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Blame it on the Rain

According to Mayor Jacobs we haven’t had this much rain in February since 1890. Apparently the equipment a the water treatment plant was impressed enough with that historical fact to take a few days off from working. Turned out to be a good idea for us to take a short vacation too, before the baby goats start coming and milking season kicks into full gear.

Nate’s Notes February 2018

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Holiday Gifts Are Here!

holiday-giftsExchanging holiday gifts is often the most enjoyable part of this fun and busy season. But for lots of us it is challenging to find thoughtful items that won’t break our budgets. Tottys Bend handmade soaps and lotions might be the perfect kind of holiday gifts you’ve been looking for. Our signature goat milk soaps, which come in 29 scents, are handmade in small batches on our farm in Tennessee. And at only $6 per bar, they make special yet affordable holiday gifts for everyone on the list.

Gift Ideas for Everyone

Scents like Mountain Heather, Vanilla Bean and Beach Bum make terrific holiday gifts for kids. Men enjoy our spicy scented soaps like Bay Rum, Sandalwood and Barber Shop. Our $20 shaving kits, which come in six different scents, are also very popular holiday gifts for men at a price that can’t be beat. Holiday favorites for both men and women include Frankincense & Myrrh, Bonsai, and Rosemary Mint soaps. Women love our Oats n’ Honey, Little Lot Lavender and Sea Salt soaps, especially when paired with one of our goat milk lotions. Our lotions, which start at only $5, are rich and creamy and packed with skin nourishing ingredients. In fact, you can easily mix and match soaps, lotions, body powder and lip balm to create a bundle of handmade holiday gifts from our website for under $25.

Rest assured, our goat milk soaps are gentle on even the most sensitive skin. And for those folks on your shopping list who prefer no scent at all, we offer unscented goat milk soap, lotion and body powder. So don’t fret over this holiday gift giving season. We’ve got you covered with handmade holiday gifts for everyone starting at only $5.

Our Great Pyrenees

We got our Great Pyrenees when she was just 8 weeks old from our friend Miss Pam. She was the smallest, friendliness puppy in her litter. Her mother and father both worked as guardian dogs on Miss Pam’s farm.  Adult Great Pyrenees are large dogs, averaging 75-100 pounds. They are known for their loyalty and gentle nature but they are also fierce guardians who will fearlessly defend their herd against predators. When confronted with the enemy a Great Pyrenees will fight to the death. When we first got our Great Pyrenees she was so small it didn’t seem possible that one day she would grow big and strong enough to be our livestock guardian dog.

Paris with a yellow flowerIt was hard to come up with a name for our little Pyrenees because we wanted to give her a name that she could grow into but one that also suited her as a puppy.  After a few days of tossing around various ideas I asked Nate what he thought about calling her Paris. I thought Paris was fitting because the Great Pyrenees breed originated in France and because it sounded dignified, in a feminine sort of way. Nate wasn’t sure if he liked the name Paris, but once I started calling her Pear-Bear there was no turning back! She really did look like a fluffy little bear.

Today Paris is a full grown Great Pyrenees. She is four years old now and weighs about 85 pounds. Her incredibly thick, white fur protects her from the elements and makes her look like an even bigger dog. She spends most of her day sleeping near the goat barn or in the crawl space under our milk parlor. In the afternoon she wanders over to our neighbor’s backdoor where she finds food scraps waiting for her.  Our neighbor Lucy has been feeding Paris kitchen scraps ever since she was a puppy, but Paris still won’t let Lucy pet her. Shyness of people is another characteristic typical of the Pyrenees breed.

Great PyreneesEven though she sleeps most of the day, Paris is always the first one on the scene if a goat kid escapes the fence or if a vulture circles overhead. Paris hates vultures and chases them away every time she sees one. At night Paris is alert and on guard. She spends most of the evening patrolling her territory and barking to ward off unwelcome foes. The barking took some getting used to but barking is Paris’ best defense against coyotes, stray dogs, bobcats, and whatever else might be a threat to our goats. She also protects our cat, Percy. Paris is very fond of cats, especially her best buddy Percy. The chickens are a different story though. While Paris tolerates their existence, she gleefully indulges in playful urges to chase and growl at them when they wander too close to her food dish. Now that Paris has been with us for four years her barking at night actually helps us sleep because we know she’s keeping our goats, Percy, and even the chickens safe. We couldn’t keep our goats safe without our Great Pyrenees. She is an integral part of the team. Paris isn’t just a working dog either; she’s a loyal friend too.

Its Goat Breeding Season!

As summer turns into fall in Tennessee we get ready for goat breeding season! This is a very important part of our year because goat breeding means there will be goat kids in the spring. Spring kids mean mamma goats will begin producing lots of fresh goat milk which we use in every batch of our goat milk soaps.

During goat breeding season our bucks obsess on creating the nastiest personal cologne imaginable, the main ingredient being their own urine. Yes, it’s pretty disgusting. Male goats can do things with themselves that no animal should be able to do. When bucks display this type of behavior we say they are “in rut”. A buck in rut is typically covered in pee, especially his face and beard. He has little appetite for food and will display signs of masculine aggression. His only reason for living during rut is to attract potential mates which he spends one hundred percent if his time doing, or at least giving it his best effort. In addition to peeing on himself, he will spar with the other males, blubber at the passing does (see our buck Blaze in the very short video clip below), and display his goat breeding apparatus to all who care to take a look (a behavior that is thankfully not featured in the video).

goat breedingOne might think this type of behavior would be a total turn off, in particular the constant urinating. But oddly enough the does seem to really like it. When the bucks are in rut, often the scent they produce will trigger the does to go into heat. When a doe is in heat, she will allow a male to breed her. If the goat breeding is successful, she will conceive and she will not go into heat again until after she gives birth. During goat breeding season the does will go into heat every month until they are successfully bred. A doe’s monthly heat usually lasts for a day or two. During heat, she will flirt with her favorite bucks by standing close to them, wagging her tail. This type of tail movement during goat breeding season is called flagging. Some of our does are very vocal about being in heat, which can be quite comical at times. A doe in heat might also be more playful or enjoy sparring with her fellow does. When we see these signs, we know we have a doe who is ready and willing to be bred.

On our farm, we do our very best to control every aspect of goat breeding. We house our males separately from our females. We also plan when and with whom we want to breed each individual doe. Controlling our goat’s breeding allows us to breed for certain characteristics, like higher milk production. Developing desirable traits through our goat breeding program allows us to improve the overall quality of our herd and its future offspring. We are also able to plan when our does will give birth, which occurs about five months after a successful goat breeding. Timing is important. We want our inexperienced moms to give birth at the same time as some of our more experienced does so they can learn from the pros. We also like to buddy up our does who have had trouble producing milk with our heavier milkers, just in case extra milk is needed when the kids arrive. Pairing them up and spacing their breeding insures that we always have enough goat milk to go around. All this to say that goat breeding is an important aspect of animal husbandry on our farm and one that we do not want to leave to chance.

And so goat breeding on our farm officially began last week with Daisy and Rango, our first goats to breed in 2015! Their kids will be closely followed by Windy and Rango’s. We are hoping to breed Orange-y, and Magic in the coming weeks and then some of our younger does will get their first chance. It is exciting but a little sad to see them growing up so fast! Thankfully we still have The Nuts to baby and pamper for another year before it will be their turn to breed.

Benefits of Body Powder

Since body powder is not as common as it once was some of our customers aren’t familiar with the many benefits of body powder. We recommend our body powder to folks who are allergic to, or just want to avoid the chemicals in commercial deodorants. Body powder can be sprinkled in your shoes and undies. It can be used as a dry shampoo. You can wear it all over for a fresh scent. We also recommend our body powder as a talc-free alternative to baby powder, especially our unscented and lavender varieties because they are the most gentle on baby’s skin.

Nate breaks out in a rash from the chemicals in commercial deodorants. He also sweats a lot and he works with goats every day! That is why we came up with our all-natural, talc-free body powder. Along the way we experimented with homemade deodorant sticks and other alternatives, but our body powder seemed to be the most practical way for him to stay fresh and dry. That’s how we know first hand that our body powder is a great alternative to chemical laden commercial deodorants.

Benefits of Body PowderThere are many benefits of our body powder because it contains natural ingredients that purify skin, absorb excess oils and leave skin feeling silky and fresh. We use a special blend of tapioca, arrowroot and kaolin clay to make our body powder. The tapioca starch helps the powder glide on and cling to the skin, giving it a silky feel. Arrowroot absorbs oils beautifully and  promotes natural healing as it penetrates the skin. Arrowroot also reduces odors and helps to eliminate toxins. Kaolin clay is a very mild, vitamin rich, natural clay that removes impurities without stripping your skin of its natural oils. These beneficial ingredients work together in our body powder to gently deodorize and absorb excess moisture.

Nate divides the unscented powder into small bins. Then he places scented cotton pads in each bin and covers the mixture with a lid. The powder is aged for one week with the scented pads. During that time, the fragrance from the pads is absorbed into the powder. At the end of the week Nate removes the pads and stirs each bin of powder. When the scent is evenly blended, Nate spoons the powder into our old fashioned cardboard shakers. I add the finishing touch by putting on the labels.

 

Our New Goat Daisy is Helping Out

New GoatOur new goat, Miss Daisy, is being a foster mom to Zelda’s twin baby does. We bought Daisy a couple of weeks ago from our friend Bridget. Daisy is originally from South Dakota but she has been a Tennessee girl since she was just a few months old. We are happy to have her as the newest addition to our little goat farm. Thankfully our new goat, Daisy, is a great milker and we have been able to put Zelda’s babies on her for their morning breakfast ever since Zelda got sick.

Zelda hasn’t improved very much since yesterday’s post. She is still grinding her teeth and turning away from everything we offer her to eat and drink. She did like her nutrient drench with extra iron. We are going to try to build her iron back up because the worms have caused her to become very anemic. We gave her an injection of iron in addition to the drench. She is still enjoying her fan and I keep her water fresh and cool for when she is ready to have a drink. If we do not see her drink on her own we will have to syringe it into her mouth to keep her hydrated. She will not get up by herself either but she is able to stand for a few minutes if we help her get on her feet. It is a very touch and go situation and it is hard on all of us emotionally. It is hard not to get discouraged.

Daisy, the new goat, is a bright spot for us during this difficult time. No matter what the outcome is for Zelda, we know Daisy will take care of Zelda’s baby does. Zelda’s doelings still know and love Zelda as their mother but they are no longer dependent on her for milk. That has given Zelda much needed time and energy to focus on getting healthy again. Miss Daisy couldn’t have joined us at a more critical time. We are grateful for her smiling face and all the nutritious milk she provides.

The Story Behind Our Lavender Soap

Bee enjoying fresh Lavender flowersLavender is an herb native to northern Africa and the mountains of the Mediterranean. Here in Tennessee, June is the month for fresh lavender. For the next few weeks, thousands of tiny purple petals will open atop thin, silvery-green stems and the lavender fields will be buzzing with honey bees. This fragrant herb is highly regarded for skin and beauty. In fact, the word lavender originally stems from the Latin word lavare which means “to wash”. We use Tennessee grown lavender in our lavender soap to wash and purify sensitive skin.

Lavender SoapWe love making lavender soap because lavender is known for its relaxing aroma and skin soothing properties. Our lavender soap is made with lavender that is grown by our friends John and Christy Porch. They live on a farm just down the road from us in the small community of Little Lot. John and Christy have been cultivating lavender on Little Lavender Farm for over seven years. John says, “Lavender is like catnip for women!” But we know men love our lavender soap too, and there are many reasons why. Lavender soap can be used to treat hair loss and fungal infections (like Candida and athlete’s foot). Bathing with lavender soap is said to reduce depression and anxiety. Our lavender soap is also gentle enough for children to use.

LavenderThe Porch’s grow several varieties of lavender. The vibrant, bright purple varieties are used to create bouquets while other types are grown for fragrance and flavor. The lavender variety we use in our lavender soap is called Grosso. Grosso lavender is commonly used in body products because of its intense aroma. The lavender petals not only make our lavender soap look beautiful but they also provide the pleasant, relaxing scent of lavender that makes our lavender soap so popular. Our lavender soap makes a great gift for just about anyone. It is soothing to sensitive skin and the scent is just like walking through a field of fresh lavender. If you like our Little Lot Lavender soap you might also enjoy our Little Lot Lavender Goat Milk Lotion and Body powder.

Moms Love Our Rose Soap

Rose Soap

Our Duck River Rose soap is one of the very first scented soaps we made and it continues to be a favorite with our customers, especially this time of year. Here in Tennessee, we had an abundance of rain this April and just like the saying goes, May flowers are now in full bloom. The delicate scent of spring blooming roses is captivating and has become a symbol of love and beauty. Those qualities are what inspired us to create our very own rose soap. It took experimenting with several rose fragrances until we hit on just the right true rose scent for our Duck River Rose soap.

IMG_3426In addition to a true rose scent our Duck River Rose soap is infused with an all-natural rose clay. This clay is what gives our rose soap its rosy color. The clay we use in our rose soap gently draws out impurities in the skin which makes our rose soap a good facial bar. The clay also creates a richer lather with smaller bubbles which makes Duck Diver Rose soap good for shaving too!

Our rose soap got its name, Duck River Rose, from our neighbors Larry and Connie Baird who are award winning rosarians. They have a rose farm, with a view of the Duck River, a few miles from us on Tottys Bend Road where they cultivate over four hundred rose plants. You can tour their rose farm this May 22nd and 23rd during the Arts & Ag Tour. Our farm will also be open to visitors taking the Arts & Ag Tour. The tour is a free, self-guided event on the back roads of Hickman County, Tennessee. Stops on the Arts & Ag Tour will feature farms, art, and music as well as southern style food and hospitality. You can visit the Arts & Ag Tour website for more information.

Duck River RoseOur Duck River Rose soap is as classic, and classy, as it gets. Imagine how the fresh spring air smells at Larry and Connie’s rose garden and you will have an idea of what this special rose soap smells like. Duck River Rose soap makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys true old fashioned scents with vintage style. We also make Duck River Rose body powder and Duck River Rose goat milk lotion. We make our rose soap and all the rest of our goat milk skin care products right on our farm in Duck River, Tennessee. Nate hand milks our small herd of dairy goats each morning. He weighs the milk and freezes it to use in every batch of our goat milk soaps. We pamper our goats so our customers can pamper their skin with our goat milk skin care products.