08-06-2015, 06:47 PM
#1
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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I had the pleasure of meeting Laurence and Mathieu from La Savonniere du Moulin this week and thought that I would share some of what we discussed. First of all, I would like to say that they are two of the most charming people that I have ever met -very down to earth, friendly and with a good sense of humor.

[Image: 8p1IG7e.jpg]

Laurence (mother) and Mathieu (son) live on a donkey farm in the French countryside in houses that were built in the 1750's. Their property has two houses, a barn and a separate laboratory for manufacturing cosmetics. The nearest town is about 1.5 miles away and it only consists of 100 people.

Laurence decided to quit her job several years ago and stay home to make cosmetics because she could not bear to leave the baby donkeys for the day. She explained that the babies were sleeping when she left for work and they were sleeping when she got home. When she showed me the videos of the baby donkeys playing, I could see why she made this decision. I had no idea that they were so playful and had so much personality. She has been making soap and other cosmetics full-time for the past 5 years.

They explained that their donkeys love people because they feed the babies milk first and only use the donkey milk that they need. Other donkey farmers will take all of the milk and feed the babies some sort of formula or cows milk. I think this happy donkey phenomena is reflected in the quality of their soap and other cosmetics.

Speaking of their shaving soap...everyone keeps asking about the 40% Donkey Milk formula. They explained that the 40% formula was actually a mistake. Kind of a remake of that classic 3 Stooges episode when Moe, Larry and Curly made home made beer and they all put the yeast in. Laurence had added the donkey milk but Matthieu did not know and he too added Donkey milk. A fortunate mistake if you will. That said, they do not plan to repeat it.

Mary (my wife) and I learned several factoids about donkeys that we never would have dreamed. In addition to donkeys, Laurence and Mathieu also have sheep, chickens and bee hives. The donkeys will actually protect the sheep and chickens from wolves and foxes. When the Donkey sees a wolf, it goes into attack mode and will charge the wolf. Who would have guessed?  The baby donkeys can walk within an hour but they isolate them with their mothers for two days after birth. Apparently the birth mothers get jealous when the other female donkeys pay attention to their newborn. Once the two days is up though...there is no problem.

The products that La Savonniere du Moulin produce are at least 95% organic. Some of their products contain honey and/or bees wax that comes from their bees. It is actually a very impressive operation.  The wood that they use for the shave stick containers as well as the thinner wood for the shave soaps is locally sourced...this is the common theme running through all of their products.

This was Laurence's first visit to the United States but Matthieu has been to California a few times before. He attended an international school for several months in San Francisco when he was 17 to improve his English and has been back a few times to visit his host family. While chatting at dinner Mathieu told us that has the newer house of the two (1759 I believe) and lives with his girlfriend. My wife asked if his girlfriend also worked at SdM and his face lit up with a smile. He explained that he knows better than to work with both his mother and his girlfriend. Biggrin

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 08-06-2015, 06:52 PM
#2
  • evnpar
  • Emeritus
  • Portland, Oregon
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A wonderful story. Thanks for sharing, Phil.

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 08-06-2015, 06:52 PM
#3
  • Agravic
  • Super Moderator
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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Very nice, Phil.

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 08-06-2015, 06:56 PM
#4
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Very nice Story, now I am curious to see donkeys in the farm in France . Can you ask to share the farm picture ?


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 08-06-2015, 07:00 PM
#5
  • Agravic
  • Super Moderator
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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Here are a few pics taken from the SdM FB page:

[Image: FpsKLtX.jpg]

[Image: s1pbsGU.jpg]

[Image: TBUX6OP.jpg]

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 08-06-2015, 07:09 PM
#6
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Very cool Phil..!! Funny story I had a burrow, I won't say ass as to not repeat the ass milk jokes Biggrin my grandpa gave him to me and he'd do all sorts of tricks, he was hilarious and they're a lot smarter than you would think.. Thanks again for the story!!

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 08-06-2015, 07:20 PM
#7
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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They are going to email some donkey pictures and pictures of their farm when they get back to France. I hope that they also email the video of the baby donkey.

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 08-06-2015, 07:48 PM
#8
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Thanks for sharing they sound like awesome people


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 08-06-2015, 08:40 PM
#9
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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I would like to ask them about shelf life. My puck still dries into perfect hexagonal columns and then when hydrated  you can just make it out. I think of the stained glass windows of the great French cathedrals everytime. My dairy science class never mentioned this, but I think a cheesemaker would have a chemical answer. 11 shaves and it continues to impress. I want more in reserve but need longterm storage feedback.

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 08-06-2015, 08:50 PM
#10
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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Kav -they said the shelf life is measured in years. The key is to leave it uncovered once you have used it and you are also supposed to leave the luffa in the bottom of the bowl to help keep the puck from remaining wet.

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 08-06-2015, 09:07 PM
#11
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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ANYBODY HAVE A SPARE LUFFA LYING AROUND? My puck is in a small custard dish that was a perfect fit. Pyewacket loves the stuff. He sits on the counter, mouth open to increase his sensory appraisal. Equines do this too, curling their upper lips in a german word called pleghmen. I have this hungering for brie cheese, crossaints and red wine for breakfast when I use it, which is OFTEN.

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 08-06-2015, 09:12 PM
#12
  • Agravic
  • Super Moderator
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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Haha, kav .. lovely visual.

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 08-06-2015, 09:12 PM
#13
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Donkeys are very sociable once they get to knwo you,at least the ones around me are. At first my daughter wanted to play with them and it took forever for me to actually get them to come to me. Now it's like they know our car when we pull up we have 2 donkeys waiting on us and my daughter loves tongo pet them. There are horses in the same enclosure as the donkeys and they will not have the horses getting any of their attention.

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 08-06-2015, 09:28 PM
#14
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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Let me share a secret horseman's trick. These animals get really tired of people fussing with their faces head on. #1 it's  aggressive body language to stare  but imagine you really like somebody, but everytime they walk up and start mussing with your hair. Now, equines have a very large vein running inside their ears to help cool their blood. Go slow, because some have been abused by idiots who grab ears ( it's another aggressive body language to induce submission between fighting individuals) roughly putting on halters or bridles. If they let you; SLOWLY rub your finger up and down that vein. They love it for @ 3 minutes and will be your pal all day.

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 08-07-2015, 03:46 AM
#15
  • Csd3
  • Active Member
  • Denver, Co
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Great great back story.  Really brings something special to the product.

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 08-07-2015, 05:40 AM
#16
  • kav
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  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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I am curious. How many people have tried it? We see so many good products have their moment and then fade. EVERYTHING about this product; preconsumer environmental impact-consumer acceptance and post consumer impact is a big YES-or OUI!

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 08-07-2015, 05:49 AM
#17
  • Agravic
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  • Pennsylvania, USA
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(08-07-2015, 05:40 AM)kav Wrote: I am curious. How many people have tried it? We see so many good products have their moment and then fade. EVERYTHING about this product; preconsumer environmental impact-consumer acceptance and post consumer impact is a big YES-or OUI!

SdM is my favored soap these days : this speaks volumes here, kav.

As for the honeycomb composition of the puck, I suspect the soap is 'extruded' using hexagonal filter tubing, resulting in this phenomenon .. my theory.

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 08-07-2015, 06:06 AM
#18
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That is really cool to see the people and the farm behind one of my favorite soaps! I have both the 25% and the 30% (I think that's the right percentages anyway...) and they are both excellent. I've used the hell out of them both and have barely made a dent. Probably the best post shave feel of any soap I have, and if you pair it with the balm, just wow. A bit too hot at the moment for balms though!

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 08-07-2015, 06:17 AM
#19
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(08-06-2015, 09:07 PM)kav Wrote: ANYBODY HAVE A SPARE LUFFA LYING AROUND?
I gave all mine to Mrs. Smails.  Not sure what she uses them for.
(08-07-2015, 05:40 AM)kav Wrote: I am curious. How many people have tried it? We see so many good products have their moment and then fade. EVERYTHING about this product; preconsumer environmental impact-consumer acceptance and post consumer impact is a big YES-or OUI!
I was in Paris in April on my honeymoon and dragged the wife to Planete Rasoir to get some MdC and Ass Milk.  (Sorry, "La Savonniere du Moulin" is too difficult for my feeble mind to remember.)  I was comparing the MdC scents when the sales lady, in her broken English (which was better than my horrible French), picked up the SdM (25%) and said that it was as "highly regarded" as the MdC.  I had planned on buying both anyway, but I hope she thought I bought the SdM as a result of her suggestion.  My point is that I was under the impression the lady wasn't selling so much as giving credit to what she perceived to be a good company.

Anyway, I've used it.  It smells good.  I'd say the lather is on par with MdC and as such is IMO a slight step up from LPL.  However, I'm not able to get the degree of comfort found in a tallow soap, so I don't use it as often as I'd like.

Thanks for the post Phil.  That's really great that you guys got together.  I know a guy who uses donkeys specifically to protect livestock against wolves, coyotes and cougars.  They're apparently fearless and single minded when it comes to doing battle with these predators.  Anyway, I've read about all there is to read about SdM and was under the impression they're some really special people.  Your post provides further evidence of this.  Now, if y'all don't mind, I'm going to try to pull up some baby donkey videos on YouTube.

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 08-07-2015, 06:28 AM
#20
  • Johnny
  • MODERATOR EMERITUS
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Thanks for sharing their visit with us, Phil.  I love their shave soap and balm, but after reading the above I'm wondering if I made a mistake in grating it and pressing it in to a closed container.  We will see.  If I messed up, I will just have to order more.

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