4 months ago….

4 months ago I planned on making this blog a priority. I was going to write more and get back to my old self. I had huge plans. But of course life had different plans for me. About 5 days after my last blog post, on my birthday no less, my oldest daughter called to tell me she was expecting. Not the birthday present I wanted or anticipated. A few weeks later, she came down for a visit with her boyfriend and they stayed for a couple of weeks. She is doing okay. But they are not prepared for a baby in anyway and that scares me. But it is what it is. I am still not ready to be called Grandma though. My hubby is running around telling everyone who will listen and I can’t even wrap my head around it quite honestly. Especially when I still would like to have another child myself. I am only 35 and even though my girls are older, I don’t feel like I am in the Grandparent stage of my life yet. But I guess I better get there because the little one will be here in about 5 months.

Brianna, my special needs daughter, has been doing great. She found this awesome school and even manage to get straight A’s twice! These are things she never thought she would accomplish. Public school always mainstreamed her and labeled her as a bad child. But then we found Hope Learning Ranch Academy. And everything was wonderful…..until it wasn’t. Politics and money got in the way of the true mission. Power hungry people came in and took over the school and pushed out the founding members. It’s an autistic school. They don’t handle change well. And for these students to come to school on a Thursday and have everyone they felt comfortable with gone was completely unacceptable. Then a few days later they changed the entire set up of the office. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! Kids were melting down and couldn’t handle it. Needless to say a lot of parents removed their children opting to homeschool the last 7 weeks of school. I was one of those. Brianna is now home with me. But still has contact with all of her friends. And the founding members are working hard to set up a new school for us parents who will not return to Hope Ranch.

Brianna also has got a little volunteer job. She goes to a horse rescue and cleans the stalls and grooms the horses. She absolutely loves it and feels like she is being a normal functioning person. And that’s all she really wants is to feel normal. But with all that said, she has been having more medical issues popping up that we are in the process of figuring out. Behavior wise, she has been amazing. But now she is having memory issues, stomach issues, full body tics. Hopefully by the end of the month we will have some answers.

My middle daughter is doing great also. She is really becoming an adult more and more everyday. She has been working with Hubby in the his cabinet business. And takes culinary classes twice a month. So it will be interesting to see which one she pursues.

Now an update on Little Man. Oh my goodness…what can I say about him other than he is going to be the death of me. LOL He just knows he is spoiled and runs this roost. So he’s starting to get a little mouthy but I chalking that up to the fact that he’s 7 1/2 and he has teenage sisters that he learns it from. But he is also smart…too smart. He is going to give me a run for my money homeschooling him. This school year he could barely read, then he decided I am going to learn to read. This very moment he is sitting next to me reading a chapter book that he is almost finished and just started reading yesterday. He is a wiz at video games and Minecraft. And he has been making a lot of friends at our homeschool group meetups. This was a kid that a year ago I couldn’t get him to even talk to anybody. Yesterday we had a family picnic with families from Brianna’s school. I never even saw the kid. He played and got along with everybody of any age.

Now an update on my little farm. I am very proud of myself. I have managed to control my chicken craze and have just 2 roosters and 12 hens. All of the babies that I have hatched this year I have sold. And I have even been selling a good amount of eggs. I still have my 3 ducks. The girls haven’t been laying much but I keep them around anyways. Dakota is trying to convince me to get more ducklings and Brianna is trying to convince me to get her some bantam chicks. But I am resisting temptation. After last year and all the illnesses and loss, I feel like I have a healthy flock and I am nervous to do anything to mess up that balance.

I do have a lot of projects that I am going to start working on once I get past all these medical appointments. I am turning a small playhouse into a duck house. I am hoping to get my neighbors bigger playhouse and turn that into another chicken coop. My plan is to move my chickens so my original chicken area can regrow the grass and get some chicken friendly plants in there. I am remodeling my garden and changing it into a beautiful raised garden area. I also want to get a meat chicken pen ready to raise meatbirds in the fall. I am hoping to have all of these projects done by the end of summer and ready for the fall planting season. Right now I have sweet potatoes and some okra sprouts that I just planted.

BTW I just want to note that Dakota had his book done before I got this blog post done. YIKES! I’m in trouble.

Good Riddance 2016

2016 was probably one of the hardest years I’ve ever had. I had a lot of changes come in my life and a lot of turmoil.

My oldest daughter finished her senior year of high school. But never it made it to her graduation day before leaving the state to live with my brother-in-law and his family. This was hard. I felt like she hated me. And like I was a failure or a suck ass mother. I mean it’s already hard when your kids grow up and don’t need you anymore. But for her to leave like she did was gut wrenching. BUT I am happy to report that in the last few months, we’ve had more contact. We’ve had some really great conversations and she sounds amazingly happy. Happy like I’ve never heard her before. She is so happy that she has booked a ticket to come down and visit us in a few weeks!!!

Then 2 weeks later, I lost my Grandaddy. My Grandaddy was 95 years old. And I know everyone will think well he lived a long life. I know that….but my heart still misses my crazy old man. He was a strong father figure for me. I treasure every memory that I have of the 34 years I had with him. He always made me laugh even when I was crying. We had a memorial for him and I froze when it was my turn to share a memory. I had so many that I didn’t even know where to start. I have to admit that I was angry after his death. Very angry. And I’m not sure why. I just…I don’t know always thought of him as immortal. Everlasting! But he lives on…in my brother and me. Hell, at the hospital while we were in the waiting room waiting for news, we were pushing buttons and cracking jokes and getting in trouble. Just like our Grandaddy would expect us too. As we said good-bye, we told him that we were going to be okay and that it was okay to go be with Grandmom. And to not worry we will give our mom hell just like he always did.

A few weeks later, my youngest daughter started having issues with her meds. She was mentally unstable for months. She was running away and having meltdowns that would last for days. She became overly obsessed with her friend. It was a living nightmare. I really didn’t think I was going to survive it. My family didn’t think I was going to survive. My mother in law thought I was going to have a nervous break down and my mom thought I was in danger of having a stroke one time. But great news, we have switched meds and things have been wonderful for the last 3 months. She is stable and much happy and peaceful than she had been in forever. She has also started school at an Autistic school and she is thriving. Never has she loved school as much as she does at Hope Learning Ranch. She even made honor roll and student of the month. She has never had that kind of praise in a regular education school. The school is a little bit of a drive everyday…. twice a day. But completely worth it to see her thrive.

Business was rough there for a while. We actually didn’t even know if we were going to be able to have a Christmas for our kids. But jobs started coming in and we finished the year strong. We had a lot of down periods but they came at times in our lives when our attention needed to be somewhere else.

On the homesteading front, we had a lot of lost. Every time we turned around we were losing a chicken to a disease. I realized that I hadn’t been putting in my most effort and was half assing their care. I went back to organic feed and back to my cleaning schedule like I use too. I ordered one last batch of chicks and I am happy to report that I have not lost one chicken since then. They are all thriving and doing fantastic. I also have my rainbow eggs like I always said I wanted!

So yes 2016 is a year I don’t wish to relive anytime soon.I may have even shed tears at midnight. Tears of relief that I made it. Tears of sadness for the ones who didn’t. And tears of happiness for what’s to come in the new year.   It was also a year of learning, growing and changing. And when you are Growing a large family….that is expected and even welcomed.

Happy new year!

 

Introducing Zorro

One day Hubby came home talking about this puppy. Who was not really a puppy…he was 9 months old. He was potty trained and well behaved. So I caved and we went and got the puppy. Everything was great and then Max met our other dogs and everything went crazy. Our Golden retriever was terrified of him. And Max had short course hair that made me and my daughter itch. And Max’s Mama missed him. So we gave him back to his original owner and all was right in the world.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about getting another puppy. One that I could train to be a livestock dog. And one that was protective. Now don’t get me wrong I love my Harley, but he is ranked number 2 as friendliest dog and he’s more of a lover than a fighter. I really wanted a LGD, Livestock Guardian Dog, but those are really expensive. So I found an ad on Craigslist for mixed breed puppies. Mama is a golden retriever and Daddy was a Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix. Perfect, may not be full bred but the LGD is in there. And I specifically wanted the long hair so I wouldn’t itch. When we got there, she had 3 males left. Hubby had given me a hard time about them being mixed that the one we really wanted was spoken for. But just to be sure we waited around. The other long hair puppy he didn’t like the color of the fur. And then the last one was a short haired black and white puppy. But the hair wasn’t course, it was so soft.

While we waited to see if the other people would show up for the fluffy puppy, this one puppy just kept staring at me. Sitting so nicely, very alert and calm….just watching me. I feel like he knew he was going to be the one we took home.

Quick side note: A week before was my Grandaddy’s memorial. My Grandaddy loved dogs. He always had at least one. He also loved his grandpups when he would come over to my house they would go crazy.

So looking at this puppy, it almost felt like my Grandaddy sent this puppy to me.

I am happy to introduce our newest family member, Zorro!

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This adorable puppy has come into our family already knowing his place as king. He loves playing with our other dogs. He has no fear and was immediately comfortable being here. He hates his cage and will bark to death until he is let out. I like to say he is a people puppy. If people are home, he wants to be around them. This makes potty training really hard but he is getting there.

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He just fits right in with the rest of this crazy bunch.

Lets be real here…..

I am just going to come out and say it….reading other blogs whether it be about parenting, homeschooling or homesteading, makes me feel like a lazy shit hole person.

BOOM! There it is!! That is the God’s honest truth.

I see everyone happy, living life and raising a happy, healthy family.  And I am over here like where’s the blog post about your out of control teenagers or about the stress of being a special needs parent???

Lets be real….no one’s life is perfect. But when you are having a hard time with your life and all you read is sunshine and unicorns riding over rainbows, it just makes it that much more worse.

I follow TONS of blogs on Facebook, Pinterest and through email. Not one post about how they locked themselves in the bathroom and cried while drinking some pina colada!!!

They are making these beautiful dishes of food, with their perfect kids who are all absolutely perfect, living in their perfect house with their perfect husband.

BLAH!!!! Bologna!!!!

Even the special needs blogs never post about the bad days!

WHY NOT??? Maybe you make someone feel like they are not alone. And that your life is not the only one in chaos. Maybe you can be encouragement or even find encouragement in others to continue on. Keep going on your journey. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

So Lets be real here…..

Raising a family is hard……

Raising a special needs child is hard as hell….

Raising 3 teenage girls is even harder……

Raising 2 children who are not biologically yours is hard…..

Keep yourself sane is the biggest challenge……

While trying not to kill your significant other because he’s the only one who gets it and would understand when you lash out at him…..

Starting a homestead is hard……

Homeschooling is a wonderful and hard at the same time………

I do all of these things. And the last 2 months of my life….no the last 6 months of my life have tried my patience and my love for my family and my husband.

I am not going to lie. I wanted to run and never look back. I still have days like those.

I have days where the thought of waking up and getting out of bed terrifies me for fear of what the day and my special needs child will bring.

When someone in your family has a mental illness it affects EVERYONE!!! Life is hell right now.

I have been special needs shamed…..I have heard everything from I am the reason she is like this to not doing enough to wanting to ship her off and forget about her.

Listen here…. Never in my life have I ever fought for anything more than the children in my life regardless of if they came from my body or not.

But it takes a person..a mother with a huge heart and strong will to say I am not what my child needs right now!!!

Here’s the truth on my life….

My oldest daughter needed a change of scenery. She needed a reality check that she was not going to get from us. She is 18 and made the decision to move across the country.

This in turn has sent my youngest daughter, my special needs child, into some kind of breakdown. We can’t control her, she is a danger to herself and has lost all touch of reality. I cry daily, I fight daily and I feel defeated daily. We have 1 doctor and 2 therapist and I am getting no where. This is not only affecting us but our neighbors because she is dragging them into it by running over there every time she gets mad.

I can barely eat or sleep. I am having anxiety and every morning I start shaking when I know she awake because I know it’s coming. My son is scared every time she throws her tantrums. His little heart starts racing and he begins to cry. My husband is having aches and pains that get worse the more she argues and fights.

I need help. We need help. We keep asking for help. But keep getting no where.

Where are the blog post that show you just how hard it is to raise teenagers, special needs, step children or even keep a happy marriage?

If you can’t be real on your blog, where can you be real at?

I didn’t write this for sympathy or to get people upset. I just needed to be real and vent.

So if you made it to the end, thanks for listening.

Life on the funny farm

It has been anything but funny around here. More like chaotic, overwhelming, stressful and a nightmare.

It all started with homestead problems. Our well started pumping sand. So that was a month before we could get our new one dug and an unexpected expense. Then we had one chicken problem after another, from incubators not holding temperature to sick chicks from a feed store. UGH you name it; it happened. There was a lot of lost on the homestead.

Then started the personal problems.

My oldest daughter moved across the country. It was for the best. She needed a reality check and she wasn’t getting it with Mom and Dad. So she moved in with my brother-in-law and his family. But it wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

Hubby’s business just died! Nothing for almost 2 months.

Then my granddaddy suddenly passed away. It was a long 2 days of being at the hospital. He went from walking, talking and living on his own to relying on a ventilator in a matter of 12 hours.

At the same time, we were in the middle of a huge homestead fence project. Thankfully, my hubby wasn’t working and he was able to be there for the kids and work on the project while I took care of what I had to do.

Then my special needs daughter start having a rough time. I guess it’s all too much for her. Too much change; too fast. So we found an autistic school that she will be attending next school year. That will give me a break and her something to do.

Next was my son’s unexpected surgery. He came through like a champ. But Momma was a wreck.

Now we are nearing the end of our fence project. My son is healing nicely. Hubby’s phone is ringing. And Brianna is getting ready for school.

So there’s an abbreviation of the past 3-4 months of my life.

It was anything but funny!

 

Home Cooked~ Book Review

Home Cooked~Anya Fernald

Unfortunately, Home Cooked by Anya Fernald came into my life at a time full of chaos. I didn’t have a chance to actually cook anything from it. But am so excited to add it to my collection. As a homesteader, this is going to be a great book to help me once we start raising our own meat. This book had everything from making your own broths and pasta to fresh tomato risotto.

But the recipe that I got the most excited about was rendering lard. Just days before this book arrived, I was saying how I wanted to make my own lard that I can use to season my cast iron. My family hates the smell of the store-bought stuff. So this is the recipe I will be trying as soon as possible. Along with the homemade pasta, just another thing I’ve been dying to learn.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Spring Garden

It’s already getting hot in Florida. But my spring garden is looking fantastic.

I have to admit I have been giving myself pats on the back for this one. I am so proud.

I love just looking at it and admiring its beauty.

I have had gardens in the past. But this one takes the cake!

These pictures are from April 21st.

Left side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Watermelon

Watermelon

Watermelon with a fly

Watermelon with a fly

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

Nibbles always waits by the fence when his Mama is in the garden.

Nibbles always waits by the fence when his Mama is in the garden.

Right Side of the garden

Right Side of the garden

Right side of the garden

Right side of the garden

Back in the fall, my right side of the garden looked great and my left side was still getting prepped. But as you can see the left just exploded this season. These are pictures from this morning.

Growing a large family

Pea pods

Pea pods

Right side of the garden

Right side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Watermelon

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

Pickling cucumbers

Pickling cucumbers

Watermelon

Watermelon

Corn

Corn

Green Beans

Green Beans

Pineapple

Pineapple

I am definitely not done. I want to get some wild flowers planted. Oh I also forgot to take pictures of the milkweed with butterfly eggs on it. Brianna is so excited. But the heat is getting bad so I don’t how long some of these plants will last. Summers in Florida is like a winter up north. You can’t plant anything; it’s too hot and too rainy. I will be conditioning my soil during that season and prepping for a huge fall garden.

I am even thinking of another expansion. One in a more shady area to grow plants that can’t handle a lot of heat and sun.

I love Springtime

I love the holidays. But I LOVE springtime more than the holidays.

Especially when it is chick days at all the local feed stores.

I told myself that I would be good.

I tried really, REALLY hard. But if you read my last post I was going through a funk. And I needed some joy.

Well baby chicks and ducks give me joy! LOTS OF JOY!!!

So we ( meaning me) have been adding to our flock.

We added 2 more Pekins. I know one is a girl for sure. And I am hoping the other is a boy. Right now I am 75% sure it is.

Pekin Ducks~Growing a large family

Then I added 6 Lavender Ameraucanas. These were straight run, meaning boys and girls, so I bought all 6 in hopes I have at least one girl. These chickens lay blue eggs. I love these chicks. I bought them from a local breeder. And they are the friendliest chicks I have ever had. We use to enjoy morning coffee together until Hubby said they had to go outside. I was sad to see them move. But now they are free and they run up to me and after me. I just love it. I know there are some roosters in there and it’s going to be so sad when I see them go. But luckily I have a local connection to get more.

Lavendar Ameraucanas~Growing a Large Family    Lavender Ameraucanas~ Growing a Large Family

Next came, my birthday present. All 29 of them! I order 27 female chicks from a hatchery. They sent me a free chick and an extra. But then I lost a few to stress, so now I have 26. All different kinds of chickens with all different egg colors. That is really my goal this year, I want to taste the rainbow of eggs from my backyard.

Last (for now), I had sold my car and was cooped up in the house for a couple of weeks. So when I got a new car I was gone! I somehow took a field trip with the kids to all the feed stores and ended up an hour away at Rural King. And they had barred rocks, like my Midnight. We had to get some. I thought we had 8 and it was actually 9; 3 Barred Rock, 3 Gold Sexlink, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Phoenix and 1 Egyptian Fayoumi. And a few days later, my daughter and I went to local farm event. And she ended up making friends with a family selling Jersey Giant Chicks. I paid for 1; we came home with 3!

This is Roman. Roman was suppose to be a Rosa, but tricked us all.

This is Roman. Roman was supposed to be a Rosa, but tricked us all.

As I type, because I had some eggs hatching over the weekend, we are up to 87 chickens. I know that I can’t keep all 87, but my hubby is worried that I don’t understand that. But I swear, I am in the process of listing and selling some of them.

Because I gotta make room for my next batch shipping in June!

 

Culling on our homestead

When you are running a homestead or farm, there are circumstances that are beyond your control. You are pretty much running an all you can eat buffet for predators. And then there is fighting amongst your own animals. Maybe an aggressive rooster or a crazy turkey. Basically things happen. And finding a vet that will treat poultry is extremely hard and will most likely cost more than the animal is worth. Sometimes culling an animal is necessary.

I was lucky enough to make it a couple of years before it became necessary on my homestead. Yes, I lost hens. But we let them go naturally. Which now I realize was wrong and I probably should have put them out of their misery. To my defense, I suggested it, but hubby and the kids were not on board with it.  And I wasn’t sure how to do it anyways.

Well a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to a homestead knowledge swap put on by a Facebook group. There they had demonstrations on how to process meat chickens, turkeys and ducks. So I did see a couple of different ways to cull a bird.

Then I was talking to a friend about one of my ducks. And we both agree it had neurological problems and should be culled.

A few days went by and I kept putting it off. But one morning, I looked out and saw her just standing there. She is 1/4 of the size of the other ducks her own age. She never eats. She walks in circles and runs into things. She doesn’t even swim like a normal duck. Plus Nibbles, my male duck, kept chasing her and trying to hurt her. It was sad.

I grabbed my broomstick determine to do it myself before any kids woke up. I got the duck which was easier than I thought. I laid her down and she looked at me like I’m ready just do it. But then I looked around and Harley was watching me. And then Nibbles came over harassing me and her. SO I couldn’t do it.

Later that morning, I was telling my kids about it. And Brianna, my special needs child who actually attended and participated in the demo, said I’ll do it Mom.

Disclaimer: so this is the point of the post that you don’t want to read while eating, drinking, driving or standing up. Because what I am about to tell you is the god honest truth and you will be laughing hilariously by the time I am done. And I don’t want to be responsible for anyone spitting their coffee on the computer, choking, crashing or falling down and hurting themselves. 

Ok so later that afternoon, Brianna and I go out with our broomstick. She catches the duck and we take it out of the chicken area, to the top of our drain hill in our front yard. The whole time I am telling her that we should probably go in the backyard area and she is reassuring me that its fine and will be quick. Did I mention it’s about the time that everyone comes home for work?!

So we start the process but Brianna and her skinny mini self doesn’t weigh enough to stand on the broomstick and pull the ducks feet at the same time. SO I stand on the broomstick and she is pulling. After about 10 minutes of this and the duck looking at us like For Goodness sake can’t you just do it already!?! She tells me to stand right there and she leaves me…..standing on a broomstick over a ducks neck……in the front yard…..at 6pm. She then comes out the backdoor with my largest kitchen knife and a bag. “Don’t worry Mom I’ll just cut its neck!”

Now let me take a moment for those of you who don’t know my child she is LOUD. Like the whole neighborhood can hear you and I live in the country loud.

So I keep shushing her every 5 seconds. She comes over cuts its neck like a serial killer and stands there in the front yard holding the bleeding duck upside down. While I keep look out and tell Brianna put it down someones is coming down the road, hide the duck. And she proceeds to tell me as she is shaking this duck upside down “its fine Mom, everyone does it!”

“No Brianna, not everyone does it!” I am at this point dying inside because I can’t believe this is my life and I can’t believe my daughter is the one having to do this and I am the one freaking out.

So she says its gone and puts it in the bag. And hands the bag to me. She then walks away to go get the hose. And the duck and the bag start moving. I threw the bag in the air and yelled “Brianna it’s moving” as I am running away from the bag. She comes over lifts the duck up and says its dead just the muscles dying. And then finishes getting cleaned up.

OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO!

 

 

 

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