Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last week in the house!

So, I realize that I haven't posted about the ducks in a while! They've continued to get bigger, to get more feathers, to be stinky, smelly, and as dirty as possible! LOL

Next weekend our friend Billy is going to come over and assist us with building their enclosure. It will just be a simple thing for right now. A simple 8'x24' enclosure with field fencing on the outside, and chicken wire on the inside and top. We will also be ordering 6 chicken hens and 1 rooster as well. We're not going to build a coop right now, because the ducks don't need it anyways, but we will probably build one the beginning of June. I'll be sure to post pictures of the process of us building the enclosure!

Here are the ducks last week.

The mallards (Phineas and Ferb) are starting to get their wing feathers now. I can see the blue, and even a bit of the white on Ferbs wing! I'm still hoping that we have 3 hens and 1 drake, but I would be okay with all hens as well. I just REALLY don't want more than 1 drake. That would be bad.

Anyways! Monk mowed the back yard today, so I couldn't put them in their enclosure after church. They got some time in the bathtub instead. They really enjoy bathtub time, but I can't say that I'm going to miss cleaning up after it!

I also will not miss my bathroom smelling like a duck, or pine shavings on my floor, or... dreaming my bathroom is really an oven because of their red light! I will sorta miss them... but only long enough to get chicks... and then the process starts all over! GAH! I'm a glutton for punishment I do believe! ;-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

WE'VE MOVED!!! Find us HERE!

For the past 6 months or so, I have been making my own laundry soap. It works FANTASTIC! It smells wonderful, it cleans beautifully, and it is significantly less expensive. (Just what we all like to hear, right?!)

You will need Borax, Washing Soda, Fels Naptha (or Zote, Ivory, or your favorite bar), and a cheese grater. (The oxy cleaner is optional)

First, you grate your soap. I only have a large hole grater, if you have a fine grater, you won't need to do the blending step. :-)

1 cup of Washing Soda (not baking soda)

Put half the soap in the processor or blender and the powder and blend.

1 cup Borax, and blend as above

I usually add 1 cup of oxy cleaner, but I ran out on the 1st batch I made today. (oops!) Mix, and you have your detergent!

Use 1 Tablespoon per load. I've been told that this IS safe for HE machines because it is a low (almost zero) suds soap. I also use about 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a "downy ball" for fabric softener. It leaves our clothes soft and virtually static free!

*****Linking up to Prairie Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jackie-O and Annie

So, before Spring Break, my daughter was furiously working to learn as much about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and she INSISTED we call Jacqueline Kennedy, for her 3rd grade project, The Living Wax Museum.   Her and 3rd grade her peers had to pick a figure, learn about them, and make a presentation dressed up like them to the rest of the 3rd grade classes and parents. (They split them into 2 groups) Bug had first picked Taylor Swift, but was sick the day that they had to turn their slips in. Two other girls wanted to be Taylor Swift, so, she had to choose someone else. She finally settled on Jackie-O.

At first I didn't know WHAT I was going to do to dress her like Jackie-O! There are a lot of vintage dress patterns out there that Jackie-O would have worn, but they don't come in Bugs size! Some dresses she can still wear a 5 or 6! (She will be 9 in June btw) I searched everywhere I could possibly think to look. I had a lot of people suggest sites, but none of them actually had a childs sized pattern, and being such a beginner seamstress, I had NO idea how to make that work. Finally I looked to handy Pintrest for an idea. And I found the wonderful Jessica at Me Sew Crazy had a fantastic tutorial on her blog about how to make a small sized Jackie-O dress! (view here) Bug was super excited about wearing this dress! And of course, the day before her presentation, she comes down with strep throat! She mad the honor roll again, and the ceremony was Monday. I talked to her teacher and we set up a time for her to do her presentation on Wednesday, and that was that! Of course, she did have her speech memorized, but after a week and a half of no school, she forgot it! It was okay tho. She did very well on her presentation. I was so proud of her!

I made the dress, the pillbox hat, and the 3 strand "pearl" necklace. Quite proud of myself actually! It wasn't super complicated, but it was the most complicated thing I think I've ever made! Of course, she was the only one on Wednesday to be in costume, but that was okay. She got a lot of compliments from teachers on her way to her classroom. Apparently after I left, 3 of her friends "claimed dibs" on her dress, gloves, and hat.

On Saturday we had gone to the Farmers Market, and while we were there, the kids were both given a coupon for a free Frosty at Wendys. Now, normally we don't do much eating out, but Wendys is one of the places that we do go, as well as Chick-fil-a and CiCis Pizza. Well, after church on Sunday, we went to go pick up some medicine on base, and eat at Wendys so the kids could use their free coupons. Both of the kids got kids meals, and inside was a "travel sized" Apples to Apples. We sat there and played the game, had some good laughs and we decided that we were going to buy the game on the way home at Walmart.

Apparently it was fate that we showed up there when we did. In the parking lot we find this tiny little puppy. As a family, we had already talked about how we weren't going to get another dog, that we had 3 dogs, and 4 ducks, and that was enough. Well, this tiny little puppy did not have a very promising future in the Walmart parking lot, and DD looked up at DH with her big blue eyes and said "But she's so cute!" and that's all it took. We walked out with Apples to Apples Jr, a small bed, a leash, a collar, and a puppy. She was dirty and I found ONE flea on her. Our next stop was to Tractor Supply so we could pick up some dog food and since I had found a flea, some flea shampoo. Not knowing how old she was, I didn't want to get a real harsh one, but, they ALL say 12 weeks and up, but we ended up with a flea shampoo with oatmeal in it. I just couldn't risk her giving the rest of the dogs fleas! None of them are on flea preventative, and we have not had a problem at all. I would like to keep it that way! She curled right up in Monkeys lap and went right to sleep. Bug decided to name her after our music director at church, Annie. (Notice the cross on her butt?)

We get home, and I walk thru the front door and straight to the bathroom to give her a bath. She's scared, but allows me wash her up with minimal fight. I mix her some of the puppy milk we got, and some of the puppy kibble. She CHOWED DOWN like there was no tomorrow!

Then, she took a nice nap in her new bed. (We used Lillys old crate. I guess now I know why I never got around to selling it!)

The first couple days, Dusty was not fond of her at all. She actually tried to pull her out of the crate by her ear!! So, we decided that she should wear her track muzzle around her for a while. She's doing better now, and will even let her play with her a little bit. Lilly isn't too fond of her yet, but this morning she played with her a tiny bit, but growled at her when Annie tried to puppy play with her. Doc, on the other hand, doesn't care one way or the other, as long as she doesn't bite him.

She has made quite the impact on my sleep. Sometimes I feel like I am running on fumes when I get up in the morning. Taking her out to potty in the middle of the night 3-4 times is exhausting! I feel like I have a newborn baby! LOL

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ducks first outing.

So, today we went to TSC and got some step in posts so we could build a small enclosure in the back yard for the ducks to get some outside exercise time.

We made a pit stop on the way there at the farmers market. It was opening day. Too bad we forgot and didn't get there until noon!! While there we talked to one of the local apiaries about bees. He invited us to the bee group that meets once a month. I was also invited to take master gardening classes. (How cool is that!!) We picked up some local strawberries (ours aren't all the way ripe yet), some asparagus, and some local steaks! So, for dinner tonight we're going to have steak on the grill, asparagus, and baked potatoes. Then I'm going to make a strawberry shortcake for dessert! :-D (I'll try to remember to get a picture to share later.)

So, we get to TSC, Bug wanted more ducks. They didn't have any thank goodness or we would have walked out with who knows how many more!! She did try to talk me into bantams tho. I told her that I wanted full sized chickens, not midgets. Besides, we had our hands full with the ducks! She wants a couple more ducks, and a few chickens, so, I'm not sure what we're going to do right now. I know that we are only making the enclosure about 8x24, and I will probably have to do a 4x8 raised coop. I also plan on putting a couple dog houses in there for the ducks. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to do it yet, but I'm going to do it! LOL I will probably put the nest boxes on the outside of the enclosure so I don't have to walk in to get the eggs, but I will have to leave the inside with the ability to open so I can clean it, as well as vents on all 4 sides. I know I want Sweet PDZ in the coop under the roosts so I'm not having to scoop the poop out so much, and it will keep the smell down as well.

Anyways!! We get home and put up the enclosure, which is nothing more than some step in t-posts and some old plastic "fencing" that we had. We had originally bought it to wrap around our cucumber teepees last year, but we took it off because it didn't seem to work.

But... I guess I've really went on long enough... and I'll show the pictures of the ducks now. ;-)
When they first got out in the pen.

It was like they didn't want anything to do with the light! They stayed in the shade for a bit.

This is Phineas. You can see where his/her feathers are coming in. I really hope either Phineas or Ferb are males and everyone else is a female!

Finally in the sunlight!

Found the water!

They all wanted to try the water.

Ferbs turn in the water.

Nibbling grass.

OH YES!! I forgot. 

Monkey took a video with his cell phone!

****** Linked up at Prairie Homestead

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting bigger!!

So, I was sitting with the ducks again today, I seem do that frequently. I've noticed that they seem to be just growing so quickly! Babies of all species tend to do that tho, grow quickly. It just seems like you don't notice until you look back at old pictures. So, here's some new pictures of the ducklings.

This one was taken on 04April

And today 09April! 

Far cry from the wee little things they were on the 31March, eh?? I just can't believe how QUICKLY they are growing! We're going to have to start building their enclosure as soon as we get our check! A friend of ours from our church gardening group has a fantastic set up that I think we're going to copy. They took 2x4s in 8' and 12' sections and built 2 8x12' enclosures. They separate their ducks and chickens, but I think we're just going to do one large 8x24' enclosure and put a short stock tank in for the ducks with a "deck" for them. This would mean that I wouldn't have to water as much, and that I can use the water from the stock tank in the garden instead of just dumping it in the yard like I would with a kiddie pool. This of course means that we're going to have to find one that is big enough for the ducks, but not too deep in case the chickens decide they want to try and have a swim. I found a couple of more shallow stock tanks online at Tractor Supply, lets hope that they have them here at the store or can order them for me!

On another note! We had a frost Friday night. Bug was spending the night with a friend, or so I thought. I got a weather advisory alert on my phone and was busy, so didn't see what it was. About 10, I got a call that Bug wanted to come home. I went to pick her up, she said that she didn't feel well and wanted to come home. I bring her home, put some medicine in her, came out to check on a few things in the dining room, back to check on her, and she was fast asleep in my bed! I then laid down to see what the weather alert was. I laid there for a second trying to remember where all the extra sheets were so I could at least cover my tomatoes that I had just planted a few days before that. I got up, got the sheets, covered my tomatoes, and brought in my peppers and eggplants that I hadn't gotten a chance to plant yet, and went to bed. Or so I thought!! I wake up in the morning, the dogs are bouncing all over the place as if they are saying "MOM!! It's breakfast time! MOM!! Lets go mom!!" I stretch, put on my slippers because it's chilly, and walk out to let the dogs out to potty and feed them. As soon as I walk into the dining room I notice that there are no sheets outside. Then it dawned on me... I had fallen asleep and DREAMED I covered all my plants!! *heavy sigh*

I lost all of the volunteer white heirloom cucumbers, all my eggplant, save 1, my 2 peppers, and 3 of my tomatoes. It's okay tho, I had 3 of the volunteers from last year, but I'm pretty disappointed that I lost all my white cucumbers, even tho I hadn't planned on having them. I restarted the eggplant and peppers, and I hope that they pop up soon. I'm just glad that we have a fairly long growing season. It's been a CRAZY spring I say!

I also planted pumpkins, watermelon, more cucumbers, yellow and green bush beans, radish, and even tho I know it's WAY too late, garlic. I mostly put the garlic in to try and keep the squash vine borers at bay. They completely decimated our pumpkins last year. Monkey was crushed! He was really hoping that he would get  to eat some home grown pumpkins in his pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Hopefully this year that won't be a problem. I checked all the plants again today and gave them a nice drink, and I noticed that the radishes are already starting to pop up! Hooray! I'm so excited! I LOVE radish, and I think that once my husband has a home grown radish, he will love them too.

I hope that you all had a great Easter! We had a great day at church, and then basically had a lazy day at home.

Linking up to Homestead Barn Hop!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More ducks?!

So, apparently I must have a soft spot for the ducks.

Today I was sitting with Phineas and Ferb (the duckling) and all of a sudden I got this horrible feeling that they were lonely, so, we went to Tractor Supply to get 2 more Rouen ducklings. Unfortunately they didn't have any more, but they DID have Pekin ducklings, so, we now have 2 of those! Bug named them Stacy and Candace. I will try and get some pictures tomorrow.

We have 14 tomatoes in the ground, 15 cucumbers, 8 of which were sprouted volunteers from last years cukes. I also planted 2 hills of 2 watermelon. Tomorrow starts spring break for the kids, so Monk will plant his pumpkins. I'm going to plant some garlic in with them. Supposedly its supposed to help keep the squash vine borers away. We lost all of our pumpkins last year to them. The pest bugs are pretty bad already this year! I hope its not going to be a terrible year for bugs. I just want Monk to be able to harvest his pumpkins.

Maybe the ducks will help with the bugs some. I'm really trying to get them to imprint on me so I don't have to worry about them running off because the garden area isn't fenced. If we can get the ducks to help with keeping the bugs down, it would be a BIG help! I just hope that our ducks won't decide that the plants are better than the bugs!

We're still planning on getting Bug her chicks for her birthday. The ducks should be old enough to go out into an enclosure by he birthday, leaving the tub for the chicks. I just hope that when the chicks are old enough to go into the enclosure that the ducks aren't going to pick on the chicks. I'll have to figure out some way to put them in the enclosure without giving the ducks access to them until they get used to each other. I guess we will figure it out in time! We've got a while yet.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Growing our Homestead

So, yesterday we needed more compost for the garden. Apparently ours is not done yet, so we cannot use it. I have used some in the growing of our newer tomato seedlings, and it seems to be doing quite well, but I CONSTANTLY have to pick pill bugs out of it, and lost a few seedlings to their tiny little mouths. Some say that they will only eat decaying matter, but, I know that there were no slugs or anything else in those pots, but I DID see lots and lots of pill bugs, so I'm pretty sure that's the culprit! Anyways! I finally got the whole family rounded up so we could go. They were having Chick Days at Tractor Supply, so the kids wanted to see the baby chicks and ducklings. Bug decided that she wanted ducklings. I kept telling her no, that we didn't have a place to put them, inside OR outside, so she turned on the waterworks. Of COURSE DH caves and tells her that she can have a couple ducklings.

So, meet Phineas and Ferb. DS used to be OBSESSED with this cartoon, so DH named them after the cartoon.

We also got the last 3 beds in that we will be planting in this year, tho that might be a lie because hubs and I were talking about putting in 2 more 4x4 beds, one between the blueberry bushes for Rhubarb and asparagus, and one in front of the corn  for herbs. We've still got a little bit of cleaning up to do, but here is Ivy Hill for the 2012 growing season.

Last year we planted a 4x8 bed with strawberries. I let them get away from me last year, which is something I won't repeat this year. But, being 01April and having as many strawberries about to ripen as we do, I'll take it!

This is one that got out of the bed last year. I've got to figure out how to get it back IN the bed! Something I should have probably done before the growing season started, but the strawberry looks GREAT!

Last year, we got a few of the Burpees white cucumber. DH must have missed one last year because this year, we have them again! Once we get the cucumber bed ready, I will transplant them to where they will be this year.

Our grapes are back in full force! Doc (brindle), Dusty (red/fawn) and Lilly (white) are making their debut here at Ivy Hill! We just put these grapes in last year. DH insisted that these grapes be planted on the fence line because our neighbor had done something similar and he liked the idea of not having to build an arbor for them.

Our pear tree is doing quite well!! Last year it only had 1 pear. This year I think we will have quite a few more! When I told DH that there were "quite a few" and counted about 11, he said "That's not quite a few! That's not even a dozen!" when I reminded him that we had only put the tree in less than 3 years ago, and some people don't get fruit at all for the first 5 years, he decided that it was quite a few.

It rained all weekend so far, so I haven't been able to work in the garden much. I believe I will be hitting full force on Monday. A lot of the seeds that we started way back in January, didn't make it, but some did, and that makes me happy. I restarted quite a few, and THEY have made it for the most part. Next year, we're going to start everything with a grow light, so we won't have as much issues with being so leggy. We are still learning, so, I think we're doing okay for just starting. :-) Monkey got several potatoes to sprout, so we are going to plant those in used dog food bags for our potato harvest. A couple of the celery seedlings made it as well! Can't wait to put it all in the garden!

We got lettuce!! Too bad I don't remember which one this is. I planted both butter lettuce and mesclun and forgot to label them. DUH! In the very back of the picture is another potato, and a rouge tomato!

The apples and blueberries have JUST started to bud, each with a couple of leaves. The mulberry is just starting to put some green on, and the raspberries have just poked their heads thru the ground as well. Things are starting to really come together here in the last week or so. I can't wait to start updating more when things are really going. Won't be too much longer! :-)