Loving your job is always easier if it involves baby goats.
Jennifer Ansley, the owner of Far Above Rubies, raises goats and makes soap bars and creams from the milk they give.
Tucked away on the Old Nenana Highway, Ansley’s “farm” consists of seven frolicking does and one buck, Oliver, running around in the barn her husband, Greg Kahoe, built.
Oliver lives separately from the rest of the goats.
“He is sweet,” Ansley said. “He is a nice guy except for when he bangs his head against his hay feeder during the mating season.”
The does in another room approach and sniff visitors but flee the moment someone moves too abruptly. A doe named Trouble doesn’t need a cue: She leaps over a wooden divider taller than she is with no reason in sight and sends the other goats fleeing.
“They are so entertaining, jumping and stomping their feet,” Ansley said. “Especially when they are small. They are such happy babies — just about everything makes them happy.”
In turn, the goats are one of the sources of happiness for Ansley and Kahoe.
“I always smile watching them play,” Kahoe said.
Besides mood boosting qualities, goats give milk that Ansley uses to create skin care products.
She works in a little stand-alone cabin, filled with sunlight and that smells of vanilla, citrus and peppermint. The soap bars she makes contain 2 ounces of goat milk, with an addition of cocoa butter and olive and safflower oils. After pouring the soap bars to shape them, Ansley lets them sit for a couple of weeks.
For making skin creams, Ansley uses goat milk, aloe, cocoa and shea butter, as well as olive and safflower oils. Ansley said that when it comes to additional ingredients for her goat milk-based products, she uses only those that have been extensively tested and are safe for the skin.
From milking the goats, curing the milk, mixing ingredients and packaging the end product, Ansley’s process seems smooth and organized, like the soap bars lined up on a shelf.
“I’ve been doing it for 20 years,” she explains. “It just keeps getting better. Sometimes I realize I can improve something and I go, ‘Oh, I can’t believe it took me this long to come up with this!’”
The idea to start raising goats and make skin care products came to Ansley when she visited Tanana Valley State Fair 26 years ago and saw goats for the first time.
“I just told Greg that now I want to have goats, and he asked me, ‘What are you going to do with them?”
Originally, Ansley wanted to make cheese from goat milk, but she is happy with the product she ended up with.
“The soap and the skin cream are really nice to make,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about all the regulations that would be required for making cheese. The soap doesn’t get bad. And people really enjoy it.”
Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at 459-7587. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.