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.

Chicken math


A year ago, I decided to buy 6 little chicks from Tractor Supply. Then a few days later, I went by and fell in love and bought 6 more. Out of 12, I had 10 survive and thrive. 3 roosters and 7 hens, little did I know that would send me on a journey that I never would have imagine. A wonderful journey of homesteading and learning about all natural/organic ways to raise animals and gardening. My hubby and extended family thinks I am crazy. My kids love it because of all the animals. But the most important thing is how happy I am doing this and learning. My friends on facebook now call me crazy chicken lady. I am constantly getting friends posting things like the chicken diaper or chicken leash (most ridiculous thing ever, I don’t need a leash they follow me willingly). But this is my life now and I couldn’t be more insane happy with the decision to buy 12 lil chicks.

At the beginning of the year, I had 9 chickens, 7 hens and 2 roosters. One rooster was getting a little crazy so he was rehomed to a farm with a lot of girls for him. Then is March, I lost 2 of my hens to poison. So by spring, I only had 6 chickens. 5 hens and a frizzle bantam rooster that can’t even mate because he is so small.

At this point, my obsession for hatching eggs began. First there was 4 that hatched, then 3, 18, 8, and last 15. I hatched out 5 different batches of chicken eggs. Along with 2 batches of duck eggs.


Then I got a call from my aunt about the school hatching eggs but no place to take the chicks. And I also made the mistake of going by the feed store the same day and seeing some little ducklings.

Then I saw someone selling pullets (girls) and I had to have them. Then I ordered 15 polish chicks! So how many chickens do we have!?! 57! 51 chickens and 6 ducks.

36 are undetermined meaning they haven’t shown their rooster or hen side yet. Or in the ducks case duck or drake.

2 bantam roosters I am trying to rehome for their sake since they are so little, my bigger ones will probably beat them up.

So far I do know that I have 13 girls chickens and 1 girl duck. And 5 roosters.


In the end, I am planning on keeping only 4 roosters (maybe less depending on attitude) and most of the girls. All of my ducks will stay unless I end up with a lot of drakes which I don’t think I will. And any roosters over what I want to keep will become dinner. Most of the polish chicks are going to be sold. I only wanted a few for Dakota, but of course there is a 15 minimum purchase and I couldn’t find any locally. And I pray I have done enough research to be able to tell a boy from a girl.

2 of my goals this year was to expand my flock and add ducks! Mission accomplished.


Am I completely done with raising chicks? UM hell no! Have you seen how adorable these little babies are! But I am more interested in the hatching and selling aspect now. I also will be adding meat chickens and turkeys next year.



The last summer I will have..

Well it’s official! I have a senior in high school! How or when this happened I have no idea. But if anyone sees the guy that sold me the stay young forever potion, let me know because it didn’t work. Instead here we are, enjoying the last summer we will have before adulthood takes one of our daughters. This is also the last summer before all four of my kids are school age. Yup, I have one finishing their school journey while another one begins. Crazy! Even though we don’t have any vacations planned, I am still trying to be around and involved as much as possible before I am not needed anymore. And also taking this time to lecture as much as possible.

This also may be the last summer we have our great dane, Duece. He is 9 yrs old and is having some leg problems. The pain is getting worse everyday for him and he just gives this look like it’s time. So we are calling our vet out next week and finding out our options.

I also have my middle daughter turning 16, going on a plane for the first time and taking her first vacation without me and finishing up driver’s ed.

There are also some big decisions to be made about my special needs daughter this summer.

Maybe I should have titled this the summer of letting go…. because that is what it seems like. So if I am around a lot less or seem like I disappeared, don’t worry just juggling too many balls in the air right now.