Jul 30, 2010

I'm not good at blogging

It's not that I'm not good at writing blogs; I flatter myself that I have a gift for gab. When I sit down to write a blog post, a decent blog post gets written. The problem is actually sitting down and writing the blog. This is clearly evident by the random frequency of posts. I'll swear on a stack that I'm going to post every week, maybe twice a week, and I'll be lucky if I manage to do it once a month.

In an effort to ensure that our customers, fans, and friends don't miss any of the goings-on on the farm, we are proud to announce our monthly "Goat Notes" newsletter, powered by MailChimp. Each month, the newsletter will include the latest news from the farm, things to look for in the upcoming month, such as seasonal fragrances, our farmers market/craft show schedule, exclusive deals for readers, and maybe a funny picture or two.

You can sign up for the newsletter using the form below or the E-mail Signup tab on our Facebook page. You have my sworn statement that your e-mail address will never pass into other hands. (Death to spammers!)

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Jun 8, 2010

A Day in the Life:

"Well, a simple kind of life never did me no harm/
Raisin' me a family and working on the farm/
Days are all filled with an easy, pleasant charm/
Thank God I'm a country boy."

Have you ever wondered what life is like on a working farm? Well, now is your chance to find out. Wild Heaven Farm is please to announce our latest program, allowing our customers to see what it's like behind the curtain. Our "Day in the Life" program is your opportunity to see what really goes on at Chesterfield's premier dairy goat farm and soap making operation.

The farm has been open for field trips for a number of years now, but this program will be different. Instead of a large group, it will be one-on-one (or a small group of up to four people). It will be more like an apprenticeship than a regular visit to the farm.

These little farm apprenticeships will be scheduled in 3 to 4 hour blocks, either morning or early evening, to coincide with milking time. For morning apprentices, you will start by learning how to hand milk our lovely dairy goats. Then it's inside for soap making. We'll take you through the process from start to finish, soup to nuts, measuring, mixing, pouring, trimming and wrapping. evening apprentices will do the same thing, but in reverse.

And the best part? This program is completely free of charge. While a number of working farms have created programs where locals and folks on vacation actually pay the farmer to work on the farm, we think that's a racket. We love to share our farm and all of its workings, and of course we're very grateful for the help.

We expect space to fill up quickly, so don't hesitate to call us at 804-275-4361 or e-mail us at wildheavenfarm@yahoo.com to schedule your visit. This program is open to adults and children ages seven and up.

(above lyrics by John Denver)

Mar 18, 2010

This Weekend: Church Hill Irish Festival

From the website of one of my favorite events:

Join us for the 25th Annual Church Hill Irish Festival on March 20th and 21std in historic Church Hill. The festival will begin Saturday at 10:00 a.m with a walking parade to include traditional Irish music and dancing. The celebration will continue with a street festival in front of St. Patrick's Church on North 25th Street between Broad and Franklin Streets and will run from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday and 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday.

Traditional Irish musicians, bagpipers and dancers will perform throughout the weekend. This year's lineup includes Uisce Beatha; the Janet Martin Band; Andy, Cindy and Then Some; Page Wilson; Gary Gerloff; Tinkers Damn; Bart Chucker Band; Susan Greenbaum and many other local favorites. We will also have a Bluegrass Stage (see our Saturday and Sunday schedules for more info.)

In addition to great entertainment, there will be plenty of family fun, including children's games, face painting and Irish-themed crafts. Over thirty Irish vendors will be in attendance! Food and refreshments will also be available. Enjoy wonderful "Irish Lasagna" prepared by the Ladies of St. Patrick's, "Fish and Chips" and other favorites provided by Rare Olde Times Irish Pub, and many more.

A huge children's play area will be sponsored by the great folks from "Connor's Heroes", an organization that assists families and children who are fighting childhood cancer.

Proceeds benefit the St. Baldrick's Society and their fight against childhood cancer, the Church Hill Association, the Church Hill Crime Watch, Richmond Hill, Child Saver's Clinic of Richmond, St. John'n Church, the St. Peter's Meals Program, Stone's Circle of Friends and many other neighborhood causes. Proceeds also benefit the historic preservation of St. Patrick's Church, a "little church with a big heart" built in the 1850's by Irish Immigrants to Richmond, and its outreach programs.

A $2.00 donation will be collected at the gate. Sponsored in part by Guinness & Harp Beer and our friends at Loveland Distributing.

We kindly ask that you leave all pets at home. For more information, please call 804-356-1093.

Vendors don't get their booth assignments until we show up Friday evening to set up, but I should be near the firehouse end, where I've been in previous year.

See you there!

Mar 16, 2010

A goat by any other name OR The unbearable cuteness of being

Animals lover will bear me out on this. It comes to pass at times that you have a name all picked out for a new animal and you really dig it, but it doesn't fit or it quickly looses its luster. That's happened here with our newest buckling, the cutest baby goat in the history of ever. His original moniker, Penn, kept up with our numeric naming theme, but just didn't suit him.

His new name is Boy. Right now, we're calling him Baby Boy, because he is the sweetest little cuddle-wumpkin we've ever had. Look at his little pink nose, a first around here. He's also the only goat we've ever seen with an interrupted black dorsal stripe. He looks like he walked under a spilt can of paint.

As he grows, I imagine we'll cut it back to just Boy. But if he grows up anything like his dad (below), he'll go back to being Baby Boy for a good old ironic nickname, like Slim or Tiny.
Stagelight Painted Dreamscape, Boy's sire, looks like a cross between our first buck Belle-Rive Rainbow Warrior (we called him "Chief") and a Brahma bull.

Mar 12, 2010

Deja vu, goat-style; or How I spent my birthday

Another year has come around, as they will do every 365 days or so. Yesterday happened to be my 31st birthday. Great thanks to all the people who wished me well on Facebook. It's marvelous, this social networking. I feel ever so popular. :D

We experienced a strange coincidence. For a second year, our new Nubian buck was delivered on my birthday, and this one is quite possibly the cutest goat in the history of ever. His name is Penn, as he's our fifth buck.

For those who remember Ford from last year, he's still with us, but in a stroke of bad luck of such astronomical odds that could only befall our family, Ford has no apparent...how to say this when sensitive types might be reading...there are no eggs in his basket, no coins in his change purse. I mean to say, he doesn't have any apparent testicles, which is a real problem for a stud. It's sort of his only job requirement. He's on his last chance with Prieka, a vial of whose blood I'll be sending off for a pregnancy test next week. (No, I don't think I can use the ones from the drugstore, not that I haven't thunk of it.)

After much very important video game playing, Carcassonne with hubby Kevin and Tetris Party with best friend Alan in England, it was off to lunch with my Mom, her household and my older sister, Hope. If you haven't been to Dragon King Buffet in the Chesterfield Meadows shopping center, run, don't walk. The restaurant is gorgeously appointed, with a hand-painted mural along an entire wall and a giant fountain above an indoor koi pond. Sorry I don't have any pictures; I didn't want to be 'that guy.' In addition to two steam tables of typical Chinese buffet fare, you also get sushi, Mongolian bar-b-que, and desserts including real ice cream. All that for less than a sawbuck.

Milk the goats real quick and it's off to Penny Lane Pub. If you like a nice nosh, a dark beer and trivial trivia, head upstairs on Wednesdays, but get there early. We...did not. It was packed in there, whatever state of crowdedness comes between 'standing room only' and 'tragic second flood collapse.' The fellow tending bar, who had the air of a manager, told me his name and the names of everyone working upstairs, which I of course promptly forgot. But it was nice, it made me feel like a person of very importance. He even poured me a free shot called a Limerick Kiss

Never pass up the chance to eat at Penny Lane. Two friend scarfed down cottage pies with gusto. I had the Beckham and Owen, a sausage roll and meat pie with mashed potatoes and veggies and a healthy ladle brown gravy. The trivia turned out to be Irish-themed, as they're not doing trivia next week to make more time for hard-core drinking.

We had the best time, especially when the quiz emcee put on Denis Leary's "A$$hole Song" when the game was over and our whole table was singing along like happy fools. I feel sorry for everyone that wasn't.

Before we went to Penny Lane, everyone we invited went to their website and made good use of the Parking Tips page. Why does every business in Richmond proper not have one of these?!

Feb 26, 2010

Calling All Artists, or More than You Ever Wanted to Know On the Subject of Soap Molds

Can you carve? Do you sculpt? Are you a fair hand with clay? Wild Heaven Farm is looking for a sculptor to carve the plug/positive for our new soap molds and it pays in goat milk soap and skin care products.

Soap molds look like large chocolate molds, making between two and five bars per sheet. If you're making a few batches a year for your own use or for gifts, they work perfectly well. If you need to make more than your own body weight in soap each week to stay in business, ladeling molten soap into each individual mold is time consuming. The molds we have now are nice enough. In fact, our shaped bars are part of our claim to fame. But we need new molds. Why? Because I'm hard on them. Like most of my equipment and my beleaguered van, I demand a lot from them. Since I can't wait for soap to decide to come out of the mold on its own, I pop them in the freezer for a bit. Add the pressure I put on each cavity to un-mold the soaps and times the number of days I make soap in a year and you've got a lot of structural fatigue.

Rather than give up and do flat slab bars like a lot of savoniers (and far be it for me to impugn the nature of your trade or profession), we prefer shapes. So if we're going to be making our own molds, why not use our own shape.

Isn't it cute? :)

The plan was conceived for large, tray-style custom molds.
Not only would these molds lend themselves to better "branding", they will last longer than the plastic ones and allow me to make more soap per batch, meaning more soap per hour of my surprisingly limited day.

Having a custom mold made by a company that trades in such things really runs into money. To make it cost effective, you have to be willing and able to purchase several dozen. That means an outlay of about a thousand dollars, for starters. Ouch. No es bueno. So we're going to make our own silicone molds. I've worked with silicone before; it's fun and pretty easy. Mix blue bottle of goop A with magenta bottle of goop B, stir until your arm is burning, and pour around the "plug", the item you want your mold to duplicate.

But there's the rub - no plug. While I can milk a goat like it's nobody's business, I was not blessed with anything remotely resembling artistic skills. That's where you come in.
The plan is to make silicone or rubber molds with a simplified version of our logo (above). We need a local artist or artistic-type person to make us a clay (or whatever medium) representation of this image. The job pays in soaps and skin care products. Nothing like a good ol' fashioned barter.

If you're interested, drop us a line at wildheavenfarm@yahoo.com with the dollar value of product you'd like in exchange if your "plug" is chosen and the amount of product you think is fair if you make one but its not used.

If you're, like me, not an artist, but you know one, please, please, please pass this on or direct them to our Facebook page.

Bye-bye and buy bars.

Feb 25, 2010

The Month that Was: February; plus contest winner!

February simply flew by, one day here and the next gone. Here we are on March 1st, the first day of meteorological spring, looking back on the month that was.

All of my attention was taken up by that baby goats, who at their peak required as many as 34 individual bottles a day. We had a total of ten baby goats born here on the farm, half girls and half boys.

Their names were Nell, Vic, Dolly, Benny, Lori, Hyde, Cotton, Cody, Poppy, and Dex. In honor of this crop of cute kids, we held a contest to guess the theme we used to name the baby goats this year.

And the winner is...(imagine a spirited drumroll right about here)... Blair Neher of Chester. He guessed "prescription drugs" which is certainly close enough to "schedule II narcotics," the actual theme. (While this may seem an odd way to name animals, bear in mind that my husband's had four spinal surgeries over the last ten years, so it's an everyday things for us.) Blair will receive a gift basket, shipped free, containing products of his choice from our complete line.

We also have an honorable mention, who receives a coupon code good for $5 off their next order, Susan Watson for "[a]ccording to the Midwest Historical and [Genealogical] Society, they are the names of people who died in 1995," based solely on the face that I love research and she really worked on it.

Other entries included movie titles, names of soaps, rabbits, references to the movie Avatar (which I didn't see, cuz it stole the name from my favorite cartoon-cum-movie), Robert Louis Stevenson characters, boats, mobsters, Tiger Woods' mistresses, most popular names of a certain decade, and "possibly the names of characters in a book I "read" back in school."

Thanks to everyone who entered. Hopefully, we can do another contest very soon. In the meantime, keep your eyes on our Twitter and/or Facebook page for news of our upcoming referral program, which will reward all of our customers who are kind enough to recommend our products to others.

Feb 21, 2010

Goat Names and Gift Baskets

Another whirlwind kidding season has come and gone. What a month it was. There were days I had to give as many as 34 bottles.* Having three different groups of babies on three different feeding schedules really ties up your day, I'll tell you that for nothing. Now that all of the babies have gone on to their new homes to be pets or future milkers or studs, I can take a breath and dive headlong into soap-making, which I've been dying to start.

All told, we have ten kids, split evenly between bucks and does (that's plural "doe"), which is not bad considering our third year, we only got one girl out of eleven kids. From left to right, their names are Nell, Vic, Dolly, Benny, Lori, Hyde, Poppy, Cody, Cotton and Dex.

Every year, we have a theme when naming the babies. In the past, we've used everything from herbs & spice, to cars, to deadly poisons. This year's theme was ... well, I'm not gonna tell you. :D Wild Heaven Farm is pleased to announce our latest contest "Goat Names and Gift Baskets." If you are the first person to guess the naming theme for 2010, you will receive a gift basket of soaps and skin care products worth at least $20, shipped to you at no charge. Three honorable mentions (close guesses or most creative) will receive a free bar of soap with their next purchase.

To enter, email your guess(es) to wildheavenfarm@yahoo.com or leave them on our Facebook page. It's just that easy! The winner will be announced March 1. Enter as many times as you like, but try to put multiple guess on each email/post just to keep things from getting cluttered. Family members, close friends, and anybody I've already told is not eligible to enter.

*Why do we bottle-feed at all?, you might ask. Taking the kids off their mothers and bottle-feeding allows us to make sure that each and every kids gets all the milk they need, as well as prevents them from getting sick if a doe has mastitis, which is almost a given. Handling the goats so often also makes them very personable and friendly We benefit from the arrangement by being able to re-home the kids sooner, since we need the milk for soap but you can't have milk without babies.

Feb 1, 2010

The month that was: January

What a great start to 2010! Normally, winter is a dreary, dragging-on down-time, but we've been busier here at Wild Heaven Farm than any winter since we started our goat milk soap business. It's been a month of planning and preparation, as well as the launches of some new programs.

Here's the month in review:

"I gave blood; give me soap!" On 1/ , we posted our first-ever downloadable coupon. It's good all year, can be used up to six times and entitles you to a free bar of soap with purchase. The catch? It's only valid when you complete it with a heart-shaped "Be nice to me/I gave blood today" sticker from Virginia Blood Services. Give a pint of blood, lose 450 calories, save three lives, get cookies and Donald Duck orange juice, and get yourself a coupon for a free bar of soap. That's a win times four!

Virginia's only soap CSA That's no exaggeration. We offer the only soap CSA for 500 miles and the only soap CSA in the country that also offers lotion, lip balm, shaving products, baby products and more. If that's not something to shout about, I don't know what is. "But, goat lady, what *is* a CSA?" The answers to all of your questions lie within. If you purchase from us in-person regularly, a CSA share will save you money.

Live Nude Goats! (I can't help it, that's still makes me smile.) Ever wonder what a newborn baby goat looks and acts like? Have you ever seen a full-grown mixed-breed dog clean and nurture newborn triplets? Tune into our live webcam to watch baby goat kids as young as five minutes old in their pen. Even sound asleep, they're disarmingly cute.

Taped before a live studio audience Baby goat cam not broadcasting? No problem. Head over to our new YouTube channel for more adorable footage of the kids.

Looking ahead, February brings more cool news.

Speaking of webcam... How would you like free product or free shipping just for reposting/retweeting a message that the baby goat cam is on?

"You've got to try this soap." We have always been very grateful to customers who pass our products on to their friends and family. Starting February '10, your kindness will be rewarded when we launch our (yet to be named) referral bonus program.

"...and this is my job." So I didn't get on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, I 'm not bitter (much). Follow our Youtube channel to see the raw footage we'd taped to send in to Discovery Channel. (The goat lady who did get on just sent him a bar of soap. Why didn't I think of that!?)

To hear about these and other exciting new programs and events as they happen, follow us on Twitter or become our fan on Facebook.

Jan 29, 2010

Live Nude Goats!

Okay, it was a cheap gag, I admit, but who am I to resist a cheap gag? :)

Coming to you live from the living room at Wild Heaven Farm, live baby goats! Tune in here to watch the knobby-legged little sweeties as they romp together in their pen. While odds are good that the kids will be sleeping when you tune in (they're babies; they do a lot of that), the cuteness of them learning to stand and walk - like Bambi on the frozen pond - more than makes up for it.

We'll be broadcasting every day that we have enough baby goats, so you can probably surmise that it's not a set schedule. For the most up-to-the-minute announcements, be sure to follow us on Twitter or become a fan of our Facebook page.

Feel free to leave comments on any of the pages. We love to hear from you.

Jan 21, 2010

You got here how?

Periodically, it's good to check out the stats for your website - see how many hits you're getting, where they're coming from, even what browsers was used (to the 12.7% of people still using Internet Explorer 6, that came out in 2001, it's time to upgrade).

The most interesting field is easily the search terms that lead people to our site. Here are some noteworthy examples from a recent check:

wholesale baby butt care products
hand raising baby goats
lavender solid lotion 2.50
wild heaven farm basavanagudi (ok, that's in southern India)
where to buy beautiful bars of soap for wholesale (yay, me!)
lips vago purchasing shops
where to buy groundhogs (...k)
дойки (it means "milking" in Russian, apparently)
ирисы бородатые ("irises are bearded," we have a winner!)

Well, we don't mind how you got here, we're just glad you came.

Jan 16, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a soap CSA

The best part of my job, far and away, is interacting with my customers. From inviting a passer-by to "Come on up and have to sniff" to greeting regular customers, helping people find the products they're looking for, even if they're not completely sure what they want, is what sustains me in my business. I have been extremely fortunate, you might even say privileged, to have developed such a loyal following here in the Richmond area as well as in Tidewater.

Today marks the official launch of the 2010 purchase period for Wild Heaven Farm's Soap CSA. What is a CSA, anyway? So glad you asked. That answer and more await you in our Frequently Asked Questions. Community-Supported is also known as "subscription farming." You buy a subscription from a local farmer just like you buy a subscription to Time or Newsweek, but instead of receiving a magazine each week, you receive a "share" of fresh, locally grown or raised fruit, vegetables, eggs, honey, and in our case, soap.

What's in it for you? How about free soap and skin care products? Every shareholder receives shopping credit beyond the price of their share, as much as a 15% bonus. The larger the share, the more free product you can pick up. Shareholders also get first dibs on our fantastic seasonal fragrances, all season like Cherry Blossom, Pina Colada, Harvest Moon and Santa's Pipe.

During last year's soft launch, CSA pick-ups were restricted to 17th St Farmers Market and Williamsburg Farmers Market. Even now, we're in talks with other local markets to provide more pick-up locations. The tentative plan is to be at 17th St every Thursday (or every other Thursday), Lakeside Farmers Market and Byrd House Market (alternating) every other week, and South of the James Market once or twice a month.

Signing up is easy. For those with an online shopping inclination, simply visit our website and purchase a share the same way you're buy a bar of soap. You'll receive an email with your CSA agreement to sign and mail back (or drop off if you'll be seeing us in person). If you'd prefer to pay by check, simply print out the agreement and mail it in. Fill out both section - the bottom is your receipt, which you'll get at your first pick-up. It's just that easy!

If you know someone who buys our products, but isn't into social networking, please pass this along.

2010 looks like its going to be a great year and we can't wait for spring to come so we can get back out to the farmers markets and craft shows and do what we do best. Don't forget, you can get the most up-to-date news by following us on Twitter or fan-ing our Facebook page.

Jan 8, 2010

Good karma and free soap

For the first time in our eight years of business, Wild Heaven Farm is offering a downloadable, printable coupon for a free bar of soap! The catch? Well, there's two. First, you have to buy something (not too hard, I hope). Second, the coupon is only valid when completed with a heart-shaped Virginia Blood Services, "Be nice to me, I gave blood today" sticker. These coupons are good all year and you can use as many as six, since you can donate six times in a year.

To get your coupon, simply visit our website or fan our Facebook page, you'll find it in the Photos tab.

Now, these coupons are only good in person at a craft show or farmers market. While it's still a little while til those start back up, why not start accumulating the coupons now. Monday January 11th, Virginia Blood Services is holding a huge donation drive at the Sheraton West on Midlothian Tpk. There's lots of free food, swag and you can actually get a t-shirt in your own size (a big deal for petites like me!

Did you know donating a pint of blood burns 450 calories? Helps to off-set all that free food. :)

Jan 4, 2010

And the winner is...

During the three days of Busch Gardens' Christmas Town that fell after Christmas, we held a contest at our booth to help name our latest fragrance. It's one of the best scent blends I've encountered in a long while, containing "Juicy Berry, Soft Mimosa, Apricot Nectar, Vanilla Musk, Sensual Amber, and Precious Woods." I fell in love with it instantly, but the correct nomenclature escaped me, so I turned to our customers for help. From the dozens of entries we received were such varied suggestions as "Tranquility," "Heavenly Goat," "River Wash," and "Kiss Me in the Morning." But as with all contests, there can be only one winner.

The winner of the $20 Wild Heaven Farm gift certificate/online shopping credit is (drum roll, please) "Opalescent," submitted by Kenny Tyler, an employee of Busch Gardens who declined or forgot to leave me his email address. If anyone out there knows Kenny, please tell him he's won and to email me to claim his prize.

Look for more contests as we go through this year. For the next prize, we're considering 'a baby goat's weight in product.' What do you think?

Jan 1, 2010

New year, new you (well, new us, anyway)

Like a hiccup on your favorite LP (which is like a giant, black cd for you kids), January 1st has come around again. It's the day when diets start and cigarettes are forsaken, when people resolve to improve themselves in the coming year. Well, it's no different for businesses. Over the course of the last few weeks, we here at Wild Heaven Farm have been thinking of ways to improve our business in the coming year.

All of the products you know and love will remain the same, have no fear, but things like booth display will be improve to better showcase them. New fragrances will be added to our catalog of soaps, focusing on distinctive blends of natural essential oils. Liquid soap is also a possibility, though the exact, right consistency continues to allude me in my test batches.

I resolve to use social networking to its fullest, starting with these gorgeous, simple urls for our Twitter (wildheavenfarm.com/twitter) and Facebook (wildheavenfarm.com/facebook) pages. (If you're currently a Friend of my personal profile, be sure to zip on over to the business page and become a fan to get in on special deals and exclusive announcements, as I will be separating the two as we go along.)

Furthermore, I resolve to save you money on your soaps. Returning customers currently receive 10% off on all purchases, but the pot will be further sweetened in 2010 by the introduction of our soap CSA for local customers and a Referral Bonus program for local and distant soap-lovers alike. Be looking for updates on both of these are we hammer out the details.

I can't wait for spring when the farmers market reopen. Kun hei fat choy! (that's Happy New Year in Chinese)