Life With Nine Kids

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.