Sunday, November 15, 2009

Milk and Honey (and Me!) settle in to New Digs

Milk and Honey has moved into Santa Fe proper. We now span two locations--my home where I live with my kids, keep the bees and make my soaps and lotion bars (and blog from), and the beautiful piece of land being shared with my goats about three miles from my home. It seems I am getting the best of city life, while my goats are still living out in the country with the chickens and the mountains.

This move into town has been a HUGE transition, but one that has brought all kinds of wonderful, new people into my life. My goats' home is on the property of an absolutely lovely woman named Louisa, who has an incredible permaculture plan in-process, one which includes goats. She is loving having them there, is eager to learn how to milk them, and helps me to feed them, saving me an extra daily trip. While we will be building them a larger shelter that will include a "milking parlor", in the meantime, I desperately needed a temporary shelter for the girls, and I was able to connect with a gentle and incredibly competent carpenter, Bill, who happened to have a day off just when I needed him. The result is a great temporary straw-bale shelter, that the goats immediately inhabited.

And before the goats arrived there, they spent two weeks less than a mile from my home, with an urban goat, at my friend Larelei's. She has just acquired two milk goats, and lives on a third of an acre right in town. I could see the Railrunner train going by as I milked, her toddler, Sebastian, fell in love with me, and her property is surrounded by artists' studios, one of which was a two storey--the artists would look down on me as I milked remarking about how cute the goats were!

So we've had some adventures, and we're finally starting to quiet down. Although goats are very sensitive to change, I am amazed at just how adaptable they have been; through it all, our milking routine has continued.

Now we gear up for the holiday season! It's even easier for me to ship my goodies out to you all all over the country, so please visit my website and enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goats by Simon Lee-Plunket

My eight year old son has written a brilliant essay (his first) on goats. Must share!

"The goat is a ruminant mammal closely related to the sheep. They're used in many parts of the world for their hair, meat, milk, and leather. Those parts include Asia, India and Iran for their wool. Ruminant means cloven-hooved, cud-chewing animals with four legs.

"Usually with our goats, especially Taza, they smile at me when I come to feed them. The milk tastes very good--and I mean good!--after my mom has strained and cleaned the milk.

"Goat's milk is a lot healthier than cow's milk, since, being closer to human milk than the cows, it provides a rich taste.

"With Nubians, you can usually tell that they are that kind of goat because they have floppy ears and short horns.

The End."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Slow Money Notes

Just attended some of the Slow Money conference here in town and heard some very inspiring entrepreneurs. The theme of the Slow Money movement (in my words) is that money is not the end-all measurement of value, and in fact using money as the only measurement of success for a business or an individual or a society destroys the planet, relationships, cultures, community, etc.

Here are some random notes from what folks said:

Our power comes from protecting what we love.

On "return on investments"--what about a "living return"? We measure this in the benefit of living in a better environment, the quality of our relationships, our connection with the community, the quality of our lives.

Running a business based on appropriate, human scale (as opposed to growing as big as possible as fast as possible), retaining a sense of ownership, and the identity of locality (where are you from?).

There is no such thing as one sustainable business--only sustainable systems.

Business is about relationships. Money is just a tool.

(Those quotes were from Judy Wicks of White Dog Cafe.)

Businesses operating for a "quadruple bottom line":
Social Justice
Human experience--employees, customers, when people encounter your business, do they feel that they are a part of something meaningful? Does it enhance their lives?

Are we practicing trust?

This is how we measure return:
We wake up every morning and say "this is my life!"

Those rough quotes were from Ari Derfel of Terrain ( who was especially cute and inspiring).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cooking with Kid

Oh Lord, sometimes you have to bring a two-day old goat into the house with you, and wear her in a sling, and then sit in the rocking chair with her and stroke her little soft head. . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brain Trust with Baby Goat

Allow me to introduce the Milk and Honey Braintrust: pictured from left to right: Amy Coplen, Chemist, and first UNM student to graduate with a minor in Sustainability; Dr. Cecelia Williams, Microbiologist; and Phil Pohl, Chemical Engineer; all of Sandia Labs in Albuquerque. They have come to me via the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program , which provides we small NM businesses with the assistance of scientific minds to help us solve business challenges that only a scientist can help with. . . It is a free service (!) to businesses that qualify, and I applied and was connected to Phil, who has brought on his colleagues to help as well.
What the heck to I need a brain trust for? I presented them with a challenge that my designer Michelle and I have been considering for the past six months: How to create unique, packaging that fulfills the promise of William McDonough's "Cradle to Cradle" philosophy:

“Cradle-to-cradle design means literally designing waste right out of the lifecycle of the package. Mimicking nature, a package is designed to be either a technical nutrient that can be reused, or truly recycled in a tight, closed-loop process with zero loss in material performance, or a biological nutrient that can safely break down into the soil.”

I suggested the additional challenge that the packaging be sourced from materials unique to New Mexico (green chile? Adobe?) and that the packaging have an integral identity with my products. These great, smart folks came out to the farm on Monday, and it was exciting an inspiring to work with them. Amy is particularly interested in calculating my carbon footprint--a prospect both scary and exciting--and one which will no doubt enlighten me as to improvements I can make in how I run my business and my farm, and that my customers will appreciate knowing about.

In the meantime, I continue to work with Michelle as we create the first generation of packaging for my new soaps and lotion bars. Currently we are looking at using paper from New Leaf, an incredibly progressive company that provides an "eco-audit" for every project that uses their paper.

The world is a very exciting place to be with all these smart, creative people putting their minds to saving our planet and living better. I am so happy that they are helping me fulfill my vision for Milk and Honey.

Welcome Babies

Currently named "Sassafras" or "Sass" for short (the girl) and "Pigwidgeon" (you know, from Harry Potter, pronounced "Pig-Widgin"), or "Pig" for short (boy), our new babies were born on Monday, easily and beautifully, probably just as I was waking up around 6am. While doing my morning yoga, I heard a little high bleat coming from the barn, and padded down there in my pajamas, to find two wet kids, sitting up, complaining and crying a little, while their proud and very efficient mother licked them off.
Such a sweet site, especially as the Monday before, we had had another birth of a little doe kid that died a few hours after she was born. It was a sad way to start our kidding "season"--but also a good lesson. I've been beating myself up for a week thinking that I could have done something more to save this kid, but I have to say after Sass & Pig were born, the difference between them and that doeling was dramatic. Although I have had goats for about seven years, I only breed them every other year--in fact, this is only my 4th kidding, and so I don't have the experience that I would have if I were breeding 20 goats every single Spring. Incidentally, I breed about every other year because I'm able to continue milking my goats for two years. I don't have a need for high milk production, and it feels less wasteful, and easier on the mama goats not to dry them up every winter and breed them. After all, these babies will need homes.
In the meantime, we are LOVING THEM!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Introducing My Lovely Assistant

Those of you early birds who have been shopping at the Market this season have already met my lovely and incredibly capable assistant, Teresa Davis. She came to me via an ad I placed in Craig's List (that I thought might be impossible to fill), and she is outrageously over qualified. She just graduated from the University of Chicago and is preparing for graduate school. When I asked her for a work reference, she said I could call the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she worked for a summer. ("Um, hi, yes, I was wondering if you thought she would be a good employee for 4 hours a week at my Farmers Market Booth?" I don't think I'll bother them with that. . .) After I met her and said, Yes!, I told a friend she would be working for me during the summer--assuming she didn't meet a Kennedy and go off and get married. As it turns out, she's just finishing up a vacation at Martha's Vineyard, so that could be a very real possibility. . .

Assuming she comes back this Saturday, you can meet her at the Market where she works the early shift for me (it turns out there are some people who really are "morning people")--until 9am Tuesdays and Saturdays. She is cheerful, knowledgeable about my products, and loves the Farmers Market. She is a welcome addition to the growing Milk and Honey team. (Eeee-- I hope you don't mind that I used the word "team"!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My New Employee

Well, daughter Roan is now on the official payroll. She has been begging to help me pour lotion bars, and sure enough, as you can see in my other blog post, she is an instant pro. So she's found a way to earn a little extra money, and she told me, "It's fun to be part of the business." She is conscientious and detail-oriented, and does her best not to spill a drop--I'm working on loosening her up! She also helped me sell this past Tuesday at the Market, and got a great response from my customers. At the beginning of the day she was feeling too shy to talk to folks walking by; by the end, she was pulling people over and inviting them most sweetly to "try a lotion bar!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Lotion Bars are Here!

Aren't they gorgeous? Ok, like a doting mother, I get to brag--I'm so excited about these. This photo shows my new line of lotions, all of which are custom designs exclusive to Milk and Honey--except for the Bee & Honeycomb, which for now, is welcome to tag along. If you are dying to order some in every scent as soon as possible, you can now do so on my website. Yay.

And, if you're wondering, "When the heck are the SOAPS going to be available in these incredible forms that I can't find anywhere else and that I must get for myself and everyone I know?" (Thank you for asking. . . ) I already have batches of Lemongrass, Milk and Honey (unscented) and Lavender curing away in their red crates on the shelf, preparing for their debut in about a month. They will soon be joined by mint, rosemary and lavender-rosemary. I promise I'll let you know when they are ready!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Molds Arrive. . . and the Future of Milk and Honey is Here!

Last night was momentous for me . . . my daughter Roan and I made the first batch of lotion bars with the first round of my new custom molds. This is the first completed step of work that began over a year ago with the drafting of my business plan over the summer, applying for and receiving loan funds from Accion New Mexico and the Farmers Market Institute, creating and refining sculptural forms with sculptor Stephanie Huerta, discovering and collaborating with designer and marketer Michelle Moser . . . and here they are! I plan to introduce them at the Market this week, and hopefully on my website in the next couple of days as well. Soaps will take a little longer as they cure for one month before appearing in my booth and website. I'll be experimenting with price points; that is, ONE price point for all my products, as I incorporate my new designs into my booth and website, and rotate the old (but beloved!) designs out. There is one more mold that will come on line hopefully by the fall: a logo image mold--we are in an exciting phase of logo design right now, but it is not complete yet. Stay tuned and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bees making Honey. . . Goats with fat, lumpy bellies. . .

Today I thought I would take a quick look into my hive, and lo and behold, there was quite a bit of honey there! I did the fastest harvest of honey ever--under 20 minutes, no smoker. And I cleaned things up a bit in the hive, much to the consternation of the buzzing girls. One disadvantage to top-bar hives is that the bees are in charge of forming their own combs, and sometimes they form them in crazy directions that make harvesting impossible. So I had to clean out some of the comb that they had formed in some very abstract forms, telling them, "no Gehry-style architecture, girls!", and used some well-formed bars/combs to serve as guides for new comb-building. I was really surprised how much honey they have already made. Last year this time, I just stopped checking the hive because there was so little activity; then in July, we got lots of rain, and by the time I checked the hive again, it was bursting with honey. We have had an unseasonable amount of rain the past few weeks, so that must be good for pollen gathering and honey making.
And the other girls, the goats, are looking so fat and lumpy! I spent some time out at the barn this morning, just hanging out with them, and it's so fun to see what they do when they are relaxed and not expecting food. They invade each other's space, lie down practically on top of one another, scratch their neck itches along the ground in crazy stretched-out positions, and nibble on pine cones. They also let out these little groans and close their eyes contentedly like pussy cats. Very sweet.
My new soap & lotion molds are in the mail to me this week and should be appearing at the market and on my website very soon! The lotion bars will come first, then the soap. . . Can't wait to share them with everyone!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Google Rents Goats To Replace Lawnmowers

Isn't this just the best news ever? This story is a reprint from Sustain News at I just had to pass this on!!

"Google recently announced that they rented a herd of goats to replace the lawnmowers that normally cut the grass in the fields around its headquarters. This is Google's "low-carbon" approach to maintaining its property. Google is renting the goats from a company called California Grazing. Apparently, every so often a herder will bring about 200 of them to the campus and they'll roam around for a week eating the grass. Not only that, these goats will fertilize the land at the same time. Google claims the goats will cost about the same as lawn mowers would. And a border collie named Jen will be brought onto Google's payroll to help with the herding as well. Source:"

--read more about this at, including a comment from PETA!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Branding Process Continues, or, How to Grow Your Business

Well, it has been a very productive time for me--I feel like I am growing in all directions. Michelle (see post, 2/13/09) has been an incredible teacher and guide for me, almost a therapist for my business with whom I have been sharing all my thoughts and ideas about my business, how it fits into my life, where I want to go, how I imagine I fit into the "marketplace" etc etc, all of which she validates, and then expands upon in the most breath-taking way! We are deep into the logo-design process, which is incredibly fun, as we look at and tweak images of goats and bees [see first draft of logo design, with inspiration Luke and Leah, left], modify and refine the new mold designs, and as I am dispatched out into the field (read: Whole Foods) to do retail research. Let me just take a minute here to thank Mary and Robin, at Santa Fe Whole Foods, for spending their valuable time to answer all my inane questions on how things sell, what works on their shelves and why, and what their customers and they themselves like. So eye-opening! Turns out, once you start looking, you realize that what seems like a perfectly good idea in a shelf display (say a beautiful, handmade, custom wooden display that shows your entire soap product line), is actually a bust in terms of the space it takes up, the maintenance required by the store staff to keep it looking beautiful, and the amount of product that store is then required to keep stocked. So fun to ask Robin questions about what works for HER, as the buyer/stocker, and see her light up with the thrill of finally being asked for HER opinion! Yay!

Another key process that I am in the middle of, is refining my vision and mission for my business. Right now it is in very rough form, but I thought I would share it with you all, and see if there is any feedback. What Michelle has taught me is that socially conscious/green businesses lead with their mission, which other corporations and businesses (like Kmart. . . what's their mission again?) don't. This mission/vision becomes the guiding principle of the business, helping it (me) to discern how to grow, who to partner with, etc. So, here are some of the rough (ROUGH!) notes that I've put down:

Why am I in this business?

Love and respect for the animals.
Love of the nurturing, maternal qualities of milk and milking.
Love of the rhythms of maternity, animals, and the cycles of the natural world.
A connection to the women’s work of our ancestors.

Engaging, challenging and encouraging my entrepreneurial ability

Making a living based on my values—
This business allows me to live within a humane rhythm:
to be present to my children, actively raising them;
to pursue my many passions and interests;
to deepen my connections with my community and relationships with friends.

To fulfill the potential of progressive, “cradle-to-cradle”-based business and to be a leader and innovator in that field;

to encourage others, by example, to follow their passions and deepen their connections with others, and insist on living in a “humane rhythm” that allows for that;

to experience a satisfying and enriching exchange with people locally and globally through the medium of my products;

to bring to my customers a product that nurtures, heals, pampers, inspires and pleases/delights them;

a product that carries with it not only it’s immediate physical satisfaction, but also connects myself and my customers through my story, a certain way of life, and certain values that remind us of our shared humanity and bring us back to what is important in life. This connection takes place not just in the purchasing of products from me, but in the giving and exchanging of my products between my customers and the friends and loved ones for whom they buy my products.

to experience a satisfying and enriching exchange with people locally and globally by creating and selling a product that nurtures, heals, pampers, inspires and pleases the people who receive my products.

Relationship-based business.

Sensuality—connection with sensuality, privacy, love, romance, pampering, luxury, physical pleasure, cherishing of the self.

Thanks for reading. . .

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day at the Goat Farm

Yes, even the girls need a little romance once in a while. The beautiful male specimen you’re looking at in these photos is “LEGEND”, on loan from Camino de Paz farm, and is a papered Nubian buck from a line of prize-winning goats. Or something like that. So ugly, he’s pretty. Nothing like encountering pure male animal to make you appreciate, well men, but also the delicate femininity of the does. You can almost smell him in these pictures!

Though he is all male, and loves to get his way, don’t be deceived; he is very gentle and just wants to get along and get some attention. When he came to me, his hooves were extremely overgrown (sorry, Greg), and so I undertook to trim them, wondering if I would end up with a broken wrist and smelling like buck for days. Gave him a little grain, buckled him into the milking stand as best I could (a neck like a linebacker!), and lo and behold, he was gentle as a lamb as I trimmed his poor feet.

In five months, at the height of the summer (no hypothermia for the babies), we will have a crop of cute little kids running around—probably tripling the size of my herd, if the girls all have twins. Yikes! It will be sweet, overwhelming, fun and too much work. Can’t wait!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Let the Branding Begin

Dearest friends--what a hectic winter! I lost my digital camera. . .but just got a new one from my dad, so will be regaling you all with farm pics again soon.

First of all, I want folks to know that this is the first season I have continued to sell at the winter Farmers Market--and now that we are in our gorgeous building, and the Railrunner comes right into the Market, it is a very happening Saturday morning winter event. Come see me and the other hearty, creative vendors every Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

Second of all, last summer I worked on a business plan, then this fall received a business loan from Accion New Mexico, and as of this week, I am very excited to say that I will be working with local Michelle Moser, of Grace Communications, to update the "branding" of my business, which will include a new logo, a new line of custom soap mold designs, and new packaging that will ready my product to go out to stores, boutiques, spas, and knitting shops nation-wide!

I am very excited to work with Michelle, as she is not merely a graphic designer, but a marketer that has specialized in green businesses for over a decade. You can visit her website at Her principles are already grounded in the revolutionary ideas of such design leaders as William McDonough ("Cradle to Cradle"--see blog post, March 19, 2008). Check this out (from Michelle's website):

"We believe at its core, marketing is People-Centered, not market-driven. Our philosophy flows from the idea that employees are the source of your company's inspiration, and customers the source of infinite possibilities. By linking people--inside and out-- you inspire deeply authentic brand design and advertising language, that communicates who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. . .creating sustainable business communities with customers shopping for integrity."

Wow, what a good partnership for my business! Too good to be true! Stay tuned for more updates on my "branding journey"!