Thursday, May 29, 2014

Speck update

Well - I don't know if it's luck or if I've really actually made progress. 

I stopped using the clicker because Dave won't use a clicker and I'm going out of town for 2 weeks in June.  He'll be the goat milker and I need her going into the milk room without the clicker. 

I let her out and if she comes to me she no longer gets her saltine cracker.  I've upped the requirement to get a treat.

She has to go IN the milk room and up on the stanchion to get her saltine. 

There have been a couple times she has decided not to go in the milk room. 

I don't want to re-enforce the running away.  I want her coming to ME vs. me going to HER.  Which means I have to have patience.  I  sit and wait her out.  If I don't have time to do this, I take her collar as she comes out the gate to make sure she won't run and play keep-away.  Consistency.

First time she ran off and I sat to wait her out it took roughly 30 min... with me cussing under my breath because it's super aggravating.  It's like watching her flip you off and you can't do anything about it. 

Dave walked by a couple times in the midst of doing some yard stuff and was like "wow - I wouldn't be able to wait like that..."  Yeah.  It wasn't easy.  I was mad but couldn't act or be mad cuz it would just drive her off even body language would be "mad" and NO ONE...human or animal wants to approach anyone who is mad at them. 

Second time it happened was like 15 min... and now it's just a few minutes at most before she goes in the milk room on her own and up on the stanchion... so if I wait, act like I don't care and I have the saltines ready for immediate reward....

Well, from her perspective, she is outside the goat pen and isn't able to eat the hay I just brought in when all the other goats are chowing down...

She isn't getting grain since she isn't in the milk room on the stanchion...

She isn't getting saltines since she isn't in the milk room on the stanchion...

Her udder is full...

The human isn't chasing so it's not a "game"... 

I guess she figures the shennanigans of running all about playing keep away aren't worth it.  There is no pay off.

shrug.  Not sure what she'll do with Dave when I am gone.  I'll make sure to tell him he may want to take her by the collar on the way out of the gate since I know he won't have the patience to wait on her and I hope what I've done with her won't be undone....

However, she is milked 2x a day so whatever is undone can be redone when I get home!  I get the opportunity to "train" her twice a day.

I've also been thinking about the differences in how Speck was raised vs. Daisy...

Why does Daisy so readily go into the milk room when she is out and wandering around and when she sees I am ready to milk, she happily trots in and jumps up?  I never have to chase her.  I call her and she comes, ready for milking. 

It could be a personality difference... I don't know.

I really don't remember specifics in baby goat raising as we do everything pretty much the same.  I can't help but wonder if we let Daisy out and about more vs. keeping her in the pen?  Baby goats are so curious and when loose, they really just follow you all around.  Sort of like you are the "mama" goat out foraging and if you were wandering to new pastures or whatever... they keep you in sight... they will run off and play if you are stuck in one spot (me pulling weeds vs. a goat that would be browsing on food) and they always come back to check in.  If you begin to walk away, they come running and stick with you until you are in the next stationary spot.  Much like I imagine it would be in the "wild".

If they wander some place and they can't see you, they begin to call in a "panicky" tone and if you  talk to them and make noise they come ZOOMING in like "oh!  thank-goodness....THERE you are"

Yeah, yeah - I'm anthropomorphising all over myself but shrug.  I'm not a researcher and I DO think animals think and feel... not like we do ... and tho they certainly communicate with each other and they find ways to convey things to us hoo-mans. 

Anyway, we've been letting the two doe kids out and about with us more when we are in the yard for any length of time weeding/mowing etc.  I wonder if it will shape them to come to us more readily when they are milkers... it's my very non-formal experiment.  Besides, it's fun having a couple baby goats following you around and zooming around, kicking up their heels, bouncing and springing like little "Tiggers" all over the place....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It was a bust!

I sold five 3oz lotions in four hours.  Whomp whaaaa....  

And man I was so "up" and stressed out Thursday and Friday leading up to the market.  Everything came together rather quickly for me to even be in the market and I sort of hate that because you just know when you are crunched for time, things are bound to go wrong. 

We made lotion Thursday night... the batch didn't turn out quite right and I didn't know what happened... if I made a measuring error or what... it was late, we were tired... I didn't have enough supplies to make more.  I Googled to see if there were any soap/lotion supply places in Denver... surely Denver is big enough to have someone..right?

Turns out I did find a place - Mile Hi Soap.  You could place an order and pick it up the next day - so I placed an order for more supplies with the intention of picking it up Friday.  Friday rolls around and I get a call from Mile Hi Soap that they are out of stearic acid... which is needed for lotion.  It gives lotion it's "fluff" vs. being flat like water or oil. 

I called around to Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods... nope.  No stearic acid.  I call Mile Hi Soap and tell them my fortune would have it, another soap/lotion maker was in the store and said she would sell me 2lbs of her supply. 

I headed to Denver. 

PARKING LOT.  I-25 was a complete parking lot.  What should have taken me 2.5 hrs round trip took 5 hours... I was near tears with frustration on my way home as I didn't get back until after 7pm... I hadn't eaten... was starving... had to pee like a race-horse and we still had so much lotion to make for the market the very next day....

We were up until midnight... back up at 5AM.... set up and ready to go in the market by 7:45AM....

And I sold 5 small bottles. 

Oh.  *head hangs in disappointment* 

Silver lining is that I have enough lotion to last the rest of the year!  No more late nights, I won't need to re-order supplies for a LONG time... I need more bottles but there is no rush for I'm good to go.

And when I picked up my things at Mile Hi, I talked to the owner and chatted him up about natural preservatives.  Going all natural would decrease my shelf life lotions would grow mold 6-8 mos. in.  No bueno my friends, no bueno.  As it is, my lotions last for up to 3 years...not that one should keep lotion around that long...but I have peace of mind knowing if it sits on a shelf, it's not going to grow any nasties and cause people odd problems... 

Once again I wonder what the "market" is for my lotion.  People like it a ton...but I just can't quite seem to find it's niche.  And like I've said before, we have day jobs so I'm not completely invested in putting a huge chunk of time finding that niche.  I try something.. sit back and evaluate... and part of me thinks - just give it up... make it for yourself and your friends and just be done with it.  I have so many other things going on with my job, horses, dogs, goats and family. 

I'm signed up for once a month through October... so maybe things will pick up but I don't see things picking up so much I'd sell out... in the meantime, it's fun people watching and chatting and working on my "sales pitch".  grin. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Farmer's Market for StarsHollow goat milk lotion....

The whole reason I started this blog was to provide a more "personable" presence for the StarsHollow goat milk lotion.  I read from the Brambleberry site that having an online presence made you more real to your customers and gave them a glimpse into your world and created more customer loyalty.

So I started a blog....

And the lotion... well... let's face it.  We both have day jobs and we just aren't hungry enough to pursue the lotion as much as one *should* pursue a business.  I mean for a business to really grow, you have to treat it like a newborn baby... lots and lots of attention and nurturing and coddling and feeding.

And we also weren't sure how much we wanted it to grow.  It is a fun, creative outlet and we wanted to keep it that way vs. becoming big and overwhelming and something we dreaded.  We wanted it to grow...but not too much. 

I went to some craft fairs at first and did fine.  We actually met with the Whole Foods skin care rep at the Ft. Collins store and they liked it and wanted us to work with them IF we changed some things about the lotion to make it 100% all natural and I didn't want to do that. 

I don't mind a bit of chemistry in my water-based, room temperature, perfect medium for bacterial growth product.  I see 1% of a preservative as the lesser evil over some weird strain of virulent bacterial growth. 

And that is completely fine if someone disagrees because they don't have to use or buy my lotion.  I know there are plenty of all natural products that are completely fabulous.  I just don't trust mine to be that natural.  We can happily agree to disagree and shake hands and go on our merry way.

Plus we would have needed to buy a bar code and while do-able... it was more expense to the tune of a couple hundred dollars and we were already pretty tight with the costs to make the lotion and keep it at a reasonable price for retail purchases with a bit of profit included.  Every thing you add costs money and we aren't including our time much at all because start-ups are all about getting out there and making some sacrifices in order to get into the market and begin to get seen.

And they needed you to commit to hand-selling your product and we heard from another vendor selling to Whole Foods, that you had to give them x amt of product for free as placement initiative.  Whether that is true or not I don't know but the cards began to stack up against that idea given we didn't want to put a ton of effort in.

We pitched it to Esscentials.  A locally owned store here in the Old Town, Ft. Collins area and they carry it on their shelves.  Really cool shop with a wide variety of soaps, lotions, jewelry, bath items, cards etc.  We went to a few other stores but they just didn't have the "look" or "feel" we liked.  Some were too all natural - complete with instructions and recipes for eating your placenta after you gave birth, to strange arrays of discounted odds and ends that just seemed to make no sense.  It looked more like a yard sale than a cute boutique people would want to shop in.

And I guess I'm a big chicken.  I felt weird about knocking on doors and peddling my wares.  And so it came to a stand still again.

A few years ago we looked into farmers markets and at that time it seemed the rules were that you HAD to commit to every single weekend.  And I just wasn't sure I could make that commitment or that I even wanted to.

I ran into my massage therapist and her husband at a small party in March.  Her husband owns Green Dog Farm CSA and was talking about being in the farmers market.  I began asking him thing led to another and I asked if I could partner with him at the market and if I could come once a month.  I gave them samples of my lotions so they knew what product they would be supporting and they love it.  I filled out the vendor paperwork, paid my $55 vendor fee and will be selling for the first time in an official farmer's market. 

I'm nervous - I have no idea how it will be received or if I will sell very much.  However, you don't know if you don't try. 

I Googled merchandising and display options for farmers markets and have some ideas.  I'm sure, as with anything, there will be some adjusting depending on how things go.  It will be a learning experience and should be pretty interesting...   I'll post pix. 

Wish me luck!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Progress with Speck the goat....

OK - I keep forgetting to bring the iPad out with me for milking time.  No video for you.  Sad face. 

I had been a little sporadic in trying anything with Speck because of the failures I had incurred and I was thinking (ruminating - ha ha!) about how to move forward...

I can approach her in the pen, she follows me in the pen, I can take her collar in the pen... it's just ALL that changes once she is OUT of the pen.  So I feel it's not doing me any good to keep practicing in the pen.  Tho' now when I take her collar I do take a second to scritchy scratch her neck so there is some "pleasure" associated with me reaching for her collar/neck.... and I am not clicking or treating... just giving her some extra scratching. 

I let her out of the pen the other day and had my clicker and some saltines.  She ran just past the milk room... looked at the door way ... looked at me.  I held out a saltine.  She actually came to me.  That was a complete suprise!  Click and saltine. 

I took her collar just a wee bit to guide her to the door, in she went all on her own... click and saltines and me making happy praising sounds.  (Which I'm not sure if goats are motivated to please humans exactly and if she cares about any happy sounds I make but it can't hurt.)

Last night, I let her out of the pen and she went IN the milk room without going past the door and very little hesitation.... click and saltines.... I didn't have to guide her to take her collar at all. 

I don't know if this is just coinkydink or what.  I'm taking it however...

And the second I decide to iPad it, she will go running amok and act like she doesn't know a thing about the milk room ... ani-mules are so good at making liars of us all! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Maybe you've heard of it?  Before Dave left for France, he was in "spring training" for wine tasting and drinking.  We had A LOT of wine before he left.  And more decadent foods... when I drink I lose inhibitions and I want to eat sweet things... MMMMMM. 

And while there is nothing at all wrong with drinking or eating sweet things... it was a lot more than I was used to.  And while Dave was in France he had a pretty decadent diet of delicious foods and wines.

We decided to "reset" things when he got back home to get us back on track.  We decided to do the Whole30 challenge.  Basically for 30 days you eat protiens (fish, chicken, beef, pork etc), veggies and in moderation fruits, nuts and seeds.

No dairy, no al-key-hol, no fried things (some olive and coconut oils for general cooking are fine), no processed foods, no sugar other than what comes naturally in a fruit...but no honey or agave or legumes, no grains, no white potatoes (this more in line with breaking habits of fries and chips) and no "paleo-fied" desserts.  You know - those cookies and donuts and cupcakes and pies made with gluten free whatever.  They are still DESSERTS. 

It isn't *that* hard for us as it's how we try to eat most of the time.  I will say I missed a glass of wine Friday night after a work-week.  I've missed having a piece of gum after my lunch to freshen my breath.... I have had some chocolate cravings at night.... but I'm really doing A-OK. 

I find if I fill up on veggies, even if I am craving something, I have a much easier time of saying "no thank-you" because I'm nice and full.  I know I only have 20 days left and I can eat whatever it is I want then if I still want it. 

No food is "bad"... (I say that but I guess I do think fake man made food isn't "good" - I still like to eat the candy even when I know it's chemicals and not good for me....)

Think it really comes down to how much you consume of it.  While in Italy, we had gelato every. single. day.  Sometimes twice in a day.  One time 10x in a day because there was a gelato festival.   I didn't care and I didn't see any significant changes for the worse in myself.  Went back to eating "normally" when we got home and all is and was well.  No biggie.  Vacations can include vacations from normal eating habits too...

However, we both felt things were slipping a little too often in our eating habits before the France trip and we just wanted to get back on track.  Whole30 is sort of an interesting challenge to take.  Lets you see how often you take those little deviations... a handful of x here or a little bite of y there.... not a bad thing either way, just interesting to take note of.

Because of this challenge we've been looking at new recipes to try.... it's been fun and we have been fully satiated with our meals.  And boy do I appreciate the sweetness in fruit without any access to JellyBellies or Orange Slice candies.... wondering if I could make fruit more of my "treat/dessert" process vs. chemical/fake candy more often?  I'm going to try it when we are done with the challenge for sure.  See if it satisfies my sweet tooth...?

Like I said, we are on day 10 - only 20 more days and so far, not too bad.  Some little conveniences and habits missed but overall, finding I feel happier - and I don't know if this is attributed to less chemicals in my body which I TOTALLY attribute many feelings of odd sadness or depressive episodes in myself... or if it's a mental thing that I'm eating really well with lots of veggies and it's a mental thing of "it's good for me" and that makes me feel good that I'm eating well for myself.... prolly a bit of both.  And both Dave and I have been sleeping HARD lately.  It's felt super refreshing... that could be anything I suppose and I can't make any claims that it is Whole30 related... but it makes one wonder.  :)

What have I been eating?  Breakfast is a piece of fruit and hard boiled eggs....or scrambled eggs with avocado and salsa on the weekends.... lunch is left overs from dinner ... and dinners have been venison stew with tons o' veggies .... roasted chicken with veggies .... taco salad with beef, avocado, grape tomatoes and salsa for dressing.... chicken broth based soup with chicken, sweet potatoes, green chilies, onion, carrot, celery, bacon, salsa.... citrus grilled pork-chops on a bed of broccoli.... spaghetti squash with marinara/sausage/mushroom sauce.... grilled brats with mashed rutabagas....

Up next is a new recipe for ginger scallops with grilled peaches.... there are ALL kinds of delicious flavor combos out there.

So yeah - we haven't been hurting for delicious flavor in our food or for things to eat... that's for sure! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Big Hurt and being a complete mule.

Ok - so Dave was going to France and there was this big project I wanted to complete as sort of a surprise to him.  Even tho' he knew I was going to do it. 

We are on 5 acres and it is hot and dry where we are... often with lots of wind... very hard, red clay soils... plants just don't really flourish.  Especially with MY watering habits.  I try to remember but we don't have a sprinkler system and it usually involves me running around with a bunch of hoses and it's a huge pain in 'da butt.

I got a bid this spring from a sprinkler guy.

*cough*  $8K *cough* to make it so I could lord over my yard and water it ALLLLLL with a simple wave of my hand...

Yeah.  Well.  I don't gots 8K to spend on watering. 

While the guy was at our place, he said, "Why don't you put in a raised border here, put a drip hose and cover it with mulch?  That is simple, you could do that"

And after getting his quote I was like F* it.  MULCH EVERYTHING!  MULCH IS THE ANSWER!

I showed Dave the area I wanted to mulch... he looked at me dubiously.  "Are you sure you want to do that much?  Why don't you start small and go from there?  You can make it bigger in increments."

I thought about that for all of .00001 seconds. 

I am so much more of a whole hog kinda gal.  I jump both feet in.  I fling myself into things without looking back.

And so I called Hagemann's Landscape to have a hydraulic lift truck deliver a load of mulch the first Thursday Dave was gone. They delivered it... the area I had them dump it was really really dumb in hind sight (that hindsight...always 20/20!).  It was right in the middle of the open gate from the yard, out to the front pasture. 

I thought it wasn't that big of a deal at the time because I'd have it all moved and spread into the area I wanted in no time.  And then the wind came..... 60mph winds....  sustained.... Saturday late afternoon and it continues for 5 or 6 days straight.  I tried scooping it and putting it in our Rubbermaid cart for about 2 hours when it began... and then it became comical... like completely insane that I was out there moving or trying to move mulch in the high winds.

It was like Caddyshack with the Bishop in the thunderstorm playing golf....

When I finally gave up and moved inside... my face was black with mulch.  I had effectively mulched my face.  I wouldn't recommend it as an exfoliating treatment. No.  No.  Not at all.  Of course no one was home to tell me my face was black with mulch.  Dogs and cats don't tell or care.  I cleaned house, did laundry, changed sheets on the bed and then when it was time to get ready for bed a couple hours later, I saw my face in the bathroom.... Mulchface.

And thus the gate to the front pasture remained open.  And the dogs ran amok in the front pasture.  Which I thought was ok, until Toe chased a rabbit and squeaked out the fence... into the driveway and down the dirt road.  The dirt road people drive 55mph on... and he's small....easy to miss....easy to squish with a car....

I didn't know he'd gone until all of a sudden...he was just.... gone.  My heart sank and I began looking all over for him on our place... nowhere.  I started thinking horrific thoughts.  My heart was in my knees and they were quaking....  I was so scared he was gone.

And then I heard barking.  And I think it was his bark... I went running down the road and 3 houses down was Toe... head in a rabbit hole furiously digging and imperiously barking at the bunny in the hole. 

Oh I about sat in the middle of the road in relief... I called him over and he came.  I was so happy to see the little fella.

We went home.  And the stress hit about the gate.  That he could get out into the front pasture any time I let the dogs out to pee... stress.  Stress upon stress.  And then something happened to my ribs on the left side...they totally spasmed up so much I could barely breathe much less move very fast... I think it was from my mulch shovelling a few days prior along with other things I did that day and in following days.  I was trying to do it all.  And I paid.

I told Dave about it when he called me from France one afternoon. 

I got home that night and began chores.  Carefully due to the pain in my ribs.   I made my way back to the hay shed. 

The mulch.

It was all inside the gate. 

The gate was closed.

No more dogs running amok in the front pasture! 

I looked up and thought..."Angels."  I immediately felt 300% better.  Stress melted away..

Dave had called a neighbor with a tractor after talking to me and asked them to move the mulch pile.  Such a simple thing and it meant the WORLD to me.

And yes.  I am one stubborn freakin' mule. 

And I'm glad my husband know this and can still take care of me even when he is half-way around the world......  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Trips to France and Old does named Spot

Dave - ok Furry Husband is..... Dave.  grin.  I called him that on the blog cuz I was trying to protect his identity for whatever reason and he IS furry.  His friends used to tease me that I only married him cuz he reminded me of another animal because I am the big animal dork and get geeked easily by all things animal.  And thinking about it... yes.  Maybe that is true.  Maybe that IS part of his charm to me.  His furry-ness. 

Anyway, Dave was in France for two weeks on a wine trip with his distributor.  And yes... it was "work" and spouses don't go.  I was on my own at home and really it was ok because I love our little house and I love the life we created.  It was a bit lonely without him there and taking care of our place is much more fun with him around. 

To make sure I didn't have any "I'm so JEALOUS" feelings, I took some additional time off from work to help me not feel too overwhelmed with stuff around our place and I planned some fun things for myself here and there.

A trip to Denver to have lunch with a girlfriend I don't see much.  A massage.  A pedicure.  I splurged and spend $40 on some used CDs and grapefruit spoons. Yup.  Grapefruit spoons.  I bought a cute orange spaghetti straps, above the knees consignment dress for $17.  Yow!

I know, I know LIVING LARGE huh Shanster?!  Seriously?  Grapefruit spoons?!   However, it is about the small things and taking care of ourselves however that is.

I do have a funny story to share about my big project I decided I would do while he was gone... as if there isn't enough to do when you are on your own and working and taking care of the animals and house on your own....

However, I started blogging again cuz I was gonna be all goat whisperer on y'all. 

How's that working for you Shanster?


After my two epic fails (see last post), Dave left and I got so busy that I didn't click or treat my little goatie oat. 

Tho' twice, she came out of the pen and scurried right into the milk room with barely a touch on her collar.  So I tempted fate last night.  Let her out...with no touch on her collar and whoops... off she ran. 

I got the saltine crackers out, I clicked and treated for any movement toward me... any time I reached for her collar tho, she was outta there.  So I fed the old doe, Spot, the saltines and ruminated on things about goat whispering.  Ruminate - get it?  They have rumens!  oh... I'm so funny. 

One by one I fed old Spot crackers... crunch, crunch, crunch went the old goat... smack, smack, smack went her lips.

"HEY...what is she getting???!!!"  said the keep away doe... and she came trotting over to see... click - saltine... click - saltine.... I took her collar... and we walked in the milk room.

Thanks for the assist Spot!

Anyway - decided I will click and treat for me moving to take her collar... take it back to the most elemental thing I can think of.  Cuz right now... if I could just take her collar when she is loose, THAT would be super helpful.  Silly goat.

And Silly Hoo-man for attempting to goat whisper.

Eh - blame it on NPR.  THEY are the ones who had the story about researchers and smart goats.... givin' me all kinds of high and mighty goat whisperin' ideas.   Hmph! 

Happy Monday and enjoy your Cinco de Mayo!  Margaritas for all!