Settling In

April 6th, 2014

Our little goat babies have had a tough 24 hours. This is the first full day away from mama, their herd, and their original home. I understand this, but I won’t lie…… it’s been a little tough on all of us.

But, today is a new day. And Anna Mae and Gloria eased into it. We spent a great deal of time building trust.

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We made many baby steps, and soon we were playing.

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Even posing for pictures.

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But mostly playing.

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It’s stressful having babies here again. It’s stressful trying to convince Mirrie she’s no longer the baby.

But we’re gonna take this one day at time.

And every time I look at these two sweet faces, I know it’s all worth it.

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The babies are settling in. I’m sure enjoying helping them!

New Kids on the Block

April 5th, 2014

We decided to adopt two adorable 8 week old Nigeria Dwarf does, and today we brought them home!

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They were pretty nervous about the whole thing – being the new kids and all.

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I told Mirrie earlier to expect some company, and she seemed a little skeptical about this idea…..

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She questioned my seriousness on the subject……

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And asked if I was sure this is a good idea…..

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I told her it would be just fine. I’m not sure she believed me……

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The chickens actually seemed pretty excited about the prospect of new babies.

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Or maybe it was the scratch they were excited about….

We named the new kids Anna Mae and Gloria. They are just adorable and so sweet. They have beautiful blue eyes.

And they are very black. If you have black animals, you probably know that taking pictures of them can be very difficult. If the lighting is not just right, the details of their features are completely lost. I took several pictures of Anna Mae and Gloria in the barn, but it was dark and none of them turned out at all. And a flash made their beautiful eyes glow…..

I will post better pictures once they settle in and I can let them out in the paddock. Right now they are spending some time in a stall in the barn.

But right now, I have goat babies to play with!

Make a Simple Suet Feeder

February 3rd, 2014

Since having bears destroy my bird feeders, I’ve been very reluctant to put them out again. But this has been an especially cold winter, and the Juncos were pleading with me……well, in truth they had resorted to eating chicken feed and scratch. And they didn’t look happy about it, either!

We haven’t seen sight of a bear in a couple of years, so I hung a couple of bird feeders and a suet cage off the flower hooks on the deck. The birds were extremely grateful, or at least thankful not to be eating chicken feed.

The woodpeckers were especially fond of the suet, and before too long I needed more suet for the suet cage. Since making my own was much more appealing than actually risking human interaction at a store, I decided to google me up a recipe for homemade suet. I found one in very short order here http://www.artistic-garden.com/easy-homemade-bird-suet-recipe/ and, while reading the comments on that post I saw that someone mentioned a log suet feeder they had. That sounded interesting! So I google up some log suet feeders. I found several sites selling them, so I showed Bernie the pictures and asked if he would please make two of them for me.

And do you know what Bernie did? He made two of them for me! Yay! And, because I know you can’t live without having your very own, I’m going to tell you just how he did it so you can make yourself one or two.

He used a couple of small logs from a wild cherry tree that were about 1 foot long, and 3 1/2 inches thick. He used a vise to make sure the log wouldn’t roll around.

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And then he used a 1 inch bit to drill a hole at the center of the log – and he drilled all the way through it to the other side.

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And then my camera battery died. *sigh* So I don’t have any more pictures of him actually working on it, but after he had a hole in the middle, he turned the log in the vise 45 degrees and drilled a hole at the top of the log, and one at the bottom of the log. Then he attached a hook at one end.

Here are the finished logs. They are stuffed with suet, but I think you can see the three holes:

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I suppose you could get fancy and square off the ends nicely, or sand and stain the wood. But I like the rough, unfinished look of these. A lot.

The woodpeckers were a little skeptical at first, but they seem to like them pretty well now!

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Hug a Chicken!

June 2nd, 2013

I think life would be better if we could all hug a chicken once a day. Really, I do! I know J.P. would agree.

J.P. asked for some chicken pictures

Some chicken pictures is exactly what I intend to post today.

But first, I’m gonna post some chicken related pictures…….

There are three screened windows in the chicken coop, and they sure come in handy on hot, summer nights. The problem is I am always worried that a hungry raccoon will find a way to get up to an open window at night and easily make it through the screen. Bernie and I discussed it and came up with what I think is a great solution……. galvanized cage wire. And I had a roll or two in the garden shed that I bought last year when I had planned to rebuild the brooder boxes.

We cut it to fit the windows, and then Bernie used small galvanized fencing staples to secure it to the window frames.

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And now all three windows are much more secure from sneaky raccoons.

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And I can sleep better at night.

And speaking of sleeping….. the mamas and new babies are sleeping up on the roosts at night now.

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This mama likes the highest roost….. and one of her babies likes the window vent for snoozing.

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And the little baby that likes the window vent for sleeping? It’s a little cockerel.

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So far, I’m pretty sure it’s the only cockerel we’ve got….. which would be a welcome respite from the cockerel filled summers we typically have!

Everyone was settling in for the evening when I was taking these pictures.

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And Pretty Boy Floyd was getting a little preening before lights out.

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I am down to two broodies right now – one I gave some eggs to set on, and the other I am working on breaking. She’s a mean little heifer, and I’m not going to let a mean hen hatch out babies when I have way too many nice broodies to do that for me. Mean broodies get pretty nasty when I have to change the feed/water in the brooder boxes….. I’m pretty much done with mean chickens…..

Anywho, here is my sweet broody and the eggs she’s setting on.

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There are two reasons I love my broodies – I can very easily increase the size of my flock and the broody will integrate the chicks into the flock without me having to stress over it too much!

OK I admit….. it’s always a little bit stressful, but a lot LESS stressful when they’ve got a mama to fight their battles.

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As soon as the mamas start bringing the babies out of the coop, I lower the feeder so they can reach it. And in short order, the babies are eating right along side the big kids.

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And speaking of eating….. these Black Spanish girls jump out of the coop first thing in the morning and follow me to the goat barn. They like to share the goats’ breakfast.

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I could keep you here all day with chicken pictures….. maybe even all week…… but it’s thundering and I’m praying we’re gonna get a much needed rain tonight.

So I’m going to post this now, before we lose electricity, and say a little prayer that 2013 is being gentle with you, and hopefully even kind to you.

I think we could all use a good year right about now.

Maybe I’ll go hug a chicken before the rain gets here :)

Homemade Deodorant and a Little Update

May 30th, 2013

I stopped using anti-antiperspirants a few years ago. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into those. What I am going to get into, is how to make your own homemade deodorant. I like homemade because I know exactly what it contains. And that’s not something I can say about most of the things we buy these days.

About two years ago, I read a few recipes for homemade deodorant and decided to go with an adaptation of the simplest of them all. I’m gonna share it with you, critique it for you, and share a new recipe I recently tried.

For this simple recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 – 6 Tbs coconut oil
12 drops essential oil of your choice.

Put all of this in a bowl and just mash it all together until it’s blended.

I tried putting this in an old, empty deodorant stick I had, but it was so crumbly it was impossible to apply without scooping some out with my fingers and rubbing it in. It worked as well as any deodorant I’ve ever tried! But I was not happy with the application.

I wanted a “stick” deodorant. And then I found this recipe http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/09/gentle-all-natural-deodorant-stick-recipe.html and I adaped it a little. And I’m gonna share that with you. You’ll need the following ingredients:

3 Tbs arrowroot or cornstarch
3 Tbs baking soda
3 Tbs coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbs beeswax
12 drops essential oil of your choice (I used orange)

Note: If you have your own beeswax, just grate 1 1/2 Tbs. Or you can use 1 1/2 Tbs. flaked beeswax. Just a tip from my dishwasher, don’t use your husband’s favorite grater for this. Nuff said.

Put all of that in a pot and heat it slowly while stirring. After a few minutes, it’ll look something like this:

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Keep heating and stirring until it’s pretty smooth:

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Then pour it into your empty stick container:

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Try not to splash a bunch down the sides like I did. Let it cool for a few hours until solid.

I’m pretty happy with this recipe, but the next time I think I’ll add a little more beeswax. It’s not quite as solid as I like – although I will say it works well enough that I don’t have to use my fingers. Which is a definitely plus in my book.

And I have a little update and a few pics to share with you.

Remember those chairs that Bernie put seats in for me to keep plants on? We painted them, and the seat. And we painted an old table to go with them.

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I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

The barn swallow that made a nest in the eve of the chicken coop lean-to hatched out three babies!

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When I knock on the wall their little mouths pop open :)

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Speaking of eggs, I now have THREE chicken nests in my GOAT barn…….

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But, as long as I know where to find the eggs, I leave them alone. *sigh*

And speaking of goats…….

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Beggars.

Bobby Lee is handsome as ever.

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And Earlene is still her Duke-looking-self.

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Oh, and look at these pretty Columbine showing off in my garden:

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My garlic chive that is about 6 years old and desperately needs dividing…..

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Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll leave you with a picture of our little place in the woods – and if you look closely enough, you may spy Bernie chilling after a long, hot day of working on these grounds.

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I Think it’s Finally Spring!

May 21st, 2013

Even though Spring officially begins in March, don’t you think it’s difficult to consider that it’s really Spring until flowers are blooming……and snow isn’t falling…….and Jack Frost stops showing his face?

Right? Me too!

So this past weekend, we finally decided it’s Spring here in our little corner of the world.

Deck furniture is out, and so are the greenhouse plants.

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Bernie surprised me with his beautiful paint job on these rockers and an old table from my Grandma’s front porch.

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He also surprised me by building plywood seats for these old iron chairs.

What color do you think we should paint these seats? Or should we stain them?

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Mama gave me this railroad seat a while ago and Kathy, the best mother-in-law ever, bought me the beautiful swing. They were both treated last year, but we’re thinking they may both get painted this year.

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The old wheel barrel is filled with Marigolds. And see that pot to the right of it in this pic? That’s one of the two azalea’s that I brought home from Daddy’s funeral in 2011. I planted them and they limped along. So we dug them up and put in pots and kept them in the greenhouse last winter, and they bloomed in there earlier this year! I’m hoping they’ll be happy with a more pampered life.

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The flower garden around the deck is coming back nicely.

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This next picture is for my friend, Susan – the Columbines are finally blooming here!

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We planted our veggie garden three days ago. And we’re doing pretty much the entire thing with old field wire. And spacing for grass to grow between each row. Not only will that help us keep the mud down, it will help with the erosion issues from planting on a hill.

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Every two panels, we put an opening. The rows are about 70 feet each and the opening allow easier access between rows so we can shortcut between them :)

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You might be thinking “lazy” as an adjective….. I prefer “clever”…….

The honeybees got their very own herb garden – it’s starting from seed, so there’s not much going on in it yet.

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And, how could you REALLY think it’s spring without a spring chick or two or three?

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I know. Me neither!

All the signs are here.

I think it’s finally Spring!

Oak Apple Gall, More Baby Chicks, And Other Stuff

August 16th, 2012

For the past several years we’ve noticed these little ping pong shaped balls in the yard and woods.

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They start out more of a white with red speckles, and over time they get darker. I did a little googling on them and learned they are called “Oak Apple Galls” and they are actually contain a wasp larvae. I put it in a jar and hope to see it hatch.

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And, speaking of insects, I captured a nice picture of a Hummingbird Moth last month.

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It’s hard to believe it was once one of the huge Tomato Horn Worms I find munching on my vegetable plants!

This pretty girl stopped by this afternoon.

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And, earlier today, Bernie found this adorable little bunny laying in the yard.

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I brought the bunny inside and warmed him up, and then I laid him on a heating pad. I was sad when he died an hour or so later, but I hope I brought him a little comfort to see him out.

That made me sad. But finding itty bitty chicken eggs always makes me smile.

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And, speaking of eggs, last night I checked under my latest broody for any extra eggs that the other hens may have left for her.

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I found an extra egg under her, but I also found that one of hers was pipping.

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She hatched out three of them overnight.

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If the other two hatch, it will bring us to a total of 18 new peeps so far this year. We lost two to predators, and I know there are two little roos out there that we won’t be keeping. But I’m pleased to think we will go into the winter with more chickens than we started with.

And finally…….. Christmas Spoiler for anyone on my Christmas list………. I’ve been crocheting these neat water bottle cozies for the past week or so :)

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These are a super fast and easy way to use up that extra yarn stash laying around!

We’re still canning garden vegetables, but that is slowing down a little. Finishing the outside canning kitchen is on hold for a couple of weeks as we prepare for Bernie’s family to visit.

We have had a productive and busy summer so far. I hope yours has been a good one, too!

The Canning Kitchen Progress

August 8th, 2012

My sister, Debra, was here over the weekend and we put her to work helping us paint the old turkey coop. In a matter of two days, the outside went from this:

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To this:

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And the inside went from this:

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To this:

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Debra and I were in charge of painting the inside. We’re hoping to find a small piece of vinyl flooring to put on the floor. As it turns out, sloppy painting apparently runs in my family :) We also forgot to paint the inside of the door, but…. in our defense…. the door was open while we were painting and we didn’t realize it wasn’t painted until we had closed up the paint cans and cleaned the rollers and brushes…..

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Bernie assured us he would take care of that a little later.

Today he added some shelves, and this afternoon I emptied the spare bedroom closet of the things I stored there and put them on the shelves.

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We still have other things and a large amount of jars and lids in the sea container that we’ll move out there this weekend, but it’s nice to finally have the spare bedroom closet cleared out.

A big shout out and thank you to my sister, Debra, who always brings her work clothes when she comes to visit! She’s always so much fun and so good natured about her “working” visits.

Now that we have the storage area finished, Bernie will start working on building a floor and screening in the lean-to portion to make the canning kitchen. Many years ago a friend gave us a kitchen stove/oven that can be converted to run on propane. We’re planning to use that in the canning kitchen – if we can find and dig it out of the furthest corner of the sea container…..

And look what I found hiding under some cabbage leaves in the garden.

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She was one of the smallest I’ve found around here.

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We chatted a while and then I set her at the edge of the woods to go find her turtle buddies.

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Maybe she’ll be back to check out the canning kitchen when we finish.

Canning Waits for No Man – or Woman, for that Matter

July 31st, 2012

It’s a school night.

And it’s raining.

But the garden doesn’t care.

We had pickles, jalapenos, and tomatoes ready to be canned.

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So canning we did!

11 quarts of pickles, 1 1/2 quarts of jalapenos, and 7 quarts of diced tomatoes.

It’s that time of year. And it’s just starting here…….

Are you canning now? What are you putting up?

Remember Me?

July 23rd, 2012

I’ve been woefully remiss in my blog posting. The past couple of months have been filled with lots of good things, and a few not so good things.

I’m gonna start with one of the not so good things.

We lost Duke about the time I stopped blogging. It was truly a difficult time for me. He had been sick for quite a while and, in all honesty, we should have probably put him down long ago. He had a good life, and he was quite the rooster – big, handsome, and a fierce protector of his flock. I have never heard of another rooster that would chase chicken hawks, let alone attack them and, on one occasion, pin them to the ground. Duke will always hold a very special place in my heart.

A good thing that happened is that my hens finally started going broody for me, and we ended up with one that hatched out five chicks:

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And one that hatched out four:

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Unfortunately, a predator killed both of the mama hens within two days. The four chicks were two weeks old at the time, and the five chicks were three weeks old. That same week, something got our big rooster, Pico. It was a stressful and sad week to say the least. After finding Pico’s feathers scattered across the yard, I decided to put the chickens on lock down for a few days.

I am fairly certain we had a fox that was picking off our chickens. We had seen a fox chasing a hen in the yard several weeks ago. Bernie scared it off, and it stayed gone a while. But I suspect it started coming back after these chickens.

After a couple days of lock down for the chickens, they were cut loose to resume free ranging. And we haven’t lost another one. Maybe the fox found an easier meal. I certainly hope so.

Since the loss of two roosters, I’m down to Bobby Lee and Floyd. As sad as I was to lose Duke and Pico, Bobby Lee actually seems quite happy.

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He’s such a handsome boy. Floyd is too – but I didn’t get a good picture of him.

In mid-June Bernie’s mama and sister came to visit for a week. That was definitely a high light of our summer. We had a wonderful visit and were tickled to learn they will be back the end of August – with Bernie’s daddy and Julie’s boyfriend in tow!

Bernie’s mama, Kathy, is one of my favorite people, and she’s always a hoot. She and Bernie are very close, and it always warms my heart to watch the affection between them.

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Bernie’s sister, Julie, is such a good friend to me and I just adore her. So does Dolly.

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It was sad to see them go. But knowing that they will be back in short order definitely helped saying “goodbye” just a little easier this time.

So far I feel like this has been a good news/bad news kind of post! And I guess it really has. The next news I have to share with you is definitely a mix of both.

We no longer have the turkeys.

I have very mixed feelings about this.

It makes me sad because I really love Jake, Tanya, Sara, and Turklet2. I miss them a lot. But, on the other hand, it made me sad to see them penned. They were used to free ranging and penning them was difficult on them. So…….. when we learned that Gail, the owner of Deauville Farms, had re-homed all the Fallow Deer she had raised for years, we approached her about taking all four of our turkeys. Gail has many chickens, and she now has a huge pasture that she plans to free range them in. The pasture has 6 foot fencing, with electric wire at the top. Talk about a safe, fun place for turkeys to hang out! We were tickled when Gale said she would be happy to add four turkeys to her menagerie.

That made me very happy. And a little sad. But mostly happy.

So, just yesterday, we loaded up the turkeys and took them to their new home. We also supplied Gail with the turkeys’ favorite treat – Animal Crackers. As it turns out, Animal Crackers are a nice way to introduce yourself to turkeys.

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In the below picture you can get an idea of the huge pasture the turkeys will be roaming in. They’ll stay fenced in the smaller yard for a couple of days until they are sure where “home” is, but soon they’ll be out free ranging again.

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And the old turkey coop in our back yard? That’s gonna get cleaned up good and turned into a place to store all my canning stuff. And the lean-to on the side of it? That’s gonna get turned into a screened in canning room. I’ll be sure to let y’all know how all that progresses…….

The rest of us are doing just fine.

Elvis still has a drinking problem.

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Priscilla enjoys a nip every now and again.

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Diesel enjoys surrounding himself with his favorite toys when he naps.

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And Dolly enjoys laying around looking pretty.

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The chickens enjoy pecking at my painted toenails.

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Say what??????????

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And the goat babies enjoy begging for some Animal Crackers.

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We’ve gotten some lard rendered.

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And some honey extracted.

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Pickle canning season has come in with a vengeance – and I finally got to start using the Tattler lids I purchased at a ridiculously low price last year. I LOVE them, by the way.

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And, thanks to my sister-in-law Julie, I’ve picked up crocheting again and made several of these cute little pot holders.

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And, now that I’ve got you caught up, maybe I’ll get back to posting weekly.

What the heck have you been doing this summer?