Archives

The importance of knowing your plants

When you have little kids, farm animals or just everyday pets, it is important to know what is in your yard. Especially the plants. I have been silent this last week because I made a huge mistake and have been trying to fix it ever since. Last Tuesday, Brianna and I were browsing at Walmart while waiting for Cailin to get done at bookclub. We found this really beautiful flower plant that I thought would be perfect in her butterfly garden. We bought it not really thinking of the consequences. A couple days later, 2 of my chickens came down sick. They were lethargic and not eating or drinking anything. I thought it was impact crop or sour crop. I tried to find answers online. Until I finally did an inspection of their free range area.

Foxglove~ extremely poisonous

Foxglove~ extremely poisonous

They had eaten some of the leaves off of my daughters plant. We didn’t even know what kind of plant it was when we bought it. That was our first mistake. I started doing image searches online and after many hours finally found what it was and cross searched with being poisonous to chickens. It is, extremely poisonous. Even to humans if eaten!

I brought my 2 babies in the house and had a little hospital room going on. I force-fed them water and electrolytes and basically just tried to keep them warm. But honestly they ate so much there was nothing I could really do other than make them feel comfortable and loved.

RIP Nutmeg and Big Bertha

RIP Nutmeg and Big Bertha

Just hours after I took this picture, my little nutmeg said her good-bye.

Nutmeg as a baby

Nutmeg as a baby

I know a momma shouldn’t have favorites, but she was mine.

And as I was beginning this post, Big Bertha had a seizure and died right next to me.

Big Bertha then

Big Bertha as a baby

Big Bertha was my best layer. I will definitely miss those big beautiful brown eggs.

I honestly feel responsible. My chickens depended on me to keep them safe. And they also trusted me wholeheartedly. I truly believed they thought everything in the garden area is good for them because I would never do anything to hurt them. My carelessness has cost me 2 of my beloved chickens.

But going forward, I will be very careful and do my research first. I will not buy any plant just because it is pretty.

We’re Incubating!!!

DSC_0643

 

That’s right people! I am expecting!!!! Expecting feathered babies in the next few weeks! We started incubating some eggs from our neighbor on Saturday. And can I just say I am so excited!

But at the same time, I feel as though I am expecting! The first 48 hours felt like the whole first trimester! I was nauseous, anxious, nervous and overwhelmed. Plus I couldn’t sleep at all. Now that I got the temperature just right and I see everything is working the way it is suppose too, it feels like the 2nd trimester has kicked in. I am so calm and relaxed. Just peeking in every so often to see how things are cooking. I don’t even want to know how I am going to be during the hatching! I may need a lamaze training to gear up for this. It’s been 5 years for me you know. And this time I can’t even get an epidural! GOOD GRIEF!

But anyways back to my eggs. I have 6 chicken eggs and 3 duck eggs in there right now. And did mention the kids are learning about birds right now. So guess what counts as science too! WOOT WOOT!

DSC_0641

I wanted to start off small and see how hard it is to hatch eggs. But I can guarantee you that if this is a success, I will be getting some more eggs to go in there. What kind I have no idea! But I would love to turn my hobby into a little business eventually.

At least, that is my dream for the future.

 

Deschooling

Deschooling is an important step when transitioning from regular school to homeschool. You need that time to relax and get out of the mind frame that homeschooling doesn’t have to be like a classroom. You don’t have to cover all of the subjects everyday and you don’t have to learn in the form of worksheets and test. You don’t have to leave a paper trail to show progress or accomplishments. Learning should be free and hands on. You should encourage your children’s interest and follow their questions to guide you along their learning path. Not some paper or book or professional that says at this age they should know how to do this, that and this and that.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I didn’t do anything that I just ranted and raved about! I have homeschooled for 8 years now. I took my kids out of school and went straight into workbooks and worksheets. We didn’t deschool. Our lessons took precedence over the fun of schooling. Experiments got pushed to the back burner along with field trips and fun. And I mostly think this is why my oldest rebelled. And why ultimately she went back to school.

So why haven’t I posted anything about schooling for the last 3 months or so. Well…..because I finally realized that we needed to deschool. We needed to relax and take a step back. And find our path that we are meant to be on. And that we did.

We watched movies. We read books. We played. We went to Disney. We cooked and had lots of holiday fun. We played video games. And we relaxed! Plus we also took many opportunities to ask questions and look up the answers. In fact, they ask so many questions at moments when we weren’t near a computer that my daughter started carrying pen and paper to write them all down.

But we were still learning. We also talked about where we wanted our homeschool path to head.

But more importantly we lived by the motto of Live, Laugh, Love.

DSC_0163DSC_0535DSC_0492

DSC_0110DSC_0262DSC_0493DSC_0494

DSC_0168DSC_0207DSC_0608

 

 

 

What’s Cookin’ Wednesday~ Quiche

Quick! You have a last-minute guest who is coming at a meal time. What do you fix?

This has happened to me. A family member of mine (*cough Aunt Jo, LOL) likes to wait until the last-minute to make plans. A couple years ago, we had talked about getting together on a certain day, but no solid plans were made. Luckily, I had done a massive stock up shopping so I was prepared when I got the text confirming that our get together was on.

Yes, you can always go out and pick something up. Or order pizza or sandwich trays from your local grocer. But nothing says welcome like a simple home cooked meal. My aunt offered to just pick something up, but why waste the money when I have everything here.

That day we were meeting around lunchtime, so I decided to do a brunch theme. I whipped up 2 quiches, a broccoli and cheddar and a bacon and swiss, and my famous (at least to my hubby) 15 minute fruit salad.

DSC_0238

 

 

Quiche is one of those dishes that looks complicated but really isn’t. And you can make it using whatever you have around the house. It is so versatile. Pick out your fillings and go.

Start with the crust. Now you can either make your own pie crust or just buy the refrigerated or frozen ones from the store. I actually used the refrigerated Pillsbury Pie crust this time. You just unroll it and place it in the pie pan. But I have been known to go all fancy and make the pie crust from scratch.

Once that is in the dish, move on to the filling. Cook, chop or whatever you need to do to the fillings now. In my case, I fried up some bacon, chopped some broccoli and grated cheddar and swiss cheese. Then I put a nice thick layer on the bottom of the crust.

Some more filling ideas~Caramelized Onion, mushroom and bacon (amazing!), Veggie (any and all kinds), Southwestern ( chicken, peppers and cheddar)

 

Next, mix up 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups half & half, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. You can just use a fork to do this. No fancy mixers, it’s just a light mixing. Pour into crust.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn down oven to 325 degrees and bake until set. You don’t want jiggle quiches. You want springy, so if you touch the middle it is firm but soft, like a sponge. I will say quiche baking time will vary based on the amount of fillings and how deep of a pie pan you have. I have some that have baked in 25 minutes and others that took 30-40 minutes. Just keep checking on it. And if the edge your crust starts getting too dark, put a little aluminum foil around it. Just make sure not to cover the egg filling.

The basis of this recipe came from Cooks.com and makes 1 9 inch quiche. For 2, like in my picture, double the recipe.

 

 

 

 

#DisneySide @Home Celebration

 

As everyone that has ever met me knows, I love Disney. I have been going to Walt Disney World as long as I can remember and have had an annual pass for about 20 years now. It is my first choice for a vacation spot. I have passed this love on to my children. Hubby is not so much on board with it. But the kids and I will go every chance we get.

Sadly, our passes expired in January and renewal is not in the budget for us right now. So you can imagine how excited I was when I got picked to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration! Because I have mostly teenagers, I got the teen theme which was villians. This was perfect because we just got done watching Maleficient a million times and absolutely loved it!!

When our box full of goodies arrived, it was like Christmas all over again! There was so much fun stuffed into one box!

Goodies in our box #DisneySide @Home Celebration

Goodies in our box #DisneySide @Home Celebration

So we invited some of our closes friends and started partying!

My cake decorating daughters made and iced some cupcakes. We used the Duff Tye Dye cake mix that came in the box. But my daughters chose to use only the purple and green to represent Maleficient. Then we let everyone go to town decorating with the colorful sprinkles they provided.

DSC_0635

Cupcake Decorating #DisneySide @Home Celebration

 

Then the kids were off to play various games. The Maleficient nail polish was a big hit with the teenage girls. But not so much the bracelet maker. The pictures were to kiddie for them. And not all of us had an I-phone or I-pad to download the app. So the girls had fun making bracelets for the little ones.

Some of the games were a little too kiddie for tweens and teens. Bingo was basically just a game of who can yell Bingo the fastest because everyone got Bingo at the same time. Wordsearch and Matching the quote to the ride was a big hit also.

DSC_0637

My youngest loved pin the smile on Mickey. #DisneySide @home Celebrations

 

 

I worried about the pin the smile on Mickey. Because come on they are teens! But it was perfect for the younger siblings in attendance and surprising some of the older ones wanted in on the action too. We also added in a Beat the parents game~ Disney edition, which ended up being older kids vs younger kids, and some Disney Infinity 2.0 fun.

DSC_0636

And older kids too! #DisneySide @Home Celebration

 

Overall, it was a lot of fun! We got to see some friends we haven’t seen in forever and had some great activities to keep the kids busy.

 

Disclosure: I have received free products in order to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Don’t rush! Building a homestead takes time.

It’s been about a year that I have become interested in homesteading. I mean I have always said I wanted a farm or ranch, but 2014 was the year that I really got involved and learning about the hows and whys.

This time last year, I thought, I’m going to get some chickens and throw some seeds in the ground and there will be my farm.

UM…..NO! Doesn’t work like that.

My chickens have had illnesses and injuries. I have also had to do things to heal them that I never thought I would ever do. (Hello, bumblefoot surgery!) I also ran out and bought 12 chicks without having a plan for a coop.

And guess what my seeds didn’t grow very well. In fact nothing did! All of my plants would start off strong and then stop. My dirt is mostly sand and not enough nutrients.

I started off thinking that for 2015 I would expand. I would get some pigs, ducks and anything else I could convince my hubby to let me have. I would double the garden and eventually have enough to feed us and sell.

But in the last few days of looking at my garden, I realized I needed to take a step back. None of those dreams are going to be possible without a little research and preparations.

So I readjusting my goals for the year.

  1. Add a few more chicks (layers) and add some ducks.
  2. Tear up the majority of my garden and start working the dirt. I am getting some worms and adding compost and other nutrients.
  3. Start composting! Build a compost bin.
  4. Research caring for pigs, find a butcher and locate local organic feed.
  5. Try to go back to basics on as much as possible (food, cleaners, and hygiene) and continue to remove all GMO products from our house.

Don’t try to do everything at one time. Take the time to research and know what your doing and why your doing it. In the long run, you want to become self sufficient and time is your friend. Because the more you rush, the more screw ups you’ll have and the more money you would’ve wasted. Eventually not seeing progress and seeing money fly down the toilet will make you want to give up and quit.

Roosters~love them or eat them

 

DSC_0094

Let me start by saying I am by no means an expert. This is my first year raising chickens. But in that years time, I have learned a lot.

I got 12 chicks total. Not knowing what they were; male or female. Two didn’t survive and I was left with 10 that thrived.

Out of those 10, I ended up with 3 males and 7 females.

Our first confirmed male, Speckles, got rehomed really quick because he was beating up my girls pretty bad. That is something you don’t want. You want your girls relaxed and comfortable and safe in their home so they can lay eggs comfortably. Under the constant stress, the chances of eggs go down. They will not lay to their full potential, which I know for most folks is the whole purpose of owning chickens. Plus beating up my baby girls to point of drawing blood was not cool with me.

 

Here are my 2 roosters that I have left.

Lil Baby~ light brahma rooster

Lil Baby~ light brahma rooster

Ninja~Frizzle Cochin

Ninja~Frizzle Cochin

 

Pros of having a rooster:

  • Protects your flock when free ranging.
  • Gives you fertilized eggs, which then gives you babies (YAY!)

Cons of having a rooster:

  • Can be rough with your girls or the other roosters. We had an incident which may or may not have been a fight between the two roosters. One was pretty badly beat up and I thought I was going to lose him but he pulled through.
  • Can become aggressive with you or your kids. I have one rooster who likes to chase my one daughter. She is special needs so I don’t know if he has picked up on that, but it’s only her, never me or anyone else. And when they kick at you it hurts. Especially with those nails.
  • Can be very skittish and not real lovable. Even as chicks, they ran and hated being picked up. And now they steer away from us and are not very friendly at all.
  • Do not follow directions at all (typical MAN!). If I shake the worm bag or call the chickens, all of the girls come right away. The boys not so much and we end up having to trap them into running into the enclosed area. Too much work!

Now the next reason can be a pro or con depending on the type of person you are. I personally love to hear them crowing. But others might not. I will say mine start between 4-5 am. BUT I can’t hear them in my room and neither can my kids. So it doesn’t bother us. Others might not be so happy with that.

While most people would say eat them. I am not that brave or experienced yet in butchering one of our own chickens. And I highly doubt that I can find someone to come out and butcher just one. I am not at all against it. I am hoping to add some meat birds later on down the road. But one step at a time. If you are experienced or knows someone who is, then butchering could be an option for you.

I am on the fenced about getting rid of Lil Baby. He is the trouble maker and he is the one that dislikes my daughter. She loves being with them. So most likely I am going to try to trade or sell him.

So my conclusion is a rooster is not necessary, but some people like them while others don’t. I don’t see Ninja going anywhere. He is the sweetest little thing I have ever seen. So much smaller than a normal rooster; probably a bantam. And just keeps to himself and treats the girls very nicely. I most likely won’t have fertilized eggs anymore, but that is a price I will pay. I can always order more chicks or go to local feed store!

DSC_0236

So tired

DSC_0237

So very very tired

DSC_0238

I’m awake!

DSC_0235

Darn wind!