This story was originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Goat hobby herds are becoming more and more popular on the Kenai Peninsula.
While some farmers sell their excess milk through herdshare programs — in which a shareholder invests in an animal and retains a proportionate amount of the animal’s production — others are using their surplus to craft specialty soaps.
When Deanna O’Connor isn’t milking her 11 goats — which she does twice a day on her lakeside property in Nikiski — she’s making goat milk cheese, ice cream and soap.
She shares her recipes and writes about her eight years of experience as a goat owner on her blog If you give a girl a goat…. Taking care of the goats started out as a hobby, but has recently grown into something more, she said.
“I think people are more aware of the products that they are putting on their skin and what they’re consuming,” O’Connor said. “I think particularly people in Alaska are hyper-aware because we are more connected to our environment.”
O’Connor sells her soap through her blog and at Alaska Herbal Solution’s Soldotna Wednesday Market booth. She plays with fragrances, exfoliants and oils to meet the needs of a broad range of people. She said, in general, goat milk soap is great for anyone who has issues with their skin. For acne, O’Connor would recommend her Tipsy Goat soap. It’s made with the amber beer from Alaska Brewing Company. Her favorite though is a new one she’s calling Farm Morning, which contains beef tallow, pork lard, black coffee, honey, oatmeal and more.
“It’s a good creamy bar,” she said.
Meg Wright of Wise and Right Farms also makes goat milk soap in Nikiski. She started three years ago as a way of making unique Christmas gifts for her family.
“My friend, who had made soap lots of times before, came over to my house and taught me how to make hot process goat milk soap,” Wright said. “From that day on I have been hooked on making and using it.”
Wright said she likes to be creative with her soap making, whether it would be adding basic colors, layering and swirling them or adding exfoliants such as pumice, clays or seeds. When it comes to fragrance, she goes by what her family likes. Like O’Connor, she also has unscented soaps for people who may be allergic.
O’Connor and Wright are not alone. At the Soldotna Wednesday Market, Wright sells her soap alongside five other soapmakers and two people selling goat milk soap. Despite the saturation in the market, Wright said she doesn’t try to compete.
“Everyone’s soaps are going to be different, so while everyone might use goat milk, the oils and other ingredients will and could be different,” Wright said. “It’s a pretty friendly market. We all have different spins on our soap, so there’s something for everyone. There seems to be enough variety for all the visitors.”
Wright also makes body butter and beard oil, with plans to expand to goat milk lotion and lip balm.