Gray Keeps Busy At Home

McDonald County Press - - COMMUNITY - Rachel Dick­er­son

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 coun­try­s­, 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.

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