Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Jersey Cow To The Rescue!

Jersey cow milk is a beautiful golden-ivory shade!
Some friends have a Jersey cow that just gave birth.  The cow, apparently, is producing an amazing amount of milk.  So, we were able to acquire some to help supplement our not-nearly-enough goats milk supply for our baby goats. We prefer raw, fresh milk; we believe pasteurization destroys some of the nutrition of milk.  Of course, when I brought it home I had to try it and it is gorgeous!  It's a yellow cream colour, much more golden than goats milk.  It's rich and buttery and thick.

So as not to upset any little tummies, I started by just adding a splash, then over the course of a week upped the ratio until the cows milk was about a third of the bottle for each kid.  As the kids are already on to a small portion of grain and have hay to nibble, the over-all quantity of milk they are getting is being reduced a bit each week.  The transition was not a problem (animal owners have to get used to examining poop: it just comes with the territory).  So, our baby goats are growing big and strong with every passing day and 'the milk crisis' is lessening.  Mind you me, there is only a couple of bags of frozen goats milk in our freezer, so we may have to buy some commercial goat milk to get us through to weaning, which will be in about three weeks.  Maybe the mommies will produce enough: time will tell!

Now, having a nice haul of fresh milk in the house, and wanting to have a nice 'thank you' to our cow-owning friends, I did set a little aside to make some soap.  I felt a little guilty sneaking milk but.....It seems to have made a lovely soap!  Used it just like I would goats milk, freezing the milk in cubes.  Used our 'Simple Soap' recipe of nothing but Jersey milk, olive oil and coconut oil.  The soap, fresh out of the mold, is ivory but a little darker than goats milk soap.  It will probably darken a bit more during the curing process.  Can hardly wait to try a bar in our shower!

If you'd like to catch pictures of baby goats cavorting check out our Facebook page!  We share probably too many baby goat pictures!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

There's Not Enough Milk for the Babies!

Ghost gets lunch!
We're milking goats twice a day, but are having a hard time feeding the baby goats!  Our poor Goldie became ill shortly after giving birth and during treatment her milk dried up....completely.  She's much better, thank you, but will not produce milk again until she has more babies.  That won't be until same time next year so we've got to make some adjustments.  Goldie not producing milk is a big set back for both our fledgling soap business and our current crop of baby goats.  Goldie was our biggest milk producer: her daily contribution almost doubled the individual output of our other two mommas, Chocolate and Mabel!

So, Goldie's two kids, Ghost and Giggles, are essentially without a supply of nourishment.  Mabel is not producing quite enough to feed her triplets Monkey, Muffin and Mink.  Chocolate is taking good care of her kid, Coco, who was growing fat and happy on her 'free-choice' milk bar.  So, Coco now is taken away from Mommy during the day and we milk most of Choco's supply each night, leaving some for dinner for the kid.  The kids are all approaching six weeks of age so they are starting to nibble hay and a wee portion of grain.  But still, it's not enough milk!

Fortunately, we had a lot of raw milk frozen.  It's purpose was to make soap - I had planned a good stash for getting ready for Spring shows/sales and the opening of Global Market.  We've slowly but surely been dipping into the 'stash' to feed the babies!  We could have gone to formula us that's yucky, chemical stuff.  We could purchase bottled goat milk- but the cost is silly and we view pasteurized milk as almost dead, much of the nutrition destroyed.  So, the stash it is.

We're finding that, when it thaws, fresh, raw goats milk separates and has some 'curds' suspended in what looks like a mix of whey and thin milk.  We've quickly come to the process of thawing the milk in an ice cream pail and then taking the stick blender to it to reconstitute it.  We add in and blend anything newly milked, once it has cooled.  It's working well and all the kids are thriving!  However, I'm not making any soap right now or eating any of our lovely, fresh goats milk, saving all the good stuff for the kids.  Looking forward to the day when the kids are weaned and the excess becomes mine to do with as I wish!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Search for Fabulous Citrus Goat Milk Soap

In most of my Cold Process (CP) books, the authors mention the difficulty of citrus fragrance using natural essential oils (EO).  There is something about citrus essential oils that doesn't stand up to the heat produced during the CP process.  And I really, really want a nice, perky citrus soap!

When I'm making soap, I use a very cool method because I don't want to 'damage' or scald all the good things in goats milk during the process.  I want all the skin-friendly proteins and fats to be totally available.  I freeze our fresh, raw milk in ice cube trays and add the lye to the cubes.  I melt all our solid butters then allow them to cool with the fluid oils before adding the milk/lye mixture.  I freeze the soap mixture as soon as I put it in the molds.  Doing these things, I've manage to produce lovely ivory-coloured soaps, without the beige/brown tinge brought on by high heat.

Thinking my cool method may negate the citrus scent problem, I made a small batch a while ago, using just sweet orange EO, which is what I had on hand.  I used almost double the EO that I use for my lavender and peppermint soaps.  I ended up with absolute no citrus fragrance at all!  Huge disappointment!  Because I'm stubborn and really don't want to use the fake fragrance oils, I started some research.

During the Christmas season (which is also kind of the beginning of citrus season), I was seeing a lot of stuff, on the crafty blogs I read and on the Facebook pages I follow, about using up citrus peels.  Posts included drying for potpourri, dehydrating zest and....infusing oils.  Well, I thought, why couldn't I infused the olive oil in my soap recipe, to get a little head start on fragrance.  So I took some of the many mandarin orange peels we were producing, air dried them and then soaked them in olive oil.   That blog post is here.  When finished, the oil had a nice, although light, citrus scent.  I kept the peels and air dried them again, letting them dry really well to use as an exfoliant in the soap.

Then....somebody commented anonymously with one word.....bergamot!  Whoever you are - thank you, thank you, thank you!  I went in search of bergamot EO and love it!  And found five-fold lemon EO while I was at it, which means extra concentrated.  So, a new batch of citrus soap has been made, with sweet orange, five fold lemon and bergamot added just before I pour the mixture into the molds!  After 24 hours, during the cutting, it smelled strongly of fresh soap (somewhat chemical) and very little like anything citrus.  Now two weeks later that 'new soap' scent is gone and a nice but light citrus fragrance remains!  So excited!  The soap has a lovely pale peachy/yellow colour with some darker orange pieces from the ground peel.  The soap needs at least another two weeks to cure, but I have high hopes!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Love The New Henry Milker!

I was the lucky recipient yesterday of the new Henry Milker.  I continue to be blown away by the service, the teaching and the connection with customers from these people!  I had emailed them looking to replace my pump, which has had some challenges lately.  Admittedly, we'd dropped it a couple of times, Farmer Man was doing clean-up and waterlogged it, and the usual stuff of day-to-day milking.  They sell replacement parts (and many other great goat things) on the Henry Milker website so I'd emailed about shipping to Canada.  The response I got was that Mr. Henry's been enjoying my blog and appreciates the mentions so he was sending me a whole new kit - for free!

The new version of the Henry Milker is awesome!  If you have a small herd of goats you should consider this tool.  We've liked it from the start because the whole connection from teat to milk receptacle is closed, so cleaner milk.  It uses large canning jars, easy to deal with, easy to clean and perfect for refrigerating milk for our use.  It's extremely lightweight and portable - a fact I have so appreciated when Mabel has rejected kids and I'm crawling around in the birthing pen trying to get that all important colostrum!  It's fast and no aching hands!

Well, the new version is a big step up.  You can milk both teats at the same time!  Yes, Mr. Henry has figured an awesome little system so that you can cap both teats and milk into the same jar.  I admire people who are so inventive!  There's a wee bit of a learning curve to juggle both teat caps, and Mabel was a bit surprised last night but milking her was over in a couple of minutes!  I'll so appreciate that tomorrow morning when I feel the pressure of having to get to work on time!

There's some other great new features, too.  The new lids are one piece plastic, the previous version used the usual canning jars lids.  I think these one piece lids will be more sanitary - less places for debris to be trapped and bacteria to grow!  The teat cups have an insert, easy to put in or pull out, so you can adjust to the size of the goats' teat.  Both sizes of tubing (one for joining to the teat cups and one for connecting the two cups to one pump) both come with their own little cleaning brushes!  Everything you need, except the goat!  The whole instruction manual has been expanded and improved upon, too!

So, if you've got goats I really think you should check out this wee machine here.  If you've got goats I think you should just go to the website anyway: lots of great stuff and info for goat people!  From cheese making supplies, to accessories like scratch posts and coats for cold climates to plans for milking stands and hay feeders to help with marketing!  The Henry Milker site is becoming a great resource for goat lovers!