Several years ago, when we started doing farmer’s market again, we had the best-smelling spot on the whole block of vendors: downwind from the goat milk soap folks. Not only were they likable, friendly and sweet people, their soap smelled so good and that’s what we smelled during market. I was delighted, later, to find that they were neighbors of ours and that the goats that we passed every time we went to town for groceries were theirs. Pretty, pretty goats.
I told my kiddos over and over: I’d love to go take pictures of those goats! They are so photogenic!
I finally had my opportunity to photograph the beautiful goats of Lomah Acres this week, and to visit a bit with Kathy, who with her family of ten children and good husband Jim, has built a successful business making and selling goat milk soap. Here’s my interview with Kathy, and lots of shots of (you guessed it) the pretty goats.
Oh! But that’s not all: Kathy was good enough to agree to do a giveaway of several bars of her lovely soaps, too. I promise you: you’re going to want to enter this giveaway, because this is the best soap! It’s creamy and beautiful and smells wonderful. (But read the interview, first.)
me: “Lomah Acres?” What’s the story behind the name of your farm?
Kathy: We chose “Lomah Acres” because we wanted to raise dairy goats and honey bees: you know, Land Of Milk And Honey. The bees have yet to work out though! Two failed attempts (one time they didn’t make it through winter and the other time they survived winter but died off or left later, can’t remember which). But now we have a beekeeper friend that is going to help us try again next year. 🙂
me: Why goats? What got you started keeping goats?
Kathy: We wanted to grow our own milk for our family. We have ten children. Goat milk is such a healthy food, and healthier than the milk that you can buy at the store. We moved to the country in May, and got our first goats in July. In no time, we had a dozen or more.
me: How many goats do you have now?
Kathy: (laughing) Around 30, I think.
me: What breeds do you keep?
Kathy: We keep five breeds currently: Nubians–their milk has the highest butterfat. And we have Kinders–they are a smaller cross of Nubian and Pgymy goats–their milk is the best tasting, it’s really delicious, that’s what we use for drinking. And we also keep Alpines, the heaviest milkers, and Mini Nubians–which are a cross between Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf. Their milk is good, too! Oh, also we have a few Saanen Nubian crosses, which are the white ones (pictured above).
me: So you started with goats because of wanting to have your own goat milk. How did you get into making goat milk soap?
Kathy: It’s expensive to keep livestock, of course, so we were looking for another product that we could produce and sell, to offset the costs of keeping the goats.
me: How did you learn how to make soap out of the goat milk?
Kathy: I already knew how to make soap, but I spent a lot of time researching and learning about making goat milk soap. I joined some online communities and learned a lot from them. I spent over a year reading and learning about making goat milk soap before I made my first batch.
me: We use your soap at our house. We love it. It’s our favorite soap. Why does goat milk make such excellent soap?
Kathy: You’ve heard of milk baths, right? The goat milk has very high butterfat, and it adds moisturizing qualities. It’s very soothing. Lots of people with skin problems use our soap, and their dry, itchy skin problems go away.
(Me again: Some other benefits of goat milk soap: it has close to the same pH as your own skin, which may protect your skin from bacteria. It’s packed with natural nutrients and vitamins and cream–goat cream. Doesn’t that sound luxurious? “I’m gonna go soak in my goat cream bath now, dear . . . “)
me: I’ve used other homemade soaps, but yours is my favorite.
Kathy: A friend of mine said to me once “All homemade soaps are pretty much the same,” but I don’t agree. Each soap has a formula. I took a year of study and research before I came up with my formula, and we haven’t changed it much since. I found a winning formula and we’ve stuck with it.
me: Can you explain, in layman’s terms, how you make soap?
Kathy: It makes me laugh when people use the term “all-natural soap.” There’s nothing “natural” about making soap! Soap is the result of a chemical reaction: you use a recipe. You have to use the proper amount of lye for the amount of oil (in our case, butterfat from the goat milk). Lye combined with oil results in the chemical reaction that makes soap. That’s called “Saponification.”
me: (weakly) “Saponification?”
Kathy: (laughing) That’s the word for when lye reacts to the oils and creates soap.
me: My mom made soap a few times. I remember that it was very strong.
Kathy: In the old days, they used wood ash and that old-fashioned lye soap could be very harsh. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to waste a thing, so that’s why I researched for a year before I made my first batch of goat milk soap. We’ve deviated very little since. We raised the superfat level just a bit.
Kathy: For each molecule of soap you have, you have to have enough lye for the oils. “Superfatting” means you’ve got more oils than you need for the lye. Too much fat and your soap is too soft, and loses its suds.
me: How many bars do you sell every year?
Kathy: We are going to end up selling 12,000 bars by the end of this year. Our goal is to reach 25,000 bars in a year.
me: Wow! That’s a lot of soap!
Kathy: Our soap sells itself. Once a customer buys that first bar, they’re hooked. It’s just a matter of getting it to the customers.
me: Where do you sell your soap?
Kathy: We have our website up, and we have our soap in stores all over Nebraska. The Hy-Vee stores are the biggest stores that sell our soap. We have soap now in 25 stores. We also do craft festivals, and the big farmer’s market in Lincoln at the Haymarket on Saturdays during the summer. Our Soap House (down the road) is open most Saturdays in December, if you have any Christmas shopping left to do. Oh, and we have soap in a store in California.
me: California? How did that happen?
Kathy: A retired couple from Nebraska opened a store in California, and called it “From the Homestead.” They carry all handmade products from Nebraska. Somehow they got ahold of a bar of our soap and used it, and really liked it. They contacted us to ask if they could carry our soap in their store. We said “oh, okay . . . ” (grinning).
me: What are your plans for expanding?
Kathy: We want to expand into stores in Missouri and Iowa. We go to crafts shows in other (neighboring) states, people get hooked on our soap, and so we’d like to have it in stores in those areas. It’s just a matter of time.
me: What’s your favorite type of soap that you make?
Kathy: “Twilight.” Hands-down favorite.
me: And what’s your best seller?
Kathy: “Oatmeal, milk and honey.” It’s been our best seller for years. Everybody loves it.
me: Anything new you want to share with me?
Kathy: We have a new Nebraska line that we’re really excited about: “Nebraska Prairie Grass,” “Nebraska Wine,” and “Nebraska Sunflowers.” They’ve become very popular.
me: “Nebraska wine!” That sounds lovely.
Kathy: I’m Italian, so the scent of ripe grapes on the vine is something that I grew up with. Our Nebraska Wine soap smells just like ripe grapes on the vine. James Arthur Vineyards here in Nebraska provides the wine for that soap.
me: Any other production plans in the works?
Kathy: We’re looking for a local source for roasted coffee beans, because we want to produce a coffee-scented soap, using locally-roasted coffee beans.
me: I’m pretty sure I’d love that soap!
Kathy: I’ll let you know when we have some available, Amy!
Intrigued? Be sure to check out the Lomah Acres website, where you can purchase goat milk soap and lots of other goat milk products, as well. And you can stay updated by liking the Lomah Acres Facebook page, as well.
I’d like to thank Kathy and her family for letting us crash their quiet afternoon for our pretty-goat-picture-taking-session and for this interview. If you’d like a few bars of this lovely soap for your own self, please do enter the giveaway below! Here’s what you could win:
Or if you don’t want to wait for the giveaway, click on over to the Lomah Acres website and order a few bars today! They make excellent stocking stuffers and gifts, and you probably even have time to get a few bars for Christmas gift-giving!
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