Thursday, December 13, 2012


I am slowly getting busy making and selling my soap, salves and lip balm. I really have to get over this fear of rejection. The ladies were over on Tuesday and I was talking about how I felt. I would rather not try, than try and be rejected. My Hubby gets soooo irritated with me. My one girlfriend told me the number one rule is to not take the NO personally. She says they are saying NO to the product not me. My issue is the product IS me. It's made by my hands. So much love and passion goes into each product. I have a hard time even pricing the stuff! I sit and think...what if someone buys it then doesn't like it? What if I priced it too high, they will think I'm a rip off? What if... Sounds pretty pathetic doesn't it? I'm even frustrated with myself. I don't know how I even became so full of self doubt.
But I am biting the bullet. I sold several jars of salve and lip balm just from people asking for it. So today and tomorrow I am making a few more jars of salve and lip balm, digging out some aprons I have made and I'm going to set out Saturday. I am surrounded by prim shops and they are all having sales Saturday. I am right in between two of them so I thought what better way to get started. People will pass my house to get to the prim shop. I also have soap at another prim shop...but so far, no sales. I'm ok with that because I'm not there to be
So I am making the healing salve and a breath ease salve(eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon)and a tea tree lip balm and maybe a cocoa mint lip balm. I finally figured out how to make my labels so I will even have our Up The Creek Homestead name on the products.
I have bottles coming from Mountain Rose Herbs for my homemade vanilla. I also ordered some herbs to make more infused oils and tubes for the lip balm. I'm hoping I can sell more so I can make more.
I really have to lock up the lip balm because my daughter keeps taking it! I told her she was going to have to work it off...the tubes cost about .50each!

I also tried a new to me idea of whipping coconut oil. I can't remember if it was a blog, pinterest, or facebook. But you whip coconut oil and it gets white and creamy. It's used as a moisturizer. I made some up and added a few drops of peppermint oil. It smells nice...I may add more more, just testing it out now. The coconut oil firms up a bit after whipping but not as hard as it is otherwise. It also melts into your skin as applying it. I think I like to use it more at night as it is pretty greasy feeling at first.
Well, I'm going to get busy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I'm still breathing...sometimes deeply...

The homestead has been busy. Butchered more chickens, the two pigs(714 lbs), 11 turkeys, and two deer. I think we are done unless they get another deer. I had vacuum sealed meat until my freezers were protesting. Then I switched to canning jar after jar of turkey and venison and stock. Can I just say I LOVE canned chicken stock or rather MY canned chicken stock. YUM.
I am cyber schooling my 17yr old...not an easy task as it seems I am stupid and unable to understand the world today(that's what she says) Well, from what I see of the world sucks. I would rather live in my old fashioned values of working for what we have, giving what we can, taking responsibility for our actions...Even if I home schooled all my kids, unless I sheltered them in a bubble, I couldn't keep them from the worlds influence. *sigh* but I TRY!

I thought i would post some pics as they are worth a thousand words...
My brother and I cutting down chicken

the makings of chicken stock
Applesauce making
green beans galore!

Sold all but one of my goats. I kept my Saanan for milk. That's an interesting story because I sold the goats because the cost of feed and I figured I would have a little extra cash for Christmas...then I ended up in the dentist office and there went the extra cash...I'm trying hard to be thankful I had the extra cash to pay for the dentist.

Made my own soft soap...peppermint scented. I was given a 5gallon bucket of grated lye soap from someone's grandparents cool is that? Anyway, I took some fresh peppermint and steeped it in 6C. of water for about 30 min. then I strained it and added a few cups of the lye soap and stirred it on low heat until it melted. then i let it cool and added a couple teaspoons of peppermint essential oil and incorporated it into the soap. It was a bit thick, so i put some in the blender with a bit of water and thinned it down. Poured it into a bottle with a pump and kept the rest in a canning jar until i needed to refill the bottle. FUN!
most of our fall was spent at the football field. i find homesteading and sports are not very compatible...that was very time consuming and fast paced days.
This is the pork from our pig raising experience...5 two buckets of lard! That was a family project getting it all sealed and packed in the freezer. Hubby and i sat and made 216 sausage patties. we portioned someone bagged and two others sealed.
And this is why we live the way we do...for our kids. Charlie wrote us this note in church. I keep it in my purse so I can look at it when I would rather run away from home!
Hope you all are having a great fall and a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Up the Creek Homestead

I can't believe how busy I have been. Canning, freezing, raising animals, raising never stops.

We finally named our homestead.

Up the Creek Homestead

There is a creek that runs behind the house so it could be related to that, but in comes from "up the creek without a paddle".

Hubby and I had been tossing names around...wanting to come up with something that was meaningful but described us. Leap of Faith Farm was our first choice because it is exactly what we did, took a leap of faith. But there are way to many farms and homesteads named that. Then we checked out "whim and a prayer" again taken, as was Creekside, Crickside, and Crooked Corner.

Then, August 12th I woke Hubby up. I had been canning and freezing corn all day and had planned on canning the bushel of peaches that night. But when the corn was done I didn't feel well and thought I just over did it. I had the most horrible pain in my side. I actually thought it was "gas", kept getting in the tub thinking I could get it to pass. When I started vomiting I thought I had a blockage. I was sick and scared. Hubby took me to the ER at 2am, leaving our four kiddos at home, alone. (They are old enough, but we just don't do that!)The nurses kinda rolled their eyes and didn't give me much sympathy. I was in so much pain, I felt like something was going to bust inside...worse than labor, at least that pain came in waves. This was a constant pain that just kept getting worse. The hospital staff took blood and sent me for a CAT scan, an hour and a half later, the doc said I had acute appendicitis and it had to come out. I have to say the nurses snapped into action and gave me something for the pain( guess they figured I wasn't faking for a fix). I didn't care that I had to have surgery...I said, "I can't do this I have a bushel of peaches sitting in my kitchen that isn't going to hold for a few days!" Hubby didn't really care about my peaches or the bushel of beets on the back porch. He was worried about his wife, in the past three years he has lost both his grandparents and his aunt who had raised him. He called my mom at 4am and waited until 630 to call our pastor...I wasn't aware of this, my mama told me later. For my hubby to call the pastor...that was a big step for him.

Obviously the surgery went well, I'm alive and healed now. After the surgery, and after the meds wore off I started to panic about the medical bills and I said...we are really up the creek! My hubby said not to worry. He felt that everything was in God's plan and we didn't need a paddle... We both, at that time, looked at each other and said Up the Creek... Scary how we think on the same lines.
So that is how we are now Up the Creek paddles just God's Guidance.
As for my peaches, I only lost half of them. My mama and I did what was left when I got home from the hospital and two girlfriends came over the following day and canned the bushel of beets I had on the porch. I was so thankful for their help. My girlfriend came and took my daughter for two weeks so that I had one less child to care for and could rest a bit easier. Amazing how God put people in place to meet all our needs. I am just overwhelmed sometimes!
And that is my Homestead naming Story!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Home made poptarts

Recently I have seen several blogs making homemade pop tarts. I don't buy them at the store myself because, with four kiddos, a box doesn't last long. But I thought, what the Hay,why not. My son Roberto loves cooking with me... and eating so we made these pop tarts from a recipe in the book, The Homemade Pantry, 101 Foods you can stop buying and start making, by Alana Chernila

These are so simple...Pie crust and fruit filling

Pie crust can be tricky. It's not just the ingredients, but the technique that can mean the difference between a hard crumbly crust or a light flaky crust.

1C.(2 sticks) cold butter(do not substitute)
2 1/4C flour plus additional for rolling out on the counter
2t. Apple cider vinegar(ACV)
1/4t. salt
1/3C. water


Dice the cold butter and toss into the flour. Add the salt. place bowl in the freezer. In a measuring cup measure out water and ACV place this in the freezer. Freeze 10 minutes.

I use a stand mixer. After 10 minutes take out the bowl and cut the butter and flour together. (I use the paddle on my mixer for a few minutes) slowly add the liquid until the dough forms. (works well in the food processor)
Pull the dough together and form two disks and wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours.

Read a few blogs, toss the laundry, and fold it and put it away. Or play Candy Crush Saga on Facebook and two hours will fly by.

Now is the fun part. Preheat the oven to 375* and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Take out a pie crust disc and roll it out. You can slice it into rectangles or use a biscuit cutter and make circles. Make an even number all about the same size(why I changed over to the circles!)

Place half the pieces on the parchment covered cookie sheet.

Now use an egg wash (egg scrambled with a tablespoon of water) and paint the dough. Take a tablespoon of your filling, I used strawberry jam, and place it in the center of the dough. take a second piece of dough and place it over top, pressing the edges together. I used a fork.

Paint the top of the tart with the egg wash and poke a few holes in the top with the fork to release steam. Place them in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

This recipe made 12 pastries for me. Fortunately, I put up two for my Hubby because when my boys and their friends came in they inhaled them. They were very good. One caution is that the jam is VERY HOT it does burn when it runs out of the tart and down your chin...please wait for them to cool.

These can be made savory as well using ham and cheese or pizza sauce and cheese...more of a hot pocket I guess.
You can make these up to the point of baking and place them in the freezer. I would put the cookie sheet in the freezer until the pastries are frozen and then put them in a bag together, then place them frozen on a cookie sheet and directly into the oven...add an additional 5 minutes to the baking time. Great snacks for the kiddos to put in the toaster oven. You may even bake them ahead of time and then you can nuke them in the microwave wrapped in a damp towel.

Frugally Sustainable

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making salve for a friend

I got a facebook message from a friend asking for help with their dog. She had been using my healing salve on the dog's "hot spots" and could I make some more. So I did a little research and came up with an anti itch salve. I used 1/2c lavender infused olive oil, 1/2c calendula infused olive oil and a teaspoon of tea tree oil. I figured the lavender oil would help stop the itching, the calendula oil would help sooth the skin and the tea tree oil would kill what ever fungus was causing the itch. I melted in beeswax and now have the jars resting.

It was one of those interesting timing deals. I have been on a quest for beeswax that I did not have to buy online. A woman I sold goats to gave me the name of a local beekeeper who sold raw honey and beeswax. Farr Better Honey. ( I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to create a link to his website but am too computer illiterate to figure it out! So, you can find him at He is local so I called him up and met him at his warehouse, thus not having to pay shipping! I could not believe the deal on wax, I bought a 1 pound bar for $6.

I bought 2 for now. His raw Honey sells for about $5 a pound, that's a bit high for me but I really made out on the wax so I bought 3 pounds of raw honey.

While there, I had my youngest with me who asked a million questions and wanted to SEE everything. Mr. Farr showed us how he puts the frames through a machine to uncap the cells and then they are placed in the extruder which spins the honey out of the frame and into a tank. The honey is then sucked through a pipe and into a dispensing tank. From that tank the honey is poured into the containers. His honey is never heated. It was a great experience learning about the process and he told me he would be at the local festival raffling off a bee hive! I do believe it's worth a try!
I'm really happy I found a beekeeper for my honey and wax needs. He even offered to meet me half way when I needed more! Talk about great service. His wife gave me a FREE sample of their Springtime honey to try. She said to let her know how it tasted. She doesn't eat honey because after working with it all day she can't think of eating it. I am going to eat it, put it in my salves, make scrubs and face masks with it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Three Little Piggies...

We did it. The Pigpen was built...or added on. My Hubby fixed this up with wood from his "stash", a skid we picked up( we actually have a stock pile of these too, never know what you can use them for) and hinges left behind by the previous home owner. I have to say for a hoarder, she had some good stuff we could use!

Today after church we met up with our pig guy and picked up our three piglets. I LOVE them! They grunt and squeal and dig in the dirt! Right now they are checking out their new home. We thought about doing pastured pigs, but we don't have the set up or the finances to get proper fencing for that project. We might get there one day, but for now we have to work with what we do have. I am still in charge of what gets put into them, no growth hormones, no antibiotics. Just good feed, goats milk and some eggs thrown in and lots of water. We are hoping to keep two for the freezer and sell one.

I would really like to know why the piggies were building houses and the big bad wolf was blowing them down, we have already had to do some damage control as the little piggies showed us the weak spots in our pen arrangement. I guess that is the learning curve.

It's a beautiful day and I am enjoying the sounds of the farm, from the chickens, goats, dogs and pigs!
S M B 324905 1/2"Cattle Hog Nipple Drinker Stainless Steel

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Father's Day....

When I was about 10 or 11 years old we spent the summers hanging out in the creek behind our house. The creek wasn't very deep, a few deeper holes here and there and for the most part, quite calm. Now we were allowed to play in the section that had the slow moving water but just over a ridge of rocks the water became shallower and swifter moving. The rule was we were not allowed to go over the ridge. At the preteen age of 11 I liked to press that boundary, floating just to the ridge and then stopping myself before going over it. Then it happened I pressed my luck and lost. I was swept over the ridge and into the swift water. I caught myself on a rock and held on for dear life. I can still feel the fear. As I clung to the slimy rock I was screaming for help. I looked at the bank of the creek and all my friends were standing there watching me. Didn't they see that I was about to be swept into the Lehigh River? Didn't they know I was going to drown. Finally, one of my brothers ran for my parents. I could hear my mom calling, "Missy! Stand up!" She never did understand me. I couldn't stand up the rocks were slimy and the water was so fast. I could feel it pressing on my shoulders trying to rip me from my rock. I knew if I let go that was the end.
Then my Daddy showed up with a rope. He waded into the water and stood in the safe side, the calm side of the rocks. "Missy, catch the rope." "I can't let go Daddy" "I'll pull you up, catch the rope." My dad tossed the rope...I missed it and he tossed it again. This time I managed to grab the rope and I could feel his strength through the rope."Now stand up Missy." Clinging to rope now wrapped around my hands, I stood up. The water was just above my ankles. My dad did not tease me, did not shake his head is disappointment, he just pulled me to him and hugged me.
A few short years later, I lost my Daddy due to a car accident. I was so very angry for a long time. Angry with God for taking my father, my hero. I decided that God didn't care for me so I wouldn't care for him. I rebelled, I pushed the boundaries. I didn't join a gang or start traffic-ing drugs, but I sinned knowingly, openly. I had a void in my life and tried to fill it with whatever felt good at the time. I heard God telling me to stop, almost begging me to stop. You know when people say God always gives you an "out" when you are tempted to do's true. I heard him, I saw the "outs", I ignored him. I had a child outside of marriage and then again another child with another man(now my husband)I can't remember what it was that stopped me in my tracks, what triggered a reaction, but suddenly I was very sad. I knew I was living wrong. I knew I had disrespected my Heavenly Father. I could feel the water rushing over me again. I could feel that rock in my arms, the fear that if I let go, all was lost. And then I felt Him there, on the safe side, the calm side and He said "Melissa, catch the rope." "Father, I can't. I don't deserve the rope." "I'll pull you up, catch the rope." Jesus was there. He did not scold me, he held me and told me he loved me and would always be there for me. I began to see the water was only at my ankles, I could make changes in my life, I gained perspective, grew my confidence back.
I still sin. I still press the boundaries. But I know my Heavenly Father loves me no matter what and He will always be there with the rope...
So Happy Father's day to my Earthly Daddy, now in heaven, who gave me a glimpse of God. And Happy Father's day to my Heavenly Father who has shown me His unending love for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I've been doing...

Making cheese, Hubby loves coming home to finding cheese balls hanging from the cupboards...

Attempting to make soap...This batch ended up becoming laundry soap...waste not want not!

Attempted to make bread again and instead made bricks...again not wanting to waste all that hard work I threw chunks into the blender and made bread crumbs which worked really well for my homemade chicken tenders.

These are those baking soda shower discs. They are supposed to be like the Vicks Vapor discs, But I wasn't too thrilled about them. They did brighten up my shower floor though, even if they didn't open up my nose. I got more vapors making them then using them.

Potting my herbs I love growing plants and walking by running my fingers through them and smelling their wonderful fragrances.
My Hubby left his Gas job and went back to working for himself...We prayed about it for months before making that decision He was gone for 8 days home for 3 and with the farm stuff and our children it was taking it's toll. Amazingly circumstances all fell together making it possible for him to go back into business and be able to be home. God is GREAT! I truly believe God is in charge and I see him working in our lives. So we planted this tree to remind us of taking the leap of faith. Then we planted fruit trees and berry bushes...really planting roots at home.

Hubby built a shed to sell out of stuff here at the house

We went berry picking together. Hubby did much better this year picking. The last time we did this together he ate more than he picked! I love it when he does stuff like that because he is usually so focused on the goal that he works non stop. Apparently that work ethic does not apply tp berry picking! But I made 35pints of strawberry jam and quite a few servings of strawberry shortcake.
Then we moved onto getting more goats!

This is Grace, an Alpine Doe...really nice goat, great weed eater!

These are her bucklings they only stayed with a a few weeks, I sold them to another homesteader who has an issue with poison ivy. She named them Stihl and M'owen.

Ummm...Hubby and our buck Potter working out some testosterone in the goat yard...I don't ask, I just try to capture these moments

We drove to NY to get a new Lamancha and her two kids, but once we were there the Lamancha was much smaller than expected but she had this Saanan and her doeling for sale, cheaper than the lamancha!Her name is Willow and she is much bigger than this picture shows and STRONG, Hubby wants to build a cart for her to pull. But she is an excellent milker. The previous owner was not milking her. Said the last time she milked her she was getting a half gallon a day. She gives me a GALLON a day...Between the three milkers, Molly, Grace and Willow, I get 2-2 1/2gallons of milk a day!

This is her daughter Sandy she is also large and I believe will be a good milker when it's her turn.

This is a pot of yogurt. I have got to find ways to use up all this milk! The yogurt is perfect for the kids for smoothies. Also making ice cream, and buttermilk...who knew how easy making buttermilk was. I just added a 1/2c. of regular buttermilk to a quart of milk and let it sit on the counter overnight. Then back into the fridge and it is ready for use!

This is the start of the solar electric fence we are stringing in the field to pasture all the goats. It will cut back on feed and we can get another steer to raise without worrying where to put it!

This is the separation fence we added to the goat yard to keep the kids(goats, not mine) outside and away from the bigger goats that bully them. I didn't even get pics of the other stuff we are doing. I have got to show you Hubby's chicken tractor built with stuff we have laying around, our garden and my children who are growing as fast as the weeds!
I feel so blessed with all that God has provided for about overflowing!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


This is a few weeks old, but I love that I have help planning the weekly menu. I'm really grateful for all the recipes I find on blogs and other websites!

I'm waiting for my Hubby to come home tonight. He might not be home until midnight but at least he is local this week.

I have to take this time to show some gratitude.

I tend to whine quite a bit....waaa my Husband works out of town too much
I am soooo thankful he has a job
waaa my kids are driving me crazy
I am thankful they are healthy and creative and strong minded and independent
waaa I'm not good enough
I am thankful that I am smart, funny, creative, strong minded, independent, passionate, and able to do whatever I put my mind to do.
waaa I'm a horrible housekeeper
I am thankful that I am not on Hoarders and no one has ever gotten food poisoning from my cooking.

I'm sure I whine about other things too but I'll stop there!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lost a goat

I was recently trying to sell off some of my goats. I sold Saturn and her new kid and was searching for a new home for soupy.

Unfortunately something went wrong with her. She seemed depressed. I thought it was because her mom was gone. I felt horrible. Knowing how social goats are, I thought if I put her in with the triplets it might help. It didn't. In fact she seemed to get worse. She was just very quiet and not herself. I just kept thinking that it was because of not having her mom around. It wasn't until she started with the scours that I thought she might be sick. I tried giving her electrolytes, making sure she had plenty of fresh water and hay. I gave her extra love and attention and watched. But she didn't get better. Sunday morning Robert found her laying outside in the goat pen and not in the shed. I went to give her a dose of antibiotics and discovered my antibiotics were expired. So we got another bottle of electrolytes into her and I ran for antibiotics. I've never done any of the injections before, we don't do it very often. Hubby was out of town working, so I felt for a fleshy area and gave her the injection. I don't know if I did it wrong or if she was too far gone, but an hour later she was gone. Isaiah was pretty upset. she was such a sweet goat. My brother happened to pull in to visit as they discovered the goat had passed and offered to help dig a hole. So the boys and my brother went out back and dug a 3 1/2 foot deep hole to bury the goat. It's really sad when we lose an animal. But this has definitely spurred a clean out mode in all of us. Pens are being cleaned out, goats are getting dosed with diamotceous earth. not sure if I spelled that right but added to their food it help get rid of both internal and external parasites.
We talked to some local farmers and they said it sounded like cochcidosis not sure if I spelled that right either. But they suggested that we treat all the critters because our goats and chickens are housed together.
I guess this is what we will be doing.

The work doesn't ever seem to end here at the ranch...Did I mention we are working on a name for our little homestead?
Hubby is out job hunting right now. Looking for something that will allow him more freedom but still provide health care benefits. The company he has been working for for over a year has begun working out of town every week. While that may be good for some families, the money is not worth Dad being gone for 7 or 8 days at a time for our family.
So we are going to have to make ends meet in other ways. The fact that Hubby was self employed for most of his working life, gives us the confidence that we can subsidize the regular income with some side jobs and selling our hand made and home grown products.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

People are like Easter Eggs? I'm rambling again!

People are like Easter eggs. We all start out relatively the same. Maybe a little bigger, smaller, rounder, maybe brown, white pink or green. But then we get dunked into life...or dye and that experience is what makes us different, still the same inside but different.
Pretty soon you look around and everybody has had one experience or another coloring their lives, their personalities. But yet we all fit in the egg carton

But if you notice on some Easter eggs, some are broken or cracked, allowing the dye to get inside and scar the inside. Sometimes it makes the egg even prettier and some times it makes it undesirable to eat.

Life is like that for people too. Sometimes we are broken and cracked and allow the experiences to affect us on the inside. Some people use it to grow stronger and more beautiful, while others allow it to eat at them and make themselves ugly and unapproachable.

And then there are the eggs that you have to peel bit by bit to get to the inside and end up shredding half the egg in the process...
people are like that too...holding themselves together tightly not allowing anyone or anything to get inside.

But no matter what, once the shells are off, and broken, shredded, dyed doesn't matter when we make egg salad.
And when people lose their shells, broken, shredded, scarred doesn't matter as Jesus leads us to Heaven.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Goat Mama

I'm a goat mama for sure. The triplets are really keeping me hopping and Molly their real Mama has been keeping me just as busy. Thankfully Molly has been giving me about a gallon of milk a day. That's fabulous because I need three quarts a day to feed her kids...I was just going to use milk replacer but it is so expensive! And If she's pumping out I'm going to use it. I have more than enough for my soap now stored in the freezer. Now that my kids are going back to school I'll have some left for yogurt making...I hope to try making that next week.

I had to do some "culling" so to speak. I sold Saturn and her new kid last week to a goat farm in NY. They sent pictures of her relaxing in her new home and the little doeling frolicking with the other baby goats, She fits right in. I still have Soupy who needs a home. She is too small to breed with a beor and really ends up being more of a pet. I can't afford to feed something that does not have a purpose here. I had her posted for sale and someone was planning on coming to get her and then never showed up. I have her with the triplets, the other does are really pushy with her. I hope I can find her a home soon before my Hubby decides to take her to auction.

My Hubby was creative with what we had laying around and built this nifty crate to haul goats. The front end has hinges on top. We put the crate in the back of MY truck lift the front end and load the goats in. Lower the front end and close the tailgate and there you go, hopefully escape proof!

Yeah Charlie was trying it out!

Other than the goat drama going on things have been the normal spring busy. Hubby has been working out of town every week which isn't much fun but until he can find something else this is what we will deal with. It is what it is and I am so thankful for his job and the sacrifices he makes for us.

Tomorrow I am making another batch of soap. I sold almost all of my last batch. Hubby made me molds that I am going to try out. Hopefully I'll have pictures to post if they don't leak!. But with these molds I can work out two batches a week. Keeping it simple. No fancy scents...just using essential oils. This batch will be eucalyptus and my next will be unscented. So I have time to order more essential oils!
I also need to make more salve. I actually have people asking for it. It's really exciting. My own daughter, who I constantly argue and fight with, told me she liked the salve, it made her zit go away over night. Maybe I can get her to help make the next batch?

Well, Off to measure out my oils for the morning.