Get Your Goat: Chivas Family Farm

I've always had a hard time using the word "kid" to refer to a baby goat. I think it's confusing, particularly when you get a bunch of child humans and young goats together. So from here on out in this article, I will refer to kids of the bovid variety as "baby goats." Now that that's settled ...

The labor of love known as Chivas Skin Care is run entirely from a small family farm in Fillmore, in Ventura County. Mother-daughter team Donna and Lauren Johanson handcraft gentle soaps made from the milk of their very own goats ("chivas" means female goat in Spanish) and scented with intoxicating essential oil blends such as lavender-mint, patchouli-cedar, orange blossom and rose-geranium. The line also includes bath salts, body butters, eye cream, lip balm, and other nourishing treats for the skin. Several times a year, Donna and Lauren open their modest, one-acre homestead to the public, offering tours of the soap-making facilities, homemade cookies and lemonade to munch on, and photo ops with goats, pigs and tortoises. It's really quite delightful.

It's also educational, particularly for little ones. Despite the increasing popularity of urban farming, the true agrarian life -- with all of its animal husbandry, crop-tending and hands-on manual labor -- remains a mystery for many of us city dwellers and our offspring. At the Chivas family farm, kids can search for eggs in the chicken coop, feed pigs and tortoises, and even learn how to milk a goat themselves. Hands-on instructional farm tours are available for schools and other groups. Spring is the best time to visit because that's when the baby goats are born, and they're awfully cute and cuddly ... even when they're practically chewing your clothes off.

I recently visited for the Spring Fling: Meet the Baby Goats event and attended the tour inside the soap-making facility, where the scent of essentials oils alone was enough to send me into a state of relaxation. Donna and Lauren walked our group through the entire process, from milking to molding, and gave us an appreciation for just how much labor goes into making soap by hand without adding any water, mineral oil, or artificial fragrances and preservatives. They sell their wares in certain stores and various SoCal farmers' markets, as well as online. There's also a lovely little shop on the premises, where you can purchase discounted unwrapped bars of soap, along with the full Chivas Skin Care line and gift sets.

Speaking of gifts, the next Chivas farm event is a (pre) Mother's Day Tea Party on Saturday, May 4th. Attendees can tour the farm and soap workshop for free, and purchase tickets for DIY sugar scrub, bath salt and massage oil workshops ($10), and a high tea featuring goat cheese-inspired menu of savory sandwiches and sweets ($20). Not a bad way to treat the outdoorsy/crafty maternal figure in your life, and certainly more creative than your typical overpriced and overcrowded Mother's Day brunch. To stay apprised of this and more events like the Father's Day Garden Party, Fall Festival and Holiday Boutique, you can follow Chivas Skin Care on Facebook.

About the Author

Erin Harris is the editor of sustainable living blog SimpleFives.com and author of "Walking LA: 38 Walking Tours Exploring Stairways, Streets and Buildings You Never Knew Existed." She lives in Santa Monica with her husband and tw...
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