Gray Keeps Busy At Home
Marilyn Gray of Powell does not work outside the home, but she stays very busy with her many tasks at home.
Between tending the garden, milking the goats, weaving, sewing, quilting, making goat’s milk soap, canning and more, Gray makes sure she does her part around the house.
“I always felt like if I wasn’t going to be working at a job, I needed to be making a contribution,” she said.
It has been 20 years since she started making goat’s milk soap. She traded a set of dishes for soap-making supplies. She researched recipes online and in some old country books, she said.
“I kept researching it until I had what I thought was a good bar of soap. I try not to put anything in my products I can’t pronounce,” she said. “I have skin allergies and things, so I try to keep it natural.” She added that she never puts artificial coloring or man-made fragrances in her soaps, only essential oils.
She started selling her soaps eight or 10 years ago, she said. She sells lotions and salves, too. Her products can be found at the Bentonville Farmer’s Market, the Jane Store, War Eagle Mill, Allen’s Grocery Store in Bella Vista and Rags to Riches Flea Market in Anderson. She also has a website, cooperridge countrystore.com, where the products are available.
“The goat’s milk products — that’s the way I make my stay-at-home money,” Gray said.
She quilts and sews for other people. She also teaches people to sew. A sewing group meets in her home every other Tuesday night.
There are many different ways to preserve food, she said.
“I can everything I can. We grow everything we like to eat that’s growable in this area. We do root cellaring. There’s so many different ways to preserve it so you can use it. I dry a lot. I freeze a lot,” she said. “I do a lot of jams and jellies out of fruits and herbs and flowers.
“I’m on my second crop of corn right now, and it’s just getting ready to tassel. I do as many fall plantings as I can so we can eat as many months as we can out of the garden.”
On a typical day, Gray starts out by going to the barn to milk the goats, then feeding the goats and the barn cats and letting out the chickens. She brings the milk to the house and strains it and puts it in the refrigerator to chill. Then she goes to the garden and picks her vegetables and brings them back to the house to clean. Sometimes she has canning to do. Next she cleans up the kitchen. On Mondays she does laundry.
Then she works on her weaving, sewing, quilting or in the soap room. Then her husband, Danny, comes home for lunch from working at his welding shop, so she takes a break. Next she goes and checks on her elderly father, Marion Cooper, for a couple of hours. On Fridays she makes deliveries and mail orders. Every Saturday, from April to October, she is at the Bentonville Farmer’s Market from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
She said that in the wintertime she has more time to work on her sewing and weaving because she does not have to take care of the garden or mow the yard and the goats are not milking. However, she has a freezer full of milk and actually spends more time making soap in the winter time, she said.
“Because I don’t work out away from the house on a job … that’s my way of putting food on the table without a job away from the house,” she said.
Marilyn Gray of Powell is pictured in her garden. In addition to gardening, Gray makes and sells goat’s milk soap, sews, weaves, quilts and preserves food.