Life With Seven Kids

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

31 weeks

31 weeks
This pregnancy is going by quickly! I find myself scrambling to enjoy this pregnancy and thinking up ways I can have weekly mini celebrations for myself as I close out the next nine weeks! I made a fall pregnancy celebration head wreath to wear already. I am taking online belly dancing classes (and signing up for a local one in October), I have started a list of must-get supplies for me and baby (waiting to purchase until October). I have plans to: do a belly cast, paint Beatrice's belly cast with Ricky (it is still just plain), color birth pages  and write affirmations on the back of them, go on a hike with the kids and tie prayers to a tree, and get pampered by my husband a bit! But ohmygoodness time is slipping away. I cannot believe it is September 1st and we leave for our beach vacation next week! When we discussed a possible beach trip for this fall I was very newly pregnant. The first thing I exclaimed to my husband was that I get to be pregnant on the beach and have beach-belly pictures. (I have never had belly-beach pictures! How fun!) Whenever I am getting ready to visit the beach I am pretty excited, but it is not until I am there that I can truly remember just how amazing the sight, touch, smell, and experience feels. Come to think of it,  it is a lot like having a newborn baby! Some experiences, no matter how fond and dear our memory holds onto them, are nothing like actually experiencing them all over again. I can't wait to feel the ocean's energy at my feet!

Life on Fast Forward
I started Oak Meadow with the younger kids this fall and although we have barely started we are loving it so much. I have wanted to dabble in this curriculum for years and years but I was too afraid. I realized I had way too many years left of being afraid and that I really just needed to take the plunge. I also am really tired of coming up with material on my own. I'm spread so thin. I wanted direction. I wanted help. There's some we add to it too, but having Oak Meadow be our focus has been simply wonderful. We have been sewing a bunch, finger knitting, working with clay, and keeping scrapbook journals filled with artwork and our schoolwork. Things seem to be really falling into place with the younger kids and this curriculum. The teens aren't complaining that they get to start school up after vacation. I am doing a mish-mash of stuff with them, but that is easier because they are largely independent learners and can pick and chose through many things I recommend to them easily.

 Ricky started a new job (at the same firm). As I mentioned we started a new school program and we are going on vacation. We are due on Halloween! We are in the middle of 'Birthday Season'. We have five kid birth days in three months ...and our anniversary. We absolutely LOVE fall and I am so looking forward to all the fall festivities as my belly grows. Whew! It's no wonder I feel like I'm on a Ferris wheel set on fast! (There have been some other not so happy things going on, like our air and septic system both needing major, major updates and repairs. Over the summer we also dumped thousands into repairs on vehicles...we have to take the bad with the good! Life happens.)

This baby is resting his or her head smack down on my bladder which makes cleaning house... and just walking in general pretty hard. Usually my babies are more centered on me with a lot more overall pressure and very low. I am walking a ton, staying active, crawling around on my hands and knees (scrubbing the floor is great for getting baby in a good position), belly dancing, and doing squats to all help optimal baby position. (I need to get to my chiropractor to check on/ align my pelvis, but since I don't hurt I have been so bad about taking the time to go in!) I'm not concerned about this baby's alignment, but I am aware of how to optimize my babies positioning in these last weeks!
Spinning babies is a great resource for learning about optimal fetal positioning for labor and birth.
See: The 3 Principles in Pregnancy Balance, Gravity and Movement! Positive principles to prepare for, and progress through, childbirth.

Nesting has started I think... I cleaned under the fridge yesterday (filthy!), I washed the silverware caddy out, I laundered the kitchen drapes, and cleaned nearly the whole (filthy!) basement, I washed the trash can inside and out (even the bottom). I sure hope the nesting energy continues. I feel like tearing the place apart (time to sort through fall wardrobe bins and paint the basement stairs)! This is all kinda bad timing because we leave for vacation next week! I sure hope vacation doesn't totally wipe me out. This mama is just getting started!

Out of nowhere I started getting baby-girl vibes. This happened last week. Usually by now I "know" what gender we are having through intuition/dreams. Amazingly I have never been wrong...yet! I'm not actually sure if I am sure...but I started feeling a girl. I think that I really, really do think baby is a girl but I'm afraid I'll be wrong and I've never been wrong! Yet!

I don't get scans so there are no opportunities for us to cheat and find out even if we wanted to. We truly love not knowing though! It's such a special surprise that Ricky and I just love sharing with each other and the kids. It makes the birth even more exciting and special to us. I love when the kids come down early in the morning and greet the fresh newborn baby. They marvel at the baby for a while then realize to ask, "Is it a boy or a girl!?!" Every where I go people ask me what I'm having. Most are truly surprised we don't know.   

Just because we don't do scans doesn't mean other people's experiences don't touch me. I actually teared up (like a few tears actually fell!) at this yesterday:

Charlotte, our oldest (18), is lead cake decorator at a bakery. Yesterday she got to make a surprise 'gender reveal' cake for an expecting mom. A lady came in with her *secret* ultrasound picture in an envelope and pleaded with Charlotte to not lose it as it was her only copy and she didn't even know her baby's gender yet! Charlotte said the lady was really cute about it and had a little toddler girl with her. The toddler wore the same 'Big Sister' shirt we had bought for Beatrice many months ago. After the lady left Charlotte opened up the photo. Charlotte was excited to find out the cute little toddler girl has a new baby sister on the way! Charlotte thought it was really special and fun to hold this secret. She did four stacked thinner layers of cake so that she could get more pink colored frosting inside of the cake. I totally teared up as Charlotte told me this whole cake/ultrasound story! I couldn't help it, dang pregnancy hormones! As Charlotte told me the whole story with excitement and sweetness in her voice - well it was just so sweet! I love that my daughter is so touched by the celebration of new life and feels happiness for others in such a touching and sentimental way. I love how much effort and time she puts into her work. She really goes above and beyond for people and wants their cakes to be as special as their event.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

When Babies Wean and Re-purposing an Ottoman

A New Bed for Beatrice
Beatrice was waking more and more at night as her co-sleeper got smaller and smaller for her growing baby self. I had a great idea suddenly. I re-purposed a large unused ottoman of ours that had storage inside of it and made it into a toddler bed! Beatrice got the bottom part and Everett the plush top part.

I feel like a genius, a free and cute bed! I lined it with lots of blankets for now but we could add a memory foam mattress pad later if needed. They LOVE their new beds in our room. Beatrice plays in her bed with her baby dolls and looks at books periodically during the day. It's SO cute! She is sleeping really well in her bed once we rock her to sleep in the evening. She has recently weaned (at 25ish months old). Gone so quickly are the care-free easy days of nursing to sleep...for both of us. I had been sadly counting down until I was to hit 20 weeks pregnant...because of nursing.  She was already nursing less and less naturally, but around 20 weeks pregnant seems the magic number my body tends to halt milk production altogether. She was on her way towards self-weaning and this of course progressed it. Some of my babies will keep on nursing through the milk decline and others stop completely. Both are hard life changing situations. If you have ever 'dry' nursed you know it's pretty awful and you start to go through a natural stage I call the mama cat stage... where you just don't want them nursing on you anymore. It's worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Mama cats (and other mammals but mama cats I've watched) bite their young, growl, or walk away from their young when they don't want to nurse them anymore. I know the feeling! It's a very primal reaction and I am always so surprised how it feels. It's also so sad! She's my sweet baby! I don't want to growl at her! But that is what happens. I actually have made growling or frustrated sounds and felt like a mama cat wanting to get away. It's happened with the other kids too. My body just gets done, but my mind wishes it wasn't the end already. It's natural.

Weaning has been hard on her but not super hard. She mostly weaned herself thank goodness. But it's still a hard and different thing and a huge change for us both. Before things went totally dry she had gradually cut out all nursing except once at nap time, bed time, and sometimes at 4am. Once milk dried up she further cut out enough sessions that she eventually "forgot" how to nurse. This is natural and normal progression of weaning. She no longer sucks correctly which makes nursing super horrible and irritating for me and a bit confusing for her. She knows it was comfort and food. She knows it was warmth and love. She just doesn't understand why it's not the same. After a couple of minutes of awkward nursing she will usually ask for milk from the kitchen. If she doesn't stop on her own I have to make her stop nursing. Sometimes she willingly stops when I ask her to and other times she cries a little or a lot. Overall she has been my easiest to actually help wean. I had other babies hang on to the prospect of nursing, dry nurse, and cry and cry over the change. (Some started nursing again after a new baby came which was pretty sweet actually -though not without a new set of challenges.) Sebastian and Sage technically win the easiest and fastest weaning awards. They both just abruptly stopped one day and never wanted back on again. Not even out of comfort, habit, or when sick or hurt. Just pretty much like 'Thanks mom, nice to know ya! Bye now!" Interesting enough to later learn their personalities are VERY similar even now! (They are seven years apart in age.)

Starting about a month ago I became really grouchy, moody, tired, and felt so off. I was snappy at the kids and that is a huge red flag for me. Not just the normal stressed mom occasional snappy spell either... I mean it felt more like I was going to snap every 20 minutes and the kids seemed irritating/annoying to me over normal stuff. I was way less patient and dreading every day for a while. It's a "red flag" because I have learned that feeling that way often means my thyroid is under active. Also I felt depressy. Not fully depressed, but just kinda depressed and down. I take Armour thyroid so I had my blood drawn to check out my levels/dosage. The tests came back fine for the dosage I'm on. I later finally realized her big weaning transition coincided with this grouchy, moody, tired, "off" phase I was having. See: Sadness and Depression during (and after) Weaning at Kellymom.
Very interesting isn't it!?
I am feeling better now and Beatrice is too. She was also super cranky around the same time that I was. She of course wanted me to hold her a lot and I did. I told everyone in our house why she was cranky and that she needed extra love and patience but I didn't realize I needed that too! The acceptance period has now set in for the both of us. Her and I are finding new ways to snuggle and cuddle and we are learning new ways to soothe her when she is tired, hurt or upset. For a solid two years nursing was the cure-all for everything. Nursing is such a easy fix. It is amazing how fast nursing can solve problems. Tired, cranky, hungry, teething,'s the most magical thing. And now I have to pace the floor with her and actually get out of bed if she wakes up at 2 or 4 am. (So much more work ;) Overall though she is doing so great.
I don't feel sad, but if I think about how fast it went I can get sad real quick. She was such a fun, sweet nursing baby. She still is sweet and fun and my "baby." Look at her though: weaning, out of diapers, has a new bed, talking SO much, and has a new baby sister or brother on the way!

It's also quite natural that around this time I get a bit bummed that "I'm throwing her out of the nest." I started having the feelings that she is the baby and I want her to stay the baby.  True she won't be the youngest, but she's just two! She has not over welcomed her baby stay. She is still very much my baby. But, whether I like it or not she is growing up and is a big girl older baby now. A lot of women have guilt, sorrow, and fear about having another baby and "replacing" their baby with a fresher, newer model. Since I have done this many times this is what I have to say about that: Feel sad, afraid, overwhelmed, feel whatever you are feeling and just know those feelings will melt away and they are normal. Everything will be okay and you will love both babies the same and cuddle with them together and hold them together... and do motherful things you never thought physically or mentally possible with them. It is truly amazing what mothers do.

Beatrice has weaned completely since I started writing this post off and on for over a month. She is now falling asleep on the floor every night near us while we get the other kids ready for bed or while I read books to her. I move her into her own bed after she falls asleep and she sleeps all night! I am SO lucky! Not all babies/toddlers are this easy so quickly. I can't believe how many sleepless nights of toddler waking and weaning hardships I've had in the past years with other babies. I so deserve this break! Every child is different and their needs and personalities are too. I am enjoying sleeping ALL night long (most nights anyway) while it lasts!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Family Photos With Kids

Getting everyone to look at the same time in a photo has been more challenging than ever lately, and by lately I mean for at least a year. Not every photo needs to be perfect, the quirky off beat ones are great too, but I really do love a "perfect" photo at least twice a year.

I have wanted to do one of those kids in a circle photos for quite a while but hadn't yet tried it. Stock photo example:

At the botanical gardens I see this way cool yin and yang rock mosaic. I gather everyone up and explain what kind of picture I have been wanting and how this would be a cool spot.
They agree to try...

I don't take into account how hard the ground is, or that I am asking them to basically lay on rocks, or that I have nothing to stand on to even take an overhead shot. Oops. The younger kids are in swimwear because they were playing in water. So not only can they not lay down well, I would also really prefer a clothed picture anyway.
Layla's face is hilarious and she wails in discomfort, not even facing the right way. Everett has enough and leaves. I can't get Beatrice to lay down at all, she ran away a long time ago. I tell everyone to get up and that it's not going to work...

Once we admit defeat and give up Beatrice finally comes and lays down. Of course. haha.

There is this amazing bridge in the Japanese Garden that would be amazing for any photo occasion...

This would have been almost perfect if I hadn't had to tell Sebastian (6) to stop waving his hands around ...just as Everett (4) said, "I'm going to jump." Bhahaha. If you knew Everett this is totally him. And he was pretty much totally serious about jumping.
Big brothers spring into action and tell Everett not to jump, trying to get him to look at the camera. Meanwhile I actually holler to them not to move and "Everett won't jump." Which is actually only a 50/50 shot. He could jump... lol.
Big brothers know better and hold onto Everett. The moment has passed, Everett wiggles, and we have now lost Beatrice's attention. I say, "Why did everyone move apart so much?" And Charlotte's (18) expression and shrug is I love this.You can tell with her body language she is thinking, "Mom you have eight kids that's why..." LOL.

Next we found some sheep...
And that's a wrap.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

All Things With Faith and Love

When we were expecting baby Penelope (kiddo #5) Ricky was accepted into an intensive graduate program for finance at Washington University.

When we were expecting baby Sebastian Ricky graduated from the intensive graduate program and got his first job using his degree.

When we were expecting baby Everett Ricky changed jobs within the firm he worked for. He earned himself a position that was more fitting for him (but still not exactly what fit him best.) His new boss, who had six kids of his own, helped Ricky with his career in ways that we will always be truly thankful. He helped introduce him to people and recommend him to another department because he wanted to see Ricky use his full potential.

When we were expecting Baby Beatrice another job opportunity came along. Remarkably, his next new boss also had a large kids. Very fun to meet so many others with a large families.

We have joked that good things happen to us when we have babies. We have joked off and on over the years that we should just have another baby so he can further his career. We joked, and not really joked, because it is true. It kept happening. Remarkable things happen to us when we have babies. We grow as a family, as a couple, as parents, and in other ways. Everything aligns: faith, luck, hard all seems to come together. As we began our journey to large family living I often heard other very large families with 10, 12, 14 kids say that God always provides. Over the years I started to understand what they meant.

We are expecting a new baby this fall, the ninth blessing to join our home and lives, and Ricky is yet AGAIN going through a transformational period in his life related to his career. Staying within same firm that has been such a blessing to our lives, he recently had an amazing career opportunity. He starts his "new" job today. He gives 100% of himself at work and 100% of himself to us at home and I am so very thankful every single day of my life for such a passionate and hardworking man. I love him so much and know how much he loves us because he shows me everyday. I am truly blessed. I hope the children read this someday and know that their mother and father truly do support, love, honor, and cherish each other everyday. I hope Ricky reads this and knows that I know how hard he works, and that he does it for us, and that I am grateful for his dedication. Some people have told me that we make having so many kids look easy. I know what they mean, because so often Ricky makes taking care of us look easy too. It's not so much that it's easy. He works very hard. I of course work very hard too. We both get worn down, we get stressed, we get tired...really tired. I suddenly realized one day that it's not that it's easy, it's that we do all things with faith and love.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Magical Land of Trader Joe's

Yesterday I spent more money at Trader Joe's than I ever have at one time before. Dang you Trader Joe's with all your no hydrogenated, no preservatives, mostly natural bread, prepackaged biscuits, cinnamon rolls, sauces, rbGH-free creamy yogurt, and all that other food too that tastes so good... including the ever so random mahi-mahi burger samples with tartar sauce that tastes homemade!! I feel like I've stepped into another dimension of food when I enter that store. Much of it is fairly affordable, but then mahi-mai burgers happen their way into my cart. They have magical food I don't have to make from scratch because theirs is already that good. I even slowly flirt over the stuff I don't intend to buy, because most of their stuff won't feed a family of ten...even if I bought two packages! (Have you seen the size of their peanut butter jars? We would use that up in one day!

I used so much restraint yesterday putting down the lemon curd and stepping away.
This is like lemon pie in a jar. Or at least that's the fantasy I have.
And this:
This store makes me lose my freaking mind. I have to try this next time. I'm just too curious.
Their employees are also the best in all the land. They are always so friendly and helpful and HAPPY. Yesterday the guy checking me out was totally turning on the Trader Joe's charm and then asked me what I had going on as he hoisted 8 packages of British Muffins, 7 cans of all natural bake at home cinnamon rolls, 4 packages of mini bagels, and 3 gallons out milk of my cart (among many other things). I told him I have a lot of kids at home, and also some family coming to town too. He said that sounded fun and asked me how many kids I have. I told him eight with one on the way. He was super enthusiastic and friendly and said that was so cool. I only had Layla with me yesterday so he asked where the rest of the kids were and told me I need to bring them all with me next time so he can meet them. He asked if we homeschooled and then told me that he used to have a customer from St. Charles with 9 kids and he got a picture with the family one day and has it at his house.

Seriously, where do they find Trader Joe workers? They must have the best hiring and training in the world. I always love the people who check me out! They become my new BFF every time I shop. lol.

My new checker friend sees me shuffling around in my chicken purse to get out my wallet and asks me if I have a farm. (I have this big ridiculous chicken purse, like it's literally a rubber hen with a zipper. It tipped him off that I just might have farm animals haha.) I tell him yes we have an acre "farm" and we are currently looking for more land for us and our animals. He thinks that is so cool and wants to know about all our animals and if we butcher our own turkeys.

Then he calls his coworker over to meet me, "You have to meet this lady. She has eight kids, homeschools, and they have a farm with 11 turkeys, 2 goats, 35 chickens, geese, this lady is super mom right here..."

LOL. :) Before leaving he made sure to tell me again to bring ALL the kids back next time to see him. Too fun! I have actually been meaning to set up a homeschool field trip there for a while (they do school trip tours). This reminds me that I'll have to organize that for later this summer/early fall.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Happy Second Birthday Beatrice!

The kids were so excited about Beatrice turning two. It's seriously sweet and cute. I have heard non-stop about her birthday for two weeks. They made homemade cards and presents for hours the day before her birthday. Layla made Beatrice Bee-noculars! How cute is that?! Beatrice loves the song 'going on a lion hunt' where you act out going through tall grass, water, hills, Etc. Bee sometimes acts all nervous at the end when there's a lion. It's ADORABLE! Layla made her Bee-noculars to go with the hand motions to the song while looking for the lion.

Sweet quotes I caught the day before her birthday:
Sebastian (6) making Beatrice a birthday card:
 "I just made her a really sweet deal. Her birthday card has a dime and a penny in it, and now I'm going to put a nickle and a quarter in it."
Penelope (8) "I'm so excited it's Bee's birthday tomorrow!!" -She said this no less than 50 times!
Penelope (8): "I am so glad I'm a big sister."

Penelope wrapped the presents for her sister last week. Everett(4) insisted we needed a pinata, so at the local feed store I let the kids buy some candy by the pound. Not sure what we were going to use as a make shift pinata, but I kinda left them unsupervised with the candy and they ate most of it the day before her birthday. haha.

Charlotte (18) has been working in a grocery store bakery and she has been promoted to "lead cake decorator." Very exciting and fun! She has been given tons of creative freedom and is having a blast using her artistic side to decorate cakes and expand her decorating skills. I had never seen her make frosting roses before, and she made some under the beehive and they are SO great! This is one proud mom! When she left for work today Everett (4) told her how to make a bee themed cake for Beatrice. He's four, so you can imagine how he goes on and on, wheels turning a mile-a-minute. He is such an interesting, creative, and funny kid. He has the wildest imagination, too.
When Charlotte brought the cake home and showed Everett he excitedly said, "Exactly what I wanted!"

We had a big birthday bash last year. This year we had a relaxing family day celebrating our sweet Baby Bee.

 Beatrice LOVED her presents. I was very careful to pick things I knew she would just love. I mean isn't that always the goal? But I really tried to be careful because there are so many junk toys that kids don't actually play with, and some good toys they don't actually play with either! One thing I ended up buying her was a bee fork and spoon set because she loves small silverware and this was her reaction:
We also got her a barking/walking toy doggie, a bell toy that makes very nice sounds, a bee backpack, and a music player. She loves dancing and singing to music and this player really worked out to be cute. I read loads of reviews for hours trying to get something that would sound okay, be engaging/educational, and not be full of pointless noise. It really worked out to be a good one!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Life With Nine Kids!

Announcing *drum roll* ...ANOTHER BABY! I'm due October 31, 2015 (On Halloween, how fun!) He or she will likely be our first November born baby, but you never know until they get here. If born in November, we'll have six months of back to back kiddo birthdays (Aug. through Jan.)! Beatrice is the only child not born in one of those months.

This is shaping up to be an interesting year with many, many adventures and changes for us!
 Beatrice is head over heels for babies. She will be two in five days and we are having SO MUCH fun with her. I remember all too well our other toddlers joyfully welcoming newborn babies into the family. Knowing her spunky, sweet, caring personality makes me extra excited she will be a big sister! She is a load of fun and totally acting two.
She is so full of life, love, and curiosity. And, she also screams. :)
She says "Mommy, Mommy pleeeease" in an amazingly sweet toddler voice when she wants something and it's pretty killer-cute.

Life in a Big Family
 All of the kids are so excited about the new baby. When I told Charlotte she jumped up and threw her arms around me hugging me excitedly. I was really, really touched that this 18 year old "kid" didn't see her mom and dad as being too overextended to have another baby to love and cherish. I actually cried I was SO touched and it was also reassuring that we are doing a good job. Our days are filled with a lot of love, but also a lot of work. Living in a large family is quite a lesson in selflessness for all of us. Meal times are hectic, groceries disappear three days after they arrive, showers turn cold if not staggered, dishes are washed around the clock, gas is expensive wherever we go. Someone always needs me. Someone is always running through the house. Depending on the kids' ages and stages we'll go through periods of time where it seems like somebody is always crying. The youngest kids are always in the fridge, running around, or asking somebody to play something with them. Everyone shares almost everything. We sweep floors 3-4x daily. We raise our hands if there's too much talking going on and another person needs to say something. (Beatrice has seen her siblings hand raise and started raising her hand and walking up to me to show me she is doing it too! It's very, very cute!)

I'm an experienced mother (which makes things easier each time), I'm a good mother, I'm a confident and empowered mother, but I'm still very much human. I still question, doubt, and struggle. I still have good days and bad days. I still learn. I still worry about if I'm doing a good job. There isn't a time that we aren't expecting a baby that I don't ask my husband why I think I'm good enough to do this again, and if we are taking care of the kids well enough to spread ourselves thinner. He says it's probably really good moms that worry and wonder if they are good enough.

I am of course busy, so I sometimes forget to do things I say I'll do: sew something for someone, make an appointment, mail something, or give someone a hair cut that has been asking. Our kids are so patient and forgiving though. One of the negative implying questions you might get with a big family is: How can you have time for ALL of them? Besides the obvious fact that we love them and don't have any other option other than to take care of them and make time for them, we also all roll with the punches. It's understood that we all do our best and we have to have patience. We know there is a bigger world in front of us than just ourselves. We respect each other. We make the time if we have to, and we get creative with it too. Homeschooling helps a lot. The kids are actually always around me. Most of all, Ricky and I structure our life around our kids -not them around us.

It's neat to to see that the kids are totally happy to add another love-bug of a baby to this life of ours, even if it means we all have to think of another little person sometimes instead of ourselves. I remember when it was Everett, Sebastian, and Penelope who were the babies. They could melt tears away from sad siblings with a goofy smile or dance, they could change bad moods in cranky preschoolers or moody teenagers, and oh how they make us laugh! Beatrice is constantly making everyone laugh and smile. It is really special how much love she adds to our life. All of the children and teens add such specialness. Seeing the children and teens interact with each other, play together, share together, work together, problem solve together, and dream together is a priceless gift. We feel like we haven't just given them the gift of family though, we feel like we have taught them to cherish children and that children are worth the work. Kids come first. Kids matter a lot.

When you break it down we only have: three big kids, two medium kids, and three small kids. Easy enough. ;)
It's not always that simple, beautiful, and easy; it's also really quite expensive, exhausting, messy and hard. What is amazing is that when each new baby arrives it's like they never weren't with us. I don't know why it amazes me each time but it does! You'd have to be crazy to have so many kids, but for us, it's a good kinda crazy.

There was a special nostalgic moment early this spring I had been wanting to write about. I was at the park with the five youngest kids. When it was time to leave I was loading up a toddler, preschooler, and the elementary aged kids into our van. I was being asked for: snacks, water, what was for dinner, when will daddy would be home, could we have ice cream, and I heard someone say they dropped their toy. It was chaos, everything happening at once. I fetched water from the front seat because some of them were certain they were going to die of thirst. After I had the littlest kids buckled into their seats I just looked at everyone and froze. I took in the craziness as kid voices filled every space of the van. I just stared at them for a moment. My heart rate was up from chasing Everett into his seat, loading up kids, a stroller, a picnic basket, a diaper bag. My heart thumped on, I felt tired but accomplished. I had a sudden and totally nostalgic feeling of when I was doing this with these five guys:
2008~ When there was five~
I became overwhelmed with gratitude that Ricky and I had the bravery, faith, craziness, and riskiness to keep growing our family. I looked at the young faces in the back of my van that day at the park, a van that now held more than twice as many people as our past mini vans did. I had such an amazing flashback of the kids in the picture above from 2008. I actually whispered to myself aloud as I climbed into the drivers seat, "I am so lucky I still get to do this. I cannot imagine not doing this still." I felt amazing gratitude.

I saved the following comment a while back from a dad of seven about large families. My heart smiled when I read it. I thought this post would be a nice place to keep it:
"I had 7 and loved every minute of it. Oh sure, we shopped at only the most exclusive garage sales, drove 5 year old vans, and built large utilitarian homes with 3-6 bathrooms, but it lasted so briefly and now they are all gone with many children of their own.  The flashlights work, the car has gas every time, there's milk; the house is clean; and I'm bored. What a riot it was..."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My First Turkey Tractor...I made it myself!

My poor husband is swamped at work and then swamped at home with us. He's the best. I don't know how he does it. Something I am impressed with is how he comes home every day completely happy to see us...I told him I'd run away if I had such a demanding job AND wife AND kids (we are pretty demanding too) at my heels at the end of a 12 hour work day. He just laughs at me and looks at me sweetly. I seriously love that man. :)
But he can't do everything. The list of home repairs we have around here is insane. Many of them pretty important, like how he just fixed our air conditioner last weekend.  I have been trying to find some things that I could do for him to help his load. One thing on his ever growing to-do list is building a chicken/turkey tractor. It's a moveable pen so that they can be on pasture. Some birds aren't a problem but young ones especially can be. We have been having increasing problems with our farm animals wandering over to neighboring houses. It's something we are working on. It's tough having a 1 acre mini farm -we so need to move but that's a whole other bag of worms. We have three Standard Bronze turkeys that have been living in the chicken pen and now are big enough to be let out in the bigger grassy area. I'm afraid they could fly over the fence though, and the one smallest one could definitely slip through the woven wire fence. Once these three are fatter they won't be able to fly and they can be out of the turkey tractor full-time. This is the breed I love the most, they waddle over to you so happy like puppy dogs.

So yesterday afternoon I tried my hand at building our very first small tractor. Everything I used we already had. Some of the kids even helped out making it a learning adventure for all of us. Ricky came home last night when it was a little more than half done and he was SO IMPRESSED! I was so thrilled at his reaction. He also marveled at how sturdy and light (but not too light) it was. I am NOT a builder at all. While I am crafty and creative (especially with kid stuff) I have a really hard time building something from scratch. My brain does not work that way at all. Over the years I have learned a lot from watching him build stuff so I had some idea of how he puts stuff together. I looked online for simple inspiration and then I TOTALLY DID IT! I have gotten much better at constructing over the years I must say.

We had everything on hand. Everything we used was re-purposed from another project. (The only thing that was new was the staples in the staple gun.) The frame is thin so it is light, we re-purposed plastic garden fence, we used old screws from old wood fencing, the shade/rain tarp is an old table cloth. The teens are so happy it is lightweight. The chain link dog kennel we used last year was brutally heavy! (But it was bigger so we had to move it less often!)

Salad bar!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring is Here, Farm Animal Stuff, Life, Love and Kids!

Last weekend we planted new fruit trees and some tulips. Spring is so wonderful. Such renewal and hope comes with spring. Beatrice smells like rosemary every time she plays in the herbs on the front porch. She loves planting and she is having so much fun. Everything is brand new to her this spring and we are all having loads of fun with her. The spark and love for nature, the outdoors, and gardening is especially reminiscent of Penelope and Charlotte.
Just the other day it was cute overhearing:

Sebastian age 6: Penelope, why do you have a seed collection anyway?
Penelope age 8: Because seeds are cool!

Penelope is so full of fun and nature. While my kids are usually supportive of my wild ideas and random whims, I can always count on Penelope and Charlotte to be 100% on board with whatever thing I come up with: raising mealworms for chicken food, making a barn window trellis for growing mini pumpkins up, planting 70 tomato plants, and most recently making plantain salve. It's great for stings, bites, poison ivy, burns, and rashes. We are calling our salve Penelope's Prairie Plantain Salve. Read in general about plantain here. Penelope has been wearing prairie clothes for days. She even likes sleeping in her bonnet. It's adorable. She'll be nine in October. I cherish these days.

Beatrice likes to think she is tying Penelope's apron. It's cute. She is such a helper.
Beatrice totally took to helping make the plantain and lavender extract. Bee loves being right in the middle of everything. 1 year old here but going on three. :)

The Misadventures of an Insane Lady Farming on One Acre
Things are getting wild at our house. We really over extended ourselves. The animal situation got bad this spring. We had guineas, geese, goats, turkey, and chickens everywhere. They were loud, they were taking over, we had too many. Our neighbors, at least two of them but mainly one more than the other, think we are out of our ever loving minds. We culled 15 hens and got rid of a insanely loud guinea.

Oh guinea hens. I have such a love hate relationship with them. I love their weird little heads and their wobble walk. I love their football shaped bodies and how their skin and heads remind me of Boy George in his Culture Club days. (Sorry Boy George you looked way better than a guinea hen, but they still remind me of you.) I love how they graze, bobble around, act awkward, and eat pests. When we moved in here we had ants everywhere. Not a piece of dog food could fall or we'd have hundreds of ants on the porch. A few times each summer I had to treat the kitchen with deterrents or poison (Ants hate cinnamon and it worked most the time). Ever since getting guineas we have no ants anywhere that it matters. The only time I see an ant is when I flip over a rock. It's great! These birds though, they make a lot of noise. It's maddening. No actually it is. If you have a guinea that truly never shuts up it will drive you insane. It happened to me. I was in the kitchen and this guinea that hadn't shut up outside my window for a solid week kept going and going and I flipped out. I banged on the window, I screamed, I ran outside with a rake and chased it and yelled I was going to kill it. My husband was half dressed for work at 6:45a.m. and he just starred at me. Then I told him if he didn't kill it then I would. I got my (tiny) rifle out and he intercepted. I knew he wouldn't let me shoot up the neighborhood. The last time I shot at something I hit the garage and put little holes in the vinyl siding. Twice. (It was at a truly feral cat attacking chickens. Never got the cat.) Well, we tried for weeks to shoot OR catch that guinea. None of our other guineas were ever that wild. We couldn't catch it for nothing. I begged Ricky to shoot it so we could just eat it. Finally that's what we were able to do.

The bourbon red toms are hilarious. They are a bit too friendly and crowd in on the kids. They make their rounds from the backyard to the front yard strutting their stuff, and they never, ever miss a BBQ. The are underfoot like weird feathered dogs. They hang out with the kids all the time.

The turkeys eventually got in the sandbox with the kids. They creep closer and closer until we finally tell them to back off  dudes!
Enjoying a popsicle in the shade ... and the tom turkey twins close in behind as usual
One of the turkeys did try to get on Sebastian once -in a dominate/mating type of way. Soooo, that was weird. You know that one friend with the humpy dog? We might be that friend with a humpy turkey instead.

Our only bourbon red female turkey sat on her eggs diligently for what seemed like forever. I was not expecting any results. We never saw the toms mate with her. We saw them fight, we saw them dance, we saw them show off for each other, they followed each other around non-stop, they are best friends forever, they are enamored with each other I tell you. Apparently they took some time to woo the female too though. One unsuspecting day I go out to the pen where she stayed and I heard peeping from under her! The first day there were four and I was so excited, the next morning there were nine! More excitement! Actually I was so excited that after finding them I ran in circles around the yard squealing "we have babies" and Charlotte saw me from the porch and said, "What the heck are you doing, mom?!" It was really funny. (I also think a neighbor saw me. They think we are NUTS anyway so that just sealed the deal.)
Bright eyed little newborn sweeties!
 We are heritage turkey breeders!

Mealworm farming is going just okay. There have been ups and downs. I think it is totally ridiculous that with all I have to do I get the idea to try to raise food for the chickens. It's more of a science project that I mainly am involved in. And that's when I realized I'm kinda a homeschooler kid more than I am a homeschool mom. The kids ditched the worm interest a long time ago. I'm still on it like it's my 4-H project. I love my weird life.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Prayers for Nepal

The loss of life, homes, and historic architecture in Nepal is nothing short of heartbreaking. I am very sad for the entire area. I hate suffering and it shakes me to my core. It humbles me every single time something horrible like this happens. These people are truly suffering.

 Yesterday I made prayer flags for Nepal with the kids.

Prayer flags are a beautiful and meaningful way to spread prayers, peace, and good wishes. They can be found hanging throughout the Himalayas. As the wind blows the flags the essence of your prayer travels. As the flags tatter the threads blow away and are carried into the world. You can make specific prayers and tailor handmade flags to a specific cause as we did, or flags can also be simply hung as a symbol of luck, peace, happiness, compassion, prosperity, health, and longevity. 

You can make your own or buy traditionally symbolic ones. The 5 colors of prayer flags represent the 5 basic elements: yellow-earth, green–water, red-fire, white-air, blue-space. Balancing these elements externally brings harmony to the environment. Balancing the elements internally brings health to the body and the mind.

Learning about geography and history works best when you can connect to the lesson in some  meaningful way. Now is a good time for us to start a unit study on the area.
It was lovely seeing the kids working on the prayer flags together. Penelope drew Mt. Everest with a rescue helicopter. When I was going through the flags admiring them that's the one that made me instantly tear up. She really gets it, and she prayed for rescue. 

It is a really great helicopter too! I thought all the flags turned out beautiful and I am proud of the kids. We pray for peace, rescue, shelter, food, helping hands, and healing.

Much love to Nepal, from a tiny blip on the map American family.

How to help: 7 vetted charities doing relief work following the earthquake

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day, Big Family Overpopulation Myth, and Simplifying

Happy Earth Day!

For those of us who enjoy sharing our lives and good homes with lots of kids, we sure wish people would quit saying we are overpopulating the Earth! Many people call big families selfish. I have directly been told I was overpopulating the Earth before. (Yes, the Earth's problems are all my fault!) I also witness lots of parents who contribute on blogs admitting that they feel guilty for having or wanting three or four children! The overpopulation myth holds on strong.

More info:
Debunking the Myth of Overpopulation

About That Overpopulation Problem : Research suggests we may actually face a declining world population in the coming years.

In defense, not that I need one...
Never-mind the fact that big families are huge re-users from clothes to cars to beds to dishes and more, but many of the big families I know also enjoy various sustainable ventures like: hobby farming, canning, gardening, raising chickens (for meat or eggs), sewing, etc. Many of us also breastfeed and cloth diaper. I had some cloth diapers for over a decade before turning them into household rags. I have several dresses Beatrice now wears at 22 months old that once belonged to Charlotte! (Charlotte's 18!) We often utilize: the outdoors, local museums, rivers, community pools, state parks, conservation centers, rec centers, and other types of thrifty low-cost low-waste entertainment. We definitely eat out less which is a huge source of consumer waste. When food is disposed into landfills it rots and becomes a significant source of methane. Food waste is a major source of methane, accounting for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions. Large families buy in bulk. For us personally, much of our meat is raised nearby and we buy the whole animal. Large families also tend to consume less than the average person's meat consumption. Meals that feed a crowd stretch meat: casseroles of all kinds, stews, soups, pot pies, and various other meals made with beans and/or rice to add some bulk.
 Now, I am not saying I'm the poster child for Earth friendliness! Case in point: I have a heater and a fan going at the same time right now. ;) However, a lot can still be said for large families and how they cut costs and waste when it comes to raising a large group of future wage earners for less than three or four separate households. It's interesting to me how some may scorn others for having 'too many kids' but never realize the reality that is smaller family modern life: bigger houses filled with less people and more stuff, new cars, vacations, new phones and computers every couple years, and the consumption of "stuff" including indulgent amounts of entertainment, restaurants, and prepackaged food products. Personally, I judge neither. I fully support people to live the happiest lifestyle possible in the most responsible and kindest way that fits them.

One Child
I think having a big family is great, but I fully support and see value in all families. As big families are dealing with judgement of one kind, there are people with no children or one child being judged and asked questions about their situation. I don't understand why people care or are so nosy! It's rude. I would never say that you "just have one" as this woman describes:

“Yep. Only one.” I smiled without offering further explanation.
Our decision to have an only child invites speculation from family, friends, and strangers. There is an accompanying look to their question. Shoulders slumped, sad eyes, and disappointment manifests on their faces even before the inquiry has a chance to land. The regret boomerangs to the person who poses the question. My husband and I do not harbor sorrow because we parent an only child; we celebrate our complete family.
“Only” is a word that carries an array of assumptions. Some may conclude that my daughter is lonely and plays in her room without little interaction from the outside world. Words like “spoiled,” “weird,” and “difficult” are hurled in her direction. To exist as one appears to invite a stigma that I fail to understand, but my backstory is not maligned with regret.

I just read that today and really wanted share it. I have lots of friends and family with one or two kids and they always celebrate my happiness for having a big family. I feel the same happiness for them about their family too. Even when I post something in the benefit of a large family I don't have to hear a rebuttal, because there are pros and cons about ALL aspects of life (including family size) and they know that. I have a friend with one child by intention and they "liked" an article I shared on Facebook last year that related to positive attributes of having many siblings. How is that for support!? Yup, my friends are rad.

As a recap:
1. Happy Earth Day! Thanks Earth!
2. Large families are not overpopulating the Earth. It's a huge myth.
3. Big families rock! And so do little families! And so do child-free families! (As long as they are kind families.)

This Years Simplifying Mission is Underway~ (Good for the Earth and Me)
This year I felt weighed down by things and so I began downsizing. I felt like my house was dirty and I couldn't keep up with it. I also got so sick of the effort it took. That meant even things I really, really, really liked, even some of my vintage collectible things, needed to go. This year I have started a mission to live more mindfully and simply. Bonus: when you make an effort to own less you buy less! It saves money, cleaning, resources, and time. I am in no hurry to buy clutter again now that my eyes are open to it. I have been sharing this lesson around our home lately as I sort through a lifetime worth of crap. Some of that "crap" is good stuff, but I am sick of cleaning it up, hauling it around, and stuffing it into boxes or onto shelves. Almost everything that is sitting unused is going away. I stripped almost everything off of our living room walls. It looked so bare for about a week. Soon I saw a new room unfold. I saw less clutter and dusting that needed to be done. I saw less things we would have to move if/when we move. I have a long way to go but it's a start. I keep cutting our unused homeschool stuff in half too. We just don't need it. I am donating some loved but still new birth and homeschool books to the library. Slowly I am freeing up my space and mind. It was incredibility overwhelming at first but then it got easier. I am even parting with my Mothering Magazines.

I browsed the internet for inspiration about living simply and more minimally. Sentimental stuff is the hardest! I read this lovely piece a man wrote when going through his late mother's worldly possessions and his struggle to keep everything. It made me cry! Reading it helped me a lot and he had some great tips and a neat realization for himself.
An excerpt: "And yet Mom had held on to these things because she was trying to hold on to pieces of me, pieces of the past, much like I was attempting to hold on to pieces of her and her past."

Months ago, when I was content with my storage and life's collections, this is what I wrote to a friend about how sentimental my Mothering Magazine collection is to me:

I have to keep mine for now... they are stored away in a plastic tub in the basement. I always thought I'd pass them to Charlotte, but now with the internet at everyone's fingertips will she really scour through 60 magazines to find out about co sleeping or how to make garlic ear oil? lol. Nope. Not to mention she already knows about natural parenting and baby care, home birth, co sleeping, etc because she grew up with it. :) It really makes me think back to a time when that WAS how I got my info. It's amazing. I had no one back then. There was not one soul in my life that was an "AP" parent until I joined homeschool groups in 2004. That's a long lonely time.

I first found Mothering at Wild Oats in 1997 when Charlotte was a little baby. I was still healing from the hospital birth induction that I was misled and lied towards, and on top of it all I was coping with failing at breastfeeding with zero support or knowledge. I ventured out to learn what I could and make things different in my life and raise my baby as healthy as possible. I picked up Mothering Magazine and How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor in the same store visit. I can't fully describe the relief and excitement. I was already doing everything "weird" compared to everyone else: cloth diapers, co sleeping, nurturing/gentle parenting, and other lifestyle/health choices (incl. no "well baby" visits for an already well baby!) that no one else was doing. It was all so underground to me, a brand new world opened up from those pages. I wasn't alone. I also learned what I started calling instinctual or primal parenting had a trending word already: attachment parenting. Those magazines just hold too much sentimental value to me.

Well, the magazines are still in the basement by the way. So, baby-steps.
Like the man who wrote about his mother in his blog, I am holding onto a memory and a feeling when I could write about it or take a picture. Maybe the first step is having wrote about it.:)

Simplifying has taken on other forms as well 
We decided not to get rabbits or bees this year. We downsized our chickens. We re-homed our guinea pigs. We loved them dearly and re-homed them because Layla was very allergic to them. We had been keeping them upstairs away from her but it was a difficult situation. We didn't get to see them as much. It made life difficult. If something is making our life difficult I want us to look at it and consider doing something different.

Not in line with being Earth friendly, but one way we are simplifying our life/time is that we have decided that we will not have the time or effort to refinish our wood floors in the living room and main floor bedrooms so we are putting carpet down. I crave the ease of vacuuming again and so much need to simplify the household tasks. This was one way we could help me save time and stress. The main wood floors in our home are in horrendous shape now and are even splintering in some places, so regardless we needed to do something. I'm surprised I want to go back to some carpeted surfaces but I have to admit defeat. I can't keep these floors clean. I can vacuum easier than sweeping and mopping when kids underfoot or hanging off my hip.

I am picking up other interesting ideas along the way and will continue to as I transform my way of thinking!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fighting Winter Blah and Raising Turkey

Winter Wears On
I have been really, really, really unmotivated lately. When Ricky went back to work after having twelve days off I knew things were going to be hard. So, I jumped right in feet first and started cleaning, putting away Christmas stuff, and getting laundry caught up again. Things were going well until suddenly overnight I became tired, weak, and lacked motivation. My health seemed okay. I just felt so blah. I upped my vit D and held on. Winter can be so hard but I am usually SUCH a trooper! I let school stuff slide and I let the laundry slide and I just felt so blah! I haven't even wanted to cook anything much lately. We are also going through one of those 'everything is breaking' spells which is always hard on the spirit! 

I felt really bad for the kids. I felt bad I was slacking off and that they were/are bored. Then I reminded myself that a lot of kids get bored in the summer. Some kids spend summer in front of the tv, sometimes without parents at home for 6-10 hours at a time. It is just reversed for us. It's our bored time. Love it or hate it is our isolation time. Last winter was the worst cold in at least 20 years, yet I did better last winter than I am doing this winter! (Because there was loads of snow last winter!) We go and go and go all spring, summer and fall. Even at home we keep very busy during those seasons, so this too shall pass.

I know the winter isn't just bumming me out because one of the little kids said, "I wish it was summer, I wish there were fireflies." Then we talked about how much fun we all have in the spring/summer. Sebastian just six years old said, "Summer is so fun with our family." Awe! How sweet that was to hear. The weather has now been between 45-58 degrees and that has helped a ton with my spirits! At least there is sun, too! I have some energy restored, my creative side feels back, and the next few weeks should be better, I think. Soon we will start tomato plants indoors and incubate some of our own fertile chicken eggs. I hear about my garden friends pouring over their seed catalogs this time of year, Ricky and are pouring over the cackle hatchery website.

A New Animal?!
The winter brings on boredom and with it a drive to get something new and exciting! So far this month I have said no to (but wanted to say yes!): a mini donkey, a St Bernard Pyrenees puppy mix, two more bourbon red female turkeys, and rabbits. I knew we "needed" a new critter anyway though. Still, it needed to be easy to care for and beneficial. (Even if I really did want all those other animals!) So, I found an inexpensive low maintenance critter project for us...

We are starting a mealworm treat farm for the chickens!!!
It is not super exciting, but it's new and interesting. We are raising our own chicken treats/food! Mealworms are a yummy treat for chickens, a good source of protein, and especially great during molting because protein gives chickens the nutrients needed to re-grow feathers. So we bought 1000 worms. (They turn into beetles, reproduce, make baby mealworms, etc.)

Everett and Beatrice helped pour the baby cereal and wheat germ into the tub (that's the worm food) and shake the worms from their mailing package. The worms came to the post office from California and we had to pick them up. (We made jokes about surfer worms! And sang Beach Boys song worm parodies. I know- so sorry you missed it lol!) We placed carrots and potato in with them and that is their water source.

We can do a whole unit study on beetles now! BOOM! There's some animal science, kids.

In two months our mealworm farm should be stocked enough to start feeding some to our chickens and turkeys!

 The best is when Ricky casually asked me over the weekend, "So at some point are we going to have beetles flying around our house?" (I laughed!) The answer is probably not. We will eventually move them to an enclosed tub (with air circulation) were they reproduce their little hearts out.

Eye Pillows! 
We made eye pillows with the kids. I bought big bags of organic chamomile and lavender flowers (dual purpose use for tea, too) and we had everything else on hand: rice, fabric, thread, sewing machine. I thought of the idea because Penelope (8) has a hard time falling asleep, scares easily, and even sleeps with a flashlight. She often likes me to put a dab of lavender oil on her at bedtime to relax. So I thought the eye pillow could be a way to gain a bit of comfortableness with darkness, have something special an useful she made, and have the herbs she likes for comfort and relaxation. Everyone had a great time making them! The kids love sticking them in the freezer and having the cold pressed on their eyes. Beatrice had a fever last night and we used hers for her head, it worked so great! Awesome idea for cooling hot heads! And the coolness even helped cool me, as her hot face was plastered to me nursing and sleeping.

The Weekend
The weekend was great and warm and sunny for January. We butchered turkey, picked up the yard, stayed up late and visited with the teens/talked about college options, had a BBQ one day, smoked ribs another day, I drank a margarita (or perhaps a few), the kids got to play outside (so muddy), I snuggled in bed late at night watching tv with Ricky (we rarely get to watch tv!)...and now we thrust ourselves into a brand new week. Come on spring, we are waiting for you...
Spring 2011

Turkey Farming!
We butchered our first turkey! It was exciting and worrisome and fun all at the same time. We had only butchered our own chickens and they do fine with a head chop. Chickens seem easier and less violent to kill. You grab one, put it on a block, chop its head, it flops, and it is done. With turkeys the preferred method is to cut their neck arteries on each side and bleed them out while they hang upside down by their feet. Blood does not make me feel sick or ill at all and I obviously am okay with eating humanely raised animals, but I can't watch anything suffer. I can't even watch television that shows violence. If too much violence or any kind of torture comes on a movie or show I get up and leave the room. I whined a bit about the turkey suffering because killing a turkey like this takes more time than killing chickens, but Ricky didn't think he was suffering and everything did go well. I appreciated that Ricky was very patient and kind with my whining and worry throughout it. Overall I was really impressed with the whole event. I was a little bummed to see our huge tom go, but he was bought for food and he was getting too large. We actually thought we had bought heritage bronze turkeys (they were labeled as such) but as they grew fast and started to waddle it became very apparent we have standard bronze broad breasted turkeys, meaning they are bred for meat production not for keeping as livestock or pet. We also have heritage bourbon red turkeys pictured below:
Heritage turkey breeds are endangered because they are no longer raised on large scale. Farm enthusiasts like us raise them and help to preserve them. We have two toms and one hen we are keeping for breeding. We like them a lot, but they are not as friendly and affectionate as the ones we have to butcher.

After the kill Ricky saying "WOAH!" as he is having trouble scalding the bird (for feather plucking) with one hand. The turkey was very large and we obviously couldn't get all the feathers scalded.
After plucking and cleaning our bird he weighs at least 34 lbs. We need a better scale though. I joked in the kitchen how our methods for weighing newborn babies and poultry are the same: old scales, not super reliable, weighing our self first and then our self with the baby - in this case the bird. Haha. I think it is time after all these kids and several chickens that we invest in a reasonably nice scale!
It fits! Sort of.
Future Homesteaders
This was our trial run with turkey (we will do it again asap) and Ricky has hopes for duck, geese, and rabbit as well. I hear a lot of people say they couldn't kill an animal they raised. For me though, I see them being raised by me and butchered by me as a honest and healthy way of eating. I know if I raise them myself I know how they lived. Ricky and I love having homesteading skills. It makes us feel really happy and fulfilled, I also love the time Ricky and I spend together on our common goal of self sufficiency. When I said butchering the turkey was fun, it is not because the actual act is fun. The collaboration, time, and energy spent with my husband is fun. We love working together. Homesteaders see value in working at the home for the home instead of depending on others as much. That is the path we have been headed down for a long time. I love that we keep learning skills and planning out the home life we want. For now we are practicing it on a small day we will be able to do it on a large scale! And that is super, super, super exciting!

What we learned raising turkey -
-Keep the babies WARM. They need it much warmer than chickens and get a thermometer or you will surely lose birds. I thought I was good enough at raising chicks and that turkeys just needed "a little" more heat. I was wrong.
-Consider buying a couple or few week old turkey chicks from the feed store. This gives them a big head start health wise, especially if they already have feathers.
-They train very easy if you put in the effort. And it's not very hard! I trained them to stay in the backyard by feeding them a little bit 4x a day and hand feeding them some. Worked great.
-They really are, like everyone says, a joy to have around. You do enjoy them and they aren't that dumb.
-They make the best sounds, chirps, gobbles, they talk to each other and you, too!
-They drink a lot of water
-As expected, they handle the cold weather like a pro. They didn't need or want a real shelter, but if we had severe ice or below zero temps we would have forced them into housing.
-We would have never tried raising the standard bronze turkey because we hate raising the broiler chickens who are also bred to grow super fast for meat. But, we accidentally bought five of them and we loved them! They were super, super friendly and really nice, fun birds. It is unfortunate we couldn't keep some and a shame that we can't breed them. They can technically reproduce, but they can't mate very well because of their size. We would have to learn how to 'milk' our tom and inseminate our female ourselves. Most normal people wouldn't even consider this and I don't know anyone who does this (besides factory farms), but I'm just weird enough that I went online and looked it up to see how. lol. :)
-Killing them bothers me more than the chickens (but it's okay), but processing them is a cooler lesson in anatomy than with the chickens.They take longer to pluck, but I like them better than chickens and I thought the plucking went fast.
- Home raised turkey is phenomenal in taste and texture. Delicious, wonderful, perfect, phenomenal meat.