Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicken Secrets

My long time friend, Makenzie, sent me a message the other day saying she enjoys reading my blog, but usually goes really fast past the posts about the chickens and turkeys. She has always had this fear of birds, and when she sent me that message, I had a flashback. We were in high school, I was dating her brother, we were at their house.. long story short, her brother and his best friend had chased poor Makenzie into her closet and were scratching at the door with pheasant feet while she cried for them to leave her be. This (poorly told) story doesn't really have anything to do with this post. What I'm getting at is if you are like Makenzie and were once held hostage in your closet by pheasant feet, these photos may be graphic to you. They contain chickens. And their feet.

I did share a picture of our first chicken egg on Instagram, but I never mentioned it here. We've been enjoying fresh eggs for a while now. It was really exciting when Tyler into the house with that first little egg. We eventually started getting 2-4 eggs a day, chickens lay approximately one ever 25 hours. We have 10 mature chickens and not a single one is a rooster... so something just wasn't adding up. We should be getting almost ten eggs a day. We figured our hens just needed more time before they started to lay.
One night, Tyler came back from putting the birds in for the night and said one of our Rhode Island Reds was missing. We didn't know if it had been eaten or lost or just roosted in a tree for the night like our turkeys seem to enjoy doing. Later that evening, I was scanning through my Instagram feed and came across a post of a huge secret nest that Botanical_Harmony had found.

I was like, whoa! Wait.. chickens can have secret nests? I showed it to Tyler and we joked about how our chickens probably have some secret nest somewhere.
Well. The very next morning, I was up by the chicken house doing something or other and found one of our Reds in the tall grass, about 20 feet from the chicken house. I was like, hooray, I found the missing chicken! I had the very unhelpful dog and a child with me, so I dropped them off at the house with dad, told him I think I found the missing Red, and I had to go back out because I thought she was stuck or injured and needed my assistance.

I went back and there she lay, still, but alive. All our chickens run away when you approach them, she did not. I wondered how she was stuck, so I got closer and pet her a bit. Luckily the Reds are so docile compared to the other hens. I picked her up and hello, secret nest. She wasn't stuck or hurt. She was just laying on eggs. You can read and read about things (like keeping chickens), but sometimes it takes experiencing it to actually learn.

I took pictures and went back to show Tyler, who laughed immediately seeing the irony in the timing of our previous night's jokes. We collected all the eggs and cracked them into the cat food bucket.
Since then we've witnessed the Barred Rock hens laying in the chicken house. They each have their preferred nesting spot, which of course is not in the nesting boxes. Zero eggs have been laid in the nesting boxes. One is in a corner of the room we keep them in at night. Another is right outside the door of that room. And, the other is up on a board, which is really not the smartest place. So, we know the eggs we've been collecting are from these hens, especially since they are all in the same place each time.

Another week or so goes by. Guess what. Still getting only 3-4 eggs a day. Those silly hens! We looked in their old nest: vacant. Tyler searched all around the chicken house and couldn't find their eggs. Mason and I were outside checking the tomatoes in the garden and I decided while we were out, we should go on an egg hunt (way better than Easter). We looked down by the barn, behind grain bins, and in tall grass, but found nothing. So, we went to our mini forest of evergreen trees, thinking maybe they were nesting under one because they all hang out under an evergreen tree right by their house during the day and seem to enjoy it. So we walked through the trees, dodging stinging nettles, and finally I spotted one of the Reds, laying still, in tall grass under one of the trees. Bingo! There were so many eggs, she couldn't even lay on all of them at once.

We went back to the house so Mason could excitedly tell dad all about our hunt and what we found. I collected them and we looked through them, there were quite a few double yolkers. Kitties got another treat.

This time, I wrote x's on five of them with a sharpie and put them back in the nest. If they are going to refuse to lay in the chicken house, we at least want to know where they are laying, so it wouldn't be bad if they kept that nest, for now. I went and grabbed one of the Reds and took her to see the eggs were still there. I really can't tell them apart, so it may or may not have been the same hen I found on them earlier.

Today, we found one new egg in the nest. Hopefully they continue to lay there, but who knows. I'm sure they are plotting their next secret. Those sneaky hens. And don't even get me started on the Ameraucanas or the ducks. We have yet to discover any eggs from them!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

6 Random Things

1. I don't enjoy when the girls wake up early. Any time before the clock strikes 6 feels like torture, but there have been some really pretty sunrises lately. Too bad the camera can never truly capture the beauty of the sky.

2. Mason wrote his name for the first time a few days ago, it was even legible! Grandma Jackie got him some dry erase tracing books, he's pretty excited about them, he asked pretty much right away this morning to draw in them. In this picture, he was writing down rules. "No jumping, no walking, no running.." I love the thinking process of toddlers, so unique and unpredictable.

3. We've started participating in Bountiful Baskets. I have wanted to try it out for a few years now, but haven't been near a drop site, now there is one 15 minutes away from us! If you aren't familiar with it, BB is a co-op that operates via volunteers, the group purchases a ton of produce at wholesale pricing and then it all gets evenly distributed to the participants. You pay $15 for your weekly share, half fruit, half veggies, that could cost double that if you bought in the grocery store. We have bought the organic basket both times we've participated, which is $10 extra. Also in the picture we purchased a couple add-ons, one was a lunch box add on (apples, carrots, grape tomatoes, etc.) and the other was five loafs of bread. It was around $50 for all this, which is quite good considering half of it is organic. The beans in the bowl were from my garden, but they looked too good in the picture to move them. If you are interested in trying it out, go to

4. Here's Tom, or as we've been calling him lately, Thomas. He thinks he's so tough and puffs up like this, especially when I gobble at him. I love the sounds the turkeys make, it is not something I'm used to hearing. They've been big stinkers lately, flying up to roost in the trees before Tyler can shut them in their house at night. They don't care for many "treats" we give the other birds, but we've learned they love to eat bananas, that information may prove useful in coaxing them in at night.

5. Here's my first two cucumbers from the garden. Well, technically number two and three, because the dog picked the first and the chickens enjoyed eating it. This is my first time growing cucumbers, I had no idea they'd have spikes. I have been waiting patiently for the spikes to disappear so I could pick them, I figured once they were big enough to pick, the spines would kind of be absorbed in the growth. I got tired of waiting and looked it up and turns out sometimes they are just spiky! So I picked them, sliced some for the kids, added some sea salt, and they gobbled them down. It is a really good feeling feeding your kids something you grew yourself.

6. Elliot and Finnley are enjoying picking out their own attire lately. They get so exited digging through their drawers and getting dressed, it is pretty cute. And their style isn't too bad.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Foraging For Elderberries

We went on a little adventure the other day. We headed to the end of our lane, along the creek bank, and through the corn field, to get to an elderberry bush. My dad told us the one down the road from them was ripe, so we were off to harvest our own elderberries.

If you look close, you can see our new truck in the background.

It really wasn't the easiest hike we've been on. The creek bank was so sloped and obviously it isn't fun having corn leaves all but slice your face off. However, as someone who spent a large portion of her childhood exploring the creek, I was excited for Mason to have his first creek adventure.

We finally made it to the elderberries! But wait.. they were still green. Ripe elderberries are a dark purple/black color. Bummer.

This guy still had fun though. Perhaps we'll make the trek back next week. Perhaps.

Introducing Elliot to the sweet taste of clover flowers.

The trip was worth it just for the puddle splashing. They spent a long time running back and forth through the puddles. We figured we'd be wearing the girls the whole time, so I just put their new boots on them. They started falling asleep on our way out of the field (no nap day and it was like 4pm), so we ended up taking them off to keep them awake. The boots washed up fine in the end, so no biggie.

Their identical-ness showing in this photo.

Their day pretty much went downhill from here..

We've got our eyes on another bush my dad pointed out to us alongside a road. Hoping to stop and pick a few ripe ones. Why the heck do we want elderberries so bad? To make syrup! Elderberry syrup is great for cold and flu season and store bought bottles of the stuff are really quite expensive. I've found some recipes {here} and {here} that I want to try. They seem easy enough!


Have you ever made elderberry syrup? How'd it turn out? Want to share your recipe?

The Homestead Barn Hop!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Morris Vacation 2014

Okay, so it wasn't really a vacation. We traveled a whopping two hours away, stayed one night in a hotel, and that was that. But for fun Tyler and I called it our big family vacation of the year, and it was sorta refreshing like a real vacation. Our destination was Sioux City, Iowa, and the reason we went was to buy a truck. We swam in the hotel pool twice, went out to eat, and went to two playgrounds. 

Mason was in Heaven. He loves to swim and we don't do it often. By the way, those puddle jumpers are awesome and totally worth the purchase. Mason swam and jumped into the pool all by himself majority of the time after he got the hang of it.  

Finnley loved jumping off the side (into my arms). She's say  "Again! Again! Again!" immediately after her leap. We'd go side to side, she'd jump in at each wall and wanted to "Swim!" both ways.

Elliot was a bit more hesitant about the water, and once she got in she was content to ride in one of the floaty rings most of the time. She jumped once or twice, but just getting a ride around the water was more her style.

Packing time cartoons.

We stopped at Dollar Tree in town to get a few fun things for hotel room entertainment. Mason got these little pill-looking things that grew into foam vehicles in warm water. He loved them and was so excited to see the change in each and every little capsule.

 Many minutes of entertainment right there.

Morris family vacation kids group photo fail.

The really cool park we went to, it was right on the river. Only thing it was lacking was trash cans.

 Mason chasing his new friend.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Favorite Things - Etsy Edition

Every once in a while, I'll peruse Etsy. I usually head there with an item in mind, but sometimes it is just fun to browse. I come up with things for the kids' Christmas lists or even ideas of things I can make myself. I think it is very important to support small businesses and Etsy is a great place to do that. A lot of sellers on there are moms just like me trying to make a little extra cash. Our shop has been on vacation since we scored a booth at the Egg Krate in town, but hopefully in the next month or so we'll be able to open back up with a decent inventory. There just aren't enough hours in the day! Here are some of the things I've added to my Favorites on Etsy recently.

Trimsies Trainer pattern - Cloth training pants printable  PDF sewing pattern - 5 sizes (XS through XL) - Instant Download

lettuce turnip the beet ® - heather grey track shirt - baby and toddler sizes

Vintage Hankie Apron - Children's Apron, Toddler Girls Apron, Baking Apron, Cooking Apron, Kids Apron, Pretend Play, Dress up, Play Kitchen

Busy Bumblebee, cup cozy, coffee sleeve, crochet bee applique, linen colored sleeve, black and yellow bee, white wings, beehive escapee

Bird Chirping Weather  -   vertical print

I Prefer Real Food- The Original Handprinted By the Artist 0 3 6 12 18 months Short Sleeve on Organic Kiwi Green  Baby Bodysuit

Tree Wood Buttons 20mm Natural Wood Buttons ( 12 pieces)

Fox Dress Halloween costume

Organic Baby Quilt, Camp Sur Camping Outdoors Hiking Canoeing, Unisex Boy Girl Blanket, Bears Fox Fish, Modern Forest Woodland MADE TO ORDER

Wooden Vegetable Play food- Waldorf Eco Children Kitchen