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Goat Milk Soap Newspaper Article

Goat Milk Soap Newspaper Article

All about the Jonas brothers -- and sisters

By Dale Moss dmoss@courier-Journal.com June 9, 2010

They earn salaries, do not receive allowances. They sing along to show tunes, not to Lady Gaga. They line up several times' daily to be counted and directed.

One is punished by being stopped from reading for a while.

They are Brett, Colter, Emery, Fletcher, Greyden, Hewitt, Indigo and Jade Jonas, the students, co-workers and children, all 13 or younger, of Jim and PJ Jonas. They live differently by design and better by faith without worry of being judged.

"We had a definite picture for what we wanted our family to look like," PJ Jonas said. "To me, this is it."

Their place on three rural acres near Charlestown is a farm, factory and home.

The children are home-schooled -- with no small part of their education coming from their roles in Goat Milk Stuff, the family's growing business. They help milk goats and turn that milk into soaps and other items sold on the internet and at weekend fairs and festivals. Jade, all of 2 years old, bags bars.

They help all they can, every way they can. Their parents are convinced that dutiful children more likely become responsible adults.

Schooling, as the Jonases define it, now is less about facts and figures and more about learning how to learn and to love learning. "If they do that, they can do anything they want," PJ Jonas said.

The parents follow an uncompromising, principled course based on their experiences, not on some adopted, over-the-top doctrine. He is from New Hampshire, she from New Jersey. They've been in Indiana since 2004 because it is relatively friendly to home schools and more affordable than life up east. They settled on the southern part of the state for no more profound reason than it is hilly. "I grew up in the mountains," Jim Jonas said. "I really don't like flat."

Being near a big city's amenities is nice, as well

Jim Jonas had taught middle-school science, but couldn't land such a job here. She was a systems engineer who dove into the deep end of motherhood. PJ Jonas started making soap for her family, as eager for chemical-free cleanliness as she had been to add a goat herd for a source of organic milk

She researched and crafted products like the ones they sell now. He tipped garbage, enjoying being outdoors as well as the job's four-day week. The family grew and grew and grew as did a determination to take self-sufficiency still higher.

When the first batch of soap to be offered for sale -- made to cover an expensive car repair -- went in a snap, Goat Milk Stuff was born. "We just knew God would give us what it was, when it was time," said Jim Jonas, now also in the business full time.

The children told me they get along well, they appreciate being near their parents morning, noon and night and that it's a kick to make money to buy, say, season passes to Holiday World. They go seemingly agreeably with very little TV watching and very few unhealthful foods.

Boys share one bedroom, girls another. In matching shirts, all help man the booth when the Jonas show goes on the road. "They're just amazed by them," PJ Jonas said festival visitors routinely say. "They are so thrilled to see children that work, are respectful and are being taught properly."

Not that these are adults in children's bodies, she went on. They can be goofy and irresponsible. "They're still plenty kids," she said.

Is eight enough? PJ Jonas talks that way though there's been no magic number of children all along. Goals now reflect mostly to continue to build Goat Milk Stuff which, as Jim Jonas puts it, "is a small family business that sometimes operates like a family and sometimes operates like a small business."

The kids lit up when talk turned to the possibility of seeing 'Les Miserables' when it plays next year in Louisville. Minutes later, they broke into a tune from 'My Fair Lady' and then fought over the just-arrived issue of Discover magazine.

For more information about Goat Milk Stuff, visit www.GoatMilkStuff.com or call (812) 256-2209.

Dale Moss' column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach him at (812) 949-4026 or dmoss@courier-journal.com. Comment on this column, and read his blog and previous columns, at www.courier-journal.com/moss.

As Fletcher Jonas, left, laughs, brother Colter Jonas, right, guides an Alpine milking goat to the milking station as younger brother Emory Jonas holds another goat at their farm outside Charlestown, Indiana. The Jonas family produces goat milk soap which is sold nationwide through their website, www.goatmilkstuff.com. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

Colter Jonas, left, and brother Emery Jonas milk two goats on their family farm outside Charlestown, Indiana. The goats are milked twice a day. The family uses the milk to produce cheese for themselves and uses the rennet for soap. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

As dad, Jim Jonas, looks on, Colter Jonas milks a goat on the family's farm in Indiana. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

Emery Jonas waits for the signal to open the door to lead a goat to the milking station on the family's farm outside Charlestown, Indiana. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

As Fletcher Jonas milks a goat, brother Greyden struggles to lift a milk container. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

Jim Jonas pours the goat cheese where it will be strained by son Colter and daughter Brett as Greyden, center, watches in the family's kitchen. The family eats lots of goat cheese and uses the rennet to make goat milk soap. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

There's always a little time for some fun at the Jonas farm as dad Jim gets a hug from son Hewitt, left, as daughter Jade squeezes his cheeks while her sister Indigo mimicks his face. All the children are homeschooled and they also help with the family business. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

Jim Jonas pours in goat milk to make a batch of soap at the family's farm outside Charlestown, Indiana. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

PJ Jonas lifts up a soap mold as sons Emery, left, and Colter watch. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

Indigo Jonas helps pack little bars of goat milk soap as her sister Jade, right, watches. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010

Colter Jonas takes a quick sniff of soap before handing it off to his sister Brett to package it for mailing to a customer at the family's farm. (By Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal) June 2, 2010