4-H PREVIEW: Got goat milk soap?


By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 9:46 am on Monday, June 24, 2013

The idea of making soap from goat’s milk came to Rosalee and Gerald Hull when a stray goat visited their home. After taking it in as a pet, the Hulls would later acquire as many as 30 goats.

 

STANTON — One never knows what small quirk of fate may change a destiny, what unexpected event, seemingly insignificant at the time, may alter the future.

For Rosalee and Gerald Hull, that moment manifested itself 12 years ago, on the front porch of their rural Stanton home.

“I opened the door and a goat was standing there,” Rosalee says. “We spent over a week checking with neighbors, looking for the owner, but couldn’t find anyone who had lost a goat.”

At the time, the goat was skittish; it ran off into the woods every time the Hulls came near. But eventually, Gerald managed to trap the animal, using a baited dog crate.

Rosalee Hull’s hand made soap business grew from a single, unexpected goat, to its current incarnation primarily through word of mouth.

In short order, the goat was a tame, family pet, sharing yard space with the Hulls and the family canine. Over time, owning a goat became a way of life.
Rosalee acquired a second goat, then a third — all registered Nigerian dwarf goats. The “goat ranch” out back took shape — more of a goat playground than a real, working farm, really.

At some point, Rosalee got the notion to use all the goat’s milk to produce hand-made soap.

“I just started to do it for myself, because other products have so many chemicals,” Rosalee says. “Then I gave some away as gifts. More and more people started liking it, and the whole thing just sort of bloomed.”

The idea of an all-natural product that worked well and was actually good for the body had a universal appeal, Rosalee adds. Before long, she was marketing soap from the foyer of her home. Later, two stores — The Health Food Store in Greenville, and Faithworks in Stanton — began carrying her products.

According to Rosalee, who will be holding a demonstration at the Montcalm County 4-H Fair at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, making the luxury soap is a four-to-six-week process. The end product, she says, is more than worth the time and effort involved.
“It takes me about two hours to create a batch of 50 bars of soap,” Rosalee explains. “But then it’s a long process, a cold process; there’s no cooking at all to it.

From the original, blanket-wrapped molds, the soap is transferred to a table for air drying, after which it is cut into bars and allowed to cure for about six weeks. The process is time consuming, but allows the soap to be made without the use of chemicals or non-organic ingredients.

At present, Rosalee’s operation is fairly small scale, but demand keeps increasing. This may or may not be a good thing, Rosalee says. She and Gerald retired from their “real” jobs within the past year and aren’t really sure yet if they’re ready — or willing — to enter into a whole new career.

For now, the couple plan to just take things one day at a time and see where life — and those little quirks of fate — take them from here.

Rosalee’s home store is at 3701 E. Stanton Road, three miles east of Stanton. For more information, call (989) 831-5113.

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