A groovy history lesson
As far back as I can remember I enjoyed being and working outside. I attribute a lot of this to my grandmother, Mary Costelo. A little history about my granny is necessary in order to understand what a unique and fabulous women she was. She was British, from the town of Wisborough Green, West Sussex England. She lived through WW11 and always told stories about how lucky she was to grow up on her farm during that time. They had eggs and milk which they could trade for sugar and other everyday necessities. Even as a kid, I found the simplicity of this farming and bartering lifestyle alluring. Granny did her part to contribute to the war effort and moved to Canada after the war in 1954. She was proud of her heritage and didn’t shy away from correcting improper table manners: “elbows off the table” and “if you’re done eating your knife and fork go together at 5 o’clock so the waiter will know you’re finished”. She was caring, a little blunt at times and loved her routines…a beer with lunch, wine with supper, scotch after supper, nine rum soaked raisins to keep the arthritis away and golf, lots and lots of golf.
I can remember back as early as seven years old going to her house. She lived in a fairly dense subdivision, though her front yard overlooked a golf course and the back was completely fenced in, which was her little oasis. She had beautiful shrubs lining inside the fence, a few flower gardens, a small green house to grow basil for making pesto and a big shady beech tree. It all looked so nice, but it was a lot of work. Cue the seven year old. I mentioned that my granny had a big part of shaping my outdoor work ethic. Every weekend I visited she would have a small list of things she was hoping to get accomplished; we would get them done and she made it fun. I don’t remember how, maybe because I was young and got to start using shears and saws and things that other kids my age didn’t really do. But from edging in her gardens to mowing her lawn and trimming the beech tree, it all got done and I enjoyed it. This enjoyment of the outdoors, gardening and processing produce (like our summer tradition of pesto making) was the cornerstone in my love of the outdoors and enjoyment of work.
Today, I still enjoy working outside and trying new things. We have lots of exciting future plans for Groovy Goat. We are designing a new build, new products and maybe even a cool new service. But at the roots, we are going to try to grow more (literally!). Our goal was always to use as much as we can from what we raise and grow on our little farm. This year we added bees; we didn’t take much honey from them since it was their first year as a new hive, but we have enough to make our Orange Honey Oatmeal soap for the entire year. We also have a large hedge of red currants (Hmmm … red currant soap, anyone?) Last year we got enough local lavender from our farm and wild to use all of our own lavender buds in our soap. This year I am hoping to add a Groovy Goat seaweed powder made from local Ingonish seaweed. We also want to try growing more varieties of herbs and grow our bee colony. Who knows what else is in store? We are always open to suggestions and inspiration! What we do know for certain is that farming and gardening will always be the roots on which our business continues to grow.
The Groovy Farmer
Happy New Year
I’ve been a bit slack in the blog post department! However, it’s a New Year and with it comes the promise of more posts so that you can keep up-to-date on the shenanigans here at Groovy Goat. Follow our blog to learn about all aspects of our endeavor, from the highs and lows of entrepreneurship to life on a small farm to experimenting with fresh new products. It’s going to be a great 2020!
Love What I Do
If you have read any of my previous posts you will pick up on a theme that I pretty much love what I do. I enjoy the animals, enjoy the people and enjoy making product. Like everything, there is always a downside. My downside is TIME. There is just not enough time in one day to complete all the things I want or need to get done. Enter “The Help”……
Staffing a Small Business
For any business, the people you hire should be an extension of yourself. They are the person you are when you are not there. You want them to conduct themselves properly and hopefully get their tasks done efficiently, work well with others, come on time, and so on. This is a list of a good employee attributes, but far too often this is a wish list. A list that you are constantly picking one or two items off and compromising on the rest. You tell yourself “ah I can train them to do that better” or ” it’s not that big of a deal”. Staffing is one of the biggest issues within my business community and I don’t see it getting any better. Fortunately for Groovy Goat we have sneaked by most of these issues.
Groovy Goat Joys
We rang in 2020 and with every new year comes the daunting task of hiring new staff. Not this year for Groovy Goat! We have nailed down our dream team. We have a front end clerk that is ready to learn and experienced enough to run the show on her own if we need her too. A product maker that is an artisan at heart and has business in her head. A summer student that teaches us about our website and social media, and farm volunteers that bring the largest amount of joy and happiness to the entire business. Collectively they are a creative, self motivated group that pitch ME ideas daily. It’s all I can do to keep up with them! It adds a lot of excitement to our business and letting them make decisions gives them some control over their own jobs, which I hope makes them feel like Groovy Goat is part theirs too. Not having to focus on staffing is allowing me to spend more time on other things like developing online marketing strategies, ordering material for new products and looking at overseas printers for packaging. I am feeling so positive for what the future holds for Groovy Goat. Now the only staffing challenge “How to keep them?”
At a young age we learn how to work: clean our room, do the dishes, take the garbage out and so on. For farm kids, it goes like: feed the animals, muck out the stalls, milk the cow, collect the eggs, etc! In any case, we lean how to work! From this point on our skill set changes as do our tasks and responsibilities. Eventually we end up in what is hopefully a wonderful, challenging, rewarding career.
Groovy Goat Success
At Groovy Goat, we love our job! Don’t get me wrong. Every job has that little thing that you dread doing but, 99% of the time, we love what we do. Then one day we received an email from a lady, a customer who wrote us the most unbelievable letter.
The letter goes: “I am so happy I discovered your product. I am an intensive care nurse and for the past six years I have suffered with eczema related to the soaps and gloves that I use at work. I have used trial and error to try and find something that works but nothing ever seemed to cure my hands. This winter I had an exacerbation of eczema and occupational health/my physician would not allow me to work while my hands were cracked and inflamed.” She continues on saying that in just a few days her hands that were in such rough shape had cleared up so much that she didn’t recognize them!
Loving Our Goat Milk Soap
We by no means claim that our products cure any conditions, although a lot of people have great success with them. Every person is different and therefore responds to products differently but, WOW, what a letter to get. As if we didn’t love our job enough, this email just put us on cloud nine. Each one of our amazing groovy goat customers makes every day such an enjoyable, rewarding experience. That’s “Why We Do What We Do”!
Starting August 2, 2016, we will be offering guided “barn to bath” farm & soap making tours!
Individuals or small groups can enjoy guided tours of our farm and soap making workshop from the groovy farmer himself -Ryan! Find out how it all began. Get up-close and personal with our groovy goats and other animals. Learn about the soap making process and take home a soap sample. Allow approximately 45 – 60 minutes for tour.
Fee: $7 per person (children 3 and under are free!)
Barn to Bath Farm Tour Schedule
For 2020 we will be doing the barn to bath tours by appointment only
Call (902-285-2265) or inquire on our website (groovygoat.ca) to book your tour in advance. If our tour schedule doesn’t work for you please inquire about booking a private tour (available on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays). In September and October, tours are by appointment only.
Don’t have time for a barn tour? Why not check out our petting farm located directly behind our soap shop anytime during business hours*? As of July 28, 2016, our petting farm entrance fee is $3 per person (children 3 and under are free!). Our returning visitors can ask about a season’s pass 😉 Take a stroll out to our goat enclosure to experience the sights and sounds (and smells!) of a farm firsthand. Wander into our newly constructed barn to visit our chickens, pigs and rabbits. There are also picnic tables and a children’s playground to enjoy. A perfect place for family fun, rain or shine!
Don’t forget your camera as there are bound to be some great photo opportunities!
*Petting farm is open during store hours (9am – 7pm daily during July & August, 10am – 6pm during September & October)
Have you ever tried to paint a room before? How about an entire floor of your house? Well, this winter we started the hard task of deciding what colour scheme we should paint the outside of our store. We always liked the natural wood look but the issue came up that people were not noticing the store as they drove by. Customers pass by and notice the store too late. They have to drive down the road and turn around, but how many of them don’t turn around? We will never know! So now we have a decision to make – what colour to paint! Now if you have never been to our store or wandered around our property I will try to “paint you a picture.” We have our store right on the Cabot Trail, which right now, is natural wood board with a number of paint splotches on the back. Beside the store is our cream coloured sign with dark blue posts. Than we have our white barn style roof house; as well as a beige color barn out back with red doors that is accompanied by a dark blue baby barn with a red door and cream trim. SO, picking a colour for our store is not as easy as just one colour. It is a colour for the store, the sign, the house, the barn and the baby barn. We don’t want them all the same, but we don’t want them to clash; we want to tie all the colours together. Once we decided on some of the colours we liked we started painting one foot squares on the back of the store trying to figure out what looks the best. Then the store opened for the season. Customers started coming in and voicing their favorite colours for which we should paint the store. After a lot of back and forth we finally decided what color to paint it, knowing it’s the right colour to get the job done! Now comes the stressful part of painting it and listening to the positive and negative views on what we did. In a small community this could be the talk of the town for a while. Want to know what colour we picked? You’ll have to wait and see! Wish us luck!
Groovy Goat Farm
Groovy Goat was a hobby farm before it was a business. We built our barn one section at a time with what we could afford and it was never built properly. As our farm grew, our needs outgrew our barn and in November 2014 we started work on our new two story 24′ by 40′ barn. It was a learning curve for me, knowing a lot about electrical and enough about carpentry to get the job done. The barn was completed one long year later, with a concrete floor complete with drains, electrical, a hay loft and an unfurnished milking parlor. By winter 2016, our barn was done enough for the goats to move in. It is making our lives a lot easier and our groovy goats much happier. Please pop by for a visit if you’re around the Ingonish area. We will be offering barn/farm tours in the upcoming 2016 tourist season.
Groovy Goat Wedding Favors
Did you or someone you know get engaged over the holidays? It’s never too early to start planning, including choosing your wedding favors. Your guests will be sure to love our miniature soap and lotion favors. Every detail, from the product to the packaging, is personalized to best represent you and your special day. Find more information at groovygoat.ca
Groovy Goat for Christmas
As all of you know Christmas is upon us yet again. Its seems that every year it comes earlier and earlier. For most of us as each year passes it is harder to find the perfect gift for that special someone. Goat milk contains naturally moisturizing, cleansing and soothing properties, making it ideal for all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin. So what better gift than to give someone than some all natural goats milk soap? Upcoming at Groovy Goat on November 21st we have our annual Christmas sale at our own store front 36028 Cabot Trail from 12 to 4pm. On November 28 we will be starting our Black Friday weekend online sale, keep an eye on Facebook for exciting giveaways and specials along with more details. To finish up our 2015 Christmas season on December 5th and 6th we will be at the former Holy Angels School on Nepean St, Sydney, for the Renegade Christmas Craft Show. Thank you for your loyalty over the last year. Merry Christmas & happy New Year. I hope your season is a Groovy one.
Check out the link below:
Old Trees, New Uses!
Happy New Year to all of our family, friends and groovy customers!
There have been several media stories this holiday season about recycling your old Christmas trees to goats. It’s true! Goats LOVE Christmas trees. Every year we give our fir tree to our goats here at Groovy Goat. It’s a nice green treat for them in the winter time, when their diet usually consists of just hay.
We’ve had a few people ask if they can drop off their old trees to our goats. The answer is YES! Our goats would love you for it. Just throw it over the fence and enjoy watching them devour it!
Check out the video link below to learn all about this new recycling trend. This particular news story is based in Winnipeg, but I assure you that our groovy goats enjoy Christmas trees as much as the ones in the video!