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Not all Goat Milk Soap is Created Equal

Carrie MillerWe have all heard at one time or another how great goat milk soap is. This statement is amazingly true when produced to high standards.

Each soap maker's recipe is a bit different from one another, therefore there are some major differences in quality. Not all goat milk soap is created equal! The number one ingredient that differs is the goat's milk.

handcrafted soap
Photo by Author — Handcrafted Soap

The differences in goat's milk:

  • Some use powdered milk and water.
  • Others purchase pasteurized milk from the store.
  • A pre-made mix called a "base" may be purchased and used.
  • Some even buy someone else's goat's milk soap, shred it, melt it, add a scent, and then call it their own.
  • Then there is my personal choice. Those who raise their own goats, love them, care for them, and feed them only the best feeds.
  • Last but not least, those who purchase milk from a farmer and hope that the goats have been fed correctly.

The quality of the milk determines a large portion of how amazing the soap is going to be. When possible, Raw Goat's Milk should be used for the best quality. The feed the goats ingest also plays into the quality of the milk. If you want the best, an alfalfa-timothy mixed hay and a quality grain should be fed. Us personally, we drive over an hour away to acquire a soy free goat feed from a small family run feed mill. Why? According to www.breastcancer.org, there is evidence that supports that soy products may turn on cancer causing receptors. This leads us right into the next ingredients that determine quality.

happy healthy goats
Photo by Author — Happy, healthy goats (J.J and Zoey)

Oils

Each oil chosen should be carefully hand selected to add quality properties to the soap. Cheap filler oils are just that. If you read the ingredients and spot soybean oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil, or lard the soap is being produced with substandard oils. Trying to stay GMO free? Well, then you really want to avoid the above-named oils, they are often filled with GMOs. Instead look for olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, palm oil, shea butter, or coco butter. There are so many great oils why choose anything else?

Does the soap contain water? There is no need for water in goat's milk soap. Why not add more milk? Price is often the sole reason. Try to purchase soap for a goat farmer, it usually insures you that there is no water. They typically have enough supply that it does not need to be watered down.

What Should you expect?

A quality product should leave your skin feeling soft and smooth not dry. It should not burn your eyes when you wash your face. The scent should be subtle for most of the fragrance choices. It should be gentle on the skin yet have the ability to wash off even makeup. The soap in its rawest form should range in color from beige to chocolate brown. Other colors simply mean dyes have been added. The true color is determined by the chemical reaction between the oils, milk, and the essential/fragrance oils used.

goat milk soap
Photo by Author — Top quality soap is what you want.

Learn to read the labels. The ingredients with the largest weight are listed first, and then they go in descending order. Raw goat's milk should be #1 in a quality soap. With all this being said most producers try to market a good product. Yet, some succeed better than others do. More than anything do not pay top dollar for a low quality product. Goat's milk soap seems to range $4.50–$8.00 a bar. Get your moneys worth.


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For more information on the link between soy products and cancer receptors go to www.breastcancer.com

Jewelweed Tincture Recipe

Carrie MillerSo, you've found yourself in an itchy situation? Well, let's see if we can help ease that itch. Rather than waiting 'till you need it, it is better to have this made ahead of time, since it takes a bit of time to concoct.

jewelweed tincture
Picture By Carrie Miller

What is Jewelweed?

Jewelweed (Impatiens Capensis) is also known as "Touch-Me-Not." It's a member of the Impatiens family. Jewelweed tends to grow in the shade alongside its nemesis poison ivy (Ironic, isn't it?). It easily grows in moist damp areas, like along creek beds.

jewelweed tincture
Photo By Carrie Miller

Why use Jewelweed?

Jewelweed is great for combating poison ivy, oak, sumac, and even bug bites! It helps to clear up rashes, speeds the drying time of blisters, and soothes the itchy rash that follows.

How to use jewelweed?

Making a great tincture from jewelweed and witch hazel is a sure-fire way to help relieve the itch and discomfort. Fresh jewelweed is best to use but dried or frozen will work as well. It just may not be as strong. Other great ideas include: Infusing a carrier oil and adding it to homemade soap or salve. But for this article we are going to make a simple tincture to help fight the itch.

What will you need?

  • 1 quart jar
  • Fresh jewelweed; you want leaves, stems, and flowers
  • Witch hazel (enough to fill the quart jar)
  • Crockpot

How to make it:

  1. Chop up the jewelweed plant.
  2. Place the chopped jewelweed into the quart jar (pack it full).
  3. Cover completely with witch hazel and close the jar.
  4. Place jar in a crockpot.
  5. Add water around the jar as high up as you can without covering the neck of the jar.
  6. Place crockpot on low/warm.
  7. If your jar is too tall, simply lay a clean kitchen wash towel over the top of the crockpot.
  8. Leave crockpot on for 24-48 hours.
  9. Strain the tincture and place in a cool dark place when not using. You can also use an amber colored jar to keep it in. Either spray onto infected area or use cotton balls to dab it on.

The end result is not the best smelling mixture, but who cares when it comes to easing misery? I try to make this ahead of time each year to keep in stock. Here at Miller Micro Farm, the whole family is highly allergic to poison ivy and poison oak. So, when we get it, we get it bad! Taking trips to the doctors and requiring steroids is no fun. We have found that this mixture helps us dramatically. I hope it can help you or your loved ones as well.

jewelweed tincture
Photo By Carrie Miller

I make no guarantees on how well this will work for you. It depends a lot on how fresh and strong the jewelweed is you use. It also has a tendency of getting strong the longer it sits in a cool dark place.


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Summer Linguine Salad

Carrie MillerLet's make it Yummy!

This is the perfect salad for a hot summer dinner or a dish for the pot-luck party. The simplicity of the salad is why so many love this summer side.

It can be found at pretty much any summer party we attend. Memorial Day, Father's Day, Labor Day, July 4th, even graduation parties.

Summer Salad
Summer Salad. Photo by Carrie Miller.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb linguine
  • 1 large sweet pepper (add some color red, yellow, or orange)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 large carrots
  • 1-2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 package sharp cheddar shredded cheese
  • A hand full of pepperoni, cut up
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1 to 1.5 Jars of you favorite Italian dressing or two packages of dried Italian dressing prepare as instructed on package
  • Salad Toppings "Typically found by the salad dressings or croutons"

Salad Topping:

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • Or, cheat a little and grab Salad Supreme by McCormick for an all in one option!

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta till al dente, drain, and run under cool water. Once the pasta is cool to the touch finish draining. Place pasta into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Dice your peppers, onions, broccoli, pepperoni, and olives.
  3. Shred the carrots.
  4. In large bowl add all the vegetables, pepperoni, cheddar cheese, 1 jar of salad dressing, spices, salad toppings, and mix well together with a rubber spatula.
  5. Once everything is all mixed together add in the cold pasta and re-mix. Add the remaining Italian dressing to your taste.
  6. Set in the fridge for an hour or so, letting it all marinate together.

Tips:

  • Add seasoning and salad toppings to your taste, everyone is different. So, add slow and taste before adding more. If you're unsure then buy the Salad supreme from the seasoning isle. Let the mixture sit in the fridge a few hours before serving, stirring a few times along the way. Add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese to the top before serving.
  • Add whatever vegetables and toppings you love! Cauliflower, bacon, tomatoes, and even radishes also work well in this recipe.

Why Not Goat Milk?

Carrie Miller

Americans and milk

We've all heard the old slogan, "Milk, it does a body good." The slogan first appeared in the 1980s to boost cow's milk sales. However, is cow's milk really "what does a body good"?

The question stands, is the popularity of cow's milk in America really warranted? When the scope is broadened worldwide, goat's milk is actually more readily consumed than any other milk.

There are many great explanations as to why goat's milk is more widely sought after overall. It's been proven goat's milk is overall better for us. So, why do we as Americans go for cow's milk?

goat milk

The make up of goat's milk

Although still containing lactose, many who have allergies to cow's milk are able to consume goat's milk. Why? Mainly, because the protein structures are different among the two.

Goat's milk contains A2 casein where most cow's milk contains A1 casein. The A2 casein is more closely structured to human breast milk. A2 does not cause inflammatory issues, such as IBS and colitis. Also, the globules of fat are smaller in goat's milk, which in return makes it easier to digest, taking minutes rather than hours for our bodies to break down.

In fact, it's readily recommended by pediatricians for children who are unable to transition from breast milk or formula to cow's milk. Goat milk is also lower in calories, fat, sugar, and cholesterol. Yet, higher in calcium, fatty acids, pre-formed vitamin A (has cancer preventing properties), chlorine (natural germicide), fluorine (natural germicide), and silicon (assists in preventing diabetes).

goats
A few of our Does

Fact or Fiction?

Goat's milk has a reputation for being strong in flavor, although that couldn't be further from the truth.

Yes, some factors play a role in the taste, just as it does with cows. Strong goats milk can be caused by diet, the presence of a buck, and storage methods. Most goats milk is sweet, creamy, and mild in flavor. It's best consumed fresh and preferably from a glass storage container.

Did you know goats are naturally immune to some diseases? Such as tuberculosis, it's believed it may even cure TB due to its presence of natural antibodies. It is said in parts of Eastern Europe, goat-milk whey cost more than gold per pound.

As quoted by world-famous clinical nutritionist and chiropractic physician Bernard Jensen, PhD, DC, of Escondido, California, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), under its heading of Dietetics and Hygiene, states: "The goat is the healthiest domestic animal known. Goat milk is superior in every way to cow's milk. Goat milk is the ideal food for babies, convalescents and invalids, especially those with weakened digestive powers. Goat milk is the purest, most healthful and most complete food known."

What will it take for you try it?

So, the question stands, why do Americans more often than not consume milk from cows? Like so many other things we readily do, it's because it's instinctive. We grew up on it so, we continue to drink it whether it's warranted or not. Until I myself became intolerant, I would have never even second guessed my choice.

Four years ago, I acquired C-Diff through the use of antibiotics. After almost a year of more and more antibiotics to treat the C-Diff, my insides were left extremely damaged. Unable to leave the house most days due to severe intestinal issues. I began to research things that may help.

Yes, I tried all the probiotics, prebiotics, Imodium, prescriptions for IBS, prescriptions for anxiety, and anything else that showed promise. Every fad diet was prescribed and tried — gluten free, FOB diet, vegan, vegetarian, and the BRAT diet. None, and I mean none, of it worked.

What was I supposed to do, live my life in the bathroom? My family already made the joke that I should have stock in Charmin. After I removed dairy from diet, a noticeable difference began to appear.

Now, three years later, my stomach has begun to recover. The introduction of goat's milk I believe is a huge reason why, but it's only been a few months. Am I back to normal? Oh god no! However, I can leave the house from time to time with the correct precautions now.

I believe Americans continue doing what they know, change is hard. It doesn't help that the cost per gallon of goat's milk is much higher and it's harder to find. We simply got our own goats and milk them every day for our family use. Maybe one day goats will become the new normal, like in so many other countries.

milking goat
Easy Milking


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Photos property of Carrie Miller.

Are You New to Kidding?

Carrie MillerHave you experienced a kidding yet? This past weekend my husband, Scott, and I finally had our first kidding on the farm. With tensions high and the fear of the unknown we were beyond stressed. Little Miss Gizmo added to the stress by going five days past due!

We debated Friday on whether or not to call our farm vet out to check on her but decided we would wait till Saturday. Allotting her a bit more time to do it on her own. When Saturday morning rolled around I eagerly went out to check on her at 6 a.m. Instantly realizing something was different, she acted a bit off.

She was hiding her face in the corner like a scolded child. Shortly thereafter she began to paw at her bedding, building what can only be described as a nest. We allowed her out that morning to graze upon the pasture as she wished, absorbing the sun and munching on the grass, she seemed content. We checked on her often throughout the day, labor was progressing slowly.

gizmo with babygizmo and baby
Gizmo and baby two days after birth.

As evening came we decided to head in eat a bit of dinner, shower, and clean up the house. While cleaning house I had made a pile of things that needed to head back to the barn. So, I grabbed the items and headed out.

As soon as I walked in the barn I realized it was time. Luckily, my husband was only moments behind me. I said, "Babe I think she's pushing."

He said, "No your're seeing things." Then she stood up and a rather large nasty looking sack was hanging out her backside. Scott ran for the garage to put his coveralls on. It was baby time!

In the blink of an eye the baby was born. Gizmo did an amazing job! Baby was up and feeding in less than fifteen minutes.

There were a lot of things I had not read up on that I thought may help other new goat moms. Considering the amount of research, I did prior to the baby I was shocked at how unprepared I felt.

baby goat
Baby just hours after birth.

Things learned about labor and delivery:

  • Early labor took roughly 12 hours.
  • From the time, the bubble appeared till the baby was born took 30 minutes.
  • The baby moves and makes noises before it is even fully delivered (So weird!).
  • It took roughly one hour for the afterbirth to be delivered (It still sounds and looks like mama is having contractions).

gizmo and baby
Baby and Gizmo right after the birth

Things learned after the birth:

  • Mom will eat the placenta (That's a sound and sight I could have lived without ever experiencing).
  • The baby's first few poops look like black tar (Meconium).
  • Then comes yellowish-brown poop, that hardens like cement (You might need to wash a bum from time to time).
  • The baby's little genitals will become red and swollen the next day.
  • Moms clean their baby's privates constantly, she will also drink their pee.
  • Hang water buckets! It took less than 15 minutess after the baby's birth for it to fall in the water bucket (Easily could have been catastrophic had we not been right there).

new baby goat
Scott finally deciding to check the sex.

Conclusion

While Gizmo had a healthy baby, we forgot for several hours to check the sex. We got a doeling! Gizmo and Izzabella are doing great! Mama did act a bit off for a few days, but quickly returned to normal.

We provided her molasses water for 24 hours after the birth, it made her poop a bit clumpy. We also gave mama and baby Vitamin B Complex paste that included: B Complex, Thiamine, and probiotics that night and the next night. Vitamin E and Selenium paste was also given to Gizmo and the baby the night of the birth.

The baby's umbilical cord was sprayed with iodine and her nose and mouth were bulb sucked, to ensure no left-over mucus. We were lucky to have a smooth, uneventful, perfect delivery for our first kidding experience. Make sure an emergency veterinarian is on speed dial just in case.

Happy Kidding!


Photos property of Carrie Miller.

You Can Grow Luffa Sponges?

Carrie MillerDo you enjoy a good all natural exfoliating luffa? Sick of synthetic bath scrubbers? What if I told you it's possible to grow your own?

That's right ladies and gentlemen, unlike regular sponges, luffas don't grow in the ocean, sea, or any body of water. In fact, they grow like a squash! All you need is a strong trellis, cattle panel, or chain link fence for the vines to grow on that will handle its heavy fruit.

The luffa sponge a.k.a. Luffa Cylindrica is a rapidly growing ivy like plant, that produces a tender fruit. If harvested young, the fruit can be eaten like a squash.

If you wait for the fruit to mature then an amazing luffa you will have. It takes roughly 130 days for the fruit to ripen fully. Once the fruit becomes brown, hard, and lightweight the skin is ready to be peeled off, leaving a quality luffa sponge behind. Primarily used for bathing other uses include: cleaning pots, pans, and even scrubbing a car's wheels.

Did you know luffas can be machine washed to keep them clean for years? If they begin to color simply soak them in a mild bleach bath for a few minutes. Want cool colored luffas? Natural dies can be used to obtain most color variations.

luffa plant
Photo by Flikr/Dinesh Valke

So how do you grow a luffa plant? It's not as hard as it may first seem. Depending on your growing zone you may need to start your plants up to six weeks before the planting season.

Soak the seeds for twenty-four hours before planted. Plant the seeds in decomposing pots it will help prevent shock after transplanting. Plant the seeds or starts two to three feet apart in a full sun area away from other vegetables and fruits. Don't plant till you're sure the threat of frost is gone. If by chance a late frost is threating the young plants, be sure to cover them well.

Once the vines have spread and clung upon the trellis, gorgeous yellow flowers will soon appear. As the fruit grows you may need to thin out the bounty from time to time. As fall nears the fruits will brown and become light as a feather, it's now time to harvest.

As the brown skin is removed the luffa is exposed. Cut the ends off each luffa removing the black seeds from inside, shake like crazy to make the seeds fall out. The seeds can be dried and saved in a dark cool place to use the following year.

What do you do if a frost is immanent yet the fruit has not completely dried? It's ok gather all the fruit from the vines and bring them indoors. You can peel the green skin off, it will be an annoying task to say the least. The green skin takes way more effort to remove than the dried brown. Lay out the luffas on drying racks of some sort, allowing air to circulate all around them to finish the drying process.

luffa
Photo by Flikr/Andrea Schieber

Now begins the fun apply your favorite soap, body wash, or exfoliating rub and luffa up. Want the full all natural effect? Produce or purchase goat milk soap to add to your luffa for a quality bathing experience. Have a ton of extra luffas? They can be sold at local farmers markets and/or flea markets.