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….

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Chickens

More Chicken Adventures

I have been so busy trying to keep the coop clean, keep the run clean, and finding ideas for shade for my chickens. So, I am going to share what I have learned.

First, Sweet PDZ is freaking amazing.

I purchased two bags from Tractor Supply (I bought all they had) and sprinkled about two cups in the problem areas of the coop I sort of mixed it into the bedding so it was spread from the floor to the top by the time I was finished. I was being attacked by flies, mosquitoes, and gnats while I was doing this. An hour later, I went back into the coop because I had to spread some fresh bedding before Cheep Cheep Bedtime. Oh my gawd. The difference was beyond amazing. The smell was gone, the flying annoyances were gone, and I smelled absolutely nothing except for the pine shavings. I will never be without this amazing stuff again. This bag was around $8.00 I believe. It worked so quickly to reduce odor and moisture.

I also built the flock a hidey hole.

My youngest kiddo helped by cutting half of the bottom of the barrel off and then filing down rough edges. Then, he drilled holes in the bottom in the 5 pattern on dice for drainage just in case rainwater blows into the hidey hole.

When that was completed, I washed the barrel thoroughly with soap and water and then dried it. I added a nice fluffy layer of fine cut pine shavings and sweet PDZ. Then we put it in place in the run and added a cinderblock on each side so it would stay in place and no rolling away. I think the best part is that perching on top of it is rather difficult because it’s both rounded and a smooth surface. They will eventually figure out how to perch on it, but for now, it will stay poop-free. I also added a nice flat rock in front of it so they had a bit of a step to get inside easier. A few jumped in and right back out, but they were all interested.

While all of this was being inspected, I scooped up Chicken Little for a quick snuggle. He was so mad at me when I put him down. I think I may have embarrassed him in front of all of his women.

While I was at Tractor Supply, I picked up the next two stages of feed, oyster shell for added calcium, two 5-gallon buckets so, I can start fermenting their feed, and another waterer because temperatures are rising in Oklahoma.

I also grabbed a bag of scratch grains because the run is pretty much just dirt now and I wanted them to have something to scratch for. I bring in oodles of weeds and grasses every day for them.

I made them a dedicated dustbath from a sprint car tire, which hubby was kind enough to fold in half for me because these tires are HUGE. This folded tire will not collect water at all. I have to get some sand, gather some ash from the fire pit, and add some peat, but it is getting there. They love the tire because it’s nice to perch on.

I raked the run and put everything into a pile, which they essentially compost for me because they dig through it and I rake it back up and then, this cycle is repeated until there’s nothing left except for soil.

They chase the rake back and forth through the run as I am raking because I usually end up causing grasshoppers to jump or worms to be above ground. They go absolutely crazy for grasshoppers.

At the end of each raking they have a fun pile to dig through to find bugs and other tasty bits.

I FINALLY GOT VIDEO!!! Chicken Little is developing his crow and he sounds like a squeaky toy when he crows and it is just freaking adorable. (This was taken before the run was raked so you can see just how messy it is)

They have so much personality and seem to love my phone. They are also very attracted to my mint green nails and constantly trying to eat them. My toenails were also amusement when I made the mistake of wearing flip flops one night to put them to bed. My toenails are Tiffany and Co blue so I’m guessing they looked tasty too because I had a lot of beaks pecking at my toes. I normally wear my muck boots or tennis shoes, but I was tired and too lazy to put on real shoes. Bad idea.

They also love to perch directly on my back or shoulders and peck at my hair ties. (Hubby mowed the yard the following day so it no longer looks like a jungle outside of the run)

We still need to finish mowing the property, but a storm was rolling in so he had to stop mowing.

I have a few more projects for the chicken run to include planting inside of the run so they always have access to fresh plant matter. This will help me because I wont have to collect weeds every single day for them to eat. I will be trying out a few different methods for planting inside of the run so, I will be sure to document the process. I am also going to attempt to transplant some bushes that are planted around the front porch to inside of the run. I know theh won’t eat these bushes and I am hopeful that they will take root and will be a nice place to provide shade for the chickens. If you haven’t noticed yet. My chickens are completely spoiled. I am doing everything possible to make sure they live happy, healthy lives while providing me with fresh eggs (they aren’t laying yet). I have been informed about bobcat, coyote, stray dog, hawk, owl, and raccoon attacks to friends with chickens who all live near me and they are all free ranging their chickens. I want mine to be completely safe so I am doing everything possible to keep them safe while also finding ways to provide them with fresh plants, plenty of crunchy bugs and squishy worms, and whatever else they need to have happy healthy lives. I don’t want them stuck in an existence of dirt and bedding so, I am looking for ways to plant inside of the run. I will be planting peas all around the run tomorrow so they will climb the fencing and the chickens can munch on fresh peas. I am looking for a way to do the same with other climbing plants so they have all sorts of tasty snacks at their disposal. Any suggestions for planting inside or right outside of the run are always welcome, just leave a comment or send an email.

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 109° 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 200° F instead of 115°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….

Adventures

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Today, Hubby and I had to go into Lawton to have a tire replaced. The town we live in is repaving the roads and he wound up with a nail in the tire. It was in the sidewall so, new tire was needed and it could not safely be repaired. Since we were already out that way, I asked him to go through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge on the way home. We have been experiencing EXTREMELY high temperatures and a record high was broken this week. It was 113° at one point while we were exploring the refuge.

We spent a few hours driving around. All of the hiking trails and picnic areas were closed due to the extreme temperatures. However, we were still able to explore a bit and see some of the local wildlife.

The refuge is home to a number of animals, but the two most popular species are the American Bison and the Texas Longhorn. These are roaming freely around the refuge and the only things keeping them inside the refuge are miles upon miles of fencing and cattle grates across the roadways. If you have never seen a cattle grate, it’s a metal grate that stretches across a roadway and the animals do not cross it because their hooves will get stuck in the grate.

The bison were all hanging out under trees or anywhere they could find shade. This particular bison was hanging out next to one of the education center facilities. He/She was outside of the fencing for the facility, but others were inside the fencing, for one reason or another, and unable to roam around the refuge. I was maybe 5 feet away from this bison. I was inside of the truck and I did not exit the truck. These are very large, very dangerous animals. There are signs all around the refuge stating the danger and the possibility of them ramming your vehicle if you agitate them in any way. I was only able to get this close because of the temperatures. Hubby stopped the truck, turned off the radio, and I rolled down the window to take this picture before we quickly left the area. The last thing we wanted, was to have the truck rammed by a bison.

These bison were inside of the fencing. They were segregated from the herd. They could have been segregated/quarantined for a number of reasons. Possibilities include injury, illness, some type of medical treatment, or simply for research. They are beautiful creatures and I am very glad that they are protected from harm on the refuge.

The Texas Longhorns are another of those dangerous creatures roaming around the refuge. I realize that there are probably hundreds of ranches in Texas, which have huge herds of this particular type of cattle. However, these are not domesticated cattle. These Longhorns are wild and free roaming. They will also ram a vehicle if agitated. These guys were hanging out a short distance from Quanah Parker Lake and Dam. They were approximately ten feet away from the truck. Again, we stopped, turned off the radio and did not exit the vehicle. They did not seem to mind having their picture taken. One was rubbing his horns against the tree bark before we were able to stop. We watched them for a few moments before heading to Quanah Parker Lake.

I apologize in advance for the quality of this photo. We were standing by the lake and heard mooing. There was a longhorn in the lake, eating the lilypads. He was neck deep at one point, just happily mooing and munching away on lilypads. He is in the center of the photo and cream colored.

We were pretty far away and I only had the camera on my phone to take photos as the trip through the refuge was entirely unplanned. My zoom feature on my phone causes blurry photos sometimes. The photo above has 2 times zoom enabled.

This one shows the longhorn from the other side of the lake, we drove around to the other side to get a better view. I was using the maximum level of zoom available and all that is visible is a small blob of an almost tan color.

My favorite part of the refuge is Prarie Dog Town. This is the best place to watch the prarie dogs. They can be spotted all over the refuge, but they have a tunnel structure, which is massive, in this particular area of the refuge. I love watching them run around and pop in and out of their burrows.

It is actually called Prarie Dog Town. There is a wooden fence separating the small parking area from the prairie dog habitat. Hubby had to be careful when he pulled in because there were prarie dogs running around in the parking area.

There is a fine for harassing the prarie dogs. I am thrilled that this is considered an illegal act. Prarie dogs are adorable little critters and I cannot fathom why anyone would throw rocks at them or bring their dogs out of their vehicle in order to terrify these tiny creatures. It is sad that this sign has to be posted, but I am thankful that it is and that there is a quite costly fine, which is enforced, for tormenting these creatures. They really are adorable.

This little guy walked right up to me when I walked over to the fence. He kept creeping closer as I stood there taking pictures of him and the other prarie dogs. He was chattering at me and chattering at a smaller prarie dog nearby.

They are so small. They have these round little bellies, which make them look kind of ridiculous when they stand up on their hind legs. They look so skinny when they are on all four legs.

This one was eating and looks like a ball of fur in the grass.

They almost resemble a chipmunk or a squirrel. They don’t have fluffy tails like a squirrel or stripes like a chipmunk.

They stand up when they hear something that makes them go on alert.

They are rather small compared to the entrance holes to their burrows. To the left is the prarie dog and to the right is a burrow entrance. When something scares them, they all run straight towards the burrow entrance. They also have members of their little groups who are stationed at specific spots as lookouts. These lookouts watch for predators, food sources, and any form of danger. They are very social creatures.

We spent a bit watching the prarie dogs running around, entering and exiting the burrows, and munching on goodies found in the short grasses. They are one of the smaller mammals found in the refuge, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. I had to get back into the truck because the sun and the heat started to affect me and I was overheating. (Yes, I wore oodles of sunblock and no sunburn this time. I also drank plenty of water.)

As you can see, there are multiple smaller creatures than Bison and Longhorn. While this sign only shows a handful of examples, there are quite a few species of animal calling the refuge home.

It occurred to me that the map boards may provide a sense of the refuge in relation to the photos. I zoomed a bit for the second picture so, it may be legible if you zoom in on your end. I hope it is.

We then, headed towards the Jed Johnson Lake and Dam, which is one of the larger lakes located within the refuge.

The dam was not overflowing as it normally is due to the extreme drought Southwest Oklahoma has been experiencing. It was disheartening to see the lake levels so low. Many of the small creeks were completely dry. These lakes and creeks are water sources for the wildlife living in the refuge. So, seeing dry creekbeds, which are normally flowing with water is distressing because it causes problems for the wildlife, forcing them to leave their usual areas in search of a new water source.

Another issue caused by the drought and extreme temperatures is the algae that is covering large areas of the lakes and creeks. This area is just below the dam. Water from the lake normally causes this to be a flowing creek. As the lake levels are so low, this creek has become stagnant, causing large amounts of algae to grow freely.

The lake itself had areas of algae, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the creek below the dam.

An area close to where we live, within the area referred to as Texoma, is referred to as Red Rock. This area is home to the Red Rock River. This is an example of those red rocks. I was very careful to check for rattlesnakes prior to taking this picture near the shoreline of Jed Johnson Lake. I definitely didn’t want to deal with a snakebite from a highly venomous rattlesnake today or any day for that matter.

I took a few more pictures of the lake before heading on towards the next location.

I will never understand how some plants in Oklahoma even exist. This was growing in an indentation on a boulder, which was filled with bits of rock. There is no soil in this indentation. So, this plant is growing in rock, on top of a rock. That should not be possible, but here is a plant, doing just that, the impossible.

This is the bane of my existence. I cannot even count the number of these prickly pear cacti I have dug out of my property, only to have them return. I almost stepped on this bad boy. The thorns on this sucker would have gone straight through my tennis shoes. Another thing seen in this picture is the disgusting habit of many Oklahomans, littering. I took this piece of garbage with me and deposited it into the provided trash receptacle, which was seriously three feet away.

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited inside of the refuge, but that doesn’t seem to deter Oklahomans. I picked up about fifty beer cans and beer bottles throughout the day. I cannot stand a litterbug. Littering is a disgusting habit and a disgraceful example of Oklahoma. It seems to be deemed acceptable all over Oklahoma. This is especially true regarding beer cans and beer bottles. Not only did we see these items littering the wildlife refuge, but they are seen everywhere across Oklahoma. People throw them out of the window of their vehicles. This of course means that drinking and driving is a widespread issue in Oklahoma. I pick up approximately twenty beer cans and bottles from the ditch in front of my house each week. I was saddened to see so much litter in the refuge, but it honestly did not surprise me. I will always pick up litter as I am exploring because this garbage, which has been carelessly tossed, threatens the wildlife. I pick up other people’s garbage because the wildlife cannot remove it from their habitats themselves. If you are one of the people who is part of the problem, please, stop throwing your garbage on the ground and out the window of your vehicle. It takes two seconds to toss a piece of garbage into a trash receptacle. If you see litter, pick it up. Otherwise, you are still part of the problem, even if you aren’t one of the people littering. By ignoring litter, you are accepting living in a garbage filled world. By picking it up and not littering in the first place, you are a step towards a cleaner world. Please, don’t litter and if you are a smoker, throwing your butts out the window of your vehicle is littering. It is also one of the major causes of wildfires. Get a smokeless ashtray that contains your butts.

The trail to the Jed Johnson tower was closed because of the extreme temperatures so, unfortunately I was unable to take a photo of this tower, which resembles a castle tower. It looks completely out of place in the middle of the refuge. I plan of returning in the fall so, I will be taking pictures when I return. (In the fall, wildlife is visible everywhere. It’s my favorite time of year, especially for visiting the refuge.)

Heading towards the next area, hubby pulled over so, I could take a few pictures of the bison hanging out under a tree. They were approximately 150 feet from the road. We were near French Lake when we spotted these guys. The bison and longhorn were all doing their best to stay in the shade and stay cool.

French Lake was gorgeous today. As you can see, theres algae (this type was a reddish brown) covering the water around the perimeter of the lake. The water levels for this lake were also far lower than normal.

This was such a quiet spot. I stood under a tree while taking this picture. It amazes me how being in shade drastically changes the colors in a photo. This picture is far more true to the natural color than the one just above of the same exact spot. The only difference between the two is where I was standing when I took the photo. Its almost like the difference between polarized sunglasses and regular sunglasses.

These are the trees I was standing under.

One had a big bubble of hardened sap, which glinted in the sunlight when the wind blew, catching my eye.

This little guy was flitting between blades of grass and sticks, joined by hundreds of dragonflies (a few species) and butterflies at the edge of the lake. I kept having them land on my head, arms, and phone as I was trying to get a clear shot of this one. As his wings were moving, this was the best shot I was able to get with my phone.

My last shot for the day was of the minnows swimming in the shallows of the lake. I always enjoy a visit to the refuge. I don’t get to visit it often even though it is not terribly far away from our home. It is just out of the way when we head into Lawton and we are usually in a hurry to get back home. Today, I was thrilled when Hubby agreed to take me through the refuge. He had asked if there was anything that I wanted to do since we were already out and about.

Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

General Homestead Update

It has been an eventful few months to say the least. The air conditioning is fixed. (It freezing up was probably caused by the fact that the unit was trying to go from 78°F to 65°F and it just couldn’t keep up.) We shut it off, set it to 72, then to 70, then to 67 and left it at 67. We haven’t had an issue since. I received an email from Sears parts direct about the lawnmower deck, low and behold, its delayed until September now. I couldn’t help but laugh when I opened that email. Hubby is going to check out a riding mower on one of the local buy, sell, trade Facebook pages tomorrow after he gets off work. As long as it’s running, not a piece of junk, and isn’t smoking or something, he will buy it and I can go mow. Then, we will have two riding mowers, which will make 10 acres go much faster.

I haven’t even bothered stressing over the dishwasher. It phased me the least. I don’t mind doing dishes by hand and I do them immediately after cooking dinner. Once everyone has eaten. I finish putting food away and clean everything else.

Because it was so hot today and will be even hotter the rest of the week, I have been doing my normal spring cleaning routine because Miss Mia started blowing her coat and there is fur everywhere. She has been brushed, washed, and brushed again. there was so much fur, but after her bath, it was the same thing all over again, fur everywhere.

During my deep cleaning, I had hubby move the entertainment center so I could clean the fur from underneath it. I cant move it because the TV is too heavy for me to hold it from tipping over while I move the entertainment center. (It really is awkward and I’m too short to reach the top of the TV.)

I made the most amazing discovery when he moved it away from the wall. There were about 40 AA and AAA batteries under there, which I immediately threw away because of how they got there. So, here’s some of what we found.

He looks so ashamed. (And he looks super tiny. He is a normal sized cat. He looks like a kitten.)

He looks normal sized again and of course he can’t resist batting at a toy. Yes, that is a beauty blender. He steals those constantly so, I hide them now.

He was thoroughly excited to see his lost toys again. I walked out of the room and Hubby said that he immediately started picking them up in his mouth and putting them under the loveseat. He’s so weird.

The above video is of his absolute favorite toy. He adores bouncy balls. They are really difficult to find unless I want to buy them in bulk, which is crazy. So, I hit gumball machines at every store or fast food place that has them. He goes crazy when he hears the ball bounce.

The video was taken in the entryway. (There is a curtain over the door, but it’s a sheer curtain) the wood floors and the staircase to the left, which is also wood are original to the house. The front door and the wood and glass surrounding the door are also original to the house. The whole downstairs is wood flooring aside from the kitchen, bathroom, and mudroom. I despise wood floors because they are so difficult to keep clean and shiny. I will probably end up carpeting the downstairs (it will help keep it warmer in winter) but I will do so in a manner that protects the wood floors. I walk barefoot and I can’t stand feeling sand, dirt, grit, etc when I walk through the house. I don’t allow shoes to be worn inside, but Miss Mia doesn’t wipe her feet so, dirt, sand, grit, and sometimes grass are all tracked indoors. Also, stickers are the bane of my existence. I loath stickers. I always seem to find them with my bare feet. We have goat heads and sandspur type stickers. Goat heads are evil. They always break off into my feet when I step on one. I realize many of you will suggest slippers or shoes indoors, but I hate shoes. They make my feet feel like they are being strangled. Instead, I sweep, then vacuum, then use a dustmop, then, after all that, I mop the floors. Every single day, just so I can be barefooted and a bit crazy. 😂

I realize this is insane, which is why I want carpet. The floors are beautiful, I fully appreciate that, but I still hate them and they are brutally cold in winter, no matter how high I turn up the heat. I grew up in an old house with wood floors and skeleton key door locks. This was one of the aspects of the house I fell in love with when we first saw it. It felt like home. It still feels like home. The upstairs is carpeted with double padded, hideous hunter green carpet. It’s in great condition so, we will keep it until it needs to be replaced. Another thing I want carpeted is the stairs. I love the stairs, but they don’t love me. I slip and fall down them on a regular basis. So, I want, not full carpeting, but the long runner held down with bars. I honestly dont know how to describe this. It looks like this, but not that pattern. Just enough to keep me from falling down the stairs so often.

One day, perhaps I will take a photo of my purple kitchen 😂 No. I did not paint it purple. It came that way. Previous owners had terrible taste in color schemes. Until next time…

Journal Style Posts

I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

Upstairs ac is definitely NOT fixed. Woke up to the upstairs being sweltering HOT. The unit is still freezing up. I have no idea why either. I talked to the company and they will be back out next week to get this thing fixed properly. We thought it was just low on freon. He added 3 pounds of freon so it was definitely low, but it is still freezing up and that’s NOT good especially since it will be 105° and possibly higher this weekend. We will be letting it thaw every couple of hours and turning it back on in order to keep it cool enough upstairs to be comfortable.

The downstairs unit is working perfectly. No complaints there. We are going to inspect a riding mower tomorrow to use while waiting for the new deck to arrive. It’s an older model mower, but not ancient. As long as it runs and cuts the grass, I don’t care. It’s cheap enough to lay out the funds without having it hurt our budget. Also, having two mowers means two people can now at the same time, making 10 acres worth of mowing happen MUCH faster.

I honestly don’t mind mowing. I put in my earbuds and play music while mowing. I zone out and the only negative is the possibility of sunburn I wear pants and long sleeves because mowing makes the bugs angry and I don’t enjoy mosquito bites. Plus, the long pants and sleeves protect me from projectiles like pebbles or small sticks that were missed. I have been hit by pebbles wearing shorts and it’s not fun.

I am trying really hard to not stress myself completely over this whole air conditioning issue. It’s not easy since I thought it was fixed and it was no longer an issue. I seriously hope this is the end of the breaking spree. I will probably start smashing things myself if anything else breaks.

Another lovely thing happened today. We set up an appointment with a company that sells and installs water softeners and whole home filtration systems. We have well water, which means we have hard water and even with a really good carbon filter, we still get sand when filling the tub sometimes. (usually after heavy rains)

Well, the appointment was for 5:00 pm because this company would only make the appointment if my husband was home, even though I handle the finances and I am the final say for all expensive purchases. (Only because I make the budget and know whether something will cause us to struggle financially if purchased at that time.) Well, Hubby was home, he was a bit irritated by the sexism exhibited by this company, but he agreed that it was worth looking into a different option for filtration and softening our water. 5:00 rolls around and the technician is now late. 5:15 and the technician is now a no call-no show. So, I call the company and they had canceled the appointment yesterday without informing us. Um…. okay….

The representative starts to ask me about rescheduling, but another technician won’t be in my area until December. Then, this was the kicker, they wanted me to mail a copy of the deed for our property to prove we owned our home. I started laughing at the representative. I went ahead and told her to remove ALL of my information from their system to include my name, phone number, email address, and my address. I told her we would DEFINITELY NOT be rescheduling this appointment and that this was both unprofessional and highly discourteous of their company to cancel an appointment without contacting the customer to inform them. I also told her that there was no way in hell I was sending a copy of the deed for our home, especially when that information is a matter of public record and can be pulled up on the internet in less than 5 minutes. Proving ownership by providing a copy of the deed to our home is absolutely ridiculous and I sincerely hope people don’t actually do that.

We found out about this company from one of those scratch off game mailers. I didn’t care about the mailer, we actually wanted to see what we could do to improve our water quality. I drink the water from our well daily. It tastes amazing and I filter it a second time through the fridge. (I don’t want to have sand in my cup.) This company offered to test our water at no charge, which was a major bonus considering that test costs anywhere from $150.00 to $350.00 depending upon the number of contaminants they actually test for and if you test both before and after filtration. Our well was tested last year and aside from minerals and sand, it is safe to drink, it’s just hard water.

In case you live in Oklahoma, I don’t recommend this company at all. I started reading reviews online after the technician never showed and apparently this is common practice for this company. It’s just shady and unprofessional in my opinion. So, we will purchase the kit to test our water, then, we will find a water softener and maybe another option for a whole house filtration system at Home Depot or Lowe’s, the small hardware store in town, or even the Co-Op. We have a whole home filtration system in place and I just purchased a new type of filter for it, which is supposed to filter all solids, bacteria, and contaminants. We will test the tap water and the water from the well prior to filtration. I want to know if the well is contaminated in any manner because it isn’t difficult to decontaminate a well. I have to pour chlorine or bleach into the well every time we have an extended power outage or when the well has broken in the past to decontaminate it so, I know exactly what decontamination consists of. The bleach or chlorine is flushed through the lines and the well pump by opening all of the faucets after allowing the chosen form of chemical to sit for a specific amount of time, which is based off of well diameter and depth, and then letting the water run for like 10 minutes. So, not only is the well sanitized, the plumbing for the entire house is sanitized at the same time. We test the well every year just to be safe. Our neighbors have a well that is not as deep as ours and they have dealt with contamination multiple times since moving in. Ours is over 100 feet deeper than theirs. So, flooding does not affect our well as much as it affects theirs. That is definitely a bonus. We also do not have a well house, everything is in the basement. We have not had any issues with pipes freezing up or anything of that nature because the basement isn’t as cold as it is outside in a well house. I did teach my awesome neighbor my pool noodle trick (they work rather well for quick pipe insulation and are much cheaper than the black ones at the hardware stores) she also knows how to avoid a burst pipe in case it does freeze. They are new homeowners too and have never dealt with these issues either. We learned these tricks from the guy who has fixed our well when it broke in the past and from simply talking to people about having a well.

In case I never specified, this is the first home I have ever owned. For hubby, this is home number two. However, even his first home did not have a well, a propane hot water heater and an electric one, multiple ac units, and acreage. So, this is all new to him as well. We are learning as we go. When I registered our basement as our storm shelter with the city, they handed me an entire packet with well decontamination instructions (including a chart for determining how much chemical to dump in and how long it needs to sit and be flushed through the lines.) numbers to call after a tornado for assistance in removing fallen trees or other debris, radio stations to tune to during tornado weather for regular weather updates, television channels, web pages to visit if you still have internet, resources for clothing and food if your home is destroyed or damaged during a storm, and all sorts of useful information. They had an option to donate to continue producing this packet, I donated. I was amazed at how much information was included. One of the best things was a map that shows the topography of the surrounding areas (it is a county map) it shows low lying areas, higher ground, water sources, etc. As someone who is constantly trying to be better prepared for every possible scenario, this map is amazing. I have several maps of Oklahoma and one is a topographical map, but having just our county, enlarged, is really nice.

I registered our basement because I want to make certain that emergency services knows that we may be in our basement after a tornado. They keep a list in ambulances, firetrucks, and police vehicles. All emergency response vehicles have a copy of the registry. Because there is an old storm shelter just behind our home, which floods, and is NOT safe to use as a shelter, I registered our basement because I don’t want to be trapped and they are assuming that we were not home because the other dilapidated shelter is empty. That would suck.

As it is tornado season, hurricane season, and monsoon season in different areas of the United States, I would like to remind anyone who is reading, that having a storm kit, 72 hour kit, or a grab and go bag, can save your life. I highly recommend having all three, with 72 hours of supplies for everyone who lives in your home, including your pets, as well as an extra kit or two for anyone visiting your home when an emergency happens. Even if you don’t have visitors, these extra supplies will come in handy during an emergency situation.

If you don’t know where to begin, I have written three posts on emergency preparedness and they can be found at the links below:

Emergency Preparedness Part 1

Emergency Preparedness Part 2

Emergency Preparedness Part 3

It is always a good idea to be prepared for every emergency situation that happens in the area where you live. Those emergencies may be different than they would be here in Oklahoma, but a majority of the supplies are the same. Seventy-two hours worth of food, water, and clothing, sources of light, warmth, ways to cook, things to beat boredom and to ease anxiety, a source for news and weather reports, and first aid. Specific items for different emergencies such as ways to stay warm during a blizzard or severe ice storm are definitely necessary. Pay attention to the seasons and make sure that you swap out children’s clothing often as they grow quickly. I recommend using clothing that fits loosely for children just in case you forget to change out the sizes. For example sweat pants for winter, two pairs can be layered for extra warmth with a pair of tights/long John’s for girls or long John’s/baseball compression pants for boys. Do your best and starting somewhere puts you one step ahead. I began with my storm kit. Then, I made 72 hour kits for everyone, including our animals, then, I made those 72 hour kitsch into grab and go bags, which have everything already to go in case of emergency evacuation. Don’t forget the sunscreen year round and bug spray in summer.

I realize I tend to start my posts talking about one subject and tend to end up on a completely different subject by the end of my post. There is a reason why this happens. I write a blog post the way I would speak to someone. I write in a conversational manner. Some posts will stay completely on subject, but others will fall under journal style posts and they will go from subject to subject because I am writing them in a specific manner. I do hope this doesn’t deter you from reading my blog. Until next time…

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Bad Things Come In Threes, But The Air Conditioning is Fixed

The air conditioning is fixed!!! I cannot even begin to explain how happy I was to see the AC repairman pull into the driveway today. One air conditioning unit was low on freon and the other needed a tiny little part that he called a fan start capacitor. Both are blowing super cold again. Neither of them has shut off or begun blowing hot air so, they are officially fixed. (He left his personal cell number just in case something else happened with them after he left.) As of 10:13 pm, the house is basically a polar cave, just the way we like it.

I am still waiting on the lawnmower deck. I keep looking outside and hoping it doesn’t rain a whole lot before the deck arrives. I am trying to find someone with a tractor and a brush hog who is willing to cut it for us for about $100.00 or so. (I would even pay 200 if they would do it just before the new deck arrives.) The deck is apparently back ordered until late August even though the website said, “In Stock”. I seriously cannot catch a break. With the Air conditioning, the lawnmower deck, and the dishwasher, that’s 3. They say bad things come in threes and that’s 3 things. (I am not counting the chicken coop because it just needs the cover secured again. It’s not broken, just slightly damaged.)

The dishwasher needs a new heating element. That can be repaired and does not mean I need a new dishwasher thankfully. I am just fed up with things breaking. I realize this is part of owning a home, but it still sucks. It raises my stress levels, which in turn raises my pain levels and by that point, I just want to flop on the couch and no longer more for the entire day. I simply cannot flop on the couch doing nothing. My household would fall apart rather quickly if I did that.

I am making the best of the stressful situation. I have no issues doing dishes by hand. I drive hubby crazy because I have a dishpan with sanitizer in it and I dip the dishes after washing and rinsing. I didn’t use my dishwasher to wash the dishes, I used it to sanitize the dishes. Therefore, sanitizer is necessary. (Yes, I realize that most people do not sanitize their dishes.)

I sanitize my dishes because I have a compromised immune system. I clean my house with bleach and a disinfectant called Cavi-cide. I love bleach. Bleach kills almost everything that floats around the typical home. Cavi-cide is normally reserved for the bathrooms. It’s a hospital grade disinfectant, which needs to be rinsed off of surfaces after letting it sit for 3 minutes. It kills stomach bugs, flu germs, the common cold, MRSA, TB, HIV, etc. It keeps me from getting sick and ending up with a week long hospital stay. (I hate hospitals.) Hubby will be replacing the dishwasher element when it arrives. Apparently it is an inexpensive and simple thing to change out. Until this happens, I will continue to sanitize my dishes with sanitizer tablets.

Aside from the onslaught of breakages, everything seems to be going fairly smoothly. I will be spending tomorrow cleaning up the side of the basement we plan to turn into two bedrooms. It is currently cluttered with holiday decorations, Army fungus (uniforms, gear, etc.), and boxes I never unpacked when we moved. I will have to wear a mask while I am down there cleaning. There is a section between the two large areas of the basement, which has a dirt floor. This is the location of the old coal chute for the coal furnace, which was removed long ago. The dirt is an extremely find dust and I don’t want to be breathing it in while sweeping it back to the dirt floor area. Once everything is organized and swept up, we can figure out exactly how we want to remodel the basement. I will take some pictures while I am down there. The wall has names and birthdays for the boys who were members of a Boy Scouts Troop/Den back in the late 1950s or early 1960s (I don’t remember the exact dates.) The original builder’s wallpaper is also in patches on the walls. The builder’s wallpaper was calendar pages from 1918. We plan on preserving these bits of history even though we will be remodeling. Hubby plans on filling in the dirt floor section with concrete once he has it checked out to see if it’s still dirt for a reason. I will be taking the metal detector down there before he fills it in. The area is approximately 12 ft. X 7 ft. and I am bringing the metal detector down there because there was a Boy Scouts Troop/Den meeting in the one side of the basement. The entire square footage of the basement is about 1000 square feet. The attic is another 1000 square feet, which we would love to turn into usable space. Right now, the attic is about 120° Farenheit (It was 165° Fahrenheit earlier today when the AC guy was up there checking the upstairs air handler. Both units are heat pumps, and I have no idea what the difference is between a heat pump and anything else.)

Looks like an AC unit in my opinion. I apologize for the dark picture. It was 3 am and I was taking pictures because it froze up. I will show you what that looks like.

The first picture is the piping for the freon. And the second picture is through the top where the fan is and the entire compressor was frozen in a block of ice. In order to keep the AC going somewhat, I would have to turn it off, allow it to thaw out, then turn it back on, I repeated this process every few hours. This was the upstairs unit and all of the bedrooms are upstairs so, this one was pretty important at night.

This is the downstairs unit and it needed a capacitor replaced. For this one, the fan in the top wouldn’t turn on. To keep this one going, I had to reset the breakers until the fan kicked on every few hours. The air handlers are located in the basement and in the attic. They kept blowing air. It was hot air, but both kept blowing air. I really am glad they are fixed.

I am sunburned from being outside while both units were being fixed. I stayed outside and watched because I wanted to know how he was fixing them. He was so awesome, he explained everything, showed me the readings when he tested freon levels, told me what normal levels were, and showed me when he tested the old capacitor with a multimeter. It was showing zero for a reading and the new one was showing a much higher reading. He also flushed the drain lines in the basement for the air handler. He explained how to do it in case the water started to show on the small section of concrete again in the future. (Basically, he blew air through the lines with a handheld air compressor. I really want one of those, but they are stupid expensive.)

Fizzgig was being especially cute and snuggly this morning while I was drinking my coffee. I hated to get up and disturb him, but I absolutely had to get dressed today.

He has been really snuggly lately and I am not sure why, because he rarely wants to snuggle with me.

He has even been snuggly with Gizmo. (Pardon my couch. I am married to a mechanic and he doesn’t always change out of his work clothes before flopping on the couch. Motor oil and other mechanical fluids have destroyed my tan couch.) I vow to get a black leather/pleather sectional when I replace the couches. They are 9 years old so, they are actually in pretty decent shape for surviving oodles of kids a grandbaby, other people’s babies, cats, Miss Mia and hubby and I sleeping on them for several months when he had his knee surgeries. (He has a titanium knee now.) Miss Mia is not allowed on the couch, but that has never stopped a dog before when no one is home. They have also survived a move across the country and another across the state. I still want to replace them. They are a two piece sectional and I want a “U” shaped sectional with recliners.

Miss Mia also got brushed this week.

The birds had a field day collecting the fur that blew away before it could be bagged. They will have super comfortable nests when winter comes. The small family of Finches, who live in the tiny birdhouse on the Hackberry tree in the backyard have been stuffing the birdhouse with her fur since they moved in the same time we did. The first decorations I hung was my birdhouse and then, my windchime. The windchime has seen better days. Hubby finally rebuilt it using lacing wire to hang the chimes and a large metal washer on a nut and bolt to hang against the chimes because the Oklahoma wind ripped the chimes off and the part that bangs against the chimes. It will definitely survive any wind that blows on it now.

This sunburn has made me feverish. I used my favorite sunburn remedies because I didn’t want to be in excruciating pain. Yes, I was wearing sunblock and I was covered, but I was outside for far too long and burned anyway because of the photosensitivity caused by one of my medications. Those remedies have been working EXTREMELY well for me for as long as I can remember and I added a few over the years. First, is the vinegar bath. I mix about a quart of white vinegar in about two inches of water in the tub, the water is lukewarm. I cover my whole body with this mixture several times and let it dry. Then, I keep aloe gel in the fridge so it is cold. Aloe is a wonderful thing for burns. I make my own gel now, but I have bought many bottles in the past. A few hours later, I take another bath. This time I grew a gallon of very strong black tea, (about 8 quart size teabags for a gallon of water.) I let it cool and with the tub plugged, but empty, I cover myself in the tea several times and let it dry. I add more aloe and sleep in super soft pajamas. (A tank top and shorts with flat seams and EXTREMELY soft fabric) by morning I have no sunburn symptoms aside from some light redness or pinkness. I am extremely pale so, I burn easily. I ALWAYS wear sunblock, but sometimes I still burn. It’s nice to be able to stop the heat and pain rather quickly. I am sure these old home remedies are probably NOT recommended, but they work for me. Please don’t take any of this as medical advice. I am NOT a doctor. I am just telling you what I do for myself and my kiddos. See a doctor if you have a severe sunburn as it could be sun poisoning or even a 2nd or 3rd degree burn. Blistering of any sort should be treated with medical attention.

With that being said, aloe gel is super easy to make. Just cut open an aloe leaf, scrap the gooey inside out, add a bit of witch hazel (just enough to thin to your desired consistency) and mix in a food processor, blender, or mash together with a fork. Pour it into a bottle and keep it in the fridge. Keep in mind fresh aloe will mold because it doesn’t contain preservatives. I have also made a spray by adding a bit of distilled water along with the witch hazel. For this, you definitely need to use a food processor or a blender and then, strain it so, your spray nozzle doesn’t clog. I firmly believe all aloe marketed for sunburns should come in spray form because rubbing it on can be painful when your skin is tight and hot. You can easily water down store bought aloe with a mix of witch hazel and distilled water to make a spray form as well. No matter what, the best treatment for sunburn is to avoid getting one in the first place. Sunblock is a wonderful thing. Reapply every 2 hours and after sweating or swimming. You should be using a shot glass full of sunblock for a child and 2 shotglasses (a shot glass is an ounce) for an adult. Use more if you feel that isnt enough. The lotion provides better coverage than the sprays simply because you can see exactly where it has been applied. I am a huge believer in sunblock. Skin cancer is deadly and terrifying. Also, sun damage to your skin causes your skin to age faster. You will see more wrinkles and more discoloration when you don’t protect your skin from the sun. Even the bottom of your feet can get sunburned. Apply sunblock EVERYWHERE. Remember, even waterproof/water resistant sunblock needs to be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. 😁 you can also buy clothing with built in sunblock, which is especially awesome for kids who hate sunblock or anyone with a sensitivity. This is the brand, Athleta, which I have personally been using. It is not terribly expensive considering that it will help protect you from UVA/UVB rays. It’s also cute and comfy. (I have ZERO affiliation with this company. I am simply sharing the brand that I have been personally using.) Their clothing is soft and pretty durable. I was expected something itchy or heavy feeling because its sunblock clothing. I am very happy with my purchases. I can’t wait to get more.

Now, that I have lectured everyone on the importance of sunblock, I sincerely hope, if you take only one thing away from my blog, this is that thing. It truly is important to take care of your skin. Until next time…

Journal Style Posts

It’s So Unbearably Hot…

The temperature has stayed in triple digits here and I swear the thermometer outside is lying and it is 300° F instead of 102° during the day. I have no choice, but to go outside into this hellish weather during the day. I feel like I am internally combusting each time I step out of the shade and into the direct sunlight. It is simply too hot for humans and animals. I always feel sorry for black cattle because black attracts heat so they must be miserable.

The field across from my house was cut down and baled this week.

I am of course allergic to hay so, that just makes going outdoors even more miserable on top of the high temperatures. The only things growing on our property are weeds, which I am sort of happy about because we are waiting for the new deck to be delivered by UPS.

This weekend, I get to go to one of my favorite places, Harbor Freight. (it’s mostly a tool store, but they also have things like yard tools, food dehydrators, ceramic knives, etc.) We are going for hose clamps for the chicken coop. The PVC held up rather well considering, but we don’t want a repeat of the damage from the last storm.

Yes, everything looks super green and lush, but its mostly weeds shading the dead grass. There is some grass still growing. This particular section is green grass, with tons of lamb’s quarters all in the run. (I am not mowing them because they will die off just before winter and seed the ground. The chickens will have a field day with them and they grow super fast.)

This is an overgrown lamb’s quarter. I am told they are edible and taste like spinach. I was told the same about Poke weed. (Aka Polk salat. Poke salad, and just Poke) However, Poke weed is poisonous unless you cook it a specific way and I am just not risking it when I can grow or buy spinach. Lamb’s quarters are not poisonous. I researched it, but I have no urge to eat them. I will forage for sand plums, morrels, and a few other native species, but they are worth it in my opinion. Something that tastes like spinach simply isn’t worth it. They are one of those plants that thrive in these miserable temperatures. It is very strange how weeds can survive almost anything, but plants that produce food are EXTREMELY finicky.

Fizzgig and Gizmo are enjoying the cooler temperature indoors. (The air conditioning still is not fixed, but I manage to keep it going just enough to keep it cool indoors. The parts came in so the company should be out this week to fix it finally.)

Gizmo has taken up residence at the foot of my bed. She is thoroughly enjoying the fan next to the bed blowing on her nonstop.

Fizzgig prefers the window in the mudroom. There is a vent that blows a small amount of air behind the curtain so, he has a nice cool breeze and a gigantic sunbeam to enjoy while looking out across the backyard. The backyard has a perfectly clear view of the sunset each evening while the front yard gets the sunrise.

The reason I was outside in these miserable temperatures was to fill in holes in the backyard.

We have a dog sized armadillo digging holes all over the yard. I am quite certain that this is also the culprit behind the gigantic holes that are randomly found across the back of the property. These are very deep holes. I saw the armadillo the other day, but I didn’t want to wake hubby to deal with it because he had to get up at 5:00 am and it was 2:30 am. He told me he didn’t care what time it was, if I saw it again, wake him up. It is destroying our yard and he says it is a chicken predator. (I honestly don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t want it digging under the coop or run and leaving holes for chicks to fall into.)

There is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week and I honestly hope it rains so it will cool down, but I don’t want the humidity that comes with the rain. It’s a lose-lose situation. Until next time…