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

 

 

Chicken Treats

I was walking past the barn the other day, and I noticed Greyden standing in very wet clumpy mud, digging with his hands.

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Me: “Greyden what are you doing?”

Greyden: “I’m looking for worms for the chickens!”

Apparently right after it rains, all of the worms are close to the surface of the ground, which made it easy for him to find them.

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He had a huge handful of them.

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When his hand got full, he would dump them in a bucket.

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And when his bucket was full, he brought it over to the chicken pen and dumped it in. Then he decided that he’d had enough fun playing in the mud, and he should get back to work. The baby goats were getting hungry, and they were calling him!

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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

 

 

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!

 

Happy Birthday, Greyden!

A couple of weeks ago, our Grey-Bear turned 12!

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The other kids didn’t think that he could blow out all twelve candles with one blow, but he did!

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After eating breakfast birthday cake, one of our birthday traditions, we moved on to another tradition – the birthday hugs!

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Greyden wanted to pick everyone up to prove that he’s big and strong, but Hewitt wasn’t going along with that.

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Fletcher thought it was funny,

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but Emery decided he’d rather turn it into a wrestling match that moved all over the living room. They didn’t stop long enough for me to get a good picture. LOL

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Colter did the same thing, and this was the best picture we got. Silly boys trying to prove how big and strong they are.

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Mom and I just took a normal picture – we’re not crazy like the boys.

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And Dad always sits in his chair for his picture – he has for as long as I can remember.

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We can’t believe that Greyden is already 12! My little “birthday present” (he came home from the hospital on my birthday) is growing up! Love you, Grey-Bear!

 

 

Ask a Jonas — Greyden & Growing Up

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!

Greyden, what do you want to do when you finish school? ~Cindy

Greyden:  Well, I know I don’t want to go to college.  But Mom might make me.   I would like, a lot,  to keep working with the goats and Andrew.  Andrew is an old friend from NJ that came out to help us.  He works in the barn with me.

I’d rather stay in the barn than go to college because I love the goats.   I talk to them as I’m working.  Sometimes I can understand what they reply.  The goats are very important to our business.  Everything we do is based off the goats’ milk and the better we treat them the better they milk.  So it is important that I do a good job.

 

 

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