Back in 2013, when we were planning our cross-Canadian road trip, we decided to reach out to WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) hosts as a way to save money, learn useful farming skills, and engage with local communities. The WWOOF listing for Apple Road Nubians just outside of Wakefield, Quebec, was particularly intriguing—learning about goats was high on my WWOOF checklist, and farmer Wiebke Martin’s post included the words “MUST LOVE GOATS” and several pictures of her adorable, floppy-eared animals.
I contacted her immediately, and within a few days, we had arranged a stay with Wiebke, her family, and her herd later that summer. It was definitely one of our most memorable WWOOF gigs, and to this day we can’t see a Nubian without thinking fondly of our time at Apple Road Nubians.
Wiebke began making and selling her own goat milk soap the year after our stay. As a recent convert to goat milk soap, a few weeks ago I decided to ask her a few questions about this wonderfully natural product and the animals that help make it happen.
1. When did you start working with goats?
My first goat, Tessie, was bought for $50 when I was a teenager. We lived in Wakefield, Quebec, and I had to acquire a dog license for her. I was hooked immediately. She will always be dear to me.
I now live on a farm just north of Wakefield with about 60 registered Nubians. My girls are all milked by hand and treated like the lovely individuals they are. It’s a lot of work, but they are my passion and worth the effort.
2. How did your goat milk soap business start?
I started making goat milk soaps at Apple Road Nubians in 2014. At the time, it was not an interest of mine, but when my farm and goats were at risk due to financial pressure, I took a closer look at this option for supplemental income.
Because so many people make soap, I knew I had to come up with something special. My soaps are made with all-natural colors, carrier and essential oils, exfoliates, and raw materials. I use the best conditioning oils and butters to create a high-quality bar of soap. I also design some "scenery" soaps, which have been a real hit.
To my surprise, I love soaping! Waking up to cut open a mold of scenery design soap is always exciting—each one is unique and beautiful. The feedback has been fantastic… and best of all, I still have the farm.
3. What are the benefits of goat milk soap compared to store-bought soap?
Like high-quality butters and oils, goat milk is highly beneficial for our skin. Additionally, most commercial "soaps" are not actually soaps, but detergents. During the saponification process (when sodium hydroxide is combined with milk or water to create the soap byproduct), glycerin is produced. Glycerin makes your skin smooth, and keeps it moist. Most commercial companies remove the glycerin and sell it as lotion additives. Homemade goat milk soap retains this glycerin.
4. What scents/varieties do you offer?
I have about 12 varieties.
“Spanish Castile" is made 100% from olive oil, so it’s very conditioning and smooth. "Remedy" has tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils, which help relieve athlete’s foot, eczema, and psoriasis. "Orange euphoria," with a beautiful sweet orange essential oil, is an excellent antibacterial and conditioning soap. "Gardeners" peppermint soap has a super fine pumice to remove the toughest dirt and mechanic oils. Others are Lavender, Calendula Ylang-Ylang, Chamomile, Plain (loaded with shea butter), Cilantro Lemongrass, "Cabin" (a woodsy soap), Patchouli, Rose, Rose-Geranium, and seasonal specials.
To learn more about Wiebke and her soaps, check out her recent interview on CTV Ottawa.
Wiebke sells most of her soap locally, as shipping (even within Canada) is quite cost prohibitive right now. I highly recommend Wakefield, Quebec, as a beautiful place to visit…
But if a trip to Canada isn’t in your future, please pick up a bar of goat milk soap from your neighborhood food co-op or local organic goat farmer. You’ll never go back to store-bought soap!