Ask a Jonas – Emery’s Favorite Job

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!

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Emery, what is your favorite job? ~Teresa

I like working at Goat Milk Stuff and my home because I get to be with my family, and because I have the choice to work inside or outside.  It depends on what is needed, so I get to have a lot of variety in my jobs.  I get to do things like working in the garden, working with the goats, working in the soaproom, or working in the house.

In the garden, I weed, train plants onto trellises, and harvest everything.  I definitely like harvesting the best.

In the barn with the goats, I milk, clean, and feed them.  I prefer milking of those three.

In the soaproom, I make salve and help when we have a lot of orders.  I really like making salve.

In the house, I clean, cook dinner, and experiment with desserts.

I like experimenting with desserts best of all my jobs! It’s a lot of fun, and the family likes it when I do that one too. 😀

Signature Emery





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

Kids Decorating the Christmas Tree

This year, when we went to get our family Christmas Tree, Mom had the brilliant idea of getting a tree for the front porch of the soaproom.

The only problem was that we didn’t have any ornaments for it.

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So the kids made some!

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They took some of our packing paper from the shipping area.

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Drew their ornaments and put some yarn on them.

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And went out to decorate the tree!

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Didn’t they do a good job? It looks so cute!


The Cross Country Season

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the boys winning the title of Homeschool Cross Country Champions. That was only the final highlight of a fantastic season.

This season, the team spent hours listening to Coach Sweetland.

This season, the team spent hours running warm ups, cool downs, and practices together.

This season, the team spent hours helping each other pin – and lose – countless safety pins.

This season, the team spent hours goofing off and having fun together.

This season, the team ran as a team, running side by side during their races.

This season, the team ran as a team, and won as a team.

We’re super proud of our boys and the rest of the team. They all ran extremely well this season, and we can’t wait until next season!




Ask A Jonas – Do The Kids Like Their Unique Names?

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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Jonas Kids, what is it like having such unique names? Do you like it?  ~Kim

Brett: I love my name. The only downside is when everyone thinks that I’m a guy, because my name is typically a guy name. We’ll get emails saying that “Brett is such a nice young man, I’m so glad he signed my invoice” and stuff like that. It’s kinda funny, most of the time. So are the ways people spell my name. I’ve seen it spelled Britt, Brat, Bratt, and my personal favorite, Bertt. But I do like that I’m the only Brett that most of my friends know. It’s not like some other names – for instance, I know four Josh’s. That’s confusing! LOL
Colter: I never really saw my name as unique – I mean, I know it’s not your normal John, or Josh, or something like that. I don’t normally get confused with other people,which is nice.  I enjoy having a different name.

Emery: I’ve never really thought about it being unique.  I know of three other guys named Emery, so it just doesn’t seem too different.  They don’t all spell it the same way I do, but they all sound the same.   I don’t know anybody with the name “Bob” so that seems more unique than Emery.

Fletcher: It’s really nice having a different name, because even though I’m mixed up with Emery and Greyden, my name is always different, and people can learn the difference. It’s really fun having a unique name because then if you find someone else with the same name, it’s really cool.

Greyden: I’ve never met somebody with my name.  It is kind of cool when people say it is a cool name.  My name was the only one not in the 1000 Baby Names book.   And it is spelled with two “E”s.

Hewitt: I think it’s cool that I’m the only Hewitt I’ve ever met in my entire life and I think it’s cool that most of my family hasn’t met anyone else of their names. I like having my name, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had a different name. I just think it would be strange, to have a different name. I like it, that Mom and Dad called me Hewitt.

Indigo: It’s really fun, having a name that no one else has, and I have a really cool name. The best thing about it is that my name is my favorite color – purple! Most people don’t have their favorite color as their name.

Jade: I think it’s cool, in a way, that everyone pretty much knows my name and it’s really cool that all of my siblings have names that no one has met anyone else with that name. I have not met another Jade, which is very cool, but Indigo and Emery have met other Indigo’s and Emery’s. So it’s really cool that I get to be the only one that I’ve met.

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

Ask A Jonas – Emery’s Thoughts on the Goats Eating Things

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!

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Emery, do the goats ever nibble on your shirts? Do they eat things they shouldn’t? ~Lori

Yes, the goats have nibbled on my shirt.  They are very curious animals and they like to nibble.  A lot.  But they do not eat anything but paper, if they can get their mouths on it.  The old myth that a goat will eat anything isn’t true.  They might mouth it, but they won’t eat it.  The funniest thing I ever saw goat carry in its mouth was a stick.  She kind of looked like a dog.

A lot of our goats like to mouth white things such as feed sacks, strings, and paper.  I think it is because there isn’t really anything white in the forest.

Actually, the only thing that has ever really been a problem is Indigo’s hair.  Indigo has long, curly hair and for some reason the goats REALLY like to try to eat it.  It used to make Indigo cry a lot, but now she wears her hair mostly in braids so she doesn’t cry about it because the goats don’t like her braids the way they do her long curly hair.

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

Emery Crowing

I’m not a big fan of our chickens in general, but I really don’t like roosters.  Our biggest rooster is a Barred Rock and he is particularly annoying. He likes to run, as fast as he can, towards anybody that he thinks is inferior to him. Basically, anybody other than Dad and Colter.

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I recently discovered some photos on our camera. When I asked Emery about them, he grinned his signature grin and laughed.


“The Barred Rooster was being annoying, running after the little girls, so I distracted him by crowing. He came running at me.”

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“I kept crowing, and moved around the outside of the pen.”

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“He wasn’t very happy with me, but it was really funny!”

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As I listened to Emery, I couldn’t stop laughing.  It was funny picturing that annoying rooster charging at what he thought was another rooster, only to not be able to find him.

After I stopped laughing, I also told Emery that I was proud of him for coming to his sisters’ aid!



Goat Collars

We mentioned the new goat collars in the post about our goat photoshoot, but we didn’t explain why the collars all look different, and why that’s important.

When we were talking about getting collars for our goats, we realized that we could use them as a tool. We figured out a system, and now, just by looking at a goat, I can tell you who the parents of that particular goat are. The color of the collar tells us who the dam is, and the color of the words tell us who the sire is.

We began by taking the older goats and assigning them a color.  We chose pink for Zuzu – the matriarch of one of our goat families.  And made her letters brown because we like how that looks. LOL

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But other than the senior does, everybody’s collar color is based on their heritage.

For example, Tapioca’s collar is light blue, with green letters. The light blue tells me that she’s out of the Payton line (since Payton’s color is light blue) and the green tells me that her sire is Panini. (If you really want to get detailed, her Dam is Thalia, Payton’s daughter, and I know that because her name starts with a T.)  Tapioca is chewing on her twin’s collar, which is the same color as hers. The only difference is that her twin’s collar says “Tempest” instead of “Tapioca”!

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Now that you know what the different colors mean, take a look at this picture. Each group of collars is a different family. If you see a collar that is a different color, it just means that goat has an identical twin and we made the collar slightly different so we could tell them apart more easily. I’m holding our buck collars – see how they’re brown, with different colored letters? The letter colors tell us the buck’s color.

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What do you think of our system? Do you think it’s too complicated, or do you think it’s cool?

I love it, because all I have to do is memorize which color belongs to which of our senior does, and with a glance at a goat’s collar, I can tell you who they are. It’s really handy when we’re working on breeding plans, because we can see who the goat can’t be bred to with just a single glance.

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We’ve only had the collars on the goats for a few days, but it’s been great!

When people come on tours they can see the names of the goats, and call them by name. Both the goats (yes, they do know their names) and the people love it!




UPDATE: See the video and get a coupon code!


Ask A Jonas – Emery’s Thoughts On Being Barn Manager

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, what is it like being the Barn Manager? ~Jeanette L

Being the barn manager is hard, but it’s great. I like doing it because I can do a lot of things that need to be done on one day, fall behind the next day, and then make up the day after that.

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It gives me a lot of flexibility that way – I have to do certain things every day – like feeding them!

But the big things I can do on certain days. Things like major barn cleaning, giving the goats their shots, and trimming hooves I can do whenever I want to do them.

I can do the inside jobs when it’s raining, and I can clean out the stalls when it’s pretty out!

Mom and Dad just make sure that the goats are being taken care of and they trust me to make the decisions on how I go about taking care of them.

It’s also nice to escape to the barn and not have to do house chores sometimes!

Signature Emery





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

Dry Ice

The other day, we had a delivery (Graeter’s ice cream, yumm!!) that included some dry ice. After making sure the kids understood that they couldn’t touch the dry ice, they were allowed to do what they wanted with it.

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They wanted to touch the fog, to feel how cold it was.

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They wanted to pour it into another bucket, to see what it would do when it was transferred.

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And they wanted to look through the fog, to see the dry ice…

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… but they couldn’t see anything.

One of the things I love about homeschooling is that Mom and Dad encourage us to learn about anything we want. Mom is always saying that it is her job to expose us to things that interest us and “spark our curiosity”  (her words, not mine).

In this case it worked!

After the dry ice stopped making fog, the kids got on the computer and googled “dry ice”.  They can tell you all about it now.

Homeschooling is awesome.

Oh, and if you’re worried about them playing with the dry ice, don’t worry – they were being supervised the whole time.




Meet The Goats – Ivy

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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Ivy is one of our biggest and strongest goats.  She is Colter’s favorite goat, and is very sweet to him.

But she lets everyone else know that she’s in charge and so the little girls (and me too) are very careful around Ivy. I was talking with the boys about her the other day and the conversation went something like this:

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

Hewitt: She’s mean.

Colter: She’s not mean, she’s great.

Hewitt: No, she’s pretty mean.

Emery: Yeah, remember the time I was trying to fill the feeder and she wouldn’t let me? She kept getting in my way.

Colter: She just wanted to let you know that she’s in charge, and you’re mean to her.

Emery: I’m not mean to her! I just don’t like her as much because she’s bossy.

Colter: She’s bossy to you because you talk badly about her.

Emery: What? I don’t.

Colter: Yes you do, you stand on the other side of the fence and say how bad she is and it hurts her feelings. You have to be strong around Ivy – she only respects strong people.

Emery: Yeah, she thinks she’s the queen.

Colter: No, she just values strength. If you show her you won’t be pushed around, she won’t be what you call “mean”.


The conversation went on for several more minutes, with Colter defending Ivy through thick and thin. Ivy has always been his favorite, and it shows when she’s with him – she is so sweet with him.

We also talked about how funny it was that Ivy showed her attitude even when she got sick. In fact, we knew she was better because she became ornery again.  LOL  Greyden mentioned that Ivy looks very different from anyone else in our herd, and Emery brought up the fact that even when she had single bucklings, she still gave us tons of milk.

In fact, every year Ivy has given us a single buckling.  Except this year!  She finally gave Colter the girls that he wanted from her.  We will probably be keeping Idina this year, and I know that Colter would like to keep more of her doelings in the future!

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Yep, Ivy can be stubborn and ornery, but underneath it all she’s a sweetheart.

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As long as you’re good (and strong) to Ivy, she’ll be good to you!





Meet The Goats – Valley

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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Valley is one of Indigo’s birthday goats. The day she was born, we were at China Garden Buffet for Indigo’s birthday dinner, and half way through, Mom said “we need to hurry, I feel like something’s happening.” So we hurried through our dinner, and when we got home, Mom sent Colter to check on the goats.

He came back saying that he couldn’t find Veanna (Valley’s mom) anywhere. Everyone scattered, grabbing flashlights and boots and rushing out to the pasture to search for Veanna. It was pitch black outside, so the kids ran in different directions to search.

A few minutes later, someone yelled from the shelter in the back of the pasture, “Found her!!”

A few seconds later, “WITH A BABY!”


Why Veanna left the “warm” barn in February to have her kid out in the shelter we’ll never understand.  But she did a good job licking Valley dry, so she was safe.  We then searched the entire pasture inch by inch to make sure there wasn’t another baby out there, but it was just Valley.

Ever since then, Valley has been one of Indigo’s favorite birthday goats.

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Valley is now 3 years old and is one of our easiest goats to milk.  And she’s a good mom that likes to give us doelings – remember when she had Vanish and Venice?


Valley is also a favorite in the barn – except perhaps with Greyden.  I was talking with the boys about Valley the other day and the conversation went something like this:

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

Greyden: She’s fat.

Emery: She’s not fat, she’s a sweetheart.

Greyden: No, she’s stubborn.

Emery: She’s not stubborn, she’s a sweetheart.

Greyden: She’s stubborn and fat.

Emery: No, she’s not!

Greyden: She’s probably stubborn because she’s fat.

Emery: Greyden, she’s not fat!

Greyden: No, she’s big and fat.

Emery: You’re big and fat.


At this point, everyone started laughing, and it was a moment before I could hear Greyden protesting, “I’m the opposite of big and fat! I’m small and skinny.”

The conversation deteriorated from there, becoming a verbal sparring match between the two of them, discussing how fat and stubborn she was or was not. Colter managed to get in something about how we love Valley’s udder and how much milk she gives, but I couldn’t really hear him over Emery and Greyden, who could barely keep talking because they were laughing so hard.

We currently have 2 of Valley’s kids – Vanish and Venice, as well as her grand-daughter, Anne.  We have to sell some goats this year, and it’s going to be hard to decide which of her line to keep!

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We’ve never gotten a buckling out of Valley and Emery is really hoping she’ll give us one this year.  If so, Mom told Emery that he could keep him.


So that’s Valley!  Did you enjoy getting to know her better?




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!





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!)




Gardening Isn’t Just for Summer

In the past I’ve had a greenhouse.  But to be perfectly honest, I always found it a lot of work and I never enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed gardening the rest of the year.  Right now we just have our outside garden beds and we garden in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Gardening season for us begins around my birthday (March 17th).  That is an easy anchor for me to remember that it is time to get the cold weather seeds in the ground.

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These may include any of the following (we change it up slightly from year to year depending on our mood): peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, swiss chard, turnip, parsley, italian parsley, onions, garlic, potatoes.

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This takes up about half of our bed space.  Around Mother’s Day (my next anchor), I plan to get my first warm weather plants in the ground.  These include: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zuccini, sunflowers, basil, eggplant, green beans, sweet potatoes.

Once the weather starts to get hot, the cold weather stuff needs to be finished off.  So we harvest what is left of them.

Emery is harvesting the peas (which will be shelled and frozen), and tossing the plants to the chickens.

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The lettuce plants become bitter when the weather gets hot so they get pulled up and fed to the rabbits and chickens.

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Once we have cleaned out the cold weather stuff, we plant more hot weather plants in their place.  This primarily includes watermelon and cantaloupe, but also includes green beans and any other random plants we decide we need more of.

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We also make use of trellises and tall plants to help us with the fall garden.  We plant another round of lettuce and kale and peas in the garden in the shade of the sunflowers and trellises.

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These plants will do better being protected from the late sun.

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The main point about the garden is that we start seeding in March and keep on planting until about August or September.  We are always adding new seeds.  Particularly with plants like green beans.  As a family, we prefer bush beans over pole beans, so we plant several rows of bush beans every two weeks all summer long.  This insures that we have a steady supply throughout the summer.

We also harvest all year long.  The asparagus is the first plant up in March or April and we keep on eating until well past the first frost.  Depending on your location (how far north you are), you can eat well out of your garden (without a greenhouse) for much of the three seasons.

Eliot Coleman’s book, Four-Season Harvest*, is one of my all time favorite gardening books and will give you a wealth of information and inspire you as to how long a growing season you can actually achieve.




*Amazon Affiliate Link

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Jim and I met at The University of Virginia, so Thomas Jefferson is very important to us.  Here is an interesting fact – Thomas Jefferson was born on Jim’s birthday (April 13) and died on Jade’s birthday (July 4).  I always post the children’s birthday photos, and they insisted that I post Daddy’s birthday photos as well.

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Happy Birthday to my incredible husband!