You broke your toe? Want to buy a house?

Well, things have been interesting her around the house. We are having dialog with the owners of the home we are renting. Some of you may recall me writing about how the home owners dropped the price on the house we are renting, again and wanted to make sure we knew about it. We had expressed an interest in a lease/ purchase option when we began renting but felt the home price was to high.

Yesterday we got a letter in the mail from the home owners conveying their “urgency” and desire to work with us. Anyway we chatted with our Realtor/ father in law about it and had some discussions about what we wanted and what we could afford. We then responded to their letter and expressed what we could afford to pay if we agreed to purchase the home… If they are really willing to work with us to make our ownership happen then we may buy this place… We will see, if it’s meant to happen it will right?

Home owners have the upper hand right now and we are pleased that the tables have turned and that we have some bargaining power now. We aren’t rushing into anything though and we wont be buying for the crazy high prices that have been asked.

In other news, N broke his toe! He walked into the bathroom door jam and now his toe is purpleish black and is very swollen… I can’t believe he broke it!


We are holding our breath because we may have found OUR house…

Hopefully I am not jinxing us here but I just wanted to spread the upbeat news. With all the crappy happenings a bit of good is always nice, even if it is a bit premature…

So, we did look at a home we liked today! I mentioned it yesterday briefly (I was trying not to get my hopes up). Well today we saw it and loved it. It is actually a home similar to ones we have already toured. The catch is this one is $200 less that those other homes like it AND the owner is offering a lease purchase option.

It is smaller than we would like but it is newer, clean and could possibly be OURS! Here is a photo of the front of it.

The layout has the master bedroom upstairs, loft style overlooking the kitchen.

See that round window at the peak of the roof? It shines light in to the master bedroom.

There is a master bathroom upstairs also, then there are two rooms downstairs in addition to another full bathroom, the living room and the kitchen.

The other great feature we love is the sun room. We’ll use it as an office. Yay we could have an office and a nursery for Tater!

All in all we like it, it’s not the 4 acre farm house we have always dreamed of owning but it is a good first time home that is livable immediately and gives us the possibility to gain some equity for that future purchase of acreage and a farm house.

We are going to get in to hashing out the nitty gritty details with them soon. For those of you just tuning in we couldn’t get financed thanks to some credit report errors and a student loan that is almost back in positive status (1 month to go baby!)… So we’ve been looking at lease/ purchase options in case something fitting comes along. Renting and throwing your money away is just sucky…

Anyway, the gist of it all is that we will have to make a big down payment on the place upon moving in, then we’ll be allowed to lease the home from the owners for a set period of time. During the set period of time we are working like crazy to get our credit in order and to keep it all looking good for the mortgage company, then we will apply for a mortgage to buy the home at the end of the lease term.

The cool thing about a lease purchase option is (a percentage of) the money you pay while renting, plus any down payments made come off the total purchase price of the home once you do get your mortgage and buy the place.

It is nice because then you are leasing a home but not totally throwing your money away since some (or all of the money paid, depending on the contract terms) will come off the total purchase price of the home.

Say we agree to lease/ purchase a home for $112,000 and the owner agrees to apply 100% of our $5,000 down payment towards the purchase of the home, that brings the home’s purchase price to $107,000.

Then if we are given a 12 month lease option and $775 of each month’s rent goes towards the purchase price of the home we’ll be paying another $9,300 towards the total purchase price during the 12 months of leasing.

This knocks the price down even more to a whopping $97,700 when it is time to get that mortgage. Pretty sweet huh?

So, yeah we are pretty happy that the owners like us and are willing to consider the options with us. It is looking like the possibilities are good with this one but it is not set in stone yet.

Oh, we still have no idea about the status of our current lease but are basically just planning to leave anyway. I am almost certain our crappy landlords have voided the lease with their failure to address issues we’ve notified them of. If we need a lawyer to prove it then we will get one!

So yeah, that is the news. Yay for positive prospects (it’s about time)! Oh and my choir buddy, Scott MacIntyre made it through to the top 12 on American Idol. I am so happy for him, he deserves it! Way to go Scott!!

And…. it seems we should be getting ready for those “easter bunnies” afterall. Our rabbit, Maybelle is building her nest and is acting funny. I’ve got the camera ready to capture those little baby bunnies, now who wants one? Seriously I can’t keep them!

Home buying fun in Evansville, IN- sellers are still greedy even when screwed!

Remember all the times I have talked about trying to buy a home on this blog? Well we are still living the first time home buyer saga. Over the weekend we looked at a place here that was a possible option for us, we met a Realtor that was overly eager to make her money and we once again have home buying on the brain.

The main reason we are looking to buy is because of the economic state, it is a buyers market for sure. Houses on the market are in abundance, home prices are falling and lots of people are desperately needing to sell the homes they can no longer afford.

Plus with President Obama it is likely we’ll see some type of housing market stimulus attempt, you know to get people buying again and to turn the market around. We suspect this will be most beneficial for those who have not been sucked in to the subprime mortgage mess and whom have not lost homes or even purchased them to begin with.

We have worked very hard to get money for a down payment in the bank. Thanks to employer sponsored 401K plans and roll over options we now have a decent down payment in an IRA ready for a home purchase, we are very pleased about this.

Now we are looking at our home buying options and considering what is truly in our best interest. Obviously we don’t want to remain in a mold filled rental home especially with a baby on the way so we have reinstated our home buying search.

We are looking at unconventional purchasing options at this time. Things like contract sales and owner carry buying options. We are doing this for credit reasons and also because we know somethings are going to change with the new president in regards to the housing market and financing options.

What cracks me up right now is how delusional sellers and agents are right now, they are still trying to be as greedy and shameless a possible even though the number of sellers clearly outnumbers the number of buyers in Evansville, IN.

The place we saw over the weekend was not spectacular by any means, the basement clearly had flooding issues and there were also structural issues on the 2nd floor. The seller made some crazy offer to us that was just a crock and we just laughed about (I don’t want to bore you with the specifics).

What I am wondering is when will people wake up? We are in a recession and greed just doesn’t work anymore. Seriously you selling me your house is NOT doing me any favors. We can rent forever and just keep making interest off that down payment money in the IRA, it’ll be more saved for retirement or whatever. Or we can buy another house, there isn’t a housing shortage you know.

When you have a buyer that is interested how can you honestly make such laughable requests when YOU are the one that is struggling under 2 mortgage payments YOU can’t make? We aren’t struggling financially to pay for our housing because we didn’t get in to an agreement that was impossible to make good on.

When you get someone who is willing to make your payments for you and help YOU out how can you still be so greedy? I know you really want to make your $50,000 profit off the home sale but which is better taking a profit cut or holding out in greed and risking foreclosure?

What kills me is that so many are honestly willing to loose their homes to foreclosure instead of just cutting their losses, learning from the mistake and just selling for what they can get. Those greedy people make me feel like foreclosure is deserved and that we shouldn’t care about their suffering or bail them out, I mean they did it to themselves right?

House floods and hair dye…

I am one of those 20somethings who already has gray hairs, yep it is true! Actually it is a chunk of gray hairs, kind of a streak on my right side right near my hair line.

I usually dye my hair with the intent of covering the gray I have tons of hair so I usually need 2 boxes of dye. Unfortunately, dye is expensive and these days we are scrounging every penny we have for our $10,000 move. Lately this has prevented me from enjoying the luxury that is coloring my hair…

When I do color my hair it is a treat and I usually feel all good about myself for a few days after, plus my hair just feels better and less coarse after dying it.

While browsing the local discount store  a few weeks back I saw a bunch of hair dye that was marked down. N and I thought buying a lighter color might be fun for the summer so I grabbed some “excellence cream” dye for a great price.

This weekend I thought I wold spent some one on one time with my hair thanks to the discount dye. I was super excited at the prospects and when I entered the bathroom to begin the project I was greeted by an usually squishy rug.

First reaction was “ewe, did the cat pee on it?” so I grabbed it to check the overall wetness and odor but this wetness was not cat pee. Did 30 cats pee on it all within the same time frame cause this rug was completely drenched. I am talking soaked sponge like wetness!

I call to N, did you get the rug really wet when you showered? He claims he did not and we ponder the drenched rug. He was on the way back to playing X box when I commented that the mystery soaking was probably NOT a good thing to ignore.

So he goes in to the laundry room to find that the washer’s drain hose was disconnected from the wall and emptying water on to the floor. Apparently the water oozed UNDER the wall and right in to the bathroom where our trusty round bathmat soaked it all up.

Freaking awesome, water leaked under our wall. I don’t think that is normal but N assures me it is for a manufactured house. So we sopped up the water and went about our business but not before capturing it for the bloggosphere.

Like I said before, right about moving time (every time) we have some sort of domestic drama that is rental house related.

I don’t know if we are especially needy tenants or if we just have terrible luck with rental homes. Either way we always seem to have some craziness right before our lease I about to expire as I have mentioned in earlier posts.

You may recall the recent the kitchen flood we had then the stove fire and way back in the day we even had a psycho neighbor who was set on making us crazy. I could actually find drama for every rental we have lived in if I felt like going back through my 500+ blog entries. Every place we have ever rented has left us with a drama filled story. It seems the flooding is just the drama for this rental I guess.

Finding rental houses (not apartments) online…

I have never understood why finding rental homes online is so much more difficult than finding apartments. When we moved out to Flagstaff, AZ we rented several apartments over the course of 2 years. Apartment complexes just don’t make things easy for multiple pet owners and families with kids seldom want to live in an apartment setting.

Sometimes renting an actual house is better but finding them is never easy! I thought it would be helpful for others if I complied my rental home resources. This is not a sponsored post but I have had the opportunity to to business with several companies on the list and will link you to the posts made when I lived in homes under the particular company’s management. Hopefully this list is helpful to some and our experiences can aid you in finding the right property management company for you!

Flagstaff, AZ Rental House Resources:

  • Pollock Properties ( We leased a home out in Kachina Village through them. Ann Pollock was very good to us despite the unfavorable situation we got ourselves into. We rented a home on a month to month basis, it was on the market and we had to show it whenever a Realtor had an interested buyer. The home owners were sneaky and shady but Ann was honest and helped make things right. We lived in one of their managed properties from about September 2007- February 2008. You can read about our experiences by checking the pollock properties tag (click the link).
  • Coldwell Banker Narico ( or – Again we leased a home out in Kachina Village through them, we signed a 6 month lease, 3 months later we were told the owners wanted to put the home back on the market and that we would be forced to show the house for the remainder of our lease or until the home sold. We lived in one of their managed properties from February 2008 to September 2008. You can read about our experiences by checking the coldwell banker tag (click the link).
  • AZNorth ( – We had never used this company.
  • The Ginsburg Group ( – We had never used this company.
  • Levitan Properties ( – We had never used this company. Specialized (when we were looking for rentals 2004-2008) in pet friendly apartment communities. No additional pet rent, deposits are fully refundable and often utilities are paid. Great for families with pets looking for apartment living in Flagstaff, AZ.

Evansville, IN Rental House Resources:

  • Evansville Homes For Rent ( – I called them and they seemed very friendly and accommodating, I told them I had emailed them and would like an email response. I also emailed them prior to calling them to ask if anyone would be able to assist us by taking photos of homes we are considering renting since we wont be able tour the home prior to move in. Nobody has responded to me via email or phone.
  • Fetter Property Management ( – I emailed them to ask if anyone would be able to assist us by taking photos of homes we are considering renting since we wont be able tour the home prior to move in. I also called and left a message asking for a returned call or email. Nobody has responded to me via phone or email.
  • Lowe Realty, Inc. ( – I emailed them to ask if anyone would be able to assist us by taking photos of homes we are considering renting since we wont be able tour the home prior to move in. Nobody has responded to me.
  • Given & Spindler ( – I emailed them to ask if anyone would be able to assist us by taking photos of homes we are considering renting since we wont be able tour the home prior to move in. Nobody has responded to me.
  • Corrier Press Newspaper ( – Displays listings for rental properties and contact info but did not have property photos or extensive property information. Not a good resource for those looking for rentals from outside the state.
  • F.C. Tucker Emge ( – Displays listings and property info on their site. Homes are nice and the staff DOES respond to your emails, they are willing to help.

Hopefully this list provides some help to those searching for rental homes in Flagstaff, Arizona or Evansville, Indiana. If you have a site you want to add please do so in the comments field!

The economy and house prices….

Well, today the owners of the place we are renting made us another offer.. You see when we first agreed to rent this place we were in the middle of contract negotiations and we were interested in buying a home but were not finding anything at the right price.

We agreed to rent on a month to month basis while they still listed the house as for sale. Since August the house has been for sale, we have been showing the house as interested people come along but for the last 2 months nobody has been interested in seeing the house. Also, since we began renting the selling price of the house has been dropped about $50,000.. Yep our rented 2 bedroom 2 bath home in Flagstaff, AZ was initially listed @ $299,000!!

Like I said we just got another phone call, another price drop on the house…. $248,000 is the offer with a lease to own option. We would still need to make a down payment and the money we have paid till this point would not apply to the purchase. We are still not interested, here is why:

Do you think we are headed for a recession? We sure do and I know many economists are denying it but the bottom line is that our economy has always gone through it’s ups and downs… It’s inevitable. The economy has been doing considerably well for a while but things are taking a turn… With oil prices rising, the surplus of houses, number of places for sale, lack of buyers, the amount of debt people have and with all the foreclosures and variable rate mortgages people aren’t doing that great financially and neither is our country.

We aren’t buying a 2 bedroom, 2 bath house for $248,000 thats $248 per square foot. If a recession is on the way this in not the time to be buying a home because what if we can’t afford it later? What if home prices drop even more? Besides $248 per square foot is still above the average selling price per square foot in our area.

We have been working hard to clean up our credit and to get our finances in order since about may of last year. Our credit scores have each jumped about 49 points in that time and it’s continuing to improve.

Unlike some Americans we are doing good financially, we don’t have any current debts we are defaulting on, we have credit available to us that we aren’t using, we have not over spent and do not owe more that we can pay and our credit scores are continuing to improve.

Basically we are just not spending and we are trying hard to stay within our budget, we are living off of one measly income right now and any supplemental money I can earn… Things are tight but it feels better to go without than to rack up tons of debt we can’t pay off.

What are your thoughts on buying a home and on the economy? Do you think rough times are around the corner or will it all stay the same?

Real estate news- It's a buyers market!

We have been home hunting for about a year now and we are still in no position to buy but the reality of the situation is that it’s quickly becoming a buyers market. A buyers market “is one in which there are too many homes on the market for the number of buyers. Homes take longer to sell and prices fall.”

We are renting a home that is also for sale. A number of people have toured the home but lately the showing frequency and quantity are really decreasing. The house is a two bedroom in the Flagstaff/ Kachina Village area of Arizona. When we moved into it the price was $280,000… It has dropped to  $259,00 but is still not worth it in our opinion. There are a number of homes on the market just like it and it’s got nothing special to offer that makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd.

If you own a home in Arizona that you are planning to sell making it stand out will help you! Ask yourself what the buyers are looking for. Buyers aren’t settling and they probably wont be buying your home if it needs work or has poor workmanship on work that you tried to do. Find the unique aspects of your home and make them shine! Remodeling your home will give you an added advantage and it will give buyers a reason to choose your home over the hundreds of other homes for sale!

For more info on the benefits of remodeling your home:

Another angle to consider when remodeling you home is making it more energy efficient and “green”. Green homes are unique they serve a purpose and they are good for the environment! When you remodel you can put in a gray water system, some solar power panels or more energy efficient appliances!

Replenishing the poultry flock

Dusting Off The Incubator

.  .  .

Our poultry flock really expanded back in 2013 just after we left our life in the big city and set out to be farmers full time. Each season we’ve been adding new blood to the poultry flock to keep the eggs coming and it’s worked well for us so far.

After relocating our farm last summer, egg production abruptly stopped. I feel it was largely due to the stress of the transition. First, everyone was moved to confinement in chicken tractors. It took us days to catch all the poultry! Imagine us herding poultry up a ramp so they could be loaded in a horse trailer for moving. It was total madness.

I also think our drop in egg production can be attributed to the age of some in our flock and the natural molting chickens experience. So, this year we’re getting LOTS of new chicks. I’m out buying and hatching like a crazy chicken lady.

So far, I’ve added the following chicken breeds to our flock in 2018: 3 Sapphire Gem, 3 Lavender Orpington, 3 Asian Blue, 3 White Leghorn, 2 Turken and 4 Easter eggers. Lots of “chicken math” is happening as I visit the feed store every few weeks!

Chicken math: it’s an inside joke with chicken keepers. Your family agrees to get a small flock, but somehow it turns out much larger than you planned!

I’m also on our second hatch with the good ole Brinsea Mini Advance Hatching Egg Incubator It will basically be running non-stop from now until the summer. It’s such a trooper, though I wish I had a bigger incubator sometimes. It’s probably better that I don’t though 😉

Our first hatch was less than ideal, thanks to the house cat knocking over the incubator… two Silkies, an Australop and a Buff Orpington hatched despite the cat’s curiosity.

With new chicks as part of the farm again I’ve been really itching to upgrade our chick brooder setup. In the past, I’ve always defaulted to whatever is the easiest to move around. Sometimes I’ve got a bird cage of chicks in the main chicken house, sometimes they are in a chick brooder hutch in the barn, right after hatch they go in a plastic tub or a smaller bird cage that is always moving. The setup is ever-changing and is largely dependent on their age, heat needs and the current temperatures.

Since last summer I’ve been thinking about ditching the heat lamps and investing in a safer more efficient system. Specifically this type of a brooder setup ->

The main issue I have with the pictured setup is the open top- my barn cats would be harassing the chicks all the time! Also it’s something simply we cannot pay for at this point… So I use rock slabs to elevate the waterer and I use cheap plastic tubs to contain the chicks. It’s crude but resourceful, it works for us.

However, I did take the plunge and order this warming plate from Premier1Supplies and I’m super happy with it! I got the 12×12 warming plate with the plastic dome, as pictured to the left. It’s rated to warm up to 20 chicks at once.

Yesterday I had been keeping about 22 chicks under it (oops!) but have since moved the bigger chicks to another brooder now that they have less heat requirements. Those bigger chicks were store bought and spent about 4 weeks under the warming plate before outgrowing it. I’ve left the chicks from my first hatch as well as my Turken chicks under the warming plate to await the hatch of 7 more of our flocks eggs.

Here is a video peek at the warming plate in action in our current brooder setup:

The Farm is Moving to Golconda, IL!

I’m sure you’ve heard the news, we are setting off on our own farming adventure. We are excited to share, we have a summer moving date set and we are packing up the house right now. After a tumultuous week we have managed to get lots figured out and we are very excited for our new beginnings. We have a newer place lined up with 10 acres of land, just outside the Golconda city limits where we can continue to grow our dream farm. Our kids will be closer to their friends, we will be closer to many of our customers plus we get to remain in Pope county so the kids wont have to change schools. We will have plenty of land and time to bring our farm dreams to life!

We are gearing up to move our entire farm operation which gets more and more daunting the longer you think about it… We will be moving our dairy goats, sheep, dairy cattle, chickens, turkeys, ducks, cats, dogs, our bees, a goat barn, a chicken house, pasture fencing plus all our personal belongings and ourselves. 

We have rented land from farm friends so that we can still offer our summer CSA program during this transition. The seeds for our CSA crops are already growing and CSA memberships are filling up nicely. As you can imagine, It’s important for us to continue growing our CSA and selling our eggs and soap during the transition… because Nathan is no longer making a wage working for someone else…


But honestly, there are so many things that Nathan hasn’t had the time or the land to make happen. He has dreams of specialty fall crops, berries, specialty greens, orchard fruits, honey and the list just goes on and on. He has the skills and knowledge, the connections, ambitions, direction and he’s about to have 10 acres to get ‘er done. So, while it’s a scare to have him not working for someone else it is also a pretty great opportunity!

Also, you probably don’t know that before becoming a mother I had a good hospitality career working special events at a number of prestigious event venues in Scottsdale AZ. I was also the catering manager for a luxurious private golf community before we left the west coast. I absolutely love bringing special events to life and didn’t realized how much I’d missed it.

The Farm to Fork Dinner work I’ve been doing has totally renewed my passion for special event work and has prompted me to get back in the catering business here in the area.  I’m now on staff at a number of specialty event venues plus I’m also available for hire if you need special event planning help. Yep, I’m going freelance with my event planning!

So there you have it, we have all sorts of things in the works currently. It’s true, we are no longer affiliated with Tanglefoot Ranch… but we have exciting things in the works for The Ryder Family Farm in Pope county! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and add yourself to our newsletter so we can keep you in the loop.

We are humbled by all the offers for help and support during this crazy unexpected transition of ours. Thank you to everyone that has reached out to us! When the time comes we will welcome your moving and fencing help but in the meantime help us prove to our bankers that we already have a solid customer base by buying some soap, eggs or perhaps a CSA share. We will see you at the Golconda Farmer’s Market Saturday!

Handcrafted Goat Milk Soaps

hand milking our goat, Poptart

Why Goat Milk Soap?

everly-milks-goatOur journey with goat milk soap has been an adventure. We initially got goats to provide drinkable milk for the family. You see, only one person in the house can stomach pasteurized cow milk and buying raw milk can be pretty tricky where the law is concerned.

When we moved to the country and our raw milk sources were gone we knew we’d have to be our own milk source. No better place than a farm for that right? So we got a full sized, registered French Alpine that was in milk and we were getting a gallon of raw goat milk a day.

I pretty much have a whole fridge of just raw milk. We make cheese, ice cream, kefir, yogurt and still have left over milk, lots. Eventually milk gets frozen to save it but even the freezer gets too full of milk. This is how goat milk soaps began on our family farm.

I never thought soap making would amount to much because I’m not big on cosmetics and I don’t like too many scents or dyes but I’ll try most anything once… So, I made up a 100% from scratch uncolored, essential oil scented soap from our fresh goat milk for our family’s use. It cured for ages (almost a year!) and we finally tried it out. Dang, that is some good stuff!

Goat Milk Soap is Superior

Since switching to homemade goat milk soaps for our family our rashes from food sensitivities, the dry skin issues and the breakouts- are all gone! We kind of hate regular soap now.

adalyn-milks-goat“Why don’t you make some to try selling?” Nathan (my husband) asked when we needed to use up of another stockpile of frozen milk. I agreed to make a batch to test sell and we also gifted some soap to family and friends. Slowly we began to get some great feedback from folks.

One lady said her daughter’s sun spots are clearing up thanks to the goat milk soap. Another gal who has very sensitive skin and breaks out in reaction to most everything says her skin loves the soap too. I’ve seen how my husband’s dry skin has disappeared, he no longer needs lotion after each shower! My kids aren’t getting weird rashes anymore…

I’m not making soaps to fix ailments but I certainly believe that goat milk is very healing and nourishing, it’s why we drink it! The skin in your body’s largest organ, why not clean it with something nourishing, naturally moisturizing and free of harsh chemicals?

Over time I’ve tried various soap fragrances and colorants, they all sell quite fast but I’m always whipping up new batches. Our soaps are normally for sale at our Southern Illinois farm market stand in Golconda, IL and we can sell soap online and ship it to you.

Due to popularity, our inventory is constantly changing but you can see the latest soap scents that are for sale at:

I was very interested in why the soap was doing all these great things for folks. I felt inclined to do some research on goat milk soap benefits…

Goat Milk Soap is best because:

  • It’s nourishing your body’s largest organ, your skin!
  • It’s got antibacterial properties- this helps with breakouts and with healing plus it is cleansing.
  • It is packed with vitamins for you skin to absorb- not harsh chemicals.
  • Reduces inflammation in the skin due to the goat milk’s fat molecule content. This also makes it super hydrating and luxurious feeling.
  • It’s loaded with alpha-hydroxy acids that delay aging.

On social media I shared some photos of the kiddos helping me make a new batch of soap. I was amazed by how many folks wanted to order the soap we were working on. That is basically how I arrived at offering soaps for sale here on the site that we ship to you.

I’m still working on the shipping logistics for the soaps. For now, the easiest and most straight forward option is a flat rate shipping cost regardless of quantity or weight. If you want a single bar or two and don’t want to pay the flat rate shipping cost you can contact me and I’ll calculate shipping & invoice you for the exact shipping weight of the soaps you want.

Yes, you can order online!

Here is the link to my online store for ordering:

Here is my most colorful soap yet, Sparkling Snowdrop:


Newbie goat milking at the butt crack of dawn…

It is 5 am and I’m up. Yesterday we brought home our milking goat, Poptart, a 2 yr old Alpine goat. She’s had a certain type of feed and a certain milking schedule… and since we’ve uprooted her living arrangement and shuttled her to our home, in a thunderstorm… we figured the least we could do was keep her milking schedule the same for a while.

So, it’s 5 am and I’m up to milk my goat.

I was surprisingly okay at milking. When we showed up to buy the goats I got a milking lesson and did a trial milking. Amazingly, I milked her completely and it didn’t take an eternity. Side note: I’d only milked a cow once before at a friends house and I didn’t get the job finished that time :/

We coaxed Poptart to walk herself to our milking stand with a bucket of grain, once she was secured on the stand (yes they really do jump up there on their own!) the milking went well. This morning I was finished milking by 5:30 am so I feel like that is a good beginners time for hand milking 1/2 gallon. I definitely don’t have a rhythm going yet but I’ve got time for that to develop.

After milking, as the sun rose and the fog began to lift, Poptart happily walked herself back to the temporary goat enclosure alongside me. You can see Poptart’s future mating partner, Clay, in the distance.

Oh, and I’m totally going to gradually shift the milking schedule over the next week or so that I’m not waking at the butt crack of dawn each day to milk ;P

To Celebrate our one month anniversary with farm life…

A month ago today we crammed all our things, our animals and our kids into vehicles and we drove two hours to our new country home in southern Illinois. We’ve been here a month now and things are becoming more routine. Farm life is going well and we’ve been making adjustments to better fit our new life. One of the major adjustments has been stocking the house with food.

I’ve always stocked up on foods because I’m lazy and I dread shopping trips, so stocking up and avoiding multiple grocery trips is always my goal- finances permitting. Plus, stocking up has it preparedness advantages too! Now that Nathan is home for lunch every day, we are having a formal lunch and eating more food over the course of the week than we normally did. I’ve had to adjust my shopping for this. 

The other thing needing adjusting has been sourcing our foods. We’ve switched grocery stores, changed our bulk food drop location and the biggie has been sourcing our raw milk. Every source we’ve come across for milk has required much driving, that we’d rather not be doing.

Then fate landed these goats that were for sale in our path…

I’ve been reading everything I can about goats and goat milking, been talking with dairying friends. A milking stand has been constructed in just two days time (go Nathan!), we’ve scavenged a shelter from here on the farm, we’re scavenging fencing now, I bought a months worth of goat feed, hay & minerals. Got some lead ropes, a brush and some udder balm. This afternoon, if all goes well, we’ll be goat owners and I’ll be goat milking tonight.

We’ve been joking that it’s our farmy way of celebrating our one month anniversary with country life. LOL! Actually, we didn’t plan it at all, it just kind of happen- part of fate’s plan I suppose. 

We head out this afternoon to possibly buy a 2 yr old Apline milking goat, if milking her goes well and things feel right, we’ll come home with her and an unrelated buck (male goat) for future breeding and milk production inducing. 

I’m not looking forward to adding more farm chores to the mix but I’m also not opposed to working hard for a bit more convenience and self sufficiency so we are giving this a go. I’ve been told goats are easier than cows to sell off if you change your mind ;P

Here we go…


Want to know how I did milking my goat for the first time? Read this.

We DID it, we are farm bound. An unconventional beginning farmer story.

We’ve been working hard to up our farming/ self sustaining situation. Even before we bought our house we were looking at farmhouses on some land. If you know anything about the area we live in, then you know that land isn’t cheap to own here. Most of the time you see really huge portions of land or really small ones for sale. Also, most farm land also happens to be unsustainably farmed and is often times GMO and pesticide laden.

Places we’ve looked at (and tried to buy) have been between $3000 – $5000 per acre and in most cases the houses that are on the land aren’t in great shape. We want the land (several acres) and do need a livable house right off the bat since we have three kids under the age of five. Throughout 2013 we’ve made offers on places and we’ve done lots of tours that amounted to much of nothing.

At the beginning of 2014 we resolved to put our feelers out for unconventional farm acquisition options, anywhere that they may be. We’ve been keeping an eye on farm opportunities nearby and we’ve also reached out to our connections all across the USA for info on farm opportunities. We wanted to be open to any and all chances that might suit us. Continue reading “We DID it, we are farm bound. An unconventional beginning farmer story.”

When your backyard flock grows. From chicken rearing to turkeys!

We were out of chick starter so a trip to the local farm supply store was on the agenda for the day. When visiting the farm supply store we have to visit the baby chick area if the kids are with us because kids LOVE to see baby birds and rabbits (even though the backyard is already full of them).

Did I mention that we got 12 additional baby chicks at the start of this spring? We did! They were on rebate at our local store, we got 10 for free. Can’t pass up free chicks! But we didn’t just get them because they were free… Our current flock of 6 produces from 2-4 eggs per day right now, our oldest hens are about 4 years old… That’s when egg production tends to decline. We used to get an egg a day from each hen. So we knew that we’d eventually need new layers for optimal egg efficiency.

Anyway, now the spring chicks are outside in their own confined run, growing and eating lots while they grow accustomed to our older hens through the protection of wire fencing… Did I mention they are eating lots?!

Today we were on a mission to buy some much needed feed and on the way past the live birds we were reeled in by yet another great deal. $2.00 clearance Turkeys! We had to buy a minimum of 6 turkeys, costing $12 but we are now the proud owners of 6 broad breasted turkeys, 3 bronze and 3 white.

The livestock grows on our little homestead. We are now raising Turkeys!

I don’t know that we’ll choose a broad breasted turkey in future turkey raising endeavors, we typically avoid altered foods and the broad breasted turkey is an altered breed. It’s designed to grow rapidly and is bred to get pretty large compared to heritage turkey breeds that grow slower and live longer. If we ever order turkeys I’m sure we’ll research more and probably pick a different breed but for now we are doing a practice run with these broad breasted turkeys.

We are really brushing up on our turkey raising knowledge right now. It is exciting to be trying something new this year and it’s a welcome distraction from waiting till our house sells 😉

How long until you have turkey to eat?

In as little as 3 1/2 months we could process them and fill our freezer with homegrown turkey! Although, we will likely want to wait as long as possible to butcher if circumstances permit. I’m thinking if they aren’t huge and if they are they are free ranging = not costing us a fortune in feed costs then I’d be glad to let them live until right before Turkey day… The longer they live the less space they are taking up in my freezer. However, this means they’ll need to be alive for the next 7 months. Typically at approximately 20 weeks or 5 months they are slaughter ready. At the 20 week mark the hens can be close to 30 lbs and the toms can be 40-50 lbs.

Broad Breasted Turkey mating, hatching and egg production.

Turkeys are sold as straight run, so there are toms and hens mixed when you buy. If we don’t have to butcher them this summer and we can put them off till fall we cold even have some turkey eggs to enjoy! Turkey hens lay eggs at 6-8 months of age. I’m sure the eggs are huge and delicious too. Which brings us to the idea of hatching your own turkeys…

Broad breasted turkeys are said to be physically unable naturally breed due to their breast size so your turkey eggs are likely to be infertile. The Toms could try mating with the hens but they physically don’t achieve successful fertilization for a number of reasons.

One Backyard Chickens member states:

“They can breed it is just that it is not efficient and the tom will crush/kill more hens then he would get bred and fertilized. You can successfully breed a BB back to a heritage. Hen will lay and the eggs will hatch, she will not lay as many as a heritage and she will not be able to sit on the nest as she will crush the eggs, more likely then not. But yes they can bred and it can be done just not very efficient.”

How much does it cost to feed a turkey? What will your finished turkey have cost you?

The estimates I’ve seen say that a turkey will eat the equivalent of 80lbs of bagged feed from hatching to the 20 week mark which puts them at costing about $1.20 per pound of live weight at a 20 week processing. That means feed costs for a 20 week slaughter could be as low as $36ish for a hen and up to $60 in the case of a large tom. This is cool by me since when we looked at buying free range local birds for thanksgiving last year they were running $75 each.

We figure we can adjust our slaughter timing based on feeds costs and growth rates. We are thinking we’ll have the means to free range them very soon and that will likely make things more cost effective and possibly will allow for a longer life span.

Can I raise Chickens and Turkeys Together?

This was our first question in the store. We don’t have room for separate runs and confinement. The only issue with cohabitation of turkeys and chickens is Blackhead Disease.

Blackhead disease is primarily a disease of young turkeys. Chickens are more resistant to the effects of the infection but may act as carriers of the disease-causing organism.

Turkeys may acquire the blackhead disease directly from the droppings of infected birds. Read more about blackhead disease here.

Disease aside, the only other issue to look out for in cohabitation of turkeys and chickens is aggressive behavior and territory battles. Things like turkeys trying to breach a chickens neck and such…

We plan to raise our birds together. We figured we could be economical to just add turkeys to our existing flock of chickens.

One down side to our impulse poultry buying is that we’ve found now ourselves with 6 poults (baby turkeys) and no turkey feed. Unlike chicks, turkeys need a higher protein containing feed. Our assumption that they could eat our baby chick starter food was WRONG. Don’t make the same mistake.

Poults need 28% protein to fuel their fast growth in the first 8 weeks of life, any higher protein amounts will cause growth problems. After they are 8 weeks old they can be reduced to a feed with 20-22% protein, at 14 weeks they can have something closer to 18-20% protein. The un-medicated chick starter we have contains 18% protein and our regular layer crumbles are only 16% protein.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament with only chicken feed when you come home with poults this little trick will save you. You can make an emergency poult feed from 50% rolled oats & 50% cornmeal by pulsing it in a food processor until it resembles typical poultry crumbles. I just made some and the poults, whom were rejecting the offered chick starter feed, are now eating! Note, this emergency feed should only be used in a pinch and for no longer than a day or you could wind up with some majorly deficient turkeys that could even die.

Feeding chickens and turkeys the same feed isn’t advised because of the varied protein requirements. Plus, the vitamin and mineral requirements of turkeys are much different from chickens… So until the turkeys are older and foraging for most of their own food, they’ll need their own special feed that is separate from the chickens. Guess I’ll be off to the farm supply store tomorrow for some turkey starter!

Have you raised turkeys before? How did it go?

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Butter, oh butter

Making butter is quite easy but for some reason I’ve always viewed it as wasteful and unpractical. I guess I just assumed making butter requires you to use raw milk in it’s entirety (and raw milk is quite the commodity!). Plus, only a small portion of butter results from the whole gallon of milk and I was under the impression the liquid left over once the butter separates is a waste product.

I’ve never felt inclined to make butter myself. Yet I LOVE me some raw butter and as of late it’s been pretty hard to come by… and it so good for you.

The most healthful raw butter is a springtime commodity in the milking world.

Cows fed on rapidly growing spring grass produce milk that contains high levels of beta carotene and five times the amount of CLA, an essential fatty acid that has a strong anti-cancer properties.  Continue reading “Butter, oh butter”

Big changes are in the works for this homestead!

Over the weekend we got a TON of outside work done here on the half-acre homestead because we just put our house on the market! That’s right, we can’t put it off any longer. Our house is in less that perfect showing condition and is VERY lived in with the five of us crammed in here but we have to at least give selling a try. Continue reading “Big changes are in the works for this homestead!”

Sisters practice for baby brother’s arrival… Not much time is left.

Things have been pretty non-stop around here lately, I’m guessing it’s just going to continue until our newest family member has joined us in a few short weeks.

Everly and Adalyn are practicing for the arrival of their baby brother and for the excitement of Christmas. Some days they are bundling baby dolls (that they usually never play with) in blankets. Other days they are wrapping toys in blankets and pretending they are gifts to open.  Everly just grilled me on baby care techniques like carrying, holding and soothing. “Can we swing baby brother like this?” she asks while holding a doll by it’s arms…

Adalyn is always asking me about baby brother in my belly, she likes to try listening to him with a stethoscope and she hugs my belly and likes to lift my shirt to check it out often. She also always asks if he’s coming out now, then she does her baby having squat and makes a serious face. LOL. We keep telling her it’s not quite time yet but it will be soon.

We just had our “birth plan negotiations” with our delivering doctor last week and I’m happy to report, things seem to be smooth sailing for this “Homebirth in the hospital” that we are planning. The doctor isn’t giving us a hard time about our unconventional wishes and plans and I’m feeling really good about the upcoming birth. By the way, we wont be live streaming the birth this time but we’ll probably have a birth video to share afterwards… if we have enough hands to get a recording of it.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is fast approaching? We’ve been doing some Thanksgiving related home schooling these days and I can’t believe how darn fast time is passing! Continue reading “Sisters practice for baby brother’s arrival… Not much time is left.”

Reuse and repurposing: Our goal- Throwing less into dumps

There are many ways to recycle, reuse and conserve from day to day. You just have to look at things differently. As I become more and more earth friendly I discover new ways to reporpose, reuse and recycle.
For me, a focus on repourposing and reuse has been what we’ve continued to expand on. Can you believe this family of 4 only fills a regular treash can with dump-bound trash about every 2-3 weeks?
We’ve dramatically reduced the about of stuff that is dump-bound by:
  1. Composting kitchen scraps or giving it to our rabbits & chickens.
  2. Hauling our own recycling to a recycling center once a month.
  3. Basing our buying choices partly on product packaging.
  4. Buying less throwaway stuff, spending less money.
  5. Reusing things like mad.

Since it’s earth day, I’d like to share some of what we’ve got going on here at home where reuse is concerned and I’d love for you to share what you having going too. The more ideas we compile the “greener” we’ll all be right? Continue reading “Reuse and repurposing: Our goal- Throwing less into dumps”

Holiday Stocking Stuffers Anyone? #pgstocking

Is your holiday shopping complete? I am happy to report that ours basically is, except for stocking stuffers (the bane of my existence!). We don’t do lots of sweets here so filling the stockings with candy isn’t the ole fallback. Instead we really have to get creative about things.

Like a typical mom, I toss lots of necessity items in the mix for the holidays. You know, socks, undies, clothing, new shoes for the baby and such… especially in the stockings! Do you? Continue reading “Holiday Stocking Stuffers Anyone? #pgstocking”

Back To Top