Good Sunday Evening All….
I thought I’d share a bit with you about who we are and how Homesteader’s Supply came to be. My name is Nance Sparks and I’m the web / geek / homesteading side of Homesteader’s Supply. I have a B.S. degree in Computer Information Systems and work for a local private college by day. In addition to my forty hour a week job, I take care of the web presence of Homesteader’s Supply. It may sound like a small task, but I keep the web store up to date, design and write for our blogs, keep Google+ current, tweet, Facebook as well as design and send out all of the newsletters. I’m sure there is more geeky stuff that I do, but I enjoy it and love all of the questions and conversations I get to take part in with our readers and customers.
I also have a small farm on four acres in Chino Valley, Arizona. I have had a Jersey cow named Cookie for about six years now, she’s an angel and is currently in milk. I also have an old retired roping horse who isn’t ridden, but enjoys hanging out with his cows and is the sweetest gelding. A fourteen month old jersey calf shares the pasture as well and is getting ready for spring butchering. They are all protected by a breeding pair of Emu, Junior and Babycakes who share late fall eggs with me for amazing quiche. In the side yard is the chicken coop which is opened up every morning so the many varieties of chicken, turkey and ducks can roam the four acres freely, enjoying bugs, grass and seeds (I also keep a bucket of crumble out there for all of them).
Jerri Bedell is the nuts and bolts of Homesteader’s Supply. She lines up the vendors and manufacturers for all of the amazing products we carry. Her goal is to find products that are made with quality and will handle life on a homestead. Whenever possible, she strives to find products made in the U.S.A. She handles all of the sales, book keeping, corporation papers, pays the bills and yet still finds time to offer amazing customer service. She answers the phone personally, no automated menu of options and if she’s isn’t available when called, she’s known to get right back to her customers. Jerri also packs and ships out the products since Homesteader’s Supply is her main focus. Jerri has five acres in Chino Valley, Arizona and loves making fresh colby and cheddar cheese. She’s a pro at home made ice cream and butter as well. Jerri designed the Pickle Pro that we offer on our site and chose to make her model out of glass instead of the many plastic ferment containers on the market. Her reasoning, you can’t really sterilize plastic. It holds odors and bacteria, eventually altering the foods you ferment in them. The Pickle Pro is one neat item and most of Jerri’s vegetables end up fermented.
So, why on earth would two people who have yards to mow, bills to pay, cows to milk and all that want to get into business? The biggest push for us was the inability to find quality homesteading products. I ordered some milk pails and they were HORRIBLE!!! They were so thin that if the cow hit the side of the pail with her hoof it would dent the pail. They were made in China and eventually I threw it away and bought another one. The next pail was made in India and wasn’t much better. The lip on the pail was sharp and cut me more than once. The tabs that held the handle were welded poorly and snapped off in just a few months. My frustration grew as I sought out more and more homesteading products. Udder balms full of perfumes that stung the cow’s udders because the vendor wanted it to smell pretty like lotion. Muck boots that were made out stiff plastic and cracked after a few uses. The list can really go on and on and on.
Jerri was running into similar issues. Cheese rennet that was inconsistent in setting up a good curd or cultures that were inconsistent made for many very frustrating cheese making days. Items she’d purchase for her homestead were of poor quality and broke often or weren’t really designed for the practical uses on a working farm.
So, we got to talking and quickly realized that what was needed for not just our two farms, but all small family farms, was a place to purchase QUALITY homesteading products for a reasonable price. I got busy lining up a hosting company and began designing the store while Jerri dug into products. The first product she found was an amazing milking pail made from food grade stainless steel and completely created with American materials and labor. The pail is by my best guess at least ten times as thick as the cheap pails I’d struggled with! I’ve had my ‘made in Pennsylvania’ pail for over four years now and it still looks brand new! Next item she found was a perfume free udder balm… made in Iowa with all natural ingredients! We were on a roll. I kept plugging away at code getting everything linked up for the store and she continued to find quality products to order in and test. I guess what I’m saying is that much of what you see on the site, one of us has ordered and is using it in one or both of our homes. If it was crappy and didn’t work, it was returned and was not included in our store. We were on a mission and that mission carries on to this day. Quality products at an affordable price with great customer service!
All of that began in August of 2008 and here we are today. I share all of this with you so you’ll understand that we’re not some corporate office in the middle of a big city trying to tell you what you need on a farm, but instead… we’re farmers sharing with you what has worked great for us! We’re right there with you, working full time jobs and staring at half finished projects. We have livestock bellowing out in the back pasture to be milked and trying to keep the crows from stealing our eggs out of the coop. We’re just homesteaders eager for self sufficient living and rather than hoard the information we find… we share every bit of it, eager for all who embark on this adventure to be successful!
Happy Homesteading…. From the ‘folks at Homesteader’s Supply!’