Soap literally from scratch – A CRAFTER’S TOOL PART 7
As I wove along the rural path of M-40 toward Allegan, one rolling hill after another passed us by along with a few falling leaves of autumn. I sucked in a deep breath, letting the mossy early morning air fill my nose. What a treat since I rarely traveled this direction.
The cell phone chimed. It was Allison, the buyer from the store. “They’re showing our house in fifteen minutes!” she blurted as her frustration of trying to sell her house echoed in my ear. “We need to leave now! Plus there’s two more showings! We have to be gone all day. Can Jackson, Lilly, and I meet you at the farm?”
More kids at a farm? Why not, I thought, glancing in the rear view mirror at Aislynn and Liam.
“Sure, meet us there,” I said, rattling off the directions.
“We’ll have to bring the dogs, too,” Allison said.
“Oh, that’ll be fine, I’m sure,” I said, barely giving the added company for the Millers a second thought. I should have.
I pulled into a narrow dirt drive toward the 4-acre farmstead. The fields were sprawling with grasses and pumpkins.
As I unbuckled Aislynn and Liam from their car seats, Allison’s van rambled in. Jackson and Lilly bounced out, hanging tightly onto the dogs’ leases as the pups tugged and yapped. I could tell the dogs were anxious to get a whiff of the country scents.
“Oh! Can’t the dogs be off their leases?” I asked. “They’d love the freedom to run. There can’t be any lease laws out here.”
“Ah, Taco likes to chase things,” Allison said. “I think we better keep him harnessed.”
Hearing his name, Taco, the Miniature Pinscher, sprang like a pogo-stick. I swear he can jump twice his foot-high height.
By now, the Millers were outside to greet us.
“Chickens or goats, first?” Stephanie asked the kids.
“Goats!” They screamed in unison.
I chuckled knowing the herbs and flowers the Millers' harvested for soap-making would have little interest for the kids. “But I’d like to see the jewelweed you grow for the salve for poison ivy. Ditch the Itch is it called?” I asked.
Stephanie nods, but she’s having a hard time corralling the “kids” – both, baby goats and children. Inside the pen, the youngsters squealed as the goats chased them around.
“Yikes!” Liam yelped. “He’s eating my shorts!” The goat nibbled and tugged at the hem of Liam’s shorts, giving slurpy kisses to his skinny legs.
Liam tried to back away but the goat kept chase.
Despite giggling, Stephanie went on to say. “We milk the Saanen goats once a day to use in the soap.” She reached into her overall pocket and handed bits of soap to each of us.
“Mmmm. It smells like rose pedals,” Lily said.
“We make more than fifty scents of soaps,” Stephanie said.
Next, we were off to the chickens.
“We have 2-week-old baby chicks you can hold,” Stephanie said as she cradled a baby chic into each of the kid’s palms.
Spellbound, the kids didn’t even wrinkle a nose at the chicken coop stench that filled the sun-baked, humid air. The baby chicks were adorable, but it was pretty pee-yew for me, so I gladly stayed outside.
“We use the chickens’ fresh eggs and also grind the Bloody Butcher heritage corn to make a soap scrub we call: Chicken Scratch,” I heard Stephanie explain from inside the coop.
Outside I held the dogs on leashes as other full-grown chickens flocked together, strutting here and there, in free range fashion across the field. Finn, the Shetland Sheepdog, was circling and almost purring as he gently sniffed at the chickens. His herding instinct had kicked in.
But not Taco. Skinny and bony as a miniature greyhound and weighing less than the plumped chickens, he yapped frantically, not letting his size stand in his way.
“Easy, Taco. Easy,Taco,” Lilly cooed as she came out of the coop with the other youngsters. She squatted down next to him.
Still excited, Taco spun and leaped high, yanking the lease from my hand. He bolted to the chickens. They flapped their wings, trying to fly away in a frantic panic, only to skim the ground. Teeth bared, Taco lunged. The kids screamed. Suddenly I had visions of one less chicken. My heart raced. I was the one who invited Taco!
Out of nowhere, Stephanie took one giant step and stomped on Taco’s leash. He halted instantly. The chickens went back to strutting with ease. My heart didn’t ease quite so quickly. “I’m so sorry,” I said to Stephanie. “Taco gets a bit excited.”
“No problem,” Stephanie said. “There’s always a critter of some kind poking its nose in the wrong place around here. I get use to rescuing chickens from stray cats or foxes.” She lets out a sweet laugh.
I sighed for the chickens and for me.
“Even skunks and snakes attack chickens,” Stephanie went on to say.
Skunks and snakes … farm life wasn’t for me.
The rest of the visit was uneventful. But the real event is the Millers’ unique and organic soaps. You’ll find soothing Ditch the Itch, exfoliating Chicken Scratch, and Laundry Stain Remover soap at the shop. Enjoy!