Soap Donations…My Poor Man’s “Giving Pledge”

A few weeks ago I posted about “The Giving Pledge” where billionaire’s with more money than they know what to do with pledge to donate a large portion of that money to charities.  Well, I don’t have billions of dollars, but  what I do have though  is perhaps a  little more time on my hands than a lot of people.

I was so inspired by the whole idea of “The Giving Pledge” that I sat down and thought about some way I could use my excess time to benefit someone else in need.  My first idea was to donate soap to a women’s shelter.  I contacted my local shelter but didn’t  get a response.  (I haven’t completely given up on that idea just yet).

My second idea was to donate 10 percent of my soap sales to my favorite group “New Hope On 4 Hoofs”, which is an Equine Program that brings horses and agility-trained dogs together with children who have lost a parent.

This is a new program with GREAT potential and was started by a client of mine and I’ve seen it grow from an idea into a flourishing program…in need of funding.

Realizing that 10 percent of my soap sales was going to be a rather small donation, I thought and thought and thought some more, and finally, while sitting in the yard one day, a chestnut fell on my head and poked me rather severely, and suddenly I got the idea to donate SOAP to the program and THEY could sell it, keeping ALL the money for the program!

(Ever had a “chestnut” inspiration?  It’s rather painful, but enlightening at the same time)!

So, my philanthropic idea is well under way and I’m currently creating soaps for their first event which is in mid October.  I’m so excited to be contributing to something so worthwhile.

Anyway, if you’d like to donate time, money, tack, riding breeches, boots, saddles, blankets, etc. you can email me and I will forward the information on to the groups director.  You can also send the Founder, Melinda Martin an email at, or  get more information from their website at .  The website was still undergoing some construction last time I visited, but should be up and running any minute now.

Hope you visit!

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Chestnuts and Other Farm Happenings

Like to go barefoot outside?

Well, if you were to try that in my yard right now you’d have to have soles of steel because right now the chestnuts are dropping their spine-covered nuts just about as fast as I can pick them  up.

Although the nuts are touted as being wonderful for your health and terrific tasting, picking them up has proven to be hazardous to my personal health because when  a big ball of prickly spines full of heavy nuts falls from the top branches of a tree, 100 feet in the air and hits a person in the back or head…it hurts.

I’ve given up for the day, but not before I got three big bowls of chestnuts picked up off the ground and de-hulled of their spiny outer shell.  I’ll have them at the market this weekend too!

"chestnuts_off_our_chestnut_tree.jpg" "chestnuts_at_the_danville_farmers_market.jpg"

Sorry if I’ve missed you at the Danville Farmers Market the last two weeks.  We finally rented CG’s house out, which is a true blessing for us as it was quite a financial strain to be carrying two mortgages.  We had to finish up some last minute projects and then get all of his stuff moved out.

We managed to squeeze the contents of two full sized houses into our one small farmhouse.

We can still walk around in here, but it’s not too easy.  Some of this stuff has to go!

Anyway, I’m over run with eggs that I normally sell out of at the market…no more room in the fridge for ANYTHING!  So, I’ll have plenty with me this weekend.  We ate the oldest ones and saved the freshest for our customers…anyone find a blue egg in their dozen lately?

We’ve got one hen that lays blue eggs and we are trying to put one of them in every dozen.  Of course we have the normal green and brown and light brown…but this is the first time we’ve had blue!

We got up a buck pen made out of cattle panels.  Boy oh boy is that SOOOOO much nicer than trying to keep them in electric fencing….they ALWAYS know when it’s off, and I won’t go near it unless it’s off, and yep, if you’ve read my recent blog posts you know what a time we’ve been having with girls coming into heat and too many bucks..and too many relatives we don’t want breeding with one another!

We also put up a pen for the baby girls.  Of course, at around 80+ pounds, they really are not babies anymore…but their still babies to me.  I still have to install a gate…made out of a cattle panel…easy, easy, easy.  I also have to put up a cattle panel shelter in the buck pen before it rains tonight.  They’ve got plenty of shade from the garage the pen is built next to, and cedar and pine trees outside the fenced area, but nothing for rain, and it’s supposed to be pretty severe tonight.

I have to take apart another pen to get the t-posts I need to use for the shelter…which is why I decided to come inside after picking up all those chestnuts…it’s exhausting just thinking about it!

And for some reason, the humidity came back today.

Thanks for visiting.

Hope to see some of you at the Danville Farmers Market on Sat.  I’ll have soap of course, lotions, (some new soaps too) rainbow-colored eggs, and chestnuts.  I’d have some birdhouses made out of gourds I grew last year too if I had the time to get them painted, which I don’t.

Okay, back to the grindstone.

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September’s Best Days To: According to Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac

I recently bought a copy of “Blum’s Farmer’s And Planter’s Almanac and have enjoyed reading it, especially as the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler.  Time to do a lot of things to get ready for the winter and another growing season next year.  Here’s what I found today:

Plant above ground crops: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19 (we’re doing rye grass and hairy vetch)

Plant root crops: 1, 4, 5, 23, 27, 28

Plant Flowers: 4, 5, 10, 11

Transplant: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Seed beds: 4, 5, 12, 13, 14

Prune: To encourage growth: 4, 5, 23…To discourage growth: 15, 16, 20, 21

Apply chemical fertilizer: 12. 13, 14, 22

Apply organic fertilizer: 4, 5, 23

Destroy weeds: 2, 3, 6, 7, 29, 30

Harvest Crops: 24, 25, 26

Wean: 15-23 (luckily we’re done with all the weaning)

Kill farm Meat: 1, 24-30

Set hens & incubators: 15-22

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Buck Goat In Rut

I got to thinking earlier that maybe some of you have never been blessed to be acquainted with a buck goat in full rut.  And since that’s all I can seem to blog about (or smell) lately, I thought I’d snap some pictures for you.

Now, these pictures have no way of conveying the smell surrounding this guy, which is unfortunate because the smell is a huge part of the “charm” of a buck goat in rut.  Without the smell, you just have a dirty-looking goat that stands snorting and peeing all over himself… and whatever gets in his way.

Believe it or not, female goats find this behavior and odor quite irresistible.   And the dirtier and smellier the buck, the more attractive he is to the does.

I find this quite interesting as does are fastidious animals who will walk a mile around a mud puddle to avoid it, and are arguably one of the cleanest animals in the world.

I guess opposites really do attract.

Sorry folks, can’t give you the gift of the odor…but here are a few pictures I got today…so, just imagine the smell and if you really want to know what it smells like, I guess I can always send you a snippet of goat beard!  LOL

"buck_goat_in_rut.jpg", alpine dairy goat buck
All that yellow in the beard and on his face is...pee. Luckily, female goats are much more precise at hitting the ground when they pee. And they don't smell bad either!
"buck_goat_in_rut.jpg" "alpine_dairy_goats_in_virginia.jpg"
Our Atticus. Notice his hip bones starting to stick out? Buck goats in rut lose their appetite and drop weight quickly in the fall. We spend the rest of the year trying to fatten them up!
The "jewels". (Just in case you wondered what they looked like!)
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Breeding Season News

It’s been a very busy and tiring week….and it’s not over yet!

All 8 does, (4 senior, 4 junior) came into heat at the same time…and we have FOUR rutty bucks on the property, all behind electric fences.

Electric fences DO NOT work for bucks in rut or does’ in heat.

It’s been utterly chaotic.  And that’s an understatement.  Hopefully, after today, the last of the girls will end their heat cycles and we’ll have a minute or two  of peace.

I’ve got 3 Alpine doelings locked in the barn and 3 Alpine bucklings  still  locked  in their yard paddock.  And our big buck is tied to a tree in the yard next to the pen of boys!

Okay, so I can breath for a minute…everyone is under control…two of the senior does are bred…the baby girls, who are still too young to breed are locked up…and I’m waiting on the feed store to bring me more cattle panels.

The boys will get a new pen built with sturdy cattle panels, and the girls are getting a new pen built with goat fencing and wooden posts sunk in concrete.

No more electric fencing during breeding season!  Not EVER!

My job today is to sink those posts in concrete.  I don’t know that I can even dig a fence post hole!

CG has to work today and he’s the official post-hole digger around here.

Luckily we only need wooden posts for the corners.  We’ll use t-posts for the line posts.

T-Posts aren’t any fun to put in the ground either, but at least they are quick, and they can be removed if they are accidentally put in the wrong spot.  (I’m good at putting posts in the wrong spot).

All of this would be much easier if we didn’t also have to move CG’s house full of furniture this weekend on his only two days off.

Oh great, the feed store just called and said they don’t have enough cattle panels for my order.  They are waiting on a truck to come in…which could be today..or not.  And I don’t have any concrete either.  Ah heck…

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Today’s Soapings

Today’s soaps were two varieties of baby soaps in the round molds.

The first is “Citrus Baby” baby soap.  The essential oils used were sweet orange, 5X orange, litsea, geranium and spearmint, no colors of course, and all liquid used is goats milk.

The second soap is “Patched Tree Baby”.  This is a patchouli and tea tree blend. Again, no colors were used and all liquid is our own fresh goats milk.

These soaps won’t be ready for a few weeks, but we do have one baby bar ready, it’s our “Naked Baby” soap.  No scent, no colors.

Our baby bars are made with a much higher percentage of shea butter than our regular recipe, plus organic, cold-pressed olive oil for extra gentle, non-drying, special baby care.

Next up is another Dead Sea Salt Bar, this time done with an experimental method I just invented.  I hope it works!

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Breeding Season Has Officially Started Here at Shantara Acres Farm

We were hoping to postpone it, or perhaps avoid it all together, but when you’re living by the laws of nature, some things are just unavoidable.

We had pastured all the bucks with the two mares and the pony, and they all seemed happy with the situation.

Until yesterday, when CG and I needed to make repairs on the girls shed.

With all the excitement, the young bucklings decided to shoot through the electric wire and risk getting shocked, to get over with the girls, who were very excited about what we were doing.

All of them are in full-blown rut now, and even holding them by their collars got buck- rut-stink on my hands and turned my stomach.

Luckily I’m not pregnant.

If you know anyone who’s  pregnant, better advise them to stay away from buck goats in the fall.

We put the baby boys back in their infant pen in the yard..(they are now 80-plus pound babies) and so far they are staying put.  They can’t see the girls, and I’m betting they can’t smell them either…although we can sure smell them BOYS!  YUK!

Our 4 year old buck, Atticus however, who has happily stayed in the pasture with the horses so far this season,  must have gotten the idea too, because when I woke this morning and looked out the window, Malachai, our guardian dog who lives with the does, was acting a bit strange.  Upon closer inspection, I saw a big stinky buck standing in the middle of the girls, looking smug.

It was too late to do anything, so I went ahead and had my coffee, and then donned plastic gloves, which really didn’t help, and got Atticus back into his own pasture. The buck pen will have to be reinforced today and he’s going to be locked in it for the rutting season.

I checked the girls and luckily, he didn’t breed any of the babies.  I hadn’t decided if I was going to breed them this year…and in any case, they are not quite up to the 90-100 pound breeding weights needed.

Alicia for sure was bred, and Michal showed signs of it.  Michal was going to milk through this year and possibly next without kidding…ha ha ha.  Alicia is right on track, I keep hoping each year for a doe kid from her and hopefully this year she’ll give me one.

And that about covers it for this Monday mornings excitement.  Luckily the Stink-Be-Gone soap I made seemed to do the trick last night, and got the buck odor completely off of me.  I’m betting I’ll need to use the whole bar up by the time this day is over…..Ahhhh, the joys of fall and bucks-in-rut!

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Ahh, fall is here!

The walnut and chestnut trees are hanging low with their nuts, and the acorns and hickories are already falling to the ground…so far nobody’s eating them.

The leaves are slowly turning, and we’re almost needing to rake the yard already.  Some of the chickens are molting, all of them are laying, and the guineas are  positively LOUD!

The mornings are cool and we no longer need the fan most nights.

The horses are shedding their short summer coats and the bucks smell like….well, bucks.  YUKK!!

I’ve been working on a new website for our soaps and goats.  The address is still the same but all the old information is gone and I’m working on new info, new pictures, etc.   I tried to install a shopping cart but failed miserably so I am creating an online catalog of all of our products.  Each product is coded with it’s own pay pal button and it’s taking me about a day and half to do each variety, so I haven’t got very many listed yet.

Not a single picture of a goat either!  I’m far ahead of where I was yesterday though, which was no where, and so I gave up.  Oh boy…I’m getting ready to launch into technical computer jargon which will just confuse me, so I’m going to stop talking about it.

I already have a headache.

But anyway, if anyone would like to stop in at and order some soap just to see if my shopping cart works, well, that would be great.

If no one takes me up on it, I may just order some soap from myself.  Just to try it out.

We’ve got about 5 soaps listed so far, and I’ll do a few more every day.  I think we’ve got around 30 varieties right now, so it will certainly take me awhile.  Have a bunch more to make too.

Now, just to get rid of this headache.

Oh, here’s a picture of four of our chicks who actually made it half way to adulthood without committing suicide in a water bucket.  They just love this nice Hawaiian breeze we have out there today ruffling up their feathers.

Too bad I was on the computer all day…it was a perfect day to hang clothes out to dry.

chickens scratching in the hay pile

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Dead Sea Salt Bars!

Well, folks asked for em, and now we’ve got em!

So far, only in Spearmint/Eucalyptus, but just as soon as I’m sure the recipe is going to work, (and so far they look great), we’ll be adding several other scents/varieties.

CG and I have both been using them and they are wonderful!  My skin looks better already…and they aren’t even fully cured!

Some soap makers say that they had a hard time with these bars, they would turn out mushy and bead water for a long time.  So far, they are holding up in the cure room beautifully and if they still look good on Friday, there will be a few for sale at the market on Saturday.

Not only do these soaps each have a generous portion of genuine salts from the dead sea, which are super-rich in nutrients and skin-beautifying qualities, but they also are made with calendula flower tea and goats milk.  The essential oils are pure and uncut.  We’re pretty sure you’ll love what they do for your skin.

Here they are.

dead sea salt soaps

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