April 1, 2017

March '17

March has been quite satisfying around here.  While we spent February getting certain areas of the backyard in order and prepping garden beds, we spent March working to ensure a strong future for our aspiring homestead.  There is very little as satisfying as seeing the germination of the seeds I planted after carefully prepping the soil.

For now, I am keeping a close eye on them watching for pests.  Once my plants are large enough and/or I have finished making chicken wire cloches for their protection, I will let the ducks once again roam the garden area for bug control.

Speaking of, the ducks are doing great!  It’s been their mating season so it has been interesting to watch the drakes compete for attention.  I am hoping one of my hens will decide to set her nest soon.  In the meantime, we added three baby ducks to our flock.  I would be thrilled if they were all girls, but being that they were straight run, there is a decent chance of boys.  Life will be much shorter for them if they are all boys.  For now though, they are just cute!

 We also did some work on our two and half year old made-from-scraps chicken coop.  After three years of chickens we have learned a few lessons (another post).  So we revamped, put on a new roof and created a new space for our girls to lay eggs.  They had no problem adapting to their new egg laying digs and have been providing us 8-10 eggs a day (plus 1 or 2 from ducks).

We culled two of our older flock members because we wanted to thin the flock just a little and once they get older, they lay fewer eggs.  Bad news for them, but good news for our venison-loving household because we got some chicken.  They were good hens, may their souls rest in peace in chicken heaven.

 The biggest news is that my beehive is set up!  Long time coming.  This was something I talked about since we got out here three years ago, but the timing had not been right for me.  So finally, I have my hive and it has found its perfect home in view of my back porch just like all my other endeavors.  I figure the more I see something, the more attentive I will be to it. I opted for a Top Bar Hive; more on that later.

 It’s been exciting for me around here, to make big strides to grow and raise our own food.  That was one of my main goals when we moved here three years ago, but my plans got derailed for a while why I worked through mother of cancer stricken, chronically–ill child PTSD.  So now the sun is shining again and we are moving forward.  Super exciting.

As for Clayton?  Well mostly he is doing great.  Talking up a storm and always taking things in.  His favorite phrases this month are:

“But how?” –when something goes wrong instead of but why, he says this and shakes his head with a hand on either side and gets a sweet little whine to his already super sweet voice.

“What to do, what to do?” –this has been a go-to for a while now.  He still uses it with the same theatrics as when he started.

“Where are you?” –I wish people could hear him say this one.  It is precious.  And when he says it he puts his hands to his mouth like he is calling for whatever he wants.  This morning he wanted his cars DVD, “Cars, where are you”, the other day looking for George, “Daddy where are you?”

Equally used is his sweet little, “Der dey are” = There they are.

“Do you hear dat” and “Do you see dat”

He is also good with using “I sorry” and “pease” – but don’t take that to mean he can’t throw down the gauntlet with a tantrum…he can.

Oh and I can’t forget one of the sweetest ones, that shows what a considerate kiddo he is….”Are you happee?”

It can be hard to understand him but he tries and things keep getting clearer and clearer.  I end up translating a lot for others, but this has all been such a long time coming and is really fun for us.

 Unfortunately, he did have an incident this month.  He became unresponsive and we rushed him to the ER.  Long story short, we didn’t stay, because they didn’t have the good sense to do labs immediately on an unresponsive child.  While waiting for them to do something, which didn’t happen we were able to get Clayton responsive again and we left and called his doctors in Pensacola.  Because the hospital did not do immediate labs, we can’t confirm the issue was blood sugar related, but are pretty sure.  As parents it would have been nice to get that confirmation.  I was hesitant to go to our local hospital, but did so out of fear not knowing why Clayton was unresponsive.  In the future, we will go straight to Pensacola.  For the record, I never would have left the ER with Clayton had I not been confident in where he was at that moment and in the fact that it was an issue his other doctors and I could handle outside the ER.  When we first arrived, I was concerned it may be something more serious such as acute renal failure (been there done that) or such.  Knowing what to look for, I was confident in my decision to leave, while very disappointed labs had not been done to confirm our suspicions.  I would NEVER recommend anyone leave like we did unless they were sure and had the support of doctors outside the ER like we did.  Just saying.  Follow your mom gut and stand up for your kid always.

And he also spent some time fighting a pretty mean rash this past month.

It lasted WEEKS.  His eyes were the worst and then a bit on his arms, but nowhere else.  All better now though and moving on to April.

March 3, 2017

February '17

What a busy month!  Productive...what a productive month.

We have been working on projects non stop and I love it! For starters, I spent the month of January and February getting my garden boxes ready.


Adding a special cocktail of soil, hay, ashes, egg shells, organic banana peels and duck poop. Yes duck poop. My ducks have a pond and once I fill it, I let them get it down until I'm left with their "mud" in the bottom. I then pour this lovely aromatic mess in my garden beds. Now I'm finally starting to plant!

We also adopted 5 grown chickens from a friend getting rid of her flock, bringing our flock to a total of 15.  Plus our 4 ducks and we are rolling in eggs!  Seriously rolling in them.


We've been working on some outdoor Clayton projects...like a new clubhouse where we removed his old swingset and a newly built porch bench. Both from scrap wood. You know that makes me happy!  I'll do a post on the clubhouse later, but here is his new bench:


The headboard was my great grandmothers and we made the seat out of wood recycled from his swingset.  It looks a little awkward because it's so deep, but that was intentional for Clayton.  All of our projects have been custom to his needs and how he'll use them.  It's his "daybed". ;) What you see sticking out underneath is our mantel drying out.  Which of course was another February project.


Me and the baby-man set up camp in front of the fire while George went hunting. We literally spent the last weekend of hunting season like that.


And then...George also harvested the first deer from this property!  Family property for over 30 years and the first deer was dropped this year. He got a kick out of dropping one in his backyard (the very back of property, not right by our house). On the last day of hunting season too.


Then I have been working on crafting for the antique mall.  I'm experimenting. Trying different things.  Seeing what I like doing most and seeing what buyers like. And of course furniture fun... 

Vintage side table makeover:


Reclaimed coffee table:


Reclaimed lumber makes me sooo happy.

And lastly we've been tying up a few loose ends in our backyard so it functions better and allows us to enjoy it more.  So close... post those projects and Clayton update soon.

February 14, 2017

Milling A Mantel

Sometimes I have no doubt the people around me think I'm crazy. An innocent  shade of crazy of course, but crazy none the less. I'm not. I just come up with these ideas that people think are ridiculous and have very little (to no) faith in. I think I just believe in myself and some of the people around me more than they do. For example:

"I wanna build a house for $50,000."

 This one got a lot of laughs and enough doubt to last a lifetime, but we ended up building a nice quality (yet unfinished cosmetically) house for under $57,000.

"I want chickens and ducks, and maybe a goat and some version of a homestead."

 Everyone wondered why I would want any of this since I can get what I need at the store. They also mostly thought it would be a passing phase. NOPE! :) Sans the goat because I want to travel and a goat would make that difficult.  Poultry not so much. Or more recently...

"Hey George, lets pull a big log from the pile leftover from clearing the property for our house and mill our own beam for over our fireplace."

 I say things and I get the crazy look.  Sometimes from George, sometimes from our parents, neighbors or friends.  There is always someone who gives it to me. The way that I want to live and the things I value are sometimes just a step further than any of the rest of them or in some cases completely different and folks end up in a combination of doubting my commitment, doubting my process and not understanding in general why the hec I want to do the things I want to do.  BUT none of that makes me crazy...just misunderstood. ;)

None of it should come as a shock to anyone though. I have a mom who has always collected everything and nothing at the same time always trying to create whatever she could. My stepfather is the strictest of strict do-things-yourself kind of person that led him to be a man of many trades.  I grew up in a house built by my dad and PawPaw (and my mom and over the past twenty something years modified by my stepdad). My dad does a lot of tinkering and is also known to tackle projects himself and greatly appreciates old things. And my Paw Paw was always working...always. He was moving and grooving and gardening and mending fences and feeding chickens and building things he needed around his home to make it function better. And even my neighbors Julie and Greg who for many years were like another set of parents since I practically lived at their house with their kids had a profound influence on me as I watched them DIY and garden and such. When you look at my influences, it should be no surprise that I would randomly let George know we were going to tackle this project.

...And of course Clayton's influence too. Every way in which he he molded our lives has made all of the skills and lessons about working and creativity and DIYing from those around me growing up even more needed and wanted.

Now if only George can believe in the crazy as much as I do! Bless him, he follows me even when he's full of doubt. Of course sometimes I think it is just so he can prove me wrong...which he usually doesn't. Because I have more faith in his abilities than he does!

So anyway... this weekend my crazy led us to milling our own fireplace mantel. Bless my soul, I am in love.  Milling my own mantel ranks up there with one of the coolest things I've done.  Whether it's food, furniture, lumber or whatever, our society just goes to the store or orders online, etc. to get what we want. Most of us never take part in the "start to finish" or any part of the process for that matter.  So to stand there and participate in and watch this log become my mantel was awesome. It humbles me and makes me so appreciative for what I have. It makes me so appreciative for the values I hold dear and for the way I want to live. It leaves me longing for that kind of high everyday. More DIY, more growing our own food and raising our flocks, more being involved and being a hands on part of all that goes into our life. I never expected to be here...in this place...but I am so blasted thankful I am and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  The last decade has been super tough with high highs and low lows, but it has led me to this amazingly beautiful place. So far 30 has freaking rocked my socks off! If things keep up like this I will be the happiest old woman ever! Pray it's true!

Back to my mantel...We pulled the log from the pile nearly a year ago (at which point the log had been cut down for two years) and immediately attempted a straight edge cut using the chainsaw.  Well, George will tell you it was tough as nails to do and the result was more than a bit wonky.  So we left it. For months, I would peer over at the log wondering if it truly would be transformed into my mantel. Finally I reach a "$&@? or get off the pot" point.  So, for $25 I ordered a chainsaw accessory off Amazon that was going to make or break my mantel idea. The idea is that you use a milled piece of lumber as a guide for a straight edge. The accessory slides along the milled lumber while connected to the chainsaw in a way that allows it to mill a straight line.


I didn't even tell George until it arrived in the mail because I knew he would be doubtful. But like a champ he gave it a try... And it worked!!! It worked like a charm. We will be using this accessory all
the time now.


Now my mantel has made its way to the back porch to dry for a long while.  Because it's heart pine and I want it good and dry so I'm not putting lighter knot over my fireplace. Yes, people do use heart pine for mantels. Google it. I am just in love and cannot wait to get it up down the road. We even left a tiny bit of a live edge on it. Just beautiful.  It already has dried out so in the few weeks it has been on the porch and the color is changing. Just love it!