A year and a half ago, I adopted 6 fish in a ready-to-go-tank, plants and filter included. I knew my little granddaughter would watch them. They have a prime spot in my living room.

Some of the fish are close to their “life expectancy.” In fact, they’ve lived beyond their years, per the pet store fish experts.

My yellow fish started acting a little weird about 5 months ago. In fact, my granddaughter said, “Boo Boo,” because it stayed on the floor of the tank, unlike the others who darted back and forth. Initially, the fish (think it’s a she) seemed disoriented for a few months, like she was in overdrive, high gear and trying to escape, bumping up against the glass. Then two months later she became a flounder, floating sideways on the top, half speed, and seemingly totally chill doing it.

But she’s not a flounder.

All through Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m defending the fish, telling family members to leave her alone. I hid the fish net.

Nobody is putting my yellow fish out of her misery.

Granddaughter and grandson now try to touch yellow fish when we feed her, instructing me that “Yellow Fish hurt." Yellow Fish floats on the top sometimes, very still. Sometimes she lets herself drop to the bottom of the tank, to her corner.

Yellow Fish doesn’t act miserable, not struggling, just taking it slow.

First thing every morning, even before making coffee and sending my hound out the door, I look for Yellow Fish, hoping to see her “floundering” around on the surface or near the new bamboo, which she seems to really like. I am happy when I find her alive.

It’s January now, and Yellow Fish is thinner. I put food close, so she might bump into the flakes or dried worms. And she does, sometimes. She moves slowly and rests awkwardly on the rocks.

This is one of many lessons from my fish tank. I’d better pay attention, accept that change is inevitable and focus on the work that matters. Grandchildren will be over soon and ready for a walk in the woods, enjoy a messy lunch, and feed the fish.

I aim to take care of my wonderful.

Take Care of Wonderful [TCW] News: Meet Our Farmers

We're only as good as our ingredients.

At TCW, we forage for some of the most wonderful farmers and partners we can find.  Their fresh ingredients are as "whole" and nutrient rich as we can get them. And yes, this means that every batch of Take Care of Wonderful soaps and products must be made from scratch and the recipes tweaked every batch, just like good cooking. Plus, we LOVE using farmer's fresh ingredients in new ways with new products, hoping to boost their revenues and support their goal of growing healthy, clean foods.  Yeah, we have to work a bit more to offer custom crafted, high performing, nutrient rich soaps and cleaners, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

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Oliver Farm

TCW is so lucky to have met Clay Oliver and his passion for saving his Pitts, Georgia centennial family farm. Oliver Farm is winning Good Food awards in the South and being welcomed in some of the best restaurants across the country. When Clay cold presses and barrels his sunflower oil for us, he has to load it on his tractor and drive it a long way to get it on the truck and headed our way. Then I get my tractor going and load it from the delivery truck and into my shop. This glorious, golden oil has a earthy, seedy smell that tells me its wonderful waxes, carotenoids, and goodness is what makes TCW products perform.  Thank you Oliver family for working with us.

Ag Strong- Organic & Non GMO

Fortunately, I met the founders of Ag Strong almost 7 years ago, and the Davis family was willing to host my visits share samples of their Non GMO and Organic food oils. Now, they're always in the TCW pantry. We love buying their full bodied ingredients and crafting special recipes. It's why our pure Castile Soaps do what they do. And TCW's loves Ag Strong's mission: "To serve family farmers by offering more profitable and sustainable cropping systems to help strengthen & restore the family farming community."

 Ahiflower & Nature's Crops

While foraging for stronger omega 3 sources to create a new recipe, I reconnected with Greg Cumberland, of the Bent Creek Institute and Nature' Crops International. Luckily for TCW, Greg shared samples of Nature's Crops Ahiflower, and I crafted some new products, shared them with friends and family. The results are awesome, as expected, since this plant seed oil is scientifically proven to offer a unique and unparalleled combination of essential omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids.  Please, do your own research about the benefits of Omega 3 and skin. At TCW, we expect this sustainable superfood to become the point guard on our team of new products.

Students, Flu Season, Tutoring, Online Learning


Nope, this post isn't about cats eating cucumbers, complex radicals, or WARHORSE germ warfare  Yes, hand washing is the first line of defense to staying healthy during flu season. And schools are sanctuaries for germs--coughing, hacking, sniffles, high fives, keyboards, desks, doorknobs, weight room, cell phones can = sick student.

And missing one day of school can really create a little or a lot of chaos for a student. Long absences can wreak havoc on the rest of the semester, and into the next several years, especially in math.

I got a call last week asking if I would tutor a 9th grader who has missed 2 weeks of high school classes. She is having a hard time catching up on missed math and English content.  And the class is still moving forward.  So, I thought I'd post about some resources that might help:

  • Have the student ask the teachers if they have resources that will cover the missed material. Most teachers offer study labs. Also, teachers may know other students who could help tutor. Some teachers will even video core material lessons and demonstrations so students can watch and rewatch.
  • Check with the school's guidance department for tutor recommendations. It's great to find a peer tutor who has mastered the course material and even better if she/he has taken the same course from the same teacher. 
  • Parents and grandparents can help the student identify topics that were covered during the student's absence from class and make a plan to catch up and master missed concepts.  
  • Students should use weekends to dig into the missed course material. If it's math and grammar, practice and more practice is essential. 

Here's a list of online resources that may help--and students know they can Google or search Youtube videos for online tutoring help. Online videos are great since they can be reviewed many times--even on the smart phone.

Yay Math  is a good site for finding specific math concepts and will line up with the textbook. These math videos are free and on Youtube as well.   Videos are made in the classroom and have student participation. 

That Tutor Guy is a popular site that covers math from middle school to college.   There's a free trial for the first 7 days to test out before you pay a fee for the subscription.

The Grammar Guys youtube channel has free, fun videos that cover grammar and punctuation topics. 

Spark Notes is a good way to get help with literature. A complex poem, short story, or novel can require help for understanding literary devices, themes, and literary criticism. 

MIT Open Courseware is a site offered by MIT that covers many undergraduate courses. If you're taking high school or college Calculus and missed the lecture and notes on "Rate of Change," for example, you can watch university professors "teach" content.  

And of course, students, parents, grandparents can do online searches by topic and find a variety of  tutors and videos that might help.  But don't wait, tackle the missed content as soon as the student feels well enough to dive in.

Hey, there's a world of information out there that can help elementary, high school, college students "catch up," but also gain a deeper understanding of a subject. Some people, regardless of age, just love to learn--hey, we're all students.

I'm a good example of "teaching an old dog new tricks."  A good tutor, free chemistry courseware, and some good youtube biofuel mentors helped me get going with WARHORSE.

Here's a link to The Worlds' 50 Best Open Courseware Collections (free videos, lecture, notes, textbooks). Students who wish to explore horse management, programming, music theory, nutrition science, food safety, robotics, physics (and much more) might enjoy surfing the courses for interesting and helpful content.


So Safe you can Swim in WARHORSE

Often, an aggressive cleaner requires gloves and lots of caution statements. The pink, purple, green stuff might chew the paint off the wall but gnaw at your lungs and skin in the process. Or, if you get the "natural, green" cleaners, they may take 3 times as much and LOTS of elbow grease.  And you may have a cabinet full of different cleaners to handle different cleaning jobs. What if...

WHAT IF YOU CAN HAVE IT BOTH WAYS all in one super concentrated cleaner?

We deserve it both ways! 

Our WARHORSE, Your Water.

Let's get to the kind and gentle part first. With WARHORSE cleaners you won't need gloves or a mask. In fact, you will love how it moisturizes your skin, even while tackling the dirtiest jobs. Seriously. To demonstrate, I immersed myself in a 55 gallon drum of MP, the same recipe that Mountain View BBQ, Clemson University, Southern Concrete, Tryon International Equestrian Center staff use WARHORSE to take care of their facilities. If WARHORSE can help these customers, they can help your home and farm too.

Clearly, I'm not wearing gloves, mask, and long sleeves while I connect with WARHORSE. 

It's noteworthy that this 55 gallon drum can wash more than 3,000 fire trucks. Or makes 2,346 bottles of general purpose cleaner--a little goes a long way.  

But we have quarts and gallons too.

And these folks below aren't afraid of working with WARHORSE or using it on their stuff.

Here's our Multi Purpose label. Check out our certifications and uses.  Then maybe you'd like to test a WARHORSE kind of clean, to see what we're made of. 


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.