Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hobby turns into business for Those Crazy Goat Ladies

SIBLEY-Robyn Kruger and Kim Wills haven’t always been friends.

Rather, it was something that happened by chance nearly three years ago that brought the two together.

Kruger, 40, and Wills, 45, both live on farms north of Sibley, and to get to town each day, Wills has to drive by Kruger’s home.

As Wills was driving her normal route one day, a group of triplet pygmy goats Kruger had just purchased were running around.

“I’m surprised I stayed on the road the way I was watching them,” Wills said.

A couple of days later, Wills spotted Kruger in Sibley and asked if she could stop by to see her new goats.

She did, and the two hit it off.

Kruger and Wills, who now call themselves Those Crazy Goat Ladies, shared a common interest in the bearded animal, and decided to use that interest to create a new hobby — crafting soap using goat milk.

Prior to meeting Wills, Kruger had made some goat soap by herself, using a recipe she found, but after Wills got involved, the two began experimenting to figure out what combination of ingredients worked best.

While the pair tended to only give the soap away during Christmastime, they worked up the courage to begin selling their product via a Community Supported Agriculture farm stand in Spirit Lake last summer.

“We actually sold some and we were shocked,” Wills said. “We knew we were doing something good when people started coming back wanting more.”

The two soon felt confident enough to start taking their product to local stores and eventually began expanding the line.

In addition to bar soap, which can be purchased in six scents, Those Crazy Goat Ladies offer liquid goat milk soap, dry laundry soap and goat milk lotion.

Although the pair is not against expanding even more, they want to be sure to stay simple.

“We don’t want to get to the point where we make so much that it’s not fun anymore,” Kruger said.

Especially since the two do everything by hand — from milking the goats twice a day to rendering the lard and mixing the recipes in Kruger’s kitchen.

The pair recently purchased a milker, although they are not sure they want to use it just yet.

“We would have to sanitize it every time we use it,” Wills said. “It just seems like it would be faster to do it by hand.”

But, that does not mean bigger aspirations are not on the horizon for the two.

“Before we started really making the soap, we looked into making goat cheese,” Kruger said. “We had a lot of people that wanted us to do that.”

So, the two visited some dairies and did some research on goat cheese.

For now, they decided it would be a little too difficult, but it remains an option, although their dream would be to open a dairy.

“It might all fall into place yet,” Wills said.

Those Crazy Goat Ladies products are sold at Essentials Salon in Sibley, Prairie Moon Books in Sheldon, Iowa Lakes Organic Market in Milford, Dugout Creek Designs in Spirit Lake and Schafer’s Health Center in Worthington, MN.
  • Bar soap: 4-ounce bars, $5.50 (vanilla bean, honey pomegranate, sweet almond, coffee mocha, wildwood, unscented oatmeal)
  • Liquid soap: 8-ounce bottle, $8 (vanilla bean, honey pomegranate, coffee mocha, wildwood, unscented oatmeal)
  • Laundry soap: quart jar, $8; pint jar, $4 (rice flower, shea)
  • Lotion: 8-ounce bottle, $10 (vanilla bean, sweet almond, pomegranate, unscented)
The low pH level of goat milk is close to the pH of human skin, which makes it a gentle cleanser.

Goat milk also contains alpha-hydroxy acids, which are known for their restorative and rejuvenating qualities.

The shorter molecular strands found in goat’s milk are more easily absorbed into the skin than cow milk is, which results in a moisturizing effect.

Goat milk also is high in vitamins, minerals, proteins and lactic acid, which helps to exfoliate dead skins cells and soften skin.

Both Kim Wills and Robyn Kruger agree that milk goats are an easy animal to care for.

And, each breed offers a different personality.
  • “Nubians are very whiny and needy,” Kruger said.
  • “Alpines are kind of standoffish, but brave and easy to work with,” Kruger said.
  • “Saanens are very loving and compliant,” Wills said.
  • “Toggenburgs are feisty and very smart,” Wills said.
No matter, they are all worth the effort, the two agreed.

“You get attached to them,” Kruger said. “They are kind of like having an oversized dog.”

This article appeared in the May 23, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

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