Category Archives: From city to country life

Ch-ch-changes…

Some big things are in store for the site. Some of you feed subscribers got wind of some changes thanks to the automatic feed that went out with lots of dummy giberish text after we did a website makeover *facepalm* Many apologies for that.

Its also been a while since I posted an update. The most notable happening is my little guy, Grayson, crawling! He has been in physical therapy for a while now and hes mastered sitting up, is working on transitions between positions and just yesterday took off crawling! After a couple months of therapy he learned to sit up and to use sign language to communicate. A few weeks ago he saw a chiropractor snd had some major neck work done.

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For over a year we’ve had an immobile baby but in  the last 72 hours weve jumped yo having a moble little guy… and weve realized our baby proofing leaves lots yo be desired. Grayson has us scrambling to put ip baby gates and to clear low shelves of unsuitable things. Its so great to see him moving around so confidently. Hes really pleased with himself.My girls are officially on summer break now. I cant believe how much they’ve grown and how fast the year has gone!

We’ve also had our one year anniversary as farmers. A year of building constructing, crop planting, crop harvesting & crop selling, shrimp growing & harvesting, lambing, calving, butchering, incubating & hatching poultry, fence hanging, gardening, tractor driving, hay cutting & baling, animal feeding & watering, fence repairing, pruning, learning farm veterinarian skills… lots and lots of learning and failing and bring yelled at… but we survived the year, we feel accomplished and we’re still dreaming & planning the future.

Lots of the site’s makeover has to do with our homesteading and how its no longer a hobby, its now an extension of us and we couldn’t be happier about that- even after a day of being covered in livestock feces, sweat, blood and maybe even tears…

Meeting Winnie, running over a lamb and shock fencing…

Last week was a roller coaster, we are still reeling from it.

You see we were pointed in the direction of a homeless livestock guardian dog. We’ve known we needed one since our beloved family dog lost her life last fall.

Luckily we’ve only had one farm predator issue since losing our farm guard dog, Dixie. You might remember my post about the mink killing my birds just before Easter.

We still have our herding dog that we are trying to train (she might be pregnant!) Continue reading Meeting Winnie, running over a lamb and shock fencing…

Mercury in retrograde is effing with us- big time.

It’s been ages since I’ve last posted, we’ve been knee deep in sickness and live upheaval. October has sure kept us scrambling but we’ve come through it. Here is what we’ve been taking on, one step at a time:

In mid October madness began… there was a steady rain that wouldn’t quit.
Then a chick went missing, with feathers left as evidence of misfortune. First we thought our dog, snowball, was to blame.
Next we heard the hawks… A few days later Everly witnessed the hawk swooping down and a dead chick was Sprawled on the lawn. 

Days later our prized rooster went missing and our favorite hen was under attack. We rushed out to save her and discovered an injured chick… our hen remained missing for a few hours then returned unscathed. We were able to save the injured chick… Also, this unfamiliar husky dog showed up. Here is Adalyn with our favorite hen:

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Border Collie- SnowballDid Snowball (Everly’s Puppy) kill birds, did the husky kill birds or was it just the hawks? We had no idea. Snowball’s herding instincts drove her to chase and kill birds before.

Days later we processed a few of our turkeys that were well overdue and had the opportunity to shuffle poultry pens. I moved our remaining two turkeys to a goat pen, put our remaining chicks in the poultry tractor (where the turkeys were), then I undertook constructing a net covered run for our remaining 11 adult chickens.

The husky dog returned again and I found Dixie and the husky with two escaped adult chickens cornered in the bushes. After restraining the husky, me and Dixie rounded up the escaped chickens, secured the pen a bit more and took a rest. Dixie did so well following my commands and helping me get the chickens rounded up!

School bus time had come. Me and Addie went out to wait & swing for a bit – then a hay truck went speeding by the house, Dixie went off after it and ran right under the trailer it was towing. She died just as the school bus was pulling up. Both girls had to see her laying in the road but they took it amazingly well. Death is no surprise or shock on a homestead. 

A single day went by incident free- we hibernated on the couch and grieved for Dixie. We were all VERY sad and feeling lost without our homestead guardian and watch dog. Then Everly was scheduled to have her first field trip ever. Their school bus was in a crash (no kids on the bus at the time- thankfully) but we had to make alternate pickup arrangements since they were down a bus. Holy retrograde madness.

“When we say “Mercury is in retrograde,” what we mean is that the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards in the sky. Of course, it’s not — that’s just an optical illusion. But to astrologers, this illusion works some perplexing magic in our lives.”

For the next week remaining in the retrograde we stayed home and didn’t deviate from routine if we could help it.

Things have been smooth sailing since, until today when the husky showed up again and played a chicken to death. I actually saw it with my eyes this time and went out to intervene. The chicken was dead (she was the mating partner to our prized rooster that also didn’t make it), broken neck it seems. I left the kids inside and managed to take the dead chicken away, tie the husky up, reach it’s owner and explain what happened. The husky’s owner paid us for the dead chicken and felt super bad, now I’m fixing to process this hen so we can eat her this winter.

The retrograde seriously brought lots of death to this homestead! But then we also have lots of life beginning too…

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Oh and we still have two more massive turkeys that need this done: (aren’t those faces priceless?!)

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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 the door by 7:15am to wait for the school bus.

While we wait, we release the chickens from their locked up chicken coop, visit with the chicks a bit, swing on the tree swing and then the bus rolls up and she climbs aboard.

Once Everly is on the bus, Grayson helps me to feed the adult chickens, 15 of them. Then I set him of the deck to watch the chickens eat while I head over to the turkey tractor to feed them. This job requires two hands and lot of bending over.

I also have to release Snowball, Everly’s cattle dog puppy, from her kennel and put her on her tether, also not a good job with a baby in your arms. Snowball likes to try to eat the poultry or chase & jump on the kids and we don’t even know what she’d try doing to the goats… She’s still got lots of obedience training to master and she’s still very young, so she’s not free to roam the homestead just yet-Her drama is a post for another day ;P

Once I get snowball on her tether and manage to get out of her “tether tangling range”-(cause she will wrap your legs in the tether and hurt you very badly), then I can move on to my next task.

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Next I take chick feed out to the baby chicks in their enclosure. They are eager to eat, super cute little fluff balls, 19 of them, that currently swarm my feet when I climb in their enclosure with food, see how they swarm Grayson? While I’m looking down at them and taking care to NOT step on one I ram my eyebrow on a pointy tree branch. It drew blood and bruised. Perfect.

The goat enclosure is near the baby chicks so I head on down to say good morning to them and bring Poptart up to the garage for her morning milking. Poptart always tries to eat the chicken food so I’ve got to lead her directly to the milking stand without becoming distracted along the way.

It’s close to 7:35 am now, Grayson is still sitting, watching chickens eat. After the chickens eat they take turns queuing up to lay eggs in the garage. You see they made this little nest underneath a chair with some lose/ discarded hay near the goat’s hay stacks. They refuse every nesting box we make for them. We just let them continue using their makeshift nest because their permanent coop/ nesting boxes aren’t finished yet. Plus it is sure convenient to collect eggs without having to go beyond the garage.

I begin milking Poptart while the egg laying procession continues. Once milking is complete and I’ve ushered Poptart out of the garage and off the deck it’s close to 8 am. Grayson is now leaking through his cloth diaper and wants to nurse and go back to bed. Adalyn is still asleep. Once I get Grayson dry, fed and sleeping I might have some quiet time with my coffee before Adalyn wakes and I’ve got to feed and occupy her.

All I’ve got left to do morning chore wise is to water and move the turkeys, clean and refill goat waterers, fill hay feeders and release Clay, our goat buck, from his pen so he can free range for the day. Oh and I better collect all the laid eggs so our other dog, Dixie doesn’t come in and eat them.


What does your morning routine look like?    

It came back positive… We’re pregnant!

We got the blood test results back, we are seriously expecting babies this fall…
goat kids- you thought I was pregnant again didn’t you? Sheesh!

Anyway, On labor day a vet friend came out to draw some of our doe, Poptart’s blood for us. We wanted a pregnancy test for her because lots of things depend on a pregnancy… and we really suspected a pregnancy.

Like people, a goat pregnancy brings on an increase in appetite and fluctuations in milk supply. We noticed those changes right away. We’d also been tracking Poptart’s cycles, they cycle about every 21 days and when I hadn’t seen her showing signs of being in heat when Clay (our buckling) has been in and out of rut (the male goat’s horny time) I knew something was up.

We weren’t intentionally breeding them but it was inevitable. Poptart has a younger breeding buddy, Clay. He was born this spring, she is a few years older. We bought them at the same time and planned to house them in separate pens. We knew our buckling would become sexually mature this summer but time and available resources haven’t permitted us to split them up, yet. We’ve been drinking “bucky” flavored milk and knew we Poptart would likely end up pregnant. We just didn’t think it would happen so fast and without much trial and error!

We did witness Clay trying to breed Poptart, it was the first display noted and it has apparently gotten the job done. Poptart is over a month bred now, blood test confirmed.

Now we’ve got a fire under us to tie up our kidding loose ends (kidding = goat’s having babies). We’ve been planning to build a “kidding barn” from pallets. We have the pallets and the plans… just need to make time to construct it… So far it’s about a third of the way done.

Next we’ve got to dry up Poptart. You see, milk goats like a milking rest before having babies. Lots of growth happens in the last two months of gestation and a pregnant doe needs all the nutrition she can get to help those kids (baby goats) grow. Did you know a single goat doe can have anywhere from 1-5 babies at a time? Our goats were both twins themselves so we are planning for multiple kids just to be safe.

Exciting stuff huh?

Clay isn’ so excited, he just wants to put the moves on something and Poptart is SOOOOO not interested. He’s even taken to trying to mount us among many other mischievous things- like sleeping on the picnic table & swinging with Adalyn…




You never can predict or control things on a farm…

Things haven’t been dull or slow here. Sure we bought a clearance hammock to hang in a tree and the change of season is nearing but…

We’ve had a wet few weeks and our turkey tractor (aka the rolling poultry pen) has been flooded out twice. Last week a turkey became sick and died. I spent half a day quarantining and then nursing the thing. Later that evening, when Nathan got home to greet it, it died. The following day I buried it – can’t eat a possibly ill bird. Man, an almost full grown turkey needs a BIG burial hole! After digging a grave I had to administer apple cider vinegar to all the poultry but first old waterers needed to be dumped, sanitized and refilled. If dead turkey had a contagious bug we can’t let it spread to the rest of the flock… We currently have a flock of 15 adult chickens, 19 chicks (3 were hatched on the farm!) and 5 turkeys so the sanitizing and dosing took a bit of time.

After the poultry nursing, sanitizing, monitoring and reconfiguring we had about 24 hrs before Adalyn’s birthday weekend (which also consisted of farm market selling, an ash spreading party (a celebration not a mourning) and Labor Day. We were supposed to attend a labor day picnic but the “managers special” salmon I made the day before landed us with food poisoning. Luckily, we are swimming in probiotics and fermented food goodness so it wasn’t debilitating or long lived.

Then we had more rain, lots more!  This time part of the goat pen flooded. Water isn’t good for their hooves so we let the goats free range. Lately they’ve been confined per warnings from the locals… deer hunting time is near and our milk goat REALLY looks like a deer from afar, we need a bright ribbon and cow bell for her to wear! Anyway, while the goats were out free ranging, they only seem to want to be where we want to keep them out of. Today it was the deck. Our buckling, Clay, put his head through a gate and essentially ripped his horn off trying to remove his head from the gate. Everly came in to report, Mom, it’s an emergency. Come see!” There was blood everywhere! We dumped cornstarch on the snapped horn to slow and clot the bleeding while we gave Clay treats.

It was fitting that a vet friend (who unfortunately doesn’t treat large animals) was stopping by to draw blood for our doe’s pregnancy testing. After the blood draw on Poptart we determined Clays bleeding was clotting so we left him to recuperate overnight. She was going to tie off the vein that was in the horn to stop the bleeding.

The next day, wind, chewing and walking was irritating Clay’s almost knocked off horn. It was now bent forward and hanging on by what seemed like a thread. We felt it needed removal, he was clearly suffering. The thing is, horns aren’t like fingernails. There is blood supply and sinus cavity in them. Removal can be quite bloody, unpleasant and could lead to infection. We wanted someone with a steadier hand and more experience than we had for this important job.

We were thankful that farmer Grover stopped by with blood clotting powder and his cattle horn snippers. Cattle horns and goat horns are different but the tools and skills are similar. After just 10 minutes or so one knocked lose horn and one intact horn were gone, for now. They’ll probably grow back though. It’s always something around here, different song and dance from time to time… but the music never seems to stop playing.

Since moving to the farm I’ve learned that its really not about managing or controlling, its all about adapting. The animals don’t obey or stay out of mischief (especially goats!), the weather isn’t predictable, the crops don’t always flourish (or they do and you have 300 lbs of massive tomatoes to move)… we certainly aren’t in control of anything. But knowing that fact sure helps us find more success because it makes us quicker on our feet and more clued in to subtle variations of the norm.

For now, while we are between fiascos, we’ll be to hanging the hammock and sipping some coffee while the kids giggle on Adalyn’s birthday tree swing!

By the way, have you seen us on the Land Connection newsletter this week? You can check it out here.

If you are curious about how poor Clay’s horn looked the morning after the horn break, before we removed them, here are some pics… They are graphic, beware.


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… Mainly because this is our first attempt, also because four of the seven eggs (the blue & green ones) in the incubator were stored for about 2 weeks prior to incubating (which can really decrease hatch rate).

Plus, our homemade incubator isn’t the most air-tight temperature regulated thing right now. When I heard this faint “cheep, cheep!” coming from the dining area I was kind of amazed and pleasantly surprised. We weren’t in very high sprits this morning after someone dropped by to see us but the surprise cheeping turned moods around.

Things got going just a few hours ago… and between energy bursts the chick rests so it’s difficult to capture all the action but it seems we’ll probably have a new hatchling, possibly two if nothing has gone wrong between my day 18 candling and now.

8/10 6:50 p Update: We now have two eggs chirping! One is almost out, the other has yet to pip a hole but it’s talking!

8/11 Nothing exciting happen overnight, little chick just rested. The resting continued most of the morning, with small cheeping bursts in between.

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Noon Update: The chick is pressing it’s self on the ends of the shell from the inside… It’s emerging from the shell now (and we got it on video!)

I’m waiting for the videos to upload so I can share them. Stay tuned 🙂

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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 separate all but one rooster from my hens. In the process Snowball, Everly’s new cattle dog, was asked to help catch a leghorn rooster for us. She didn’t succeed and we ended up giving up on catching him. He didn’t go in the coop to be locked up overnight either.

The next morning Snowball took care of business, a bit too well. We found feathers all over the yard and Snowball was missing. Later that morning we found her down the road in a cow pasture unsure how to navigate the ditch that was separating her from the road and our house. Nathan found her and nearby there was a dead, half eaten leghorn rooster. Snowball remembered the command she was given and the rooster she was supposed to get… and she got the job done a good 18 hrs later. Unfortunately, we didn’t want her to kill him, just to help us round him up. We still have some cattle dog training to do. She wont be helping us “get” anymore animals… for now.

The day Bernice died she laid one last egg. I saved it and four other blue & blue green eggs from the week for future incubation. About a week later Nathan built us an incubator (a coolerbator, it’s really from a Styrofoam ice chest!). We are trying to hatch 7 eegs in there right now. One is a double yolk that we’ve candled!

A few days later our other cattle dog, Dixie, sniffed out something odd in the bushes near the goat pen. It’s one of our new hens from this spring’s chicks… she’s broody in the brush out there. She’s been sitting 5 days that we’ve counted, day and night, rain or shine… with just an afternoon break each day as the sun shines down through the tress on her clutch of eggs. We take her some food and check the eggs now and then, I counted 9 eggs. We tried candling about 5 of them over the weekend. They aren’t as developed as our eggs in the incubator, so they seem younger. Here they are:

clutch of 9 eggs in a nest
I should also mention that we just placed a baby chick order too… 15 chicks of preferred breeds for egg laying and breeding, to arrive next week.

So let’s do the math- 7 eggs in the incubator + 9 or more eggs under our broody hen + 15 chicks on the way. We might have close to 31 new chicks next month. Crap!  

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… Okay I better back up and explain the goat terminology first…

A “Buck” is a male goat and a “Scur” is a janky type horn that has grown after the real horns have been removed, disbudding is the removal of the horns.

The scur bled and was alarming to us. I worried about flies and maggots getting in there and had to quickly learn when and how to treat the injury. Luckly, Clay’s bleeding wasn’t really that severe and it clotted and stopped on it’s own. All I had to do was make up my “go to” sealing paste for the wound to keep maggots and flies out of it.

Meet Clay:

Our second scare has been the rapid decline of milk supply in Poptart since brining her home. She was giving about a gallon per day, over the span of two milkings. So that is basically 2 quarts of milk per milking. Below you’ll see what we got the morning after we brought her home. This was from her first milking post-move. It’s just shy of 2 quarts.

Of course stress can cause milk supply to decline, so we knew the bringing her to our home would be supply impacting.

We took great care to buy the feed that she was already getting as to not disrupt her diet too much but the food we had was pretty much being rejected by her. Heck, she even stopped drinking water in the beginning.

We went from almost 2 quarts per milking to something like 1/2 a quart per milking. It was worrisome.

It seems like the type of alfalfa makes the difference in milk supply. We initially bought a bale of alfalfa from the store. She’s not a fan… but the alfalfa pellets we grabbed (with the highest protein content we could find) are more interesting to her.

Now that she’s less stressed, eating pellets in addition to her bale of alfalfa and being left to graze around the yard most of the day, she is back up to giving us closer to 2 quarts a milking.

While her supply was low it sure was different to milk her though. Teats aren’t as firm/ full when the supply is lower and… It is sure harder to control a limp teat. I can see that now that her teats are filling more again ;P
I never in my life imagined I’d be remarking about limp teats in a blog post! LOL.

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Newbie goat milking at the butt crack of dawn…


It is 5 am and I’m up. Yesterday we brought home our milking goat, Poptart, a 2 yr old Alpine goat. She’s had a certain type of feed and a certain milking schedule… and since we’ve uprooted her living arrangement and shuttled her to our home, in a thunderstorm… we figured the least we could do was keep her milking schedule the same for a while.

So, it’s 5 am and I’m up to milk my goat.

I was surprisingly okay at milking. When we showed up to buy the goats I got a milking lesson and did a trial milking. Amazingly, I milked her completely and it didn’t take an eternity. Side note: I’d only milked a cow once before at a friends house and I didn’t get the job finished that time :/

We coaxed Poptart to walk herself to our milking stand with a bucket of grain, once she was secured on the stand (yes they really do jump up there on their own!) the milking went well. This morning I was finished milking by 5:30 am so I feel like that is a good beginners time for hand milking 1/2 gallon. I definitely don’t have a rhythm going yet but I’ve got time for that to develop.

After milking, as the sun rose and the fog began to lift, Poptart happily walked herself back to the temporary goat enclosure alongside me. You can see Poptart’s future mating partner, Clay, in the distance.

Oh, and I’m totally going to gradually shift the milking schedule over the next week or so that I’m not waking at the butt crack of dawn each day to milk ;P

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 we normally did. I’ve had to adjust my shopping for this. 

The other thing needing adjusting has been sourcing our foods. We’ve switched grocery stores, changed our bulk food drop location and the biggie has been sourcing our raw milk. Every source we’ve come across for milk has required much driving, that we’d rather not be doing.

Then fate landed these goats that were for sale in our path…

I’ve been reading everything I can about goats and goat milking, been talking with dairying friends. A milking stand has been constructed in just two days time (go Nathan!), we’ve scavenged a shelter from here on the farm, we’re scavenging fencing now, I bought a months worth of goat feed, hay & minerals. Got some lead ropes, a brush and some udder balm. This afternoon, if all goes well, we’ll be goat owners and I’ll be goat milking tonight.

We’ve been joking that it’s our farmy way of celebrating our one month anniversary with country life. LOL! Actually, we didn’t plan it at all, it just kind of happen- part of fate’s plan I suppose. 

We head out this afternoon to possibly buy a 2 yr old Apline milking goat, if milking her goes well and things feel right, we’ll come home with her and an unrelated buck (male goat) for future breeding and milk production inducing. 

I’m not looking forward to adding more farm chores to the mix but I’m also not opposed to working hard for a bit more convenience and self sufficiency so we are giving this a go. I’ve been told goats are easier than cows to sell off if you change your mind ;P

Here we go…


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Want to know how I did milking my goat for the first time? Read this.

Herding instincts, birthday joy and milking goats…

It’s been 25 days since me and Nathan have watched TV. The one thing about farm life that differs from what we were doing before is, we are working LESS hours but we are working HARDER… Not so hard that you want to fall over and die, just hard as in each part of the body actually gets utilized. That means at the end of the day we can both lay down and fall asleep right away. We don’t need to unwind in front of the TV each night, our mental exhaustion is greatly reduced with the job and life change. Though, I’m still kind of mentally exhausted when it comes to trying to wrangle the kids 😛 Oh, and my sciatica hip & back issues are improved now that I’m being more active. 

Next week we are planning to bring a dairy goat home, plus her mating partner! The ordeal of trekking back to Evansville for house upkeep and to pickup our milk has been taking it’s toll, big time. The kids don’t enjoy being cooped up in a car all day and we lose too much time during the travel that we could be putting to good use around the house and farm. The number of leaving-the-farm-errands MUST be reduced… So I’m taking up goat milking next week. Wish me luck.

I’m intimidated and anxious about the mater of fencing for the goat. I know they can be difficult and sometimes a downright headache. I’m hoping we get lucky or can manage it because we NEED the milking to take place here on the farm for the sake of simplicity. This weekend, better known as Goat Prep 2014 will be our last shot at getting ready before the goats arrive.

We also processed the first of the 40 Red Ranger chickens this week. I’ve been caring for to 40 Red Rangers here on Tanglefoot Ranch, they are meat birds for a farm project. One of them got a hurt leg in a chicken tractor moving ordeal and was just too far gone to mend. To be humane, Nathan ended the suffering and surprisingly Everly was his helper. Eventually the girls will see slaughter from start to finish but we haven’t been pushing them, rather I’ve been trying to shield them, Adalyn specifically.

The other night when Nathan went out to start the slaughter process Everly noticed he had left right away and wanted to go out with him. I warned her about what she might see and she was eager to go and watch “cause I’ve never seen it done before” she commented. Then she went out and took part in it ALL. Her favorite part was when the organs came out and we got to identify and discuss the workings of the digestive system. I cringed a little when she came back inside to ask me if I’ve ever seen “a chicken’s face cut off”. She was referring to it being bled out and then beheaded for plucking. LOL. She took it like a champ, it’s a good thing too because slaughter day is on the horizon for all the other meat birds. Our plucker and kill cones are being engineered right now by the men of Tanglefoot Ranch. Baby EverlyFive year old Everly

Oh, speaking of Everly… She just had her fifth birthday! A few friends made the trip out to Tanglefoot to help us celebrate. She had a Hello Kitty cake, got her own puppy (a working dog. Red Heeler/ Border Collie breed named Snowball) had friends over to play with, it was a great day for her. So great that she zonked out in the middle of our nightly story time. Look how big she is!

We’ve been working on herding dog training for her new puppy. Snowball has strong herding instincts and has already taken to rounding up the turkeys, chickens and even the girls. This scares them and can result in unwanted bites or scratches when puppy enthusiasm combines with herding needs not being met. We have lots of work ahead of us with her but I think she’ll also be a great addition to the family. She’s already bringing out the best in our existing dog, Dixie. Dixie seems to love being a leader and she loves the freedom and space she now has to roam here on the farm. 

I bet when the goats arrive Snowball will get enough herding work to keep her busy ;P

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 learned of a cherry tree off our back deck and also spotted some tiny apples beginning to form on another tree off the deck. We also believe we have several maple trees that are tappable come spring. Time to gather tapping supplies!

We had a long day of moving over the weekend… again. We didn’t get all our stuff moved on the first round and we’d done zero cleaning of the old place so we made another trip over the weekend.

We succeeded at arriving in Evansville at a reasonable hour but we failed at leaving at one. When pulled out of town with a loaded truck the Evansville sun was setting. That should have landed us home at 10:30 pm. Not ideal but we decided we were just rolling with the punches.

Once we turned on our new home’s street, we were driving along the gravel road, thinking of arriving at home when things went very wrong. At first I thought Nathan had slowed the trailer or that the trailer was struggling to climb the hill we were on… then I realized the trailer wasn’t’ slowing, it was rolling backwards! 

I hit the break, braced myself and the trailer slammed into the front of the Prius so hard it woke the kids and sloshed my water (that was in a cup holder) all over my lap. After the impact I engaged the emergency break and tried to make sense of what had happen.

Picture a seriously loaded up stock trailer, hillbilly style. Now pretend you are looking at it from behind – that was me. Now visualize it rolling backwards and slamming against your car causing your car to roll back a bit… Then it stops. 

Once I was sure the momentum and motion had ceased I reassured my backseat full of panicked kids that we were okay. There was all sorts of crying and question asking. Then I call out my window to Nathan. “Hello? Is every thing okay up there because I think we are holding the trailer with our car.” 

It turns out the truck that was towing the trailer ran out of gas despite the reassurances we were given that we should have enough gas… oh and the gas gague is wonky and doesn’t provide an accurate read. Now we know. LOL.

The two lessons we learned are:

  1. Always make sure, even if someone reassures you.
  2. Never follow a heavy trailer up a hill. Always lead the trailer.

Word is that many poor unsuspecting souls have lost loads of things or control of their vehicles while on the hill we were navigating. And now we know better for next time ;P

 

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 out in their PJ’s ——->

Earlier in the week we got word about a long forgotten cherry tree that was uncovered on the property we would be living at. The girls were stoked to hear this and have visited the tree often today to load up on sweet treats.

Today we also unpacked the trailer and got the chickens & turkeys set up with a temporary house. This morning poor Adalyn was farm initiated as we fed and watered the poultry, she was tromping the fields behind us and stepped in a juicy cow pie and promptly slid right through it…on her side. She was NOT pleased and had to ride back to our house in just her undies since she was coated head to toe in cow dung.

It has been a looooong 48 hrs but we are here with the animals and kids partially settled in. We have a permanent chicken coop to build for these birds so they can move out of the stock trailer and get more permanently settled. Can you see how stoked they are to have all this green to munch and lounge around in? 

 

Tomorrow we go to work. We are moving the shrimp from the shrimp nursery to the shrimp ponds with a TV reporter in tow it seems. And I need to plant a huge kitchen garden, and plant our own personal garden, and remove poison ivy/ oak from some places. And I might want a milking goat. Lots to do, so much possibility and only so many hours in the day… 

On uncertainty and quality of life on moving day…

As you know, we are making a big life transition right now to live our dreams. Emotions are a roller coaster right now. No, we don’t regret what we are leaving behind… but there has been some worry, of course, as that last paycheck comes in and the last day of being insured goes by. Then this arrived in my inbox:

“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~Tony Robbins

That pretty much sums it up nicely. Uncertainty and risk are scary, but not as scary as stagnating and growing bitter over the “what-ifs”. And, each time we’ve faced risk and uncertainty we’ve come through alive. Sure it’s uncomfortable, yes we could fall flat on our faces, we could end up worse off… but if we don’t try then we will never know.

So today we set off to join Tanglefoot Ranch in Southern Illinois to begin a new part of our journey. We can’t wait to dig in and begin building a foundation for the exciting plans we’ve made at Tanglefoot. 

 

We’re leaving the suburbs for farm life next week!

We are just counting down the days until moving day. I’m both excited and a bit shocked that moving day is just a few days away. The walls are literally lined with packed boxes, all the obvious things are packed… now we have all the hidden spaces to pack up (the garage, the attic, the storage areas, etc). It’s kind of a waiting game now. A wait-a-few-more-days-and try-not-to-kill-each-other kind of thing, you know?

Me and the girls are really getting practice with recognizing when it’s time to take a break and to decompress. Being cooped up in a house full of boxes with moving day anxiety looming is getting the best of ALL of us. They are being allowed to watch the portable DVD player in their bed/ nest at will these last few days because, amazingly, it unwinds them enough to takes naps (which they never normally do). I’m eating lots of chocolate & sweets to decompress : /

I sat down to pay the bills this week and realized, we have no income to pay those bills with yet… Nathan’s last pay check comes this week and is basically spent already on the bills from the last two weeks. Grayson had his last insured doctors appointment this week too. My kids will soon be uninsured!  We didn’t sell our house, so we are still having to pay the mortgage and the utilities on the house until it sells. Things are getting real in terms of lack of security but I know the anxiety and minor panic will subside and that things will work themselves out soon. Just a few more days till all the fantastic parts begin.

The girls have next to nothing left out for playing with and they’ve already gotten bored of climbing and jumping off the stacks of boxes. Now they want constant attention and to be entertained which isn’t so easy when you are bouncing a teething baby on your hip (a 6 mo 19lb baby!) while packing up the house plus policing backyard turkeys and chickens. We are just doing chores, packing and kind of taking in the day-to-day happenings with the animals & with nature till moving day is here. Everly noticed something kind of cool while doing her plant watering chore today:

So, the girls had a good time observing all the little the praying mantis. They also really enjoy picking strawberries from the garden in the morning and again at night. They average about a pound a day. 

Our injured turkey is healing up nicely, we just discovered signs of a few more “first time” eggs from our new hens and our compost pile clutch of chicken eggs are still warm and possibly growing babies.

Can you believe I found a whopping 15 eggs in the compost bin yesterday? After candling them I came up with 5 that might be developing (they had resemblance of a shadow inside that moved when the egg was spun). In another few days we might be able to candle and check for forming blood vessels. The girls are kind of excited about the prospects of chicks hatching from our compost bin, though, I have no idea how we’ll move a clutch of eggs and a broody hen that are inside the compost bin without disruption. Ideas?

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

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.

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