Saturday, April 26, 2008
We were there from noon to 3pm. When we got home, Furry Husband had a glazed look on his face and was suffering from serious post traumatic stress. He was on his Italy wine trip when he set this up to do for the first time last year. He didn't know how much work it would be. I got some good sympathy out of that.... he had no idea what I'd gone through while he was livin' it up in Italy!
People aren't savvy about the animals. They leave the gate open when they go in and out. You have to be aware of where the goats are at all times for this reason. The children want to pick up the kids. There are some children who are totally FREAKED out by the goats and are screaming and crying. There are children running after the goats. There are children putting handfuls of straw in the water for the goats. There are children putting their fingers into the goats mouths. The adults and children are asking ALL kinds of questions from every direction. And there a GA-ZILLION people coming by and coming into the little pen that is set up for the goats. It really is a lot of work. These pictures were taken during a lull in the action. I think at one point we had a dozen people/children in the pen with us to see the goat kids.
At the end we got the straw bales that made up the pen which we will use as bedding in our goat houses, and I got A LOT of my favorite microbrew beer in exchange for our time and energy. You drink enough beers and you forget how much work it all was! If liquor store owner was smart, he'd wait til we'd tapped into those beers and were feeling no pain to set up next year's goat outing!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Right before Furry Husband went out of town, I got a call from my most devoted customer. He ordered another six bottles of lotion. I wanted to get it made and off my plate because I knew I'd be going full speed once Furry Husband left. We made a batch of lotion Monday night. It turned out horribly wrong! That hasn't happened before with my lotion... needless to say I was disappointed cuz it meant that I'd just wasted an hour and still hadn't gotten the order "off my plate". sigh.
We scrapped it and poured the lotion down the drain because I had no earthly idea what to do to salvage it and I had no idea what we'd done wrong. I was too tired to re-do the recipie or figure out what happened that night. The next night I sat down and re-figured the lotion recipie.
AHA! I had accidentally added 10% more liquid than I should have...no wonder the lotion was so watery! My "fixed" batch was the normal texture and feel and I happily took my biggest customer his order the next day. Whew! For a second there I was worried all my previous successful lotion making had been some sort of good luck fluke and all those funny self-doubts that maybe I really shouldn't be trying this had moved in. I was happy to sweep them right back out o' my brain!
I ran out of bottles with that last order and spent some time this morning on line looking at different sizes/shapes/lids/pumps/colors of bottles. I ordered six different types - one bottle each with various types of caps and pumps to see if I like the look/design/function/feel etc. I ordered a dozen of the current bottle I've been using in case any other orders come in.
My orders right now are few and far between. That is perfectly fine since I haven't really been advertising or pushing my product because all hell broke loose with family drama/trauma. AND I hadn't met with my graphic designer yet. I don't want to do a big push to get my product out there only to have the look/label completely change. Branding equals consistancy.
I had been feeling that I should push myself more and chiding myself for not being as big of a go-getter as I think I should be and then this little light bulb went on over my head. DING!
Hey, this is MY business and I can make it as big or as little as I want. It is up to me to decide what direction I want to go and how fast or slow I want it to grow. So just back up sister and get over yourself!
It's amazing to me how mean we can be to ourselves. We are our own worst enemies! I don't think this is something I do to myself alone because an extremely talented friend of mine, starting her own food business, has the same self-doubts/critisisms. Another very smart, capable friend, beginning her own dog training business, experiences the very same thing.
I wonder if men sabatouge themselves as much as women? Somehow I doubt it.
I think I mentioned that I'm not in love with any of my bath fizzy molds. Well, I found a MINI-MEATBALLER! I would never have thought of it but saw it on some website somewhere when I was looking at bath fizzy recipies, techniques and products. The mini-meatballer is like a pair of over sized sissors but with a little 1/2 circle on each side. Scoop up your fizzies and voila! Little round shaped bath fizzies! In theory. I haven't actually tried the meatballer/fizzy maker on actual bath fizzies yet.
I also got a hold of my graphic designer this week. We made a date! I'm headed to her house on Wednesday the 23rd of this month. I'm so excited! I'll bring all my different containers, current logo/labels and we will have a fun, creative working lunch. I can't wait! I feel that once this meeting happens, I'm on the path to really formally launching my product. gulp! That means I'm gonna have to develop a sales pitch. Luckily I wake up each morning next to an amazing Super Salesman. My very own, mild mannered, Furry Husband!
I also contacted Brambleberry about my lotion this week because there is a little bit of grain to it. It rubs right in and doesn't FEEL grainy but you can see a little grain in it. None of my customers or testers have commented that it's a problem or concern. However, when I asked my stylist to critique my lotion, she looked at it with an eagle eye and noticed it right off the bat.
She is a professional and she is in the beauty industry so I'm definately going to pay attention to what she says! She felt that people might think there is something wrong with my lotion if there was that bit of grainy-ness to it. Too hand-made, country bumpkin - those kind of concerns. She thought the lotion was fabulous quality however, and told me she would definately carry it in her store.
I would prefer that the little grainy-ness issue was resolved first though. I turned to my inspiration, Brambleberry.
Well, of course, Brambleberry has SPECTACULAR product and customer service and they were able to give me some advice. Seems that I'm heating up my mango butter too fast. Next batch I make will be with a double boiler vs. microwave and I'll bring it to melting temperature much slower... see what sort of difference that will make.
I am thinking that I would prefer to do a wholesale business vs. direct selling. I like people and enjoy talking about my product, but I don't want to give up all my weekends at craft fairs. I'd rather tell people where they could go to find my lotion and have it carried by stores supporting local businesses. It is easier for me to fill orders vs. having to guess what is going to be the "hot" item in a craft show and not truly know how much I should make and of which thing.
Once my packaging is chosen, labels created and ingredients in stock, I need to do a cost analysis to see exactly how much it costs me to make each of my products, how much of a profit I want and create a wholesale pricing sheet. I know I'll take a bit of a price cut selling wholesale, but to me, the time saved from direct selling and the exposure I'd get from having my product on a shelf in well known stores is worth it.
I have friends in Grand Junction, CO and they are in touch with other small business owners. One person they know might be interested in a line of lotions they could re-sell at their fruit stand/farm. It'd be a line of fruit scented lotions mirroring what they grow/sell. I'll need to follow up with that pretty soon.
A store in Denver is interested in carrying my product once I have my packaging figured out - they actually wanted to carry it now and I asked them if I could send them a sample basket with wholesale pricing once my design was solid. So they are waiting on me.
Two different customers bought my lotion and loved it so much that they want product and brochures to take with them to two different spas and tell them about my lotion.
My extremely fun and talented girlfriend who runs her own business called Kim's Kitchen LLC wants to discuss an order as take away gifts for her clients.
I think there is potential for my little business because all of the above is happening without me doing much at all. Just think when I get out there and start knocking on doors! The worst that can happen is they say no and then I'm off and running to the next door.
I got home Wednesday night and it had started raining (we were supposed to get 3-8" of snow). I started doing chores and noticed there was a string hanging from Savannah's vulva meaning she was gonna kid, but she was eating at the feeder so I figured I had a little bit o' time ... I kicked it into high gear...
I had thrown hay to the horses, given hay to the babies and the buck, fed the dogs, fed the bottle babies, filled the bird feeders, mixed up the beet pulp for the horses, had Chocolate on the milk stand and was almost done milking her when I heard the cry of babies.
Is that the cry of existing goat kids or FRESH babies??
Then I heard it again...?? Got Chocolate off the stand and back into the pen. Looked in the house that Savannah was going into and voila! Two fresh, new, damp babies. The string I thought I saw was not the mucous string indicating birth but the AFTERbirth... Savannah had popped the new little ones out..... and here I had been rushing around like a mad woman to get chores done to be there for her delivery! Teach me to look closer next time - sheesh!
There was a doe and a buck... nice looking babies, strong and healthy. I took them and put them in the baby nursery. (poor Savannah - "I left them here a minute ago?? what the heck??? can't leave them darn kids alone but a minute and they wander off!")
Finished milking the other 2 does, then got Savannah on the milk stand. Uh, her udder is seriously the size of a softball with teats that are so small...they are like 1/2 the size of your pinky finger. How the heck am I supposed to milk THAT????
Somehow I got 1.5 lbs o' colostrum out of her...heat treated it and bottle fed the new babies. Thankfully Savannah didn't wait til there was 8 inches of snow with 30 mph winds to have her babies... just cold and rain/sleet right at the beginning of the storm...
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Last spring he went to Italy and I was not able to meet him there for many reasons. Money. Time. His Italy trip was a longer "working vacation" and he couldn't be gone from his sales territory for another week if I had come over when he was done "working". S'ok. We like to think he was scouting it out for when we can go together another time.
Now that I'm up, I should do something really productive like put my arse to work on the treadmill til the sun comes up.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
It's not enough to do anything like grow hay or a crop, but it helps to keep things green and the water supplements our pasture so the horses have something to eat through the summer months. I don't even know what LADCO stands for, but that is the name of our little water association and we have yearly meetings and a "ditch day" where everyone meets to clean and prepare our ditches for the water use during the year.
Our President is the neighbor behind us - White. This year the meeting was at his house. It was us (Furry Husband is the Vice President), our favorite neighbors in the whole world Barista and Pansy, 85 yr old George who is married to Laverne (who has had both hips replaced and can no longer attend ditch day), Waverly Forge (the resident farrier married to the horse vet we use), the grumpy neighborhood accountant and the Secretary/Treasurer who is also a guv'ment worker like me.
The meeting went a little like this:
- discussing raising current fees from $25/acre to $30/acre
- current REA electric fees the association is charged to run the well
- buying more irrigation pipe to line the ditches
- deciding the pipe in the ditches is still good and we'll patch any holes we find with corregated black pipe - grumpy accountant has a bunch of the black pipe
- buying a junction and T pipe to assist people using the well so they don't have to go through such wild gyrations to switch the water over into the ditch that runs past their place
- listening to George tell us a Vietnam story involving a gun pointed at someone's chest who had just been hit by a car in the war
- the neighbor who keeps feeding Bart, Waverly Forge's cat
- that same neighbor puts hamburger out in her irrigation ditch for the foxes
- the date everyone can make it to ditch day and a rain date
- grumpy accountant talking about how the current officers of LADCO have it easy and he can remember when they used to have to stand in line to get permits to use the water
- needing to buy oil to keep at the well house so we don't burn the well motor out
- Barista growing pot in the back yard in college and then George who can't hear hardly anything thinking Barista is growing pot in the back yard currently
- charging a fee for those who don't show up to ditch day
- George saying he will show up to ditch day and can haul things around as well as anyone even if he IS 85 and Laverne can't come to ditch day and he better not get fined
- election of new officers
- everyone agreeing that the current officers do a fine job - yes, a fine job
- meeting adjourned
The same people come to the meetings as show up on ditch day. The same neighbors always skirt ditch day and always get fined and never pay.
This year's ditch day is Saturday the 19th with a rain date of the 20th and a follow-up rain date on the 27th. Usually everyone stands around the well looking at it and drinking coffee for the first 30 minutes before anyone begins to actually DO anything.
See y'all there - be sure to bring your check to pay annual dues, wear gloves to clean the ditches/patch pipe, make sure water reaches everyone by doing a test run and jumpin Jesus on a pogo stick, make sure the coffee is nice and hot!
Friday, April 4, 2008
When I went to goat convention last summer, they had a mozzerella cheese workshop. I took it and I attempted making mozzerella 3 times at home. I got ONE to set right... the rest were miserable failures and I couldn't get the curd to stretch like mozzerella should - it fell apart and stayed grainy like a ricotta... and mozzerella took a long time to cook and watch and re-cook... whole thing took maybe 3-4 hrs so that is a LOT of wasted time for a complete failure.
I thought that if I couldn't do mozzerella, how could I possibly do any hard cheeses??? I found a cheese chat group and someone assured me that mozzerella is a hard thing that takes a bit o' magic and to please keep trying with other hard cheeses.
Well I got out my cheese books last night and I am attempting to make a goat milk munster cheese. It seemed pretty easy and not a whole lot of time/attention was needed. A cheese making confidence builder?
I had it at the correct temp - added my rennet - added the salt - cut the curds - drained them for 20 min. - put them in our cheese press - put 40lbs o' pressure on the curds for 12 hrs... Furry Husband called to tell me he sucessfully flipped the cheese this morning and the pressure is back on for another 12 hrs. Tonight I will salt all surfaces, and it will age in our fridge for a week... ?? I hope it works! Keep your fingers crossed!
Next thing that happened last night - now, this is just plain stupid on my part.
It's feeding time for the horses and the young ones are all running around crazy. Brandon is at his feeder happily eating... Rosso finally ran out into his pen and Furry Husband shut the gate. I "assumed" that Brandon knew I was there from all the commotion and I had been talking to my sweet Furry Husband etc.
Brandon is all shaggy from his Cushing's disease and has great big clumps o' hair falling off of him now that spring weather is here... there was one irrisistible clump hanging off his back leg begging me to pull it out... I walked up, not speaking and picked the clump off... Brandon did NOT know it was me. His ears went back and he kicked and kicked HARD. Thank my lucky stars that I was standing to the side and he missed me...when I made a noise of suprise, poor Brandon looked SO incredibly ashamed of himself and SO suprised his target was me and not Rosso. His eyes got really big and then the look on his face - complete shame! Poor Brandon. Even when the horse is old and completely trustworthy... you still need to be aware of your surroundings and let them know you are there!!!! Lesson learned!!! Man - I didn't know he could even fire that fast or hard anymore! Good for him!
Thursday, April 3, 2008
They have Alpines and are kidding with 21 does! Can you IMAGINE??? I can't. I think four does is two too many! Furry Husband and I have so much respect for farms that have that many does and kids. Wow.
Sunday, we loaded four of our kids into a kennel and took off down the highway for a goat kid play date/show and tell/visit.
I learned how to use THE ELASTRATOR! And I banded two of our boys. Oh, man. Ya just feel awful for them. They lay down and groan and the get up and hop around and try to get away from the constriction behind... poor fellas. We both felt pretty awful for causing them the pain they were feeling. However, two days later, they are up and running and jumping and playing just like before. Shew! We were so relieved. I know in my head they will be o.k., and you just can't help but fret over them!
Furry Husband does not think that he can help me with banding the rest of our boys. I think it's a little too close to home for him... s'ok, the divine Ms. K says she'll come over and help me this weekend. Fun times!
Anyway, Harmody Farms invited us to stay for dinner and we gladly accepted. We love talking goats with them and sharing in all the fun, love and laughter their family generates. Everyone is so genuine and friendly and full of warmth. There are eight people in their family including the parents. When Furry Husband made their son's water shoot out his nose from laughing so hard, we knew our mission had been accomplished and we could go home.