I have an addiction…… Chickens!!

Last fall after the county fair, I bought all the pullets (not yet egg laying female birds) that were available.  But at least 2 weren’t mature enough to know they were roosters!  Thankfully, we knew people who will take and eat them!  Can’t have too many roosters in the hen house!

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In February, a fellow chicken owning friend asked if I wanted her flock of 20 hens and a rooster as she couldn’t keep them in her new city backyard.  Of course I jumped at the chance, especially since she was selling her coop along with the chickens.   Good thing we have access to trailers!!!  Needed something to transport them.   I gifted 4 hens to Grandpa’s hired hand as he is a fellow animal lover.  As I’ve driven by his house, I’ve seen him sitting watching his own “chicken t.v.”  The new flock in our pasture is so happy running amidst the rock piles and under the Russian olives trees and scratching through straw piles.

In March, we headed to Texas to spend time with my family.  My parents live on my mom’s 66 acre ancestral farm.  My hubby D had a plan.  We were going to get a coop and chickens for my parents!!!  How could they NOT have chickens?  They lay eggs and eat any food scraps you give them.  We got them the cutest red barn hen house from Tractor Supply and searched Craigslist for the oldest pullets we could get them.  We did not want to get them the young chicks that are harder to take care of as they have to stay under heat lamps the first 7 weeks.  Mimi got to pick out the cutest 5 pullets – 2 Black Australorps, 1 Barred Rock, I Buff Orpington, and 1 New Hampshire.   And now they have a “Comedy Central” to watch.  Hopefully they’ll start receiving their first eggs by the end of June!

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After returning from Texas, I received my order of day old chicks.  I have learned I don’t like a uniform flock.  If they all look they same, how are you going to tell if a certain hen is doing certain thing – like has become broody or which buff is limping or if one is missing?  So I prefer having only 2 – 4 of the same breed.  in this order, the kids were able to pick some “pretty” birds (bantam breeds) and I got chicks for egg layers – araucanas (lay green or blue eggs), amber whites and black sex links.   Since this ordered was mailed, I had to have a minimum of 25 chicks so I asked others if they wanted to order with me.  After doling out the chicks to friends, we weren’t careful with the brooder and one of our mousers got in and had a picnic.  At least 3 were enjoyed by the cute kitty.  So I had to got to our local feed store to get 5 more to replace the ones we lost.

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At the first part of May, I got a call saying my rare lavender orpington day old chicks were shipped!!  I can’t tell you were we first saw or heard of this breed but Hubby D was just as intrigued by them as me. They are a unique lavender/grey bird.

I had to google the breed to see where it came from.  “Named after the town of Orpington, Kent, in south-east England, the Orpington chicken was created by William Cook in 1886. It was developed by crossing Minorcas, Langshans, and Plymouth Rocks to create a new hybrid. Since their first appearance in Maddison Square Gardens in 1895, they have become instantly popular and well liked on account of their loose-feathered fluffy appearance. Not only is the Orpington a striking exhibition bird, but often prized for its docile nature. They are exceptionally hardy during the winter months and continually lay eggs in cold weather.”

I was so excited to get the early morning call from our post office saying they had arrived.   For the first three days of life, chicks can survive without food and water which is how they can be mailed.  But I don’t like any animal not having access to food or water, so I was worried about this little fluffy butts!  But all 20 arrived safe and sound!  The entire family is watching them grow and getting more “lavender-y”!!  Cannot wait to see how they grow!

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We moved the March babies into the adolescent pen this week as they grew in all their feathers.  The first day, they didn’t venture out the pen.  They were nervous to be “outside” (pen is completely fenced in with fencing for the roof and sides) but now they have to be gathered up to be locked up at night.  They don’t know when to head to bed!!!!  And in the morning when I open them up, they all fly out of their coop!  Love watching my chicken t.v!!!

 

I LOVE essential oils

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In September of 2014, I was offered the chance to watch the video presentations of an essential oil company’s national convention. I was blown away by the science behind the products. And how God created the plants this uses to make the essential oils and how they actually work to help heal and support our bodies’ health. And how the company offers so many types of testing to insure that the products we receive have not been adulterated or have fillers added.

I felt God challenging me to start sharing with others about why I love these oils and giving them the chance to try them too. So along with sharing the oils, I needed to start a business out of it because I couldn’t just give hundreds of dollars away of oils each month!! 🙂

I love introducing essential oils to people. Love leading classes. Love seeing the changes that individuals have seen by using the products.

I also love how it lines up with the rest of our natural living practices of raising our own animals and produce and cooking.

It has impacted my entire family. My son is a fruit cake!! I love him dearly! He has memorized my reference book. One day, I got stung by a wasp and ran into the house. He heard me and yelled from his back bedroom, “You need Basil!” Having no other quick ideas, I put a drop on the sting and felt immediate relief. I looked in my book and sure enough, he was correct! He is an elephant…. never forgets.

So you might learn several ways we use the oils in our family and on the homestead!!! 🙂

What’s keeping us busy??

Hello!  I cannot believe it is May of 2015!  I am finally feeling like I can breathe.  The last year has been a huge whirlwind with all the work we have done on the farm.  My idea of how much extra-curricular activities I could be involved in while on the farm shrunk drastically.

First off, we worked on getting the “dirt pile” ready to plant grass seeds.  That involved lots of racking, picking rocks, digging up BOULDERS, spreading manure and harrowing with the ATV. We also had the blessing of a neighbor helping (actually we helped HIM!) to put into a sprinkler system.  That helped putting int he grass seed so much easier!

 

Next, we worked to get our huge garden put in.  This also involved lots of racking, picking rocks, digging up BOULDERS, spreading manure and harrowing with the ATV.   And also was blessed by the neighbor putting in a sprinkler system!!  Made it 10X easier.  We still had tons of weeding to do over the summer.  We planted kale, swiss chard, beets, 45 tomato plants, strawberry plants, watermelon, pumpkins, cucumbers, beans, sugar snap peas, corn, cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash, honeydew melon,  jalapeños, basil, jackolantern pumpkins, daikon, blueberry bushes, okra, butternut squash….. and all from seeds that we started in March inside our kitchen.  I was able to can and freeze so much of it.  And was even able to share a ton too.

It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  The corn didn’t grow to produce ears, my husband ran over my blueberry bushes with the lawnmower since they were buried in weeds, the okra never produced, I got cucumber blight and only pickled about 5 jars, didn’t stake the peas early enough and the same with tomato plants, but we are back at it again this year!

August was busy with 4H preparation for all the kids.  We didn’t know how involved it would be. BUT I was amazed by what all the kids learned!  The last week of August was intensely busy with the county fair.  Our family entered over 45 items to be judged – from produce to cakes to sewing to jewelry to baking to paintings to lego and WWII dioramas!

My parents came to visit in the fall and we could show them our little patch of heaven in Idaho.  We stayed busy canning fruit (pears, peaches and apples), making and canning apple cider, and even learning how to ferment sauerkraut.  We were able to get a steady stream of regular egg buyers too!

Oh and we still homeschooled!  My goal was to make all our Christmas gifts but that didn’t happen!