Coda’s Haven Rescue Farm and Goat Milk Soap
By Kait Keim
As I drove up to Coda’s Haven Rescue Farm, Dave Samuel’s was there in the driveway, all bundled up to meet me. Eager to show me around and introduce me to his favorite animals, I hardly had time to introduce myself before the tour began. It was a particularly cold day, despite the sun, so our walk outside was not to be long. Short but sweet actually. Every animal that I had the pleasure of meeting was curious, friendly, and showed obvious affection for their friend Dave. Their crew consists of Sheep, goats, llamas, donkeys, cats, and dogs. Of the 120 animals at the farm, about 50 are rescues, none of which have lacked for loving care since finding their way to Coda’s Haven.
In 1994 Dave and his wife, Colleen, bought the 20 acre farm. The house was built in 1859 and the original barn, grainery, and milk house are still functional. Originally from Dearborn with limited exposure to farm life, the couple took immediately to the new homestead. Since then they have begun taking in animals from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and beyond. Rescue animals come from Humane Societies, the Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue Association, and the Cross Roads Donkey Rescue Association. Many more come to them through local vets, “drop-offs,” and most recently, the Belle Isle Petting Zoo (it is now closed) that used to be a part of the Detroit Zoo. The animals from the zoo are carriers of the African Catarrhal Virus that is deadly to giraffes, cattle, and bison, but not harmful to themselves. Other rescue stories include a former 4-H goat, Jet, that was sold for meat, but ended up at Coda’s haven to live out his days. Also their overgrown donkey, Maynard, whose father was huge. They currently have thirty-five goats and five donkeys. Their dog count is at eleven and the cat count is at thirteen.
Their largest residents are the llamas that come to them from Bob Douglas of Dexter. All the llamas they get are the senior citizens of a large heard and need a quieter place to enjoy their retirement. The six are kept with the sheep flock and serve as excellent watchdogs. Since taking in the llamas, coyotes have ceased to be a problem for the flock. Gentle and attentive to even the smallest lamb, the llamas are fierce fighters and can kick harshly with their front legs. I was told not to worry though, as they “only spit at each other!”
Their sheep flock (of 80) is made of Catadin/Dorper crosses, and are never in need of “haircuts,” as they are short hair. They raise them to sell to sheepherders, never for meat. Two other intentional animals they have are cart donkey by the name of Orville & Wilbur. Colleen gave these half brothers to Dave for his 50th birthday. Mona, their retired Alpine Dairy Goat is a natural mother, and used to give a gallon of milk a day! Their current dairy goat, Delilah, is pregnant and due June 1st.
Every day at 6 AM Dave begins his two and a half hour routine of feeding and caring for everyone. Dave is a retired band director and is now a special education teacher in Lincoln Schools. Colleen is a professor at Eastern Michigan University and together their day jobs fund the farm. That income and the Goat Milk Soap sales help care for all the rescue animals and buys supplies necessary to keep the animals healthy. Having summers off and school vacations allow time for projects around the farm. If you are interested in supporting the efforts of Coda’s Haven Rescue Farm, the best ways are through donations of money and buying their Goat Milk Soap.
They sell their soap online at www.codashaven.com, at the Ypsilanti Food Co-op, and at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. The bars at the Ypsilanti Co-op are priced lower because shipping is not an added cost. Their online sales are across the USA and even international! They have a large number of orders that come from Japan and also Japanese women in New York City. They began making goats milk soap because Dave had very dry, sensitive hands. Now a group of Japanese women have found their secret! The most soothing formula is oatmeal and honey and is very healing for Eczema, skin allergies, acne, and psoriasis. One batch of 33 bars of soap only takes six cups of milk. Each bar of soap contains more than an ounce of goat milk and no water has been added. The soaps contain only vegetable-based oils, and no nut oils or animal fat (besides the goat milk). Many of the soaps have essential oils and homegrown herbs added. All bars are hand cut and may vary slightly in size and shape. Each bar weighs approximately 2.75 ounces. “If you've never had the pleasure of experiencing handcrafted goat milk soaps, you're in for a special treat!”
Visit their website for more information on product recipes, pictures, and their rescue efforts for animals needing a safe haven. It was a pleasure to visit with Dave and Colleen and meet their crew of animals. Please consider supporting their worthy and local efforts, we need more kindhearted and effective people like them in this world!