This summer has been a busy one here on the farm. So much has happened that it feels like there have been years within years in 2020. I know you probably understand what I mean. School has started back up (we do it year round, but their co-ops have the usual summer, winter, and holiday breaks). The great country of Texas is breathing a collective SIGH of relief after August relented and took with it the inferno it brought. I managed to not lose one chicken to heat stroke. Amazing.
I figure you are as busy as we are, in some form or fashion, but that didn’t stop me from making a colossal list format update post. Grab a cup of tea and sit. You know me, I’m a sucker for a good list. Everything is related when you put it on a random list, right? I’m not sure how that coheres with Charlotte Mason’s “Education is the science of relations”… but I’m sure there’s a link in there somewhere.
Since May, when I last checked in, these are the highlights (or lowlights, depending)… and I’ll expand on a few of them in coming posts. As you can see, we have redesigned the farm (and everything else) blog. I’m looking forward to keeping you in the loop about what’s going on with the farm, our homeschooling adventures and field trips, Charlotte Mason co-op features, recipes from our tiny farmhouse kitchen, and much more. We are gearing up to get back in the blogging groove. I have a feeling it is none too soon with Facebook considering kicking people off for not being politically, educationally, or “scientifically” correct. I don’t know many homeschooling families who are “that kind of correct”.
It goes without saying that homeschool families are free thinkers who question the norm. We question everything, really. We dig in (like Civil Disobedience Cat) and study hard. We search for the truth. We take our job seriously to impart that truth to our kids whom God entrusted us with. We still have a sense of humor, though.
I don’t know about you, but the memes have been keeping me sane lately.
I would say I’ll be excited to say “good riddens, 2020” after the holidays, but I’m trying to savor the normalcy we still have, knowing that control and safety are an illusion. The only one in control has not promised anyone a rose garden this side of eternity.
Be thankful for the moments. Savor the days. Hug your kids and speak life in this darkness. Be kind to others and gentle with your answers. We may look back and think 2020 was a good year if things get worse. Don’t wish it away just yet. Make the most of it instead.
There’s my 20 cent soap box; and there’s my 50 cent meme. Now for the list!
JUNE thru SEPTEMBER 2020 (well, the first week of September, really)…
- Sunflowers were the show-stoppers this summer. They towered over every corner of our world from May through July. They looked pretty sickly all the way up to a few weeks ago. I think there may be one left out here that needs to be given to the chickens to munch on, but the rest have all been pulled. The only flowers left blooming are morning glories, hibiscus, basil, obedient plant, pride of Barbados, jewels of Ophir, squash blossoms, and zinnias.
Just look at that pink zinnia. It’s mind-blowing. Those were a bumble-bee fave.
2. The chickens began laying in July. I started selling eggs when all twenty something of them were producing for us. It was all so exciting at first. I still geek out a little when I find a green Easter Egger egg in the flower bed or the road. They aren’t the smartest little fluff-balls, but they lay the cutest green-colored eggs ever.
We sell our eggs for five bucks a dozen (because organic feed isn’t cheap, and ours get lots of fresh fruit, raw dairy, oatmeal, honey, BUGS and produce as well). Our chickens are free range from dawn to dusk. WILD AND FREE chickens. Happy chickens make happy eggs. If you want a dozen, give me a holler. Each dozen comes with two fancy, random chicken feathers. I’d love to see what you create with them! I might even post it on my blog! Be sure to sign up for our emails here at the blog so we can notify you when we have eggs, chicks, art, seedlings, produce, food goods, baked goods, photography sessions, farm field trip days, potted plants and succulents, or whatever else we think up to share as a local farm and family business. Thanks for supporting Central Texas and Homeschool local!
3. Speaking of chickens, one of our sweetest chickens broke her leg in June. I set the bone with a stick, a napkin, and some duct tape. I couldn’t bear to kill our favorite chicken. We were all shocked that she eventually learned to walk again. Lacey is getting around better than ever. Yesterday our neighbor’s dog nearly got her. She may bemissing a few feathers, but she’s still here to squawk about it. Lacey is on her third life, by now. We keep scratching our heads and wondering why it’s always the good chickens that have the worst luck. There’s a chicken sermon in there someplace.
4. June was a garden jungle around here. All those seedlings, tenderly babied from back when it was too cold to function last winter, turned into a zillion green, happy things. Well, the ones the chickens didn’t eat, smash, scratch up, peck at, or poop on, that is. Chickens are a lot harder to garden with than I ever imagined. Those gardening with chickens books I read made it look oh, so easy. Liars. The lot of them. I’m going back to the drawing board this fall and winter to come up with new strategies to keep my gardens, plants, and deck out of the bomb-squad path and off their buffet table.
By August, the June Jungle had turned into a dark chicken tunnel of love. Ha!
Anyone need any fall squash decorations? I ended up with more seminole squash than I will ever know what to do with. I tried eating one, but am of the impression that they either taste gross or I didn’t cure them or ate it underripe. I might try one more time. My garden helpers and I have begun to cut down all the vines and make way for new things… but it looks like the fall garden may end up getting in the ground late.
5. One thing I did really well on this year for gardening is tomatoes. I ended up liking the blueberry cherries and the other cherry variety I planted the best. My large tomatoes were yellow and had a great flavor but the chickens ate most of them because they were so easy to pick out and slow to ripen. The Romas – a Russian Purple – tasted good, but were not purple, and almost every single one of them split or got bugs unless I picked them unripe and let them sit on the window ledge. Too much work! Can’t wait to grow new varieties next year. I am a tomato grower for sure.
I love tomatoes.
Maybe I can grow some in the greenhouse this fall and winter, too. I saved a few offshoots just to see.
6. We’ve got broody hens that sat on about ten eggs each. Some have hatched, but these are new mamas, not even a year old. They are not the best option for raising future egg layers. Firstly, one is a loopy Easter Egger (pictured above) who has to be returned to the correct bin because she forgets where the eggs are (and often lets some of the eggs roll away and get cold). The second one is a mean Maran we call Crazy Mary who has killed one or two of her own babies and tried to kill the other mama hens’ babies. The last one is our only dedicated mama hen who picked her whole chest bare to warm her eggs better, but even she has her issues.
The best mama hen’s name is Anne Boleyn. She’s a Maran with black eyes. She’s honestly crazy, also, but at least she doesn’t kill her babies or forget where her eggs are. We found her nest in the garage and brought her and the flower pot into the chicken coop so the possum wouldn’t eat her for dinner.
It is so weird how a chicken can be so internally programmed by God and yet so dumb at the same time. They hide eggs one day, leave them where you might step on them the next day, stay out on a clutch of eggs someplace one night, return the next… it’s a miracle that any of them ever survive. How do Chickens know how to mother when they are barely six months old and never had a mother of their own? How do they know to fly up into the trees if they get left out of the coop on accident? Why do they sometimes lay an egg in the flower garden pathway or on the gravel driveway?
Chickens are an anomaly.
7. Because we had broody hens and a few hatchlings, we decided to add new breeds to the flock to help us perfect our rainbow egg variety. We purchased chicks that will have white, pink, purplish, and cream colored eggs, and are looking for some blue and olive layers. I’ve made a list of over 40 breeds I’m wanting to have at some point. I’ve done the research.
I’ve got friends that are talking intervention as the coop starts to fill up. Insert crazy-face emoji here. I hate the poop, but I adore the chickens; almost all the time. Certainly not when they are knocking over or eating my plants and garden produce, digging up roots of plants, or spurring me.
8. My favorite rooster may end up in a pot. He’s not THAT pretty.
9. The boys fishing and Koko caught his first fish.
Country life is the life for us. There’s not a day that goes by when I am not thankful we decided to move.
Just wish I could scoop up all the people we love who live in town and settle them on farms out here in podunk. I know it would grow on you like it has us. Life is too short to stress out and deal with traffic, y’all. Plus: we can see the Milky Way at night.
10. Aunt Arlene and Uncle Walter insisted we come pick prickly pear fruits with them when they turned ripe. That proved to be as prickly as it sounds. I made prickly pear syrup and gave some to a friend who has a scoby I passed on to her that I got from another friend. I can’t wait to taste the kombucha. My very favorite flavor is Holy Kombucha’s prickly pear version… so I’m hoping my home made version is just as yummy.
11. Our scoby died. RIP Stinky.
12. We joined the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America and went to their youth show. My boys signed up so they can start to learn how to show bulls and be cowboys. I’d like to say “I’ve always wanted to raise some little cowboys,” but I know there’s a Willie Nelson song about that, and it’s not all favorable. They do look cute in those boots and hats.
Us urban cowboys pretty much have no idea what we are doing out here, people. The people in the feed store can spot us a mile away, coming in and asking all sorts of city slicker questions. I’m pretty sure they are making a killing selling us stuff all first-timers think they need, and having a laugh talking about us when we leave. That’s ok, though. We are willing to YouTube it. Yeeeehaw.
13. My 23 year old moved home for a while and he’s helping daddy renovate the shed beside the house. Well, they have emptied it. The mini-milking barn is taking up farmer Kev’s time currently. Now that the chickens are falling from heaven (shhhh, don’t tell him how determined I am to find blue egg-laying chicks), he may have to build a new coop, first, too. Either that, or a tractor. A chicken tractor, that is. Or both. There’s always something to do and build out here on the farm.
14. I’m missing those fresh figs we were getting from locals here a while back. I may plant more figs this fall. My pomegranate tree died, so that will need to be replaced. The blackberry bushes died, also. We still have the brown fig, the kiwi vine, the tiny tangerine tree, two small mulberry trees, a few pear trees, one apple tree, two small peach trees, and a pineapple guava. I’m totally in to permaculture and perennial food plants… edible landscaping… the like. I am always looking for new flavors to add to the land here… so give me your suggestions!
15. Without pomp or fanfare, I passed my four year mark on my cancer journey. Four years since surgery, four years since diagnosis, and four years that I’ve been living an anti-cancer life. I know I’ve slacked off from those gung-ho days of health-nut living after my diagnosis, but I make pretty good choices at least 75% of the time. You can’t stress. That’s a cancer breeder, too. I have tests that are scheduled for September, but I am not sure I will go do those any time soon. I am not in to the whole health crazy right now. I’d rather just live my life stress free out here on the prairie and wait to see what happens this fall with the rest of this Rona madness. Who knows? Maybe we will all be talking herd immunity by Christmas? Stranger things have happened. Most of them in 2020.
16. I baked a home made chocolate layered cake that turned out amazing (but entirely off my anti-cancer diet), and I’m learning to make new sour dough things. Praying this doesn’t mean I’ll be much fatter by the holidays. I’ll let you know if I find any amazing recipes worth sharing. I am very snobby about breads… because I’d rather not eat any bread than eat bad bread. “Waste of calories and pointless blood sugar spikes”, my mama would say, “not worth it”. She was right. She only cheated for the good stuff (most of her cheats involved fruit). I love that quote from Ratatouille by the Chef, Anton Ego, “If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” There’s just no sense in eating bad sweets or lackluster breads.
17. We joined a new co-op this semester. It’s Charlotte Mason. I’ve been waiting for it my whole 19 plus years of homeschooling mom life, and I didn’t even know it. Everyone is younger than me. That only proves that old dogs can learn new tricks. I can’t wait to share more about it. I am seriously giddy about it. So much so, that I spent some bucks on art supplies, books, and am pariticipating in the classes as a life-long-learning, grown-up student.
I’ll leave you with this little quote…
Its never too late to have a happy childhood.Tom Robbins
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Let me know you are reading and what you are up to.
I hope you have a super awesome homeschool year (or just a regular year if you aren’t homeschooling). Everyone could benefit from a REGULAR year in the aftermath of the first part of 2020, am I right???!!!
Here’s to a normal normal and not a new normal.
Stay safe out there and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Ha!