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Nigerian Dwarf Goats: The Udder

What I Look For in a Dairy Goat: The Udder

I’ve had goats for 10 years now and I have developed a better “eye” for what I am looking for in a dairy goat.  This isn’t to mean that what I am looking for is what everyone is looking for.  For example, I prefer larger teats for easier hand milking but does actually lose points during classification if their teats are over the dwarf standard (which I think is too small for my golden standard).  There may also be differences based on what you are going for with your herd… Milk production only or show only or a range in between.  I am, before all else,  a “modern homsteader” who had goats for dairy to feed my family.  So production is most important to me.  But I’m not interested in a doe who had poor conformation either because poor conformation leads to the inability for the doe to be able to maintain a larger udder /higher capacity.  Pretty much all of the traits you want to see in a dairy goat, comformationally, add to longevity of milking.  They may not mean high production though.  Today I want to walk you through what a good mammary is, in my opinion.

Classification
You can pay to have your herd classified by a trained judge.  They will follow a score sheet that will give your goat points based on the ideal dairy goat conformation. This is a very useful tool and can help produce lovely show quality goats. It doesn’t mean they have high production though. And in a dwarf goat you need high production if you plan to milk them, or else why bother?  Classification is a useful tool in combination with milk production.
More information on classification here:

https://www.goats.ca › 2020/05DOC
Canadian Goat Society Classification Manual

Milk test program
Goat breeders can participate in the milk test programs in Canada.  This involves recording production of does by weight and butterfat content either as a one day test or over weeks or months to follow productivity and how fast or slow it decreases following peak production.  This is a useful tool to look for when purchasing goats.  It isn’t super common yet in Nigerians in Canada but some breeders have participated in the one day test.  This gives buyers  an idea of what the doe is capable of producing.  The purpose of the official milk test is to give breeders a standard to follow for comparisons.  Breeders can do their own recording of production too, unofficially. 
More info on milk teating here:

https://www.goats.ca › 2020/04PDF
Milk-Recording-Booklet-2020-added-fees …

Obviously, the perfect goat is the ultimate goal.  But you don’t need to have perfect goats to improve your herd.  And it’s not likely you will ever have a whole herd of perfect goats, or even one for that matter.  It’s all about knowing what to improve on and what each of your bucks do, genetically.   It’s more important to have superior genetics in your buck who you know passes them on.  The perfect looking buck doesn’t always pass on the perfect traits. Or, crossing one buck with one doe won’t necessarily mean you get the same results when you cross that buck with another doe. So my advice is to look for as close to perfection as you can get in a buck, then keep him long enough to have freshened out 3 or 4 daughters to see how they look.  Do they improve on the dam?  Does the buck fix the things that are wrong with the dam?  Is he routinely improving his daughters?   You may find that your buck improves his daughters over the dam in specific areas and this is useful for matching your future breedings.  If your buck is inconsistent or is consistently doing somethign undesirable, give him the boot.  He has much more power over genetics in your herd simply due to the number of babies he contributes to yearly, compared to the doe.  

So, when buying a buck, it is VITAL to know stats.  How much milk does his dam produce?  His grand dam?  Do they maintain production for months?  You will need to see pictures of his dam and his granddam, bagged up, to get a better picture of his genetics.  Even better would be to see a picture of his sisters.  If the breeder can’t produce the information then you are investing in a question mark so move on. 

For does, i can see some things right away in a first freshened udder.  Some things can improve over subsequent freshenings.  For example, if the doe has poor attachments, a low udder height, lack of width in the rear, orifice size, loose shoulders, a dip in the chine etc..  these don’t improve over time. I sell those does.  Some things can improve over time: capacity, teat placement and size, medial, width of udder etc.  The doe has to look promising as a first freshener, and should be producing AT LEAST 1 liter a day for me to retain her. 

So.  What do all these terms mean?  How do I know she looks promising? 

Attachments
Rear attachments
Rear attachments keep the udder high need to be good enough to support a full udder.  A wide escutcheon, (marked in purple on the diagram.)  or an upside down “u”, give room for a full udder, and the attachments keep it in place.  You want to see it attached all the way around the “u” part, as pictured in purple.  Poor attachments result in a saggy udder. 
Good udder height mean the distance between the top of the udder and the vagina is small.  (As seen in diagram in purple)  This keeps the udder in place and prevents it from sagging too low.   You don’t want an udder that is lower than the hocks of the goat or it will be dragging on the ground eventually.

Width between the pinbones gives space for a full udder and can affect ease of birthing.  Too narrow is not what you want.  (Seen in red on the diagram)  

Teat placement is important for ease of milking and for ease of access for the kids to nurse.  Ideally, teats will point straight down, not out to the sides.  A strong medial (orange, in diagram) helps keep teats in place and supports the udder.

Teat size and orifices
I like bigger teats on goats.  I don’t mean blown teats, but teats that are easy to milk, with large orifices (opening in the teats) so the goat milks out fast.  Goats will smaller teats aren’t ideal for milking so I generally sell those and breed for teat size and orifice size.  Again,  a high udder keeps udder from being too low, and good medial suspension keeps teats in place.  Too low can mean damage to the udder. 

Udder texture
When you milk out a doe, does her udder compress nicely? Or does she still look like/feel like she needs to be milked? Ideally, the udder will “shrink” significantly when the doe has been milked. The skin will be soft and pliable, not firm and heavy feeling still. A nice dairy texture to the udder makes for easy milking and higher capacity, as the udder can hold more milk, because it isn’t largely udder tissue. You can sometimes predict udder texture if the goat has loose, “dairy” skin on the neck (you will see the folds of the skin somewhat).

The side view diagram:
You don’t want a flat udder at the back.  Generally you want to see one third of the udder at the front of the legs, 1/3 behind, and 1/3 at the back.  Teats point down Ideally,  instead of forward, (or backwards! Eek!).  You want to see a smooth front atrachment, not a steep one, or one with a “pocket” between the stomach and the mammary.  If you can get your fingers in between the belly and the mammary you have a “pocket”.   It’s more common on high production does when they are very full.  Again, a good fore attachement helps support the mammary. 

There is a lot more to conformation than just the udder, and I will list some references for that.  But today I have dug into what I look for in the mammary of the goat because the mammary is, to me, the most important part of the goat. 

Disclaimer: i am NOT an expert.  You can take courses to learn how to judge conformation without getting your license for a fraction of the price and learn a lot more than I know.  One day I would like to take the course! 

Note that the photos I am using are my own. I have had neither the best nor the worst goats.  I’ve pulled udder pictures I have taken over the years to demonstrate some of the udder characteristics I am looking for in a dairy goat. 

References
Better Hens and Gardens
https://www.betterhensandgardens.com/category/goat-2/conformation-goat-2/

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100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread that Rises Like White

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups whole wheat flour, divided in 2
  • 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) (ie. hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, sesame etc)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey plus 1 tbsp.
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (see below for amounts)

Directions:

1.   Soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours:

  •       6 cups flour in 5 cups warm water
  •       Up to 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) 
  •       Cover with damp tea towel

Flour/water mixture shouldn’t be watery.  Water should just mix into flour without any excess.   
Make sure there is no dry flour.  Add by the tbsp. if needed.

2.   Start sponge (half hour before starting):

  •       in 1/2 c. warm water, gently mix 4 1/2 tsp. yeast and 1 tbsp. honey until just mixed. Set aside.  Do not over-mix.

Sponge should be visibly active: bubbles forming etc. before adding to recipe.

3.   Melt 6 tbsp. butter.  Cool to room temperature.

4.   After flour is soaked and sponge is bubbly add to soaked flour/seed mixture:

  •       melted butter at room temperature
  •       sponge (should be bubbly with yeast obviously active)
  •       1 cup luke warm (not hot!) water
  •       1/2 cup liquid honey (not hot!)
  •       2 tsp. salt (sprinkled in)

5.   Mix/ knead in 5-6 cups flour to right consistency.  (Stir in until it is too hard to stir, then dump on lightly floured countertop and knead in.)  Dough should feel pliable and not dry. Sprinkle counter top with small amount of flour as needed to prevent from sticking to the counter.  Knead for 15 minutes.

6.   Place dough in large, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel.  Place in warm (not hot!) corner on counter top.  Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours. 

7.   Remove from bowl, punch down and kneed for 2 minutes.  Divide into 4 even sizes. 

8.   Kneed each individual loaf.  Roll with a rolling pin and then roll up dough.  Pinch to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Repeat for all 4 loaves.  Cover loaves with damp tea towel.

9.   Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

10. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and smell amazing :) 11.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from loaf pans and cool completely on wire rack.  Brush tops with butter if desired.  It makes the loaf tops nice and soft. 

Notes:

  • Any ingredients added to a bread recipe should not be hotter than luke warm (drop some water on your wrist.  It should feel the same temperature as your wrist) or you may kill the active yeast culture.
  • Bread rising time depends on room temperature, air pressure, altitude etc.  I am located at sea level. 
  • Make sure your yeast expiry date hasn’t passed.  Yeast can be too old to work properly.
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Green Gardener’s Soap Recipe

Green Gardener’s Soap makes a beautiful, hard bar of soap combining the nourishing properties of hemp oil with the rejuvenating and anti-aging properties of green tea.

Ingredients

  • 32 ozs. Palm Oil (Sustainably Sourced)
  • 27 ozs. Coconut Oil 76
  • 16 ozs. Hemp Oil
  • 15 ozs. Olive Oil Pomace
  • 10 drops of Vitamin E Oil
  • 13 ozs. Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
  • 30 ozs. Green Tea (yes, make up a batch of strong tea)
  • 4 ozs. Peppermint essential oil or oils of your choice.
  • 1-2 tsps. of Kaolin Clay (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine the oils in a large pot and melt until almost totally melted. Turn off heat.
  2. Combine the lye with the green tea.
  3. Take the temperature of both and add the lye mixture to the oil mixture when the temperatures are the same. As long as the temperatures of both are within 5 degrees F of each other, and are between 90F and 120F, you can combine them.
  4. Blend with an electric hand mixer (stick blender) until the soap reaches trace.
  5. Working quickly to avoid cooling, separate ¼ of the mixture into a different bowl
  6. Pour the rest into your prepared mold.
  7. Quickly mix the clay with the ¼ batch. Then pour on top of the soap that is already in the mold.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and then wrap the batch well with a towel.
  9. Store in a warm place (70 F) for 24 hours.
  10. Remove soap from mold and cut into pieces.
  11. Place soap pieces on edge on a towel where they aren’t touching each other (kind of like dominoes) so they can harden and finish the soap making process. Leave for 3-4 weeks before using.
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Homemade Lip Balm Recipe

Most commercial lip balms contain petroleum products, artificial colors and flavours, and are loaded with preservatives.  Applying these to your lips is as good as eating these ingredients.  Thankfully, lip balm is simple and cheap to make.  You can make it with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, or at the very least, that you can find fairly easily in natural foods stores.  With pure, all natural ingredients these lip balms are effective and safe, and they make fantastic little gifts!

Ingredients

  • 0.2 oz. shea butter (or cocoa butter or coconut oil etc.)
  • 0.2 oz. sweet almond oil (or grapeseed oil or avocado oil etc.)
  • 0.2 oz. beeswax
  • 15 drops essential oil
  • 15 drops vitamin E oil or one capsule.

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except essential oil in a small sauce pan or double boiler and melt, on low heat.   Stir just until melted.  Do not allow the ingredients to boil!
  2. Stir in essential oil.
  3. Pour immediately into lip balm container.
  4. Allow to cool before moving.  Cap and use!  Or gift!

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Goat Milk, Lard, Coconut and Olive Oil Soap Recipe

This recipe is for those who already have an understanding of how to make soap including the safety precautions around handling lye, standard safety protocols required for soap making, and an understanding of basic soap making terminology. If this is your first time making soap look for a soap making tutorial first.

Ingredients
380g goat milk, previously frozen and thawing.
140g lye
500g olive oil
250g lard
250g coconut oil
30g. essential oil

Directions:

  1. Combine olive, lard and coconut oil and melt together in a large pot. Turn off heat. Allow to cool to about120F
  2. Add your lye, a small amount at a time, to the partially frozen goat milk. Whisk vigorously. Continue to whisk and add lye, a small amount at a time to prevent scorching of the milk, until it is combined. Cool to 120F.
  3. Add your lye to your oils, carefully, WHEN THE TEMPERATURES ARE WITHIN 5F OF EACH OTHER.
  4. Blend with a stick blender until the soap comes to trace.
  5. Blend in essential oils.
  6. Pour into prepared mold.
  7. Wrap mold with towels to cool slowly. Set is an undisturbed area to cool slowly.
  8. In 24 hours cut soap and place on cutting board or towel for 4 weeks to finish curing and hardening. Use after 4 weeks.
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The Modern Homesteader Soap: Tallow and Goat Milk

Soap making: A brief explanation:
Soap is simply the combination of lye and oils.  When you combine them, they produce a chemical reaction called saponification and the end result is soap.  You cannot make soap without lye.  ALL soaps are made with lye, or they aren’t soap, they are a detergent.  You can buy melt and pour soap kits, but all that means is that the saponification part has been done for  you already, and you are simply remelting the soap and adding other ingredients.  From Zest, and Ivory, to Dr Bronners and any local soap, all have been started with lye.  Soap must be left to rest, or saponify, for 3-4 weeks before you can use it.  If you use it too soon the lye might not have completely chemically changed, and you could potentially burn yourself still.

This particular soap I have called the Modern Homesteader soap.  I love the challenge of using ingredients I can produce myself, with ingredients homesteaders in my area would have had access to 100 or more years ago. The tallow (beef fat) which I rendered myself from grass-fed beef, and the goat milk from my own goat, satisfy this “homesteader” urge I have.  The coconut oil and olive oil in the recipe are available now to “modern homesteaders” because we have the privilege of transporting these products to where we live so we can benefit from them too.  Old time homesteaders in my area wouldn’t have had access to these ingredients, so this is the modern part.  Olive and coconut oil are both fantastic ingredients in a soap, making a nice, hard soap with a great lather.

Before you start making soap, make sure you read through the recipe and the notes.  Have all your material on hand and your safety precautions in place.  If you are totally new to soap making, you might want to use water instead of goat milk since goat milk can be a bit tricky to use at first.  But, if you are like me, my second time making soap I was using goat milk.

Materials:

Scale
Stick blender
Soap mold (even a shoe box)
Plastic garbage bag
Old towels or blankets
Rubber gloves
Safety goggles
White distilled vinegar, in case of lye burns
Long sleeved shirt
2 thermometers
1 large bowl, 1 large pot
Spatula
Stainless steel whisk
Spoon
Several smaller bowls for measuring ingredients into

Ingredients:

44 oz. tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
11.7 oz. lye
27 oz. goat milk, partially frozen in ice cube-sized chunks (or water, if preferred)
1 oz. essential oil

Directions:

  1. Have all tools and materials ready and available ahead of time.
  2. Prepare your soap mold.  You can use an old shoe box or a fancy soap mold, whichever you like.  If using a simple wooden mold or box, line it with a plastic bag, trying to keep as smooth as possible.  You will be pouring your liquid into this so you don’t want it to leak.  Keep your stack of old towels or blankets for wrapping it in, nearby.
  3. Wear your gloves, safety glasses and long sleeved shirt!
  4. Measure, melt and combine tallow, olive and coconut oil.  Set aside.
  5. Combine lye with goat milk.  When adding lye to goat milk, do so VERY slowly, stirring VERY thoroughly to prevent scorching the milk.  If it starts to turn even the slightest bit orange,  back off with the lye, and put the bowl in a separate bowl of ice cubes to slow down the heating.  The milk will melt.  The key to adding milk to soap is to do it very slowly.
  6. Measure the temperatures of both bowls.  When both are between 110F and 115F, combine the lye mixture with the oil mixture.
  7. Using a stick blender, blend, in a figure 8 pattern, making sure you are blending all of the combination.  Continue to do this until the soap reaches trace. (Trace is when you lift up the blender and a drip sits on top of the mixture slightly, like pudding).
  8. Add and mix in essential oil.
  9. Immediately pour into prepared soap mold.
  10. Cover mold completely with a board, or you can lie plastic wrap or a garbage bag carefully across the top of the soap.
  11. Wrap well with old blankets or towels to prevent from cooling too fast.
  12. Store in a warm location (room temperature, no drafts) for 24 hours.
  13. After 24 hours are up, using gloves, remove from soap mold and cut into pieces.
  14. Place pieces on an old towel, with air being able to circulate between each piece.
  15. Let sit for 4 weeks, turning soap once a week.
  16. If a haze appears on your soap you can simply scrape it off after 4 weeks, or just leave it.

Enjoy!

Tips:

  1. Lye is caustic.  It is a powder, and is activated when any moisture touches it.  It gets very hot, very quickly.  Use rubber gloves, long sleeved shirt and safety glasses to prevent burns.  If you do get burnt, pour plain white distilled vinegar directly onto the burn.
  2. You want to combine your lye mixture with your oil mixture when they are both about the same temperature.  Sometimes you will have to reheat either the lye or the oils to ensure they are at the same temperature.  That’s ok!  To reheat the lye mixture, place the bowl in a bowl of hot water.  To reheat the oil mixture, put it back on the stove and reheat.
  3. When dealing with goats milk (or any milk) you don’t want to scorch your milk.  This can happen very quickly since the lye will heat up very fast.  Freeze the milk in ice cube trays, for easy measurement and a more even melting.  Allow the milk to partially thaw, being slushy when you need it.  If, when  you are mixing your milk and lye, it starts to turn orange, stop, place the bowl of milk in a bowl of ice cubes, and try again.  Add the lye VERY slowly to prevent scorching.  If your mixture is a bit orange, that’s ok… it will turn brown when it saponifies.
  4. You can replace the milk content with plain, distilled water if you prefer.
  5. If you don’t want to use tallow, don’t use this recipe!  It isn’t recommended to change amounts and types of oils in a recipe since each oil has a different way of reacting to the lye.  I will be posting other recipes that don’t use tallow shortly.
  6. This recipe is a large one, and will produce about 7 lb. of soap.
  7. What types of oils to select?  Any grade of olive oil will work.  The more virgin it is, the lighter the soap will be in color.  Pomace grade (the cheapest kind) seems to come to trace a little bit faster but may contribute to a darker, slightly greener color.  For the coconut oil, I use an RBD grade (refined) coconut oil.
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Basic Fresh Hand Lotion Recipe

What is all natural, anyway?

Let’s get this out there right away.  You cannot buy a truly all natural, truly preservative-free lotion.  Why?  Because lotions are made with water, and water is a great medium for growing bacteria.  Lotions with no preservative will not last longer than a few months.  This is completely unacceptable for commercial products that sit on the shelf for months or years before being sold.  A preservative MUST be used in commercial products.

Second, there are no true all natural preservatives.  Some oils like rosemary, have natural antibacterial properties, but none are strong enough to allow a lotion to sit on the shelf for many months.  Some oils, like vitamin E, are antioxidants and will help keep the oils in the lotion from going rancid, but they do not prevent bacteria growth.

Third, the companies that tout their products as being all natural will ALL contain SOME form of preservative that may be derived from nature, but have been changed in some way to make them actually prohibit the growth of bacteria.  The “changing” of those ingredients, or the refining or processing of them, no longer makes them truly all natural.  Grapefruit seed extract is a good example.  It sounds very natural.  It is not.  In fact, some studies indicate that it actually contains, among other things, parabens.

So, this brings me to the point of my post (and much of my life, I have discovered): if you want to make something that is really all natural, you have to make it yourself, and make only small amounts of it so that you don’t have to throw it out if it goes bad over time.  But to be honest, I’d rather take the risk of my lotion growing mold than slather myself with preservatives  that may ultimately contribute to cancer.  That is why I am sharing with you the concept of “fresh” lotions.  We have no trouble making fresh meals, so perhaps we need to reintroduce the age-old (think pre-preservative era) fresh body products too.

Before the invention of chemical preservatives, people really DID use moisturizers.  It was possible to take care of your skin back then.  Cold creams have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years.  The invention of cold cream goes back to Galen, in second century Greece and is still used now.

Take of white wax four ounces, oyl of roses omphacine a pound; melt in a double vessel, then powr it out into another, by degrees putting in cold water, and often powring it out of one vessel into another, stirring it till it be white ; last of all wash it in rose water, adding a little rose water and rose vineger.—Nicholas Culpeper (1650), London Dispensatory

Before you leave a comment that says something like “this product will go bad in a few weeks or a few months without a preservative” please be advised that I am well aware of that.  I am recommending that you make a small batch and use it up before it can go bad.  Refrigeration can help prolong the shelf life.  Check your products for mold, discoloration, separation or off-smell and discard if it doesn’t seem right.  So far I have yet to have any of mine go bad, despite sitting on my bedside table for 2 months.  And in the meantime, enjoy your fresh body products.  After all, who wants to drink canned milk over fresh milk?  Or eat canned apples instead of a fresh one? Especially ones that are laced with preservatives?  Give your body fresh products with fresh ingredients and see the difference.

What is lotion, anyway?
Let’s talk quickly about lotion.  Lotion is a combination of water and oil to create a less-greasy, smooth product that will make a great hand, body and facial moisturizer.  Water and oil do not naturally combine.  Oil will sit on top of the water.  The only way to combine it is by emulsification, or blending it to force the water to combine with the oil, much like making mayonnaise.  They will combine easier and stay together forever if you have an emulsifier.  True emulsifiers are not natural.  Even the plant-based emulsifiers are highly processed.  Beeswax can be combined with borax to make a true emulsifier.  I am not really a fan of borax and would rather not use it.  You can use beeswax as an emulsifier on its own.  It  is more of a mechanical emulsification (ie. it might eventually separate over time) but it has worked well for me and lasts for months, which is as long as your ingredients will last anyway.

***So, stick with small batches and all-natural ingredients, and create the highest quality body products that can be offered with fresh, safe ingredients.***

Basic hand lotion recipe:

Materials

  • Stick blender (immersion blender)
  • Kitchen scale
  • Wide mouth mason jar
  • Spoon
  • Small, thick-bottomed pot
  • Small pyrex liquid measuring cup
  • Spatula

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. grapeseed oil
  • 0.5 oz. pure beeswax
  • 4 oz. distilled water
  • 10 drops rosemary extract or vitamin E oil (optional, may help extend shelf life)
  • 15 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Directions

  1. In a thick-bottomed pot melt beeswax with oil just until it is melted.  Pour into a wide mouth mason jar, set aside and allow to cool until room temperature.
  2. The following ingredients must be at room temperature before beginning.  In a measuring cup weigh and add water, rosemary oil or vitamin E, and essential oil.  Set aside.
  3. When wax and oil combo has cooled down but is still soft, begin blending with a stick blender.  SLOWLY pour your water mixture into the jar in a slow, continuous stream, while blending constantly. Circle around the mixture to make sure it is all blended in, moving the blender up and down, around and around.  Continue to blend for 3-5 minutes to ensure your mixture has emulsified.
  4. Store in a sealed container for up to 2 months.  Refrigeration will help prolong shelf life.

This recipe makes a very basic hand lotion that is great to learn on.  You might want to skip the essential oils and rosemary/vitamin E oils while you practice making emulsions until you have it down pat.  Over the next few weeks I will be adding more recipes that will build off this basic recipe and provide different kinds of skin care.  Watch for the next post which will include a hand lotion with added ingredients to make a drier lotion that helps repair skin damage while soothing irritated or chapped skin.  Enjoy fresh body products!  After all, fresh IS best!

Notes:

  • It is very important to combine your ingredients when they have reached room temperature or your emulsion will fail and your water will separate.  If this happens, drain off the water and use the lotion as a body butter.  It will be greasier but will still make a nice product.
  • Always ensure your hands are clean when you use the lotion to prevent bacteria from entering your lotion.
  • It is helpful to sterilize your utensils first with boiling water to help prevent bacteria from entering the lotion.
  • You can interchange or combine other liquid oils.  Grapeseed oil is known to be one of the least greasy of the oils.
  • If you want to add a solid oil (for example coconut oil or cocoa butter) to your recipe make sure most of the recipe is still a liquid oil so the product doesn’t get too solid at room temperature before you have combined the water and the oil.
  • You can use any infused oil in place of plain oil.  (For example, lavender or calendula-infused oils.)
  • You can use any hydrosol or floral water to replace the distilled water. Check the ingredients first to make sure they are pure. Some people have luck using flower “teas” such as chamomile, green tea or calendula but note that this might increase the spoiling rate.
  • When choosing essential oils keep in mind that citrus-based oils can be photo-toxic. Used in moisturizers on skin that is exposed to the sun can cause severe sunburns.
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Basic Goat Milk Soap Recipe

Goat milk as an additive to skin care products has long been used to sooth and solve skin issues.  Raw goat milk in high in vitamins and minerals, in particularly vitamin A, which aids in repairing damaged skin. It is also naturally rich in caprylic acid, which soothes and rejuvenates skin. Lactic acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid) is also present in goat milk which removes dead skin cells and is believed to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Goat milk soap is very gentle on the skin and is perfect for people who suffer from eczema, delicate, or dry skin. We have our own goat milk and one way of dealing with excess milk is to freeze it and later use it in body products such as this.

Soap-making is a skill everyone should learn.  It is easy, fun, environmentally friendly, economical and practical.  Once I began making soap, I soon discovered that you can replace the water in any recipe with goat milk, 1:1.  This allowed me to use my own goat milk to create recipes and products of high quality for a very low cost.

This recipe is a simple one.  Coconut oil, sustainably-produced palm oil and olive oil are all easy to find ingredients. You can substitute the goat milk for plain distilled water if you wish.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

•26.5 oz. Olive oil Pomace
•16.5 ounces Coconut oil
•10 oz. Sustainably sourced Palm Kernel oil
•209 grams Lye
•2.7 oz. Essential oils of your choice
•20 oz. goat milk frozen in ice cube sized chunks.

Directions:

  1. Prepare your mold.
  2. Combine and melt olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil to 115F.
  3. VERY slowly, pour measured lye into semi-thawed (slushy) goat milk.  Stir constantly.  Measure temperature constantly.  If milk heats up too fast it will turn orange and scorch, so do this step very slowly.  Ideally you will get your lye mixture up to about 115F.
  4. Combine lye mixture with oils when temperatures are the same (between 105-115F).
  5. Using a stick blender, blend combination until product reaches trace.
  6. Add any essential oils, dried herbs etc at trace.
  7. Pour into mold. Cover mold with either plastic wrap or cardboard.
  8. Cover with towels to prevent cooling too quickly.
  9. 24 hours later, cut into bars.
  10. Set bars on towel in warm, dry location away from direct sunlight.  Let them “saponify” for at least 4 weeks.

Enjoy!

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How To Make Chèvre with Raw Goat Milk

These days, one finds chèvre in boutique and gourmet restaurants, served with fresh sourdough. But chèvre, or cheese made from goat milk, is possibly the oldest way of making cheese. Many cultures for many centuries have made many forms of chèvre. But for today, we will focus on the soft, spreadable cheese North Americans know by name, and by price.

We try to keep some goats in milk year round, so when a few are kidding we are always drying up a few. This way we can have fresh milk daily. Sometimes we have 5 or 6 goats in milk at the same time so there are times when we are almost drowning in milk. This is the time to preserve it: make yogurt, ice cream, or cheese.

I have made cheddar, mozzarella and chevre fairly often, but the easiest to make is probably chevre. So, let’s make cheese!

Equipment and Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon of fresh, raw goat milk
  • Thermometer
  • Colander
  • cheesecloth
  • Large Stainless steel pot with a lid
  • Stainless steel stirring spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small glass jar
  • Mesophilic culture (I use M100)
  • Rennet
Directions:
 
  1. Sterilize your equipment so you the only bacteria you grow is your cheese culture!
  2. Warm the Milk
    Warm the milk to 86F. Remove from heat. 
  3. Add your culture
    Allow the milk to cool to 76°. Sprinkle in ¼ teaspoon of direct set mesophilic culture. Allow to sit for a minute or two and then gently stir in to fully incorporate.
  4. Prepare the rennet
    Dissolve 2 drops of liquid animal rennet into 5T of cool water
    Add 1 tablespoon of diluted rennet and gently stir in an up and down motion. Do not over mix.
    Allow the cultured milk to sit, undisturbed, for 18-24 hours at room temperature. 
  5. Drain the curd
    Your cultured milk should be nicely thickened. If you notice a greenish liquid around the cheese don’t panic. It’s whey.
    Place 3 or 4 layers of cheesecloth over a colander that is inside a pot or pan. Gather up the corners of the cloth, tie together, and hang in a convenient location. Allow the cheese to drain for 6 – 12 hours, depending on how dry you like your cheese.  Use the whey in another recipe or feed to your animals.
  6. Salt, flavor and enjoy!
    Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth, put into a large bowl, and salt to taste while stirring. You can also add herbs, dried fruit, nuts, garlic or chives. Try it on a slice of fresh sourdough or a cracker!

    Note: Looking for cheese culture and rennet in Canada? Check out Glen Gary Cheesemaking and Gourmet Warehouse.

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How To Make Apple Vinegar from Apple Scraps

Make your own apple cider vinegar from scrap apples!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 gallon water (4 litres)
  • Apple peels and cores

Instructions

  1. Collect your apple peelings and put them in a gallon glass jar/container. Those large pickle jars from Costco, or from the thrift store, work perfectly. Even a large glass cookie jar will work.
  2. Once your jar is filled with peelings, cover it with a water/sugar syrup made from 1 quart of boiling water with 1 cup of white sugar dissolved in it. Your peels might float a bit. Some people weight it down with something so they don’t float. I don’t bother.
  3. Set your jar in a cool, dark-ish location (I used my laundry room) and cover the jar with cheese cloth and an elastic, making sure it is thick enough that fruit flies won’t get in. Because they will try!
  4. Stir once a day for 1 week.
  5. After a week, strain the apple peels through cheese cloth and allow to drain over a bowl overnight, to collect the juice. Then give the cheese cloth a good squeeze, and feed the apple peels to the chickens/pigs.
  6. Pour the strained juice back into the jar and cover with cheese cloth again.
  7. Stir once a day.
  8. Store in a cool location out of direct light for 6 weeks or until it tastes as strong as you’d like it.
  9. Bottle and store in your pantry or fridge indefinitely. Enjoy!

Notes

If you notice mold on your apple cider vinegar at any stage, skim it off and keep going. I have never experienced mold growth but have read that it can happen.

Some people weight their apple peels down during the first week so no apple peels are exposed to air. They have a tendency to float. You can do this if you like, but as long as you stir it once a day I don’t think it is necessary, and I never bother.

Try this with other fruit peels! Peach and pear make a lovely, delicate vinegar.