John and Miranda Rudolph are first-generation farmers, which means they work 365 days a year on their farm in Murray, Ky., where they raise and sell goats, and make and sell goat milk soap. They purchased four acres in Calloway County in 2012 and started a small homestead with a garden and fruit trees, chickens and feeder hogs.
“We wanted to know where our food came from and what it had to eat and what kind of lifestyle it had before our dinner plate,” Miranda Rudolph said.
“We built it around the aspect of wanting to create something that would give us sustainability,” John said.
When their youngest son was born, he had a sensitivity to different soaps so the Rudolphs used goat milk soap shipped to them from southern Indiana. In 2013, Miranda got two goats to make her own soap. “Then a couple of goats turned into a lot of goats,” she said. The Rudolphs’ homesteading project became a business, and they have almost 60 goats on the farm this year: bucks, does and kids.
After serving a six-year term with the U.S. Navy in the submarine service on the USS Springfield, John Rudolph used his GI Bill to go to Murray State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering technology and a master’s in occupational safety and health. He grew up in neighboring Marshall County. Miranda’s hometown is Bargersville, Ind., so they named their place Inky Squid Homestead after the postal abbreviations for Indiana and Kentucky. Squid is a slang term for a submariner.
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The Rudolphs raise registered dairy goats for breeding stock, for showing goats at shows within a five-hour radius, and for the milk used in the products they make and ship nationwide from their online store at rudolphfarms.com. They also sell products at local farmers markets, including bar soaps, shaving soaps, sugar scrubs, lotions and beeswax lip balms. The Inky Squid goat milk soap bars come in varieties like citronella, coconut, Kentucky bourbon, lavender, peppermint, tea tree and vanilla. Their best seller is the tobacco and amber scented soap.
There’s no state licensure or permits required for soaps or products that wash off the skin, but the Rudolphs do label and weigh each product. They rent a certified kitchen from a local business to produce lotions and lip balms. It was 2017 when the Inky Squid Homestead owners decided to start selling products at local farmers markets in Murray. “We’re about to return for our third year. It has been wildly successful,” Miranda said.
She is a first-time college student who has just completed her first semester at Murray State, where she is studying agriculture. The Rudolphs’ two sons help out on the farm and are involved with 4-H and showing goats. “We realized that was a lot of fun we enjoyed as a family,” Miranda said of the show circuit. Their oldest son is very active with FFA – Future Farmers of America – at his high school and is raising turkeys on the family farm for an FFA project.
In addition to the goats and turkeys, the Rudolphs have a miniature horse on the homestead, along with a donkey, a potbellied pig, a sheep, two dogs, two barn cats and eight guineafowl, a bird originally from Africa. “They eat the ticks and whatnot,” John said of the guineas. “They’re good watch animals, loud and obnoxious, and work well on a farm.”
The Rudolphs lease another three-acre pasture down the road where John started raising Dexter cattle last year, four heifers and a steer. As a beekeeper, he has four hives, one of which he maintains for the local 4-H organization.
“It’s a lot of work but I honestly believe it’s in you or it’s not,” John said, of farming. “There’s not a lot of in between.”