Monthly Archives: June 2014

This Weekend’s Farmer’s Markets

We  won’t be at the markets this weekend.  I’m kind of excited.  Restoring a farm is hard work, farming is hard work, making soap is hard work, and hauling everything out to spend 2 days a week at the farmer’s market is hard work, too.  There’s no such thing as a day off when you have livestock, but it will be nice to get down to 2 big jobs (farming and restoring) instead of 4.

Did you ever think that farmers kind of build a store for you at the farmer’s market?  Haul everything out, put up a roof, set up a store, tend the store, unpack, go home.

We won’t be there, but you should still go to the farmer’s market this weekend!

Your kids are more likely to eat their veggies (and so are you!) if they help you pick them out and meet the farmer who raised them from tender babies through harvest.

No farms, no food!  You get a chance to directly support the farmer growing your food.  Their signs tell you where they grew it.

Local food is good.  If a farmer can sell out at his or her local market, the farm can grow more flavorful species of food!  (If they have to sell through wholesalers, they need to grow cultivars that can sit on warehouse and store shelves for a long time.)  Heritage types of vegetables tend to be tastier and fresher than what you find at the stores.  And fresher is more nutritious!

Small family farms are reservoirs of genetic diversity.  Corporate farms choose a single species, usually all the same GM and ultra-productive hybrids that every other corporate farm chooses. It’s kind of a variation on “pave the world” – just, they “plow the world.”  Small farms are more willing to keep some genetic variety around.

But small farms have to work harder than corporate farms, and they can’t do it without your support!  So get out there and support the small farms that are supporting you, your family, and your community!

About our coconut oil

We use organic, food-grade coconut oil.  Coconut oil is processed to remove some of the nutrients that can be used/sold for other uses. These nutrients can be removed a number of ways, but some of the ways they remove the nutrients create a risk of contamination.  Sometimes, solvents are used.  They are called “processing aids” and the solvents can contain contaminants like mercury.  Organic production standards limit processing aids to the least-harmful types, and food-grade processing further limits the types of processing aids that can be used.  Since the skin is capable of absorbing things and transporting it to the bloodstream (think medical patches), we want our coconut oil to be literally good enough to eat.

And we’re just not confident that cosmetic-grade coconut oil is good enough.  Pesticide residues have been detected in conventional coconut oil.  Organically-grown coconuts cannot use the most toxic pesticides.  Other contaminants in conventional coconut oil can include dioxin and similar residues, and even contamination from transport (like cleaning residues in the transport tank).  And there have even been reports of conventional coconut oils being adulterated with mineral oil.  When we use coconut oil, we want it to be coconut oil.  We can’t go out and inspect the producers and transporters, but organic certification programs can.  Organic certification lends a layer of oversight that the free market does not provide.

In some soaps, especially those designed for children, we use virgin organic coconut oil.  It is terribly expensive, but it is closest to its natural form, with all of the skin-friendly nutrients included.  In our skincare products, we only use virgin organic coconut oil.

Sunday babies

Abbey finally popped ’em out.  We think she held them back a few days, maybe a week.  Not sure why.  She waited until the first day we were both around, really hope that’s not why she waited.  Good thing we stayed home Sunday on a hunch!  She needed some help, but the babies are healthy and strong.  New Mamma is exhausted.

As am I.  Having to assist a delivery (vs. just watching Mamma do it all on her own, and then dipping umbilical cords) is physically and mentally draining.  When delivery doesn’t go smoothly, Mamma ends up really tired from the effort, and we end up babysitting a lot more the first couple days.  She doesn’t help them as much, but they still need help – finding teats, getting dried, learning Mamma’s scent and sound, keeping their butts clean, etc.  Abbey is coming around now, and the little family is gelling.

We always think twins are the perfect number.  They have a friend, someone to cuddle with, and there are only as many babies as teats – no risk of the smallest one getting edged out at feeding time.

Pictures will come later.   For some reason, they won’t upload.  We had not trouble posting some on twitter.

Scappoose and the Stupid “smart”phone

I configured twitter in my phone.  Went to post from the market, and I couldn’t.  Windows has a thing where you can view twitter updates in a special app that doesn’t allow you to send.  Huh?  Naturally, it didn’t copy my settings to the app that lets you post.  I guess I’ll never be one of those mobile phone people.

So, a little late, but Scappoose Farmer’s Market was a lot of fun.  We were next to a flower farm (we always end up next to flower farms!) with lovely bouquets starting at $5.  Wow.  Just across the aisle, hand-painted vases.  Convenient!

On the other side of us, plant starts and handmade jewelry and hair – I’m a doof, forget what they’re called, hair jewelry, basically.

Some of the veggie starts were OMG huge.  If your garden is late, get out there next weekend, those veggie starts are big enough to make up for lost time!  Not rangy, just well-developed.

Fresh herbs.  Basil.  Basil goes nicely with scapes for scape pesto!  Duck eggs.  Geodes.  Pickled garlic.

My favorite way to use pickled garlic is to make garlic mashed potatoes.  It’s so easy.  Smash the garlic and add to cooked potatoes.  Voila, garlic mashed potatoes without taking an hour to roast the garlic.  I was excited to find local pickled garlic!  And hot sauce.  A couple of folks selling different styles of hot sauce.  Woo-hoo!

For the Love of Duck (or a similar name, I’m SO bad with names!) sells duck eggs and other farm products (including habanero hot sauce!) alongside their handmade balm and natural perfumes.  I popped in and had a great chat.  I think he’s as big an “oils geek” as I am.  I sampled his hand balm; it’s an “anhydrous” formula (without water – that means it’s safe to make it without preservatives).  The texture is very lotion-y and it’s fast absorbing.  Lovely!  It’s a complex formulation, but that’s a good thing.  Different oils bring in different nutrients and fatty acids that are good for your skin.  You wouldn’t eat “just” brocccoli all the time – you’d want a variety of nutrients on your plate, and using a blend of oils allows LoD to make a balm with a variety of nutrients for your skin.  The essential oils in the blend are traditional healing oils, and I was delighted to hear him talk about dilutions – essential oils should be diluted for optimum safety, and it was wonderful chatting with a crafter who understands that!  We may not be allowed to talk about the healing traditions of the oils we use in our products, but LoD is using some good ones for sure!

We chatted so long, I didn’t make it to Soap and Sticks, but Phil tells me their display is gorgeous.  I had chatted with her briefly earlier in the day, and it was great talking with a knowledgeable colleague; Phil mentioned a gorgeous layered soap that sounds like an ombre-type effect; and her colors are natural.  There’s another soapmaker there, a real fun woman.  She was going to be my next stop after Soap and Sticks, but I guess I’ll catch her next month.  We’ll be back in Scappoose July 12th.  It’s a great little market.  Hillsboro and Orenco feel like the heart of the community; Scappoose feels even more community-oriented and cozy.  It really felt great to be part of it!

I think the best comment of the day came from the rockhound.  “I used to have goats.  Now I have a life!”  I love our goats.  They’re worth the effort and so much fun to be around.  But it was nice talking to someone who understands the labor of love involved in raising ’em!

Scappoose: How to get there

Just 1/2 block off E. Columbia Avenue, on 2nd Street, next to Heritage Park.

Basically, drive into Scappoose and look for farmer’s market signs just off the main drag . Turn onto E Columbia from 30 & you’re there.

But, if you need more specific directions, map it.

I have – duh-duh-duh-Duh-duh-duh!! – a B-student smartphone (a little smarter than my old D-student smartphone).  I might be able to post pictures on the go.  It’s just an exciting weekend all around!  I am so stupidly excited, I might even post pictures from the market.

Hello, Scappoose!!

I understand that Momma’s Homemade Soap has retired.  We hope you’ll give Mamma Goat a try!  (How funny that we’re both mama soaps!)

We’re a goat farm* in unincorporated Portland.  We’re right between Scappoose and Hillsboro Farmer’s Markets.  Our homemade soap uses goat milk to enhance lather, long-lasting-ness, and mildness.  Handmade soap is nice stuff to begin with, and we think goat milk makes it even better.   We don’t consider ourselves soap artisans, we’re goat farmers.  We try to make some pretty soaps, but it’s what’s inside that really counts!

We’ll be bringing out a variety of soaps, including homemade laundry soap bars, pre-mixed laundry soap (without borax), hair soap, face soap, and regular old hand and body soap. If you love shave soap, ask us about it.  We keep a few bars tucked out of the way.  I need to make a new batch!

We make some soaps without palm oil, and, when we do use palm oil, we use sustainable palm.  We use it where we believe it adds a benefit, not simply because it’s traditional or because it’s cheap (the organic stuff isn’t cheap, anyway).

Our soaps aren’t vegan, but we don’t think our goats are exploited.  We think they’re family, and we raise them with a lot of love.  We give our baby goats first dibs on the milk, straight from their Mammas.  We usually start milking when the babies are 2 months old, and we let the Mammas decide when to wean (within reason, after a year old, that’s probably too long).  We try hard to keep our goat families together, and we pasture them as much as possible.  We do it this way because we think it’s healthier for babies to be raised naturally, eating nature’s perfect food (mother’s milk) as often as Mamma cares to feed it, learning from Mamma and the herd, and growing up being goats.  We don’t get much milk our way, but we don’t spend a lot on medicines, either, so we think it works out.

We’re not an organic farm, but we use a lot of organic ingredients and a lot of organic practices.  We try to be gentle on the earth, and we’re fierce proponents of small family farms.

We offer all-natural soaps as well as soaps with artificial fragrance.  If fragrance is what makes your shower heaven, we’re not here to judge.  But we’d sure appreciate if you’d give the natural scents a try.  We make some soaps we call “Naturally fragrant” because there’s no added essential oils or fragrance oils, just lovely-smelling ingredients like natural cocoa butter.   We have essential oil soaps, too.  We keep our scents subtle.  We just don’t believe in using soap to perfume the world – that’s “too much” of a good thing!

We make several different soap recipes.  We’re happy to help you pick the one that’s right for you.  If you tell us a little about what you look for in a soap, we’ll steer you right to the soap that is extra mild or extra lathery or nut-free or lavender or peppermint.  We are happy to answer questions, too!

We look forward to meeting you on Saturday, June 14th!  We’ll be back again July 12, August 9 & 30th, September 13th & 20th, and October 11th.

* We raise chickens and alpacas and some oddballs like Daphne Duck, too, but what we are in our hearts is a goat farm.

Paraben-free skincare: How I deal with it

I’ve discovered that parabens and phenoxyethanol irritate my skin.  But I still need a moisturizer.  By separating some of the steps, I’m able to use products with minimal preservative irritation.  Here’s my basic regimen:

Wash with natural soap & rinse thoroughly. Apply toner. Apply 1-3 drops of glycerin or hydrating serum. Follow with a light layer of skin-friendly oil – use just a few drops. Allow oil to absorb for 2-10 minutes. Blot off any excess oil.


Face soap – wash with tepid water, rinse very very thoroughly.

Toner balances pH: Consider diluted apple cider vinegar (find recipes online) or hydrosol.  There are hydrosols available with leuconostoc* as the preservative, and, if you’re lucky enough to live near a farm that produces essential oils, you may be able to buy fresh, unpreserved hydrosols for immediate use (treat them like fresh food – refrigerate and use up within about a week – check with your farm for specific use-by dates).

Hydrating serum or glycerin enhances moisture. Dispense 1-3 drops onto clean, dry hands, add a few drops of water, and apply to face.  This replaces the “water phase” of lotions.  Serums can add hydrating ingredients that may reduce the appearance of wrinkles and/or reduce evaporative water loss from the skin.

Paraben-free lotion or oil-based serum helps reduce moisture evaporation. Dispense a few drops onto clean, dry hands, rub hands together, and then pat oil onto slightly damp face. (This helps spread oil without over-applying.) Pat, pat, pat (gently!) until it’s well distributed, then gently massage in. Blot excess oil with a paper towel if needed.  You can go stark simple – I like rice bran oil and many people love virgin coconut oil, both available in the grocery aisle of a well-stocked grocer – or high-end, with complex and luxuriously nutritive oils.  Olive-derived squalane is lovely and spendy (but not by comparison to quality lotions).  Safflower and Camellia are considered non-greasy oils.

If, in any step, you have a bit too much product on your hands, spread it onto your neck, chest, hands, or forearms. No sense in wasting good stuff!

Sunscreen is still critical! Use mineral (powder) sunscreen (many mineral makeup brands provide decent SPF) or a liquid sunscreen according to manufacturer instructions anytime you will have sun exposure. Read the ingredients; sunscreens are typically a lotion and typically contain preservatives.  Mineral makeups may include a preservative, as well, so check ingredients!

This may sound like a lot of steps, but it’s really only 5 (counting sunscreen); 4 before bed, and 4 if you use sunscreen as your morning moisturizer.  If you use vinegar, glycerine, natural oils, and mineral-powder sunscreen, you can go preservative free.

*Leuconostoc is naturally-derived and fairly mild.  That doesn’t mean it’s “better”.  In 10 years, people may be sensitive to it, too.

Get your butt off the internet and get to the farmer’s market: Yeah, it’s that urgent! Scapes! Scapes!!

Garlic scapes!

Get your butt down to the market.  Yup.  You might not know it yet, but you need garlic scapes.  And, by the time you know it, they’ll be out of season.  Because garlic scapes are the tops – the parts of the garlic plant that ‘scaped from the ground – and they are only harvested early in the garlic growing season.

What the heck is a scape?  It tastes like garlic, but mild.  I have no idea how many of the health benefits of garlic end up in the scape.  Think of it as a green onion with super-powers.  It’s garlicky, but not as bite-y as full-grown garlic.

What do you do with a scape?  My favorite – cut little circles of scape, put them on top of an oiled, peppered tomato, and grill until the tomato is wilty and caramelized (about 25-30 minutes).  Or, Grill the scape like asparagus – it ends up soft, but very flavorful.  Make scape pesto.  If you’re not a major garlic fan, use cooked scapes for pesto, though, or it might be too garlicky.

I firmly believe in playing with your food.  Don’t know what to do with a scape?  Make your regular dinner, and try something with scapes.  If it sucks, you’ve got your regular dinner.  If it’s awesome, you’ve got your regular dinner plus a special guest star.  Can’t lose.

I’d heard of scapes, I wanted to try scapes, never got around to it.  When I saw them at the farmers market last weekend, I couldn’t resist.  I put one on the grill.  I brought it in and told Phil “I don’t know how long you cook scapes, but 15 minutes isn’t it.” as I threw away a blackened husk that used to be a scape.  Dinner wasn’t quite done, so I threw one on the grill again, maybe 4 minutes this time.  It caramelized a bit, but didn’t blacken.  Yum.  We were making grilled tomatoes (forgot to go veg shopping), and I threw a few rings of scape on top of them before grilling.  Served them on top of leftover rice – so good.

I like to taste raw ingredients that are new to me.  If I don’t know how it tastes, how will I know what to expect from it in my recipe?  The raw scape was crunchy and mildly garlicky, very mild, like the garlic in homemade bruschetta after it has a day for the flavors to meld.  Cooked, it became sweeter and milder.  If I hadn’t used up all my tomatoes, I’d try scape bruschetta – I bet it’s yummy without the extra day in the fridge.

One of the absolute treasures of our local area is the prevalence of small farms and the huge variety of farmer’s markets and farm stands.  And little oddball foods, like garlic scapes, that you can’t usually get in a grocery store.  Yay!

Keeping a Farm calendar

Abbey bagged up, oh, about a month ago now.  Usually, a goat starts bagging up – growing her udder in preparation for birth – gradually.  A month out, she has just a little more jiggle.  Over the next week, it’s confirmed – her udder swells a bit.  Over the month, the udder grows slowly.

Sometimes, a goat bags up right before birth.  Then, it’s a sudden jump.  It gets big fast.

Abbey got big, fast.  One day, nothing, then, seemingly overnight, she had one of the biggest udders on the farm.  Her body changed.  Her behavior changed.  So we set up the birthing stall.

And we didn’t get babies.

I was ready to call out the vet.  I checked the farm calendar, and danged if she wasn’t a few weeks out.  I’m kind of excited to see what this means for her milk production.  I’ve never seen a first-timer put on such an udder, and never so early.

Well, that’s why we keep a farm calendar.  There are so many details to keep track of.  We rotate pastures to reduce parasite levels.  Sometimes, it’s hard to remember when we started resting a certain pasture.  We can’t just look at the pasture and say “oh, it’s 3 months of growth, time to rotate back in,” because the growth varies with weather, season, rainfall, etc.

We track vaccinations, births, breedings/exposures, planting dates, illness, even things like “somebody coughed,” because one cough might be dust but several might be more serious.  With goats, alpacas, llama, chickens, and the motley crew of others, little details like that can get forgotten.  Imagine having 25 kids under 10 – it’s kind of like that.

Sometimes, we jot down when we opened a bag of feed, to help track whether it’s lasting as long as we planned.  Sometimes, the pasture rotation records help us understand if our pastures have good food.  If we put them back together with hay records, it can tell quite the story.  If animals come in from pasture and tuck into hay, we know the plant mix in the pasture isn’t meeting their needs.  Sometimes, we think a pasture is junk, and the hay lasts and lasts.

Sometimes, the animals won’t spend much time in the pasture, because they don’t think the food is worth the effort to go get it.  Other times, they lay around a lot because they got enough food in a short browse.  They might go crazy for dinner either way; if they’re hungry, they want any food; if they’re full, they want the minerals and vitamins in feed concentrate to balance things out.

Of course, we have to check the calendar to put things together.   And that’s how Abbey got a full month of us petting her brow, instead of the normal week.  We didn’t check the calendar.


She’s due before Father’s Day.  And she’s still acting strange, but she hates her herd – Rhi the witch is Abbey’s herd queen – so I guess we’ll know she’s giving birth when babies start popping out.  Today was looking like the day – biological changes, plus she started ducking into stalls like she was looking for privacy.  Did she give us babies today? Noooo.  I guess she didn’t check the calendar, either.

PS She’s a gorgeous LaMancha, named after the local creek, and she does have ears.  LaManchas just have tiny ears.  She’s one of our prettiest goats, with a big white stripe down the side like a belted cow.  I don’t know why nearly all our goats have white spots on top of their heads (it’s called a poll), A lot of them have different parents, but we ended up with a lot of those white spots, and now our buck gives them to his kids, too.  We think they’re cute.

Why I make face soaps

I have problem skin.  I used to have oily, acneic skin with rosacea and puffy eyes.  I “fixed” it by slathering on tons of products – eye depuffer, pore reducer, oil absorber, redness reducer, and various acne products.  When we started rehabbing the farm, I spent less time trying to look good and more time trying to make the farm work.  And my skin got better.  It turned out, my skincare routine was making my skin worse.


This was me, in full makeup with a mattifier and anti-shine foundation:


That was me looking really good, I had a grease slick, but it was an improvement over my normal Valdez-level greasiness.  I was 30-something, and I had finally gotten the acne down to just a few small zits, my eyes weren’t too puffy, I found an industrial-strength foundation that didn’t float off on all the oil my skin pumped out.  Of course, the products that worked – and felt essential to me, because I hated being a greasy, puffy-eyed mess – were expensive.

This is me now, without makeup or mattifier or anything else (and without a lick of hairstyling):


The goat milk soap didn’t sop up oil or change my skin or heal anything.  What it did for me was give my skin a break from chemicals.  It turns out, I’m sensitive to the chemicals common in many skincare products.  And I’m not alone.  A lot of people are sensitive to chemicals.

I always heard “don’t use soap on your face.”  So I didn’t.  I used detergents and preservatives and other stuff.  And my skin sucked.

Truth is, the only reason I tried soap on my face was because customers were using it on their faces.  I’m our chief product tester.  I made a facial-formula soap, but didn’t sell it as a face soap, because I still believed that soap isn’t for faces.  I was also testing soap oils by using them straight on my face, as a moisturizer.

Using soap on my face made a huge difference, in a good way.  It really clicked when I tested an organic lotion.  My skin had been gradually improving, I had barely noticed the change.  And then I used lotion, and my eyes got puffy.  My pores got slack.  I got a little greasy.  In one use.  I looked in the mirror and said “hey, this is what I used to look like!”  I had forgotten.  I tested again a few times, and, sure enough, something in that lotion set my skin on the warpath.  It was an organic lotion with quality ingredients and a mild preservative, and it made my skin gross again.


It was the chemicals.  Why was I surprised?  I have allergies and sensitivities.  Why did I think my face would be different?

I can’t steer 100% clear of chemicals.  I’ve already had skin cancer, so I’m not giving up sunscreen and I just don’t like mineral makeup.  But I’ve learned to minimize my exposure.  I use soap to clean, and my skin is happy with that.  I use hydrosols as a toner; sometimes I just use apple cider vinegar (the same diluted vinegar I use to rinse my hair).  I use glycerin to draw extra moisture to my skin.  I use oil to lock the moisture in.  That’s my evening routine.  In the mornings, I do about the same, but I use moisturizing tinted sunscreen instead of oil.  The sunscreen irritates my skin, but it’s the only product I use with chemicals, and my skin can tolerate one product.

I still have problem skin.  My rosacea flares up from something as simple as soaking in a hot tub.  I get an occasional blemish.  My skin is still aging.  Soap didn’t cure anything.  But I am MUCH happier with my skin when I use face soap.  And my wallet is certainly happier, too, now that I’ve ditched all the add-on products!