Do More With Less

It's possible--and rewarding-- to do more with less. I used this skill approach when I taught high school: every school and every student could use more resources, but we have to make the most of what we have--including developing and honing our own brainpower and skills.  Furthermore,  when we're "given" something, we lose the opportunity to solve our own problems--we lose innovation, work ethic, grit, collaboration, focus. So when I had the chance to make a cleaner using plant oil leftovers, I set out to see how much "work" I could make this WARHORSE tackle, and do it as safe and "clean" as possible.  For the "mammal" products, I foraged for well-known, humble "superfoods" that deliver a buffet of functions and benefits, and had a long history of science behind them. Eventually, WARHORSE  partnered with some multi state sunflower farmers to capture a nutrient rich, raw sunflower oil to catapult our skin loving cleaners.  Even when washing a firetruck, our hands and skin are exposed--the skin is the largest organ, so it matters! Yes, our recipes could be more "exotic," but what's the point when superfoods that we eat can work to clean as well?  WARHORSE's recipes offers high performing and multifunctional cleaning and skincare in one. Yes, we can do more with less.

We don't buy another company's starter kit. We start from scratch.

I've got something to say, and I'm just gonna say it:

WARHORSE makes a perfect hand soap, a pet shampoo, a body wash, a horse shampoo, a truck cleaner.  It's all about cleaning well and protecting the skin from toxins. 

There! I said it!  I've tried to be humble about our extraordinary soaps and let others speak for us. Yes, word of mouth is working and we're grateful for every customer feedback we get.

But it's time for me to speak up, and stop sitting in the back of the class, raising my hands politely and waiting.  Maybe I've been too humble, too quiet. Besides, I am asked all the time, "What makes WARHORSE different?"  So I better have an answer. 

WARHORSE is raring up and kicking down the barn door.  

This is Noble, our naturally aggressive WARHORSE who embodies our soaps--strong when necessary and gentle when needed. He's no wall flower. Can't you tell?

Here's why we have something different that really works--cleans and protects your skin and the environment:

A perfect cleaning solution starts from the ground up, from scratch. We don't buy another company's starter kit.  

We don't buy a coconut base and add a few ingredients and call it our own.  We don't use decyl glucoside or cocamidopropyl betaine. They make lots of bubbles. They are easier to get. We could use them, but we don't. WARHORSE wants minimally processed, as-close-to-the ground ingredients as we can. Our goal is to harvest plant oils that still retain much of their natural benefits.  

We're fanatical about our ingredients and our special blending process. The coconut, sunflower, castor, avocado, sweet almond oils work well together.This refined recipe provides lots of luxurious lather, lots of moisturizers, and lots of cleaning action. And a little goes a long way. About a 1/2 pump gets the job done. 

I've been on many hunting trips. Homemade recycled plant biofuel powers my car or truck across the US while working for WARHORSE.  This trip I'm up in Catawba County looking for some local non gmo canola oil for my Multi Purpose Fleet and Farm Cleaner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I'm in Georgia, meeting a sunflower farmer, whom I talked into selling me an unrefined sunflower oil for my mammal soaps.   Thank goodness he and his farming brothers have let me through the door.

 

 

 

Here's the glorious stuff that comes to my NC soap pot. This raw oil contains lots of moisturizing sunflower wax, and retains its natural antioxidants, lecithin, vitamin E.   And we choose other plant oils that are mechanically pressed with no pesticides or metals. We forage for minimally processed oils and nothing synthetic and no petroleum ingredients.

Set out to make the most wholesome and extraordinary skin soap, I started in a 50 gallon pot and a boat paddle.  Eventually, I moved up to a 600 gallon pot and help from my sister. Years later, I had to load it all up, find a way to make it in even larger pots, and teach a team of local folks to help. So I moved my equipment to a bigger place.  

 We gave away our soaps and cleaners for 4 years, getting feedback from our community, veterinarians, horse farms. And we refined our recipes until we were told "This is perfect. Don't change anything."  

And we haven't--other than a bigger soap pot

Whether you're washing your grime laden hands, your funky skunky dog, your sweaty slobber ridden horse, your dirty dusty firetruck, your fly specked house siding, WARHORSE gets the job done without chemicals--nothing to hurt your skin our your lungs.

Yeah, we try to let our ingredients and customers speak for us. But sometimes, we just have to speak up.

We're not afraid to compete, so compare us to what's in your bottles.

Test us. See what we're made of.

Ok, I admit WARHORSE isn't perfect. But we're trying.

Sunday Morning Waste Food Collection

 It's Sunday morning, around 6:30 am, and I got something special to do.  With the Warhorse growing, it's easy to push back other important things.  So I work to keep a Sunday morning ritual, a history of recycling food waste that created Warhorse, and it feeds my old truck with biofuel and washes firetrucks, buildings, and barstools for my local made cleaner.

For the past 11 years, My husband or I have made this early am trip almost every Sunday morning. This morning my 1981 Chevy Luv diesel--and trio of furry family Ed, Maggie, and Abbey (who ride along in hopes of seeing deer, squirrels, and rabbits)--putts around my town where we pick up used cooking oil from several restaurants to make plant biofuel and some Multi Purpose cleaner.

The Luv loves biofuel from the waste plant oil--at this restaurant there's peanut and canola oils.  Through a process called transesterification, the plant oil can be turned into fuel for diesel engines.  Boeing has been exploring biofuel production on six continents from various types of plants and used cooking oil.  It's not just backyard chemistry. 

Some of this 35 gallons is going to Polk County High School's Biofuel I science class that starts again this week.  Last semester,  the Biofuel II explored various types of plant energy and the class made their own green equipment cleaner.

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My Isuzu Pup diesel digests the biofuel for local Warhorse deliveries to The Purple Onion, Landrum Hardware, Landrum Fire Department, and Foothills Humane Society, and Mr. Teaster's IGA.

On a larger scale, Warhorse's plant "waste" makes Warhorse Multi Purpose Cleaner for Southern Concrete trucks, JJ Tate Team Dressage horse trailers and trucks, for Foothills Humane Society's kennels, and farms and businesses in the midwest. Now, Warhorse works with other companies in the south and midwest to use their plant oils for our Multi Purpose Cleaner.

It's important to  remember where it all started and keep my Sunday morning ritual.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  Theodore Roosevelt

Half Ass Won't Cut It

Let's get this out of the way first: We can't do everything right all the time. 

But we can advance through dogged persistence and the pursuit of perfection.  

While I struggle with growing WARHORSE, I  find myself wondering if I can really get this horse out of his little Polk County barn.  It's daunting sometimes, trying to keep things moving in the right direction. There's no crystal ball, no amount of money, no one mentor who can tell you exactly how to proceed.  I have stopped looking for "absolute" answers, and accepted that I will often grapple and fuddle my way to a door that may--or may not--be a way forward.

Luckily for me, I get to meet and talk to lots of people. And while I am sharing the WARHORSE story with other businesses, I get to hear their stories too.  When I think there's too many challenges or I'm just too tired, other people and their struggle keep me inspired and moving.

Nature's Emporium is one of Canada's premier health food markets. And it took them decades to achieve this.  They don't just let any ole soap on their shelves. And, they just adopted WARHORSE. On a recent call, Teresa, one of the family members who owns the health food stores, and I shared how we each worked to get our businesses moving.  The family story behind Nature's Emporium is one of dogged persistence and perseverance--from flea market, to store, to a fire, and to rising from the ashes and working to support the neighborhood.    

In the narrative, Teresa reminded me that there is indeed an absolute in business : "Never do anything half ass."  

Right on, sister.

 I found this pic of the D'Addario family and think this might be Teresa.   Sometimes, a person you never meet face-to-face can be a catalyst for moving forward.

 I found this pic of the D'Addario family and think this might be Teresa.   Sometimes, a person you never meet face-to-face can be a catalyst for moving forward.

Think about it, a neighborhood store MUST take pride in everything it does. You know how it is in a small community--half ass effort doesn't go unpunished. But it is published on Facebook to harangue and haunt businesses, even for the most honest mistake.  We got to pursue perfection, even to get a chance of making it.

Thank you Theresa and D'Addario family for sharing your story with me. You've set a standard. So, now I'll get back to work. so WARHORSE and I keep earning the privilege to have a place on your store shelves.

 

Millennial on the Move: Do what you can.

I’m in the midst of my first big job change and move. Nobody said it would be easy, but they also didn’t say it would be quite this hard. When I finish work for the day, I come home to a bare-walled apartment that still doesn’t feel like home, as most of my personal effects remain in boxes and my newly acquired Craigslist couch is too small for my awkwardly-long living area.

It’s been harder than I’d like to admit to stay positive when items are getting added to the to-do list much more quickly than they’re getting checked off, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Warhorse, it’s this: I just have to keep moving. Cliché as it may be, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Just when I’m moving along at a good clip, life ties a parachute to my back and slows the hustle. On the days like that, I might not be able to hit the ground running, but I can keep placing one foot in front of the other with intention.

Here’s how I’m learning to find motivation to keep moving in the face of adversity: by celebrating the small victories. This is an underrated exercise and I think it’s one that we can all benefit from. Sure, maybe the dishes from dinner have to wait in the sink until morning to be washed and put away (only to be dirtied again at breakfast shortly thereafter of course). They’re dirty because I filled my furry kiddos’ bellies AND managed to make myself a hot dinner at the end of a long day. That’s a win.

Celebrate that singular feeling of enveloping yourself in freshly laundered sheets, even if it took a few tries to stretch the fitted one over all the corners without it popping off. Celebrate your dog’s goofy smile when he comes up to you covered in pond scum the day after his bath; he loves you, after all. Celebrate the headlight you changed, the birthday card you mailed, the smile you exchanged with the lady at the post office, the stubborn stain you scrubbed off the backsplash in your kitchen.

I often collapse into bed without having checked all the things off my to-do list. It’s hard to keep moving when I get bogged down in focusing on all of the things I couldn’t do. But I know that I did what I could. And that’s worth celebrating.

It’s the positive spark that I need to start fresh tomorrow morning with renewed eagerness. When my feet hit the floor, I’ll let the dogs out, splash some cold water on my face, and dig deep to keep moving

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." -Theodore Roosevelt

Patti: Do what you can.

Patti Lovelace knows what it means to do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Not everyone is in a position to take in a foster horse, but since she is, she uses her time and talents to affect positive change in her community. You can't do everything, but you can do something. We're a long way from ending animal cruelty, but to this one special horse, that "something" means everything. Here's what Patti has to say about Chief, her latest foster. They're both Warhorses in our eyes.

"Chief is a very old Spotted Saddle Horse or Tennessee Walking Horse gelding that was purchased at the Vale Horse Auction in April of 2016 by Carolina Feedlots who is a local kill buyer in Polk County, NC.  Chief was on his way to Mexico to be slaughtered when a lady from New York purchased him to save his life.

On April 28, 2016 he went to Foothills Humane Society for a 2 week quarantine period and then came to Red Oak Farm for rehab.  Chief was emaciated, had no teeth to process his food, and was covered with rain rot.  He still had some old remaining winter coat that he could not shed.  He had what we call 'blow outs' in all 4 hooves from where they had abscessed at the same time from lack of care.

I started feeding him 5 times a day with soaked senior feed and beet pulp with molasses.  I also dewormed him and had him vaccinated. Donated Warhorse helped tackle his bad skin. With the proper nutrition, deworming, and bathing, he began to shed the old hair and his coat looked amazing.  In about 2 months, he had gained 150 pounds and his coat looked like black satin.  What a transformation for an old horse headed to slaughter.  Today he is happy, healthy, and full of energy for an old guy."

Here at Warhorse, we aim to work for people and organizations who help other people and animals.  We make small batches of Warhorse cleaners to donate to animal rescues like Chief.  While we can't foster a horse, we can support Patti in her mission.           

                              "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. "
                                                                                    Theodore Roosevelt

Innovation in the Classroom: Green Chemistry Inspires High School Students

Polk County High School students and science teacher Lucas Link are once again exploring biofuels and biotech. 

Inspired to pursue environmental science in college, Erica Metcalf took both Biofuels I and II at Polk County High School.

Inspired to pursue environmental science in college, Erica Metcalf took both Biofuels I and II at Polk County High School.

Jennifer Allsbrook teaches biology and biotech classes at Polk High, and assists with the biofuel classes. Lucas Link is the catalyst who keeps the green chemistry students exploring how to harvest bio based energy and fuel from plants. Since Warhorse CEO pioneered the state approved science courses, we will continue to supply the students with reclaimed veggie oil from local Polk County restaurants. Recently, Warhorse delivered 30 gallons of beautiful recycled oil from restaurants Caro-Mi in Tryon and Joy Wok in Columbus.

Jennifer Allsbrook teaches biology and biotech classes at Polk High, and assists with the biofuel classes. Lucas Link is the catalyst who keeps the green chemistry students exploring how to harvest bio based energy and fuel from plants. Since Warhorse CEO pioneered the state approved science courses, we will continue to supply the students with reclaimed veggie oil from local Polk County restaurants. Recently, Warhorse delivered 30 gallons of beautiful recycled oil from restaurants Caro-Mi in Tryon and Joy Wok in Columbus.

These teachers, students, and school demonstrate that there are local resources in their community that do inspire and prepare students for the future. 

Modeled after the green energy and biofuels classes at Clemson and Appalachian State universities, Polk County High School's Biofuel I and Biofuels II classes are up and at it. The high tech biofuel mobile processor was purchased from Piedmont Biofuels. Sustainability professor David Thornton from Clemson University works with the teachers each year to enhance the courses and share how our high school students can work on similar Clemson sustainability projects.

Made by a team of UNC-Chapel Hill students--including Polk County High School graduate Michael McClure--Innovating the Classroom shares the story of 2 schools that are working to inspire students with real world green energy exploration.

 

Real soap, by real people, for real people

When an opportunity arose for Warhorse to join forces with Solio Family Farmers (aka Farm Batched by Solio) through AgStrong , the decision just made sense. The connection goes beyond mutual business benefits on paper. There’s something more profound at work here. It’s about the people behind those products.

AgStrong provides the framework for families to succeed with a team of agricultural engineers dedicated to equipping farmers with the tools to minimize risk, add value, and realize the goal of sustainable agriculture. AgStrong’s objective is simple: to put agency back into the hands (and profit back into the pockets) of local family farmers.

Solio, an AgStrong brand, is a fierce swimmer in an ocean of increasingly industrialized farming where family farmers often struggle to keep their heads above water.  Solio’s mission is to serve existing family farmers as well as to help new family farms go into production. Solio oils are produced exclusively by local farmers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and Alabama. Solio oils have no chemical additives, and are extracted from 100% non-GMO seeds using an expeller press process rather than a chemical process. You can now find authentic, high-quality oils on the shelves of conscious retailers such as Whole Foods and Earthfare… and even in your soap.

AgStrong CEO Robert Davis with Warhorse founder Tawana Weicker

AgStrong CEO Robert Davis with Warhorse founder Tawana Weicker

A brand like Solio deserves a strong partner with the same principles. Enter Warhorse Solutions: a company that grew up in rural North Carolina, surrounded and inspired by family farmers. Warhorse knows hard work. It knows about sweating, gritting of teeth, and pushing exhaustion aside to strive for excellence. Just as importantly, Warhorse knows that nothing worthwhile can be achieved without collaboration. The oils in Warhorse soaps that nourish your skin were once seeds nourished by the hands of an American farmer.

When you catch a glimpse of your favorite Warhorse product on the edge of your kitchen sink, bathtub, or barn tack room, you should remember that the Farm-Batched symbol on the label is more than just a logo. It’s a badge of honor.  In supporting Warhorse, together with Solio and AgStrong, you’re doing your part in reversing the decline of family farming. You’re empowering a family to put food on the table the old-fashioned way: with hard work and a refusal to give up in the face of adversity.

It’s principles like these that fuel the Warhorse to create real soap, for real people, by real people.

WARHORSE eats flowers and inhales pink...

Why WARHORSE?  Where did you get that name?  Why not a sunflower as your company logo?  It's been said that WARHORSE might be too "masculine," too strong for some women... 

WARHORSE isn't about gender. WARHORSE is about the necessity of duality--being aggressive and kind, strong and gentle, working and playing, respect and defiance.

WARHORSE eats flowers for lunch, gallops on rainbows, and inhales all things pink. WARHORSE and I both appreciate warm and fuzzy things, but they don't define us.

 When I look at WARHORSE, I get an injection of steel in my spine,  a dose of buck up and stop complaining, a heavy shove to  ask questions.  

My grandmother was a WARHORSE, and my siblings and I spent lots of time beside her, under her unwavering tutelage.  We got her WARHORSE mojo, somehow passed down from generations of tough blood.  In this pic, she looks pretty traditional. But don't let the dress and cheery disposition fool you.  She didn't just bake cakes and read to her grandchildren.

More often than not, GRANDMOTHER wielded a hoe and a hammer--fearless and defiant. She was relentless while making my sister and brothers clean fish, repair her chicken coop, feed her seedlings in her homemade greenhouse. She showed us the reward of trying to do something right, finishing the list of chores of gathering pine stumps and chopping a fallen red oak; of picking and breaking bushels of string beans and getting them all canned before daylight ends. She gave us the chance to push past fatigue and delay our desperation to drop the wood at our feet and go swimming in the beckoning bass filled pond just below her house.  We felt full of pride when we accomplished the work she put before us.

And years later at 84, this GRANDMOTHER was still a raging WARHORSE, still defiant to the end---as Dylan Thomas' poem shouts: "Do not go gentle into that good night."

As a kid, I needed WARHORSE.  Just to get through college, I got help from other WARHORSES.  Teaching high school students...well, happy mediocrity is a crime, and WARHORSE demanded I challenge myself and my students. And many of them blossomed into WARHORSES.

As I get older, I have to wake up looking for WARHORSE --this morning ritual is required to keep moving. Excuses and distractions out of sight! And, I won't digress into a list budding physical hardships. We all got 'em, don't we?

When I look at flowers and rainbows, they do stir my soul. But to tackle each day, to be able to sleep at night, I got WARHORSE mojo in my bones. 

Our Warhorse, Your Water. Here's Why...

Ok, I just have to explain what we mean when we say "Our Warhorse, Your Water."  

  • One gallon of naturally aggressive, fiercely kind Pure Gold or Multi Purpose Cleaner makes about 40 bottles of 32oz multi surface cleaner.  Or, Warhorse washes 100 cars, or does 128 loads of lightly soiled clothes or blankets. Warhorse packs in as many active ingredients as we can.  Use more or less as needed. You decide. You add the water.   I could do the math on pennies/oz, but most folks have a calculator on their cell phones....

Here's how this plays out in real world applications:

  • Cooper Riis in Mill Spring, NC saves LOTS of money by adding their own water to Warhorse when they clean floors, containers, walls, woodwork, dining room.  No irritating VOCs to breathe when cleaning.  
  • West End Bakery in Asheville, NC saves LOTS of money by adding their own water. Plus, staff love the Non GMO verified Pure Gold as they really like that Solio raw sunflower oil that we use.  Hands feel great while cleaning and no chemical smells mixing with the awesome aroma of their food.  Nothing worse than the wonderful smell of a rich, dark roast coffee getting hijacked by the long lingering scent of a synthetic smelling pink or purple cleaner.
  • Warhorse has cleaned The Hare and The Hound in Landrum, SC for 6 years--grimy, greasy wood floors get clean and buffed.  Restaurants need to add their own water because they are out to save money.  Plus, one Warhorse does many jobs.
  • The Tryon International Equestrian Center housekeeping and maintenance staff appreciate how aggressive on grime and gentle on their skin and lungs Warhorse works.  And they save lots of money by adding their own water.  
  • Tryon Fire Department uses Warhorse in a bucket for washing fire trucks, and puts some in spray bottles for interior cleaning.  No coughing and itchy skin with Warhorse.  And it cleans the fire house too.  

"I don't want to have to get an empty spray bottle to use Warhorse cleaners. Won't you sell Warhorse ready to use?"  

Warhorse doesn't make a watered down bottle of cleaner. And, I don't want to start.  People and businesses need their hard earned money to buy as much value as possible.  While growing up, my mother's hourly pay had to go as far as she could stretch it.  When we opened a can of Campbell's soup, we added two cans of water instead of one.

 Warhorse knows what it means to try to make ends meet.

Besides, it's convenient to get a spray bottle--Amazon has a great selection--a pretty one that matches the decor, or a hardy industrial version. So get one while shopping for other stuff. We buy a garlic press, a pepper grinder, a bucket for washing the fire truck, a loofah for bathing, a dog bowl for the dog food, a brush for grooming....  I can go on if you don't get my point.  

Furthermore, there's probably a near-empty spray bottle under the counter that could be reused. 

Our Warhorse, Your Water.

Warhorse: See What We're Made Of--Or Not...

You can't really know what you're made of until you're tested.  That's why Warhorse likes to challenge ourselves to do the best we can to deserve our customers.  So, we get an EPA registered lab to test our finished products.

The lab uses Official Methods of Analysis by AOCS International and EPA Testing Methods.  We submit our results, along with our ingredients' Certificate of Analysis to Blue Ridge Naturally and Green Seal.  The EPA Registered Lab's results are in--none detected (Lab equipment cannot detect amounts lower than unit amounts identified).

It Takes a Village...or maybe a Fireman and a Warhorse

Ok, this story is sort of like a tangled maze, a torturous labyrinth...but here goes. It just happened today:

I get an am email from Warren at Landrum Fired Dept. in Landrum, SC--just a few miles from my Polk County homestead: 

"We have some cooking oil at the department we used for a fish fry if you would like to pick it up. It is sitting in the brick storage area out front of the station."

 Well, of course I want it.  Here's why:  This used cooking oil--filled with peanut and canola oils, fish oil (frying the fish has got to release some fish oil), corn meal, salt and pepper, is like gold--it powers MANY countries' fuel needs with bio-based biofuel.  Boeing has several biofuel production plants that use used cooking oil to make jet fuel. 

But there's a more personal reason I want the stuff.

Four years ago, I rented a BIG, ole Landrum building where I had my micro-plant byproduct-used cooking oil-biofuel-Multi Purpose Cleaner exploration.  My sister helped a lot. My family friend Jody helped a lot. We worked like crazy, hoping to scale and commercialize a new type of cleaner that would utilize plant material--used plant material that had low value, was usually burned, or trashed.  After transesterification for biofuel and then later saponification for soap, a used veggie oil would degrease an engine, wash a firetruck, clean bar stools and kitchen equipment,

So where's the fire department connection, you ask? 

 Landrum Fire Dept. heard about Warhorse and came looking for us, just a few miles from their station.

To make a long story short--they became our research testing team, washing their firetrucks, shop floor, gear, and taking some home to use as well. Then we got feedback and made tweaks to the cleaner recipe--one which increased the duration of the "suds" so when washing the truck, they could better see the frothy bubbles and know where they had stopped.  Then, on to fine tuning the dilutions for various applications.  

My sister and I often asked, "What if we did this?"

"Well, let's try it and get the fireman to test it."

And they did. In fact, we had other local businesses testing products for us--Mountain View Barbeque, The Hare and the Hound restaurant, Bonnie Brae Veterinarian Hospital, Cooper Riis Healing Center, horse farms, Ameri-Con and Southern Concrete.

So when I get the email this morning about the used cooking oil at Landrum Fire Department, I decided to barter for the oil by trading with some aged stock Warhorse Multi Purpose Cleaner that I still had in my private stash--the local, home grown stuff.

The Multi Purpose Cleaner in the pic was made from the byproducts of plant oil left over from plant based biofuel made from used cooking oil from Landrum Fire Dept., Gowensville Baptist Church, and the American Red Cross--there's something about a fundraiser fish fry, obviously.

It's a good barter: used cooking oil for firetruck cleaner.  This oil is going to help stock the Polk County High School Biofuels science course so they can keep exploring green chemistry.

Good trade, I say.  What goes around comes around.

 

  

It's the people, not the place.

Tawana Weicker (left) and Lisa (right).

Tawana Weicker (left) and Lisa (right).

While traveling to the big cities of Durham and Chapel Hill, Warhorse found a warm welcoming and stay at Brookwood Inn. But it's the people, not the place, that make a difference. Warhorse likes to work for dedicated and genuinely friendly people like Lisa, who has dedicated 30 years of hospitality to many families who stay at Brookwood while receiving care at Duke Medical.

"I Love Teaching So Much I Quit." TEDx

Teaching took on a whole new meaning for this high school teacher turned biofuel eco-preneur when her students became her teachers. She learned how to transform waste into biofuel while at the same time identifying the enormous waste of knowledge, creativity and expertise that too often happens in our classrooms.

A high school teacher turned biofuel eco-entrepreuer, Tawana Weicker is the founder of Warhorse. Her career turning point came when her students became her teachers, challenging her to live up to her potential and to push past her fears. 

The People of Tobacco Road - GUEST POST

Anna's Lucky Jersey, the honored #40, once sported by late 90s/early 2000s shooting guard Joseph Forte and recent fan favorite Harrison Barnes.

Anna's Lucky Jersey, the honored #40, once sported by late 90s/early 2000s shooting guard Joseph Forte and recent fan favorite Harrison Barnes.

Well, it's always good to see students surpass their teachers. It means we've helped a little to move them forward. I taught Anna in 9th grade Honor's English, so I feel like I got her going on all those punctuation and grammar rules, helped her develop a writing style with a mastery of simple, compound, and compound-complex sentences.  And lucky for Warhorse, Anna was and still is one of my former students who helped me lay the foundation for Warhorse Solutions.  Thank you Anna, and thanks for this wonderful insight into An Alternative Education.

Here's in insight into Anna's education:

College basketball lore is told in the hills of the West to the capes of the East.  Tobacco road stretches well beyond the Triangle. It’s the pavement that connects us, literally and figuratively. It’s the element in which being a North Carolinian is built upon and it is how we determine good from evil.

My story isn't unique. It's one that countless children blessed to grow up in the state of North Carolina have felt, breathed and lived. It's akin to Sweet Tea in our veins, Duke's Mayonnaise on our tomato sandwiches, and dogwood trees in our backyards. It's a story about college basketball, the sport that binds us season in, season out.

Growing up I was allowed to voluntarily miss one day of school per year. No ifs, ands or buts about it. My mother would write my empathetic teacher a note and that was that.

I’m the daughter of a high school principal, granddaughter of an elementary school teacher, niece of a retired librarian and cousin of an education lawyer—a proud product of the North Carolina public school system. Thus, missing a day of school for any reason was a big deal.

For 12 years, I played hooky the day following the Duke at Carolina match-up. Win or loss. Ecstasy or pain. The day after was our day of rest. A day of reflection, but frankly, a day to eat at Elmo’s Diner. As a twenty-five-year-old young professional, I half-expect to be given this day out of human decency. But alas, the rest of the nation doesn’t revolve around Austin Rivers draining a last-second dagger, or Marvin Williams’ epic put-back, or Tyler Hansbrough’s 4-0 bout in Cameron Indoor. And for that, my heart pangs for them.

I didn’t grow up in a family of exaggerated wealth. This has since allowed me to realize how special it was for us to religiously attend this celebrated game. We might not have lived particularly large, but we had priorities, damnit.

The pilgrimage from Columbus, NC, to Chapel Hill takes roughly 3 hours and 29 minutes if you take I-74 to I-85, but if you choose the more scenic I-64 to I-40 route, it will add exactly 8 precious minutes to your travel time. Word to the wise: The preferred method is a polarizing topic in our family so, for both our sakes, let’s assume we traveled the former.

On game day, we would leave school early (another permissible transgression) and begin our familial trek. More than likely my brother and I would be at odds, arguing about who could cite more state capitals and/or presidents (we were cool, I think?).  Since it was almost always a 9 p.m. EST game, we would stock up on necessary provisions at Bridges Barbecue (Red, if you must ask) in Shelby. 

Then like clockwork, I would wail to use the restroom somewhere between Salisbury and Lexington, even though I had previously assured my parents I was fine before leaving the restaurant. Around Greensboro, the car would go silent. By Burlington, it would be even more silent. And as we would pass Mebane, it was as if we were holding a vigil. We all had the same sadistic thought, but no one was brave enough to voice it: What happens if we lose?

“For 40 minutes, the Smith Center was my classroom. Carolina basketball, better yet Carolina, gave me identity.

Upon arrival in Chapel Hill, our self-prescribed mecca, we would merely continue the traditions. Drive down Franklin: check. Get a Tar Heel face tattoo at the Shrunken Head: check. Walk across a chilly campus: check. Arrive at the Smith Center an hour before tip-off: check. Listen to the Woody Durham pregame show: check. Find Ramses: check. Beg for Dippin’ Dots: check.

As a child of the nineties, there was no Tweeting, no Instagramming, no Snapchatting or even texting. We would simply sit together as a family and soak up the noise, relish in the sea of heavenly blue and prepare for the ensuing two hours of unbelievable joy, or dare I say it, agonizing defeat.

Each game was unique. Each team was elite in its own way. But, the air inside was permanently heavy and the stakes reliably high. Our belief in the deity known as Dean Smith should’ve always been sufficient to guarantee victory, but life is funny in that bad things happen to good people. Once we were there, all we could do was watch.

I hope those after me can experience anything as unforgettable as witnessing Ed Cota command a floor, senior bench players (now better known as “Blue Steel”) line up as starters in the most-hyped game of the year, Vince Carter as a young Vince Carter, proper Southern grandmothers wearing graphic T’s advising “Duck Fuke,” and the crowning moment of the rivalry – the Blood Bath of 2007.

For 40 minutes, the Smith Center was my classroom. Carolina basketball, better yet, Carolina gave me identity. It taught me baby blue looks good on everyone, no matter the skin tone. It taught me the luxury of a public education, the true meaning of equal opportunity, and that Carolina is as it was meant to be, a university of the people. But maybe most important of all, it taught me never to hate beyond the final whistle.

An Alternative Education, from a larger piece in Bit + Grain's The People Of Tobacco Road, was crafted by Anna Feagan,  a graduate of Polk County High School in Columbus, NC. Anna's Bit + Grain Bio:

Proudly hailing from Western North Carolina, Anna Feagan is a media expert. With a journalism degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and 3+ years working in marketing in New York City, Anna is now advertising Fortune-500 brands through the evolving power of social media. She is a retired sports editor, a closeted history buff and a born-again champagne addict. Ask her about Carolina's upcoming football season, Asheville's burgeoning toursim economy or how to make her mother's famous pound cake. you can follow her on her favorite current medium, pinterest.

Respecting our ingredients and soap making craft.

When it comes to food, less is more. Quality ingredients required.

I'm  trying to eat less processed food, less preservatives, less refined ingredients, less artificial colors. It's a long list. 

The skin is an organ, and it can absorb many things that we slather and lather on it. You know that's how those topical pain reliever patches work. or those nicotine patches?  WARHORSE considers our skincare products--for all mammals--a skin food. We take the same approach to quality ingredients and a "LESS IS MORE" philosophy. We know that our ingredient selections and their vitamin, micronutrient, and fatty acid profiles are paramount. And yes, like the dietary recommendations for more raw, minimally processed, recognizable, whole foods, WARHORSE uses this basic approach to our soap making. 

We forage for quality, nutrient rich ingredients and we use a lot of them. So we don't need to add a lot of extras. Our ingredient list is pretty short and packs a dynamic duo punch--cleans and supports your skin.  As award winning chef Tom Colicchio axed a Top Chef contestant who presented a complicated, confusing dish: Less is Definitely More. Yes, sir, master chef, sir!  I hear ya.

Just like cooking, each food-grade ingredient is chosen and goes in the soap pot.

Just like cooking, each food-grade ingredient is chosen and goes in the soap pot.

WARHORSE has a respect for soap artisans like Dr. Bronner's, whose family started making soap in the 1800's. There's a reason the family's classic soaps have grown into global favorites by foodies and nature lovers.

WARHORSE has a respect for traditional soap making: it enables us to use whole oils and capture all their goodness without having to add "extra"  or super refined ingredients. And when possible, we forage for suppliers close to home, in the USA, like Georgia based Solio Family Farmers. After several trips to G.A meeting the Davis brothers and the Ag Strong team, we developed a genuine respect for each other's craft and history; we shook hands with Solio, with the goal of finding a way to include their raw sunflower oil and other plant oils in our recipes.

Tawana Weicker (left) and Robert Davis (right) President and CEO of Ag-Strong & Solio. 

Tawana Weicker (left) and Robert Davis (right) President and CEO of Ag-Strong & Solio

The deep, rich, gold, unrefined Solio sunflower oil hasn't had carotenoids, flavonoids, antioxidents stripped out. We love its seedy, earthy scent.

The deep, rich, gold, unrefined Solio sunflower oil hasn't had carotenoids, flavonoids, antioxidents stripped out. We love its seedy, earthy scent.

WARHORSE is committed to honoring Solio's beautiful oils.

Solio supplies WARHORSE with a special unrefined sunflower oil that is full bodied, deep orange oil, has fantastic sunflower wax, lecithin, carotenoids, and glorious stuff still floating around in it. WARHORSE has supreme respect for this beautiful, rich oil, and we've  teamed this hero ingredient with other oils that compliment the full-bodied sunflower oil's character and nutritional profile. Our goal is to have a soap that cleans and offers a small buffet of super food for the skin. 

WARHORSE ingredients are Non GMO evaluated, and our people, pet, and horse cleansers are Non GMO Project Verified.  EPA registered lab testing shows we have NO pesticides, metals, glyphosate in our finished products. And we're food lab tested for Gluten Free, per FDA standards.

We encourage you to open up another tab on your computer screen or mobile phone, and do some google searches on our ingredients. You'll discover why we use them. So here's our starting lineup of Non GMO ingredients in our WARHORSE Skincare Soaps:

  1. Sunflower Oil--raw and unrefined. Supplied by Solio Family Farmers. Grown in the south east. 
  2. Coconut Oil. Do I really need to cover this one? Just google it. It's all the rage!
  3. Castor Oil, USP.  
  4. Avocado Oil, Food Grade
  5. Sweet Almond Oil, Food Grade
  6. Vegetable Glycerin, USP--which means  United States Pharmacopeia, and it conforms to all the legal requirements of the FDA and that it was produced in accordance with the principles outlined in FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).  Warhorse glycerin is supplied by a certified member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil
  7. Potassium hydroxide is the only non edible ingredient that goes on the pot. All liquid soap making requires it to saponify the oils into mild soap.  Once the KOH has done its conversion, there's none left in the soap (You can find potassium hydroxide in the ashes of burned wood. Plant or animal fat was mixed with wood ashes, and that's how soap got its start thousands of years ago).
  8. Dead Sea salt
  9. Essential Oils that may include various blends of lemongrass, lavender, geranium, rosewood, tea tree, eucalyptus, spearmint, cedar wood, allspice, and vetiver.

Ok, that's it. All this goes in the pot and simmers on low for a while, pH adjusted with some Non GMO citric acid to make it perfect for the skin, and then we whisk in our proprietary essential oil blends. It's done.  See Master Chef Tom, we don't ruin a good recipe with unnecessary ingredients.

Here's some information sources and resources: Warhorse encourages you to do your own research.  

Getting on my Soapbox about Letting Kids get dirty, grimy, gritty

When I was teaching, sometimes I'd get on my soapbox about bullying, whining, popularity contests (the list really is longer).  And occasionally one of my students would pipe, "Mrs. Weicker, you need to chill out!"  My grandmother would say, "You're on your soapbox today."  My grandmother's father had a general store in Pea Ridge, NC , and she probably had  a soap box.  

In the early 1900's , a soap box was a platform used by a person who gave speeches to the working class in the streets, usually to raise awareness about some issue. The orator often stood on a soap box that was used to deliver soap from the soap maker to the retail store.  

Here's my Warhorse soapbox: Are we turning into germaphobe and dirtaphobe hypochondriacs?  Are we over sanitizing, disinfecting, fumigating, purifying, sterilizing ourselves and our homes? Are we afraid of what's lurking in our backyard dirt?

 Wow, you'd think our homes and lawns are super danger zones.  Here's how this mom makes a safer and happier home.  And it's cool how she, the disinfectant, and the decor are matching. 

When I watch those commercials where moms--it's always women--are spraying antibacterial aerosol or air fresheners in the living room, I wonder if they're breathing that stuff in. And the houses look pretty darn clean already. And mom is soooo happy while she's laying on the germ and odor killer.  Really, if it's a warm day like today, we just open the windows and doors to let in fresh air. When I worked out in the school weight room or joined in a P90 session, doing yoga on who-knows-what's-on-these-funky smelling-red wrestling mats, or washed down my classroom's 32 desks where students sat sniffling or coughin during flu season, then heck ya, give me a gallon of Lysol.  But just to spray it around my living room so we can have a fresher, happier home life?  I just don't get it.

Pretty enlightening that our society has disconnected itself from nature that we have forgotten that we used to be up close and personal with the earth. If you're looking for some outdoor activities, author Jennifer Ward has written a book that can help us engage children in nature. 

And, here's some research about THE POWER OF GERMS:

  • Children who grow up on farms have low rates of allergies and asthma. Source: Clinical & Experimental Immunology
  • Dr. Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote “What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment, not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”

  • Having one of more older siblings also protects against hay fever, asthma, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes. Source: Clinical & Experimental Immunology

  • "....theres nothing wrong with kids playing in the dirt. They don't have to live in total sanitation." Joel Weinstock, chief of gastroenterology/heptology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. 

I am not a microbiologist, but my common sense tells me this: If you don't use it, you lose it. Muscles need to work so they get stronger, and I would think our immune systems needs to encounter some germs and microbes, so it grows stronger too. 

Besides a possible immune boost, there's other advantages to getting up close and personal with our earth: If a kid is in the dirt, in the woods, in the field, exposed to the elements, trekking the hill, on the water, with other children doing the same thing, he or she is often investigating, playing, working, competing and NOT sedentary and glued to the television, the computer, the phone.  

Plus, everybody gets some great memories fishing & eating flounder sandwiches for lunch.

    ...this reminds me I need to get up and get outside...keep moving...got a sunny Sunday afternoon date with my kayak and Lake Adger...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages: Do Not go Gentle...

My turning 50 last year didn't even spur a "getting older" blip. No self introspection of what I should and shouldn't do, impervious to those "What You Should Never Wear After 50" articles. That was until  I recently saw a few "ole" friends for lunch at Stone Soup, and realized that we had all spent the first 30 minutes talking about serious stuff--the state of education, retirement accounts, and getting older.  But, just as quickly as I had spiraled into an unrealistic grappling to be "forever young," I experienced a revival of living in the now--to keep moving, moving past that mirror and over to my Sean T CD's or my kayak or a Mud Run with my nephew.  And I remembered that intense "living" has nothing to do with age, it's about attitude.

 A few weeks ago, a winter's-end-blast-of-cold froze and cracked a line in our basement. Well water spewed over a chest of drawers full of old photographs.  After mopping up, I sifted through the damp collection and found this old newspaper article about my Little League baseball game,  in a long forgotten scrapbook.

Tawana baseball

Twelve years old and defiant towards my big brother and the all boys baseball league.

Now, the pigtails are gone, and my knees would probably cement if I sat behind home plate, even just for one inning.  My batting average certainly wouldn't be out of the 100's,  with Barry Bowyer's fast balls brushing me  back off the plate. 

But the memories of playing springtime baseball, of being the solo girl in the field of boys, reminds me to keep moving, to get dirty, to refuse to go gentle.

A challenge propelled me to play baseball.

I tagged along to watch my older brother try out for Little League.

Once we got to Harmon Field in Tryon, the park was a staccato rhythm of thwunking and popping of leather against leather and the dull ting of ball against aluminum.  

I stood near the fencing, sidling up beside the line of hopeful fathers, as my brother walked off, glove in hand, and quipped an end to our quiet argument: "Girls don't play baseball."

I borrowed a glove and signed my name on the try out list.  I don't know what they--boys and men--thought.  

I tapped the plate, when it was my turn.  I hit, I took infield, I threw. I ran. 

The next week, I went to my first Red Sox practice. My baseball season started.

Thirty eight years later, it's another spring, and Little League is getting ready to start. And there will certainly be youngsters throwing, hitting, running at Harmon Field, as they have for the past 75 or so years.  But other young people will be vegetating, hibernating,  over contemplating. And while many young baseball players race and rebel against the umpires' might,  we all can be a player, regardless of age, like Thomas'  "Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight."

Keep Moving!

 

 

Warhorse believes "Good Things, When Short, Are Twice as Good."

Keep it simple. Simple soap making. Simple, safe, clean ingredients. 

"Good things, when short, are twice as good." Baltasar Gracián y Morales 

Less is more.

I have to remind myself of this. With access to ingredient suppliers from all over the world, I can buy exotic ingredients from every continent and from unique sources --even caviar protein for skin benefit. What? Seriously, google it. That's the natural protein that's in fish eggs.  I can believe this!

The skin is made up of protein and it seems logical that the skin could benefit from some fish eggs too. Hey, there's lots of ladies who put egg in their hair. And most of us have had egg on our faces. Humans are part of nature, and we can most often get what we need from nature--even our skin food.  Healthy beauty is all about getting primitive, getting back to the basics. 

screenshot_1813.jpg

 Check out Caviar Repair RX Re-Texturizing Protein Cream--it's got fish egg protein added. See ladies get out and get a little fish slime on your hands. It will probably be great for our skin too. I'm not laughing. Bottled fish slime....???

Maybe that sea trout or flounder caviar I've been tossing out should be added in at the very end of the soap saponification process?  It can work on my ever deepening wrinkles that I get from having so much fun catching fish.

My fishing trips to the Outer Banks can be the next place I forage for the next natural Warhorse hero ingredient. Mixing business with pleasure!

When I am in the basement kitchen with my Kitchen Aid mixer stirring and whipping, and my stainless steel pot of sunflower, coconut, and avocado oils are greeting each other at a toasty temp of 180F, I know that I need to keep the ingredient list short, clean, and recognizable. And whenever possible, fresh, whole ingredients.  I've heard Tom Colicchio on Top Chef--and he hates it when the contestants over complicate their dishes--"There's just too much going on in your dish. Less is more."

I'm a soap chef, an Anthony Bourdain soap cooking fool--out and about foraging for local, grown in the USA, a hero ingredient to bring a recipe to cleaning and skin loving perfection.  I just got back from Georgia and Goodness Grows there--some raw, expeller pressed deep gold sunflower oil that's chock full of nutrients. Our pet and people soap recipe has welcomed their new gold friend into the soap pot. This stuff is rich, raw, full-bodied, and beautiful and grown by family farmers.

I am not a beauty or cosmetic expert--MY best beauty tip is to stay away from the mirror--"that eye of a little god, four cornered." I don't have a degree in dermatological medicine, and I'm not an expert on micronutrients in food. I do read about skin science at the Linus Pauling Institute when I want to explore micronutrient research studies, like how sunflower oil and skin jive together, for example. I do hit the Journal of Investigative Dermatology hub to see what's going on because I want to stay abreast of plant oil studies.

I don't need to explain my relationship with dirt, grease, grime. Just believe me when I say my family, generationally, has always gotten dirty in work and play. And I do understand about the science of dirt and how soap miscelles decrease surface tension and makes it "wash away."  I've personally crafted about 5,000 gallons of Warhorse cleaning soaps, and mammal cleansers over the last 8 years--my soap pot, my hot water boiler, my boat paddle or agitators. Even though we've grown to larger pots, still the same age old soap process that's used all over the world

Here's a diagram of a soap molecule:

 

 

Here's a fairly brief video on How Soap Works--from Brain Stuff:

But my "science" and expertise is mostly based on how real food is real good for wellness. It's not rocket science--whole foods, raw foods, minimally processed "natural" foods are healthier, and no one needs an advanced degree to know this. The skin is an organ. What goes on it can go in it. That's how those topical painkillers, nicotine, and birth control patches work--absorbed through the skin.  

Warhorse cleans and feeds dirty people and dirty animals with simple, safe, nutritious food ingredients.

Warhorse is going to keep thinking like a chef. 

 

I'd rather be a Warhorse than a Princess...

Some people think Warhorse is selling natural beauty products.  We don't. But maybe we do. I guess it depends on your definition of beauty.

Rosalind Russell, actress and classic natural beauty, is quoted as saying, "Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic."  Ok, so maybe Warhorse does support a "beauty" regime--get out and experience life, get dirty, get clean, get dirty.

My niece loves the outdoors, and surely isn't afraid of getting dirty, of exploring, of battling her big brother when he tells her she's too much of a baby to trek around with him through the woods. Let's hope she continues delving into dirt while she's growing into an educated, sophisticated, dedicated young woman.

Recently I was asked by a magazine editor for my best beauty tips. My sister laughed when she heard the voice mail message. I hit "Call Back" on my phone, and I asked if I could talk about our skin-loving Warhorse Pet Shampoo or our Hand Soap that would remove heavy grime and leave working hands soft, even with repeated use.   Cleaning tips might be better. Gardening tips? Cooking tips? Soap making tips?  Nope, the interviewer wanted beauty tips. As my sister said,  "Anyone who knows you, won't believe it." After thinking long and hard. I gave up my secret beauty tips:

                                                Eat real food. Brush your teeth.

                                             Don't look in the mirror too often.

                                                                Get Dirty.

                                                                   Move.

I don't know if my tips will make the beauty cut, but it got me to thinking...

Pretty is pretty tough to attain and maintain, isn't it?  And I would be lying through my teeth if I didn't admit that I hope my husband thinks I'm pretty. Sure, I'd be happy if Hugh Jackman, who just seems so darn nice and genuine, saw me in one of his Laughing Man coffee shops and thought, "Gee, that woman is pretty, and I like her salt-n-pepper hair."  I've been encouraged to dye my graying hair. I'm getting lots of beauty advice, lately.

Yes, beauty advice is everywhere. But I certainly have no business giving it to anyone, except maybe my definition of beauty--choices that help us be healthier and happier. The push for perfection is pervasive. And it takes a lot of time and looking in the mirror to be perfect. And please look out for the little girls who can easily slip and slide into a Princess Problem. 

Yes, I know my blog articles are marathonic...but I will continue...

I taught high school students for 15 years, and I know something about the Princess Problem--the exhausting PERFECTION journey that many of my female students chose. If you want more about the Princess Problem, check out Dr. Rebecca Hains' research on girls, women, and media.  If you want to see the Princess Problem in action, just look around--you can't miss it.

I never tell my 3-year-old niece that she's "sooooo pretty." In fact, I never comment on her appearance, because she's gonna get plenty "beauty advice." I got her a toy helicopter on her last birthday. Books of course from an English teacher. For Christmas, it was a jug of Warhorse Body Soap to clean up her little grimy hands and her dirt-stained face after her many adventures with big brother or cousins. 

If we can keep her 3 year-old sponge soaking, impressionable mind away from beauty magazines, from watching "Red Carpet" events, from Housewives of New Jersey (except as examples of too much makeup), little miss muddy hands can develop some mighty girl power, and remain unscathed by the Princess Problem.  Once she's got her own identity, then maybe she can handle teen magazines.

So what's a girl to do?

Ok, be pretty--and be pretty fun, pretty smart, pretty messy, pretty sweaty, pretty skilled, pretty aggressive, pretty kind.

Diversify. Step out of your designated gender roles and get dirty.

 

 

 

Most of the time, I keep my back turned toward the mirror, away from the "eye of  a little god, four-cornered." Sylvia Plath's poem Mirror personifies the all-powerful mirror, of how we women empower it so much, that, indeed, it does force us to "tears and agitation"--that "terrible fish" that rises towards me. I NEVER stand in front of those department store mirrors. I got to keep moving.

We Warhorses like to keep moving and and get pretty dirty from some malaria fighting bug spray and jungle funk in a Costa Rica Palo Seco mangrove filled with red snapper and crocs, from some layered sunscreen on the NC Inter Coastal Waterway, from some 26 mile marathoner sweat, from some Biltmore Estate trail riding green horse slobber, from some Myrtle Beach Harley Week grime, from some Pea Ridge back woods 4 wheeling red red mud. And we probably have to admit we want to be pretty while we do it. So we wear cool sunglasses.

Interesting sunglasses observation. I wonder if Dr. Hains' research explores how sunglasses are used in advertising, and make us feel hip, relevant, serious, tough, pretty? 

But I do need my functional "See What's Out There" Costa sunglasses when I am fighting the glare and searching for bottom hugging flounder in the shallow salt water flats at Oregon Inlet. It's just an added benefit that I imagine they help me look sexier, younger, prettier while I try to wipe the fish slime and dead minnow stink off my hand on my very chic Michael Kors camo pants.

Flounder Fishing is pretty awesome.