Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

We spent a quiet Christmas in Kentucky with Matt's family.

A karaoke machine!



Rocket kit


Art case for Chloe


Fun art supplies

Football from cousin Caleb (with a little help from Aunt Jen)

Doll clothes from cousin Siyann for Essie

My brother and sister-in-law just returned from a vacation in Bali.  They sent clothes for all the kids from Bali.

AJ's favorite NFL player-AJ Green

A chuck wagon triangle-just what Mom needed to call the kids in from playing with the neighborhood kids.

How did Dad know I wanted this???  Oh yea, I sent him the link to it when it was on sale for 60% off.  =)

Oh yea, and someone sent Mom an e-mail when what he wanted was on a sale (but Mom played it sly like she didn't get a chance to read that e-mail)

After 2 years of asking, AJ finally got an iPod (with some help from a secret santa)

Buffy won the Christmas spirit prize for making batches and batches of cookies with the kids.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

School Christmas Party Time

It's that time of year.  Time for class Christmas parties. The girls' classroom mom coordinated some fun games.  In the first game, the kids broke off into groups and raced to see who could decorate their "tree" the fastest.  
Essie was tree #1 and her group decorated the fastest.

Chloe was tree #2-not the fastest group, but they had a fun time decorating!

All 4 trees

The next game involved vasoline on the nose and pom-poms on string

Essie finally got it, but couldn't get it to stay on her nose

Essie working on her snowman craft project

Chloe with her snowman

Finished projects

The class with the sock snowmen craft project

AJ's class party was today.  They made wreath ornaments for their craft project.

Apparently AJ decided they looked better as earrings. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Got some mega eggs from a few chickens lately. 

I hard boiled them

Kinda creepy looking, huh?

Kinda like a bunch of Wall-Es looking at me.

Alternate Chicken Feed

On Sunday, I realized I was completely out of chicken feed.  Since it was the Sabboth, I didn't want to run to the feed store so I decided it was time to be more creative with my feeding options for the day.  Of course I let the ladies out to free-range, once we got home from church, but since it is winter, I wasn't sure how much they are finding to feed on around our neighborhood.  

I scored 2 free pumpkins from the church's fall decorations and set to work preparing them for the ladies.  Chicken will eat some pumpkin raw, but they really like it cooked, as it is then smoother textured and easier to digest.  The ducks really will only eat it cooked.

First step-smash pumpkin into smaller piece, SO much easier than trying to cut it up.

The clean up crew quickly swooped in to help out.

Step 2-put the smashed up pumpkin into the largest kettle you own. All the recipes say to gut the pumpkin before you cook it, but I figured, hey, I'm feeding this to birds.  Just throw it all in the pot. 

The pumpkin reduced in size by half once it was cooked.

I dumped the cooked pumpkin into a feed dish & viola!

One of the Brahma's getting a late night snack

And this is what was left in the morning.  The one section that was left was more raw and hadn't gotten cooked all the way through.  Next time I do this, I will definitely let it cook longer.  This was a large pumpkin and I only let it cook about 30 minutes. 

 Another alternative feed option, is not for the faint of heart for sure!

We buy beef directly from my father and the butcher shop always has an option to order the organs.  I was watching Alaska The Last Frontier (my new favorite show) a while back & Eiven and Eve were hunting deer (I almost cried when Eve shot her 1st deer, but that's a story for another day). ANYWAYS, Eve said she keeps the deer livers and feeds them to her chickens in the winter for added protein. Chickens are omnivorous and get lots of protein from the bugs they scratch up. In the winter, of course, the bugs aren't there so if you can supplement the need for protein with a free source, you do it.  Plus I'm asking my chickens to lay throughout the winter so I definitely want to keep them healthy. I haven't gotten brave enough to order the heart, but I did order the liver.  Boy, does cooking liver stink up the house!  I have no idea how people eat this stuff.  The smell of it alone makes me want to vomit.  But my ladies gobble it up, let me tell you.  They love the stuff!

Less obnoxious smelling foods I found were a bag of kale in the freezer and jar of apples from the pantry that didn't seal as well as it should have.  But honestly, the ladies enjoyed the liver much more than the veggies.

Another option is to use commercial bird seed.  This is definitely not a cheap option and should not be used as a main source of feed, but in a pinch, its a nice treat for your ladies. 

For a great article that elaborates on alternative feeds, head over to Harvey Ussery's blog. I envy his greenhouse...I will not lie.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Composting in the Winter

After a week of freezing temps, snow, ice and rain, I couldn't help but get out in the garden for a few minutes today, since temperatures hit a balmy 40 degrees.  I hate winter (have I mentioned that)!  As soon as I grabbed a pitch fork and headed to the garden, I had a flock of chickens around my feet.  Of course I had to take some videos to show you my ladies, hard at work.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

In lieu of mailing out Christmas cards, here is our family Christmas letter:

Christmas Letter 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Took this video the other day when we just had lots of rain.  This morning it turned to ice so we've enjoyed a quiet day inside (though the ducks and chickens have been out all day.  Can't keep those silly birds inside!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Indiana visit

The kids and I spent much of last week at my parent's house in Indiana.  Essie thought it was so cold, she needed to wear four  hats.

The girls got new coats as Christmas presents from Meemaw and Grandpa and got to open then early because they desperately needed them.  AJ got new boats boots (easy mistake since he's now wearing a size 10 shoe).

Even my sister Kelly's alpaca needed a coat.  That's how cold it was!

My Dad was pig-sitting for a neighbor.  Oh my gosh-not much cuter than baby pigs!

Except of course for this guy-my nephew Caleb

All the grandkids love their Grandpa!

Shelby helping Grandpa cook breakfast after her first sleepover with the cousins.  She started out sleeping in between the twins in the big bed upstairs but had to be moved to her own bed because she was so excited, she couldn't sleep and therefore was keeping everyone else awake too.

Essie and Shelby coloring.  This is Shelby's "smile" face.

For those of you that don't know, Shelby was adopted by my sister Jen and her husband Scott 2 1/2 years ago.  She came home at 2 years old but was developmentally registering at 9-12 months. Though she is still not forming words, she does use sign language and has begun making basic word sounds.  Every time I see her, I'm impressed with new milestones.  Spending the night with me and the cousins, sleeping through the whole night, and allowing me to rock her when she woke up--all HUGE successes for this girl.  She can be challenging at times, but much more on-track developmentally every time I see her.  Just wish I got to see her more often!

I eventually wandered outside to see the latest menagerie that my sister Kelly keeps next door to my parents.  This would just be a sampling of all that she has.
Donkeys & goats begging for a treat

Patagonian Cavies

AJ didn't seem as excited to pet the donkeys as they were about being petted.

The girls meanwhile wanted to show me how fast you can go down a slide with your snowsuit on.



On Saturday, the temps finally came above freezing so we ventured outside to help Grandpa decorate the house for Christmas.  My Dad was so nervous about letting AJ put the lights on the house, but the titanium hardware now in his lower back convinced him to at least let the kid try.

AJ was more than eager to help and I kept reminding my Dad that the kid climbs trees high than this in the field behind our house (and usually barefooted at that!).

All done & he didn't slip once

Eventually though, the fun had to come to an end and life back home called us back to Kentucky.  Poor Caleb was wiped out after having so much fun with Aunt Amy and the cousins!