Back to me

A wise but VERY OLD man once told me that I need to keep doing the things I love because that is what’s going to keep me sane.

Well my Dad was absolutely right!

And I am making a point to do things that I loved to do before my world imploded. A few years ago, I fought depression and anxiety. It hit me hard and out of the blue. It took a lot to pull myself out of it. But I did it without drugs or therapy. I worked on the internal me.

Well this year has been nothing but a bunch of bumps in the road. And I have moments where I can feel the anxiety and depression starting to creep back in. This time instead of hiding it from my family, I am very vocal in saying I am having a bad day. It also feels good to have a great support system in the chaos called my life. My family, all of them, have been amazing!

But now it’s time for me to get back to being me.

First things first. Clearing my calendar. You should see all the things written on it. Doctors appointments, homeschool activities, Brianna’s school activities…etc. I have to slow down. I have been on the go constantly for 4 months now. And I feel it hitting me.

So October we are starting to slow down.

I need to be home in order to have a homestead. My garden has suffered. My chickens have suffered. My wallet and health has suffered.

I enjoy doing things with my kids. But I am also an introvert, which means I honestly enjoy a relaxing day at home more.

The last few weeks I have made the effort to do something for me. I have cooked more. I cleaned out my chicken coop and started going back to the old way of taking care of them, instead of my lazy way. And I even read a book!

The difference I feel is incredible and I am going to keep on this path of getting back to me.

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!

 

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!

 

April is here

I feel like screaming too!

I feel like screaming too!

 

We flipped another page in our calendar. Can you believe it’s already April!? But it’s here and so far is looking like a slower month for me. I truly need that and will try my hardest to limit activities this month. Since January, I feel like all I have done is run errands, go to doctor appointments or have some kind of activity to get the kids too. My spring break wasn’t even a break.

I am an introvert. So by nature this kind of schedule has been hard for me. But one of my new years resolutions was to be more present for my kids. And so far I have been doing it. I’ve been saying yes to activities and not coming up with excuses why we can’t go. My anxiety has been under control which has been so nice. We’ve been enjoying life.

But this mom needs a little slow down. I think that is good for everyone. No matter what kind of person they are.

I want to dig my hands in the dirt. Hang out with my chickens. And complete some projects I keep putting off.

I also feel this is a good time to get our eating and budget habits back on track. I have to admit since the holidays I feel like it’s been nothing but sweets, candy and fast food. I told you life has been crazy! But now it’s time to get back on track. With hubby’s kidney problems and our daughter’s behavioral problems, good food is very important. I have noticed a lot of behavioral issues popping up with my girl. So time to catch it before it’s out of control.

Last month, I made dinner menus for the next 3 months. So I am ahead of the game there. I also got the majority of my grocery shopping done for the month last week.

This week I am focusing on organizing and few areas of the house. While also learning how to live without some of my major appliances.

YUP! The well broke. I tell you what…you can tell it’s April because it just poured 3 days into it. We have sand mixed in with our water. And of course it happened on a Sunday. Hubby tried to fix it but couldn’t. Looks like we are looking at a new well.

Like Hubby said we take 2 steps forward and 5 back.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got the majority of our building project done that we had been working on for months.   We were planning for some other projects and business is going good. We were feeling accomplished. And now this!

My mom was here when it happened and said man, ya’ll can’t catch a break. And it’s true. This is part of living on a homestead. Fix one thing and another thing needs fixing. Mom and I walked through and talked about how to fix the fence until we have money and time to replace it.

So we can take showers. But I can’t run my dishwasher or my fancy washer. Luckily we bought a cheap old washer and will use that. I have to use bottle water for cooking or drinking. Recycling truck is going to love us this week. We are only washing pots and pans. Everything else we are using is disposable. It’s killing me. I all about reuse and limiting our garbage as much as possible.

OH well! (Pun intended) It is what it is. A few days or so; won’t kill me……I hope!

 

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

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