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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

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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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.