Goat Milk Caramels

I, like anyone, have a sweet tooth that the neighbor’s pickles, the orchard apples, the garden vegetables can’t fix. Of course, I make the occasional pie. But when I saw handcrafted adorable goats milk caramels at the nearby cheese shop, I thought I’d give it a try.  

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It turns out it’s really quite simple. Making caramel is basically combining butter, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, milk, salt, and flavoring when necessary. Making goats milk caramel is the exact same but with goats milk butter and goats milk.  The difference in taste is, by my estimation, negligible. However, I find goats easier to tend than cows and so, goats milk it is!  

Again, a very hot selling item at the orchard. They’re packaged in a variety of ways – some people prefer to pay to have them tied up in brown paper packaging with little red strings. It has a rustic appearance that suggests “I bought this at a FARM you guys!.” And after the first time, they usually come back with their own vessels so they can buy in bulk and package it at home.  


I’ve had a fair number of clients – always women – wanting to go into business with me. They promise me so much, they could get me on Amazon, they could get us in Target stores, they could explode my business. I thank them gingerly, but remind them that my goal is only to sell enough products to maintain myself. I have no need for six figures, I have no need for name recognition, I have no need to be a cog in the NRA- and Breitbard-backed wheel that is Amazon 


divorce lawyer in Fairfax, VA recently told me that women have so much potential, why was I choosing not to live up to mine. That making lots of money is an admirable use of potential makes me want to gag – reminds me why I have chosen this life.

Goat Milk Soaps

I first saw goats milk soaps while traveling in the south of France and initially cringed at the notion of it. I’ve always had sensitive skin so many traditional soaps cause me to break out or itch. Goats milk soap felt soothing to my skin while cleansing and I never experienced any reaction thereafter.  

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Goats milk soaps contains lactic acids to help remove dead skin cells from the surface without relying on harsh exfoliators that also remove healthy skin cells. This makes my skin look brighter and younger without irritating. It contains Vitamin A to promote the growth and maintenance of healthy skin – it helps keep me free of blemishes and psoriasis without requiring toners and tonics and expensive skincare treatments. The cream in the goats milk moisturizes. The selenium prevents sun damage. And finally, I like knowing the goats from whom the milk came which is nourishing my skin. I nourish the goat, the goat nourishes me. We have a nice relationship – nicer than many I have maintained with human beings in my life.  

And needless to say, the urban tourists in town to shop and giggle at our quaintness buy this shit by the pound. They clamor on about how it’ll make great holiday gifts, so niche, and buy one in each scent for a 400% markup and then stop by Sephora to spend hundreds on skincare regimens that can’t hold a candle.

Not Hiding

I used to really love tv, books, movies – any media that was based upon story-telling. And often in these media people who lived reclusive lives were hiding or running from something. I don’t find that to be the case. I spent years living in the city, spending hours in my car heading into rural areas for camping. I would sit in my high-rise apartment watching or reading stories about people living off the grid 

It was always a romantic notion – being away from everything. No pointless happy hours. No throwing rent money at an incompetent landlord. No avoiding eye contact with creeps on the train. No more $13 cocktails and $8 beers. No more house plants when what I want is a garden. No more house cats in place of goats. The simple life is not a surrender, it’s a choice.  

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I wanted to clear that up before you continue reading and understand me to be a hermit recluse running away from humanity – a damaged war vet who can’t take modern life – a kook like the Beales living in a condemned mansion surrounded by cats – I’m not shell-shocked, Lieutenant Dan’d, or a loose cannon. This isn’t my alternative to homelessness. I’m not a waiting room staple at the VA. And my time in the war is not the most important time in my life and it did not define the rest of it.


I make soy candles only. Soy candles burn better, releasing fewer toxins into the air, making them less likely to cause or trigger allergies. They burn cooler too which means they can burn for much longer than other types of candles. I buy the soy from American farmers. I’m not a big “HOORAH BUY AMERICAN” crony, but I do appreciate buying local when I can – especially because of how much literally easier it is.   

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I have a neighbor with a huge soy farm, he provides my supplies in trade. No need to support Bezos or the Walton family and whatever terrible companies support them.  


I use the jars my neighbor uses for pickling. She comes by with about six quart jars a week of pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, anything from her garden. I eat the contents, and then recycle the jars to make candles. We have a sort of exchange going.  


I have a rather large herb garden, it’s been a years-long project and I’m proud of how beautiful and productive it is. I have lavender, rosemary, thyme, anise, basil, lemon balm, mint, and I’ve just started an entire section of teas. Selling teas may be a nice next endeavor.  


Turning herbs into oils for scented candles is a simple, but time-intensive project.  

My finished candles are among my currency. I drop some by my pickle neighbor’s place, a few to the farmer, and dozens monthly go to the nearby apple orchard where eager city tourists spend paper money like it’s fake. They spend a hundred dollars, giddily, on apples, candles, pickles, jams, and jellies to bring back to the city like they’re pilgrims or something.  


It’s at once disappointing and adorable.

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