Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tales from the Coop-keeper

Chickens.  Seriously one of the best.pets.evah!  I never thought of chickens of pets, until I had my own.  Actually, I thought of them as a food source, whether it was for eggs or meat.  I never knew of their quirky, silly sense of humor, and never would have guessed they had a sense of humor.
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Our rooster, Ellen DeHENeres is such a sweet little soul.  I love watching him with the girls.  He is so polite and gentle.  One thing that he does that melts my heart is, when we bring down treats, he let’s the girls go first.  When they are done, he joins in.  What a little gentleman!  Another cool thing about Ellen is, he will let Chris cradle him upside down like a baby and rub his belly.  We have had hens before, but never a rooster.  Admittedly, I am a little intimidated by him, even though he is so sweet.  I’m workin’ on it!
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I fully admit that I am a little bit of a crazy-chicken lady.  I don’t have a problem saying so.  I spoil our flock.  I spoil them rotten.  But they give us so much, it’s my only way to give back.  Every morning I make them a fresh salad of some sort.  This morning they had kale, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, summer squash, blueberries, watermelon, flax seeds, chili pepper and garlic.  (see Ellen hanging in the back,  patiently waiting?)  At night they usually get the left over veggie/fruit fixin’s from dinner and snacks from the day, and the stuff I pull out from the garden.
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Another thing I do is make them homemade iced tea on these blistering hot days.  Sometimes mint, some times alfalfa, sometimes a combo of whatever herbs I have an over abundance of in the garden.  I have found that the iced tea would be considered chicken crack for my feathered friends.  They see it coming and they start squawking and flapping their wings running toward me.  I am pretty much known to them as “the treat lady”.
Last night I cleaned out their coop, which is something I do pretty often.  With 11 chickens living in there, it’s important to keep their living spaces in tip top shape!  My favorite thing to do is leave fresh cut herbs in their nesting boxes.  Kind of like getting a mint on your pillow at a nice Inn.  Don’t you just love the little surprises?  I think my girls and roo do too!  I mean, who wouldn’t want to come in and see this-fresh oregano, english thyme, rosemary, basil, lemon balm and chamomile.  Smelled like heaven in there!
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I am hoping to get in and paint their boxes soon.  After all, if they look nice, they will want to use them, right?  We now have 3 hens laying!  I am so excited!  We have one more who is super close.  We will need to wait about another 5-6 weeks before the other 6 start giving us eggs.  I can not wait!
Homestead July 2011 045Miss Rosa is the “leader of the pack”.  She is also the one who will follow you around, (she is such a nosey hen) and just talk to you.  She also laid her very first egg last night!
Oh!  If you are wondering about the tea and why I use fresh cut herbs in the nesting boxes and their coop, take a look at this article from Backyard Poultry.
If you don’t have chickens, consider them.  They are easy to care for, they are fun, it’s a great learning experience and they will not only provide you with constant entertainment, but food as well! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Onion Extravaganza

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Sunday afternoon while Chris was fixing the goat pen I harvested our onions.  I had a couple that I had to toss out, but I am pretty impressed with what we got.  I did think they would be a bit bigger, but I'm not complaining!

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  I love, love, love onions!  We already harvested a few a week or so ago and they were wonderful.  I’m sure these will be just as good!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Goaties = T-r-o-u-b-l-e!

The goaties got in their first real trouble yesterday.  Chris had gone down late afternoon to check on everyone and found Bluebelle and Clover on the other side of their pen eating figs.  They had that “busted” look about them and knew they were in trouble.  So we had some work to do.  A little rearranging, hopefully they don’t escape again.



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                    We really like Bluebelle and Clover, but we are contemplating on not keeping them.  Kind of breaks my heart because I am already attached, and I know Maggie will be heartbroken.  But we are noticing they are very skittish, not very welcoming (not mean, just offish) and our intentions are to milk them.  We can’t even just walk up to pet them, how on earth are we going to milk them?  So, we have some heavy thinking to do.  I think we would prefer to get babies and raise them ourselves so they know us and trust us.  Right now I don’t let Maggie in the pen with them.  Which is a problem.  She needs to go in and help.  But I am not comfortable with it.Homestead July 2011 024     I think for an experienced person, they would be great.  But for noobs like us, it’s not a win-win.  And I want these girls to have a good life!   We are still thinking it out.   Not an easy decision.  <sigh>                                                   

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Worth the wait….or so I'm told!



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As you may remember from my post the other day we had a sweet cherry tomato turning red on the vine.  I’ve checked it while watering, tempted to pick it, but waited.  Waiting by the way is not one of my strong points!  But I held back and did the right thing.  Thinking about how yummy that first little red pop of goodness was going to be!

    I needed to go down to the garden to gather some herbs to make the chickens some tea and low and behold that tomato looked ready! 


Well, Maggie was with me, so who do you think got to pick it and eat it.  Yes!  The girl.  And she made sure to tell me how juicy and sweet it was.  I will get the next one! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

On My Mind……..

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join.   Your photo should show something at home that you’re thinking about TODAY.

   To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it and post a link back to down--to—earth.  Please write a new post, don’t use an older one.  When your photo is published, go back to down--to—earth add a comment with a link to your blog photo so others can come visit you.  Please visit other blogs and leave comments, get to know your fellow bloggers!                               Homestead July 2011 001

On my mind is our sweet teeny, tiny egg our sweet Strawberry Shortcake gave us.   We have been anxiously awaiting it’s arrival! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Holistic Beekeeping Looks Like.......

On Tuesday night, Chris, Maggie, our friend Darla and myself went to a holistic beekeeping meeting.  What an eye-opening evening!  We have two beehives and we want to take care of our bees in a more natural way.  We scour the internet, and we find things, but when you can find actual people to learn from, especially so close to you, you jump at the opportunity! 

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The above picture is actually of a swarm the woman holding the meeting went and rescued.  It was inside this log, so she transported the log home and there they have stayed!
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This picture is of some of the bee-friendly flowers she has planted.  At the left you can see a pretty glass bowl filled with water (they need fresh water!) and lava rocks.  The bees love the little holes on the lava rocks.

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A wine barrel hive

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           And another.  This one has sugar snap peas starting to grow over it

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Since I am so new to beekeeping  I am going to refrain from talking about holistic beekeeping and refer you to a couple of sites I was given last night.  The Melissa Garden and Gaia Bees.  I think you will find both of these sites very informative.  Hopefully  my pictures have inspired you to take a look and see the difference!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

California Raw Milk Petition......

Today the CDFA California Department of Food And Agriculture is using broadly written regulations to put your local goat and cow share farms out of business. CDFA code 35011 and 35283 says that

"Dealing in, receiving, manufacturing, freezing, or processing milk, or any product of milk." 
is illegal without a California Dairy License.

If you are opposed to making herd shares illegal and want to help CA residents continue to enjoy the health benefits of raw milk, even if you don't live in CA, please sign!  Help us keep our rights to drink raw milk!

Is it me or is this crazy that we are having to fight for the rights to have gardens in our front yard and to drink whatever milk we want?  

Have to brag about what I won!

I know, I know, I know.....nobody likes a braggart.  But this brag isn't a "neener, neener, neener, look what I won" kind of a brag.  It's a "hey, check this out!  I won something really sweet and want to share with you" kind of brag!  

I love aprons.  There is something about them that just makes my heart happy when I see one, when I wear one.  I am loving that I see so many on movies and TV shows now too!  It's an apron revolution!    So when I got the opportunity to join in on a contest on Fresh Eggs Daily on Facebook I jumped in.  Hardcore.  I was in it to win it!  I didn't think I would though because I am on dial up.  It can take forever for a page to refresh.  I already knew I wasn't going to win because, well, I have joined in to win things millions of times and haven't.  Well, that's not exactly true.  Once I went to a breakfast put on by a local radio station that I used to listen to.  Somehow I ended up winning the book So That's What They're For, which at the time I had no use for, what-so-ever.  But I did win, so I technically can't really say I never win anything. like a pitbull in a cage fight I went in, fingers tapping the keyboard wildly, a couple answers I didn't know so I was trying to google them, luckily Chris and Maggie weren't here to witness the crazed look in my eyes.  They would have thought I lost my mind.  I have to admit, the thought did cross my mind.

Well, guess what!  I won!  I really won!  I was so excited I couldn't contain myself.  I know, it was an apron not a million dollars.  But it sure felt like a million dollars.  This apron is so darned cute!  Lisa has put her sewing skills to good use.  I love the little pockets (5 of them), perfect for egg gathering!  I was able to get 2 large eggs in each pocket.  Can't wait til my girls start laying!  My picture doesn't do it justice.  Make sure you click on her Etsy Shop link at the bottom of this post for a better picture!

When I opened the package Maggie was excited, we had a little discussion about who it belonged to.  It seems whenever I get something cool she ends up with it.  But not this!

I would encourage those who are reading to check out Lisa's Etsy Shop, Fresh Eggs Daily, there are some really cute aprons and other things on there!  I love her chicken coop plans.  You wont be disappointed!!  So go check her out!  

Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Lisa for doing the contest and having such a wonderful prize!  It went to a very grateful home and will get a lot of use!  :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I found these two little gems in the garden today....can't wait to enjoy them!

Maggie's cherry tomato plant

First Blackberry that has color!



Saturday, July 9, 2011


After wondering if summer was ever going to bless us with her presence, she has shown up.  And she is yelling loudly that she is here!  I am happy because this is finally making my garden grow.  I was starting to get a little bummed about planting so much food, and counting on it to feed us!

With the hot weather comes good things, but also bad.  Our animals need to stay cooled down.  Rabbits are especially susceptible to heat stroke.  So I have been concerned about Eliza most as she seems to be most affected by the heat.  Peter Pan the Rabbit (yes, that's his name) seems to do better, but we still watch him carefully.  

We have frozen gallon jugs that we put in their cages.  They like this because it's cold and they can lick the water off it.  

                                                                    Eliza cooling off
Fresh mint is also great for cooling them down.  We also have a circulating fan on them, Eliza would sit on it if she could.  Silly rabbit.  

                                                        Peter Pan the Rabbit enjoying his newly cleaned cage

I found this really great article on heat stroke-- prevention, signs and how to deal with it on  If you have rabbits, it's a great read!

Red Flags

  • 1. Lethargy. If your rabbit doesn't want to move as much as usual, or can't be tempted to move by its usual motivators, continue to assess its health.
    2. Slow movements. If the rabbit doesn't move at its usual speed, but pads sleepily along, keep looking.
    3. Lack of appetite. One early sign of heat stroke is less-than-usual consumption of rabbit chow, or no eating at all.
    4. Panting. Is the rabbit working hard to breathe without exercising, or panting? He could be trying to cool himself down.
    5. Dehydration. Dry mouth, dull eyes and strong, concentrated urine are signs of this condition.
    6. Reddening of the ears. Check the concave, normally pink side of the bunny ears. If it's red, it's a sure sign that it's trying to cool itself.
    7. Excessive Salivation. If your rabbit has drool on his chin, he's salivating too much.
    8. Poor coordination. The movements will not be synchronized, leading to clumsiness.
    9. Confusion. The rabbit's behavior will not be logical or usual.
    10. Seizures. This will look like severe, violent shaking. It is a veterinary emergency.
    11. Unresponsiveness. The rabbit will not try to defend itself even from uncomfortable or painful stimuli. This is also a veterinary emergency.

Emergency Stabilization

  • 1. Move the rabbit to a cooler away from the sun. The basement is a good choice.
    2. Mist the pink (red) sides of the ears with cool water.
    3. As an alternative, cool the ears with an ice cube that's been wrapped in a thin cloth.
    4. Bathe the rabbit in room temperature, not cold, water only up to the neck. Do not submerge it.
    5. Feed wet vegetables, if the bunny will eat, and supply cold water.
    6. Blow a fan near the rabbit, but not directly on it.
    7. Call your veterinarian immediately.


  • 1. Groom the rabbit regularly to remove loose fur.
    2. Keep the rabbit away from sunlight and out of hot areas.
    3. Provide fresh, clean water at all times.
    4. Run a fan in the area but not directly blowing on the rabbit.
    5. Supervise him in warm weather.
    6. Freeze water in an empty soda bottle and lay it in the cage. The bunny will cool itself next to it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

On my mind.......

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. If you're in another country you should join in when you read this, even if it's still Thursday.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here. Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When your photo is published, go to down---to---earth and add a comment below, with a link to your blog photo so we can all find you. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.
Thank you Rhonda Jean!

Today what's on my mind is my fresh gallon of cow's milk I got this morning.  I am seriously addicted. The order comes with two jars like this.  I didn't take a picture of both because the other is already half empty.  I just got it about 2 hours ago!  Told ya I am addicted.  

Dreaming of the coming months going by and our sweet girls, Bluebelle and Clover will be providing us with goat milk!  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oakparkhatesveggies Petition, please sign!

I normally don't ask for people to sign petitions on my blog, or get political, but I am going to today because I think this is REALLY important.  You may have read my post about the Bass family and their battle with Oak Park, MI to let them keep their front yard garden.  Julie is now facing 93 days in jail, yes folks you read that right.....93 days in jail for having a garden in her yard.  Jail!  Seriously?  I thought jail was for criminals, not moms growing a garden to produce organic foods for their family!  Anyway, there is now a petition and we need you to sign it.  Every signature counts.  Every single one.  So please, it takes a brief moment, you can be anonymous if it makes you feel better.  Here is a quick link for you Stop the Prosecution of the Bass Family and let them keep their garden!

Thank you friends!  

This week around the garden.......

This has been such a strange gardening season.  We are finally getting summer (meaning hot sun!) which is really helping the garden out.  Things are finally starting to grow and finally producing fruit and veggies.

Here are a few of the tons of pears we are getting.  There are a couple of trees and they are loaded!  We have to walk under one of the trees to get to the goat pen and every time I walk under it I conk my head with a couple of low hanging pears.  It makes me happy!  :)

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Our Roo (the white bird) and some of his women.  I may be partial, but I think he is shaping up to be a mighty fine looking bird!  He is sweet too!  You can cradle him like a baby and rub his belly and he doesn't seem to care!

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Oh, lovely little red buds!  I can not wait for you to turn into pomegranates!  We have never grown them before, so this is a new, exciting adventure.  We pruned the tree before we moved in here and are hoping we did it justice!

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Zucchini and squash!  We harvested some Goldbar Squash last week to eat with dinner.
It was FANTASTIC!  Looking forward to a lot more!  And by the looks of our bushes, we
will be eating it for awhile!

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Bluebelle and Clover are settling in very nicely!  They love being next to the fig trees!
Bluebelle (the white one) has a mad crush on Chris.  Which is really funny because this 
happens often with Chris.  We have had several female animals that crush on him.  I keep telling him
he has "animal magnetism".  Yes, I crack myself up sometimes!

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Some hidden yard gems.........

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And Maggie standing next to the "quail bush".  We call it the quail bush because
there are a bunch of newborn Quail in it.  The mama and papa have been feasting
on my strawberries, and I have let them.  Now we get to enjoy watching their sweet little babies 
walking around.  They are so itty-bitty!

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We have already harvested potatoes, onions, squash, lettuce, kale, peas and lots of different herbs.  I am eagerly waiting for our tomatoes and cucumbers.  The cukes have lots of flowers (that I see our honeybees on all the time!) and the tomatoes either have lots of flowers or fruit that is finally turning red.  Our garden has been such a rewarding experience.  I am so thankful for the ability to do this!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oak Park Hates Veggies

It's always interesting to find stories like this around this time of year when we are celebrating our independence and freedom.  But here it is folks, a story about a woman who is facing a lot of trouble with Oak Park, Michigan. Apparently the city has issues with Julie Bass growing a vegetable garden on her property.  In her front yard.  If you click on the link above it is a news story with video.  Check out her small garden boxes.  What is wrong with this being in your front yard?

From what I gather from reading her blog, this all started because of the city.  Apparently they planted trees at the front walk way when the houses were being built.  As the trees grew, their roots got bigger, stronger.  Eventually they grew so much that they broke the water lines to the Bass' home and they had to dig up their entire front yard.  Not only that, but there was also damage to her home as well that they (the Bass') had to clean up, pay for, etc.  So while in this transition, they decided that since their yard was a mess from the work they would grow vegetables for their family.  Funny thing was, Julie called the city every step of the way and made sure there were no laws against it.  Once she found out everything was fine, a planting she went!

I am appalled that tax money is being spent on this issue.  It is about the most ridiculous "crime" I have ever heard of!  What happened to freedom?  With the leaders of this country crying out about childhood obesity, more diseases being more prevalent, with a organic garden being grown at the White House, how on earth can this be a crime?  Does Oak Park, Michigan not have anything better to do?

If you find this to be as crazy as I do, please stop by Oak Park Hates Veggies and give her some bloggy love.  Also, if you are on Facebook, stop by and "like" the page her friend has going for her.  Any support she can get would be encouraging!

We still live in free America, let's worry about the REAL crimes and stop harassing Julie Bass and her family!

Monday, July 4, 2011

It was goat day on the farm!

Isn't it funny how well thought out plans totally change without much warning?  Chris and I have wanted goats for awhile now.  We were totally decided on Nigerian Dwarf's.  In fact, we only wanted Nigerian Dwarf's.  "We don't want no big goats" was a common statement (ok, may be we worded it a little different, it just typed out much more fun sounding this way!).  We talked about goats often, how they would fit in, what we would use them for, where we would put them, you know, all the things you talk about when making a big, educated decision.  Well, after much talk we decided that we would put off getting goats until next year.  Or so we planned.  Then came the phone call on Friday morning.  Our friend Vanessa called and said she had 2 milking goats, a mama/daughter team that they just don't have time for, do we want them?  And without much thought we quickly said YES!  So here it is, Monday and they came home today and we are in love! 

 Check out these faces!

Mama Bluebelle

And sweet Clover

They are as sweet as can be.  I am very happy with how well they are adjusting here.  And I especially love when they hear us coming down the hill they run over to the fence to greet us.  Gives me the warm fuzzies.  

So, some of you may be asking (especially the ones who know us) "what do you know about goats?"  Well, that's they funny thing.  We know absolutely NOTHING about goats!  But we are learning.  A crash course if there ever was one.  I have been doing tons of reading and learning from the good folks at Backyard Herds have been so helpful and kind.  I found Backyard Herds back when we joined Backyard Chickens a couple years ago.  Both of these sites are GREAT sources of information.  I feel really blessed to have them at my fingertips!

So the immediate plan is to get these girls eating well and used to their surroundings.  Then around August during a heat cycle we will send them off to a breeder.  Hopefully we will get some babies because besides having great pets, we are dying for some good down home milk!  

Now that we have goats we are officially feeling like a farm.  With the dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, bees, garden and goats, I think that does make us a farm.  We have been trying to think of a name.  Trying to name your farm is as hard as naming a baby!  We seem to like Whispering Creek Farm.  But not totally sure yet.  I liked the idea of calling it TICA Farm.  Which would stand for "Things I can't afford" which is funny, but sadly true!  lol  
If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to shoot them in a comment.  I would LOVE to hear them!  

It's been a long day on the homestead and I am tired.  Good night all!  I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July, for those of you in the USA!

Friday, July 1, 2011

On my mind.......

I've been gone, but now I am back! For good this time!  I am trying to get back into the swing of blogging again.  There has been so much going on in the last few months, hopefully I can get caught up with some pictures and posts next week.  Lot's of fun, new exciting things going on around our little homestead!

For today I am going to be joining in on Rhonda's post at down--to--earth.  Every Friday she posts a lovely picture with a bit of explanation about it.  I figure this will help ease my way back into blogging!

So, this lovely lasagna I made last night is on my mind.  I followed a recipe from Rhonda's blog and was very, very pleased.  Slightly different than how I normally make lasagna, but I think that's why I liked it.  It was fun knowing that I made the pasta for it, I picked veggies from my garden and my family loved it.  A big win all the way around!!  We had 2 small pieces left over and my mouth is watering to eat one of them for lunch!

One other thing that is on my mind, I need a blog makeover.  Big time.  The focus of my blog was primarily homeschooling, but as life changes and evolves my blog is turning into a blog about simple living.  So, even though I am dreading trying to do a blog makeover on dial up, I need to do something, soon!  So keep an eye out for some changes.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



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