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

 

 

 

4 Lessons Learned Through Construction

Building a house was not something our family had ever planned to do.  But with the growth of Goat Milk Stuff, we needed a new farm and soaproom.

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And since the property we purchased did not have a house, we needed a house too!

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The construction project took almost two years from start to finish.  Those are some of my favorite two years. So many things happened, and I learned so much from all of the things we struggled with.

I don’t want to commute as an adult.  We spent hours and hours in the car, commuting every day, including Sundays. We started building in July of 2012, and we spent the next six months driving up to Scottsburg every other day or so, and our Great Pyrenees puppies would come with us.

In December of 2012, we moved all the animals up there.  When we moved the goats, we had to go to Charlestown, pick them up six at a time, and bring them up to the new property in the Hulk.  Once the animals were in Scottsburg, we drove there every single day and spent the majority of the day in Scottsburg.

I added it all up, and we spent almost 300 hours in the car during this time.  Even though I don’t want to commute, I must admit that it did provide lots of extra hours for reading.

A real kitchen is not a necessity, but it is a luxury I don’t want to do without ever again. We ate all of our meals in the breakroom in the soaproom – oatmeal in the rice cooker* for breakfast, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch and a crockpot* meal for dinner. The table took up most of the breakroom, and you had to push the chairs all the way in to get around it. The “pantry” in the breakroom was a cabinet that couldn’t hold half of our food supplies – we ended up going to Walmart almost every day.

A real bed is an even bigger luxury.  In March and April of 2013, we had Kidding Season, and we slept on the floor of the soaproom for almost three weeks.

No matter how many pillows or blankets you put under you, concrete does not make a comfortable bed.

Running water is the biggest luxury of them all!  In May of 2013, the house was almost done being built and we started moving things in. When Brandyn finished the racks in our closets*, most of our clothes came up. When Ramblyn finished the kitchen cabinets, half of our kitchen supplies came up. Once the racks in the pantry* were finished, we brought up all of the food, which was easy since we’d been eating out of the soaproom breakroom anyway.

One Saturday, a couple of friends with trailers who knew that we were close to moving asked if we needed any help. That night our beds, dressers, couches, dining room table, and bookcases (lots and lots of bookcases) arrived. “Whoo hoo, we’re sleeping here tonight!” the kids said. They forgot one thing.

We didn’t have plumbing.

We didn’t even care. We’d spent too much time commuting with eight kids and two large dogs for half an hour each way for anyone to care anymore. Lucky (and Mom) said we could sleep at the new house, and by golly, we were going to sleep there! Who cared about no plumbing?

Well, we cared that night.

Want a drink of water? Go to the barn.
Have to go to the bathroom? Go to the barn.
Want to brush your teeth? Go to the barn.
Want to shower? Sorry, you’ll have to wait.
Drain the cans of tuna fish for dinner? Um… put it in a bowl for the chickens.

Yeah, that was interesting.

Fun fact: when you know that there’s no toilet in the house, your bladder likes to play tricks on you. And walking to the barn in the middle of the night, at 11, 2, 4, and 5 am isn’t fun. Especially the one night when it rained. Mom made Dad drive her to the barn that night. LOL

The next morning, Mom told Lucky that we really needed a toilet, and somehow, with some blue plastic tubing*, he managed to get us one working toilet – although you couldn’t wash your hands afterwards (yuck!).

See the stick holding the tube against the wall? One night, in the middle of the night, I stumbled to the bathroom, still half asleep. When you flushed the toilet, the tube would jerk as the water went through it, and apparently it had done that just enough times to work itself loose. So I flushed, the tube jerked, the stick fell, and the tube came around and smacked me in the face.

I wasn’t very happy. It did make for a good story the next morning at breakfast though.  And when the plumbing contractor finally made it out to the house two days later, everyone was VERY excited!

Those were just some of the lessons that I learned during the two years of construction at our new farm. We learned so many things (including what is really important), we made so many memories, and we met so many awesome people. Yes, there were some challenges that I could have missed out on (walking to the barn three times in one night wasn’t fun), but I’m so glad even that happened.

And just think of all the fun stories I’ll get to tell my kids someday!

Brett

 

 

 

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Outfitting the House

Once most of the painting was done, the house started getting important items like kitchen cabinets,

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counter tops,

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thermostats*,

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bath tubs,

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and bathroom cabinets.

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We spent hours in the house helping to open cardboard boxes and then carting the empty cardboard away. With all the cabinets, bathroom fixtures, light fixtures, ceiling fans, doors, and everything else I can’t remember, there was a lot of cardboard to recycle!

Brett

 

 

 

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Colorful Bedrooms

When they painted our bedrooms, we were that much closer to living in our bedrooms. We still needed carpet, lights, switches, trim, doors, and a whole lot more, but the rooms were very colorful.

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Which made all of us beyond excited!

Brett

 

 

Chicken Board

When we were building our house, the stairs were some of the last things to be built, and it’s hard to jump up a three foot wall when you’re carrying things. So Lucky built us what was affectionately called, “the chicken board”.

First it was on the side of the house, when they were framing the walls. There was an opening where there were going to be windows, and it made a nice doorway. When we were commuting and had to bring the dogs with us, we would take them up the chicken board after the workers had gone and play in the living room and dining room with them.

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When they started putting plywood on the outside, they moved the chicken board to the garage, surrounded by the insulation*. You had to be careful that it didn’t slide on the gravel, and that you didn’t twist your ankle when you got off!

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Eventually we got stairs in the garage, but we didn’t have stairs to the front porch. So the chicken board was moved once again, this time to the front porch.  It stayed for several months, until we poured the concrete ledge outside the garage and the concrete stairs to the front porch.

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I don’t know where the chicken board ended up, but I do know that I’ll never see a board like that without thinking of Mom, standing at the bottom of the chicken board, waiting for one of the boys to hold her hand.  The board wobbled a lot as you walked up it, and Mom thought it was a great way to teach the boys manners.  They couldn’t just run up the board and disappear.  They had to stand there and make sure all the females in the family didn’t fall off!

Brett

 

 

 

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Framing the House

A lot of work went into the house – clearing the land, digging the basement.  That was cool to watch.  But the best part was when they started framing it. That was when the new house became real for me – when we had walls and rooms framed out.  That was when I realized, “we are going to have our new house!”

After they poured the basement walls, framed out the interior walls, and put the beams in place, they put down the plywood basement ceiling/first-floor floor.   Then they were able to start building the walls of the first floor. Hewitt was allowed to help hammer* in some nails, as long as he wore his LKS Rose hard-hat* that Lucky gave him. Hewitt loved that hat and still wears it!

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Once all of the first floor walls were framed, they put plywood on the outside.  Then they added the second floor beams and the floor for the second floor.

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The first day that we were allowed to walk in what would become our bedrooms was so exciting.  I remember sitting down on the plywood floor in my bedroom, closing my eyes, and imagining that my room was finished.

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My room was one of the first to get the roofline – the other kids were all saying, “how come she gets hers done first?”

Lucky’s answer? “She’s the boss.”

Lucky is so awesome!

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Framing the house was really cool because Lucky would let us help when it was safe for us. We carried boards, boxes of nails and screws, batteries for the power tools, and did anything else we could safely help with. Lucky and his crew were very patient with my siblings, and it made building the house fun for all of us.

Mom was particularly happy to use it as part of our homeschooling education.  She said it made geometry very real and practical.
Brett

 

 

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Talking to Lucky

Lucky, our contractor, is absolutely amazing. From the very beginning, he’s been here to help us make our property the best it can be. In order for him to help us with that, we have to talk to him a lot.

I made it my personal mission to take as many pictures of Lucky talking to people as I could. This is the face I got when I told him that:

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I didn’t get as many as I thought I would, but I did get some!

Indigo was telling Lucky she was cold in this picture, so Lucky got her a sweatshirt.

Mom saw me taking this picture and knew exactly what I was doing. 

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Nobody had a clue that I took this picture.

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And they were all too busy looking at the house plans to notice that I took this one!

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I can’t wait for us to start our next project so I can try to get more pictures of him!

Brett

 

 

Playing on the Piles

The Jonas children love when something is being built, because construction means that there are lots of piles. Dirt piles, rock piles, concrete piles –  they don’t care, as long as they’re allowed to climb them.

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And slide down them.

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(I’m just glad that they each do their own laundry – the Youngest Person Rule strikes again.)

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We don’t have any pictures of them playing tag on the piles, but it happened all the time – we had two or three dirt piles next to each other when they dug the basement of the house, and the kids would race up one, down the other side, up another, jump the relatively short distance between that one and the next, and run back down to do it again. It was even more fun when they convinced some of their friends to join them.

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The kids are bummed that construction is finished and we don’t currently have any piles for them to play on.  I’m sure that sooner or later, we’ll have another project going, and we’ll get more pictures of them playing on dirt piles!

Brett

 

 

 

Chicken and Buck Barns

We’ve already given you the tour of our main barn, but that barn is only for the female goats (does) and baby goats (kids).  We had to build two smaller barns for our bucks, dogs, chickens, and rabbits.

This is the buck/dog shed. The concrete walkway leading to it is now lined by the female goat pen. The overhang on this building houses several outside feeders* for our does. The inside of this shed has two small stalls, one for the bucks and one for the dogs (although most of the time they share the two).  It also has a small hay loft underneath the roof for holding several bales of hay (about 20).

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This is the garden tool shed that also houses our chickens and rabbits.

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The door opens into a hallway between the pens. The chickens are on the right, and the rabbits are on the left. Both overhangs are enclosed, so the chickens and rabbits can go outside, but they’re still still safely in a pen.

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You can see the house to the right of this picture, and to the left of the building is one of our first garden beds.  This building is right next to the garden, so we can easily take our scraps and feed them to the rabbits and chickens. The rabbits then turn the food we give them into manure, which we put right back into the garden.

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When we were building this property, we tried to make things as easy as possible to maintain. The chicken and rabbit shed was designed with that in mind, and so far it’s doing a great job!

Brett

 

 

 

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The Freezer Room

When we were building the soaproom, Mom asked Dad and Lucky, “Is there any reason to have a ten foot ceiling on the soaproom? Because if we don’t need it, we can just build the soap room eight feet high and save some money.” No one could think of any reason to have a ten foot ceiling, so the soap room was framed at eight feet and covered in metal.

A few weeks later, Dad realized the reason a ten foot ceiling had been planned when the walk-in freezer for the milk arrived. And yep, it was nine feet tall.

And so we put on the freezer room addition before the soaproom was even completed.

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In order for the roof to look good we had to take off that whole strip of metal and put it back on.

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The door on the right in this picture, which originally was going to lead outside, opens into the freezer room.

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Lucky and his crew did such a great job, it actually looks like we planned it from the beginning!

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Despite it not being in the original plans, we like the freezer room much better than what we had initially planned for the freezer.  In this location, the boys are able to bring the goat milk from the barn directly to the freezer without having to go through the soaproom.

God was looking out for us the whole time we were building!

Brett

 

 

Moving into the Soaproom

Once our new racks were set up, Lucky said we could start bringing more stuff into the soaproom. Each day we would fill the Hulk with something new. It took us several weeks, but eventually we had everything brought up to the soaproom (and mostly put away).

Our extra USPS boxes were some of the first things to come up. We always make sure we keep a lot of extra available in case the post office runs out or we have a publicity event.  Hewitt is great at shuffling boxes back and forth as we unload.

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After the USPS boxes, (on the rack to the right in this picture) some of our inventory started to come up. We had a box of empty pump bottles that was half-full, so Indigo put them into a plastic bin.

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Mom worked on sorting and organizing the lotion and lip balm supplies.  It was awesome to have dedicated space for them.

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Then she and Indigo organized all the laundry soap supplies.

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As we brought things up from the Charlestown place, we’d bring the tables and racks that they were on. Before long, we had more tables in the new place than we did at the old place!

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Moving everything into the new soaproom was tricky because we had to keep shipping out of Charlestown.  It took us several weeks, but eventually we decided we had moved enough to Scottsburg and we could make the switch.  So we chose a weekend and brought the rest of it to Scottsburg.

On Monday, September 24, 2012, we printed our first postage in Scottsburg and shipped orders out of our new soaproom!

That was a happy day.  Even though we were still living in Charlestown because the house wasn’t ready, we now just had to commute the family.  We no longer had to load soaproom stuff into the Hulk in the morning, unload it when we got to the soaproom, and put it all away.

At least, we didn’t have to keep moving stuff until it was time to start moving into the new house eight months later.

Brett

 

 

Outfitting the Soaproom

As soon as Lucky said we could (well, okay, maybe a few days before he said we could) we started bringing stuff over to the new soaproom. We were so excited to get set up!  But first, we had to put together a lot of new racks and cabinets. The little girls were such a big help when it came to holding things still and fetching and carrying what they could!

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Mom says this is another great example of her “youngest person rule” because Hewitt, Indigo, and Jade worked hard and kept Mom and Dad operating efficiently.

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We spent several days building racks and cabinets, and soon Lucky gave us the all clear to start moving stuff in.

That’s when it got really fun.

Brett

 

 

 

Building the Soaproom

After the soaproom was framed and the roof was on, it was concrete time!  Concrete truck after concrete truck arrived – a steady stream of them that left what would become the front yard of the soaproom a muddy mess filled with ruts everywhere. (Not that it bothered the kids – they love playing in the mud.)

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They poured the inside of the soaproom first.  The next day, they poured the front porch.

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We all stood around watching, waiting for when we could put our handprints in the concrete.

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Once all of the concrete had set up, they started building internal walls.  This section would become where the soap is made:

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And this section would become the media room, office, retail room, and breakroom:

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All of the children made sure to inspect the quality of the work:

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Once the internal walls were built, we got metal on the outside:

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And once the metal was on, we got insulation, pipes, air conditioning, electric, and more.

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Once we had insulation, and all of the pipes and cords and everything else was in place, we got metal on the interior walls and ceiling.

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The warehouse parts of the soaproom have metal walls and ceilings because they’re easier to clean. The front half of the soaproom – the office, retail room, break room, bathroom, and media (green screen) room – have wallboard.

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Once all of the metal and wallboard was up, we got things like vents, lights, doors, trim, and smoke alarms.

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And once we had all of that, we could clean the soaproom and start filling it up!

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It was so much fun watching (and helping when allowed) the soaproom be built.  Mom and Dad didn’t know what we really needed when we built our first soaproom in Charlestown.  But we learned a lot about our needs working in that space.

When it came time to build here in Scottsburg, we all put a lot of thought into this one.  And it works so much better!

Brett

 

 

Footprints

Since we did our handprints in the concrete at the soaproom, Mom wanted us to put our footprints on the barn’s porch. (Mom also suggested we do butt prints on the porch of the house, but Dad said no. LOL)

First, Ramblyn put the “broom finish” on the concrete – basically, going over the concrete with a broom to give it lines.

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We got a bucket of water to rinse our feet in afterward because uncured concrete can burn your skin.

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Jade’s feet wouldn’t go into the concrete – they had poured that concrete first, so it was too hard (and she didn’t weigh enough even with Mom and Lucky pushing on her feet) to make her footprint. We decided that she would get a bonus set of footprints on the other end of the barn.

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Lucky helped us push our feet into the concrete evenly. His hands were cold.

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So was the concrete, actually.

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Lucky picked the younger kids straight out of the concrete.  It was harder for the bigger kids (and Mom and Dad) to step out of the concrete evenly.

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But overall, the footprints came out really well!  Mom wrote our names by them again.

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I’m glad we put our footprints on the barn – it’s cool to see how much our feet have grown. (Well, my siblings’ feet – mine haven’t grown at all!)

Brett

 

 

Handprints

Moving our farm, our family, and our business was a momentous occasion.  It took hours of dreaming, thinking, planning, and working to make it a reality.  Mom asked me to put together a series of blog posts about the construction process.

I wanted to start with this one because it means a lot to all of us.  Mom had the idea to put our handprints somewhere in the concrete at the new farm.  After a lot of thought, we decided to put our handprints on the front porch of the soaproom.

Lucky and his crew got the concrete just right and then he helped the little ones to push their hands straight in:

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Ok, he actually helped all of us except for Mom and Dad:

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Mom used her finger to write all of our names above the handprints:

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And since the goats are a part of our family, they got in on the action too:

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Look at how young we all look!

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I’m so glad we did it.  It’s amazing how much our hands have grown in the two years since we put them (except mine, I haven’t grown since then!)

And it doesn’t just mean a lot to us. Many of the people who visit the retail room love to walk down the porch and see everyone’s handprints as well.

Brett