The goats, the herd name, and then, the soap:
Who we are: Colestin Caprines Goat Milk Soap began in 1995 as a cottage industry here on our own ranchland in southern Oregon. Our dairy goat herd feeds freely on open range forage, supplemented with grain, grass and alfalfa hay, which provides them with a high-quality varied diet, and contributes in turn to the richness of their milk. We filter and use only the freshest of this milk for our products.
But this is not how it all began... and in fact, we had no idea that acquiring a couple of very young dairly goats for brush reduction because of the fire hazard in our area would lead to where it has now. So, to back up a bit...
began raising dairy goats in 1988, with one grade saanen-alpine
(Castor) and one grade saanen-togg (Pollux), purchased at the
Jackson County Fair in southern Oregon. We registered the goats
and created our herd name, "Colestin Caprines," representing
our local, small, rural community in the Colestin valley, down
the southern side of Mt. Ashland, just south of the town of Ashland,
Oregon. ("Caprines" is a generic term referring to goats,
similar to "felines" for cats, "canines" for
dogs, etc., and comes from the Latin for dairy goat, "capra
The area of Colestin has a unique history, going back into the 1800's, when miners abounded, and travelers arrived by stagecoach to stay at the Colestin Mineral Springs and Resort Hotel. Colestin was populated enough then that it was considered a town, and had its own post office. By the turn of the 20th century, as logging and ranching took hold and the railroad became the predominant mode of transportation, Colestin blended back into the map as just another early western memory.
Later Colestin residents have included Uncle Theo Avgeris, of a family from Greece, who kept several hundred goats here in the valley. Uncle Theo's goat's milk cheese became well enough known that some people in southern Oregon, upon the mention of Colestin, still ask about it today. The Colestin valley even has a mountainous, precipitously challenging back road named Goat Hill Road, after Uncle Theo's tenure as a goatkeeper in this area.
A more recent resident was Martin, "The Goat Man," a rustic hermit who tended a herd of nearly 200 goats earlier in his life elsewhere in Oregon. In addition to ourselves, the Colestin valley presently sports a number of other goatkeepers, who have likewise discovered that this rugged, mountainous terrain and its interspersed hills and valleys go very well together with goats. In fact, it could be argued that goats are partly responsible for keeping Colestin on the map!
Our own two foundation does went on to produce many more generations of goats: Colestin Caprines became, after nearly ten years, a 78-member herd (bucks included); since then, we have become more selectively conservative about breeding, with our numbers now in the mid-50s, with intentions of getting the number down to about half of that. The herd "supports itself" with goat milk soap products sales, while lowering the area's annual fire danger fuel loads.
continue to sell our soap through local
venues, craft fair events,
and through our website, shipping our products across the country
and to international customers as well.
As for the two small white kid figures who once barely stood out against their surroundings on the hillsides, who started it all: after many productive seasons, Pollux died in 2000; Castor, after a stroke, in 2001. As a 12-year-old, Castor still received a linear appraisal score of 90. She left us with 9 daughters.
Who we are not:
We often receive inquiries about farm
tours, soapmaking classes or workshops (and visits to our workshop
"just see how you make the soap"), direct soap sales, goat
dung manure availability, and other similar requests.
While such interest is very much appreciated, as a very small family enterprise with ranch/farm and other work obligations, we do not really have time for such visits, nor are we set up to properly handle them here at our private residence.
In addition to mail order, we do make our soaps available for purchase locally in a number of locations (see our Retail Locations), and sell directly to the public at local craft fairs during the year (in particular, on July 4th and in December during the holiday craft fair season).
We regret that we aren't able to offer soapmaking demonstrations or workshops ourselves; however, other soapmakers sometimes do, and we encourage those of you who are interested to check online and elsewhere for such opportunities.
Similarly, at this point in our evolution, we are not generally selling animals, buck breeding services, or goat dung manure. Our breeding program is very selective and limited (just our hay bills alone have skyrocketed in recent years), and any available manure for gardening is usually provided only by agreement to very close neighbors.
Thank you very much for your understanding with regard to these limitations. As always, if we can be of service to you to help you find our soaps, answer any questions about our products, or to assist you with an order, please don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!