Goating ways…

My love and respect for animals has, and will continue to be, the foundation for my practices and the reason I work extra hard to give these creatures the best lives possible. All of my goats have big personalities and I consider them to be members of my family.

My herd is a mixture of Boer, Nubian and the Antiguan Creole goat (a mixture of breeds imported in to Antigua over the years). The Boer is the most common goat in Antigua and despite being a meat goat has a very high percentage of butterfat in their milk.  I am working on strengthening the Nubian bloodlines in the herd but I have bred some lovely milk goats on the farm with great milking qualities by crossing Boer with Nubian.

I am very fortunate here to be surrounded by a vast wooded area, which makes for perfect browsing for the goats. The majority of the goats are left to roam freely for the most of the day, playing amongst the trees and eating whatever is in reach; returning to their pen willingly each night to be locked in.

While in milking season, the dairy girls will spend most of the day in the paddock where I can control their feed intake a little better. I do not cut out browsing completely at any time; they feed the best while left to their own devices and I believe the free time they have to just be goats is imperative to their health and happiness and of course to the great tasting milk they provide me with.  Hay in Antigua is generally poor quality or unavailable, while imported Alfalfa and Timothy hay is incredibly expensive, so the girls are fed with their favourite, naturally grown greens sourced fresh each day, this includes Wild Tamarind and Guinea grass which are high protein plants commonly seen in Antigua.  I also work with my non-GMO, local farmers who provide me with much of their farm waste for the goats.  Their favourites are corn plants and potato vines.  Sustainable and humane animal husbandry is very important to me and I take a special interest in sourcing high quality sustainable produce for my goats.

Any medications are given with extreme caution to milk production.  My goats are on Verm-X all natural wormer, with a chemical wormer only given when necessary and with care to dump the milk for over the recommended period.  I only use antibiotics for injury or illness, and again, make sure the milk is discarded for longer than the recommended period.

I do not remove the kids from their mothers. This is not typically standard practice for a goat dairy but for me personally, I believe the does deserve to know their kids and to care for them, as long as mothers and kids are healthy. Everyone is different and I respect other farms’ practices but after witnessing what a loving, family bond goats can have I don’t have the heart to unnecessarily remove them. I start milking when the kids are one month old, separating the kids and mothers for part of the day and by three months old the kids are weaned and I am milking twice a day.

My goats have been the most exciting adventure in farm life and I have high hopes and great optimism for my caprine filled future.

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Farm to Shower

EX0C5167All the soap produced at the farm is made with 100% raw goat’s milk from Twenty Hill Farm goats.

Having learnt the art of soap making at the very reputable Limeberry Studio in England I am pleased to be able to follow their lead, making all the soap Palm Oil free. This was very important to me, having not realised how much palm oil is used in the soap making industry until I began research.  Although many people say you can get sustainable Palm oil, it is a grey area with many questioning how sustainable any Palm oil can really be.  While it’s possible to achieve the same great qualities using other oils I prefer to stay on the safe side.

Using Olive oil, Coconut oil, Shea butter, Coco butter and Castor oil combined with nourishing goat’s milk the results are a luxurious lather that will leave your skin feeling ultra clean and hydrated.

There has been considerable research done in regard to the benefits of goat’s milk for skin so I will quickly run down why goat’s milk soap makes sense.

  • The content of alpha-hydroxy acids in goat’s milk aids as a natural exfoliant, breaking down the bond that holds dead skin cells together, leaving new cells on the surface for smoother, younger looking skin.
  • Goat’s milk contains many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin D, B1, B6, B12, E, and A. It is particularly high in Vitamin A which in necessary for repairing damaged tissue. Vitamin A is also known to control acne, reduce lines and wrinkles and help ease psoriasis and eczema.
  • Goat’s milk is very high in Selenium, which is believed to prevent skin cancer and repair sun damaged skin.
  • Goat’s milk has three times the amount of beta-caseins than cow’s milk. Caseins are absorbed by skin very quickly, allowing for quick hydration of the skin.

Another thing to remember about homemade soap is that glycerine is produced naturally during the saponification process. The vast majority of mass produced soaps remove the glycerine to use in more expensive skin care products, robbing the soap of the natural moisturising qualities and in turn they often add many harsh chemicals, detergents and petroleum products.

Goat’s milk makes up 38% of the soap, which is a large percentage in comparison to many milk soaps, so you are sure to feel all of these wonderful benefits.

The soaps are divided into two categories: the 100% Natural range and the colourful, fragranced range.

The 100% Natural range may look a bit boring in comparison to the fragranced selection, but the results are far from dull. Made with beneficial essential oils, mineral-rich clays and natural exfoliants your skin will thank you from head to toe.

The fragranced range can’t be called 100% natural because the fragrance oils that make up a tiny percentage are synthetic. However, these soaps are still a million miles closer to nature than any mass produced soap. Many people enjoy the yummy smells not achievable with essential oils such as Melon and Cucumber. All of the vibrant colours found in the fragranced range are the highest quality coloured micas and are all free of dyes.

Whatever your preference, once you switch to goat’s milk soap you won’t want to go back.

 

 

 

Farm life

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It’s been a long road to be able to call this place a ‘farm’, but here I am.  This journey which is one filled with love for four legged creatures and Mother Nature began I was born, in this house which is now Twenty Hill Farm, in Antigua W.I.

My extravagant hippy parents paved the way for many weird and wonderful creatures to be in my life from birth. At age 2 we got our rescue monkey, with my father assuring myself and my sisters that he was not our pet, he was our brother.  He accompanied many horses who were my mother’s first loves, a few donkeys, several dogs and even more cats, parrots, a mean sheep and so many others along the way.  We were then moved (bribed by the promise of my own pony) to England, where horses became the focus of my life and the reason my school attendance record was seriously below par.

The next few years brought some ‘not so great’ times; to cut a very long story short, after the death of both my parents and hating pretty much every animal-less, dissatisfying job I have ever had, I decided to move back in to the house where it all began. The house by this point had been left abandoned for years and was a disaster, which was heart breaking; not only because it was where my family had started, but my grandfather had built it in the 70’s and it’s a pretty spectacular place.  Anyone homesteading or farming, or even just repairing a house with a seriously limited budget (or no budget a lot of the time) can tell you it is enough to make you crazy, and probably more so in the Caribbean.  Land of the perfect beaches?  Yes.  Land of reliable workforces and bargain stores?  No.

It didn’t take long for the animal craziness to resume and I have somehow managed to fill the place with many four legged friends in just 3 years. Most of the fencing, pens and paddocks came after the animals, which made for goats raiding the kitchen, horses waiting for breakfast on the patio, some serious shouting, endless chasing and a lot of laughing.

But here I am in the craziness. I love it and I try never to take it for granted.