Dargan and Lindsay are a mother/daughter homesteading team and have graciously written their story to share with us. They are currently members of the Richland County South Carolina Ladies Homestead Gathering Chapter. Their business is making goat's milk soap called Freshens Soap. Here is their story:
I, Dargan, grew up in rural SC riding horses, eating wild game, and watching my grandmothers garden, put up produce and cook from scratch. I remember helping them pick and shell field peas to freeze and pick figs to preserve. I always loved hearing stories from my grandparent’s childhood that involved doing things the old fashioned way. Some of my favorite keepsakes are my grandmother’s butter churn and washboard. Sometimes, I’m asked why there’s a washboard hanging in my laundry room and I always say;
I started studying nutrition in my mid-twenties and realized how important it is to feed our bodies whole, unprocessed foods to stay healthy. I have fought allergies my whole life and recently had a bout with breast cancer so I am on a continuous mission to learn about natural healing. I try to avoid drugs unless truly necessary because of the side effects and even had my last two babies at home to avoid the pressures of hospital interventions. I look at food as medicine and am always interested in how it affects our bodies. This is where most of my homesteading activities stem from. I want to grow and prepare food that prevents and heals disease while tasting great, too. To do this, we have fruit trees and a garden, providing fresh produce. My husband hunts, providing clean meat that we process ourselves. We also have free-range chickens, providing natural eggs and meat. Our most recent addition is dairy goats.
Throughout my health studies, I learned how nutritious and beneficial raw goat’s milk is compared to the processed cow’s milk you buy in the store. It’s much less allergenic and I wanted to give it a try. My daughter Lindsay, who loves horses and all animals, was also interested and bought our first goat, Rebecca, with her own money, even though she was only 13 at the time. We bred Rebecca and were lucky enough to be at the birth. Lindsay helped deliver the kid. We now have four goats and Lindsay has been faithful to milk every day for years now.
We drink the milk, and also make kefir and cheese, but we still had extra milk. Lindsay was interested in making natural body care products, so we decided to make goat’s milk soap. It has since turned into a business we call “Freshen Soap”. Freshen, of course, means “to make fresh” as soap does, but it’s also what it’s called when a goat begins to make milk, she “freshens”. We keep the soaps natural and only use essential oils to scent them.
Homesteading has been very helpful in homeschooling my four children. They’re able to see and experience biology concepts first hand and know where food comes from. They have learned responsibility by taking care of animals and have experienced birth, growth and death and learned many life principles first hand as well. The fact that we started the soap business has also been a great learning experience in commerce. Now that they are older and are having children of their own, I’m looking forward to spending time with my grandchildren on the farm.
One of my favorite aspects of homesteading is being outside. After working inside at my regular job (we also have a family business selling horse trailers), it’s nice to come home and do the outdoor “chores” of taking care of the animals and checking on the garden. It does our bodies good and relieves stress to be out in the fresh air getting exercise from homesteading activities. The sunshine provides vitamin D that is so vital to our health. It’s also important to ground ourselves by touching the earth, which has been shown to reduce inflammation. I love getting in tune with the rhythms of nature and seeing the miracles of a seed sprouting, an egg hatching, the birth of an animal, bees swarming, and watching things grow. It reminds me of how big God is and that He’s in control which gives me a sense of peace.
Last year, we had a very interesting garden. We had the local quail farm deliver loads of manure that we spread on a new garden area. We decided to plant it even though we weren’t sure if it was too “hot” from all the manure. We planted some neck pumpkins in the middle of the garden and they went crazy! I really think those vines can grow a foot a day! They took over the whole garden and shaded out the other squash and cucumbers, climbed over the tomatoes and corn and up the seven foot tall okra plants. My garden area ended up twice the size it originally was because the vines ran out all over the yard! I know I had close to 100 of these pumpkins to share! I took trunk loads of them to church and to our Ladies Homestead Gathering for a couple of months in a row and gave them away.
My next project is to grow luffas to put in the soaps for exfoliation. I’m also learning more about herbs and how to grow and use them, both culinary and medicinal. This has prompted me to make some permanent garden beds to grow perennial herbs and vegetables like asparagus. I have always made homemade, whole grain bread, but I’d like to learn to make it from sourdough starter, with no store-bought yeast. I also want to continue learning to use fermentation as a preservation technique.
Back in the fall, my friend Denese Norris, a former fellow homeschooling mom and midwife, contacted me about getting a Ladies Homestead Gathering together in our area. I had never heard of it but was excited about the concept. My daughters were also interested so we went. We had a surprisingly large group show up and are off to a good start! I helped with the meetings on soap making and fermentation. It’s great to have like-minded ladies to discuss all of these topics with. We can all learn from each other and share our knowledge and abilities. I’m excited to see what this year brings and to continue learning and fellowshipping with these fine ladies!
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