’re testing recipes for goat milk lotion right now (we do make a no-milk body oil that’s lovely and moisturizing). We would like to offer more natural skin care products over time. One advantage of being small and local is that we can produce and sell products direct, so we don’t have to load them with preservatives for long retail shelf-life (lotions always require preservatives unless you make your own).  Ensuring that the lotion is safe with mild preservatives is a complex and expensive process.  But we’re still planting and building the farm, so we haven’t reached Mamma’s nadir yet. 🙂  (If you really, really want goat milk lotion, and you’re willing to accept harsh conventional preservatives, drop us an e-mail.  If there’s enough interest, we can release that type of lotion this year.)

If you want a preservative-free lotion, we can sell you a kit to make your own, but know that it’s a lot of work for something that only keeps a week or two in the refrigerator. Better yet, skip the water!  Lotion is water and oils, with other ingredients to make water and oil stick together. If you pat your skin just barely dry and apply moisturizing oil, you can skip the preservatives. With the right types of oils, they will soak right into clean skin without a greasy feel.

Do you make a soap for acne, rosacea, dry skin, mature skin, eczema, etc.?..

Not specifically. We make soap for washing. Medical conditions require a doctor’s advice (but we’d be happy to give your doctor samples and ingredients lists, or even develop a specific soap with ingredients he or she recommends).

People often report that goat milk soap helps their skin, in part because it’s just so gentle. Instead of cleaning by stripping and irritating skin, it cleans very gently and leaves a lot of the skin’s natural barrier function unchanged. Goat milk is sometimes considered a folk antibacterial, but its reputation for helping acne may have more to do with “reactive acne” clearing up because natural goat milk soap doesn’t have all the irritating chemicals common to cleanser bars. Sometimes skin produces excess oil in response to being stripped of its natural oil; so gentle cleansing can help prevent that type of oilyness.

If you want to try a soap that has a specific ingredient, we’ll be happy to help you select one that’s right for you (i.e., maybe you want to try calendula, or tea tree or lavender). We don’t conceal our ingredients, we want you to be able to choose a soap that’s right for you. We can’t give medical advice, and our soap can’t be expected to cure anything except dirty-ness. But sometimes, all skin needs is gentle cleansing and a tall glass of clean water.

Why do you put “Soap” in quotes when talking about mass-produced detergent bars?

Soap means oils that have been converted into soap. Commercial “soaps” are often actually detergents, chemically-derived products that aren’t, technically, soap. We just use that word because it’s traditional, like we sometimes call a store-brand tissue a “kleenex.” There is a difference between a bar of chemicals shaped to look like soap, and actual real soap. That may be why some people experience healing when they switch to goat milk soap – there’s no detergents in there to strip and irritate skin.