by Tom Sims
Tom Sims searches the Valley for tips on eating healthy, buying healthy food, growing healthy food, and eating out healthy in the Valley, for this Healthy Eating in the Valley column. Feel free to share your suggestions of places and things to check out!
Imagine living off the land and inviting others to come and see how you live off the land and how they can too.
I first heard of Basilwood Farm through a Facebook post from Philip Blackburn. I had known Philip most of his life and he was marrying Shelby Spruance. Shelby’s parents, Kim and Jill had bought five acres on a hillside near Morgan Canyon Road and were creating a little piece of heaven on earth where they could raise their own meat, eggs, and vegetables and live with the beauty around them.
Nine dairy goats, three male goats, a host of chickens and domesticated animals, creative gardens, and a new healthy home-based business later, they have created a model for sustainability and living off the land. I wanted to visit them ever since I was introduced. For one thing, I liked the name. I was not disappointed. Basilwood Farm is a laboratory for personal sustainability – food and otherwise.
This column is about healthy eating and the Spruance family, now in a house and a cottage on the property, do eat healthy food that they grow themselves. But they have created a line of products that are healthy for absorption through the skin.
They are making soap from the milk of the goats they raise – lots of soap and lots of varieties of soap, along with a little food. Our digestive systems absorb nutrients, but so do our pores. Sometimes they absorb chemicals that do as much harm as good. The Spruance family is experimenting with products that add healthy natural ingredients.
So, do they still drink goat milk and eat goat cheese? Absolutely, but they market skin care products and a few other things that almost always include goat’s milk. Vodka-cured vanilla is an exception. So is their special sherry vinegar.
Jill and Kim Spruance homeschooled their children, but did not isolate them. They provided numerous social interactions and modeled community wherever they were. They still model community by interacting with local producers and providers of whole, natural food products and cottage industries that repurpose other people’s “junk.”
Their website and their Facebook pages are networking hubs for organic eating and information. They are a part of a continuum of sustainability and natural health.
Their website states, “We strive to find self-sufficient methods of feeding ourselves and living. Our current endeavors include artisan soap-making, veggie gardening, goat herding and milking, yogurt and cheese making, chicken tending, piggy farming, egg collecting, homemade vanilla extract production, and gopher hunting.”
Robyn Reilly, a friend on Facebook and in real time says, “I’ve been using the ‘best’ liquid body soaps but still having extremely dry skin. I started using Basilwood Farm soaps and both my daughter and I cannot say enough about how good our skin feels now. It’s wonderful! Do yourself a favor and start nourishing your skin!”
At a recent open house, I was reminded about the various properties in products that are good for the skin. I bought a block of natural soap for shaving and another for deep cleansing. The family is quick and able to answer all questions and allow you to smell and experience these products during these special days. We even toured the operations to see how they were made.
In their own words:
“Basilwood is our family-owned and operated farm where we create skin-nourishing goat’s-milk soap (and other goodies) from our little herd of Alpine dairy goats. Each doe is hand-milked daily to produce our handcrafted soap. And since we do not use water in the production of our soap, each bar contains approximately 20% of our very own fresh, creamy milk. The soap we make has as much character and personality as the goats themselves. We strive to give you a little piece of Basilwood in everything we make. Each year leads us into new directions, new products and new adventures, and further sustainability!!! Stay tuned. You never know what we are going to come up with next!! ‘Like us’ on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest here. Our goal each day is to put a smile on your face and encourage along in your life’s journey.”
With the newsletter and blog, you can add to your educational troves of understanding. I was intrigued by the article on cheese, being a big fan of goat cheese myself. “With a new Cheese Please”
About their goats, the Spruances said, “It didn’t take long to realize that we were able to have more than just milk to drink from these girls, so we embarked upon yogurt making, which later gave way to soap making and cheese making. When we would talk to people about our Goat’s Milk Soap, they would ask if we also made cheese, and it wasn’t long before we started offering our ‘Cheese, Please!’ classes” as a way to invite them up to the farm for the day and familiarize them with the process of making that yummy stuff and introduce them to the soap room and the critters too!!”
Basilwood’s population, as the family would tell you, currently includes “4 humans, 62 domesticated critters, (who knows how many wild ones) and numerous plants!” And … there is one human critter soon to arrive to the little cottage where Philip and Shelby are building upon the Basilwood legacy. Check out their page for days when they receive the public or contact them below for a wonderful experience of feeding the body through the mouth and through the skin.
Healthy eating to you for 2015!
15759 Morgan Canyon Rd Prather, California (559) 332-3276 www.basilwoodfarm.com