Tuesday, March 31, 2015

:: The birth of Cindy : A Baby Chick ::

For 21 days now we've kept watched over our incubator full of the eggs we collected from our coop & it's been exciting to do some research on their development. Our boys were lucky enough to hatch eggs when they were in 3rd grade so they were able to answer a few of our questions. I'm so thankful for their teachers taking the time to do this for the kids!

Yesterday morning we woke up to an egg with the littlest peck hole. The boys begged to stay home to see it hatch (um, no). LOL! Finally, around 2:30 in the afternoon, the first chick arrived. Ella & I watched with amazement.
Lucky enough for all of us, the 2nd chick didn't arrive until around 7pm and we were all able to see!
The 1st chick (which Ella named, Tippy Toes, giving it a little encouragement.
Finally, progress!
And here we go!
The boys and I ran out the door to their 4H meeting and when we came home it was up and walking around with "Tippy Toes".
Since then, seven more have hatched with hopefully more to go!
And although we don't know if she is a "she" just yet; we welcome Cindy to the farm...

Friday, March 27, 2015

:: Coloring Easter Eggs : Mission Complete ::

Tonight we began our weekend with the tradition of coloring Easter eggs.
With Farm Fresh Eggs we sort of already start with colored eggs, but that's just an extra bonus to raising our own.
To change things up a bit this year we used food coloring to dye them instead of those silly little tablets.
Holy Moly did that make a difference in the brilliancy of the colors! It's so simple. 1/2 c. boiling water, 1 tsp. of vinegar, & 10-15 drops of any color combination of food coloring you want to create. 

The kids had fun making designs on a few using a crayon before we dipped them & I loved how different the colors came out depending on whether we were starting with a brown, blue, or cream colored egg.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

:: Farm, Homestead, or a personal Petting Zoo ::

This morning I drank my coffee staring at this beautiful scene ...
Last night was one of my insomnia nights. I can't seem to shut my brain off when I'm supposed to be sleeping! Ugh! I know I'm not the only one right? Alls I know is, I'm not cut out for only 5 1/2 hours of sleep. I know, I know, that's alot for some people; but I'm not a morning person as it is! I need my pot of coffee dang it! (Yes, I said pot & somedays it IS that much! Oye!)
Yep, the pictures blurry & I'm okay with it because this is pretty much how I feel this morning.

Okay, back to a few of those darn thoughts that keep me up at night.
Last week I attended a Women In Agriculture Conference with three of my favorite friends, my mom, and a few of her friends. It was a fun day! It was a day out with just adults! We laughed & ate and learned a few valuable lessons. (Like how many people you can count that didn't wash their hands as we were waiting in the always long line to the women's bathroom.)
It truly was an interesting day. The first few hours included breakfast & a guest speaker. This gentlemen was amazing at what he did and included humor into his lecture, which meant I only found myself checking & answers emails on my phone a couple of times. Multi-tasking | it's the name of the game right? Anywho, he mostly spoke about economics which had me sitting there thinking: Yay, I pretty much don't belong at this table with these other "farmers wives". Most of what he was talking about was hog prices, beef prices, and other stuff you hear on the farm report. It just has honestly never made any sense to me. Because, I didn't grow up on a "farm" and because well we don't technically have a "farm". Now that's not to say I didn't dream of being a part of that. I used to beg my friend, Angie to go do chores with her and I'll always remember the times she let me help her wash her sheep at the local county fair. I grew up jealous of all the "fun" she was having!
Maybe that explains why I'm always saying "We should get the kids a bucket calf, or don't you think it would be fun to have turkeys?"
So, this brings me to the question. Do we live on a farm, a homestead, or a personal Petting Zoo?
What really qualifies a farm to be a farm?
Wikipedia says : farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes or an area of water that is devoted primarily to aquacultural processes, in order to produce and manage such commodities as fibresgrainslivestock, or fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production.[1] Farms may be owned and operated by a single individual, family, community, corporation or a company. A farm can be a holding of any size from a fraction of ahectare[2] to several thousand hectares.[3]
 Well we produce food for ourselves, so maybe we qualify under the "any size from a fraction of an acre" part.
Then, there's a homestead. To be honest, I like the sound of this better. It makes me feel like we are saying we live on a piece of land that we plant things, grow things, raise things, for our own personal use. Sort of more self reliant.
Again, wikipedia says : a lifestyle of agrarian self-sufficiency as practiced by a modern homesteader or urban homesteader. 
Then there's the Petting Zoo part. Ha! Most days I sort of feel like this is where we fall in. A goat here, a calf there, chickens running around the yard, with eggs almost ready to hatch in the incubator, and don't forget about the five rabbits!
Yay, maybe we have a petting zoo; because if we added up the food bill verses any income we get from the eggs, vegetables, etc we'd probably cry. 
But all in all, it comes down to HOME. Whatever it is we call it; it's where we are creating memories & living adventures together as a family. 

Now that I have all of that out of my head, maybe I'll be able to sleep tonight. We shall see...

Monday, March 23, 2015

:: Garden Prep work ::

Yesterday we tilled the garden! Can I get an Amen for beautiful fluffy dirt!
Nevermind the fact that it's a rainy/sleeting mess out there today!

Last year we purchased a used tiller that attaches to our lawn tractor. It has been one of the best investments we've made! It makes easy work of our 32x80' main garden as well as our sweet corn & pumpkin patches. The gardens with be tilled up numerous times and compost from the chicken coops will be worked in as well before we plant.
 The chickens were thrilled and moved right in for some fresh pecking.
Back in January we ordered our garden seeds from Gurney's. I've had great luck with their seeds. Although next year I may opt for a more heirloom company such as Rare Seeds.
This year we are planting green beans, radishes, cilantro, broccoli, sweet peppers, tomatoes, kohlrabi, 4 different types of onions, lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapeƱo peppers, zucchini, asparagus, cauliflower, snap peas, carrots, popcorn, indian corn, sweet corn, potatoes, & a variety of pumpkins! Phew! I'm tired already!

Here are my beautiful little tomato and pepper plants we have started under lights in our basement. We do two different types of tomatoes : Roma & Early Girl. As soon as the weather stays warm enough in the evening these babies will be moved out to our green house! I'm SO ready to spend some time in there!
What seeds do you start indoors?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

:: Children, Chickens, & a Sandbox ::

Last night, we had two of the cutest little brothers over to play with Ella.
Under the watchful eyes of our blue heeler, Haus and our little flock of chickens; They all three were fully engrossed in digging, burying, and jumping in the box. It was so great to just sit back & watch them be kids.

They helped when it was chore time & minus a little run in with our oldest rooster; fun was had by all.

 And then, it was back to the sandbox for more digging! This sandbox has been such a great area for our three kids and lots of their friends. Our boys used to spend hours out there when they were these boys' age. Aaron made it using a couple of old telephone poles. It's been the best entertainment we've had on the farm.

:: A little side note on Ella's hot mess of a hair do : The truth be told it always looks like this. We can brush it 10x a day and in the end it looks just like this. She rarely let's me put a clip in it let alone a ponytail anymore, so we are gonna roll with it and call it the "beach tossed" look. ::
Enjoy this beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

:: A New Year : A Fresh Start | Hello 2015 ::

The truth is, I've missed photographing and blogging about our little "farm". And by farm, I use that term loosely. (I'll touch on that a bit more later in the week.)
I'm blessed enough to say last year just got busy. Busy with my family and busy with my photography business! I set out to keep this blog for myself & for my family.
It wasn't until someone made the comment to me that I wasn't spending my time wisely (in their eyes). I'm 100% sure the comment she made she doesn't even remember, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I thought "okay, maybe I shouldn't be taking the time to record these moments and sharing them here." Maybe I should delegate my time better; & then (if you know me and my stubbornness) you know I got defensive but kept that deep inside. For once I kept my mouth shut. :) We rely on the ones closest to us to be honest right? I have continued to photography and record our memories in my scrapbooks, and through a few Facebook posts, but haven't taken the time to really write like I had done here.
I'll also be the first to admit : I am NOT a writer. I'm random; my punctuation is rarely correct & I thank the Lord for spell check. <<--- These are not my strongest points! So here is my formal apology for my incomplete and run on sentences & for not delegating my time better. ;)

Phew! It feels good to get all of that off my chest.
Let's start Fresh shall we?

It's nearly the end of March & officially Spring! Which in the midwest basically means; we still have a good chance of frost and flurries until April 21st. Somedays, the furnace runs in the morning and the windows are open in the afternoon! But it's Spring and the tint of green is starting to show in the grass and tiny little flowers are popping through the dirt.
Ella and I spent the day cleaning out last years garden this past weekend. Finally!

We've welcomed an adorable bucket calf to our farm. Her name is Clarabelle ...
This means 6am feedings and the boys have been amazing help! She is currently boarding with our goat (Pistal) and they are getting along great!
The chickens are loving the warmer weather and are all over the yard! We have two incubators full of our eggs currently going in the kitchen & my first two packages of bees are set to arrive in April!
I'll post more on that soon as well! It's exciting times around here I tell ya!