Monday, April 28, 2014


I posted on Facebook the other day that I was at one of Lily's play and Q lost his marbles and I had to walk out with him.  I was so mad at him that I thought I might hurt him when we got out side.  He had totally embarrassed me and I didn't even get to see Lily and I WANTED TO SEE LILY.  I did spank him but then I sat him outside in time out and walked about 20 feet away to do some serious deep breathing to talk myself out of harming him.  In those moments my temper is so strong that I see blind rage.  I really am capable of hurting him at those moments.  I never have truly hurt any of them.  Maybe one spank too many or an arm grabbed too hard.  But I have the kind of rage in me that could lead to way worse.  When I send babies home from the hospital with really young teen mother I make sure to tell them that - "I have four kids of my own and a terrible temper.  I have moments where they were making me so mad and I was so tired that I wanted to freak out.  If your baby is fed, clean and in a safe place (like a crib) it is ok to walk away for half an hour.  Set your phone timer and go sit on the front step where you can't hear them cry and get your head on straight."

Right when I walked outside with him I posted on Facebook what had happened with him.  I got a ton of wonderful support.  Other mama's telling me that I am doing a good job, don't worry.   Lot's of reassurance.  It was wonderful to get that kind of support - but they don't really know the full truth.  They see the pictures I post and the stories I tell but they don't know what is really going on in my house.  The non-pretty moments that you don't put on Facebook. 

In the spirit of honesty I want to post some of those things too.  And I want to hear some of those things about the people I know.  They all have such an interesting life story and I want both sides of it. 

Here are of few of my not pretty moments -
1.  We are still broke.  We struggle with money still like crazy.  We have come a long way and we are paying off debt like crazy - another year or so and we should be pretty good.  But I watch every dollar that I spend.  I have about 40 different garden and house projects that I don't do because I don't have the money to do them. 
2.  We go on too many vacations - which is linked to our money problems.  We are cheap 95% of the year but then we decide that we need to go for a short grown ups Disney trip, a week long cabin family trip, and a long weekend grow ups to Vegas.  And I don't really feel super bad about this, we say that some times you have to make a poor financial choice and a smart mental health choice.  So when I complain that I can't order out lunch at work cause I am broke it is because I am going to Disney. 
3.  We are a family of 6!  SIX!  And we have one fully functional bathroom.  With a small stand up shower and one small sink.  It is a mad house.  We have been in the process of renovation our other bathroom for years.  I have no idea when we are actually going to finish it because each time we come up with a wad of cash we spend it at Disney (see problem two).
3.  We do not own one car with less than 100K miles.  Josh is a handy person.  He can fix cars and duct tape them together.  Sometimes when I look at our tax returns and then drive the piece of crap to the drama practices I get embarrassed.  I remind myself that is shallow.  You don't have to prove your income with your car.  Grow up.  Stop being so shallow.  But that "keeping up with the Jones" feeling sometimes pushes me.  As punishment I make myself drive the 12+ year old Saturn, that shitter is a very humbling experience.  You can't put on airs when you drive that thing. 
4.  I get so mad sometimes that I see stars.  I yell too much and let my anger go too far.  Josh will tell me to stop.  He keeps me in line.  I have never once lost my cool with my husband and children and not regretted it latter.  I need to refocus on this.  It is a terrible weakness.       
5.  We had a little dog named Lizzie.  I loved that little fluff ball.  Josh gave her to me as a distraction present to talk me out of making him get his vasectomy reversed.  It bought him another year or so.  We bought her at a pet shop - because we are idiots.  She was a wonderful little dog.  Good with the kids and well trained.  She never had accidents and could be home in the house in no kennel for 13 hours.  She had one fluke that she liked to chase cars.  She got out one day and got hit by a truck.  We took her to the emergency vet and sent the X-rays to my friend who is an emergency vet specialist.  She told me not to euthanize, keep the dog well contained for six straight weeks and it should heal its self.  We did exactly that and the broken bones healed great.  But the dog was never the same.  She had accidents all the time, I am not sure she could really hold her bladder that well and once it started she just could stop peeing all over.  She now barked constantly.  She didn't really like the kids anymore and would growl at them when they came near her, especially if she was snuggling me.  She never bit anyone, even when they deserved it.  Life was busy and I took the easy road out, which slowly evolved into her being with the farm dogs outside all the time.  She liked it, all the running and hunting.  But that was no way for a toy breed dog to live, they just are not hardy enough.  After months of thought I just surrendered her to a rescue.  They say she is really happy and thriving.  Snuggling and playful.  She is in a way better place with them - but I feel really guilty for giving her up like that.  Even worse - the kids are all over me for another indoor dog and I want one too.  I just sweep that problem under the rug and look for the next dog.

Ok - those are my five current confessions.  Your turn...

Friday, April 25, 2014

::cayuga ducks::

Mallard friend that flew away

I have to say that I love my green ducks and I get lots of questions about them. 

Snow ducks

Let me give you a little background first -
Last spring Lily was looking for a poultry project for 4H.  We really wanted to show Silkie Chickens but we didn't have any luck finding any that where the right ones for us.  We really like to pick what breeds we show off the Livestock Conservatory website.  It doesn't always work for us perfectly but we often get some pretty good ideas there (LIKE BABYDOLL SHEEP!!!!).  We read through every breed of chicken and couldn't find the right fit, so we started reading the duck breeds.

Less than a week old

Why did you pick this breed?
The Cayuga Duck really stuck out as the right fit for us.  They are naturally unable to fly so we didn't have to build new pens to hold them or worry about our 4H project leaving.  They are beautiful to look at - which never hurts.  They are listed as having one of my new keywords - "hardy".  What does hardy mean to me?  Hardy means that if the winter turns into a rough one the ducks will survive.  Hardy means that they can roll, they can forage, they can take stress.  Basically - they can take the Funny Farm.  Cayuga's are a breed that is known for being good egg layers. 

Wait - you eat duck eggs? 
Yes we do.  Cayuga ducks lay dark grey eggs early in spring that turn lighter and lighter till in late fall they are almost white in color.  They are slightly larger than a chicken egg.  I think they taste exactly the same.  Josh says they are stronger in flavor than chicken eggs.  I use them in anything I am cooking, especially baking.   Farm lore is that ducks eggs are better for baking with then chicken eggs.  I am not sure that is true but I do follow that rule.  The female duck lays one light grey egg a day.  Like chickens they often stop laying when the days become short unless they are kept in a lighted environment that fools them into thinking the days are not getting shorter.  Duck eggs are often dirtier than chicken eggs because ducks don't lay in a nest box, they lay on the ground in a nest they dig.  My girls nests are about 18 inches across.  She lays eggs every day right now, the only problem is that because she has so much space to waddle around in she picks a new nest each day and I can hardly ever find them in time to use them.  Plus my Labrador thinks they are delicious so she usually eats the eggs before I find them.    So far our female has not been sitting on her eggs to hatch them but Lily and I both hope that someday she does.  Because we have two male ducks there is a good chance that these eggs are fertile, but the mama or a incubator has to very carefully incubate them for them to grow into ducklings. 

How did you find a breeder?
I looked high and low.  I found a few large places that would ship the ducklings but I really wanted to buy local.  I felt like I would get higher quality stock from a local person.  I found a lady located in Indiana that was a good fit for us, Heavenly Springs Farm.  She breeds many different poultry and goat breeds and even a few sheep.  I highly recommend her.  Look her up on Facebook.   Her prices are very reasonable. 

How can you tell the genders apart?
We ended up with two males and one female.  You can a tell a male from a female because the male has a curl at the end of its tail, is slightly bigger, slightly louder, and is a darker green.  Males do not have any external genitalia, so you can't just flip them over and tell what they are.  I know that their are people who can tell day old duckling genders part but that is a skill I don't want to learn. 

What do you feed the ducks?
During the winter I give them chicken feed, just some feed in a bucket.  I let them eat all the want.  Now my ducks are fat little piggies so maybe I over feed them in the winter.  Since the snow has melted I haven't fed them a thing.   They free range all they want.  If they are in the barn when I feed I throw them a handful or two of what ever feed I have at that moment.  They eat anything - chicken food, dog food, crackers, left overs, bugs, grass.  I haven't ever thrown them something and had them walk away from it.  Last year when they where going to fair I kept them in a pen and fed them poultry feed, but this year they just get to live out being ducks, so they graze the farm.  I will be putting a new fence around my garden this year to keep them out of it but I really don't want to lock them up, they love free ranging.

Are they noisy?
Not really.  Sheep are the loudest, then goats, Donkey is the loudest but rarely makes noise, roosters call so loud your ear about ruptures - this kind of duck just mutters.  The males quacks and the female just whispers.  If you had a bunch of females they would be very quiet, but even with a male or two they are not loud.

Teenager ducks

What about water?  What about a place to swim? 
Ducks like to swim, they don't have to swim.  In the winter I keep a six inch tall heated dog water bowl filled with water for them.  They need to dip their beak to drink, so they need deeper water than a dog could lap or a chicken could peck but not much deeper.  They will swim very often if the chance presents itself.  In the spring we have some ponds that form in our horse pasture and the ducks swim in it several times a day.  As it dries up I will buy them a new kiddie pool and fill that for them to swim in - we have another more permanent shallow pond, more of a wetland area, that we are trying to teach the ducks about.  I make the kids catch them and take them to that pond on the other side of the property, but after about an hour or so the ducks are back at the house. 

Could you have a back yard duck like you have backyard chickens?
FOR SURE!!!  This breed would be really good in a small homestead or even a back yard.  The more you handle them as babies the tamer they are.  A yard that was fenced well enough to hold in a small breed dog would be secure for a Cayuga duck. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

::mini road trip - pygmy::

We had another mini road trip.
This time to pick up our little pygmy girl. 
About half way there we stopped at a little road side store that sells all local products.
From farm raise beef to fresh cheese.
I could have spent a huge chunk of cash. 
But in the spirit of thrifty I just let each kiddo pick out a cookie. 
This place had free popcorn, too!
Trip Advisor had some good reviews about Windmill Grill in Kokomo.
It did not disappoint.
Emma got the sampler and it was the most amazing plate of calories I have ever seen.
Next stop was a very pretty park in Kokomo.
It has a wonderful old covered bridge that the kids loved. 

My prettiest Emma acted as photographer on lots of these pics. 

Like this one.

And this one.

And my favorite picture of Lily in a long time.

Once we had our new little goatie we took back roads the whole way home and found a great ice cream place in a tiny little town called Birmingham. 

Photo bomb is a family tradition.

And baby girl ended up being just as pretty as we hoped. 
Emma named her Darcy on a Jane Austin vibe. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

::chickens graduate::

 When we bring the little ones home from Rural King they start off inside the house in a rubbermaid container with a heat lamp over it.  Next, they move on to an old horse water tank locked in the chicken coop with a heat lamp close to them. Once they have some decent feathers and the weather is warming up I move them to the coop with dog fencing around it to make it smaller.  After about 2-3 more weeks of improved weather and feather growth they get the entire coop to themselves.  

BUT - this year I am going to figure out some kind of outdoor grazing space for them that will keep them safe from Quinn and hawks. 

 I wish I could let Quinn play with these little guys like he wants too.  But then we would not have any more chicks left. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

::cottage garden 2014::

Here is the game plan for this year. 
The onions, peas, cilantro, and spinach are already in the ground.  
I think because it was such a hard winter I am extra excited to get this garden underway this year.
I am bringing back a center green bean teepee.  When I look back at old pictures it just looks so pretty.  
This will be my first year to try tomatillo's.  We will see how that turns out.  I can already taste the green salsa. 
In the very back of this garden will be a skinny row of sunflowers. 


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