Holidays upon us…Week 1

Well it’s the first full week of October. And that means the holiday frenzy begins. But first, can I just say Man, this year flew by! So I thought I would blog about what I am doing to prepare for the holidays. Every Monday, there will be a post about what I have done to get ahead of the craziness. In October, we have homecoming, Alissa’s 18th Birthday and Halloween. But I am also thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas because with a family this size and a schedule as busy as ours is, I don’t have time to be running out the door the day before to prepare.

First thing, get your kids talking about Halloween. Especially if they want the most popular costume on the shelves, you have got to find it now. Believe me, I ran into this problem last year with my son’s costume.

Last years Olaf costume

Last years Olaf costume

Everybody wanted to be a character from Frozen. And trying to find the costume in his size at a reasonable price was a nightmare. As you can see, I got it but it was a close one and cost more than I like to admit! So get them talking now. I have a feeling if you try to go out even the week of Halloween you will have a hard time. At our Walmart, the school supplies were gone and it was the day of school starting. Everyone is trying to get ahead so you need to be even more ahead of them. And if your going to be making your child’s costume get started NOW!

Luckily for me, my kids have been talking about it for the last 2 weeks. I actually had to put a rule that no one could talk about Halloween until October 1st it was becoming an all day, every day conversation.

Now is also a good time for figure out your plans. Usually we go to my mom’s house in the next city over because my little country city doesn’t do much as far as house to house. But this year, we will have 1 kid doing their own thing, 1 kid going to a party and 2 with us trick or treating. So we have to stay close by to be able to pick up one or both kids. We will be going to the trunk or treats around Plant City.

Next, Thanksgiving! If you plan on ordering a farm fresh turkey, now is the time to do it and put your deposit down. Some areas it may even be too late. If that’s the case start looking for a backup plan. I can say with total confidence that if you can’t do farm fresh and you have a Fresh Market near you, get it from there. That is where last years turkey came from and it was the best one we ever had. I know in my area most of the farm fresh have all been reserved. So I will probably get a Fresh Market turkey.

Growing a large family


Now, Christmas!  Definitely start looking at sales ads, emails or just cyber window shopping. Start getting an idea of the new holiday items coming out so you can be making a list of things to possibly buy. I haven’t actually bought any presents yet because I have 2 birthdays to get through first. But I usually start shopping the end of the month. But I have been keeping my eye out on the new video games coming out, toys and latest electronics.

This month is actually a pretty easy month. Mostly just mental stuff. So what I also like to do is declutter and start organizing. I have actually been doing this for a few weeks already, but I still have a tons more to go. I just have this need to purge before the holidays hit and the all the gift giving happens. What I am doing is selling what I think someone else would appreciate and donating the rest.

And of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t at least mention homesteading preparations. I use the deep litter method during the winter. And even though I still have about 3 months before a significant cold front moves through, I like to be prepared and not caught off guard. Now is the time to do a deep cleaning of your coop and fix anything that needs to be fix. I have a fence that has been calling my name for a couple of months now. I also took everything out of the coop, scrubbed it good and put bed shavings in. This is the start of deep litter method. Every day I fluff and turn the bed shavings and add more in once a week.  I keep adding more bed shavings for a good month or two, depending on the weather, before I start adding the straw layer which will hold the heat. I will also be ordering my ingredients to make my own chicken scratch.

Look for week 2 next Monday. Happy Holidays Ya’ll!


Introducing Harley the Farm Dog

At the end of June, we had to say good-bye to our Great Dane, Duece. He was 9 years old and having hip problems, eating problems and all kinds of other problems. He would constantly fall and trying to pick up a dog bigger than you was no easy task. He would spend endless nights just staring at me while I was sleeping and whining. We had to stop his suffering.

growing a large family

But now we were left with just a toy poodle and an old, fat cocker spaniel to protect our homestead. Having Duece gave us peace of mind because everyone was scared of him. And I had been wanting a puppy that I could train to be with my chickens and whatever other livestock I get. My other dogs would bark and chase after them. I had been looking for months but couldn’t decide what I wanted.

And then almost a month after we said good-bye to Duece, we met Harley.

growing a large family  growing a large family  growing a large family


He is a Golden Retriever. He was 8 weeks old when we got him. This dog is playful, crazy and really smart. He learns very quickly. And half the time he learns it on his own without any training. He is really good with my kids. Especially Dakota, who goes around calling him his little brother.  But he grew so fast. One minute he was this little cute puppy to this big 40lb, thinks he needs to be in Mama’s lap, dog. And he is only 5 months old!

Growing a large family




He knows Mama will protect him when he is scared, but he also knows Mama is the disciplinarian. He is also very well-trained to protect considering he almost ripped my hubby’s lip off. He still doesn’t have any feeling in it. But hey, like I told Hubby, you shouldn’t be messing with my puppy. Lesson learned!


He is really curious about my chickens. He wants to go in with them, but has never chased or barked at them. He actually wants to play and eat their food. Never even touches the chicken poop. Which from what I read is a miracle because most dogs think it’s better than caviar!

So I think we have found our perfect farm dog. Introducing Harley the farm dog.


This post is part of the Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Football, Food and Taco Salad Dip

Growing large family


Labor Day Weekend officially started football season. College Football on Saturdays~GO NOLES!!!!!! And NFL on Sundays!!!! Go Jameis Winston!!!!

And with that means FOOTBALL FOOD! Chips and Dip, burgers, tacos and more!!! Not to mention all those yummy desserts that can be eaten by hand. I love football, but the food is the real star of the show for me. Our football food season made its debut with a taco salad dip.

This was a quick and easy meal but full of yumminess. And you can customize it.

Cook your hamburger and drain. Add in taco seasoning (according to package directions) or add a can of enchilada sauce. Whatever you prefer to spice up your taco meat. I added a can of enchilada sauce and some homemade refried beans. It was delicious.


While that’s simmering away, shred up your cheese. Until your cheese grater breaks.

growing a large family

OH well, it lasted a good 15 years. Anyways, I used Monterey this time around. But really it’s whatever you have on hand or prefer.

Assembly time!

Growing a large family Lettuce

Growing a large familyMeat and Corn. Side note: beans would be great. Peppers if I wasn’t allergic. Olives. Any toppings! This is an anything goes taco salad.

Growing a large familyCheese time! Load that baby up! I love cheese! The cheesier the better! And I’m sure my husband would say my jokes are the same way. But anyways….

Now you are going to add the “dressing”. You could add some spicy ranch from a bottle if you want. Remember it’s your salad. But I went with simplicity. I added a heap spoonful of sour cream and salsa.

Perfect Taco salad

Perfect Taco salad

Now you could eat this like a salad. But this is game day! And you aren’t a real football fan unless you are eating something with your hands and getting messy. So grab a fork to mix it all up and then put the fork in the sink. Now grab some tortilla chips and scoop away!


New school year

Usually this would be where I tell you all about the beginning of our new school year. Except I’m not because we didn’t. That’s right. I think its dumb to try to teach kids how a calendar year works when school begins towards the end of it. Plus we had a very slow start last year that I decided our year is running from January to November. So basically we are finishing up with the last of our months of school before everyone moves on to new grades. During the summer we took a slower approach but there was still learning and progress being made.

Dakota is finishing up Kindergarten. He has finally gotten excited about learning and doing school so that has made things more exciting and fun for me. And the best part is the little booger knows more than I gave him credit for. He is breezing through letter and sounds. Writing is coming easier for him. And Math and Science are his favorite right now. He has even started learning to add on his own, count by 100’s and read numbers in the thousands. All this has happened naturally and I love it!

Brianna has been a little bit more difficult only because we have noticed everything has been sliding backwards with her. We were always told that no one could predict what her limit was and I think we have max it out. So for the most part I try to incorporate a lot of art, science experiments and letting her join in where ever she feels like. But she still has a workbook to work out of and I try to give her computer time or tablet time at least once a day.

Cailin is done with English 9 and has moved on to English 10. She is finishing up pre-Algebra which has been a struggle for her. We are also almost done with Biology. American History has been a struggle for me to begin because I hate History but I know it needs to be done so I am starting that. She is also beginning Creative Photography and American Sign Language. OH and over the summer she completed the written part of Drivers ed. Now she needs her permit and her Daddy to start with the actual driving part.

I am very happy with the progress we are making. Sometimes I feel like we are not learning anything and then I write it all down and feel good about our progress. Plus we did testing and everything was confirmed.

Meet our ever growing flock

As everyone knows, I added to our backyard flock this year. We went from 6 chickens to officially 39 chickens and ducks. My hubby keeps bugging me to post about all of them because you know most of them have names.

So here we go…..Introducing the princes and princesses of Feather Tale Farm.









Thing 1

Thing 1

Thing 2

Thing 2

These are the original six. Now for the new members…..


This is Tank the turken. He has taken over as the #2 rooster now that his brothers were either sold or processed.

Mama & Bertha

The 2 big red hens is Mama and Bertha. They were hatched around the same time as Tank. I can’t really tell them apart unless they are looking at me.


The last of the first hatchlings is Meg. She is such a good girl giving an egg a day, but has to be watched she will run in the house.


Here is Lucky Duck. Still doing very well, but doesn’t think she is a duck. She is also starting to get braver and come eat worms out of my hand.


Out of Lucky’s babies we only kept a couple, this is Princess. I am so happy she is a hen because I love her coloring.

tiny tim DSC_0415

Here is Tiny Tim. I wasn’t planning on keep him because he is a rooster. But after hearing his little crow and then naming him, I knew he was staying. He is a bantam so very little. Every time I am outside he has to be right by my feet. Isn’t he handsome?

other ducks

Here are my other ducks. Still very scared of me, but I do have them trained when I say “come here babies” they know its food time. When I say “time for bed” they know its time to go in the coop. I did just find out that both of the Pekins (white ones) are boys. So we will be selling one of them. I do know one of the Cayugas (black ones) is a girl but not sure which one.

Cayuga DSC_0402

But this little guy is my buddy. This just started about 2 weeks ago. He is so curious and loves to see what I am doing. Once in a while I can ducky cuddles. I haven’t named him yet. And I know he is a drake because of the flipped up feathers on his tail. I think this is one I hatched but I am not 100% certain.

Now as you might remember. My aunt called and asked if I would take some chicks that the school had hatched and didn’t know where to take them. The kids were so upset thinking they were going to get eaten. And I told myself that if they were all roosters they were going. I did sell one, but ended up keeping the rest. What can I say I am a sucker!?!


This is Rusty, a rooster. I have never seen a coloring like his. He is also so calm.


The one in the front is Maleficient and the black and white one right behind her is Mama’s boy. Maleficient is the only hen. She doesn’t like to be messed with but has this very queen like presence about her. And she is so dark from her feathers to her face. Mama’s boy surprised me by being a boy. When they were in the house, he was the one that every morning would jump up on my shoulder and used me as his playground. Very unusual for a rooster. He is also another one that will try to get in the house and knows to wait on the stairs while the feeding frenzy takes place because Mama will feed him his own little snacks. Spoiled much!?! NAH!


THIS ONE BROKE MY HEART!!! This is Chubby. I was convinced he was a she. He loves cuddles and follows me everywhere. I was telling my kids I just don’t know. His feathers says boy, but his waddle and comb are little and not red at all. Then he looks at me and attempts to crow! I died right there. And then said oh well as long as there is no fighting he can stay. And the roosters out of this bunch do not fight at all. They are lovers not fighters.


This is Anna. This is my son’s silkie. We had a total of 3 silkies. We had an Elsa who turned out to be a Kristoff and a Lucy that turned out to be Lou. They got sold. So here is our one lone silkie. Funny looking thing, huh? Just wait it gets better.

Polish babies DSC_0397

Polish Babies! These are also something my son wanted. We went to an animal swap and he fell in love with one that happened to be a rooster. I told him no more roosters, but we will get babies. I ordered an assortment from Cackle Hatchery and prayed the white crested ones would be included. And they were those black with white tops are the ones he wanted. I think one is a boy and one is a girl. The one in the middle is a Gold laced polish and the black and white one is a Silver Laced Polish. I think the gold is also a boy. My son said as long as one is a girl he is happy. Plus we can always order more, DUH?! They are usually much prettier but the rain does nothing for their do’s.

Silver Laced Wyandottes

I also bought some Silver laced Wyandotte Pullets. Meaning they are all girls. I bought 5 of them. I don’t have names for them or the polish yet. And they are very skittish.

Last but not least, I went to an animal swap to sell my leftover Polish chicks. I sold them and turned around and bought these bantam cochins.

flora and fauna

This is Flora and Fauna. There was a third one named Merriweather. But he turned out to be Floyd Mayweather instead of the 3rd fairy from Sleeping beauty.

So there you have it. All of my flock as it is now. Who knows what’s to come in the future!

This blog was part of the Our Simple Homestead Hop.





Why you’re getting soft shell eggs




When I first thought of getting some chickens many years ago, I thought oh it’s easy, throw some food, give them some water and collect eggs. OH BOY! Was I naive!?

After 2 of my babies died, I realized there is a lot more to it to keep your flock healthy and happy. So many things could go wrong! I decided that I wanted to raise them as naturally as possible. Using no antibiotics, unless as a last resort, and trying all holistic methods. We also switched to Organic feed. Because if we are going to do it naturally then go all the way!

When my girls started laying, it was so exciting! I had one start, then a few days later I would have 2 laying and so on. But then one day, I found this in the nesting box. Two eggs laid by the same chicken (I know this because I only had 1 more to start laying at the time), but both eggs had soft shells. One would always be broke and the other intact, but squishy.

Let me start by saying I flipped out when this happened.

But then my quest for knowledge started and I was determined to find out why my chicken was laying these no shell eggs. My hubby looked it up right away the first time and said it can be common in new layers. I accepted that and moved on with my week.

3 weeks later I was still getting them here and there, so to the internet I went.

After much research and question asking on forums, I came to the conclusion that it was probably lack of calcium. She is a little low in the pecking order, so maybe the higher ups were keeping her from getting the oyster shell she needed. She just needed a little help.

I bought plain organic yogurt and took some of the egg shells from some eggs I used up and made an egg laying soup. My chickens actually hates oyster shells. I have never seen them touch the stuff. I still offer it but also offer monthly crushed egg shells.

Now the rules for giving chickens egg shells for calcium:

  1. Only egg shells that were from eggs from your flock. No store bought and no other farm’s fresh eggs. You don’t want any contamination.
  2. Dry your eggshells really good. During the summer I use to put them outside in the hot sun for some natural baking. During the winter or bad weather, just bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes and then cool.
  3. Make sure you crush or pulverize the shells. Easier for them to digest and they won’t recognize it as an egg or you might have trouble.

Use your food processor (warning: the egg shells will smell YUK!) and then add the amount of yogurt you think would feed your flock. I use one of the small cups or 1/2 of a bigger container.


Now I did say that Nutmeg was low on the pecking order so I put down one dish on one side of the run for the higher ups. And because Nutmeg is a little spoiled, she knows to follow me because I will let her eat out of the bag of worms or container of food where no one can bother her. I knew she would get her fair share from the second bowl on the other side before the others discovered it.

I have to say I really think it worked. We have had no problems since. And I do this about once a month just to make sure everyone is getting their calcium fix.


This post was part of the blog hop on Oak Hill HomesteadSimple Life MomTimber Creek Farmer and The Chicken Chick.

The day the system let us down.

New year 2015

One reason I have been MIA this summer is because of my special needs daughter. I don’t know if it is her hormones changing or just the medicine becoming ineffective because of her being on it for so long, but it has been a summer from hell. She has becoming increasingly agitated and defiant. Usually I can reach her with some humor and talking to her. But even that is not working.

Our breaking point came one Sunday. It all started by me asking her to do her chores and from there the whole day went to hell in a hand basket. By about 1-2pm in the afternoon, we were calling the cops out because she ran away after getting violent with me. Now here is where the system failed.

The cop came out and talked her down. But said he would rather us take her to the mental health center because it frees him up for other emergencies. I honestly understand this, but it kinda just let everything else balloon out of control.

We went through all this question and answer sessions and when it was time to talk to administration the lady said nope doesn’t qualify. Okay but when I then tried to explain that she had kicked me twice and body slammed me, I was made to feel like it was my own fault. Now let give a little back story. Two weeks earlier she ran away and the cops came out, they said I should try to restrain and bring her back to the house next time before calling them out. Now this is what I did. I restrained her from running out of the house knowing she was going to run away. When I approached her, she connected twice in my chest and when I did get a hold of her from behind, she threw her weight and me backwards twice. And this lady called it defending herself.

So I bring up her running away. Oh no, it’s not running away because she went to a neighbor’s house every time. Nevermind if it was a neighbor we knew or not. Nevermind that she probably would not have come home on her own. Nevermind that these neighbors were scared and uncomfortable. She had a destination in mind and because she went there, it is not running away.

She then asked my daughter about therapy. She refused to go. She then asked if she would like to get help at home or away from the family. My daughter says away. She says she is not going to change being at home and refuses to get help unless she is taken somewhere. So this lady recommends a residential place and says SO & SO will be in to help with paperwork.

SO&SO comes in and says no that place won’t take her because she has never been Baker Acted. Well what do you think we are trying to do!!!! Even says she doesn’t qualify for in home therapy just a case manager.

At this point, I am feeling defeated and worn out. When we walked out of the facility after accomplishing nothing, my daughter got mad because she had to go home. I cried the whole way home. I really thought today was the day she gets the help she needs.

Her psychiatrist is good for nothing. He doesn’t know her from Joe down the road. Every time we go in it’s like he is seeing us for the first time. I have to repeat everything. He has also given up hope. He told us this is it. This is your life.

She is on the spectrum, but she is high functioning. She just has a mental age of 10 or under. She has signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She doesn’t understand appropriate relationships. When she has a friend, she becomes completely obsessed with them and it consumes her life.

So let me recap, had the cop taken my daughter instead of us, she would have been admitted. Even for a couple of hours, it would have been on her record and maybe opened up more resources. But instead, that day taught my daughter that everything I have said to her is a lie.

I tell her you can’t go around hitting people that’s called assault and you go to jail for that. Nope! Wrong! She learned that day that she can hit, kick and slam her Mom down and nothing will happen.

I tell her not to runaway because bad things can happen. Nope! Wrong Again! Because she learned as long as she is going to a certain destination it is not considered running away.

I tell her to listen to her parents. Why? No one else does!

So thank you system! You may think my daughter is a lost cause and that she doesn’t understand what you taught her that day. But I guarantee you she remembers. And it will make my life and hers even more difficult! And next time might not be just a little hitting or kicking. It might be worse. But you just don’t get it. You don’t have any special needs children yourself. You just have a medical degree that says you know it all. But you don’t! And until you live our lives on a daily basis, you will never get it.

You failed my family that day. And who knows how many others you have fail. But the fact of the matter is, I am trying to prevent another theater shooting or another Sandy Hook. I think it’s time that you wake up and take parents seriously. Never question a parents intuition!

This all happened 2 weeks ago. And so far things have been smooth sailing. But my daughter is almost 16. She has goals and dreams. And right now those are not a possibility. We have finally found an autism therapy school and are in the process of trying to get her in there. I want to feel hopeful, but also have been so disappointed in the past that I don’t want to get my hopes up.