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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The $38 Chicken Coop

We have chosen a life that requires “thriftiness.”  And we are happy to do it.  After many years of living a materialistic life, we were very tired of it.  We have consciously chosen to live on one income and it has forced us into a lot changes.  We also realized that we didn’t want our kids to grow up to be materialistic.  We wanted them to be able to cook from scratch, learn to sew, realize that eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables don’t really come from a store, etc.  And slowly but surely, we are getting there. 

In November, 50 baby chicks were delivered to the post office for us.  Two of them died that first night.  They were all supposed to be hens, but we have learned that 3 of them are roosters…yuck.  Regardless..they all need a chicken house.  Our other one fits our “older chicks” just fine, but there is certainly not room for another forty-eight.  Five years ago, we would have gone online and ordered a chicken house to be delivered.  Chicken coops are not cheap; especially for 48 chickens.  Ones that hold 12 chickens are about $400.  So, Tammy has been building a new chicken house for them; primarily out of scrap wood that was left in our home when we moved into it.  We have spent only $38 on materials; and $10 of that was a door that we bought from the Re-Store.  I am pretty darn proud of her.  J

Friday, January 27, 2012

One year without cable......

On February 1st, it will have been one year since we have had cable/satellite. I can’t believe that we have made it.  Do we miss it?  Sure we do, especially since the colder weather has set in; and we are contemplating getting Dish Network next month.  But, I have to say that we have mixed feelings about it.  I love the way that I have watched our children’s imaginations grow with no TV to rely upon.  Sure, they have watched some movies, but certainly not every day and not on a “regular” basis like they did when we had TV in the home.

Until we moved to our little farm, Tammy and I had always lived “in town;” and have pretty much always lived in a large town…Lexington, Nashville, Albuquerque…so having cable and high speed internet was just a given.  Well, there is no regular cable service out here, and our “wireless” internet does not work unless it is plugged in..and it is certainly not very fast at that.  So, it has been quite an adjustment… for all of us. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Parenting is not a bowl of cherries

The ugly side of parenting can be really tough.  Personally, I cannot stand having to discipline our kids, but it is just part of the package.  I tend to be all bite and no bark; and my partner in crime here tends to mouth about everything but the kids have learned that if they just listen to her for a while it will blow over. 

And our “parenting issues” can be a bit extended at times.  Parenting kids with special needs definitely has its own challenges; as does parenting kids who come a different lineage than your own.  We have a variety of diagnoses in our little family; Aspergers, ADHD, sensory integration issues, in-utero drug exposure, PTSD, learning disabilities, and the hardest one of all…..Reactive Attachment Disorder. 

Reactive Attachment Disorder is something that you have to be prepared for when you adopt children who were in foster care or who were not placed with you as an infant.  For example, it is very prevalent in children who were adopted from Russia; where many of the babies/toddlers laid in cribs in orphanages before they were placed.  For those of you who aren’t familiar for this disorder, it can be a bit hard to understand.  As a social worker, I thought that I understood it…but parenting children who have this is a whole different story.  You truly have to train yourself; and parent in a way that does not feel natural at all.  How can it feel natural to parent a child who, when you praise him/her; will then do anything in this world to sabotage your happiness with their accomplishment.  They push and push and push to see if you will stick by them; or if you will simply leave them like every other adult in their life has?  And the reality of it is…it can be so very exhausting.  And the sad part of it is….these kids did not get what they needed those first 6 months…or 3 years….(lots of opinions on this timeframe), so they do not trust that anyone will meet their needs.  No one bonded with them when they were infants; so they are unable to bond with others…and this is not something that can be “taught.”  You cannot teach someone to have a conscience…….So, you have to learn to parent and meet them in the middle; make sure that they are safe, try to teach them to be productive citizens, and try to give them the tools that they need to be happy.  And this can look very different than the images that you see in Parenting Magazine. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

What is style?

What is style?  Does it come from your culture…your religion…the way that you were raised?  I get frustrated when I read fashion magazines (which is very rarely these days…most of my reading is farm related J ) and they want to put you into a “category.”  Why do that to yourself?  Some days I want to dress up..some days I want to dress down.  I feel most comfortable in a dress and heels; but I certainly don’t dress like that every days.  Today I wore a dress, heels, AND hose…but will probably throw on a sweater and dress pants tomorrow.  And that is o.k….none of us have to fit into a mold or wear a certain style at all.  My poor little Sophie; she really wants to fit into a mold; and at 7 years old, that is more understandable.  She thinks that she either has to be a girly girl or a tomboy.  I tell her to dress the way that she wants and the way that makes her happy and “who cares” what anyone else thinks. 

I think that is one thing that I love about butch women (particularly my butch woman J).  She has a style all her own… it only fits her..and she TRULY doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I want to lose 83 pounds

I have struggled with my weight since I was a pre-teen; and it is drives me absolutely crazy.  I think about it all of the time.  I am so incredibly jealous of people who can eat whatever they want and never gain any weight….I certainly don’t have the genes for that!

My weight has gone up and down a lot over the past 2 years.  I lost a great deal of weight; and within my struggles and concerns regarding EVERYTHING over the last year, I have lost and gained the same 30 pounds over and over.  Well, I am sick and tired of it and starting anew.  I want to lose 83 pounds and I also know that I can do it.  I am in the right frame of mind.  I have gotten more regular with getting on my treadmill again, have found a Zumba class that I love, and went to the grocery today and we bought all healthy foods.  I also bought myself a food diary which greatly assists me in keeping focused. 

I have another goal that I am also working toward which has motivated me.  I am doing the 3-day Race for the Cure in Tampa in October; 60 pounds in 3 days…this will certainly be a lot easier if I am 83 pounds lighter…wish me luck.  J

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Beautiful Day

What better way to spend an evening….we cooked steaks on an open fire outside.  Sophie, Kennedy, and Sawyer helped build it.  This country life suits us so well.  We all love to be home and like to learn to do new and different things.  Our kids are pretty resilient and truly roll with the punches.  Their lives have changed dramatically over the last year and they have adjusted so very well; even little Kennedy with her Asperger’s Syndrome.  It took her a little longer; but she is so happy now.  When we ask them if they want to move back to New Mexico; they say “no way!!”   It has been a beautiful day, followed by a beautiful evening and we have soaked in every minute of it.   

Friday, January 6, 2012

No Roosters allowed.........

So…we are greatly increasing our egg production in order to boost our sales.  We ordered 50 chicks that were delivered the first of November..and one complimentary “exotic chick.”  The 50 were hens..and the “exotic” chick is now crowing.  Well, this summer we had to get rid of our 3 big roosters because they are so obnoxious and bossy and one went after Sawyer and attacked Tammy.  And now we have another one and he is as onery as they come.  He won’t let any of our little hens go anywhere.  He keeps them huddled up in the corner and bosses them around…he has GOT to go!! 

Also chicken related…Tammy and the kids are building a second chicken house.  They finished the first wall today and I have to say that I am very proud.  Quite a job for a mom and a houseful of kids J

Just sent the 4 little ones to off to read the first book of “The Hunger Games.”  Teenage vampires…gotta love them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Winter is here....

This really feels like the first day of winter…this is the first day of the season that the animals’ water has continued to freeze throughout the day and we have seen some “real” snow.  Being outside has been incredibly unpleasant and left us to entertain the kids inside today before they start back to school and I go back to work tomorrow….and finger painting only lasts about 30 minutes. 

Jack Henry is incredibly obsessed with Dora and Diego at the moment.  And he continually asks to watch his DBDBD’s (DVD).  Quite frankly; we have all memorized the songs on these movies and are ready to scream when the songs come on.  Thank goodness he is napping now….

Our calves are growing up.  Daisy likes to play with Tammy.  She chases her around the farm and she runs faster than I ever dreamed that a cow would.  Yesterday we were unsure if she was chasing Tammy even more because she was wearing a red shirt?  I learned today how committed our hens really are to laying.  Even with a cloudy day and the fact that they opted to spend most of it in the chicken house due to the cold, wind, and snow; we still got 8 eggs; not too shabby.

I have to say that I am ready for spring.  I am ready to live my days in a sundress and sandals (or boots; depending on what we are doing around here); and to get my garden going.  Last year’s trials have told me that I don’t need quite as many cucumbers; but need to can A LOT more jam.  The kids love it and use it on their PB&J’s, biscuits, homemade bread, and also ice cream.  Tammy has also fenced off an area for me to plant herbs and flowers; where they will be safe from the dogs….

Well, Jack Henry is up from his nap…until next time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Facebook Hiatus

I have decided that I need a Facebook hiatus.  Am I addicted?  No…I don’t think that I am, but I have noticed that it distracts me A LOT.  I have greatly enjoyed reconnecting with my past on a variety of levels and plan to continue to do in the future, but really need to focus right now.  And we have a lot of plans for the New Year.  We are pushing forward on our homesteading, we have our first goat about to give birth and it is time to start back to homeschooling after Christmas break.  Also, our booth at Martin’s Flea Market is doing well and we are going to try some new ideas in regard to what we are selling. 

We are also doing a seed exchange and going to try primarily heirloom seeds this year.  We have been scouring the following magazines:  R.H. Shumway’s, Burpee, Gurney’s (although we won’t be ordering anything except flowers from this one because the vegetable/fruit seeds are hybrid), Stark Bro’s, The Cook’s Garden, and Seed Savers Exchange.  If anyone has any ideas of any other magazines or websites please let us know. 

Our new flock of chickens is growing rapidly and by spring we will be selling about 30 dozen eggs per week.  If anyone is interested in purchasing local, country-fresh eggs from free-range chickens; please let us know; 

Nina; our star female Nubian goat is VERY pregnant and looks like she is going to have twins.  Her belly is growing fast and she is eating an insane amount of goat feed.  Our plans at this time are to experiment within the next year with consuming goat milk for our family (we are going to pasteurize ourselves) for milk and yogurt, and also to begin making goat milk soap.  We are also planning to make goat cheese in the future; but this is likely a long way off. 

I would like to end with this quote which sums up the way that we feel about life right now. 

“Though no one can go back and make a Brand New Start; anyone can start from now and make a Brand New Ending.”   Carl Bird