A modest project that began as a way for a mother and father to teach their children the benefits of living on a farm has turned into a successful family business in only a few short years for one local family.
Caesy DeVorss and his wife Mikaela decided in 2012 to move to a farm near Green Ridge where they built a home for themselves and their two young children, Mikensey and Gage.
“When we moved to the country we were looking for a way for our children to see all of the good things they could do while living on a farm,” Casey explained Saturday afternoon at the Queen of the Prairies Festival of the Arts in downtown Sedalia. “Mikaela and I have always loved animals and so we thought we would buy the kids a few goats.
“We went to an Amish family near Windsor and came home with our first three female goats,” he added. “Mikaela liked to watch reruns of the ‘Golden Girls’ and so she named the goats Dorothy, Blanche and Sophia.
The couple began to milk the goats and wanted to find something they could do with the goats’ milk as a way to show their children some of the things the milk could be used for.
“We went online and found the idea for soap and lotion,” Casey said. “Then we started to look at all the possibilities and started to consider what we would like to see in the product.
“We knew we didn’t want something that had a lot of preservatives or ingredients in it; we wanted it to be as pure and simple as possible,” he said. “We learned very quickly that it is hard not to become passionate about something when you create it from the ground up.”
From those beliefs, the Modest Goat product line was created.
“The reason we called the products Modest Goats is because after the first time we milked Sophia, she crossed her hind legs as if she were being shy and modest and the named just seemed perfect,” Casey said. “We milk all of our goats by hand and each goat typically yields three-fourths to one gallon of milk.
“We bought a little male goat about two years ago so we can breed the females,” he added. “The kids named him Armor and they helped to bottle-feed him and he is just as gentle as can be.”
The family has 13 female goats in the herd and five small males. They will sell the males once they are older.
Mikaela does most of the production of the lotions and soap products while her husband is responsible for the lip balms.
“Goat’s milk has a number of health benefits,” Mikaela explained. “It is extremely fatty which helps to create a thick lotion. That was one of the things that was very important to us, we didn’t want a watery product.
“It also contains alpha hydroxyl acids such as lactic acid, which is really good for exfoliating and removing dead skin and has a lot of vitamin A, which is beneficial in repairing damaged skin tissue,” she added. “It is very satisfying to me to know that we are making a quality product that is benefiting others.”
The couple is very careful in making sure their goats, which are all named, are well taken care of.
The goats are fed a high-protein grain, which produces better milk, and the family frequently checks what the animals consume because pasture grasses such as wild onion can compromise the purity and scent of the milk.
“We are always checking on the goats and it is something both Mikensey and Gage help with,” Casey said. “Bella is the face of our product and is on our labels. We raised her since she was nearly a week-old and at one time she was Mikensey’s 4H show goat.
“The children have chores on the farm and they help with the products too,” he added. “They really are good when it comes to filling the lotion bottles and labeling the products.”
There are 16 scents available and one unscented, with three new scents for men that were introduced this week. Mikaela adds essential oils and fragrances to the basic recipe to create the variations.
“Some of them are based on customer requests or the show we are at,” she said. “We needed something for the Versailles Apple Festival and that’s how our apple jack line was created. Almond biscotti is currently our most popular line.
“I’m working on a soap called ‘Happy Camper’ that will be a mix of citronella and eucalyptus that is supposed to help repel mosquitoes,” she added. “One of the good things about the product lines is that we make the products fresh and we have very little back stock.”
Mikaela added that they restock after every festival or show they attend but the product has a yearlong shelf life.
Modest Goats is sold in six locations: The Station@Smithton, L&B Animal Health Supply, Lilac Lane, the Kuntry Bulk Amish Store, The Bothwell Hotel Gift Shop, and Bodyworks Day Spa. The products can also be purchased through www.modestgoats.com.
Modest Goats is also at the Sedalia Area Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and they just found out they have been selected by the Department of Agriculture to be a showcase product in the Agri-Mo Bistro at the Missouri State Fair again in August.
“We started out by going to festivals and craft shows in the fall, sometimes as many as two each weekend,” Casey said. “Because we are in some established shops we are seeing sales year-round now.
“We would love nothing more than to see this keep growing,” he added. “Neither Mikaela or I really have a business background but we are at the period now when we are always busy with the company.
Both have full-time jobs but the couple feels they will know if the time comes and the company becomes too large.
“Some of our friends give us a hard time about it,” Casey said. “But it really has been great for us especially as a family.
“Most weekends we will be together side by side all day and I get to spend quality time with my wife and children,” he added. “I know there are a lot of people who don’t have the chance to spend time like that with the people they love doing what they love, so we feel blessed.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484