By Doug Graves
BATAVIA, Ohio – When Patty Fox, of Batavia, started raising dairy goats on her 88-acre Ohio farm nearly 48 years ago, her intention was to allow her daughters, Martha and Becky, to show them at local 4-H events.
Since that time, Patty’s daughters, six grandchildren and hundreds of 4-H-’ers throughout Clermont County have shown the Toggenburg and Saanen dairy goats from this farm at county fairs. They have a few Angoras on the premises, but their specialties are Toggenburgs and Saanens.
Martha and Becky were 4-H members and began raising goats when they were in middle school. Their children were in 4-H as well, also working with goats. From that point on the family began adding and breeding goats at the farm.
Martha and Becky each married and left the farm, but find themselves at their mother’s farm each day to tend to a multitude of goats, along with 24 chickens and a pair of retired beef cows.
“We have lots of goats,” Martha said. “When it comes to breeding, we don’t own bucks or keep them on the property. Pine Lane Soaps partners with top-notch, respectable breeders in the Midwest to provide out herd sires.
“They’re registered with the American Dairy Goat Association and we take care of them year ‘round. The goats are bred in the fall and give birth in the spring. When the kids, or babies, are born the mothers produce milk and that’s when our soap making begins.”
Saanen goats are a white or cream-colored breed of dairy goat named for the Saanen valley in Switzerland. Saanens are the largest of the dairy breeds and typically weigh 150 pounds. A Saanen doe can produce a gallon of milk per day and are commonly used for commercial milking.
Toggenburgs are generally brownish with a white stripe up the face and are named for the region of Toggenburg, Switzerland, where they originated. Toggenburgs have compact bodies, and does should have high, well-attached udders. They are generally a friendly, quiet and gentle breed, and are good as pets. Although Toggenburgs generally produce a bit less milk than some other breeds, it is higher in butterfat.
The Saanen temperament is calm and mild-mannered. Saanen goats are easy for children to handle and are popular in the showmanship classes due their calm nature.
According to Becky, Toggenburg and Saanens are good, strong dairy breeds known for their capacious udders. That, she said, makes for some spectacular soap.
“Goat milk is high in fat and this fat, when added to the oils in the soap ingredients, makes a moisturizing and gentle soap,” Becky said. “Goat milk is ideal for making soap.”
Patty first experimented with making cheese from the goat milk, but found little success and ditched that project. In 2009, Patty experimented by making soap for a few friends at her church. After a few successful batches and solid sales of the same at a local farmers’ market, Patty kept at it and elicited the help of her daughters. It was then that a small, homegrown company (Pine Lane Soap) was born.
“Soap making is a combination of science, art and luck,” Martha admits. “It’s an old-fashioned lye soap, so we use precaution. We make it once a week and do the same things every time. Our soap is a luxury item and it’s high in fat and very moisturizing. What sets apart is we make goat milk soap from our own goats.”
In their first year they produced several hundred bars. Now, they produce 12,000 bars annually and can produce up to 200 bars per day.
“The soap became the way that we support this farm,” Becky said. “We’re able to make capital improvement projects here. We don’t pay ourselves, all proceeds go back into the farm for barn repairs, covers for goat feed, vet bills and more.”
Products made from their goat milk include shaving soap, goat soap, lip balm, shampoo bars, goat milk lotion and bug repellent lotion. Fragrances include apple orchard, cherry, fresh-cut hay, honey and rosemary, along with a variety of oils.
Today the trio tote their soaps to 35 natural food stores, as well as many festivals, fairs, high school events, bakeries, feed mills, gift shops and salons in southwest Ohio.
Their success with goat soap has skyrocketed, but Patty, Martha and Becky are best known in these parts for being host to the 4-H Club “Country Kids.” From late May to the end of June there are roughly 15 to 20 children found at this farm, learning to tend to and care for goats.
“We have children from several other 4-H clubs in Clermont County, too,” Martha said. “The kids have all different types of projects, but almost everyone has goats. These children gain vital skills in caretaking, responsibility, grooming, showing, cleaning and more. We are happy to partner with other families and provide an enriching experience to them. Here at Pine Lane Farm we believe in educating. It’s a summer’s worth of activities for the kids at this farm.”
And these ladies put their goats to good use elsewhere. Each spring the city of Cincinnati holds its annual Bockfest, a celebration of Cincinnati’s brewing heritage. The trio’s goats are in front of the parade line, pulling a keg of beer in a small wagon.
The trio attended Science Day at elementary schools in the county, where they teach children about raising animals. They’ve welcomed high school students to the farm for educational tours and held special visits for older adults.
“During the pandemic we began reading children stories to our goats and we videotaped our readings and put them on our YouTube channel and Facebook pages,” Martha said. “It was a big hit with the parents. We’ll be doing this again.”
Pine Lane Farm will host an Open House for the public in June (TBD). For more information about the Open House or the goat products, visit www.pinelanesoaps.com or call Patty, Martha or Becky at 513-260-4352.