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Love and Loss on a Homestead

Barred Rock Hen~Midnight~Growing a large family

 

 

Having a homestead brings so much joy to your life. You care for the animals and become attached. Some even become family.

But with love and joy, there are also heartache and loss.

We loss 2 of our hens a year ago because of a poisonous plant.

Then we loss 2 of our dogs to old age.

And today we loss another hen.

She was egg bound. I tried everything on the internet I could find to help her. I even turned to some Facebook homesteading groups. But nothing would help.

I made the decision to just put her back outside with the others. I knew she would inevitably die, but I thought if I knew my time was coming, I would want to die being me. So I let her live out her final days being a chicken. Lounging in the sunshine and pecking at bugs and scratch on the ground.

I will miss my fat girl. She had the funniest waddle and was always everywhere I was because she knew Momma had treats.

My hubby and I had made the decision to put her out of her suffering today. Actually he made the decision that I should do it. So she must have known that it would be hard for me to do it. Her being my favorite and all. I found her this morning quietly gone in the run.

My only regret is not hatching more of her eggs and keeping some of the babies.

RIP Midnight.

This blog post is partying over at Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Sleepless Nights, My Garden and El Nino

Gardening~Growing a large family

 

Living in Florida, we are used to dealing with hurricanes. They take several days to get here and we have plenty of time to stock up and plan.

But dealing with El Nino, this past month has been stressful. You don’t how severe it’s going to be or how soon it’s going to get to your location. And the worse part has been 99% of the severe storms have been at night. I hate when they hit at night.

First off, I live in the boondocks so you can’t see anything on a clear night, but now you have added in a wicked storm, so I really am left in the dark. I always take my phone in my room for all the alerts. But that’s the problem, I’m up all night checking out the alerts and warnings. And of course, the one alert that didn’t come through on my phone was the tornado on the ground alert. Thankfully all my kids sleep with radios on. And thankfully one of them does wake up when the emergency beeping comes on.

Now here in Florida, we are used to water spouts or quick tornadoes. They touch down, last for a few minutes and then they’re gone. But when the weatherman and National Weather Service is saying take cover, a very large and dangerous tornado is on the ground. It makes you think What the …… These are words my local weatherman were using, along with, this is a tornado you would see in the midwest and we have never seen anything like it. It lasted through 2 counties!

I mean it came to the bottom of my county. In my mind, I’m mentally giving out assignments to my 2 children, that at this point were scared to death and looking like a deer caught in headlights. Luckily it dissipated. But it came awful close to my Mother-in-Law’s house. Which my kids were at the night before and she doesn’t own a smart phone or a TV. And lives in a mobile home.

Needless to say, I will be investing in 2 weather radios. One for my house and one for hers.

So what does this have to do with my garden. Well it’s been to hell and back! First, our weather was too hot for winter. I mean, its was 85 degrees on Christmas, who does that!?! Now it turned cooler and my plants were so happy.  Then all the rain came. And that was ok, my garden never flooded. But then the winds came. We have had strong winds as least 2-3 times this year. I am talking, don’t let your kids out or they’ll blow away strong. And well everything fell over!

On the positive side, all the rain loosened the ground so Brianna could finish getting the grass up on the other side of the garden. And I did get a ton of cherry tomatoes before the winds, along with 2 cabbage, 3 broccoli and some green beans. So I am going to replant on the other side and see what happens.

Spring Garden~Growing a large family

Here’s hoping Spring comes soon.

At least that’s what Punxsutawney Phil said.

This blog post is partying over at Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

The low down dirty, stinky truth about hatching chicks!

As soon as we got our first 6 baby chicks a couple of years ago, I knew I was hooked and adding more. Which is why I bought 6 more! Then hubby and I realized there wasn’t a coop as nice and cheap as I would like for the amount of chicks I bought.  He got mad saying I put the cart before the horse (or something like that). So we had to scramble to build a coop.

So ever since then, I promised him that I would not do that again. I want to know what I am doing before I run out and do it. I want all the known facts. So I read all about incubating for the last few months. I wanted to make sure my eggs thrived and the chicks were healthy.

But I am here to tell you about the things that people have left out. The things I never knew or read about. The things I had to find out the hard way.

The low down dirty, stinky truth and nothing but the truth about hatching chicks!

It’s so exciting seeing your first little crack in the egg!

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Until you realize that little chick is going to take HOURS! So you keep getting up every 5 minutes for the next 24-48 hours checking on that one egg. Yup! I have done this 6 times and did this every time.

When the chick does hatch, it is not the prettiest thing. It’s covered in slime and has an umbilical cord attached. Just like a newborn baby. The inside of the egg-shell was actually really cool. My kids thought it was awesome to be able to see the blood veins in the egg-shell and to see the different layers.

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And once your chick has hatched it is tired and will lay there like it is dead. Just flopped down face first! Don’t worry it’s not. This is how babies rest. And on that note, get use to it because this is how they will sleep for quite a few weeks.

Once the baby hatches, you have to leave them in there for at least 24 hours or just until their feathers are dry.

While your baby dries, it will gain strength and play tag with your other eggs. The eggs will get bumped and moved; possibly even rolled from one side to the other. Don’t panic, this is doesn’t affect your eggs hatching.

 

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Now your little baby is dry and ready to come out. Fantastic! But beware of the smelly incubator. When you open it up, it’s enough to make you gag! Everything has been baking! And baked umbilical cord is not a good smell! Just saying!

Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch. I usually leave my eggs in the incubator until day 25 or 26. If no more hatches by then, I call it and throw away the dud eggs. Now is the fun part, cleaning the incubator.

You have all the bad eggs, the broken eggs shells and membranes, the disconnected cords and maybe some poop. It’s great fun! I recommend doing this outside or in a separate sink from your everyday sinks. I have a laundry room sink which is quickly becoming the chickens sink. I use it for giving them baths, washing their dishes and now cleaning their incubator. I also recommend a pair of rubber gloves. Just to take away some of the yuck factor. And I use baby soap on mine. It’s what I use to clean them with so I figure its safe, plus it’s what was sitting there the first time I did this.

It’s going to take a good amount of arm muscle to scrub some of the stuff off. Once your done, dry it the best you can and then let it sit out to air dry.  Its best if you can leave it out in the sun because this will really take care of anything left behind. You are ready for your next time of incubating.

Turken~ Growing a large family

Now that I have told about all the gross things of hatching. I am going to give you a tip that I have yet to follow. I have read several places online recommend putting down some rubber shelf liner. It helps the babies gain their footing and aren’t slipping everywhere, but I would think it would help with the clean up also. Maybe keep the bottom from getting so stained and allow easy clean up by just throwing everything on top away.

So what are you incubating next? Because you know even after all this, you will be incubating again. The babies are too cute and seeing a life form and be born is amazing.

Once you hatch, you never go back!

This post is partying over at the Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

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2016 Homeschool update and goals

Our new school year begins. I have a 1st grader, 8th grader and a 10th grader now.

This is also the first year that I am not doing all the lessons in all subjects with all of my kids. I realized it wasn’t realistic of me or fair to them. My 10th grader is doing most of the schooling on her own. And only joining us for US History & Geography and Creative Culinary. The rest is through online resources.

My 1st grader is between grades. He is too old for Kindergarten work and not quite ready for 1st grade completely. So we are making it up as we go with him. But I am glad I waited to start formal schooling because now he is so excited to begin. That’s what I want. No one is happy if he is resisting and I am tearing my hair trying to get him to focus.

My 8th grader is the tricky one. She is physically of high school age, technically in 8th grade, but mentally between a 3rd-5th grade level, some days. Towards the end of last year, I notice she wasn’t getting what her sister was doing and was losing interest. She was starting to join more of my son’s activities. Even storytime, she would find some spot to sit so she could hear the story. As frustrating and disappointing as this is, I have resigned myself to it. I want her to grow, learn and be able to function on her own. And it may or may not happen. But for now, this is our reality. Our daughter is stuck as a 9-10 year old. So why would I stress myself and her out to learn things she obviously can’t comprehend.

So my goals for this year…

Have my 10th grader continue to earn credits towards her high school diploma and get a part-time job.

Have my middle daughter continue therapy and continue to work on basic concepts while incorporating them into real life situations. Give her plenty of social situations with children her own age. We have also considered an autism school, but have yet to really make a decision on that.

Have my youngest learn some life skills like tying his shoes and learning his phone number and physical address. Begin reading and build on the skills he has already learned.

Another goal is to simplify our homeschool schedule. From August until November, I had such a full calendar. There was field trips, art & park days, homeschool meeting days and book clubs. I am an introvert so this kind of schedule was too much for me. I know the kids had fun, but it was hard to get in the homeschooling with all the activities. So I am limiting them to a certain amount every month.

Plus all the activities were starting to cost more than I would like to spend every month. With our new budget, we won’t have the funds like we did before.

I am going to pick the activities that go with what we are learning at the time.

I think all of this will help us stay on track and have a great homeschool year.

Simple

It’s 4 days into the new year and I am still thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2016.

The one word that keeps coming to mind is simple. I want to simplify my life. I want to slow down and just enjoy the moment.

Live in the moment.

About a week ago, my hubby had a healthy scare. At least it was a scare for me, he was chilled and cracking jokes like the class clown he is. But it scared me enough to know I want to enjoy every moment. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. And I want to go to bed at night knowing I gave it my all.

In the end, I just want a simple life. I don’t need the latest and greatest technology. And I don’t need designer clothes.

I want simple friendships, not ones that take so much work to hold together.

I want simple relationships, not ones where I am doing everything and getting nothing in return.

I want a drama free zone.

I want my house to be clutter free and organized.

I want my food to be as healthy as I can make it.

I would love to go back to the little house on the prairie days.

And just live simply.

 

 

Holiday hatchlings

Well I did it again. I couldn’t resist watching little baby chicks hatching. So I got out my incubator and put some eggs in to see what would happen. At first, I put in some of my Cayuga eggs, but they weren’t fertile.

And then I put a dozen chicken eggs in there, only 1 was a dud. So I waited another 2 weeks and then I got this result.

Growing a large family

 

9 out of 11 eggs hatched. They hatched the middle of November.

I’m not trying to brag but the coloring of my chicks are beautiful. Since I don’t specialize in one breed of chicken, mine are considered mixed. But let me tell you. They are pretty!

Chicks~Growing a large family

 

It was also a good lesson in genetics. We keep playing Whose your Daddy as their feathers come in. I was a little disappointed in the fact that I only got 1 turken out of the bunch. But that’s okay because we have another hatching coming up on New Years Day.

I just put 31 eggs in the incubator. I was going to try some of Lucky’s eggs but she was hiding them from me and I found them too late. So I put 15 of my own, 15 I bought from a friend and 1 from the neighbor.

 

This post is partying over at The Chicken Chick Blog Hop.

Chickens with Bumblefoot

Growing a large family

 

*Graphic Pics in this post. Warning for the faint of heart*

Never in a million years did I think I would be a chicken keeper! Never in a million years did I think I would love birds! Never in a million years did I think I would have the knowledge to perform a surgery on a chicken! But all of those things I can and do.

Having chickens are really not for the faint of heart. Yes they are very easy to take care of…until there is a problem.

One of the first major problems I had to encounter was bumblefoot. And I have had to deal with it on several occasions with the same 2 bozos.

Growing a large family

Thing 1 and Thing 2. These 2 seem to get it like they get bugs in the leaves. It’s crazy.

Basically bumblefoot is an infection. If they land on something and cut their foot, it could lead to bumblefoot because of all the dirt that they walk around in. Almost like a staph infection. Signs of bumblefoot are swelling, redness, a black or brown scab on the bottom and sometimes limping or holding the leg up. If left untreated it could be fatal.

On this particular day, I had, not 1, not 2, but 3 cases of bumblefoot. Thing 1 had one of her feet and, always trying to one up her sister, Thing 2 got a double case!

So I gathered my team of homeschooling homesteaders, my supplies and got to work.

Growing a large family

This is your basic supplies for bumblefoot: Epsom Salt, Honey, scalpel, vetricyn wound spray, gauze and vet wrap. As you can see some of this you will have at home. The rest I picked up at Tractor Supply. You will need a bucket or bowl so you can soak the chickens foot.

Growing a large family

Sorry for the foggy picture. I used this activity as a photography lesson for Cailin.

First, you need to get warm water in your container and add some epsom salt. I don’t measure the salt. I just pour a little and let it dissolve. This is just to soften the area around where the surgery will take place. Hold them there for a minute or two.

Now comes the fun part. Keeping them still on your lap so you can perform the surgery without hurting them.

What I do is put a towel down on my lap, then I take them out of the water and lay them on their back on my lap. I have one of my daughters immediately cover their head with a towel. Chickens can’t really see in the dark. So the towel simulates this and keeps them calm. Once in a while they will kick their leg. But usually I have my youngest daughter holding on to them so my hands are free.

Growing a large family

This was a very mild case of bumblefoot. I probably wouldn’t have known she had it, had her sister not been limping and I decided to check both of them. But for this post I am going to show you the most severe case I have had.

Growing a large family

As you can see Thing 2’s right foot is extremely swollen.

Bumblefoot~ Growing a large family

That black spot is what we need to cut out. That is the infection. Again this is the worse case I have ever had on our homestead.

Growing a large family

You take your scalpel and cut around the edge of the black scab. You shouldn’t see blood or any fluids coming out. It is literally just a scab that is holding in an infection. You will see the scab start to come loose from foot.

Growing a large family

Once you cut away the scab, you need to scoop and squeeze to make sure there is no pus still in there. I very rarely get extra pus out. But at this point you have an open wound.

Growing a large family

Spray with wound care, put a little honey on the gauze and place over the incision area.

Growing a large family

Wrap with vet wrap. You will want to change the wrap at least once a day. If you see it has fallen off, then soak in warm water to kill any germs and repeat with meds. You may even need to use some medical tape to keep it on. Within 3-5 days it should be better and can remove the bandage.

Growing a large family

 

This post is partying over at the Simple Homestead Blog Hop