Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Make Apple Cider Jam



Our apple trees didn't do squat for us this year.  Bummer.  Last year we were loaded so I guess I can't complain too much.  I made my own cider last year, so this year I just didn't feel quite right about buying something I could make, until I saw the price.  Cheap! Apple cider is still in abundance at stores too, so if you have a hankering to make this apple cider jam, then go for it!

This would make a great gift too!  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it is quite yummy!  Cuz you know, apple cider and brown sugar.....need I say more?

Ingredients:

5 cups Apple Cider

3 cinnamon sticks


1 tsp. whole cloves


1 tsp. whole all-spice


1 strip lemon zest


1/2 tsp. butter


1 pkg. Sure-jell


2 cups sugar


2 cups brown sugar


Put the spices in a spice bag or jelly cloth.

Bring the apple cider, butter, Sure-jell and spice bag to full rolling boil. Add the sugars and return to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Put in half pint jars with 1/2 inch headspace.


Process for ten minutes via water bath.

Enjoy!



Take advantage of this sale by purchasing my handmade goat's milk soaps, lotions and mineral cosmetics and you will be helping support this farm and blog.  I sure would appreciate it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Free Christmas Break/Winter Printable Planner


Many of us homesteaders still have a spouse working full-time.  Although our dream is to make a full-time income off of the farm one day, it takes time.  Time.....

Whose got the time?  We sure don't and sometimes I am just ready to drop all extra activities just so we can devote 100% of our time to the farm.  But, with five children, that 100% is usually around 50% or less.  Not good.  My husband and I have been assessing this situation to see how we can up that percentage.  But, in the meantime, we use our Christmas break to get caught up on the farm.

I encourage those who are in the same boat to plan now for what needs to get done over break.  My husband gets two weeks off and we do not plan for any out-of-town trips during this time.  That way, we can get much-needed things done around the farm.

This doesn't mean we don't enjoy our time together or go have some fun here or there, but we do keep it simple.  Besides, getting caught up here is actually enjoyable and my husband would much rather work here than in the corporate world.

I encourage you to write down everything that needs to get done.  Don't worry about over-commitment or having too many things on the list.  Not only will you be prioritizing your to-do list, you will set manageable goals for Christmas break only.  What you don't get done will be set aside for future breaks or weekend projects.

 I love checking off my to-do list projects.  It brings peace and satisfaction and makes me want to shout hallelujah! 

What do we have planned you might be asking?  Here is our list in no particular order:

1.  Clean out goat area and extend an area in the barn for the goats to have more room.

2.  Butcher old hens.

3.  Make more soap and lotion for upcoming show.

4.  Build chicken tractor. 

Our next step is prioritizing these projects.  This is kind of fun, because we can fit the pieces together, kind of like a puzzle.  

Because I can make soap in the evening, I put that as number two.  Our top priority is the goat barn. Our freezer is jam-packed so butchering hens can be pushed back a little. We need the chicken tractor built so that our pasture can be built up over the winter.  We are planning on raising a feeder calf and need our sandy pasture more plush, so building a chicken tractor will be number three.  We can put the old hens in the tractor until we are ready to butcher.

Here is our prioritized list:

1.  Clean out goat area and extend an area in the barn for the goats to have more room.

2.  Make more soap and lotion for upcoming show.
   
3.  Build chicken tractor.

4.  Butcher old hens.

Granted, this is a short list, but each project takes a good bit of time, especially number one.

I have made a homestead Christmas break planner that you can download and print.  It might help you stay organized with your to-do list and break it down so you will not be overwhelmed.  It can also be used as a winter planner and for goal-setting.



Click on this link to download and print your free copy!

For Microsoft Word document click below:


For PDF document click below:



Happy planning, prioritizing and doing!



All goat's milk soaps, lotions and mineral cosmetics are 20% off!  Help support this little farm and blog by purchasing my handmade products!








Wednesday, December 10, 2014

There's Something Special About Our Christmas Tree...


My kids and I get a little excited when it's time to bring in the big green Christmas tote from the garage.  You know, it's the same stuff every year, but there's something about taking out all of the Christmas decorations again.  It's almost as good as Christmas morning.

So, there we were, putting on the Christmas music and getting ready to dive in to that tote, until we opened it up.  Holy moly!  It was a mouse paradise.  Thankfully, the nuisances moved on and we didn't end up jumping through the ceiling, but the damage was beyond repair.  I guess that's what happens when you put a tote with a small hole at the bottom in the garage.

Many nostalgic ornaments, homemade decor and garland all down the drain.  And it didn't stop there.  The poor Christmas tree had seen better days too before mice found it as a nice prickly restroom.  Talk about stink!  I'll take a goat or horse manure pile any day over mice pee.

What to do, what to do.  Things were pretty tight(they're pretty much always tight) and we couldn't just whip out a $100 or so to buy a tree.

My parents came over with their RV and stayed a couple of days to watch my kids play basketball.  I told them my dilemma.  My mom told me that one of her favorite things to do as a kid was search their farm for the perfect cedar tree for Christmas.

Hmmmm.  We've got cedar trees.

And my son would be more than willing to try out his new hack saw.

So, the next day, my dad and two of my middle children went on a little hike out back.  It was raining and chilly, but we were on a mission.  We were going to get a tree.

I see cedar trees all the time on our property, but wouldn't you know when we were looking for them, they just weren't showing up.  We saw quite a few seedlings and cute little cedar trees, but none worthy to call our Christmas tree.  Dad found a nice little one to dig up and transplant back at his house, but we kept on searching.

And there, slightly hidden behind a few branches and bushes, we saw that perfect tree.  Not too tall, not too short, shaped just right.  We didn't have to take a vote or think about whether this was the one, it was!  Plus, I think my son was just ready to saw something, anything.


Of course we had to take a picture or two.  Three generations right here with the very first Christmas tree from our land.  Pretty special moment.  

Once we loaded up the tree and started heading up to the house, my dad told me twice on that very short drive how much that brought back memories when he was a kid.  My dad will be 79 on Christmas Eve.  It meant something to him, something special.

I couldn't help but get a little lump in my throat.  We did something that brought back good memories for him.  Memories from many many years ago.  We did something that my mom enjoyed doing as a little girl.  This tree just kept getting more special.

We put the tree in an old milk pail and filled it with sand.  We have plenty of sand and cedar.  In fact, I'm thinking of changing my soap company to Sand 'n' Cedar, but that's for another day.

We did not have any nice ornaments that were salvageable, but we had a few blue balls to put on the tree.  Once I brought it inside, the kids immediately started stringing popcorn and I started the Christmas music.  I heard my dad exclaim a couple of times how that tree was the perfect size, the top just being an inch or two shy from the ceiling.   And boy, was it pretty!



Not a glamorous pretty like most trees, but a simple yet satisfying pretty.  Some might look at it and think otherwise at first glance.  But, I'm sure after I tell them the story, they will think it's beautiful.

It's a special tree.  We made due with what we had.  This tree came from our land and we had to work a little to get it.  But, even better, we were able to bring back special childhood memories that my parents enjoyed.  They were a big part of this tree.  Mom sparked the idea and dad helped with the search.  This tree brought me back to a more simple life, a life of hard work, yes, but a deep, satisfying life.  It reminded me that it's the small things that really matter.  In this chaotic world, we need a little reminder of what true satisfaction is.

Even on the farm, life gets hectic and isn't so simple at times.  But that tree puts things in perspective.

Be grateful for the little things.

All goat's milk soaps, lotions and mineral cosmetics are 20% off!  Help support this little farm and blog by purchasing my handmade products!





Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Sale!


It's hard to believe Christmas is around the corner!  So, I've decided to run a sale again this year on Black Friday.  I hope you help support this little farm in Indiana by taking advantage of this!

All goat's milk soaps are $3.50 each.

All lotions are 20% off.

Come on over and get 'em now before it's too late!  

Soaps like Sleighride...



Or Pumpkin Spice Mocha...


Are just a couple of examples of my handmade products.  I barter room and board for our goats in exchange for their milk.  It's a win win situation!

So, come on over to Eden Natural Skincare and Cosmetics and don't forget the sales code!

And thank you, for helping support farm!
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