Archive | October 2015

Holidays upon us…week 4

Growing a large family

 

Halloween is here!!! Finally we are going to get one holiday behind us. But be prepared because Halloween always means the rest of the year is downhill!

This week is going to be easy! Finish up last-minute preparations for Halloween. If you have small children, enjoy watching their excitement over this fun holiday. I love doing crafts and making special treats leading up to the big day.

Now would also be a good time to go over safety rules with your child. Review the rules almost everyday, especially with little ones. It will take all week for it to stick in their heads.

Another thing to start doing is going through your winter clothes. Living in Central Florida, we really don’t get the freezing cold temperatures all the time. But we do get days that start off in the 30’s and finish in the 60’s. And with the El Nino this year, we are predicted to be wetter and colder. So I like to be prepared ahead of time for anything. I have had that moment of panic where I realized my kids didn’t have jackets warm enough for a 20 degree morning. It was not fun running around trying to find last-minute jackets. Mind you I did find an amazing deal on some adorable jackets, but that doesn’t mean the stress was worth it! I would also go ahead and wash the jackets, mittens, scarves and any extra blankets that might have been in storage the last few months.

Fresh Market is now taking orders for the holidays. Here is the link.

Keep on looking for gift ideas for Christmas and keep on decluttering the house. In the last month and a half, I have made several runs to Goodwill and I will probably still make a few more.

If you are one of those wonderfully crafty people that love giving handmade items, now would be the time to get started!

Be safe and have a Happy Halloween!

 

***I am in no way getting paid for the endorsement of Fresh Market. Just had a great experience and wanted to pass it along.***

 

This post is partying over at

Strangers & Pilgrims

 

 

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Cayuga Ducks

I have 2 Cayuga Ducks on my homestead right now. I love these ducks. I have 1 male and 1 female. I named them Hook and Dark Swan in honor of the show, Once upon a time.

Hook is such a sweetheart. He is one of the ducklings we hatched.

Cayuga Ducks~Growing a large family

He likes to chase after our feet and nibble at our boots. He is also very spoiled by his Mama. He always waits for his food because he knows I let him eat out of the food container. He is also very curious of everything, like my camera.

Cayuga~ Growing a large family

The male Cayugas have more green coloring on their heads than females do. Also you know a duck is a male because they will get a few feathers that flip back towards their head near their tail.

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Male Cayuga~notice coloring on head and flip tail feather

Females are also more vocal. That is how I knew my Lucky Duck was a girl. Now my female Cayuga isn’t as vocal as Lucky, but very much has the features of a girl.

Female Cayugas have darker beaks and are mostly black with very little variation in coloring. Also the biggest giveaway is no flip feather on their tail.

Dark Swan is more standoffish when it comes to people. But if you have food or treats then watch out. She pushes most of the chickens out of the way to get to them. She is more calm and doesn’t freak out when you walk near her, which some males have a tendency of doing.

Cayuga Duck~ Growing a large family

Female Cayuga~ no flip tail feather and the coloring is more on the feathers and less on the head.

For a year, I told my hubby that I wanted Pekins. They were the best ducks for my homestead. But one day, I was reading a duck magazine and when I read about Cayugas and the amazing thing they do, I had to have them.

Cayuga Egg~Growing a large Family

That is the best first egg I have ever gotten. Only the first egg comes out black then they start getting lighter in color. My one Cayuga female has been laying for a few weeks now and has laid more eggs than some of my chickens. Ducks will out lay them and keep laying during the winter.

Another exciting moment was when I found the egg in the nesting boxes! Most of the time ducks will just lay an egg where ever they want and you have to hunt it down. Not with my girl! She has laid every egg either in the nesting box, coop or run. It makes my life so much easier! Hopefully she can train any other girl ducks we get to do the same.

Duck eggs are best used for baking. It gives it a much richer taste. Some people will use duck eggs just like a chicken egg. But then others say it has more of a game taste or is much saltier, depending on your breed. I personally have only use them for baking.

And of course this……

Cayuga Eggs in Incubator~Growing a large family

 

My Hubby is going to kill me.

 

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FarmGirl Friday Blog Hop

From the Farm

The Chicken Chick

Simple Homestead Hop

 

Have fun chasing squirrels, Justice

I am not sure what is happening around here with my dogs. But it seems like this is the year for sadness.

A few months after Hubby and I moved in together he brought home 2 little kittens that the kids found at daycare. We named them Smokey and Bandit.

About 2 months before our wedding, I decided I wanted a little dog. Some how we ended up with a cocker spaniel named Justice. He did not stay little.

Fast forward 2 years, I still have the mind-set that I want a toy type of dog. We bring home Gucci, a toy poodle.

A month later, we buy a big property in the middle of the country and Hubby decides we need a big protector dog. So a month of looking leads us to get Duece, a great dane.

The end of June, we put Duece down. He was having hip problems and so much pain that he couldn’t sleep and whined most of the time. With him being such a large dog, we had a vet come and take him to put him down. My hubby and I have so much guilt about not being there with him in the last few minutes of his life. And it honestly haunts us, especially my hubby.

We got Harley, our golden retriever puppy about a month later. And we really thought we have our 3 dogs again.

We never thought this would be the year that we would lose 2 of our fur babies.

Growing a large family

A few weeks ago, Justice just wasn’t acting right. He lost all his energy, he was wheezing and breathing heavily and stopped eating. I called a vet in the morning and by that afternoon, Hubby and I were sitting on the floor saying good-bye thinking this is it. He couldn’t move and his breathing was bad. Then a few hours later, he was fine. Slow moving, but he was moving. Vet came out and said nope he’s just old. A week went by and Justice was getting worse. Because of our guilt with Duece, I took him to another vet who said he had congestion and ran some blood work which said there was an infection. So antibiotics it was. But a week later and he is still not showing any improvement. Hubby and I had said we can’t let him suffer. Let’s get through this weekend so everyone (extended family has become very attached to him) could say good-bye.

But he didn’t make it until the weekend.

Hubby found him yesterday while the kids and I were out. Hubby called and said don’t come home, I don’t want you to see this. When we did go home, Hubby was still burying him. I offered to help, but he said not until he had him covered where I couldn’t see him. I am a farm girl now. And homesteading has toughened me up. But it was sweet seeing my hubby treat me like that.

A little while later, the kids and I went out and put my flowers on his grave. Today we are making a marker for it. It’s only right because he was family too!

RIP Justice! You were the best dog ever. You loved and protected me and our family more times than I can count. Your thrill of riding in the car, or getting treats will always bring smiles to my face, especially when thinking of your little nub of a tail wagging behind you. You were our first son and will always be in our hearts.

 

This blog post participated in the Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Why I don’t make my own pumpkin puree

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I am the queen of making things from scratch. I know it’s healthy and I love the taste of homemade better than anything else. I have always been like this. I always like things better when they are homemade.

Last year I decided I was going to try to make homemade pumpkin puree. And let’s just say that is not happening again. I couldn’t find easy instructions anywhere online. So I was really winging it. Then I had problems trying to scoop the pumpkin out of the skin. And more problems trying to get it to that smooth texture that comes from a can.

It really was a hot mess. Like, no seriously, it was HOT! But I tried and really at the end of that project, I stood there and asked myself why did I think this was a good idea? I don’t even like pumpkin!

OY VEY! Sometimes the things I get in my brain, even I can’t explain it!

Why would I go through all this extra steps for something I don’t eat. Because I love my family and they love pumpkin. But in the end, the only ones to benefit from my experiment was my chickens.

So if you’re a lover of pumpkin and have found the detail instructions to make your own pumpkin puree, have a go at it. Me~I’ll stick to the can stuff. And that is probably the only time you will ever hear me say that.

 

This blog post participated in the Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Holidays upon us…week 3

Good Monday Morning ya’ll. I hope this week is so much better than last week. Maybe I can play catch up on my To-Do list. So let’s jump right into it.

Halloween: You should be pretty well prepared for this Holiday. I picked up the last 2 items I needed this past weekend. But I know some of you have kids in school and sometimes they do a Halloween party. Start thinking about what you want to donate for that. Even though we homeschool, I make a big deal out the holiday and make it feel like a fun day. We have special treats and theme lunches or breakfast. Ghost pancakes anyone?

Growing a Large Family

Throwback pictures

Those of you in neighborhoods that participate in Trick or Treating, buy your candy now. And make sure it’s candy you like! This way if it’s one of those years where not many kids came by, you aren’t stuck with a bunch of candy you can’t stand. I personally like to buy plain chocolate bars, M&M’s, Reese Pieces and peanut butter cups. Why? Because they can be frozen and made into yummy desserts throughout the whole year. I also buy lollipops or goldfish crackers for the little ones who can’t eat candy.

Thanksgiving: Make your invite list. And start putting the word out that those people are more than welcome to come over on Thanksgiving. But give them a deadline on when they need to give you a definite answer. Start thinking of your menu and what items you want to be in charge of. I am also making up my cornbread and freezing it this week for my cornbread stuffing. I am changing it up a little bit this year. I will post the recipe later in the week.

Throwback pictures

Throwback pictures

Black Friday: I added this category this week because I know a lot of people are into that day after Thanksgiving shopping. I did it once, with a 4 month old, while being exhausted and sick. Thank god my hubby and brother went with me. But since then I haven’t seen anything that has made me jump up and rush out at 3am! But I do still check the ads, which is what you should be doing too. Starting now, keep checking for Black Friday ads online here. You know everything gets leaked on the internet and these are no exception. As of this morning, there aren’t any out but you can sign up for ad alerts when they do start hitting the net. And believe me they will start coming out very soon! So why not get a heads up!?

Throwback pictures

Throwback pictures

Christmas: Maybe you aren’t the hit all the stores and get everything done the day after Thanksgiving type of person. Me neither! But I do like to shop and I like to shop in my jammies! Shopping online has become my favorite past time. And if I have to buy something why not get a little money back or points towards a gift card for myself. My 2 favorite websites for shopping is My Points and Ebates. My Points also has a store where you can buy gift cards and earn bonus points. Get an account set up and familiarize with the website and how things work. Also look for their daily deals where you can get double or triple the points. Might even see a deal you can’t pass up.

Also if you are one of those people that buy little things throughout the year (like me!) then now is the time to go through all that stuff and make a list. I always have list broken down of who I need to shop for and what I have bought them already. This year I will add an amount category.

I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am enjoying writing it. See you next Monday for week 4.

Holidays upon us…week 2

I know I am late this week, it’s just been the week from hell. Sickness, Doctor appointments and more sickness has taken over. But I finally have a chance to get week 2 posted.

Halloween: Finalize your plans and costumes! If you wait too much longer, you’re going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to find your or your child’s costume.

Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday I use the most spices. So now would be a good time to go through your spice cabinet and make a list of any that need to be replaced. This will make it easy when you see a really good sale or coupon. Another thing, I forgot to mention, sign up for Fresh Market’s emails. Last year they sent out an email to pre-order your turkey and also sent a coupon for $5 off.

Start collecting your recipes and putting them some place where you will know where they are at. This will save you time when you are making a grocery list and begin cooking on Thanksgiving.

Christmas: Just keep looking for different ideas. This year looks like it will be really tight budget wise for us, so I have already started letting people know that I am shopping for kids 18 and under only; with the exceptions of my Mom and my Mother in Law. And while we are on the subject of budgets: make one and stick to it for Christmas. This is the hardest thing for me! But I am going to try my best this year.

This is all I can think of right now. I am literally running on caffeine. I promise next week will be much better and on time.

10/15/11 and so it began

This is the day that I published my first blog post here. And since I have published 131 post. I even had one featured on World Organic News! This blog has gone from me wanting a place to write about a large family to homesteading with a large family along with all the ups and downs of homeschooling and having a special needs child. This blog has become a collection of my life. A little bit of everything I love.

I love to cook. I love my children. I love homeschooling. But I also love watching my public school child do her thing. I love homesteading. It has ignited a passion in me that I didn’t know was there. I love my husband to the ends of the earth. I will fight to the death for the needs of my special child. I love being me.

I don’t make any money from my blog. I keep saying one day I will figure it all out. And maybe I will. But until then, I will just keep rambling on and on.

But honestly, THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart for all of you that follow my blog and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Thank you to all who take the time to leave comments or even just have time to read about what I am writing about.