Ask A Jonas – Fletcher’s Thoughts On Homeschooling

We get asked lots of questions when we’re doing farm tours, selling soap at craft fairs, or simply running errands.  Since most of those answers are heard only by the person who asked, we decided to share some of the common questions here on the blog.  And of course you can ask a question of your own!

Ask a Jonas-fletcher_thoughts on homeschooling_blog

Fletcher, what is your favorite thing about homeschooling? ~Gwen Short Carpenter

My favorite thing is that I can stay at home with my family and don’t have to go to school and sit there all day. I don’t like sitting all day.

Because I’m homeschooled I can get my schoolwork done and then play and be with my family, or I can read a book in a quiet place.  I sometimes get in trouble because I spend too much time reading books.  That’s my favorite thing to do – read books.

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I also like to homeschool because Mom lets us spend a lot of time on Google Earth.  It’s really cool.  You can go all over the world and find lots of cool things.  I like to go inside the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty.  Mom says that I learn more about stuff like that because I like it than she did in school because they made her study things she wasn’t interested in.

I think being homeschooled is the best because I don’t have to do anything.  I can learn what I want to learn.  Which is mostly reading.  Greek mythology is the best.  I like reading about the heroes and gods and everything that they messed up.

Signature Fletcher

 

 

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Jade: “Grandma has grandchildren, right?”
Dad: “Yes, that’s why you call her Grandma.”
Jade: “Ohhhhh.” *laughs*

I sure am glad that I didn’t realize HOW Emery was planning to teach Indigo and Jade to ride their bikes until AFTER it was all over! LOL

PJ

Emery finished “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and was not quite happy with the ending: “There’s a dark spot and then a light spot and then *BOOM* she ruins it!!”

How to Make Goat Milk Greek Yogurt

As I mentioned earlier, turning our raw goat milk into homemade yogurt is a great way to fill my children with healthy probiotics and boost their immune system.

Unless you heat the milk for extended time periods or add powdered milk, most homemade yogurt will come out fairly runny.  While this is great for smoothies, thicker greek-style yogurt is preferred in my family.

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To thicken your yogurt, all you really need to do is remove some of the whey (the liquid that separates out).  I’ve used many methods over the years – including cheese cloth and special cone filters.  They all worked, but were not the most convenient methods.

I have a new absolutely favorite tool.  I purchased this Greek Yogurt strainer* and I LOVE it.  (I love it so much that I acutally have 4 of them!)

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Each strainer can hold one of the Yogourmet* containers that I use.  As I mentioned in the previous post, I have two Yogourmets so I make 1 gallon of yogurt at a time.  I have four of the strainers because we prefer to leave the yogurt in the strainers for 24-48 hours.  This produces a very  thick, super yummy yogurt.

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To use the strainer, simply pour the finished yogurt into the strainer (it does splatter):

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Put the lid on and let it sit in the refrigerator for as long as desired.

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Then take it out and put the yogurt into a container (or eat directly).

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You can see in the below photo how much whey separates initially (strainer on left) vs after 24 hours (strainer on right).

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So the question then becomes, if I make so much yogurt, what do I do with all that whey?  That (of course) is the subject of an upcoming blog post!

Have you ever made your own yogurt?  Do you strain it?

PJ

 

 

Jade is learning to read and was practicing yesterday: “Moses was going to lead them to the Promised Land of Canada”

Reading is the foundation to our homeschooling.  In fact, one of my hardest challenges as a homeschooling mom has always been to keep quality books in front of my kids.  That job is a LOT easier now that Brett is really good at picking out good books for everyone to read.

Indigo certainly thinks so!

PJ

Kids Cooking – Goat Milk Yogurt

I am a big believer in using whole foods to keep our bodies healthy.  In this day of scary viruses, a healthy immune system is especially important.  One of the foods that the children make quite often is goat milk yogurt.  It is full of probiotics that helps to keep their gut (and hence their immune systems) healthy.

To make your own yogurt, you need to first collect your milk.  We use raw goat milk, but you can use pasteurized whole cow milk from the grocery store.  In fact, if you don’t have a source of natural milk, turning your store-bought milk into yogurt is a great way to make it healthier. (Notice our sourdough in the background? Sourdough bread is a great way to make healthy bread.)

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I have used many methods to incubate my yogurt over the years – from insulated coolers to crockpots to dehydrators – there are many ways to make it work.  But my favorite method for consistently good yogurt is the Yogourmet*.  We currently have two of them so we can do a gallon at a time (each yogourmet holds 1/2 gallon of milk).  While they do use a little more electricity than some other methods, the reliability is worth it to me.

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The Yogourmet comes with a plastic container.

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I purchased 2 additional glass containers* that fit into the yogourmet.  I did this not only because I prefer glass, but because we make a lot of yogurt and this way I have extra containers.

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Pour your milk into the containers and then add a starter.

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You can use any starter* that has active yogurt cultures.  You can use a half cup of active yogurt from the grocery store.  I use a freeze-dried culture*.  It is more expensive, but I use it because we use raw milk.  Raw milk has a lot of live beneficial bacteria and I want to make sure that my starter is strong enough to culture the raw milk.  I’ve had trouble with yogurt from the store not being potent enough for my raw milk.  But if you’re using pasteurized milk, yogurt from the store (make sure it has live cultures) should be fine.

Stir your milk with a clean spoon to make sure the starter is properly mixed in.

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Set the container in the Yogourmet, make sure it is filled with water and plug it in.

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8-12 hours is usually a good amount of time to incubate your yogurt. We usually start yogurt after we’ve collected the evening milk.  We let the Yogourmet sit overnight and in the morning we unplug it and remove the finished jar of yogurt.

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We then put the yogurt in the refrigerator. This yogurt won’t be super thick because we didn’t add any thickeners or heat our milk for an extended time before making the yogurt.  (I’ll share in the next post how we turn this yogurt into thicker greek-style yogurt.)

But this yogurt is great for smoothies or mixing with granola or raw honey.

Have you ever made your own yogurt?  Do you want to?

PJ

 

 

 

Ask A Jonas – Jim’s Thoughts On Choosing Scents

We get asked lots of questions when we’re doing farm toursselling soap at craft fairs, or simply running errands.  Since most of those answers are heard only by the person who asked, we decided to share some of the common questions here on the blog.  And of course you can ask a question of your own!

Ask a Jonas-Jim_choosing scents_blog

Jim, how do you decide what scents you use as far as soaps and lotions? Do you pick your favorite or mix it up? Every month I can’t wait to place my order for the limited edition soap. ~Angie

Over the years of doing craft shows, reading comments on our social media pages, and fueling customer requests, we’ve learned what seasons certain scents are very popular. We try to have our limited edition fragrances line up pretty well with the seasons, but sometimes that can be tricky. Not all fragrances are created equal, so Colter and I spend a lot of time researching and testing fragrances from suppliers who have high quality oils.

We’re always careful to only use fragrances that are body safe and phthalate free. That’s the research part. Testing involves making many small batches to see how the fragrance performs in our soaps and lotions. Many fragrances can morph, or completely disappear in soap. They can also accelerate the saponification process and ruin a batch, or completely change it’s color.

Once we find the perfect fragrance, then we can put it into our product line. Ultimately, it’s PJ and our customers who decide if it will stay there or not.

 

Jim Signature

 

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Meet The Goats – Hummingbird

Our dairy goats are not only foundational to Goat Milk Stuff, but they are a big part of our family as well.  Each of them has a personality and during this series we’re hoping you’ll get to know more about them.

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Several years ago, we went to Idaho to get a few more goats to add to our growing herd. We got Hummingbird on that trip, and she’s an absolute sweetheart. She’s the oldest of our goats, gives us a lot of milk, and passes on the “milky” gene to her kids. Because of this, we’ve kept several of them – Hera (held by Fletcher), Happenstance (held by Emery), and Hazelnut (held by Greyden).

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Happenstance, also known as “Happy”, is on the cover of our new catalog, The Goat Milk Stuff Banner. Isn’t she adorable?

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Brett: So, what can you tell me about Hummingbird?

Hewitt: Hummer is one of our sweetest goats, and she’s easy to milk.

Emery: No way!

Hewitt: She is.

Emery: I meant to the milking part, not the sweet part. She’s not easy to milk at all.

Hewitt: She’s AWESOME.

Emery: But she’s not easy to milk. She gives a LOT of milk, but she’s not easy to milk.

Colter: She can get really skinny because she puts all of her energy into making milk. We’re always trying to fatten her up, because otherwise she gets too skinny.

Greyden: Her daughter is spoiled.

Emery: Yeah, Hazelnut is definitely spoiled.

Colter: Why are you talking about Hazelnut when we’re supposed to be talking about Hummingbird?

Emery: You should have heard Greyden going on and on and on about Bathsheba when we were supposed to be talking about Persephone in her Meet The Goats post.

Colter: Can we get back to Hummingbird? She passes her genes on well to her kids–

Emery: Now who’s talking about her kids?

Colter: *gives Emery the older brother death glare* I was talking about Hummingbird.

Brett: Okay, okay, that’s enough.

She’s a really good mama – we know that she’s had at least 15 babies. This past year, she had Happy and Hera before we realized she was in labor, and she took care of everything.

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Hummer is a sweetheart, extremely capable, a great milker, and we love her!

Brett

 

 

Safety Matters!

We started offering farm tours this year, which is something we’re really excited about. Everybody really enjoys them, but one thing we noticed was that elderly people had difficulty going up the incline by the barn.  To make it safer for everyone (and less muddy!), we put in a sidewalk between the soaproom and the barn.

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We chose to put in both a ramp and stairs so that that people had options (handrails will be installed soon).

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If you’ve been to our farm, you will have seen the handprints in the concrete at the soaproom and the footprints in the concrete at the barn.

So what do you think I put in the concrete of the new sidewalk??

PJ