Farming grows into home-based business for Marble Hill couple

Sunday, December 21, 2008
Linda Redeffer ~ Banner Press
Barb Taylor goes directly to the source to make her handmade goat milk soap — two of her five goats.

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Returning to her roots is paying off for Barb Bailey, who lives on a farm near Marble Hill with husband, Anthony, and their children. Farm living has evolved into a home-based business for the couple.

Bailey raises goats and her family drinks the milk and eats the yogurt and cheese she makes from the goats' milk.

A conversation she had with a friend in Kennett, Mo., led Bailey to start a home-based business, Patchwork Acres. Her friend, who makes soap using store-bought goats' milk, suggested Bailey try making some using milk from her own goats.

Bailey now sells her soaps at farmers markets, craft fairs, through mail order and from her website.

Bailey said her husband milks the goats, and sometimes their children help. After she filters the milk, what the family doesn't use goes into the freezer, part of the cold-process soap-making. After she adds the ingredients necessary to make the soap, she pours the soap into molds and lets it cure for three to six weeks.

In addition to the goats' milk and more than 30 fragrances, ingredients include olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, avocado oil, palm oil, vegetable shortening, lard, clays, honey, pumice, oatmeal, even coffee and beer.

Making goat milk soap isn't a living, Bailey said, "but every year is better and better. This past year has been my best year. It contributes to the family finances."

The advantage to the consumer, she said, is a pure, mild soap that is gentle to the skin and not loaded with harmful chemicals, although some chemicals are used in any soap-making process. Bailey said the unscented Castile soap has uses beyond personal cleanliness.

"My mom was a WAC [Women[']s Army Corps] in the early '60s, and that's what they used to wash dishes," Bailey said.

Shaved Castile soap is also what Bailey uses in her kitchen.

She uses the name Patchwork Acres for her business because she does "a little of this and a little of that." Bailey also spins wool on a homemade spinning wheel and weaves socks and other items. She sews, knits and crochets. She makes yogurt and cheese, and raises chickens, guinea hens, and some ducks, along with the goats. Her husband has a day job at Southeast Missouri State University, and occasionally Bailey substitute teaches.

The family includes a daughter Summer, 21, who lives in Chicago, another daughter, Tori, 14, who has a line of lip balms, and son Aaron, 11, who wants to learn to spin wool. Rounding out the household are an assortment of cats and a dog.

According to Bailey, the goats are almost like pets.

"They're my husband's babies," she said. "They're peeking out of the barn hollering for him when he comes home. They're sweet and want to be petted."

Bailey is available to give demonstrations on her hobbies and on soap making. For more information, visit www.MacDialUp.com/abailey/soap.html.

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