Our 8th Birthday
Ellacoldi was 8 years old on 7th March 2016. The day came and went without us even realising. That’s what happens when you’re always busy.
Originally the plan was to sell some soap to help pay for goat feed. Anyone that keeps goats knows what a Registered Dairy Goat Herd really costs to maintain. There’s not only the food bill, which is usually more than ours, but the hidden costs of drenches, vaccinations, registrations every kidding season, constant shedding as the herd grows, electric fences, fencing in general and the list goes on. Another ongoing expense is the cost of food bowls. We like to feed separately otherwise you have one or two goats eating the lot and others getting nothing. We also have a few goats like Dave and Stardust our bucks, who like to use the bowls like soccer balls. Stardust loves to throw his bowl and catch it on his head.
I used to work my 3 days a week and make soap the other 4 days. This worked for a short time, when we were only doing local markets, but it soon became evident that we would have to close the business or go fulltime. I chose to go fulltime at the beginning of 2011 and we haven’t looked back.
We started with 5 different soaps. We soon realised that we would have to package the soaps to keep them clean. In the early days we bagged them in cellophane bags. These became crushed and the labels smudged, with all the carting to and fro in the back of the van. In 2010 we purchased a shrink wrap machine and it hasn’t stopped. It used to only package our soaps. It now packages all our products.
We started out selling at local markets and this progressed to selling at bigger markets in Sydney, Central Coast and the Hunter area. Colin now sells our products every weekend in the Central Coast/ Hunter area, with only one local market, being our Tamworth monthly market. This meant we had to invest in a bigger van. Colin actually sleeps in it every Friday night. He has a fold up bed which goes over the crates of soap.
Our range has grown and continues to grow. I am kept extremely busy keeping up with all the products that we sell. They are all made on our farm, in our workshop. Our range complements our soaps. We listen to our customers and I have formulated all our products to be as natural as possible. We have seen some truly awful skin conditions. Everything that I formulate takes me a lot of time, as I thoroughly research every ingredient used and will sometimes take months just trying to get the best possible product for our customers. I never just buy a base product, as they usually contain a lot of synthetic ingredients. All our products are made from scratch, using my own recipes that I have put together after months, sometimes years of extensive research.
Our workshop has changed too. It used to seem so big. Now, we are always rearranging it to allow for extra items and benches and our storage area is always changing, as we have to store more and more packaging and bulk oils etc.
Our Dairy Goat Herd keeps us busy, from the milking, bottle feeding all our kids, to drenching when necessary, tattooing kids, hoof trimming and basic goat maintenance. They are a demanding herd. They start yelling the minute the kitchen light goes on in the morning. Whenever I go outside and they see me, they all yell out. If I try and sneak down the paddock to check water troughs, I usually have a heap of goats rubbing against me and head butting each other to try and walk next to me. If I bend down to adjust the hoses, I get my hair pulled and kissed on the face and neck by numerous goats. Colin once got a kiss from Stardust and came back to the house very indignant. Stardust had swallowed his one and only earring. Colin never saw it again!
Ellacoldi has been a lot of very hard work. Colin does a lot of driving, not to mention the four hour trip down to the markets every weekend and four hour trip back. Our soap, for example, has to cure for a minimum of six weeks on our racks, then be trimmed, labelled and shrink wrapped. Every bar is weighed as well. Before I even start, I have to weigh all my ingredients, make the soap, pour the soap and cut all the bars the next morning.
Everything is made from scratch, even our Goats Milk Creams. Each year we have released one or two new products. This year, we will be releasing three over the next couple of weeks.
We have seen a lot of businesses like ours come and go over the years. It is very hard work. There is no such thing as a sleep in EVER, or holidays or even days off. The goats have to be milked every single day. This means rain, hail or shine and shine it has. We have had over six weeks of over 33C every day without a break. Mainly it’s been around 35C and it gets hot. In winter it can get as low as -5C not to mention milking in the rain. The goats hate the rain. I am usually plastered in mud by the time I finish the milking and feeding. Bottle feeding in the rain is the worst. You have lots of tiny hooves all over your clothes, and you get covered in mud. We haven’t seen any rain here in Tamworth since January. Paddocks are very dry and the constant heat has killed off all the grass. Hoping for some decent falls before winter.
Ellacoldi continues to grow and move forward. Our very loyal customers have kept us in business. They continue to buy our products even after 8 years.
We will continue to produce quality, handmade products to assist people with sensitive skin and skin conditions. Our Goats Milk Products are made with farm fresh milk from our goats. Straight from the udder, can’t get any fresher than that!
Again our thanks go to all our friends and customers who have contributed to the ongoing growth and success of Ellacoldi Goats Milk Soap.