Blog · Page 3 of 48 · Ryder Family Farm- Southern Illinois Produce & More
We to a big leap of faith, quit our jobs are moved to the the heart of the Shawnee National Forest to follow our dreams of self sufficiency and to make a go of living off the land… Can we help you feed your family?
Southern Illinois produce, farm, CSA, Goat Milk, Soap, Eggs, meat, local food
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Ryder Family Farm- Southern Illinois Produce & More

All before 8am on a farm…

Most mornings I've got Nathan to help me with a portion of the homestead chores but harvest season is upon us so he's been off working occasional early mornings and even right through the weekends around Tanglefoot Ranch. This means I'll fly solo for the chores here on the homestead. Here is a glimpse of what flying solo for our early morning chores looks like: The alarm sounds for me at 6am. I've got to feed Miss Everly and oversee her dressing and getting off to school. Grayson wakes shortly after I rouse Everly at 6:20am. Everly had a rough day at school with a friend the day before so we special have plans for Everly to write the friend a feelings note this morning. Everly eats, dresses, works on her note and we head out...

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It’s oddly quiet…

Things are in transition again. It's very quite here in the mornings and oddly, I'm feeling a touch of calmness. Could it be that we are forging a new yearlong routine? Is it just that I'm down to juggling two kids during this time? Is it because needs are being better met in our new arrangement? It's probably a combination of everything. My oldest, Miss Everly, is a Kindergartener. Her first day of school was Friday, today was her first day on the school bus. All summer I've been back and forth about school. For the preschool years she was in a Montessori coop type setting with a 3 hr class in a fellow mom's home several days a week. We also pull from the Montessori method where home education is concerned and have several...

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We have hatching…

Over the last three weeks we've been monitoring the humidity and temperature of our homemade "Coolerbator" egg incubator. My last post was about counting our chickens before they'd hatched.. So far, our 15 mail order chicks have arrived and are thriving. Today our incubated eggs are cheeping & beginning to hatch! The eggs have been on lockdown since friday because hatch day was supposed to be nearing but secretly in the back of our mind we hadn't been counting on much to result...

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Swimming in chicks this fall… or not?

I'm trying to not count my eggs before they hatch but we might be swimming in chicks soon! Let's see, where was the beginning of this chicken saga? I believe it all started when we found our beloved Bernice, an Americauna hen, dead near the stock trailer. She was from the first batch of chicks we bought back when Everly was a newborn. She laid us greenish blue eggs. Here is a photo of her trying to hatch eggs in our compost bin this last spring: We recently found her dead in the yard, no signs of trauma. I thought her neck might have been broken from our too aggressive roosters, we had five roosters and they were all competing and sometimes gang raping hens. After Bernice I tried to...

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It’s unfortunate when you “golden shower” yourself… Right?

Someone has popped two top teeth through and is getting quite active, so active that the worn out velcro closures on my five year old cloth diapers aren't doing the job anymore. Must make time to covert the velcro to snaps, ASAP! Last night when I heard a tiny baby cough coming from the bedroom I went in all concerned. Has he been sleeping so long because he is getting a cold? I peek in on him and see exposed penis...

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It’s hard to control a limp teat!

We are almost a week into goat ownership right now and we are loving it. We got our milker, Poptart, on a slightly later milking schedule so we aren't quiet as tired as initially in the first few days. Yay! As newbie goat owners, we've had a few scares. The first one was when Clay, our buck, knocked his scur off on the fence...

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To Celebrate our one month anniversary with farm life…

A month ago today we crammed all our things, our animals and our kids into vehicles and we drove two hours to our new country home in southern Illinois. We've been here a month now and things are becoming more routine. Farm life is going well and we've been making adjustments to better fit our new life. One of the major adjustments has been stocking the house with food. I've always stocked up on foods because I'm lazy and I dread shopping trips, so stocking up and avoiding multiple grocery trips is always my goal- finances permitting. Plus, stocking up has it preparedness advantages too! Now that Nathan is home for lunch every day, we are having a formal lunch and eating more food over the course of the week than...

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On crashing and lessons learned during the first week of farm life.

We've officially completed our first week on Tanglefoot Ranch. Its been a major whirlwind of activity but its been really great. Speaking of Tanglefoot, are you on our mailing list yet?Seeds have been sowed, our future chicken/ garden space is being readied. I've taken over care of the 40 meat birds. Nathan learned to drive a riding mower, he helped repair electric cattle fencing, he has helped with tractor mowing. A dining room is being constructed near the farm's big kitchen garden. There has been weeding, snake killing, tomato trellising and raspberry picking. We've learned the weighing of juvenile shrimp, Nathan and Everly have moved LOTS of juvenile shrimp from the nursery pools to their permanent ponds while a crew from RFD - TV shot some footage of the process.  We've...

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We’ve made it to Tanglefoot Ranch.

It was a steamy, stormy day but we we loaded a trailer, a stock trailer, a van and two cars with our stuff and drove two hours away to make a new life in the country. The Tanglefoot crew came out and helped us load our lives up and make the trek. They are a thoughtful and welcoming bunch of people. We are uber blessed to have crossed paths with them. They've even made us food (including fresh baked gluten free brownies) while we've been busting butt to get moved in. How thoughtful and surprising is that?  The girls woke us this morning at the butt crack of dawn saying "we need to get an early start to the day guys, there is cherry picking to do!" Here is them out picking cherries...

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Tales from the backyard flock: Are they cooked or do they have chicks in them?

For the last week, maybe two, we have had significantly fewer eggs each day from our six laying hens. Initially I thought that the hens that were not laying had nutritional imbalances since they’ve been eating chicks starter food (against our wishes). We’ve recently integrated our baby chicks to our adult flock, our Rhode Island Reds much prefer eating chick starter it seems. Chick starter has a high protein content and adult birds shouldn’t be eating it but I’m not standing out there and shooing the hens away from the chick feed, three times a day, right now… so those stinking hens are gorging themselves. 

Also, my new chicks are integrating to the main flock right now and we are preparing to move in just a few days so our chicken coop situation is in transition. I also figured the stress of the transition was possibly impacting the egg output from the hens.

Today there was quite a squawk fest out of the chicken coop and my girls anxiously ran out to collect the eggs. However, there were no eggs to be found. So we went about our garden and backyard chores. I opened the compost bin to get some fresh compost for one of the plants and I left it open for the chickens to scratch around in since were getting ready to move and we have no intention of taking cooking compost with us. I had the compost bin open earlier in the week for the same reason but husbands who work outside the homestead (he has just 3 work days left!) miss lots of strategic decision making and close the compost bin back up thinking they are being helpful.

Anyway, after a while we went back inside had some cold water ate breakfast and we heard the chickens squawking again. We went out to try to collect eggs and once again there were none to be found.

They always say if you’re missing eggs, go on an egg hunt.

Updates on the massive poultry flock in the tiny suburban backyard.

Before I became a turkey owner: I wasn't prepared for how social they'd be towards people. I didn't believe that they were truly NOT smart creatures. I hadn't realized that they fight, like roosters do. I didn't expect to be treating the wounds and checking on them as vigilantly as I do with my kids. Right now our turkeys are too large for their brooder, but too small to live out with the chickens...

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Goodbye Evansville, Hello farm life…

The countdown has begun! We are moving away from city life and going to live in the country in 9 days. Things are wrapping up, Everly’s got her last three days of Montessori school this week and Nathan only has 8 days of work left. We are squeezing in last minute health appointments, play dates and running lots of errands all while trying to pack up our house.

The girls have been loading up on the perks of our current living arrangement. Time with friends, visiting their favorite places and soaking up all the joys of our current house. We have a bunch of tadpoles that we hatched from eggs in the sand table right now… they were caught from the pond out back and they are growing fast.

Everly has also been hoping to catch another turtle or two from the pond before we move. We initially caught, measured, observed, numbered and

We DID it, we are farm bound. An unconventional beginning farmer story.

We’ve been working hard to up our farming/ self sustaining situation. Even before we bought our house we were looking at farmhouses on some land. If you know anything about the area we live in, then you know that land isn’t cheap to own here. Most of the time you see really huge portions of land or really small ones for sale. Also, most farm land also happens to be unsustainably farmed and is often times GMO and pesticide laden.

Places we’ve looked at (and tried to buy) have been between $3000 – $5000 per acre and in most cases the houses that are on the land aren’t in great shape. We want the land (several acres) and do need a livable house right off the bat since we have three kids under the age of five. Throughout 2013 we’ve made offers on places and we’ve done lots of tours that amounted to much of nothing.

At the beginning of 2014 we resolved to put our feelers out for unconventional farm acquisition options, anywhere that they may be. We’ve been keeping an eye on farm opportunities nearby and we’ve also reached out to our connections all across the USA for info on farm opportunities. We wanted to be open to any and all chances that might suit us.