Family and Fences

The week of Thanksgiving....

We spent the week in NC, with my brother and his fiance and my mom, step-dad and little sister who were in from Oklahoma.

The bulk of the week was spent just hanging around the land...and building a fence for our dogs.

The weather was sort of all over the place, but for the most part really pleasant. We had a couple colder rainy days, but also a few in the 60s and sunny. Which was really nice for late November.


The boys all helped with the fence in some way- fetching tools, refilling the trench, holding posts, etc.


There was firewood cutting- taking it from the forest to the trailer and down the hill to the house. Rylan and Cale spent some time splitting the logs.

And visiting. Annika had never met her Aunt Amy before, and they spent a lot of time together.

Thanksgiving morning was spent in the kitchen....

making bread

and pie


and whipped cream

and finally fixing the clogged sink....


doing a little work while the food was cooking

and finally Thanksgiving dinner. On the back deck, surrounded by the mountains and my family- including my dad and step-mom, who came up for the day. It's been so long since all of us have been in one place.

Enjoying her first Thanksgiving meal- she particularly liked the stuffing.

And finally, an early morning good-bye on Friday


My mom headed back to Oklahoma, us back to TN and later this week my brother heads back to Colombia

Hopefully it won't be quite as long before we are all in the same place at the same time again.


K5: Online Reading and Math Program

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. 

Since I have kids ranging from 4 to 10 (not including the baby of course), I am always open to trying new programs that might enhance our homeschool experience. I'll let you know in 6 weeks what I think of their program!


Bringing Down the Barn

 This old barn had been deemed unsafe and unstable, and it needed to come down so we could build something more inhabitable in its place.

Sunday was the day.

Phase 1: The center support

Phase 2: The Front Corner

Phase 3: The 2nd Corner

This is when Paul's brother just sort of pushed on the side and it all came crashing down

And the first floor is gone....

Phase 4: Crowbar, sledge and axe

Paul and his brother spent a couple hours and reduced this half barn to...

A pile of sticks.

Next up, salvaging any usable barn wood.

Watching it all go down.

Cale spent a lot of time with the saw this weekend. Helping to cut up wood for the stove. I think it was about this time on Sunday he got into some type of briars and one ended up in his eye. For which he ended up at the eye doctor this morning getting it removed. 24 hours with a thorn embedded in your eye is no fun, neither is getting it pulled out with tweezers. He is left with a very red, scratched left eye.


Cohen and Rylan did their share of pruning and sawing too.  Collecting firewood, cleaning up fence rows and brush piles, and helping to resuscitate the old apple tree.

And they all came home exhausted Sunday night.

linking to the Homestead Barn Hop


Shutterfly Holiday Cards- Giveaway!

The holiday season is upon  us, the countdown to Thanksgiving and Christmas has started. And although usually I really procrastinate on the whole Christmas card thing, I do love to send them out and share pictures of my family with all of our friends and extended family.

Some say that the sending and receiving of holiday cards is a lost art, and in someways that might be true. Hand written notes have been left behind, but to me there is a good trade off. While I might not hand write all my cards with the same words a personalized greeting anymore, I do get to share pictures of my beautiful kids with people who don't often get to see them and they get to watch them grow each year through these cards.

I mentioned last year that I usually use Shutterfly for our holiday cards. Over the years their selection of cards has grown amazingly. You no longer have to pick just one picture for your cards, you can choose to add as little or as many as you want.

They have a variety of styles- from folded greeting cards to flat stationary cards to flat photo cards. You can choose Christmas Cards, Holiday Cards, Hanukkah Cards and many more. There is definitely something for everyone. 

And while you at Shutterfly picking out your cards, you can also pick up some great gifts too. Photobooks are big in our family- we buy them for ourselves  as well as for gifts to grandparents.

And in the spirit of giving, I have teamed up with Shutterfly to give away 25 Free Holiday Cards to 3 lucky readers! All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post to be eligible to win! Please leave an email address if you don't have a blog linked to your comment.

Contest closes next Tuesday, November 15th at midnight.




Untitled. Random Pictures and Words.

 These pictures are all from last week. I don't think I have had the camera out since Halloween on  Monday. But it's our life nonetheless.

My baby girl. Who is now 10 (!) months old. She took her first 2 steps about 2 months ago. Then decided that was all she wanted to do and would take one step and slowly lower herself down and crawl. Tonight she took 5 steps. She had a very loud audience cheering her on. 

We went to a birthday party last week at one of those big inflatable places. My boys love those places. Except for Lakin who was tired since it was an evening party. He threw fits instead. But it was fun for everyone else!

Penelope. Cuddled up on my dad's dog in NC last weekend. 

 And Annika playing on the stairs.

Spending time with my brother and his fiancee. Who are here visiting from Bogota, Colombia for a whole month.

A walk through the woods. I love this picture and the color of all the leaves. What's even better is that this is my  [new] back yard. Literally. 

Rylan, Cale and Cohen are helping to clear a trail all around the property. They LOVE this time with their grandparents and using their pruning shears as much as they want. 

Lakin usually stays with me, this time with his little pruning shears.
And now I should unplug my camera from the computer and put it to use. We've been homebodies the past few days. Paul is in Kansas City for 4 days at a conference that I am very proud of him for being chosen to attend. But I don't much like being here alone- with or without 5 kids. He gets home late tomorrow.


Cluck, Cluck

  We've had chickens for almost 5 years now and we are on our 3rd flock. We always go for a variety of breeds just to keep it interesting and we never have less than about 25 birds at one time.  Between the eggs we keep for ourselves and selling the excess eggs the girls pay for their own keep, and the goats most of the time too.

Their coop isn't too fancy. Just an old premade metal shed that was on our property already. Add roosts and nest boxes. We cut a hole out of the side for a chicken sized door, but it has since been closed up and now we just keep the people sized door open for whoever wants to enter- be it chickens, people, goats or dogs. 
My boys took to the birds right away. They LOVED the chick stage and they love the adult birds as well. Our birds are very well loved to say the least. They are named odd names ( the yellow one above was Saddlebag and the brown one is Brownie, both from our first flock) and held and played with daily. 


When we first introduced our chickens to the back yard, we had a whole area fenced off for them in the dogs' yard. We had a very flighty group that first go round. And were often seen chasing chickens down whoever jumped the fence. Unfortunately we had 2 chickens jump fence the wrong way- into the dog's yard. First up was Phoenix the rooster at 10 wks old. He was a little standoffish so no one was too upset. But next up was Shadow- and that was a sad day.

We had a 3rd chicken jump ship- a turken named Turky Lurky. And luckily we caught her in time and she escaped with a gash in her neck and a hurt foot. But nothing neosporin and a couple nights in the house couldn't fix. And the dogs got a severe "talking to" on that day. And they haven't touched a chicken since. And today it is not uncommon for me to look out the back door and see 4 goats, 4 dogs and a bunch of chickens sunning themselves on my their deck. 

We've let our broody chickens hatch out eggs once. We had 2 go broody and we gave them each about 8 eggs.  The entire ordeal was a lot of work, from flooded nests to a chick getting pecked to death by it's mother. The good mom hatched one, the bad mom hatched 3- one good, one severely pecked and one pecked to death. The bad mom was booted out and the good mom took in the orphans. Of course all 3 were roosters and soon went to a new home.


This is one of my all time favorite chicken pictures, I just love the fluffy cheeks!

That is Muffy, the Araucana. She lays blue eggs. Muffy had a hard start to life. She was on the bottom of the pecking order. And the rooster of the group, Sage, didn't much care for her. He pecked her tail completely out until it was no more than a bloody stump. The others started to peck on her as well. After a week in the house, We introduced her back into the flock and Sage went with the older chickens to, well, you know...get eaten. But Muffy has always been tame. She used to run to me at night when she was getting picked on and flap onto my shoulder. In fact, a couple months ago when it was time for her and her flock to move on so that the up and coming egg layers could have more room in the henhouse, we let her stay, just so we could have at least one blue egg. And she has thanked us by laying ZERO eggs since then.

And that brings us to our current flock. They are about 6 months old now and have finally started laying eggs. And if I must say these birds are by far the most spoiled groups of chickens I have ever seen. We currently have 27- different breeds from Speckled Sussex to Brahmas to Columbian Wyandottes to Polishes.

My boys spend hours outside with them. They allow themselves to be toted around and crouch down for easy catching. 
And the names....I don't even know all of them, but I don't think some should even be considered names. We have a Brahma named Fast Little Legs. A Polish names Piper Wrapping.  A Houdan named Black Hat. A Turken named Turken Lee Jones. A Colombian named Swirl Tail. A rooster named Charlie Horse. And last but not least....Muh. Yeah....Muh. Sounds like Duh! We give the boys the most grief over that one.

And not to be left out... 
There is Jill. She's a duck. Or a chicken. Or a dog. She's a little confused. Her flock-mate Bill died a year or so ago and since then she has made friends with the chickens and follows and lays with the dogs in the yard. She sits on the back deck and knocks on the door at night if I leave the light on. She is a Khaki Campbell and lays better than the chickens. In fact my oldest son wants to raise a whole flock of ducks after we move. 

And I do realize this was a Hen House Hop and I didn't show any pictures of my actual hen house. If I could find my external hard drive I am sure there is one in there somewhere from when it was just set up, but really it is nothing special. Ugly but serves its purpose. I can however show you a picture of the old chicken coop at our new house. We plan on sprucing it up a bit and resetting the foundation. 

For more Hen House fun visit the Dandelion House!