What’s Soaping Now?

Finally got my coconut oil in and did four soaps last night.  Three of them were small trial batches of new scents, with only 8 bars each.  The good news is that all of the scents behaved, and I got some color swirling done. They will be ready to cut this afternoon.

The new scents are:

Fruit Slices with a color swirl.  Smells GREAT!  Yum yum.  It took a long time to set up though.  I was so afraid it would thicken too fast while I was trying to get color in it to swirl that I probably didn’t blend it quite enough.  I ended up stirring it up some more in the mold, messing up my swirls, but it looks fine this morning.  Hopefully all the colors didn’t run together.

Frosty Pines:  This is #2 of the Christmas tree type scents I got and the first to get soaped.  It’s pine, but has a “frosty” note if you will.  It’s really nice and not too piney, but very Christmasey.  I added a green swirl to this one and it all behaved wonderfully.

Little Black Dress: Unless people really like this scent and buy it, I’ll never do it again!  Luckily I only got a sample bottle and it was free with some other stuff I ordered.  It is a very perfumey scent.  If you like all those perfume ads in those big glossy magazines, you’ll like this one.  This is a small batch, and I only used 1 oz of scent, which is less than I normally use, but was all I had, and the mold is buried under another mold and blankets for insulation….and I can still smell it.  It is STRONG! Poor me.

Apple Jack and Peel: This is a scent I usually only do at Christmas time.  I have lotions in it also.  It’s a true Claire Burke cinnamon and apples and ?  Wonderful. It’s a strong scent too and I did a full batch of it.  I colored it with just a little rust mica.  Great winter scent.

Still to soap are Lavender, Almond, Aloe Vera, and… oh, heck, I can’t remember just now.  Anyway, we’ll have lots of new stuff, and the online store will be opening back up as planned in mid Nov. Will be doing a new market too next week.  Details of that will be coming out on Monday eve.

Okay, time to get the day started!  CG is off today and we’re going to fix stuff.  Well, he is going to fix stuff, I just hand him tools and bring him stuff to drink.   I like to think I’m being helpful.  🙂

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Fall Around the Farm

It’s a beautiful, sunny today and after raking up about a million pounds of chestnuts, I thought I’d get a few pictures so I’ll have something nice to look at when we’re buried under ten feet of snow this winter!

The leaves are turning, slowly, but surely.

There are chestnuts, chestnuts, everywhere…now getting covered with leaves.  They are painful to touch!

It’s the season of fat,  muddy horses.

And fat, fuzzy ponies.  (and Finland, the goat)

And yep, it’s time for FIREWOOD!  And LOTS of it!  Have a GREAT Friday!

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Is It Hot or What?

Two mornings ago I woke up to frost on the ground that seemed to scare away market shoppers, and left all of us vendors shivering until closing time at noon.

Today we woke up early, at around 5:30, sweating.  The bedroom thermometer  registered 80 degrees.  The one in the living room is pointing at 90+.

Okay, we’ve finally figured out how to work this soapstone stove.  CG had fell several trees out in our woodlot during the summer, and just recently cut and split them.  This wood turns to red-hot coals in no time at all and we have to have two fans running in the living room to get rid of all the excess heat.

We had wood delivered to us last year.  “DRY, cut, split and stacked hardwood.”

It was hard alright.  Hard to burn.  We didn’t know it, but it was wet.  The wood we have this year is definitely dry, and it BURNS!   So, I can take back all those means things I was thinking about the manufacturer of our stove and how they ripped us off. We had just about given up on staying warm this winter.

Anyway, after waking up sweating this morning, and then adding more wood to the fire, I went outside to help CG load up the truck.  It was WARM outside. Very warm.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but we just got this stove figured out and now we have to abandon our efforts due to hot weather.

I wonder when it’s going to get cold again?

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Shampooing Hair With Castile Soap?

I’ve been unhappy with commercial shampoos for years.  They have always dried my hair out, never conditioned like the bottle said, no matter how expensive the shampoo and most smell just awful…to me anyway.

So, being the resourceful weirdo that I am, I’ve been thinking and thinking and doing research.  I’ve even done some reading over at the Long Hair Forum and found that I’m not the only one with a commercial shampoo aversion!

Some people claim to wash with just water, others wash with just conditioner, others don’t wash at all!  I’m a confirmed middle-woman, and I decided the method I’d like to try would be the “wash only the roots, and condition the rest” method.

I’ve tried my goats milk soap many times, and lots of my customers use it, but it was too “soapy” for my hair, which is long and always in a tangle of some sort.  Recently I’ve made Castile soap out of just olive and castor oil and so decided to try my “middle woman” method using the castile soap.

I think it worked!  It is not nearly as dry and creepy feeling. The castile soap was strongly (perhaps too strongly) scented with patchouli and eucalyptus.  The essential oils add a nice, natural fragrance, as well as some bacteria control.

Anyway, I was so just excited I thought I’d tell the world!  I’m still working on my bottled shampoo though…have not given up on that just yet.  Or at least a conditioner.  I’m sure I can make something better than commercial.

Other Soapy News!

Yesterday I did two more castile soaps.  That was my only choice since my coconut oil hasn’t came in yet and every other soap I do uses coconut oil.  I did get 50 pounds of lye delivered, thankfully.  That’s enough to make about 1080 6oz bars of soap, which is about the amount of soap I think I’ll need for Christmas sales! 

The castile bars were done in round molds.  One was scented with blood orange and litsea, the other is a pot-swirl of green and red, and scented with candy apple and lemon curd.  I also added little stars to the batch.  This was a test batch, done in a 2 inch PVC pipe mold. These little bars are going to be one of the choices folks will have when special-ordering bars for wedding favors, parties, etc.  They will also make great travel-sized and hotel-sized bars.  I have no idea how to package them yet.  Got any ideas for me?


"Castile soap for hair"
Isnt' the little soap just too cute?
Saying "Hi" to you this morning! Yep, still wearing my pajamas!



I wish everyone a Happy Thursday, and if you haven’t signed up for our farm newsletter yet, please do so!  Shantara Acres Farm Newsletter!

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Castile Soap Experiement Successful!

For some reason I just didn’t think that a soap made without coconut oil would set up very well.

I was wrong, as usual.  I heated the oils a little hotter than normal because it was so cold in the kitchen.  I added Patchouli and Eucalyptus essential oils to the olive and castor in the soap pot.  Then I added my milk and lye solution and hand stirred for a few minutes to make sure the lye was all the way melted.  Once I put that stick blender in those oils….wow!  They turned to soap almost instantly!

I made sure everything was blended well, then went back to hand stirring to break up any lumps that look like they wanted to form.  Then I poured the soap into a PVC mold because I was using the last of my lye and this batch was sized differently than my regular batches, so in order to not end up with odd sized bars, a PVC mold will always be appropriate!

I tried to coax the soap out of the mold without first putting it into the freezer, but it wouldn’t budge.  So here it is, just it’s little top, way down inside the PVC pipe mold.

"cold process soap"

Believe me, when it comes out and gets cut, it won’t be nearly so ugly!

Aint nuthin uglier than a PVC pipe full of soap!

Here’s some prettier soap, all wrapped up for New Hope On 4 Hoofs

cold process soap

Or, here are a couple of my regular sized bars…these are from the tea tree batch I did early this week.  I used the food dehydrator to accelerate the cure, and they are hard already!  They’ll be wrapped and on the market table on Saturday!

cold process tea tree soap

Ooops, it’s milking and feeding time and my guineas are on the roof screaming at me to hurry up!  Have a great Sat. evening!

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Apple Jack and Peel and Warm Fall Fires

That’s what is on the soap and lotion list for today!  I’m trying to find a new label design  and need to scent the lotion, but it will be on the market table in the morning!

Also being soaped today is our first castile soap.  Castile soap is defined in my dictionary as being made out of all vegetable oils, and not including any animal fats…which of course nearly all commercial soaps contain tallow or “tallowate” or something like that.  They do try and disguise the fact that they use animal fats, but they must, because animal fats are the by-products of the slaughterhouse and are relatively cheap and so are more economical to the commercial soap making companies.

In the soaping world, we usually define a castile soap as being made wholly or mostly out of olive oil.  This soap is especially useful for people with super dry skin, although most folks can use a regular goats milk soap with great success, some have asked for a castile soap so of course I will make one!

Pure olive oil soaps are low sudsing, so I am going to include some castor bean oil in the recipe to add a little more lather to the soap.

Of course, it might not be ready until next year because using all soft oils makes a soap that takes forever and ever to cure.

I haven’t decided yet if I am going to scent it or not….have to see what scents I have on hand.  If so it will be an essential oil and no color will be added.

Other farm news:  All of the milking does are now bred…even though I had planned on only breeding two of them plus the three young does.  One of the two that were to remain in milk through the next year got accidentally bred when our buck jumped out of the horse pasture.  The other girl, Miley, I decided to go ahead and breed because we are starting DHIR this year (milk testing/recording) and want to start all the girls out when they freshen.

Alicia continues to come into heat every week just like she did last year so I decided to leave our buck in the doe pen with her and Miley for the whole day.  Miley was also in heat, and did get bred, but Alicia demanded his attention for the entire day.  I’d never seen that before.  She was very insistent he not look at any of the other does.  Anyway, hopefully 8 hours of being bred has worked and she won’t come back into heat next week!  Believe me, that was one tired buck last night!

CG started up the wood stove last night, which felt pretty good this morning.  We spent an arm and a small leg on this beautiful soap stone stove and I think we either got ripped off or we just don’t know how to keep a hot fire going…which is probably the issue here.

The thick stone walls of the stove are supposed to absorb heat and radiate it back into the room, even after the fire goes out, which it does, but it takes about a half a day to warm up just the living room and it seems more to me like the stones act as insulation, not allowing the heat out into the room, but rather, sending it up the chimney.  That’s my theory anyway.

Okay, got soapy stuff to work on….wishing everyone a happy Friday!

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Back Online!

When I got home from working today my new modem was sitting in a lawn chair on my front porch, all wrapped up in a nice plastic bag just in case of rain.

I plugged it into my computer…carefully following the directions and at first it seemed as if it didn’t want to work any better than the old one, but I guess it’s doing a little better now.  At least I’m online, and that’s better than before.

Now I can’t think of any reason I need to be on here.  Imagine the time I’d be saving if I were outside building my chicken pen instead of inside plucking keys?

I’ve been cleaning an area out to put up the electric chicken mesh fence.  We have a small lean-to up against one side of an old corn barn bin that I have the nest boxes in and it needs a little work to winterize it.  It also needs some roosts.

We discovered that having the chickens out on the pasture with the horses is great…except after planting grass.  I do believe they’ve eaten every seed I’ve put down.  I’m not planting any more until we have them in their chicken pasture area as it seems to be quite pointless.

My blue-egg laying hen was scared off by the black snake and has taken to laying her eggs somewhere else…and I can’t find that somewhere else…so no blue eggs.

And they are my FAVORITES!  Besides the double-yolks.  Those are nice too.

CG has been having fun cutting wood.  It seems like men really do enjoy that.  He’s got a nice pile of stuff that needs splitting.

I thought about trying to split it…you know, to help him out a little, but then I thought how much it would hurt my…everything.  For some reason I can’t seem to standing pounding or digging.

I don’t know why.  Must be a personal flaw of mine.  I wish I could do it.  And maybe I could if I tried a little harder.  Hmm, sounds painful.

Guess I’m just a whimp.  Might give it another go though.  Sometimes trying something for the 100th time is just the ticket!

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Natural Laundry Soap Powder Now Available

Here I am at the library again…checking in. Still no modem in my mailbox. 


I just wanted to let you know that this Saturday I WILL have my booth set up at the Farmers Market in Danville, Va. with lots of soap and some lotions, and new this week, will be Powdered Laundry Soap made from our own goats milk soap!

I’ve been making liquid laundry soap for a few years, but don’t like carting it around the country, and it doesn’t always ship well either..still, people were asking me about it, so I did some research and found that I could make powdered laundry soap with the same FOUR ingredients, (that’s it, just four ingredients) as my liquid soap, minus the water.

This laundry soap contains Shantara’s Soaps, natural goats milk soap, in various (very light) scents, washing powder, borax, and baking soda. 

We’ve been testing it on our really dirty farm laundry and it works great!  It only takes a heaping tablespoon for normal loads and two heaping tablespoons for really dirty loads.  It’s even got the “buck in rut” smell out of my clothes, and believe me, that’s a challenge for ANY soap.

For best results using our laundry soap follow these simple instructions:

fill washer with water

add measured detergent

add clothes and begin cycle, if washing white clothes, try adding a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to help keep those whites white and reduce your exposure to chlorine bleach.

For even better results, add a 1/2 cup to 1 full cup of vinegar at the beginning of the rinse cycle.  This will help soften and freshen your clothes further and help take the place of those horrible chemical dryer sheets.

For really fresh clothes, hang laundry outdoors in the sun.  Enjoy fresh, clean, nearly chemical-free clothes!

Free samples of our laundry soap will be available at the market Sat.  We’ll also have some packaged up for sale. 

See you then!

Life Without My Modem

It’s really not a life at all….or so I’ve come to think.

No modem, no computer, no facebook, no twitter, no instant weather, no instant news, no emails, no website updates, no posting to my blog.

Whatever am I to do?

This library internet is for the birds.  Of course…it’s super fast, lightening fast, and TOTALLY awesome…but I only get 60 minuts, and that’s not even enought time to answer my emails…not so a person could read the answer anyway. 

Probably just jibberish. 

Anyway, I have exactly 4 minutes and 16 seconds left before I’m booted.  I’m praying my modem will be sitting on my porch waiting for me when I get home. 

With no chicken poop on it.

Or even WITH chicken poop on it, I’d still love it and hug it.

Life without my modem….it just aint right….

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