About Deanna

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Hello!  I’m Deanna Caswell.  I’m known around town as the “Goat Lady,” but here I’m just Deanna (or sometimes Ivory, an old college nickname).

I grew up in a rural town of 70% physicists in East TN.   So, this girl…

lil d

…wanted to have a farm and raise twelve kids, and be a scientist, and possibly a ballerina.

After high school, I went to college. I majored in Marine Biology, then Marine Chemistry, then Chemistry, then Chemistry/Math double major, then Inorganic Chemistry. One semester into my PhD, I realized I’d made a mistake. I hate lab work. Oops.

I thought about trying law, medicine, teaching, or foreign missions. I even interviewed and started the application process for a few of those things, but somehow, I ended up in Marriage and Family Therapy. Random.

Then, in the process of that degree, I got married.


In the last semester of my Masters, I realized that I didn’t like counseling people either. Who was I to dabble in their lives, huh? I loved studying how people tick, but making people tick was ick.  My friends today would say that I still serve as the unofficial therapist of the group (paid exclusively in Diet Coke and conversation), but I try not to mojo them too much with my mad skills.

My aversion to officially practicing my chosen career ended up not mattering anyway. I gave birth to our first child a couple of months after graduation. Then…I did it two more times.

I stayed home, happily raising fat babies, but I still felt that there was SOMETHING ELSE that I should be doing too. Not instead, mind you, but too.

As in as well.


Mad woman.

So I started writing children’s books.  Here’s a shot of me in LA at a party for children’s writers. I wore grownup clothes, lipstick, and everything.  I go to that conference every other year so, I’ve bought non-yoga pants clothes three times now.

But, apparently, I still wasn’t busy enough.  So I started writing this blog with my grad school buddy, Daisy.  And keeping chickens and goats.  And writing for the newspaper.  And homeschooling.

But apparently, I STILL wasn’t quite busy enough. So, in the midst of writing my third book, I had another babe last year:

Check out that unfortunate dapple of sunlight on my forehead….

See me getting by the town for our totally legal 40lbs goats:

Video coverage: here , here, and here
Newspaper coverage: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a video.

Non-goat scandal media links:

Spotlight on Mom
See my horrid tomato plants
And promoting backyard chickens in the media.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

JavaLady62 May 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm

You GO Girl !! Your site and stories ROCK. Keep up the good work !! Thank you for your inspiration all these years. God Bless you.

Ivory Soap May 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

Java–Awwww, thanks so much!

ahollo May 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

Just read the popcorn recipe in your book. I can’t believe you don’t know how to do homemade microwave popcorn: 1/4 cup poporn in a paper lunchbag, fold down the top and use the popcorn setting on the microwave. My kids love this!

Liz June 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm

just finished reading your book and now checking out your website! love both!!!

occuPIEmemphis June 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Hi Deanna,

Please come and join us at Alternamamas on facebook.


Kate July 19, 2012 at 6:16 am

Just discovered your blog and I love it!

I have to tell you that I’m sooo jealous of the goat…I can’t seem to convince my dear husband that yet another barnyard-type animal is necessary in our lives. (I started large with the suggestion of an Alpaca, foolishly believing that after that shock a tiny goat would be no problem. Ha.)

Sophiathebackyardfarmer August 15, 2012 at 10:08 am

I am so inspired by you! The backyard table is always filled with projects thanks to you!

Laurie August 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm

My husband just subscribed me to your newsletter and sent me the link to your page. Your site came up when he was searching how to roast Poblano peppers. Apparently your “about me” paged reminded him of me….the part where you felt there was something else you should be doing, as in “addition too”, lol. My response…..”see, some of us aree just busy people” 🙂 I am looking forward to reading your book.

Marcia September 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Am loving your website. I saw an article in the paper in Memphis back in March(was there for daughter-in-laws’ gallbladder surgery). The article was about having chickens in the city. Was strange, we had just learned my brother-in-law in Nesbit, MS had build a chicken coop in his backyard. That sparked an interest in chickens for eggs. I have been doing some research and my son is now interested in building the house and run for me. Thinks he would enjoy some of the fresh eggs:). I actually don’t live in the city, but in a parsonage about 20 miles from Jackson TN.
Your site has been such a blessing – filled with so much useful information about backyard farming.
I, too seem to always think there is something more I need to be doing:)
Thanks for all the information you include on your site. Enjoyed reading about the goats getting out and your helpful neighbor.
Keep up the good work!

Chris September 17, 2012 at 8:48 am

So interesting that you also grew up in the Secret City, where you were either a rocket scientist or a redneck (seemed there was no middle ground!) I, too left the area for first the military, then a rather large farm. The farm is gone and I’m back in town. Hoping to find a place in the ‘burbs that I can do the same as you’ve done. Kudos! Love it!

Wanda October 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Unbelievable that I only just found your site in just the last few weeks. I love it and since I learned your in the MidSouth, Memphis area makes it even better. I’m a transplant by virtue of military travel to MidTown. I live in and love this area of the world. After traveling all over the world I can say that with conviction. Memphis is like living in a different country. I would love to one day meet you and share my interest in soap making and the need to make and sell what I think and everyone who has tried it to be some of best home made soap around. If I had a website set up I would plug it now. ? Thank You for your wonderful gift of the pen I love reading your post!

Deirdre January 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm

You’re living my dream, kids, farm and actually goats too. What can I say.

Kay T February 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm

We live in a nice NW suburb of Detroit. How DID you get a clearance to have goats?!!! I can’t tolerate cow’s milk products at all. This sound so much better than soy milk,. I am drinking it now. I LOVE goat’s milk!

sratell February 20, 2013 at 6:06 am

For Kay T – I am also from Michigan – the Bay City area. You need to check the laws in here Michigan. We are know as a right-to-farm-state. You have the right to raise farm animals as long as you practice the generally accepted guidelines for raising and caring for them. Research it! Exercise your rights! I have chickens in town and all of my neighbors love them.

G in FL March 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

After being in the garden about 5 hours today…..first real day this year, your “horrid tomato plants” link made me smile and encouraged me. My garden if FULL of weeds (grows them so well) and it’s nice to know that it doesn’t have to be Garden Magazine beautiful.

Andi Hales April 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I just found you site and I am so excited to try your DIY deodorant, Cadillac lotion bar/lip balm and lots of other recipes! I love how “real” your descriptions of everything is. I find myself kind of spastic at times but look forward to following your blog and trying the back to basics techniques!

Daisy April 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Andi Hales–Thank you and hope everything turns out. We try to make it simple and use only a few ingredients so you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money tracking a bunch of different things down. See you around!

Belinda January 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I’m really enjoying your site. It’s nice to find a fellow Tennessean, I guessed Oak Ridge before I followed the link. I have aunts and uncles who worked there back in the day…and they have/had the health problems to prove it. I look forward to checking out more of your posts

McAngie August 1, 2014 at 2:56 am

I have just discovered your blog, where have you been all my life? Seriously! How have I never found your site? In all my “googling” for simple, made from scratch recipes & home products, You’ve never popped up on the Google radar.

I’m enjoying reading and gleaning from all of your southern knowledge. I’m a Tennessee girl too, Middle TN, and we just do things different down here in the south!

Daisy August 1, 2014 at 4:52 am

McAngie–Well howdy and welcome! Thank you! Pull up a chair and set a spell. Love Middle TN, your beautiful green rolling hills and good garden soil!

Leslie August 12, 2014 at 6:06 am

I finally had time to read your wonderful book on a trip to the USA. I loved every bit of it, cover to cover. Your site is wonderful also. I have a rabbitry and wish I had more room for goats. I have had chickens before and may get a couple of bantams again. We are just building a new rabbitry (so exciting). I keep experimenting with new plants in my garden and love your philosophy about living off the land!! Keep up the good work!!!

Daisy August 12, 2014 at 7:23 am

Leslie–Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know. I’m excited for your new rabbitry, too! I even like the word ‘rabbitry’. Best of luck with it and yay! for new plants! There’s always room for one more 😉

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