Processing Jewelweed

Last week I talked about how we harvested jewelweed to be used in our jewelweed soap and jewelweed salve.  Once Greyden and Emery collect all of the jewelweed, it’s time to process it.

Jade does “quality control on it first”.

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She sorts through and makes sure to remove any weeds or items we don’t want to use.

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Then it gets passed to Emery who puts it through the food processor.

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All the chopped-up jewelweed is then infused in organic extra-virgin olive oil.  This is a multi-step process that we’ve developed over the years that does an amazing job of getting all of the valuable properties of the plant into the olive oil.

It’s a very big job that we do.

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But fortunately it goes pretty quickly and only needs to be done once a year!

PJ

 

 

Harvesting Jewelweed

We try to keep everything we do as natural as possible here on the farm.  That includes the food we (and all of our animals) eat as well as all of the items we make.  One of our most popular specialty items is our jewelweed soap and jewelweed salve.  These are used to both help prevent and help treat poison ivy.  And if you’ve ever suffered from a poison ivy rash, you know that anything that offers relief quickly becomes a favorite!

Jewelweed is a plant that grows naturally in (usually) damp soil.  When we lived at our old farm, we didn’t have any jewelweed on the property, so we harvested the jewelweed from a friend’s property.  But their home and property were destroyed in the tornado that hit our area in 2012.  The family was all safe and unharmed, which is the important thing, but I did need to look for a new source for my jewelweed.

We were super surprised and excited to find that our new Scottsburg farm has an abundant supply of jewelweed.  So now it is super easy to harvest!

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We did have to fence the goats out of it though so that it can grow undisturbed.

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Emery and Greyden are responsible for harvesting the jewelweed.

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They’ve learned to identify it by the orange flowers which usually appear in July or August.

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The family doesn’t usually get many poison ivy rashes because we’re pretty good about washing with the jewelweed soap and identifying poison ivy so we can avoid it.  (The children learned a healthy fear of poison ivy from Jim who is highly allergic.)

Do you have any experience with jewelweed?

PJ

 

Why We Don’t Like Johnson Grass

Here at Goat Milk Stuff we try very hard to feed our goats the best food available. This is the main reason we grow our own hay. Although many people erroneously believe that goats can (and will) eat almost anything, one thing they shouldn’t eat is Johnson Grass.

If consumed in large quantities, it can kill the goats, but another problem is that it is super-invasive.  It grows rapidly, and can overtake a field quickly, leaving no room for the nutritious grasses that we have in our hayfield. Once established, about the only way to get rid of it is spraying herbicide, which we will not do, so we must be vigilant to harass and distress or remove any unwanted plants before they can become established. We monitor our hay field closely for dangerous weeds, such as Johnson Grass. This spring we didn’t notice anything in the fields, but when it came time for the second cutting, Greyden and Emery found it:

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Yep, Johnson Grass!

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So they went through the fields a couple times a week, removing every piece they found.  They carefully collected all of the tops before they could go to seed.

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So that when it came time to harvest, we had healthy hay for the goats!

PJ

 

 

Do You Take Advantage of Opportunities?

I love the fact that because of Goat Milk Stuff, we’ve been able to take the family on many adventures to many cities.  We’ve been on television in St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and New York City.  Our latest trip brought us to Kansas City.

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We really enjoy the chance to be on television and share our soaps (and now our caramels) with the television reporters and their viewers.  But our favorite part is getting to explore the city and learn a little about the culture and what makes it special.  After the filming, we headed back to our hotel, got changed, ate “second breakfast”, and then drove around Kansas City before heading to Loose Park.

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It was beautiful and the weather was perfect!  We then headed to the Kansas City Library where the children thought the large books on the walls of the parking garage were cool:

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There was also a large chess set on the roof of the library that they had fun with:

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The sad part was that Indigo found a book that she’s been coveting and thought she’d be able to “borrow it from the library.”  She started crying when she realized she couldn’t (making the librarian feel pretty bad).

After lunch (yes, Kansas City really does have AWESOME barbeque!) we headed over to the World War I Memorial.

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Then we walked to the Kansas City Federal Reserve and toured the “Money Museum”.  The Fed was pretty cool but I wish that they had some better tools to teach the children about exactly what the Fed does.  There was a video (but I wasn’t impressed).  I spend a lot of time teaching the children about money and borrowing and interest rates and I was hoping they’d have some good books at their little shop.

We were only in Kansas City for a total of about 36 hours, but we got a good overview of the city and their Barbeque!  I thought Kansas City was well kept with friendly people and was surprised by how much elevation there was.  I actually earned a “Redwood Forest” badge from my fitbit* from walking up and down as we walked around the city.

One of the reasons we’re able to enjoy the city so much is because not only are the children older (so they can walk and enjoy the sites), but also because Jim does a lot of prep-work finding out about the city and what our family would enjoy doing before we even arrive.  He had a list of places we could visit and the children got to choose which ones they were most interested in.

You don’t have to be on television to take advantage of the opportunities around you.  I know there are a few dozen things that I want to visit within a two hour radius of our home that I haven’t gotten around to doing – yet!

Where’s the latest place you’ve visited?

PJ

 

 

5K Color Run

Exercise is something important to our family so we can stay healthy. All of the boys run cross country and track.

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Last Saturday we all participated in a 5K Color Run, to help raise money to fight cancer!

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All of the children ran the race, while Jim and I chose to just walk it.

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Before running Colter said he wasn’t going to get any color on him, but as you can see he did end up with a little on himself.

We were all very proud of him; he placed 1st in the race!

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As you can see, after the race we were a very colorful bunch:

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We had a blast with it, and it helped raise money for a good cause!

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Have you ever run or walked a 5K?

PJ

 

 

Baby Goats Visiting the Nursing Home

Remember when we brought some baby goats to the nursing home?

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We did it again! Emery, Fletcher, Greyden, Hewitt, Indigo, Jade, and Dad brought two or three of our youngest babies to visit.

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The residents loved it!

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The babies gave them kisses,

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and nibbled on their fingers,

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and even let some of the residents hold them.

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The smiles totally made our day!

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Newsies

Everyone in our family absolutely LOVES musicals.  While we were visiting New York City, we had the opportunity to see three broadway musicals, including Newsies. My siblings and I absolutely love the Newsies movie*, so we couldn’t pass up the chance to see the play. It was absolutely amazing, and we couldn’t stop talking about it.

Well, a few months ago, it came to Louisville – so of course we went to see it again!

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Indigo was trying to pose like the guy on the poster. LOL

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After the show, we went around to the back of the theater hoping to meet the cast – and we were able to get pictures with some of them! This is Angela Grovey, who plays Medda Larkin.

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The girls and I were very excited to see Stephanie Styles, who plays Katherine,

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and the boys loved getting to meet the star of the show, Dan DeLuca, who plays Jack Kelly!

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We were able to give several of the cast copies of our catalog, which got its name from Newsies! We named the catalog “The Banner” so that we could be “Carrying The Banner” – which is one of our favorite Newsies songs!

It was a great night! So great that the little girls got in the car to go home and promptly fell asleep. LOL

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Have you ever heard of Newsies? If not, look it up! It’s amazing, and it’s a Jonas Family Favorite!

Brett

 

 

Happy Birthday Emery!

Emery turned fifteen last week!

Hewitt put all of the candles on his cake – and made sure to put them as far apart as he could. Because, you know, if you don’t blow out all of your candles in one blow you’re a failure or something like that. 😉

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But Emery had no trouble at all! Hewitt was quite impressed.

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It’s amazing how much older Emery looks in one year! If you compare his birthday pictures from last year to this year, it’s hard to believe it’s the same kid.

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Jade insisted that Emery wear our old birthday crown for his picture with her.

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Emery took it off as soon as he could though. His head is too big for it now, he said.

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I love how Ginger photo-bombed most of these pictures. LOL

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Happy Birthday, Emery! We’re so proud of the young man you’re becoming.

Brett Blue Signature

 

 

Emery’s Flower Garden

Ever since he was young, Emery has always enjoyed flowers.  Throughout the years he has had different flower gardens.

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When we moved from Charlestown to Scottsburg, he transported many of the flowers, and started a new one! This Spring, he has started one next to the barn.  Only the Daffodils have started blooming so far.

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This Spring, we have Emery’s Flower Garden scented soap! The scent varies each year and we love this one!  It has a nice floral scent that is very reminiscent of Emery’s Flower Garden.

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You can find Emery’s Flower Garden on the website.  If you try it, let us know what you think of it!

PJ

 

 

What Do We Do In Our Spare Time?

We get asked all the time, “What do you do in your spare time?” And without fail, everyone’s answer to that question is, “I read”.

We read outside,

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on the couch,

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(in any position we find comfortable,)

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while we’re walking around the house,

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in bed,

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and with our siblings.

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We’ve even got the cat reading the dictionary! 😉

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Hewitt and Jade recently started reading, so now the entire family can read. If you can’t find one of the Jonas children, there’s a pretty good chance they’ve found a new hiding spot, and they’re curled up in it with their latest book!

Do you like to read?

 

 

Healthy Field, Healthy Goats!

I’m not a big fan of chemicals.  They have their place and are useful in certain applications.  But in general, I think that as a society we rely too heavily on them. We work hard on the farm to avoid chemicals – especially if there is a healthier, more natural method available to us.

One example involves our hay field.  When you grow your own hay, you regularly harvest it and remove it from the ground in which it was grown.  As a result, you need to do something to add nutrients back to the soil.  If you don’t, the soil gets depleted and doesn’t grow much except weeds.

Many farms rely on chemical fertilizers to add nutrients back to the soil.  Instead, we recycle what we have lots of  – manure laden bedding.   We shovel the goats’ stalls and use wheel barrows to take the dirty bedding to the hay fields.

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We then spread it out into thin layers with a rake (or more commonly) our boots:

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Spreading the bedding out accomplishes several things.  As previously mentioned, it returns the nutrients back to the soil.  But it also allows the bedding to dry out which keeps flies away. Plus a thin layer of bedding allows the grass to grow through the bedding (as opposed to a large pile which would kill the grass).

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We add the rabbit waste back to the garden for the same reason.

If you look closely in the photo below, you can see the line where the children spread manure last year.  (I added arrows so you can see the line better.) See how there is a line where the grass changes from dark green to light green?  The dark green is where the bedding was spread.

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The color difference in the grass is an outward indication of the fact that healthy soil produces healthier grass.

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It’s a lot of work to spread all that bedding by hand. But it’s worth it!

Healthier soil leads to healthier grass.  Healthier grass leads to healthier hay.  Healthier hay leads to healthier goats.  Healthier goats leads to healthier milk.  Healthier milk leads to better soap!

PJ

 

 

Ask a Jonas – Emery & Lotion Sticks

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!

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Emery, how do I use the lotion stick? ~Joyce

Hi Joyce.  I’m so glad you asked.

A lotion stick is kind of like a large lip balm.

Applying the lotion stick is super easy.  In the winter, I like to warm the lotion stick up between my hands by rubbing it back and forth between my palms.  Then when I take the lid off, it spreads really easily.

I like to put it on my knuckles, fingertips, and elbows because those are the place that get dry.  Other places I use it are my heels and knees.

We also have a video that shows you how to apply the lotion:

Signature Emery

 

 

 

Have a question for a Jonas? Fill out the form and send it in – maybe we’ll pick yours!

Taping Boxes and Making Forts

Here at Goat Milk Stuff, we go through lots of mailing boxes. Normally, when we run out of prepared boxes, we’ll get everyone together and have a big box taping party. But the other day, some of the kids decided to have a box making battle.

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They split into two teams to make forts, with each team trying to make the biggest and “strongest”.

Fletcher was a team by himself,

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And Emery, Indigo, and Jade were the other team. (And in case you don’t think that’s fair, Fletcher had the large boxes, and the other kids had smaller boxes, so they had to make more to build a good fort.)

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Within an hour, they had made several hundred boxes, and had a great time. We love making work fun! And we also love when we don’t have to make boxes for a few weeks. LOL

 

Having Fun in the Snow

During the month of February, we received a good amount of snow.  While on my way back to the house, I found Emery and Greyden hard at work shoveling.

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Turns out they decided to make an “igloo”!

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They made it so big, they were both able to fit inside!

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And of course, they always love hiding.

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The boys always find something to do in the snow (remember last fall when they went sledding, and last year how they gathered the eggs?) Of course when it got warm their igloo melted, but they had a blast while it lasted!

PJ

 

 

Visiting Clifty Falls State Park

A month or two ago, Mom decided that we’d never been to Clifty Falls State Park, and we had a free day, and by golly, we were going to finally go to Clifty Falls. Going to this park has been on Mom’s “We Should Do” list for quite some time, but we’d never gotten around to it.

One Sunday afternoon, Mom told us all to get in the car and we drove on over. We brought subs and mini cupcakes and had a picnic before setting off to hike one of the trails.

While we were waiting for Mom and Dad to catch up, the kids got started on a leaf war.

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For more than 20 minutes, they ran,

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and dodged,

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and threw leaves at each other.

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They had a blast, and didn’t want to stop when Mom said that she was growing cold, standing in the shadows. LOL

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We made our way down one of the trails,

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and the kids were amazed at the stick that was holding up this huge rock.

We also went down these really cool rock steps, which led to an overlook.

It was a beautiful day, and we’re so glad that we took the time to go hiking before the winter set in!