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Monday, January 16, 2012

All about Chickens and their eggs

We have learned alot while doing this whole homesteading thing. One lesson has been about these little beauties. I wish I could relay to you how much I really like chickens. I love the different varieties, shapes, and sizes. I am really getting interested now in the different shades of color their eggs can be. I am looking at adding Lavendar Orpingtons and Marans to my little flock to get some more color variation in my eggs.
Speaking of eggs.......
I really like it when we are getting eggs. However, for the last 2-3 months we have not been getting a SINGLE egg. I was ready to throw the whole batch out and start with new chickens. Our first problem was that I got a whole new batch of chickens in Nov. 2010. They and my older chickens all started a serious molt in about October. That slowed down egg production. Then came the shorter days and my egg production STOPPED. I wanted to scream. The whole time my husband was telling me it's ok, this is natural but all I could think is I am paying for feed.
We made the decision when we first started with chickens, about 6 years ago, that we would not use an artificial light. We just think that if God wanted them to have a break then we should give them a break. Chickens need 14 hours of daylight to lay.
I tell you though when you hear from other blogs and friends that they are eating farm fresh eggs in December it makes you want to go stand in the coop with a flashlight for a couple of hours. ha ha
But then all of a sudden it's like God flipped a switch in these little beauties and you go out to the coop to see this......

On, Jan. 9th, we got our first egg. I was singing the praises.

The next day we went out and got 4, and then 5, and then 6 and so on and so on. As of today, a week later, we have gotten 44 eggs. I still stand in amazement of the working of the hands of God through His creation on the farm. I am giddy with excitement at the site of this full egg basket. I am also going to try and keep a calendar record of how many eggs the girls lay and when. So that next year, I can reflect and know that it wont be long until my girls start laying.

How could I have ever doubted them?!!

By the way I want to leave a link to my oldest daughter's blog. She amazes me daily and I hope that she can encourage you too.

"He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea.... By his breath the skies become fair.... And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! How then can we understand the thunder of his power?" Job 26:7-9, 11-14

I am linking this post up to the Barn Hop #45


Saturday, January 7, 2012

When and Why did you decide to "homestead"/farm?

This was the question that was posed to a group that I am in on Facebook. I have quite a long answer, so I decided to blog about it......

My husband and I have been married for almost 22 years. The first 5 were tough. We were so young but we made it through. We were saved by the grace of God when our oldest daughter was about 2. We then proceeded for the next 15 years to live the "American Dream". You know the one where you make more money to buy more stuff. That was us. My husband was a local building contractor and he built the best, most beautiful houses for others and for us. We would build a house, sell it and then build a better one. We always had a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, with the best car in the driveway. Then May of 2004 hit us......

Let me start here by saying that my husband joined the Army at 17 years old in 1986. He served 3 years in Germany and then came home and joined the Ms. Army National Guard. Even though he was making plenty of money he still stayed in the following years, one, because he loved it and two, because he always felt we needed the retirement plan. Well, in 2004 his number was called. We always knew it could happen. He was called up for an 18 month deployment to Iraq. For most that means you go in and tell your employer you'll see them in 18 months and they have to honor that. Not so, for the self employed.

For us this meant he had to hurry to finish the houses he had started and then figure out what to do. We were some of the few families who made more at our real job than we would during deployment. So we ended up selling our really nice house, selling my husbands really nice truck, and down sizing big time. We rented a small house out in the country on 10 acres. All I can say is the bug got a hold of us big time......

While my husband was gone both of us started reading about all of the things we could do with this land. Neither one of us had ever lived in the country. It was freeing in a sense and so peaceful. When he came home from Iraq, we weren't quite sure what we were going to do for a job. He really didn't want to start from scratch in the building trade (it was so tough the first time) and about that time the housing market took a nose dive.

God was so good to open up a position full time with the Guard and it has been a blessing for our family. We moved about an hour and a half away from our home town and bought a small house on about 8 acres. It's not quite the beauty that we had become accustomed to but it is my favorite house!! My children say really??? when I say that but it's true. We have done lots of work to it and have lots to go.

Soon after coming home, my husband bought our children their first horse. Then came a handful of chickens. With the chickens, came the desire to live a more self sustained existence. It has been a slowwww process but it is a process nonetheless. Now, we grow a huge garden, ofwhich, we can and freeze the surplus. We have 27 chickens and 2 roosters. I get to gift friends and family with a ton of eggs in the spring. We raise 2 feeder pigs every year for our freezer. We cull our extra roosters for our freezer. We have just gotten our first cow, MaeBelle. She, Lord willing, will be our milk cow in about 18 months. We have our first St. Croix ram and hope to get him a couple of ewes in the Spring. The men in our family took a bee keeping class last spring and added 2 bee hives to our little farmette. Hopefully, we will be harvesting honey this spring/summer. We hope to add meat chickens to the homestead this year and a couple of steers. We also hope to add a rotational grazing system. The new challenges and experiences here on the homestead are never ending and we love every minute of them.

It may not be the "American Dream" but it is the dream we never knew we had until the unexpected happen. We are so thankful for the unexpected!!!

*****I will be linking this post up to Barn Hop #44*****


Saturday, December 24, 2011


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's been over 2 months and......

Things have been crazy busy around here the past couple of months. We have been dealing with a rather personal medical issue and then it just seemed like one thing after another and here we are.
The farm animals have been growing and life is just moving along.

Out of 15 turkeys we had 5 to live. I just could not imagine processing any of them after having such a hard time keeping them alive. We ended up sending one gobbler and 2 hens to my mother's and keeping 1 hen and 1 gobbler. However, we have decided to go ahead and process the one gobbler and take the remaining hen to my mother's. We are just not turkey people. One thing is they will not stay in confinement and we do not have fences high enough to keep them in. The other thing is they are a huge mess when they get on my porches. I know that sounds petty but it is what it is and I like clean porches when I rock in my rocking chair and overlook my little farm. :)
They are beautiful though!

Here's Phoebe. She is still our favorite farm animal and we love her!

Ramsey is doing his funniest move here. He is sniffing the air. Cracks me up everytime.

MaeBelle has been growing by leaps and bounds. She is still just as tame and loves us. Don't you love the hot pink halter?
And there's a snippet of one of our little pink pigs. They seem to be filling out overnight. They are still just sweet, sweet, and I can't imagine processing them but Lord willing, they are going to get nice and fat and we will be ready for them to leave. :)

Our chicken who had babies, have all grown up. Six out of the seven babies lived and 3 of them were roosters. Needless to say, we needed no more roosters around here. So 3 of the roosters were processed for our Thanksgiving dressing. They served our family well.

Here's the main man getting the water ready to plunge the chickens in to loosen their feathers.

This is our "make do" killing cone.

One thing that is taking up a big chunk of our time is our little local homeschool group started a boy's basketball team. We were looking for something more local for our son to participate in sports wise. We feel sports are very important for him. Learning to be part of a team and leadership skills are invaluable but we will still want to keep the integrity of our homeschool lifestyle. This has been a blessing.

The Scott County Flames
Our Peyton is #4. They aren't winning lots of games but they are having a great time. :)
Here's a snippet of our Christmas decorations.
Our Tree

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care......

This would be my all time favorite nativity scene. I love it!! It sits on top of my grandmother's original singer sewing machine. I need to put that thing to use.

The kids got together with some of our local homeschool friends and made gingerbread houses. It was a ton of fun and we all had a great time.

I am linking this post up to Barn Hop #40.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Very inspiring girl of mine......

My 19 almost 20 year old daughter writes some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring notes. This is her recent work that she has been working on for about 3 months. I would love for you to read it. I only wish I had her maturity and wisdom at her very tender age.



Monday, September 19, 2011


Here's a quick video clip of our...... drum roll please....... MayBelle. It took us a while to come up with a name but it's perfect for her. She is just the most fun cow. If there could be such a thing. We are currently working on halter and lead rope training. She is not loving the halter but she does tolerate it. :)

I also want to tell you about a great giveaway over at Life on A Southern Farm. They are giving away another 3 hole Hen Pals nesting box. We currently have the 6 hole nesting box and love, love, love it. I hope I win the 3 hole, as well. :)

I will also be linking this post to the Barn Hop.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sometimes Dreams and Plans do Come to Fruition.....

After years of research and careful planning the day has come.......

Checking things out.

The horses were quite curious as to what we have managed to bring home now.

My honey brought the kennel in the barn and you would have thought the little girl would have run out after her long ride but no. She was timid.

Here's the man of my dreams trying to coax our new little addition out of the kennel. I tell you that kennel is getting quite the work out and it has yet to see a dog. :)

Whew, she finally came out and immediately started sniffing out her surroundings. She is a curious little thing. So far she seems very bright eyed and energetic. She is only 5 days old but was with her mom for 4 full days. Lord willing, she has gotten a good start and we will have no problems.

If you look real closely you can see the sweetest little tongue. Oh, she just melts my heart. By the way, she doesn't have a name yet....... Any suggestions? I always wanted a Jersey Cow named Butter Bell but she doesn't look like a Butter Bell. Our short list right now is Heidi, Bell, Elsie, and Anna Bell.

Oh, wow, isn't she just beautiful? I can't tell you how excited I am about this little missy.

As many of you know, we are all into self sufficiency and preparedness. Well, most of the animals have been things that my husband has been really excited about. For the last 2-3 yrs. I have been researching keeping a family cow. I have really wanted one, but for a good tame family cow, they are quite expensive. So it has always been on the back burner. Then today, we drove about an hour away and picked up this little beauty. She is half Jersey and half holstein. She will eventually be our family milk cow. It will take probably 2 yrs. but in the mean time we will be training her to be the best most gentle milk cow ever and I could not be happier!!! This little farmstead is really starting to take shape.

***** Don't forget to give us your name suggestions******

Monday, August 22, 2011

Castrating our little piggies....

I really debated long and hard over doing this post. I would much rather be doing a post on new window coverings or something but this is real life on the mini farm. We are what I am calling Google farmers. We have no real knowledge of this life but are winging it all with the help of lots of Google searches.
As many of you know, we are all into raising everything we eat. That includes animals. We have been raising pigs for the last two years. However, in the past we have always made a point to get females because we didn't want to mess with castration. This go round we could not find a single female feeder pig. What a dilemma!!! My honey, Mr. I wanna be a real farm man, decided I can do this. So we brought home two of the cutest little pink pigs that were MALE.

Well, today was the day. After, much research the boys dug in. The pictures aren't great because I didn't even go out there. My Lindsey took all of the pictures. She is a girly, girly, girl but will get all in the middle of anything the boys have going on. It's too funny.

First, they caught the little pigs and put them in the pet carrier to hold them while waiting. They then laid one little pig in an old wheel barrow and held him tight. They cleaned the sac with soap and water. Little pigs are dirty, dirty and we do not want infection.

They are proceeding to make the first very small slit in the testicular sac of one of our little piggies. My son has a very tight hold on our little man.

Here they have already cut the very small slit and are pushing the testical through the slit.

Here's the testical out of the sac. They are about to make a clean cut to seperate the testical. (I know TMI) UGHHH!

They did this on both sides of both pigs. After finishing with each pig, they cleaned the whole sac with iodine to ward off infection.

A few notable things about the whole process were, our pigs did not squeal much like we had seen in videos. My son even wore ear plugs just in case but they really weren't that bad. I don't know if it's because ours are more tame or what. Also, there is little to no bleeding and now the pigs are back in the pasture running around like usual. One is a little slower and stiffer but I am amazed at how well they are doing. Praise the Lord!! God is merciful!!

~~~O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. 1 Chronicles 16:34 ~~~

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Old McDonald had a farm......

Today, we added the second of two pretty pink pigs (Large Whites) to the farm. We got the first one last week. The big draw back on these little sweeties is they are male...... Which means one day this week my honey and my boy will be castrating little piggies. They have never done this themselves before and I will be doing some serious praying!!
In the past we have kept our pigs in a pen and have fed them out before processing them.
We are excited to have this portion of pasture fenced in and our little piggies are now out rooting it all up. Our goal is to have everything we raise here and everything we eat, to be free range grass fed. Here are all of the reasons why: The Amazing Benefits of Grassfed Meat

And here's our little Ramsey. He is definitely becoming all male. I don't really like that part but I guess that's what you have to have if you want to breed sheep. UGH......

And here is the true Old McDonald had a farm or what we affectionately know it as, Mr. Ronnie's farm. We love it!!! We fenced in a pasture right behind the garden area and we now have the turkeys, pretty pink pigs, Phoebe (pot belly), and last but not least Ramsey our St. Croix ram living back there.

We don't intend on keeping them all together forever. We plan to put the pink pigs in their own pasture behind the barn in a few months. Most of the turkeys will be making it to the freezer in October/November. Ramsey will also get his own little pasture, as soon as we get the ewes in the Spring. However, having them all together right now really works, not to mention, it is so entertaining out there. You can see our Retriever/ Lab mix, Daisy, wishes she could join in on the fun. We have been giving them all of the rotting left overs of the garden. They are loving it. This evening they got some watermelon, pears, and muscadines. As soon as I get everything I want out of my garden, which is going to be real soon, I hope to put the little pigs on the garden spot for a couple of months. I want them to root up all of the weeds, to their little hearts content. I am hoping that will help out our weed problem, which has been TERRIBLE this year.

I plan on linking this post up to the Preparedness Challenge and the Barn Hop over at Homestead Revival, one of my all time favorite blogs.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting prepared

If there were ever a reason to get somewhat prepared for things to come this might be a good one. We have been on a track of getting ourselves more and more self sufficient and more and more we see that it's the right track to be on.

~~The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3~~
~~ The sluggard does not plow in the Autumn; he will seek at the harvest and have nothing. Proverbs 20:4~~