Chickens, Journal Style Posts

First Eggs

I went out this evening to check water levels in the waterers before putting the flock to bed. I had about 45 minutes of light left before the sun fully set so, I went out to the coop. I opened the coop door and thank goodness I was paying attention because I found an egg on the coop floor. I immediately checked the nesting boxes, which are kitty litter buckets with the lid cut off at the hinged part. The remainder of the lid keeps the nesting material inside of the bucket when it’s laid on its side. Inside one of the nesting boxes was the second egg. I didn’t have my phone with me so, I grabbed both eggs and actually ran inside. (well, sort of ran) I showed hubby the eggs and he was just as shocked as I was to see eggs.

They are apparently large according to the members of the Homesteading groups I am in on Facebook. They weren’t dirty and they were just perfect and smooth with no weird flaws. The brown smears are mud from my hands because I grabbed the waterer before I saw the eggs and the waterer is always muddy because of the spot where I fill them being somewhat muddy.

I had purchased an adorable egg rack for the kitchen counter on Prime Day on Amazon and it arrived today as well. Absolutely perfect timing for it’s arrival.

My first two eggs fit perfectly in the rack. I plan on numbering or dating them with a sharpie as they do not need refrigeration unless I wash them. I want to make sure I know how old they are. The brown paper is unbleached parchment paper and covers the built in grill area of my ancient stove to keep crumbs and dust from gathering in that area, which means I don’t have to clean it daily. The other section is a ventilation fan and hot air from outside blows in through the vent so, I keep it covered to avoid the heat coming inside.

Hubby also brought me home two 55 gallon black plastic barrels today from work. I will have to clean and sanitize them of course, but they will become rain catchment barrels, which will become a gigantic chicken watering station once I get everything set up.

Friday is Hubby’s birthday and Saturday is race day, (he races Racesaver 305 Sprints) so, I will have to work quickly to get the coop cleaned up, new roosts installed as well as additional nesting boxes. I also have a roll of shade cloth that my lovely mother in law randomly brought me so I am going to create some shady spots for them to hang out under because it is just way too hot.

Hubby’s truck measures the heat index and he took this after his truck had been running for a few minutes and the air conditioning had cooled to ice cold. (It was reading much higher before the truck was running) this is just too hot to be out in the sun. The run has the entire top covered, which does create shade, but they hang out in the coop or under the coop door during the hottest part of the day. The coop does have a rather large window, which is covered in EXTREMELY thick fencing with square holes. It’s too big for rabbit fencing so, I think it’s called hog fencing. No clue honestly but it is nice and secure. I will shutter the window when colder temperatures start, but right now it creates a nice airflow and the temperature of the coop isn’t sweltering hot.

This is an old picture. We completely secured this piece of fencing with weird screws that have washers secured to the screw head. I have no idea what they are called, but they work great. We also attached a shutter so the coop doesn’t get soaked when it rains. I can easily run out and shut it within a minute or two and when we get strong winds, I shut it and make sure they are not being battered by the wind.

Originally I repurposed an old wooden ladder as roosts because the flock was still small. Now they are much bigger and they fight a lot over who gets to roost on top or on the paint can shelf of the ladder. Our solution is to take “L” shaped shelf brackets and use planks of wood we already have and have everyone roosting at the same height. No more fights about who is up higher.

These fights resulted in poor Chicken little ending up with a blood caked comb.

It scared me until I took a closer look and realized it was blood and dirt. Much to his dismay, I took him inside and gently cleaned him up with some warm water and a bunch of q-tips. I then applied Vetericyn (no purple dye), which is a first aid spray. (I sprayed it on a cotton round, not directly on him.) He’s all healed up now, but one injury is too many.

I have learned a lot about chicken first aid and like the Vetericyn spray much better because it doesn’t contain dye and it’s safer than Blu-kote from what I understand. I am not an expert by any means, but I do prefer to NOT have purple chickens.

He still crows a lot and still sounds rather ridiculous. I know when the UPS truck pulls in, I know when the garbage men come, I know when FedEx comes, I even know when the neighbor’s dog comes to pee all over our yard. He greets me and hubby every time we are outside. I know if I hear him crowing, something is going on outside and I peek outside to check on them. He is still snuggly and still adorable. I love them all.

Until next time….

Gardening, Journal Style Posts

The Homestead is Blooming

Remember those wooden shipping crates hubby brought home for me? Well, they are painted and have been planted.The salad blend is already sprouting. I planted this on Friday and it is Monday. I am so excited for fresh salad.I set aside two for benches for the front porch and this is one of the benches. The crates contained foam sheets because they were used for shipping windows and the foam protected the windows in transit. Well, a plastic coated tablecloth made the perfect cover. The benches are quite comfy.I have an entire bed dedicated to wildflowers and my lilies of course. The wildflowers are blooming, but I only have one bloom so far from the lilies.I love these. They are always some of the first to bloom each year.Not sure what these will be but they are everywhere to include the front yard.I took this picture because it always makes me happy to see this spot. This is where the air conditioning condensation overflow drains and I have a nice group of toads who love this spot because of the moss and the water. That hole in the middle looks shallow, but it is almost a foot deep with cool, clear water. There’s a 5 gallon bucket underneath this spot with holes drilled into the front in order to redirect the water away from the foundation of the house, which is basement walls in this spot. It works rather well and the spot retains that deep hole of water, which attracts the toads. I may create a fairy garden in this spot.I was very excited to find this in the wildflower bed because it is not something that I planted. This is bee balm and is also known as horse mint or wild bergamot. I left these where they were because I have a huge patch of it at the back of the property and I have a bunch currently drying for tea. Here are a few pictures I took when I started drying some I had gathered last week.I love finding ingredients for teas across the property. Fresh tea is so much better than boxed up little bags of chopped herbs and flowers that are who knows how old once you purchase them.

Chamomile, yet another flower for tea. (I planted these last year and again this year.)

A caterpillar was munching on this wildflower.

These are really tiny and grow in almost a tower formation, kind of like delphinium. I have no idea what they are called, but they are pretty.

Something was munching on these. I’m glad the caterpillars are getting fed.

A yellow wildflower in the Aster family.

This hasn’t fully bloomed , but it is cardinal flower. (I zoomed in so it looks much larger than it really is.)

This is everywhere in the pasture, but I found a lone plant in the wildflower bed. This is poison Hemlock. It’s pretty and is often confused with Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot). I have both growing on the property. I have to be very careful around this plant because I am particularly sensitive to the sap and it causes blisters to form on my skin almost immediately.

This lovely plant has been ripped out multiple times by my own hands and it just keeps coming back. It isn’t flowering, but it looks like a form of ivy and it definitely is not ivy. I let it grow because I thought it was ivy. Big mistake. This lovely aggressive little vine is actually mouse melon and it just popped up one year. The rabbits and birds love it so I try to tame it each year just enough to keep it from swallowing my bushes.

My solitary lily bloom.

This is the side of the garage. Every year, I dig up and transport these lilies to another spot and assume that they won’t come back again. Every year I find the side of the garage just like this.

Do you see the hornworm? (Hint hornworms are green)

I also finally got a picture of the tree branch we had to chop down with a chainsaw and a photo explaining why half of the tree had to go.

The half of the tree is currently drying out and the barn kitties have built little nests in the weeds and grasses under the branches. We will cut it into manageable chunks later.

It really was a huge chunk of tree.

So this is a hackberry tree. As you can see, it split down the center the section we cut down was to the right and the branches did not grow leaves when spring came. The section to the left is alive and well with plenty of leaves. The tree was hit by lightning and it split into two trees one died and one lived. We will eventually have someone come out and cut the entire tree down, but that dead section had to go before tornado season came. It was a threat to the dairy building, the garage, and the stalls. It’s down and no longer at risk of falling on anything. If the other side falls it will fall and hit another tree. No danger to buildings. We are looking into trees to plant for shade trees. (Hackberry trees suck so bad because they will completely dull a chainsaw blade.)

We also did the youngest kiddo’s graduation on Saturday and that was just insanity, with 1,204 graduates.

There were so many kids.

The crazy part was that this was only part of the class of 2019. The rest of them will participate in the second ceremony in Tulsa on Saturday.

Our youngest completed junior and senior year with Epic Charter Schools, which is an online homeschool program that falls under the public school system. He thrived in the program and I wish we would have pulled him out of brick and mortar schools sooner.

Until next time….

Chickens, Journal Style Posts

An Overview of the Recent Insanity and a Chicken Update and a Bit of Bad News

I know I haven’t posted anything in a while. We had the in laws in town for two weeks, our youngest finished high school, Graduation happens this weekend, it has been just absolute insanity around here.

Where to begin, well I will start with the mixup that happened when we purchased chicks at Tractor Supply. They apparently had a mix up where meat chickens and bantam breeds were mixed in with the layers. Basically, all of the straight run chicks were mixed together on accident. I ended up with two meat chickens who were revealed to be Cornish X chickens. This news was rather upsetting to me because I definitely didn’t want meat chickens, only layers. I quarantined those two chicks because they were being brutalized by the rest of the flock and were bald in certain places. Well, they feathered back out and I tried to integrate them again. Everything went fine and no one was bullying them. We went to go buy a new dryer because mine finally bit the dust. (This was a nightmare in itself) Lowe’s was our first stop, I picked out a dryer, paid for it, and waited for it to be brought out so we could load it up and go home. That should have been a simple process. Nope. I am not that lucky. Lowe’s sold me a dryer that was NOT in stock. Then, they told me I had to wait 7-10 days for a refund because of their screw up. I lost it. Hubby took over the whole process when the manager of Lowe’s said if I didn’t leave he was calling the police. (Yes, I yelled at him. They screwed up, NOT me. I was not threateningly cussing, just yelling rather loudly. Had I been alone, I would have had police called on me all while trying to just get a refund because they were trying to get me to choose a different dryer instead of getting a refund and were refusing to refund the purchase of a dryer they didn’t actually have.) Approximately 20 minutes later Hubby came out to the truck and we drove next door to Home Depot. They had exactly one dryer in stock. Not one style, ONE dryer. At this point I didn’t care as long as it worked. I made that poor sales woman physically show me the dryer before I was willing to pay. Hubby explained the nightmare that had just occurred at Lowe’s and she completely understood why I insisted on physically seeing the dryer. Then, of course, something else went wrong. I end up having to stand at customer service for almost a half of an hour while they try to put an extended warranty on this dryer. The woman FINALLY figured it out and added the extended warranty. By this time, we had spent almost 3 hours trying to buy a freaking dryer. I just wanted to go home. We stopped and grabbed food on the way home. It was HOT, muggy from all of the rain, flooding, and multiple tornadoes that have battered the state of Oklahoma for the past two months so, I was miserable.

Finally, we got back home. (An hour drive each way to get to a city big enough to have a home improvement store is never fun.) It was also Memorial Day so those home improvement stores were having holiday sales. Total nightmare. Anyway, we get home and I go to Refill the chicken waterer and I am filling the pitchers I use to refill them and Hubby says, well it’s dead. I have no idea what is dead exactly so I’m hollering and asking. I lost a chicken. πŸ˜” One of the Cornish X chickens was dead next to the door of the run and of course it’s being pecked by another of the chickens so he thinks this chicken killed the dead one. Nope, not enough damage for that to be the cause. Just a few feathers missing. Then, I go check the other Cornish X and she’s panting like crazy and refusing to get up and go drink water. Whoever bred this breed into existence sucks. They will literally dehydrate and die rather than get up and go get water. So, I remove the deceased chicken, bury it and take the other Cornish X back inside to the dog crate. She has air conditioning and can reach water without much movement being required of her. So, the other one died of either dehydration and the heat or her heart gave out because of her weight (they are HUGE birds and just eat and eat and eat.) I don’t see the remaining one lasting much longer because of her sheer size, but I will NOT be killing her for food. She will pass naturally on her own. Until that happens, she is comfortable, living the high life with air conditioning and an extra large dog crate all to herself. I didn’t get chickens to have meat, I got them for eggs. I am not a meat eater. Hubby and the kiddos would rather not eat chicken so I rarely purchase it unless it’s in preformed nugget form or chicken strips. I feel awful about the first one passing from the heat and being too lazy to go get a drink, or her heart giving out from the heat, but I know she was comfortable during her short life.

I spoil the remaining one with ice cubes in her water when I have to run the dryer. (It gets really hot in the laundry room when I run the dryer.) She has air conditioning and when the dryer runs, she has a small fan blowing so she can lie under it or not, her choice. Usually she lies directly under it.

This photo was taken shortly after I placed them in quarantine. They were pecked bald on their backs.

As you can see here, her feathers grew back, tail feathers not so much.

She really is HUGE for a 10 week old chick. I make sure she gets plenty of sunlight. I have a small planter with whatever weeds and such grows outside in her crate so she can forage without really having to move far from the water. I open the windows when the temperature drops before the storms so she gets fresh air (70s F and 20s C) I bring her tiny grasshoppers and she gets mealworms (plenty of grit if she chooses as well) She’s probably the most spoiled meat chicken ever. I would love for her to be able to be outside and happily foraging outside, but she just can’t handle the heat. I have been told by the hatchery that she probably won’t live very long so, she can stay inside in comfort until her time comes. I realize this is very strange, but I didn’t set out to buy meat chickens. I don’t eat meat. I eat eggs and knowing exactly goes into those eggs is far more appealing to me than a month old dozen eggs from the grocery store.

Now that you know about the mixup with meat chickens, I had a few more questions for the hatchery. They were absolutely wonderful and answered every question I had with zero judgement on my keeping a meat chicken indoors and pampered. Chicken Little is NOT a leghorn or an Ameracauna. He, yes “he”, is definitely a rooster, and a Buff Sebright bantam. He was not supposed to be in that particular bin of straight run chicks either. He has begun to practice his crowing and I haven’t been able to catch it on video yet. It took me a week to find out who was crowing. I heard him all the way upstairs at the front of the house. (Chickens are out back.) I honestly thought something was wrong and a predator was inside. Nope, just Chicken Little trying out his voice.

He’s got an awesome little personality. He rules the coop even though he is half the size of everyone else. He has a rose comb, which is interesting to me because I have never seen one before. He also has green feet. He loves to flap his little wings and gets some serious height.

Rocky is out other surprise. Rocky now has feathers growing on her legs. This picture was about 2 weeks ago. So, I will need to take a few better pictures of her legs, but the hatchery has a strong belief that she is not a barred rock, but in fact a Barred Cochin. I will keep you posted on any updates regarding her breed identity. She is very curious and LOVES my phone.

They all love perching on the coop door.

My mother in law brought me these fabulous signs for the coop and brought two of each so when one sign gets sun faded, I can replace it with a new one.

She also found an egg basket for me. She always brings me the random things I cannot seem to find, but bring up in conversation when I talk to her. She’s amazing at her random gift giving because it’s always something I have been hunting for and cannot seem to find.

The cat litter boxes as nesting boxes have worked out rather well as far as durability and being able to keep them clean. I think I will take some wood screws or maybe bolts and bolt them to the coop walls because they tend to fall over when everyone loves to sit on top of them.

As for roosts, I got kind of lazy there because I couldn’t find an effective way to put in roosts and still have plenty of room for them to move around and enjoy the space. So, I had an old wooden ladder that was not capable of holding my weight, but they absolutely love it. The waterer hangs underneath the ladder on 550 cord (paracord)

It is also tied to the coop itself until hubby can go bolt it to the wall for me. I didn’t want it to fall over so 550 cord to the rescue. They love it because they can go up on the paint bucket shelf and look out the window. I am always greeted each morning by a handful of them peeking through the window at me when I open the coop each morning.

Chicken Little is still snuggly.

This also happens when I go to refill food and water. I become the best perch, I have had chickens on my shoulders, one loves to get on my back when I bend to clean up the feeder (bedding gets everywhere). The particularly love to perch on my thighs as I squat down.

In addition to the chickens, we have had some other feathered visitors. One has taken up residence in the sugar berry tree.

Before you yell at me about the red liquid in the feeders, I stopped filling them with the premade nectar and use just sugar water now. I didn’t know that it was harmful and was immediately made aware when I posted pictures and video on my Facebook page. I have fixed that issue.

My new phone takes really good pictures compared to my old phone.

This guy was found in the ditch heading towards the highway. I had a talk with him about how dangerous it was to cross that road and told him he would be squished and needed to turn around and go to the back of the property where he would be safe. Hubby of course laughed at me for lecturing the snapping turtle, but he listened and turned around and headed towards the back of the property. He was almost 2 feet long and lunged at me a few times. I was too close, so I don’t blame him. I am just glad he didn’t get squished.

I am thankful that we have not experienced any flooding, extreme weather, tornadoes, or anything else that is scary and involves the weather. We have been really lucky. I did have to completely empty the coop bedding after one really bad storm because it was soaking wet near the window. Hubby is making a shutter for that window this weekend so it can be closed for bad weather. I just cleaned it out, used an old mop to dry it and put in new bedding. The old bedding is in the compost pile and the compost tumbler that hubby made for me when I began this blog.

I have it next to the coop so I have easy access to it for adding old bedding and chicken poo scraped off of the coop door. Yes the grass needs to be cut, but it is just way too wet. We need a few dry days in a row so the mower wont get stuck in the mud. You can also see my makeshift clothesline that I used when the dryer broke. Another instance of 550 cord to the rescue. It worked really well and held my king size duvet, which was dry in about 30 minutes because we had some insane wind that day. Hubby promised to install a permanent clothesline for me so I can hang up linens to dry. I love the smell of line dried sheets. I grew up without a dryer so, I guess I just got used to that smell and the crisp feeling of clothes that are line dried. We definitely have enough wind and sun for it.

Finally, for those of you who love my kitties, here are a few pictures of Fizzgig, Gizmo, and a few of Miss Mia (she’s an honorary kitty).

Until next time….

Chickens, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Chick Update

The chicks are getting so big. They are fully feathered out and going outside during the day and back in at night.

It was super gloomy the other day and rain was on the forecast, but I didn’t want them stuck inside all day so, I sat outside and when it started sprinkling, I gathered them up and brought them back inside.

They really seem to enjoy all of the space in the run.

Hubby brought me a tire crate home. The gate is made from the top and bottom of the crate. I still need to paint it white to match and repaint the shed. The coop got a fresh coat of paint.

It looks like there is no fencing at all and there are two layers. One layer is chicken wire and the other is hog fencing. Hubby also built them a swing.

This is one of the sides of that tire crate. They are rather large tires. When he called and said he had something for me, I figured it was another window shipping crate. Nope, he brought me readymade fencing. πŸ˜‚ He had no idea what I would do with it, but he knew I would have been upset if he had told me about it later and hadn’t brought it home. They seriously just break these apart and toss them in the dumpster. The wood is heat treated and I make sure he doesn’t bother with anything that doesn’t have a HT stamp. Chemical treated wood is useless to me.

I took a close up of the fencing. It really is two layers and the green fencing is buried 2-3 feet under the ground, to prevent anything from digging under the fencing and getting into the run. The coop is built, but I am still working on security and don’t want to take any risks. I will be laying huge stones around the coop itself to prevent digging even though the coop has a solid floor and pallets underneath the floor. The floor was raised to prevent flooding because of water runoff. I am EXTREMELY protective of the chicks because our friends put their chicks out and lost every single one within a weeks time. They had 50. I only have 15. I am taking my time and making absolutely sure that NOTHING can get in.

I also got the bird feeder out and it doesn’t swing in the extreme winds here. I secured it to the tree with electrical fencing wire. It was heavy duty enough for the job. We also finally mowed the property for the first time this spring. (still need to weedeat). We also took down a HUGE tree branch that was threatening the powerline from the old dairy building to the stalls. I will get some pictures of that later. Oh, I almost forgot, I started painting the planter boxes (window shipping crates.)

They still need holes drilled in them, but they are ready to be drilled, filled, and planted. Hubby also bought me roses. Three bushes. I LOVE roses.

Two will go in the large window shipping crate and the third will go in a large planter that was used for tomatoes a few years ago. (It’s pretty large. I can’t lift it when it’s full.) I made sure to get three different kinds of roses. I know one is Oklahoman, but I can’t remember what the other two are.

Until next time….

Chickens

Ladies and Gentlemen We Have Cheep Cheeps.

I was a bit worried last month when I went to the local lumber store, which is a hardware store and asked when they were getting their chicks in, since I have no way to pick up chicks to be mailed now that hubby has changed his schedule. (I can’t drive for medical reasons.) The man who runs the hardware store is friends with hubby and I and he had terrible news. The main supplier of chicks for Oklahoma went out of business. We were calling everywhere and then, I received an email from Tractor Supply (an awesome little farm store) They were getting chicks on April 1st according to the email. I was giddy. Well we had to pick up Def fluid on Monday and we were already in Lawton so, we went to Tractor Supply because they carry Blue Def (Def is diesel exhaust fluid) So to explain this for anyone who has never had a diesel vehicle, Def fluid is burned off periodically and it clears out the buildup in the exhaust system. It smells funny when it happens. This is NOT the cause of diesel vehicles that pour black smoke from their exhaust. That is referred to as rolling coal and it is terrible for the engine. Anyway, we were in Tractor Supply and I heard cheeping. I honestly think hubby was more excited than I was, though he will NEVER admit that. I started picking out chicks being sure to pick most from the pullets and only four from the straight run chicks. I have a selection of Rhode Island Reds, Black Sex Links and Ameracauna (at least that’s what the paper sign said for Ameracauna) I am doubtful about the Ameracauna chicks, but we shall see when they are bigger. I got 15 chicks total and only four are straight run.

I have only named one chick. His/her name is Chicken Little because this was the smallest chick in any of the tubs and I wanted it. The guy looked at me like I was insane when I said I wanted the teeny tiny chick. They all have wing feathers so, I am uncertain of exactly how old they are. The guy who helped me guessed about 3-4 weeks.

Hubby took video of me taking them out of their little cardboard boxes.

I apologize for the red photos in advance. I didn’t want to use flash too much and traumatize them. All 15 are still doing great on day 3.

This is Chicken Little and I have some size comparison pictures. I will label those. Chicken Little is also in the first and second photo below.

Yes, I was careful where I put my hand. They are in an extra large dog crate with the plastic pan liner the cardboard is between the pan and the crate so it will not get wet.

Here are the size comparison pictures.

So tiny. 😍πŸ₯🐀🐣

They were vaccinated at the hatchery and are currently drinking a mix of probiotics, electrolytes, and vitamins in their water.

Fizzgig is terrified of them and Gizmo is only mildly curious. Miss Mia has been coming downstairs before I wake up and sitting next to the crate to watch them. She gets upset when they start cheeping loudly and goes to check on them. I will try to get some clearer photos they are just so fast.

Until next time…

Holidays, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

More Decorating…

When I married my husband, we both decided to get rid of our decorations and such from our previous marriages. We had both been married once and those marriages ended badly. I kept a handful of things that belonged to the kids and he did the same. The rest was tossed. I bought our tree during our first deployment together. I remember when I told him about my purchase, which happened after Christmas during one of those sales where EVERYTHING is marked down super low because the store needs it gone to make room for the next holiday or seasonal shipment. He went into full panic mode because it was pre lit and he was absolutely terrified that I had bought a tree with colored lights. I grew up with a real tree being put up each year and colored lights. I don’t like real trees because it takes like seven years to grow them that size. Then they get chopped down for someone to put in their home for a month and then tossed in the garbage. It’s like cut flowers, wasteful. I prefer white lights on my own tree, but I don’t think colored lights are ugly. They just don’t match with silver and purple, which is my theme for our tree.

The tree is 7 feet tall and it was pre lit. Over the years, the pre lit part stopped working and now it’s partially lit. I add extra lights each year, but we plan on buying another tree, without the pre lit feature, during this year’s clearance sales.

I have added bits and pieces here and there, never really adding too much because moving with the military meant you were only allowed a certain weight for your entire house. I was terrified of the contents of our home being over that weight limit.

He is retired from the military now and we own our home instead of renting or living in military housing so, I have started replacing our furniture, since I was never allowed to have heavy furniture because of the weight limit, and collecting seasonal decorations. We went out on Friday evening to get salt for the predicted snowstorm and I wandered down the seasonal aisle. I sought out penguins of course and found a few, but the real treasure I found was Fall themed.

There were exactly six of these adorable Fall themed placemats left in the clearance section. I paid $.60 each, for a grand total of $3.60 for six cloth embroidered placemats. I was giddy about this and my hubby couldn’t understand why I insisted on buying something for a season that had already passed until I explained how much they would have cost me if I had bought them when it was still Fall. He quickly understood and decided we were going shopping after Christmas for decorations. He did let me buy placemats and a table runner that wasn’t Fall themed.

Fizzgig launched himself across the table so, the tablecloth was wrinkled. (I fixed it so it’s straight again.)

My mother in law brought me a bunch of old table linens and such when she came to visit in May. This placemat was part of a set of 4 and came with foam coasters too, butI have 6 chairs and only enough for 4 spots so, I have to find another way to display them. I was determined to have at least one on the table because she took the time to pack up all of these lovely old linens and some quirky placemats and bring them to me when she came to visit. The white tablecloth came from hubby’s great grandmother and the white napkins match the tablecloth. They soaked in oxiclean for a week to get them bright and stain free again.

I am deciding on a centerpiece, but until I do, the placemat stays. I need to get out to Dollar Tree for wine glasses and charger plates so, I will likely use upside down wine glasses as candle holders with ornaments or glitter ribbon inside of the glass itself as a centerpiece. This blog has some examples of what I am thinking of doing, but I will make it match our style.

I put my tabletop tree up in the living room and did remember to take a few pictures, but I didn’t take one after hubby put the topper on this tree. I will take a picture of that tomorrow and add it in the next post.

Fizzgig of course, had to check it out and sniff it to be sure it was not harmful. This tablecloth is also from my mother in law. I love old linens.

He also had to taste it by chewing on a branch. I guess he didn’t like the way it tasted, because he left after this picture.

I got it all decorated with jingle bells, snowflakes, and a strand of acrylic crystals because I don’t light this tree. The crystals reflect light. The topper is on the table next to it.

A closer picture of the penguin behind the tree.

This little box holds everything that goes on the tree, except the topper. It doubles as a decoration because it’s cute.

One of the kids bought me a penguin snow globe one year.

Throughout the house, I have random little decorations such as this adorable little guy.

This very round snowman is next to the router for the wifi.

This snowman is on the other side of the router.

I have penguin potholders for every season, but this picture is about my aloe plant. It is in a perpetual state of confusion. It bloomed about two weeks ago and I was waiting for the bloom to die back so, I could cut it back and it bloomed again….IN DECEMBER!!!! You can see the old bloom next to the new one. It has to be senile or something because it is cold outside and that window is a greenhouse window, but it gets cold because it is cold outside. So, now I’m waiting for this next bloom to die back so I can cut them both back. I hope it doesn’t bloom again.

Finally, I have these on the door and I just got a new door hanger with bigger bells so, it will be extra jingly.

As for that huge snowstorm we were supposed to get with about a half a foot of snow, well, we got about a half an inch of ice and a little bit of rain. It was rather disappointing to say the least, but this is normal for Oklahoma forecasts. One day it will be 70Β° F and the next day, 20Β° F. We are supposed to get some snow on Thursday so, hopefully we do and I can go find some critter tracks. I adore finding animal tracks in the snow. This is how we discovered we had a fox living in a little den under our willow tree near the back of the property. We never noticed until I was following the fox tracks and they led to a small hole near the tree. I started watching the tree at sunrise during the spring and got to see kits running around with their momma.

Until next time…..

Holidays, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Holiday Decorations Have Begun

Fizzgig was so excited to see a gift bag that he could play with.

Gizmo immediately claimed the tree skirt as her own.

She got quite comfy.

That is, until Fizzgig decided she needed to share it with him.

This is my elf. He goes on the front door. I haven’t finished decorating, but he has been hung. I don’t hang outdoor lights because we have a two story home and I don’t like heights and neither hubby, nor myself want the electric bill that comes with hanging oodles of lights. We may get some led lights that don’t use a lot of electricity in the future, but as of right now, we decorate indoors and a few things hang in windows or on the front door, but behind the storm door. No decorations on the porch because I have not figured out how to keep them from blowing away or falling over from the wind. Eventually I will figure something out.

This was before hubby came home from work and added the tree topper and before I had finished. This is important because the final version looks different.

A bit better view from the side with more lighting. (Again, not even remotely finished)

My dining room table is covered in decorations and GLITTER!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

My daughter made this in elementary school. It is made using a coat hanger and plastic sandwich bags (no zippers, just the fold ones.) Then you just add ornaments. Over the years, ornaments have fallen off or broken because they were super inexpensive plastic ones so, I added some ornaments, a stocking, and some silver glitter ribbon because glitter makes everything better.

Hubby put the tree topper on and I set up my penguin. Fizzgig ran under the tree as I was taking this and knocked over one of my stuffed penguins that I had set at the bottom of the tree. (Have you figured out my chosen theme yet? Penguins 🐧🐧🐧)

There are quite a few on the tree. I took some close up pictures of them.

I mailed this one to Iraq during one of the many deployments. He shockingly still has his tag and is in perfect condition after being mailed to Iraq every time Hubby was there in December. He made the trip 7 times.

This is our first penguin ornament. We buy at least one penguin each year. Sometimes we buy a few.

One of the kids even made a penguin foam ornament in school. There are two in this picture because they were right next to each other.

This is our disco penguin. He has a switch on the bottom and he flashes colored lights when turned on.

This one came with a pair of fuzzy penguin pajamas my fabulous mother in law sent me one year. There is a year on the back, but I didn’t think to take a picture of it.

Another penguin and a sprint car ornament. (Hubby races sprint cars on dirt so, the sprint car ornament was rather necessary. I bought it on Etsy and it is a Matchbox car.)

I told you we have a lot of penguins. And these are just the ornaments so far.

Sometimes it is EXTREMELY difficult to locate a penguin ornament. So, sometimes they are rather small ones. Other times they are large.

This one makes noise every time the cats go under the tree. (It has a jingle bell on it) I have quite a few bells too.

Not a penguin, but how many people do you know who have a batman ornament? πŸ˜‚ Batman belongs to Hubby.

This one came in a boxed set with penguin ornaments and silver glitter ornaments. They are hand painted and glass so they are up high and I have them on special hooks because Fizzgig liked to climb the tree last year. (I will find the pictures of him in the tree.)

One of the stuffed Penguins I was talking about earlier.

This is the one that was knocked over when Fizzgig ran under the tree.

One of the kids won this one in a claw game machine and gave it to me.

And this is the final tree for this evening. (I still have ornaments to add, another tree to decorate, stockings to hang, etc. etc. )

Miss Mia in her antlers last year. She ran and hid upstairs when I pulled them out this year. πŸ˜‚

Found it. Fizzgig playing in the tree. Oh this reminded me to get candy canes. There were some amazing ones last year, hot chocolate, salted caramel, and Espresso were the assortment that I ate every single candy cane from. My son loves the ones that taste like skittles, sour patch kids, or starburst. I had different curtains and almost forgot about them. Hubby went somewhere and came home after dark and realized he could see right into the house and was not thrilled about that so the lace curtains came down and the plaid ones went up. (The plaid ones block the cold from the windows so, it’s quite toasty in the dining room now.)

A friend of mine made these for me last year. Aren’t they adorable?!

I also hung some of the cards up. In the entryway to the dining room. It isn’t a doorway because there are no doors. So, I guess it’s an entryway. My son was laughing because I used cinnamon dental floss to hang them. He said, ” Mom, why didn’t you use plain floss? Is it because it is red and you think red is more festive than white?” Nope, it’s because I couldn’t find my kitchen twine and that was the flavor I had in my purse. πŸ˜‚ It worked. I will get a close up of my tree topper tomorrow and take more pictures as I continue to decorate.

This is what my weekend looks like. Just a half a foot of snow expected. Nothing major. If we get that much, you will also get oodles of snow pictures. I love going out and looking for animal tracks. I especially enjoy the barn kitty tracks because the tracks tell me where they go when they aren’t close to the house.

Until next time….

Everyday Activities, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Life Happens Sometimes.

I apologize to all of you for being missing for so long. So much has happened so, I will do my best to bring you all up to date in a single post because tomorrow is decorating day and I plan on making an entire photograph post for that.

If you have been following along, you know that so many things have broken and been “repaired” and then been broken again. Well, the air conditioning is fixed. The heat is working just fine and we are looking at snow and ice this weekend, which I am hoping doesn’t knock out the power. If it does, we will be just fine. We have a generator and an amazing kerosene heater, which I can place a pot or pan on top of and actually cook on it. They would be simple meals, but hot food is so much nicer than eating whatever I can quickly cook on a crappy hot plate plugged into the generator. I can also use an outlet on the generator for my crockpot so, we will be eating like normal. I just prefer to have my oven and stovetop.

The well pump was acting up prior to my hiatus and that turned out to be a MAJOR issue. It wasn’t just the pump. We ended up replacing all of the PVC piping from the basement to the well, the pressure tank (we upgraded to a 100 gallon tank from a 45 gallon one), the pressure switch, the pump itself, and all of the wiring from the basement to the pump. It rained just before the pump went out and I am so glad it did because it made the rock hard Oklahoma clay soft.

This is the old pressure tank. We replaced all of that PVC because it snapped when we removed the tank.

This is the new pressure tank and that funky looking piece right next to the tank makes it EXTREMELY easy to remove the tank. The end allows for drainage in case of sand building up in the tank. We will switch to a different filtration set up next summer.

This picture shows where the wiring was originally going through the well housing pipe. As you can see the hole isn’t very big and it was shredding the insulation on the wiring causing shorts to happen. We drilled out this hole and added a fitting so the white PVC pipe fits snugly and protects the wiring instead of shredding it.

Originally there was some metal conduit coming from the basement wall and when the pipe from the well to the house sprung a leak, water flooded through the metal conduit hole into the basement. The wiring was coming from the house through a hole and about a foot of metal conduit the rest of the wiring was just buried without protection and there were so many electrical tape patches. We replaced the wiring and it is now inside of the white PVC pipe. The black PVC is the water line. It’s flex pipe not rigid pvc so it is an upgrade from the random bits of patched together pipe that was in the ground. No wonder it sprung a leak.

This end is where the pipes meet the basement wall. As you can see, no more metal conduit. (Inside the white PVC, is a copper pipe that fits through the basement wall and the space between the copper pipe and PVC has been sealed with silicone so, it is water tight, but the pipe can be easily removed if needed.) The water pipe is connected to the old metal pipes for the house, which are original to the house, but most of the pipes in the basement have been replaced. We just didn’t want to cut a hole in the cement block that makes up the basement wall so we left this metal pipe section in place and connected it to the flex pipe with copper fittings, which have hose clamps as a backup measure for securing the copper fitting inside the flex pipe. I wish I had taken a picture of that fitting because I know that’s confusing. There is a screw in side going into the metal pipe and the side that goes inside the flex pipe has these ridges that dig into the flex pipe if you attempt to remove it. We just weren’t taking any chances and added two hose clamps for extra peace of mind.

So, that’s everything for the well that I took pictures of and still have the pictures. It took almost a week to complete everything since hubby still had to go to work every day and my son still had school. We had water except for one full day. Hubby had everything situated for temporary measures since we got muddy daily working on the well. Showers were a must.

Next up is the drafty doors. I REFUSE to get rid of the original front door. It is absolutely beautiful. I was tracking up thick blankets each year making the front door unusable and the back door, it’s a French door and while new (previous owners put it in) it has a serious draft and the glass just allows cold to permeate the living room. So, blankets were not cutting it for me or hubby. They looked terrible and we were forced to use the mudroom for coming and going. It was not fun.

I decided on a more permanent solution, which blocks the drafts and cold, but we have use of the doors and it looks much nicer than a blanket.

Okay, this is the back door. As you can see, theres a blanket still partially tacked up over it. (I think those are called French doors. Both open.)

This was my solution. (This is the front door) It is a sliding glass door curtain and it’s thermal as well a a blackout curtain. So, it’s pretty thick. There are single pane windows that are decorative and they don’t open, they are just panes of glass, which surround the door. It is lovely in the summer because it let’s in a ton of light. So, the curtain needed to cover all of that glass as well. (The glass is also original and I am not destroying the history of my 100 year old home.)

These are the best pictures I have of the front door and the surrounding windows. I don’t normally take photos of the doors because they aren’t exactly a needed thing usually. We discovered that Fizzgig knows how to climb a ladder while installing the curtain rods and the curtains. I do normally take a ton of pictures of my animals. So, these give some idea of how much glass is actually there. I am currently searching for someone to actually fix this door as well as searching for a solution for all of the single pane glass. I was thinking about using clear film as a bit of insulting. (Like tint for car windows, but it is clear) I am just not sure how it would hold up to the Oklahoma sun.

Finally, if you have made it this far, I am grateful for your patience. I will now reward you with some cute pictures of the critters.

Gizmo has claimed my fabric basket as her new bed.

Here she is checking out the tree, just after it was brought up from the basement. (Yes, I know the lights are uneven and it is completely crooked. I will fix it tomorrow and I will fluff it back out.)

Fizzgig sleeping in the empty fish tank, which used to house my Guinea pigs. I put an old sheet in there for him to snooze on once he learned how to get inside of it. He is dreaming about being a catfish.

This one is a bit older but they were both snuggled up to Miss Mia and it’s adorable.

Time for daily ablutions while nestled in hubby’s sweatshirt. Fizzgig loves coating his clothing in luck fibers. (Aka fur)

He also has a thing for heater vents and doesn’t care if we freeze as long as he is toasty and warm.

Miss Mia supervising the Chewy.com delivery. This is where I buy their food, treats, kitty litter, sometimes toys, and even the new leads I got for Miss Mia to go outside alone since she can get through all of our fencing. It’s just not safe for her to be outside without a lead since she will holt after a squirrel or rabbit and chase it for miles. We live on a state Highway and semi trucks are a real danger. She has 100 ft of freedom and she gets to explore the rest of the property on a leash with us taking her for walks.

Tomorrow, hopefully I will get my decorating completed and get the pictures posted tomorrow night. I will do my very best.

Until next time….

Reviews of Products and/or Companies

I Am Finally Trying Out Grove Collaborative (Pt 1)

So, today, I ordered from Grove Collaborative, which is a company that sells natural products from brands such as Dr. Bronner’s, Burt’s Bees, Seventh Generation, and my favorite, Mrs. Meyer’s. I have seen their yearly special for a free 5 piece Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning set for a few years now. (The link above will take you to this special offer and if you do sign up, I recieve a $10.00 credit with your first purchase. I want to be absolutely clear about this aspect.)

As I have recently stopped using as many harsh chemicals while cleaning my home and I am a huge fan of Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle products, I figured all it would cost me was taking a few moments to cancel a VIP membership (If I decided that $19.99 wasn’t worth free shipping for a year from Grove Collaborative plus other benefits like auto-shipping, first access to sales, etc.) and purchasing a few other products, which I was already running low on and they are EXTREMELY difficult to find where I live. Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is one of those things I simply cannot find anywhere near where I live. Personally, that twenty dollars a year is completely worth it. I pay more than that for Amazon Prime. From what I can tell, every product they sell is environmentally friendly and free from harsh and difficult to pronounce chemicals.

I have signed up for the free cleaning set and have a temporary VIP membership. I simply wanted to share the link, which Grove Collaborative provided, to the FREE 5 – piece Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning set. I spent a little bit more than the minimum for the free gift set, which was something like $30.00 (US) (FREE SHIPPING) and they added on another little goody, which was a cute little stoneware tray.

I have been using Mrs. Meyer’s products for a few months now and I am in love with the dish soap. I have been a loyal user of Dawn dish soap for most of my adult life. I still have Original Dawn, the blue one, in the soap dispenser at the kitchen sink because hubby uses it to get grease, motor oil, and all those gross fluids from the garage off of his hands. I also use it to get those fluids out of his clothes. Some cleaning products, I will still use for specific things.

I have been cleaning my entire house with bleach or CaviCide for years. So, switching to more natural cleaning products has been a very difficult transition for me because I have no idea if these products are going to kill all of the nasty germs and viruses that can make you sick. I will continue to clean my bathrooms with CaviCide, which is a hospital grade disinfectant, until I know how effective the natural alternatives are at killing specific things like MRSA, Staph, the Flu virus, and other dangerous germs.

I have been cleaning with these extreme chemicals because I have a compromised immune system, which means the flu is deadly and the common cold is deadly. I am careful and rather obsessive about keeping everything clean because I absolutely HATE hospitals. However, these chemicals aren’t all that good for me either. CaviCide requires the use of a mask, gloves, and rinsing surfaces afterwards. Bleach also requires gloves because I have very sensitive skin, but I don’t have to wear a mask.

So, in an effort to be both more environmentally conscious and switch to more natural products, I have been trying the different brands of natural cleaners. Most have been found on Amazon, but Grove Collaborative has brands I have never heard of as well as all of the brands I am familiar with. They have so many options, it is fabulous. They are also priced very well compared to what I have been paying elsewhere.

Being a barefoot kind of girl, I don’t want bleach or remnants of CaviCide being absorbed through my skin, from walking around barefoot. So, I will be trying different options for the hardwood floors, which I mop daily because I don’t want dirty feet from walking around my home. Having a dog who likes to dig and scratch at the dirt outside, means that dirt comes inside. It comes in, even though there is a huge area rug in front of the door once you walk inside, shoes are not allowed, and I vacuum constantly. No matter what I do, dirt comes inside. So, I purchased a vinegar based floor cleaner. It had amazing reviews and many said that it removed the haze from their wood floors. We shall see if it lives up to the reviews. I like things that smell good, but I don’t want to breathe in aerosol air fresheners so, scented cleaning products is a plus. Neither of my current two go to cleaners smell good. Not even lemon scented bleach covers up the bleach smell.

As I just ordered this set today, I can’t show you photos, but I will post, with photos, once it arrives. I am looking forward to trying new products and having refills of those I am already using. As for the Mrs. Meyer’s set, I already use the hand soap, the dish soap, and the all purpose cleanser. I have never seen a walnut based scrubbie sponge, but I look forward to trying it out. I also look forward to the little cleaning bucket. I love buckets and baskets. This bucket won’t be used for cleaning. It will most likely end up in one of the bathrooms holding bath products or something similar. It is super cute.

I am looking forward to this package arriving because I really can’t wait to try this vinegar based floor cleaner. I went with mandarin orange for a scent because citrus is a clean scent and less perfume-like compared to scents like lavender. I love lavender, but it gives me a headache of I have to smell it nonstop or if a whole house smells strongly of lavender. Hubby likes lavender too but not the whole house smelling of lavender. Citrus scents seem to dissipate much faster and smell clean and fresh instead of like I used a whole can of air freshener.

Once the package arrives, I will write a post with information about my experience with Grove Collaborative, as well as a short review of each product in the set and those I purchased in addition to the set. If you wish to check out this gift offer, just click here or on the Grove Collaborative links that are highlighted throughout the post. Again, I am not an affiliate and to my knowledge, I only benefit from the link if you purchase from that link. I have made a purchase to receive this gift set and I purchased additional items. You can change the items they place in the cart, which are suggestions. If they say “Free” they are part of the gift set and cannot be removed. However, you can choose the scents for the Mrs. Meyer’s products. I have personally used Bluebell, Lemon Verbena, and Honeysuckle. They all smell really nice. Bluebell is a quite strong flowery scent. The Lemon Verbena and Honeysuckle are rather light scents. I cannot comment on the other scents as I have not tried them. I hope you enjoy the gift offer of you are looking for natural products (They have everything from baby care, cleaning products, and even hygiene products, which is awesome.) Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this segment. Until next time…

Adventures

Treasure Hunting on The Homestead

Today, I decided to take the metal detector around the driveway after spotting an old rusty nail on my way back from the mailbox. After my first handful of random metal objects, I went inside and grabbed a plastic grocery bag from my collection in the pantry. I have and use reusable bags, but I still have the grocery store bag my produce in plastic bags. This way, I have plastic bags for cleaning out the litter boxes or for picking up poo or vomit from the indoor animals. Accidents happen) Anyway, in 10 minutes of sweeping the gravel driveway with the metal detector, I had quite a bit of metal picked up.

The shell casings are from firearms we own, the actual bullet is not from one of ours. All of these bits can destroy a tire. I took a break to reapply sunblock and down a bottle and a half of water since the temps were at 109Β° F today. After cooling off I went back outside. Hubby was replacing the intake manifold on the youngest kiddo’s truck.

The manifold is replaced and the truck is back up and running. It still needs some love, an oil change, new serpentine belt, spark plugs, and new coolant as there is a mix of water and coolant in the radiator at the moment just to get it started back up.

I continued sweeping the driveway with the metal detector. I didn’t dig for anything and only retrieved metal objects on the surface because I didn’t want to put holes all over the driveway.

I couldn’t believe how much metal I found. The roof was replaced before the purchase of the house was finalized because it was uninsurable. (It was shingle over shake.) So, we got a new roof and apparently the roofers didn’t clean up after themselves.

This is all of the metal I found in a total of one hours time. I am certain that there is more, but it was far too hot for me to stay outside looking.

I cannot believe that all of the vehicles haven’t gone through multiple sets of tires from the number of nails that were in the driveway. Hubby managed to pick up a nail in the sidewall, but he did that in town, not the driveway.

I really hope this insane heat ends soon. I don’t think I can handle much more of the triple digit temperatures. It would not be so bad, but meds make me photosensitive so, it is more like 200Β° F instead of 115Β°F. I dehydrate far too quickly for my liking, which results in a serious migraine and if I don’t reapply sunblock every 20 minutes or so, I turn into a crispy critter. I cannot wait for Autumn to arrive. It’s my favorite time of year. I will be taking oodles of pictures in Autumn of fires in the firepit, the trees without their leaves, pumpkins, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I can’t wait. Until next time….