Goat’s Milk Soap
The fact that Rochelle Troyano loves animals and gardening is apparent as soon as you step onto her 5-acre farm in the hills high above Kendrick, Idaho.
As a child growing up in Pennsylvania, her parents would take her for drives to look at cows, and she helped raise organic vegetables in the family garden. She dreamed of one day owning a farm herself.
Rochelle’s educational journey led her west to Washington State University to study Wildlife Biology. Upon graduating, she decided to call the Palouse area her home. When she retired in 2012, she and her partner purchased the property that became Moonstruck Farm. What sold her on buying the property? The huge machine shop and all the possibilities it afforded her!
Rochelle also planted and nurtures a sizable organic garden and raises chickens for organic eggs and meat. This farm has it all - puppies and dogs, big and little goats, chickens, an edible organic garden, sweeping views of the Palouse, and even a llama named Lloyd.
Once settled in, Rochelle invited her sister Susan to come to Idaho to live on the farm. Rochelle spent many hours transforming part of the machine shop into a cozy apartment for Susan and her dogs.
Rochelle had raised sheep in the past, but was intrigued by goats. She is “enthralled with the idea of milk, and all you can do with it” and purchased the first of what is now a herd of 35 friendly and personable goats who have no problem coming right up to guests for a scratch.
The goats are beautiful, and a colorful mix of four breeds – Nigerian Dwarf, Boer, Nubian, and Alpine – separated into three paddocks by sex and age. They have a happy life in the dust and sun, sometimes chipping bark of nearby trees and lounging in the shade.
Also living in the paddocks are Lloyd the llama and three livestock guardian dogs: Aslan, Lucy, and Moby. These dusty dogs are Anatolian shepherd Great Pyrenees mixes, and as large as their Great Pyrenees relatives. They are lovingly attached to their goat wards, and fond of the other creatures living on the farm. Several years ago a bear got into the paddocks and, although Lloyd the llama valiantly fought it off, several of the goats (and Lloyd) were badly injured. Since bringing the three dogs into the family, there have been no other attacks.
There are, of course, house dogs too! We met two of the five in the happy pack - one orange and one black corgi puppy, both loving and demanding to be pet. If you're like us and can't get enough puppies, we've included more pictures on the Moscow Food Co-op's website.
All of Rochelle's goats have names and enjoy being scratched and fussed over. Rochelle feeds them local grass hay most of the year. The does receive extra nutrition from grain and alfalfa hay before and after they give birth. As a treat, Rochelle makes “fodder” for the goats – cereal grains that are germinated until they form a lush and nutritious green mat of grass.
“I love projects; I have to be creative,” Rochelle admits.
What started out as a business selling raw goat milk through Idaho’s Raw Milk program to local customers and to our own Moscow Food Co-op has now expanded to include making goat milk soaps.
The basement of Rochelle’s home serves as her creative space. In her soap-making room she has an assortment of hand-made wooden molds, colored powders, fragrant oils, and bits of flowers and herbs from her garden that she uses when designing her soaps.
“The essential oils in the soaps come to life when you bathe,” she shares. And she's right — the soaps are gently fragrant, and leave your skin silky-soft to the touch. Some made with oatmeal are great for reducing inflammation and calming irritated skin.
Rochelle’s personal soap recipe calls for using 26 ounces of goat milk (by weight) to make between 18 and 20 bars. She uses her creative gifts to design different colored and themed bars depending on the season. As you see pictured to the right, the soap is shaped in molds or by hand in Rochelle's basement.
Our Co-op gives her the steadiest sales, especially in the fall and winter, but she also sells her soap at Vigs in Lewiston and online through Etsy.com. Most of her advertising is through her Facebook page. Rochelle uses any milk left over from soap-making and local sales to make cheese and yogurt for home consumption.
Rochelle describes herself as an “Earth Mother who came of age in 1970”. She has been dedicated to an environmentally-conscious and organic lifestyle for as long as she can remember. Her goal for Moonstruck Farm is for it to operate as sustainably as possible, to use and re-use materials.
Between the goats and the chickens, the farm generates a lot of manure. All of it is composted and used to fertilize her garden. She doesn’t use chemical sprays to control the fly population (always a given when a person has livestock.) Instead she uses fly predators: small, non-stinging wasps that destroy flies while they are still in their pupa stage.
A quote from Constance Reeves, a woman believed to have been America’s oldest cowgirl when she died at 101, means a lot to Rochelle: “You just don’t let that rocking chair take over. You get up and go even if you don’t want to.” That philosophy led her to purchase an old horse trailer . . . and to learn how to weld in order to repair it!
“I’m getting to live my lifelong dream,” Rochelle says. "I always knew this was where I wanted to be."
She is an inspiration for all of us to hold steady to the direction we wish our lives to someday go and to not “let that rocking chair take over.”