Role Models Come In All Shapes and Sizes

It's always good when I reconnect with a source of inspiration, one of my teachers. This past Sunday, I visited Noble at his farm, just a few miles from my home.

Maybe some of you remember Noble, our WARHORSE. Eleven years ago, I met him through one of my high school students. Just a little bit of time with Noble...and he became one of my inspirations, a catalyst, in fact.

Here's Noble, 11 years ago--looking a bit naturally aggressive, just let out of his stall and kicking up some dirt before he heads out to a night of pasture bliss. Spirited inspiration. 

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Noble has always been kind to his friends and neighbors.  Plays and travels well with others--horses, dogs, cats, and humans.




Yes, like me, he's 11 years older than when this WARHORSE journey started. And he's lost an eye, cysts have attacked his leg joints, and he's not racing up the hills and through the woods behind his barn. 

Yet, Noble's still moving, head up and happy, sharing his pasture with new rescue arrivals and new, young friends. 


Old age and aching bones are no excuse to stop moving, to relent.  I'm glad to have visited Noble and gotten a good kick in the pants.  






I know there's been a blue jay blueberrying  in my heirlooms this morning--yes, I know this isn't a verb but language evolves.  I head out the back door, to harvest enough for my coveted blueberry pie, a recipe from my mother-in-law that I found delicately stenciled in the back of her ragged Pope cookbook.  My rescues Eddie and Hammer chase the jay out of the bushes and up into the gum tree, where several crows cast watchful eyes for a chance to blueberry too.  

The cocky bird chatters away at us, but the much more fragile butterfly is tenacious and ignores us while gathering blueberry nectar.  I guess this  butterfly is clearly living in the present moment, the now.


I hope these heirloom blueberry blushes keep living. They're about 60 years old, well past their typical life cycle, per the blueberry bush experts. The berries do more than compliment oatmeal and yogurt, provide a handy snack food on the way to long walk to the mailbox, and battle free radicals in my aging cells. The bushes are more than a seasonal fruitful attraction that hibernates their thin, grey arms during winter and then green in the spring and call beasts and fowl in the sweltering southern summer.

I have been friends with these blueberry bushes for more than 40 years, bonding with them under my grandmother's green thumb tutelage. As I child, I believed she had a stronger fondness for plants than she did people. Her nursery skills were certainly more loving to her array of plants, her vegetable and flower gardens, and to her pecan, walnut, apple and peach trees that fed us year round. Maybe this kind of love is better than the grandmother who might have taken us to Dollywood, to the local public swimming pool, to the magical Belk department store.

After my grandmother died, her 60 acres were parceled out, and some sold to a development company. Before her estate's land sale was finalized, my husband and I dug up her blueberry bushes, making sure to capture a huge root ball for their trip to my backyard, where they now have thrived for some twenty years.  I am glad I harvested them before they were forgotten behind the "No Trespassing" sign at her old drive way entrance, where a thick wall of struggling pine saplings, saw briars, and grasses make it seem as if her home place never existed, that life was never lived there. 

Now, the blueberry bushes are mine, under my stewardship now. But there's more value than just the berries--they're a talisman, an energy source to never lose my inheritance: my grandmother's dogged, persistent "presence," her passion for the earth, the dirt, of green living things, and her resilience to cycle on.

And, once again,  grandchildren--my grandchildren this time, her great grandchildren--will stumble and toddle to their lower branches. Their small, inquisitive hands will pick blueberries and eat them well before their pails return to the kitchen.


A privilege to get Oliver family farm's Good Food in WARHORSE soaps

A journey from farm to seed to WARHORSE soap

Clay Oliver has revived his family's centennial farm by growing and selling his artisan culinary oils to executive chefs and restaurants across the country. WARHORSE now adds his sunflower oil to all of our soaps.  Even our Pure Gold All Purpose Cleaner has this awesome oil, and your skin gets the benefit of it while washing your boat or cleaning your refrigerator.  And you, your dog, your horse, or water buffalo (yes, I know a water buffalo who gets WARHORSED occasionally) can feel the glorious gold sunflower oil work its magic in our line of mammal soaps.

Oliver Farm has won many Good Food awards, and the pecan, green peanut, pumpkin, and sunflower oils are making lots of people happy.  Here's a link to Oliver Farm--the artisan oils make a great gift--I've read that Beyonce has taken a liking to Clay's green peanut oil.

The whole Oliver family works to produce Oliver Farm Artisan Oils.

WARHORSE just made our first batch of Pure Gold, Hand, Body, Pet, and Equine soaps with Oliver Farm sunflower oil. Drums of Oliver Farm's Georgia grown, glorious unrefined, nutrient rich sunflower oil went to my big soap pot in NC.  Stirred it in, and simmered it slow. We're so grateful to get this farmer grown, healthy oil for our products.

 We got some WARHORSE heading out Oliver Farm in Pitts, Georgia. Thanks Oliver Farm family!

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.


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 a sunny Sunday afternoon date with my kayak and Lake Adger...