Calves, Journal Style Posts

Very Bad Day on the Homestead (warning dead snake pictures)

So, Saturday was just a typical blazing HOT day in Oklahoma. I went out to give the calves their sweet feed (basically treats that supplement the grass they graze on) and I was walking towards the small gate I normally walk through because I don’t like using the large gates because I am small and they are a few hundred pounds and well, I don’t want to be plowed over by excited baby cows.

Anyway, I was about 4 feet away from the gate when I realized that something had wrapped around my foot and I jumped to get it off of me and realized very quickly qhat was on my foot was now under my foot. NOT GOOD, Not good at all. Yep, my dumb ass walked to the corral wearing flip flops and ended up stepping on a snake. I ALWAYS look down when I walk specifically for this reason. I saw the snake and made a mental note of coloring and such. Tan-ish green back with a yellow belly and round eyes. I looked at my foot where I felt it bump into me, wiped off some dirt and the snake I had stepped on zoomed off to the area behind the garage. I assumed I hadn’t been bitten.

I fed the calves and was informed that I was bleeding by the kiddo helping me. She was freaking out so, I checked both sides of my Achilles tendon and sure enough I saw blood.

After I got inside and got it cleaned up
Little Fucker bit me twice
Before I had a chance to clean it

Before you assume I’m absolutely insane, I didn’t feel it bite me. Zero pain. It was a yellow bellied racer, a non-venomous, harmless snake. They eat mice, lizards, and small reptiles like toads and frogs. One of the first things I did when we moved to Oklahoma was to learn to identify the snakes. I am not a fan of snakes at all. Hubby did freak out. He immediately went looking for the snake and of course a King snake was spotted near the garage side door and zipped out of there quickly and avoided death by shovel.

Hubby also immediately started mowing a pathway away from the little gate because the grass near the little gate is dead and snakes blend well in dead grass. So he mowed some of the green grass low enough for me to comfortably walk through to get to the gate that is the size of a driveway because he’s terrified I’m going to get bitten by something venomous. We have cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnake and copperheads along with a plethora of other snakes.

I went to put the chickens away and heard the telltale sound of a rattle. My coop is dark and unlit now that the temperatures aren’t dropping below freezing. I had hubby come help me because I can’t kill anything and I didn’t want a snake killing my chickens or myself. I was not thrilled to see the type of snake once it was out in the light where it could be seen because it was a rat snake (nonvenomous and harmless, but they can rattle like a rattle snake.) Stop here if you don’t want to see a dead snake.

That round lump is an egg. I have been getting less eggs than normal lately and now I know why.
The shovel is a little over 4 ft and my darling husband chopped off the head entirely when this dead snake was still trying to bite. You can clearly see the egg it stole before it decided to fake rattle.

So, that’s 3 snakes in one day and one bit me, twice. I’m up to date on all of my shots, I just got a tetanus shot last year when I cut my leg on some rusty barbed wire so, no medical care needed. I just need to treat it like a puncture wound and keep it nice and clean. If that were the end of my nightmare of a weekend, it would still be a nightmare. Nope, not the end. Today, I went to get feed for the calves and some nifty buckets that hook onto the stall fencing and I went to feed the girls and enclose them in the smaller, well lit area with the stalls. Stepped off the back patio and found the ONLY hole in that section of the backyard. The sound my ankle made caused hubby to whip around and with a blank stare, he immediately asked, “How bad did you break it? Do you need help to the truck?” I am still shocked it isn’t broken. It made this awful crunching popping sound that was so loud. It hurt really badly for about a minute and then it stopped. I have broken enough bones in my lifetime to know that it’s not broken just because I can put weight on it and it isn’t bruised, several hours later. It’s a little swollen and the soft tissue is a little tender, but nothing is broken. I hope my new boots get here soon because I can’t be walking around in tennis shoes or flip flops anymore.

I normally wear Dr Martens for everything, but with the no shoes inside rule, it’s a major pain in the butt to unlock and then lace these things up every time I go outside and they don’t look right at all with shorts. I ordered a cute pair of Ariat Fat Baby boots. These are the exact pair . They have actual grip on the soles and they won’t come up to my knees. So, they won’t look absolutely ridiculous with shorts. Also, they are super easy to slip on and off and they are comfortable. I ordered a pair with steel toe and a pair without steel toe. (The steel toe pair has purple instead of blue and actually come up mid calf instead of being short boots.)

I’m not a big fan of “cowboy boots” because they never have any grip on the soles and I need that grip. Also I have wide flat feet and with most brands, I have to go up 2 full sizes before I can even get the boot on my foot. This style is amazing and super comfy right out of the box. That’s pretty amazing in itself because leather boots are the absolute worst shoes to break in. (I usually get them sopping wet and wear them until they are dry (two pairs of thick socks) but these are actually comfortable right out of the box. So, if you are looking for a comfy pair of boots (this is my second and 3rd pair of Ariat FatBaby boots) I highly recommend them. No insoles needed because they come with good insoles in place. I am looking for a place to get my old pair re-soled because they are really that comfortable. I love my Docs, but these are far more comfortable and provide great support for my arches and my pathetic ankles.

Pajamas and flip flops….

The girls are doing great. They have been released and absolutely love grazing on the 8 or 9 acres of green grass every morning. They come running when they see me walking towards the corral because they know I have treats. We lock them in the corral area every evening and I am hunting high and low for a dokey to help keep them safe from coyotes. They tend to stick close to the stalls during the hottest part of the day because they have plenty of cold water and the stalls provide some much needed shade. There are a handful of shady spots around the property, but they haven’t fully explored the whole 8-9 acres available to them. The whole property is 10 acres, but I don’t know the exact amount they have fenced off for their use. I am honestly not even sure how to measure it. During my search for a donkey, I keep coming across pygmy goats and I keep trying to convince hubby that I need them. He hasn’t quite gotten to the point where he agrees with me, but he has talked about how he would keep them contained for me once he does decide that he’s ready to build them a home.

The flock of chickens are the very first chickens for him and the calves are a first for both of us. He’s starting to warm up to the idea of having a “mini farm” as he puts it. He is still dead set against pigs unless it’s a potbelly pig and a pet. He’s had one of those before and I don’t think he has it in him to help raise a pig just to eat it. They have way too much personality and they are too much like dogs in his mind. I swear I married a big old softy who refuses to admit it. He always talks about the turkeys and deer that cross our property and talks about getting tags for the deer and hunting both the deer and the turkeys, but we’ve been here for years and I don’t see him ever even getting a hunting license because I don’t see him being able to take their lives. I think he’s content just knowing they are there. He will take down a coyote with no hesitation though. They are a threat to our animals to include Miss Mia. I think that’s the difference between the coyotes and animals like deer and turkeys.

Anyway it’s late and I need to ice my swollen ankle and attempt to sleep like a normal human. Until next time…

Calves, Journal Style Posts

Prepping For Calves

In our corral area, was basically half of a tree that we had cut down last year because the tree had cracked in half. Well, it needed to go because hubby decided to give me my birthday present early, two heffer calves. I didn’t know the difference between a heffer and a cow before this happened. Therefore, I will take a moment to explain the difference. A heffer is a female cow that had never calved, a cow is a female that has calved. I am learning things 😂

The branch started where you see the cut on the tree to the left.
The branch (it was half of the tree) tookup the entire area and the grass was almost 4 ft tall.
Cleared out the fence line where the frost free hydrant is located.
This was the before picture
All cleaned up and ready for calves.
This is the 102 year old dairy building right next to the corral area. Pay attention to the hole in the brick

I love finding nests in strange places. I will be taking pictures of the calves when they are delivered. They are being vaccinated and vetted before they are delivered by a friend of hubbys. Until next time…..

Barn Kitties, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

A Rundown of December and January

So, my last post happened before the holidays and my house has been a whirlwind of absolute chaos since then. I am currently purging the house and organizing everything, but before I get into that, I will get you all caught up on the whirlwind that was December and the beginning of January.

We had a lovely holiday with just the three of us, the kids were all supposed to come home this year, but life happens and they were all unable to come home. I would have enjoyed having everyone here together and actually being able to get a recent family picture, but I completely understand that life is harder when you are a young adult and usually living paycheck to paycheck. The kids will all be visiting this year, but it will be at different times. I did get to see my daughter in law and grandson this month so, that was amazing and stressful at the same time.

I guess I will start with the pictures I took in December and January as a little bit of brightness to this post. Fizzgig and Gizmo thoroughly enjoyed the tree.

They didn’t climb it this year, but they loved hiding out under it and sleeping on the tree skirt. Fizzgig loved the lights when I turned them to twinkle instead of constantly staying lit. He would lie under the tree and just watch them twinkling. He was definitely being quite photogenic.

We also saw snow at the beginning of January and some ice as well.

It began snowing and I honestly didn’t expect much because it didn’t look like it was going to be much more than what is on the ground in this picture. Boy was I wrong. We saw almost a foot of snow by morning.

It was absolutely beautiful and the perfect snow for snowmen and snowballs, but it was brutal cold and while we invited the neighbor’s little ones, and the other children who were visiting her, to go sledding, we didn’t play in it aside from helping the little ones go faster down the hills on the back of the property. (Our neighbor’s property is completely flat aside from the edge of her fenced backyard which sloped towards the fence dividing our property.)

The barn kitties stayed inside of the dairy building aside from a few short trips around the front of the property. I am guessing they went to see if any small critters were out and about for a quick warm meal. I warmed their wet foot and placed their wet food and water dishes on waterproof heating mats. They also have special beds in the dairy building rafters that hold warmth when they lie on them so, they are kind of like a heating pat that warms them using their body heat. They were all being used, but I couldn’t get pictures because of how the beds are set up in the rafters. I have pieces of plywood across the beams to create an attic of sorts so they can be up high and not be in danger if a predator manages to get into the building somehow. Additionally, they are out of my reach unless I climb on stuff so, they feel safer if I come into the building and don’t have to bolt out of there. The pawprint pictures are all around the dairy building. The last one is at their entrance and there were at least seven cats inside the building when I went to feed them. I am glad they were safe, warm, and had free access to plenty of food (both kibble and wet food), water, and warm beds. They do such a good job keeping the mice and snake populations in check. I just wish they would let me pet them.

These pictures are before the second round of snowfall. We had approximately six inches of snow at this point and about a 1/4 of an inch of ice formed that night on top of the snow. The pawprint photos are the only ones I got of all of the snow. We shoveled the snow away from the door and entrances to the dairy building for the barn kitties so, there wasn’t as much snow around the door thankfully. We didn’t want them trapped from snow.

I know this is a terrible photo. It was taken from inside the house the day after the snowstorm. The barn kitties walked through the raised bed outside the window. It was in the 40’s F the following day and the snow was gone by the third day after the snowstorm. I am hopeful that we get one more good snow before spring. I will get better pictures of it snows again. I wasn’t feeling well and the last thing I wanted was to be cold and wet as well as feeling icky.

Fizzgig really liked the table linens and took quite a few naps on the runner. He had just woken up from one when I snapped this picture.

At the end of December or very beginning of January, we got some new neighbors. I am not sure when they arrived, but they sure are adorable.

I had taken Miss Mia to check the fence line and once I was done doing my checks, I took her back to the house and spent a bit of time greeting these sweet babies. They were fascinated with Miss Mia and kept sniffing me because I smelled like her. I can’t wait to get a few calves of my own, but we still have a ways to go before that happens. The previous owners had 100 head of cattle on 10 acres. This is insane because the suggested number is one cow per acre. We are leaving the property alone. We mow the yard, but have only really mowed the property once or twice a year because we wanted it to grow back. It was pretty bare when we bought the property and it finally has a good layer of grass. We boarded horses so they could give the soil a bit of fertilizer without destroying everything like cattle tend to do when they are grass-fed. It’s getting there, maybe in a year or two I can finally get some calves.

Gizmo has been regularly stealing Miss Mia’s bed from her. Miss Mia is not a young puppy. she has arthritis and she’s getting old. Gizmo has no shame. Miss Mia will NOT throw Gizmo out of her bed because she thinks the cats are her puppies. Fizzgig and Gizmo were bottle babies (bottle fed and very tiny at 2 weeks and 4 weeks old) and Miss Mia loved them, groomed them, and let them cuddle with her anytime they wanted. She would rather sleep on the floor than kick her “puppy” out of her bed. We have placed another bed right next to her bed so, she now has another bed to sleep in if Gizmo steals her bed.

Now for the pictures of my grandson’s visit.

He is 15 months old and he’s huge for his age. His momma had no idea what to feed him for snack time since I was in the shower he got a little bit of everything. He enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lunch was cooked for him. (He had a spoon when I gave him his food. It was immediately flung across the kitchen and he chose to eat with his hands.) Lunch was ham cubes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and noodles in a cheesy bechamel sauce. He ate three servings and I had to teach his mother how to make it because he tends to play with his food more than he eats it and he destroyed this meal. He did wear some of it, especially in his hair. 😂

He fell in love with my Boston Red Sox blanket and slept with it for every nap.

Nonno stopped on the way home from the airport to buy his grandson some Batman clothes because he was wearing Captain America clothes and that was unacceptable. We chose to be called Nonna and Nonno because hubby and I are both from Italian backgrounds and these are the Italian versions of Grandma and Grandpa. I am 39, I am not old enough to be called Grandma. The wonderful thing about choosing to be called by these names is that he can say them.

He was so much easier to take pictures of when he was eating. He had French toast and sausage for breakfast and wanted cheese too. (I made omelets and French toast for everyone else)

He was laughing so hard the picture was blurry. He was laughing because his momma had hiccups.

He fell asleep holding onto her after giving her a serious leg workout.

My legs hurt just watching. He weighed 25.6 pounds (He loved the scale and stepped on it multiple times a day.)

He loves taking pictures.

He used me as a bed quite often. He sleeps like his dad.

Deconstructed taco salads were a hit too. We tried a plastic spoon because he didn’t like the toddler spoons or the baby spoons I had. He still ate mainly with his hands, but he tried really hard to eat with his spoon. I told him if he ate all of his food, I would give him an amazing dessert.

Needless to say, chocolate cake was a hit. (It was a TastyKake chocolate bell) I also gave him a bath. I wasn’t mean and I cleaned him up instead of just handing him back to momma and making her clean him up.

I also made him tiny pizza with tiny pepperoni when we had pizza and calzones for dinner. He had never had his own pizza before. He did exactly what his dad does, he picked off the pepperoni and ate those first then, he ate each slice.

It was definitely messy. (He had refused to drink from any sippy cups so, I bought some and got him drinking out of them. He still has his bottle, but this is a good start towards toddlerhood.)

I discovered that he loves snapchat so, these next few pictures are all snapchat filters. Some are a bit ridiculous, but those of you who haven’t managed to add me on other platforms will actually see my face.

We enjoyed being silly.

I am glad he came to visit. I said stressful earlier when describing his visit. He and his momma were both sick with the flu for their entire visit. Also, my house is NOT childproof. We bought a baby gate on the way home from the airport because we have stairs and stairs are dangerous for little ones. He also doesn’t sleep through the night so, I woke every time he woke, and he woke every 2 hours. Makes me glad my youngest is 18.

Fizzgig does NOT like tiny humans. He had a bad experience with our friend’s 5 yr old so he hisses, growls, and runs away from tiny humans. He does enjoy their comfy accessories though. He really liked camping out in the stroller.

So, that was a fairly quick rundown of December and January. I am purging and organizing the house because I realized just how much clutter we have after having a toddler locating chokable items and having to take them away and put them out of reach. While I will not be childproofing unless a grandchild is living with us, I do need to reduce clutter and get the house more organized. I realized I have a bunch of junk that needs to go. Maybe I will take some before and after pictures while I am purging the house. I am really glad we have a dumpster and not just a trashcan. I can throw out so much stuff without having to wait a week for the rest.

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 70° F and the next day, 20° 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…..

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

My Day Consisted of Doing Nothing

Yeah, yeah, I know I was supposed to decorate today, but hubby got today off as a federal holiday to honor President George Bush (senior) passing away. He is very rarely home during the week so, he refused to let me do anything aside from playing a Lego video game with him. I took a picture of the tv screen while texting one of the kids and just remembered I had a picture. This is the game I was playing. Lego Marvel Superheroes

I REALLY suck at video games, but the controls for the Lego games are super simple. Other games, I can barely walk around because you have to move one toggle to walk and another to look ahead. My brain just doesn’t work that way. So, he buys the Lego games and we play together. My favorite part is when you hit an enemy they burst into Lego pieces. When you smash the things in each area, they also burst into lego pieces, but they also explode into coins at the same time and you collect coins to buy characters and vehicles. It really is a fun game and they have so many games from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings and even Pirates of the Caribbean.

I didn’t decorate today, but I have all day tomorrow to decorate and I WILL make a post about it with oodles of pictures of my decorating.

I did however, promise a blog post today, so I am keeping my promise. After video games we went upstairs like we always do because he wakes up super early, he goes to bed super early too. So, I put on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to watch until I go to bed. (I am a night owl and an insomniac so, I will be up for a while.

This post needs at LEAST one photo so, here’s a random picture. (I found the picture of my game after putting this in the post.)

I made an origami bat for my friend. I think it turned out fairly well. Okay one more random photo.

My son sent me this picture one day with the message saying, “Mom, I got a tattoo of you.” I am a cat lady and my kids share this information loudly and one in the form of a flash art (the random pre drawn tattoos in tattoo shops) I laughed and told him I thought it was sweet of him to have a tattoo of his Momma, but I hoped he didn’t mean that I looked like that. 😂

Along with the above rambling, I am going to give you a list of some of my favorite things and some random things about I hope it gives you a little bit more insight into who I am as a person instead of just reading about all of the disasters that happen around here.😂

I adore art, both creating it and enjoying other people’s creations.

I love to read and prefer an actual book over a digital version, but I own both a Nook and a Kindle Fire.

I have a soft spot for animals of all types. I am the kind of person who traps and releases every critter except for wasps and scorpions. They come after me and that’s just not cool. If they ran away, they would be trapped and released as well, but they are mean.

I still color in coloring books, both children’s coloring books and adult coloring books. It is calming and relaxing.

I love to cook and bake. I bake bread when I am stressed, angry, or frustrated. I bake from scratch, no bread machine. Kneading is all done by hand. I make better bread when I’m feeling one of these emotions because I take all my frustrations, anger, stress, out on the dough and it ends up being so soft and fluffy. I will eventually start posting some of my favorite recipes (most from the late 1800s to the early 1900s)

I have a blanket addiction. I love blankets and I am constantly making them, buying them, or being gifted them. One can never have too many blankets.

My astrological sign is Cancer.

I sleepwalk, talk in my sleep, and snore very loudly when I rip my mask off in my sleep. I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine/ oxygen condenser that forces air into my nose along with oxygen.

I don’t drive.

I talk to myself constantly. As long as I don’t start answering myself, I think I will be okay. 😂

I am also one of those crazy people who talks with their hands. (Not sign language, though I am able to hold a conversation in ASL, but the random flailing and flapping during vocal conversations.)

If you come to my house, I am going to assume you are hungry and feed you. Even if you say you aren’t hungry, you are getting a plate of food.

I love soup. Seriously. I make huge pots of soup and freeze it in individual servings and I always have at least four kinds on hand in the freezer.

Okay, last one because this has gotten rather long and a girl needs some mystery, right?

I can write legibly and draw with both hands. I have broken my wrist too many times and had to learn.

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…

Journal Style Posts

Is The Age of Printed Literature At An End?

On Saturday, my mailman told me I was a relic. 😂 I adore my mailman. He is in his 70’s and only delivers mail in my small little town. He truly is wonderful. During the winter, he brings the mail to the door because he is afraid that I will slip and fall walking down the driveway to the mailbox. He brings any package heavier than 5 lb. to the door as well. He knows that we don’t use our front door and we only use the back door so, all packages are left on the back steps or in one of the patio chairs. He is thoughtful and as sweet as can be, but he called me a relic.

I am apparently an extreme rarity because I write handwritten letters and I am subscribed to a plethora of magazines. I also order books on a regular basis because I love reading.

Every month, always on a Saturday, he brings me my stamp and flat rate box order. I love being able to order stamps and boxes with the bonus of having them delivered to the house; as our post office is not open on the weekends and I rarely have the ability to get to the post office during the week.

So, on Saturday, my mailman was delivering my order and I had received six magazines and a package from Barnes and Noble with a few books inside. He handed me my order, my package, and the magazines and said,

“My dear, you are a relic in this age of computers. People don’t subscribe to magazines anymore because they can read them on their phones. They don’t buy books because they can read them on their phones or listen to someone reading the book to them. “

I didn’t realize that I was a rarity, or a relic as he had called me, and I had no idea that magazines and books were no longer the norm. I have a Nook and a Kindle, but the sound a book makes as the spine cracks when you first open it, the smell that wafts upwards as each page is turned, and the rustle of each page as it is turned are things that cannot be duplicated by a digital version of a book.

Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my e-readers and I have thousands upon thousands of books stored on them. I would not have access to many of the old cookbooks that I have collected if it weren’t for the digital archival libraries. I love reading cookbooks from the 1700s, 1800s, and very early 1900s. (I own several actual paper cookbooks from these timeframes.) However, as much as I love my e-readers, I love books more. Hubby and I both have multiple magazine subscriptions and the kids have their own subscriptions. We are just a family that prefers to be able to have the full experience while reading. My daughter loves the perfume sample pages and the occasional product samples, which only come in the paper version of magazines.

I enjoy the portability of my e-readers, but magazines and books are also portable. I cannot carry thousands of books or magazines in my purse, but I can carry one or two and then, have my e-reader in case I finish the ones I brought.

I receive a massive amount of paper catalogs too. I think my favorite catalog is Lehman’s. I received a catalog out of the blue one day, shortly after we bought the house, addressed to myself, which was odd because I didn’t order one, but I fell in love the second I opened it. Hubby has a wishlist from this catalog, which is really weird because the only thing he ever wants are racecar parts.

I am happy being a relic. I hang onto especially interesting magazines, but it’s rare for me to keep the entire magazine. (I kept the royal wedding issue of People magazine.) I usually take a photo of a recipe, cut the recipe out and slip it into a binder, which holds loose recipes. (Sometimes, a cookbook only has one or two recipes I want so, I scan them, print, and give the cookbook either to the library or to someone I know.) Hubby and our youngest kiddo, on the other hand, hoard magazines. They have every issue. The kiddo hoards magazines on gaming, computers, technology, and Scientific American. Hubby hoards racing magazines.

With books, I have bookshelves full of children’s books from both my childhood and the kiddos’, assorted textbooks and an entire reference shelf. The reference shelf is dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias on specific subjects, almanacs, Guinness world records books, atlases, medical books, herbology, astronomy, astrology, and science based books, and language books.

I figure that we should be good to go if the internet suddenly doesn’t exist. The only magazines I keep every issue of are Readers Digest and National Geographic. I only have a two year subscription of each of these so, I won’t have thousands of them.

I also have bookshelves full of books on subjects that interest myself or someone in the family, a few trilogies and series that every home should have, Such as, the Lord of the rings trilogy, Harry Potter, The Divergent series, and the Hunger Games. I also have the books everyone reads in High School, those books that are classics and everyone should read them.

A few examples are:

Where the Red Fern Grows

1984

Farenheit 451

The Giver

To Kill a Mockingbird

Stuart Little

The Secret Garden

Charlotte’s Web

Where the Sidewalk Ends

White Fang

Catcher in the Rye

Lord of the Flies

The Outsiders

Of Mice and Men

A Wrinkle in Time

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (This was a favorite of mine when I was younger.)

So, I have a fairly normal collection as far as I know. I try to teach my kids to love reading and can’t imagine an existence without paper books. I understand that technology is advancing and it is making our lives so much easier, but I don’t want to see a world without libraries filled to the brim with books or a time where no one even knows how to write a letter. I adore receiving mail and I have penpals, who reside on the other side of the world. When I send a letter, I don’t just send a note, I include little items that lie flat such as stickers, a leaf, a feather, a random button, or anything that strikes my fancy that day. So, when someone receives a letter from me, it is covered in stickers or drawings and filled with absolute randomness. It is the equivalent of joy inside of an envelope.

I believe that we can prevent the death of paper Literature and letter writing by writing letters, buying books and magazines, and teaching our children to appreciate writing letters and reading. If you homeschool, teach your children how to write letters, write them letters so they get excited when the mail comes to the mailbox. Teach them how to utilize a library. Teach them how to use the relics of our time, atlases, almanacs, dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias.

I am content with being referred to as a relic. I dread a time when children ask “What were books?” or “What’s a letter?”

Cursive writing is no longer taught in many schools because it is no longer considered useful in the modern world. Children no longer learn to sign their name and soon, if cursive ceases being taught, no one will be able to read historical or ancient documents written in cursive. One major example of such a document is the Constitution of the United States of America. If we teach younger generations to appreciate books, printed Literature, writing letters, and teach them cursive writing, the knowledge will not be lost and the time of printed Literature will not end just yet. Until next time…

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

General Homestead Update

As I stated previously, it has been a rough couple of weeks. I have been getting sunburned each time I go get the mail. I wear sunblock religiously. I put it on each morning, like most people would put lotion on. I reapply every few hours unless I am actually outdoors and then I reapply every hour. I managed to get severely sunburned while building the coop and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how I got so burned.

It took a few weeks to figure it out. I had gone to the pharmacy to get some stuff for my sunburn and the pharmacist came over to me while I was gathering different things off of the shelves. He asked me if I had been using sunblock, to which I replied, “of course”. He then asked me if I knew that my new prescription causes photosensitivity. I just looked at him dumbfounded because this tidbit was not listed ANYWHERE on the printout for the prescription, it wasn’t on the medication website, which I read thoroughly because I have so many allergies, it’s ridiculous. I asked why it wasn’t on the printout and he explained that they had just received the updated list of side effects since it is such a new medication (They had to order it for me when I filled it the first time.) I had no idea that this medicine caused photosensitivity. I had been using my regular spf 50 daily sunblock. I was burning every time I walked outside and I have been battling what I thought was a migraine for three weeks. Nope, not a migraine, light sensitivity due to this medicine. If it didn’t work so well, I would have called my doctor and had him change my prescription, but it works really well so, I’m not changing it.

They stuck a nifty warning sticker on the bottle this month that says, “Avoid exposure to direct and/or artificial sunlight while taking this medicine.” Wasn’t that nice of them?

I have found a way to avoid exposure. I have a very thin shirt that is long sleeved, but has built in sunblock properties. It’s a button down and breathes like I am wearing nothing. It’s that thin. I ordered a few more in different colors since the sun has become an enemy instead of just being a rival. I keep one by the back door and another by the mudroom door. I use the mudroom door a lot so, I needed one there as well. We never use the front door. I have no idea why, we just don’t. I was able to sit outside for a bit the other day earlier in the morning and I saw my very first humming bird ever. It was so loud. It scared me at first because I thought it was a giant wasp or a giant bug. I have a few feeders around the outside of the house.

The other lovely thing happening, which has delayed my chicks being ordered, is the air conditioning. We have two separate air conditioning systems. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. They are both on the fritz.

We have this nifty thing called a home warranty. It’s like insurance for appliances, plumbing, and electrical. Instead of paying full price, we pay a deductible and the home warranty company either repairs or replaces the appliance that fails. I highly recommend having one if you own a home.

The issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere so, they had to find a company willing to accept the job. This has taken two weeks. (Once they found one, the agent I spoke with told me how to avoid the wait in the future.) I finally spoke with the company and have to call Monday to set up the appointment.

So, for two weeks, our house has not been as cool as we normally keep it. I have managed to keep the air conditioning running for the most part by shutting it off for an hour or so and turning it back on after it thaws out. (According to the A.C. guy, it’s low on freon.) Heat compounds all of my health issues and makes me a very miserable human.

Hubby and I both agreed, that the chicks should wait until the air conditioning is fixed, since we have been in the high 90s and in the 100s these past two weeks. Once it hits 80° inside, I am useless. I swell up and I am miserable. It is definitely not fun. The other concern was regulating the temperature for the chicks. I don’t want them overheating. The humidity inside is also extremely high for some reason.

I probably won’t have many eggs this year, but I am okay with that. I don’t want to not be able to care for chicks because I am not fully functioning. I have contacted the company we are ordering from (I had to cancel my order.) They gave me wonderful news. They have Silkies hatching in July and August. This thrills me to no end. I think they are adorable. I can add a few to my order when I order in July. They had zero issues with me cancelling my order (the chicks hadn’t hatched yet) and were extremely understanding. I have room for 20 full grown chickens. I was going to get 10, but I think I will be getting more since they have a few colored egg breeds hatching in July and August.

Aside from my sun issues and the air conditioning breaking, we have had quite a few things happening around the homestead. Hubby finally taught me how to start the riding mower. This means I can mow any time I decide it needs to be mowed. I really enjoy mowing.

We are setting up the clothesline this weekend. I cannot wait for line dried sheets and linens. The smell and crispness of line dried sheets cannot be duplicated. I won’t even have to leave the back porch or put on shoes to use the clothesline. Hubby is setting up a pulley system so I can stand on the back steps barefooted and hang laundry or take it off the line.

We are also beginning a major project of finishing half of the basement. After having a house full of family in May, we both agreed, that we need more room. He really likes my idea of using corrugated metal for the walls. (Insulation boards behind the metal and waterproofing behind the insulation boards) He said we would never have to worry about painting and it would make the room so much brighter because light will reflect.

The one side of the basement can be turned into two bedrooms. The kids have already been bickering over who gets the basement rooms once they are finished. They bicker over who gets which room when they come home now. So, it wasn’t shocking that they are already bickering over the basement. Regardless of who gets the rooms, we will have to have Dish Network come wire the rooms for satellite tv and an electrician to wire for outlets and lighting. I am thinking of doing the industrial look for outlets and basic sconces for lighting. The ceilings are too low for ceiling fans or even normal lighting. Someone would hit their head on them. The ceilings are high enough that no one has to duck (as long as the kids stay under 6 ft they won’t have to duck) As far as heating and air goes, all of the duct work is already there, we simply need to add vents. That part will be easy.

We currently use the basement for a storm shelter so, having actual bedrooms, power, and television down there will make it much more comfortable for everyone. It will also turn our 4 bedroom house into a 6 bedroom house. Eventually, we will add a bathroom because water lines are already in place. There is a sink down there already.

So many projects are on our list. I don’t think we will ever be without projects. The coop has a floor, the window has been secured, we tested the roof with a pressure washer and ended up raising it a bit for better drainage. Gutters will be added along with a rain barrel, which will be a water source for chickens and for the greenhouse which will get added one day. The run is complete aside from the gate, which will take about 10 minutes to put it on the run. I still need to paint something on it so, it isn’t eggshell and boring. Perhaps I will do that this weekend since I have nothing else planned for the weekend except a clothesline. If I manage to avoid the sun and get it painted, I will take oodles of pictures. Until next time…

Adventures

Here comes the rain, again…

I am so ready for spring weather. Every single time I plan a project for the weekend, it has either been cold or raining. The same goes for this weekend, but I am not giving up. I am bound and determined to get my chicken coop built so I can get my chicks at the beginning of May. I have been waiting until May because I want to make absolutely certain they don’t get cold. Where I am, when we have freak ice storms or snow storms in spring, power outages come along with the storms. I am so worried this will happen and it is extremely rare for snow or ice to happen in May. (It did snow last May, but we have a generator and kerosene heaters so, I will keep my babies warm no matter what.)

I am so thoroughly excited about having chickens again. I have not had chickens since I was very little, 9 or 10 years old. Back then, I wasn’t responsible for the well-being and care of the chickens, but I adored sneaking into the coop to collect the eggs from nesting boxes. I Remember walking into the coop once and my favorite chicken, whose name was Big Bertha because she was the largest hen we had, had become broody. I went to collect her eggs and she started puffing up her feathers and yelling at me in rather loud clucks and screeches.  She pecked me and I knew better than to try again. It took some time, but she eventually hatched four of the cutest fuzzy little chicks. My mother being the crazy woman she is, allowed me to carry these chicks around in a basket all day with Big Bertha chasing me around trying to get her babies back. I fed them from my hand and made sure they stayed warm in their basket, even though it was at least 90° outside I had an old dish towel in the basket as a blanket. Eventually, they lost their downy fluff and feathered out, which meant no more basket rides, but they were the sweetest hens my mother ever had. The single rooster was a bit off  and acted more like a hen than a rooster. He was friendly and loved hugs so, I guess I did something right as a child with the chickens.

Hubby has insisted that we have at least one rooster. I have an irrational fear of roosters because one of my mother’s roosters was particularly mean and liked to chase me and peck at my heels before fluffing out his feathers and flapping his wings at me. I was quite small as a child so this rooster was pretty scary. Speaking of irrational fears, I also fear geese. I was playing in the yard minding my own business and one of the geese decided to bite me between my shoulder blades. This mean bird latched onto me and would not let go. I was about 3-4 years old at the time so the goose was approximately the same height as I was. So, I am running across the yard with a goose latched onto my back, wings spread, and I’m screaming bloody murder. My momma said it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen and she had to stop laughing before she came and rescued me from the goose. That goose ended up being dinner that night because it chose to attack me. I don’t like eating goose either.

Anyway, back to the chicken coop, I am determined to have it built and have a run set up by this weekend. I have waited three years for chickens. I am not waiting any longer. I had to wait for chickens because of the well deciding to break at very inconvenient times, other things would break, kids going to prom and graduating, all of these things cost money and were more important than my wanting some birds. This year, I budgeted for the coop, run, chicks, feed, and supplies as well as an emergency buffer just in case something suddenly decides to break. (Something always breaks on the homestead.)

The coop will be build from plywood, pallets, metal roofing sheets, and some construction fabric. Before you even say, well pallets are terrible quality wood, let me tell you my experience with heat treated pallets. My dad was a terrible carpenter, but he made us wooden toys and built me a table and chair set from pallets for my tea parties with my dolls. I was 3 years old when he built this table. I am now 38. I still have that table and it’s the strongest piece of furniture I own. It wasnt painted or sealed. He didn’t even sand it from what I am told and it has stood up to the test of time. Therefore, the frame of my coop will be made from pallets. I am hopeful that this coop will last as long as my table has.

I grew up on a homestead on a very small lot of land just outside city limits. This meant that the neighbors had pigs, everyone had chickens, everyone had a garden and families would swap produce to have more variety. This is the feeling of home that I intend to recreate. My children grew up with fresh baked bread, food cooked from scratch, and I bought farm fresh eggs because the ones in the grocery store don’t taste as good. (Someone once told me that they were almost a month old before they reach the consumer. That’s terrifying.) I want all of the grandbabies, when they come along, to come visit and see chickens, a garden, farm animals, and experience that slower way of living where everything is homemade and just tastes better. Sheets are dried on a clothesline and every evening in the spring and summer end with a tall glass of ice cold sweet tea on the back porch. This is my dream and I will make it a reality.