Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Un-Molding . . .

Here's some pictures of my last two batches of Goat Milk soaps!

Coffee-Coffee Soap

It took an hour just to un-mold this! My arms haven't hurt so much since stacking hay ;) Methinks I should try parchment paper to line the mold next time. Wax paper gets soggy and doesn't slide out like it should.

Other than that, this batch ended up perfectly circular, Yahoo!!!!! It smells like chocolate for some reason (a delovely surprise). We'll see what it smells like in 1-1/2 weeks when its done curing. While cutting it into bars this afternoon, I had a strange urge to eat it . . .

Chamomile Oat

We didn't have any vaseline in the house to 'grease' the molds, so I waited over a week before attempting to un-mold these individual soaps. The water content in homemade soap will evaporate over time, making somewhat cured soaps easier to get out.

I added the chamomile heads to this soap along with its infused Olive Oil. Hopefully it won't be too scratchy and hopefully the chamomile scent will stay! I like the yellow-ish color it turned. Each batch ends up such a unique color according to the natural ingredients.

Not sure what the qualities are yet . . . we can't use it until this Sunday!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Coffee-Coffee Soap!

I know . . . I said coffee twice :)

Since I want to start selling soaps by next January, I need ALL the practice I can get. Sundays are my official soaping day.

Today I used my usual Martha Stewart Goat Milk Soap recipe, substituted double-strength coffee for half of the liquid (GM is the other half), and added 1 Tbl of used, Fog Lifter coffee grounds. I read somewhere that freshly ground coffee beans were way too scratchy. Plus I made sure to add the coffee AFTER the initial lye reaction . . . hopefully that will preserve some of the smell.

What I'm hoping for: Chocolately color. Slight Coffee scent. Exfoliation, without sacrificing the moisturizing benefits of the recipe.

I stuck the Pringles can/mold in the freezer for two hours, then transferred to the fridge where it will stay for the rest of its 48 hour 'insulation' period. Hopefully this will prevent the soap from gelling-- giving it a lighter color. It should also prevent the soap from volcano-ing into an odd shaped log.

Trace was so much smoother, slower, and harder to see. I liked it! My previous two batches traced instantly and were difficult to mold (think trying to fit mashed potatoes into a container versus pudding). My hand coordination is also getting better ;) It's difficult trying to pour oils and stir a dangerously caustic solution at the same time, without passing out from ammonia fumes . . .

Oh yeah, another thing that helped-- making sure each bit of hard oils was melted, then refrigerating until the temp lowered to 95 F. Then adding to the cooled lye solution.

Reflections . . .

With my brother's prodding, I finally decided to read Nate Saint's story, Jungle Pilot. Since elementary school this has been a painful story for me to read. Everyone talks about martyrs in the Bible times but they don't realize this is still an ongoing issue. When reading Nate's bio in different literature and bible textbooks all I could ever think of was about his wife and family. The amount of love and faith in your Creator to 'go into all the world', the amount of forgiveness to minister to the same people who brutally murdered your loved ones . . . its unimaginable.

This quote really spoke to me. Nate starts by talking about all the equipment inside and outside of the plane--it looks pretty--but uses precious weight, fuel, and space.

""You know, lots of things are like that--they feel nice, or they look nice but they don't help us to get the job done. They hold us back, so we need to get rid of them. The job that the Lord Jesus Christ has for you and me is not an easy one. If you want to serve Him, if you want to help win others to Christ, you will have to choose one thing or another. It may be something you like very much but [is] something that will hold you back."

Characteristically, Nate turned this to spiritual illustration:

"When life's flight is over, and we unload our cargo at the other end, the fellow who got rid of unnecessary weight will have the most valuable cargo to present to the Lord. Not only that. There's another secret. Two airplanes may look alike, but one may be able to lift twice the load into the air. The difference is the horsepower of the engine. Bible reading is the power of the Christian life. Dead weight doesn't do you any good and a big plane with little horsepower doesn't go anywhere.""

This one grabbed my attention too!

"Nate often pondered upon the ways in which the Lord had been working. He wrote his friends at home:

"Have you noticed that when a man finds the will of the Lord for his life, there always seems to be an evident relationship between the talents or gifts or preparation the Lord has given him and the job the Lord has called him to do?

. . . When Marj and I first dedicated our lives for missionary service, we felt that our foregoing efforts and pursuits were entirely in the wrong direction. We were ready and counted all those things lost for Christ and the gospel. But as soon as we began serious preparation for the field, God called our attention to the heartbreaking lack of transportation in pioneer fields---fields where penetration is nearly impossible because of the physical barriers. Now we rejoice in God's gracious care for our lives even before they were entirely His---preparing us specifically and without any wasted motion for the job He had for us to do!""

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to Trim Goat Hooves

How Red Brick Farm trims goat hooves:
I don't use hoof knives, they're too scary. Would you want your toe nails trimmed with this thing?!? They're used to trim the sole and heels of the goat hoof.

We trim the first of every month. Our does' footing is soft so their hooves grow very fast. You should train your goat to pick up all four feet, making this job SO much easier.

What you need:
hoof pick
hoof shears
hoof file/knife

1. Clean the dirt out of your goat's hooves. You can't see what you're doing if the hooves are packed with dirt. Also, dirt dramatically dulls your shears.

2. Trim the excess heel and hoof wall growth, level with the sole (making sure to trim the excess on the inside backs of each 'claw')

3. With your hoof file or scary hoof knife, level off the hoof so it is parallel with the coronary band. STOP at the first sign of pink in the sole or walls.

4. Trim overly long dew claws.

Voila! You're done. If you have a problem with hoof rot in your area, it would be an excellent idea to clean the equipment after each goat.

Want illustrations? Here's a great link!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Last Day of Freedom

Today is my last day of blissful freedom. Three online classes start tomorrow, and one on-campus class starts the day after. While I'm super excited for my business classes, I'm not too excited for the one that 'develops my personal skills as a supervisor' and includes textbooks such as "Time Management", "How to Manage Your Stress", etc. Kind of ironic considering most Tech students are dirt poor, and always financially stressed! I was hoping it would be about the legal issues of firing and hiring employees . . . just goes to show I didn't exactly read my class description ;) But alas, it will get me ready for all my in-person ones this Fall.

News: I'll be starting Millie on a round of calcium home remedies . . . something goat owners frequently do for lack of knowledgeable professionals.
What's on the medicine tray?
Yes, those human antacid tablets. I guess they contain Calcium Carbonate and help prevent hypocaelcemia. She needs 5-6 of them each day for a week or so. If she doesn't eat them, or if the symptoms don't go away, we'll try human Calcium Citrate powder, and top-dress some grain. Maybe mix in some molasses with either one :)

Pray I'll keep my sanity through the next couple months ;) Laverne and Shirley seasons, my puppy, chocolate, coffee, and soapmaking will be my personal anti-stress companions. In all honesty, I actually like school, heehee!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Milk Fever

Sorry folks, Milk Fever is NOT another name for Red Brick Farm dying for a glass of goat milk. It's actually not related to fever at all. It's called hypocalcaemia and roots from a lack of calcium. The goatie symptoms are shivering, low body temp, weakness, running into things, and the worst--death. Milk Fever usually happens when the doe kids out and begins heavily milking. In my case, one of my does began shivering in December when her production began to taper off. . . vets have told me it is not milk fever, but I know my goats better than that! My research has turned up these two excellent links. and Milk Fever can occur at ANY time, whether dry or lactating. Thank goodness my doe only has a mild case. The cure: Tums, molasses, alfalfa hay and other high calcium foods. I guess this goes to show that even specific goatie minerals don't give your does enough of what they specifically need at certain stages.

What I learned the hard way:
1. ALWAYS use your better judgement, and double check what your vet recommends for your does. You know them better than you know yourself, get second opinions and educate yourself. Most vets are not familiar with Caprine diseases or their treatments. You can never be too careful when it comes to your doe's health.
2. ALWAYS feed your does pure alfalfa hay. It is imperative. My normal alfalfa hay supplier had dusty hay, so we ended up using our nice grassy horse hay instead. Don't make the same mistake!
3. If your does are eating more minerals than normal, check things out!
4. ALWAYS weigh your grain by weight, with a scale! I stupidly made the beginner mistake of feeding by measuring cups. Huge 'no, no' some grains are heavier than others. I will be weighing my containers of grain from now on (subtracting the container weight, the reason why I Adore Tare function), calculating the average, and feeding that amount from now on. Goat formulated grains usually contain enough vitamins and minerals by themselves, but if you forget to weigh them, you may end up paying a high price--your doe's health.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I Could Not Live Without

1. The Tare function on my jewelry scale!
2. Silicone spatulas. They make soapmaking a cinch.
3. Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Especially if they have toffee sprinkles!!!
4. Candy thermometers. For making caramels, goat chevre, and heating oils for soap :)
5. Mini-strainers, just because they're so cute!
6. My goat hoof file and trimmers.
7. A pink Dell laptop. *sigh* This is something I will buy with my 'soap money' as soon as it starts rolling in :) It will make my scholarly, business, and digital storage dreams complete. Honestly, I'll probably be the only one without a laptop in school this fall. *sigh* Maybe I can paint a cardboard box pink, print off a dell sticker, and carry it around so I can be like everyone else.
8. HTML tags. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to do lots of cool stuff with my blog, posting ads, etc. All I do is search google for "html tags for 'example'"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Soaping Day!!!

Happy Valentine's to all!!!!
For my Valentines day, I made soap. Room-temperature-cold-process soap to be exact ;) This time around I made sure to melt the Crisco, completely! This time, I was able to take my time. For my second batch of soap, I decided to make Chamomile-infused Oatmeal soap. Of course it was made with our home grown Chamomile and Goat Milk. Plus a family member was able to suit up with me, keep me company, and watch me at work ;)

Today was so exciting though. After church we hopped over to a 'dollar' store. I was able to pick up 4 half-moon shaped silicone molds (safe for all appliances), mini strainers, an expendable cookie sheet tray, and more latex gloves. Why was this exciting? Because each item would have been WAY more than $5 in a normal store. That in itself is reason for rejoicing! Oh by the way--that church has AWESOME coffee, yum!

Here's a picture of my saponifying soap in the freezer . . . it will be transfered to the fridge (for a couple days) as soon as I finish this post ;) Then, all the soap has to sit in their molds in the open air for 2 weeks to finish saponifying, cure, and mellow out.

What's next on the Red Brick Farm agenda? To make a batch of coffee soap!!!

What's pressing on Red Brick Farm's mind???? To replenish the birthing bucket, buy a disbudder, buy a tatoo kit, and buy a couple more doelings from my friends!!!! Whew!

What. A. Life. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's New?

Hello Everyone!

I decided the website I built just didn't give me enough room for updates and things that happen around our postage stamp 'farm'! You'd be surprised at all the little things that unravel here. Those little things that lend magic, heartbreak, and joy to life :)

Our newest tragedy . . . one of our 'farm' dogs was attacked by some unknown beastie. The poor puppy, Skittles, was found with a huge gash that required many stitches and a 2 week course of antibiotics. Needless to say, an outdoor lab/shepherd mix does NOT smell nice in the house. Our vet told us to keep her clean, warm, and dry until her stitches come out. In the meantime I've been lighting our most fragrant candles!!! Hmmm, just not sure I'll feel safe outdoors until whatever hurt Skittles is found :(

Also, I'm discovering the painful thought of culling goats. Don't know what that means? It means that an animal is less than par, unhealthy, or won't fit in your breeding program . . . and you must find a new home for it. Examples such as: genetics, incessant hoof rot, etc. Or more serious issues like recurring mastitis, bacterial sicknesses, viral diseases. I never realized how running a farm could be emotionally painful. But my balloon doesn't land for long ;) I'll be keeping this blog updated about this subject too!

Well, this is it for the first post. The next one will be more positive, I promise ;)