When one San Diego native moved her big city family to rural North Whidbey five years ago, she had no idea just how big a role goats were about to play in her life.
Sheena Bodenhafer, long-time animal lover and owner of Harbor Acres farm, has taken advantage of her lifestyle shift and newfound abundance of animals to create a unique hygiene product that Whidbey residents may have seen on local boutique shelves lately — goat milk soap.
“It’s pretty trendy,” she said of the growing fad.
Bodenhafer has everything she needs to make the soaps at home in her kitchen. First, she gears up in gloves and goggles. Then she begins the process by melting down lard, which she renders from pig fat, and olive and coconut oils and stirring them together.
Next, she mixes sodium hydroxide, or lye, with the goat milk. This mixture is then combined with the oils and brought to a trace, meaning the separate components are blended so thoroughly that they won’t separate. Then, Bodenhafer pours the liquid soap into molds. After 24 hours, she can cut it and allow it to cure for four to six weeks.
The goat milk in the soap functions as a moisturizer, Bodenhafer said, which is partly why the product has become so popular lately. With 10 goats living at Harbor Acres, Bodenhafer is not in danger of running out of milk any time soon.
When she and her family first moved to Whidbey Island five years ago for her husband’s Navy career, they started out with just two goats. But when Bodenhafer learned how lovable the farm animals are, she couldn’t help but let the little herd grow.
“They’re like potato chips,” she said fondly. “You can never just have two.”
Goats aren’t the only animals that call Harbor Acres home. Growing up in San Diego, Bodenhafer never had room for pets. Now that she lives on a farm, she takes full advantage of the wide open space to keep ducks, chickens, two guinea pigs, a golden retriever and five piglets that her family shares with their neighbors.
Still, though she loves her new rural lifestyle — especially enjoying Whidbey’s idyllic summers — running the farm takes a lot of hard work.
Everyone — Bodenhafer, her husband and their two daughters — has daily chores around the farm that must be completed, rain or shine. And the Pacific Northwest certainly sees more rainfall than the family’s former Southern California home.
“You have to go out and work in the rain or nothing will ever get done,” Bodenhafer said.
What makes it all worth it, Bodenhafer said, is kidding season. Meeting new goats as they’re born reminds her why she mucks out the goat pens, chops firewood and takes care of a whole menagerie of farm animals.
“They have great personalities,” she said of her goats. “They’re kind of like dogs to me.”