Article by AÔda Rogers, photos by Michelle Halfacre
Patrice Buck is living in the land of milk and honey. Literally. Turn down Dairy Lane in this rural slice of Saluda County and youíll be greeted by 40-some gloriously uddered Jersey cows. From them, and the rich milk they produce, she and her husband Mike earn a happy living. While most of the milk is sold to Dairy Farmers of America, some is used for her creamy soaps and lotions. When she adds honey from nearby farms in Leesville - well, youíve got some great products.
Patricia Buck with her cheeses and cows.
"These donít have chemicals in them like your store-bought," she says inside her tiny shop, lined with shelves of the soaps, dried herbs and beeswax candles she makes. "These are all natural."
A registered nurse, Patrice opened Jersey Thyme Farm three years ago. She figured if people could make soap with goat milk, cow milk would work, too. Using the raw milk from her husbandís Butter Patch Jersey dairy, she concocted a recipe that also includes a variety of oils, herbs and lye. Essential oils and fragrance oils make the difference between her milk baths, lip balms, foot creams and lotion bars.
Caring mainly for elderly patients as a home health nurse, Patrice has become sensitive to their needs. "Their chemistry changes, and they need things that are soothing and nourishing and gentle to skin. This milk has such a high butterfat content, it really makes a good soap," she says, adding that fair-skinned people can use her soaps on their faces because itís so mild. Her Smiley Feet Peppermint Foot Cream, made with peppermint oil, beeswax, aloe vera juice and coconut oils, is helpful to diabetics, who are prone to circulatory problems. "Listen, my mother had a corn growing between her toes. With this foot cream, it just eliminated it."
Patrice laughs a lot. Fresh-air vitality seems to spring from her being. She and Mike raised five daughters on this 65-acre farm. While she does most of the work with the products, the girls pitch in sometimes, as do her mother and sister. Chickens, rabbits, pigs, cats and dogs have all lived here, and the Buck girls, avid 4-Hers, always showed swine and heifers at the State Fair. Melissa, Jennifer, Alyson, Katie and Whitney all have won at least one first place in the heifer division; several grand champions have emerged from the lot. With only Whitney still at home, Buck can look around and be glad she and Mike settled here 22 years ago. "I like the freedom of the country," she says. "Itís a good place to raise your children. They have a good work ethic." Patrice and Mike have four grandchildren now, and theyíll probably learn to grow crops and raise animals, too.
Patrice makes butter, buttermilk, sour cream, ice cream and yogurt, and says she hasnít bought soap, shampoo or dishwashing liquid in three years. Self-sufficiency is important to her. "I want us to be able to take care of ourselves if we need to," she says. Besides sewing, cooking, canning and freezing, the Cayce native grows and dries herbs - many of them used in her soaps. Doing things the old-fashioned way has always appealed.
"I like the simplicity, even though itís time-consuming," she reflects. "It seems we have all these time-saving devices and we still donít have enough time. I feel when youíre a good steward of what Godís given us, itís real satisfying to produce something thatís beneficial to my family and friends."
Jersey Thyme products can be found in retail outlets in North and South Carolina. A three- to four-ounce bar of soap costs $4; a 12-ounce bag of milk bath is $6.95. Lavender and oatmeal-milk-honey are the most popular; Patrice notes that her products are easy on the nose and wonít interfere with perfumes. The chickweed salve is good for cuts, burns and insect bites; made from chickweed juices, olive oil and beeswax, the salve is good for psoriasis and dermatitis.
Thereís no phone in her shop, a decades-old building with a tin roof and front porch full of plants and folk art. The rusticity suits its owner. "My grandparents and great-grandparents lived simply and were always happy people. They didnít have to have things to be happy. A lot of what I do goes back to that."
Jersey Thyme Farm is open in December WednesdayĖSaturday, 10 a.m.Ė6 p.m. After the first of the year, please call (864) 445-4372 for an appointment.
This article is sponsored by Capital City/Lake
Murray Country Regional Tourism District.
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