Springtime Scenes

It’s springtime!!
The weather has been improving around here lately and we’ve so been enjoying being outside without it turning cold or rainy. (Although that still happens…a lot. It is after all, Washington State. And “warm” is a relative term….to us that means more than 50F degrees.) It’s supposed to warm up to 70F next week though- I am SO excited!

I’ve been trying to have us go on walks/hikes more often, to enjoy the outdoors as well as get some exercise. Here are some pictures of a few family outings recently, and just some springtime beauty.

 

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On a walk through the woods at a local trail park

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up

 

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I love the sunniness of dandelions against these old transformer caps!

 

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Some of my favorite springtime flowers.

 

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

 

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

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I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy springtime! 🙂

I’m Back! And Introducing…..Olivia Jane

Hi!
So it’s been…um since November, I think, since I’ve posted anything on the ole blog.
Our family entered a season of busy-ness, and it kind of got pushed to the wayside, much to my chagrin. The good news is, I am back in the blogosphere and so excited to share what’s been going on and look ahead to spring and summer…oh my. I just love spring. And summer.
Those buds popping out on the trees…the birds singing…the fleeting sunshine that is actually warm when it shows it’s face.

The newest thing that’s happened around here is…I had a baby. Sweet Olivia Jane, born early in the morning on March 8. We pretty much are just completely in love with her. 🙂

Just a few hours old. Me, Hubby and Olivia

Just a few hours old. Me, Hubby and Olivia

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One week old

Big brother Ethan and big sister Ellie snuggling with 2 week old Olivia.

Big brother Ethan and big sister Ellie snuggling with 2 week old Olivia.

So my days have been spent alternating between resting and trying to regain some sense of normalcy; so far it’s going pretty well. Having a new baby always is an adjustment period, but the kids are handling it nicely and they just love their new little sister!

Looking ahead; I’m going to be talking about CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), gardening (or lack thereof) and some herbal remedies that you can find probably in your very own back yard! Also I’ll be musing about “natural” store-bought products versus making your own truly natural ones and if it’s worth it or not to make your own. So if any of that sounds interesting, I’d love to have you follow along!

 

Gorgeous Fall Colors

Last week the kids and I took a trip across the mountains with my Mom and Dad.

It was totally spur of the moment- one of those, “hey you wanna come with us?”

“um, YES!”

kind of things.
The weather had been foggy for days here, with no end in sight so when we had a chance to escape and cross over from dreariness to sunshine and warmth of course we jumped at it.

We dropped off a couple of deer at Owen’s Meats- the processor my family has used since I was a little kid, then we went around the ridge and over the river out to pretty much my favorite childhood places ever: Teanaway.

I’ve written about Teanaway before, here and here. It’s just one of those places that captures your heart and doesn’t let go, no matter how long it’s been since you were there last.

This time, the light was golden and it was warm out.

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The river was really low so the kids could walk on the rocks without fear of falling into swirling rapids…

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So we did a little exploring and found some cool rocks.

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My sweet Mama helping the kids across the river rocks. They were so cute!

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The trees were losing their gorgeous yellow and red leaves and it made for some pretty eye candy.

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We went nature-watching after we left the river, and drove around for a bit but didn’t see any animals. Then all of a sudden, when we were all looking out the side windows I looked out the front windshield and there was a 5 point bull elk RIGHT in front of us, standing on the side of the road!!

It was so majestic! Of course in the excitement, I forgot that my camera was sitting in my lap. 😦

But seeing him was really cool! He crossed the road in front of us, then faded away into the trees. What a great end to a relaxing day.

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We drove away as the sun was slowly sinking over the hills, wishing that we could just stay a bit longer.  Don’t you just love places like that, that bring life to your heart and are so beautiful it almost hurts?  I sure do. 🙂

Announcing Something Exciting…..

Hi.

So, around here it’s been pretty quiet lately. I apologize.

There have been a TON of things going on lately, one of the most important being….that I’m pregnant again!!

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Me at 12 weeks. Please ignore the toothpaste dots on the mirror. 😉

Yep!
We’re so excited that God has blessed us with the creation of another little one to care for and raise up in His love.

Baby number 3 is expected around March 12, 2014.

So I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on the couch, feeling completely exhausted, feeling nauseous, nibbling on food constantly to keep me from feeling sick, being overly emotional about everything and nothing, you know. The normal early pregnancy stuff.  🙂

Thankfully, I’m 12 weeks along now and the nausea has faded and I’m starting to get my energy  back. Hooray!!

We’ve heard the baby’s tiny heartbeat, like a little galloping horse in my belly and it’s just so cute! I love that precious sound.

We’re seeing a midwife and planning on a home birth- Eliana was born at home and we much preferred it to Ethan’s hospital birth, although we didn’t have any major issues/complications with his labor. Home is just a lot more comfy, and way less expensive!  I love being able to fall asleep in my own  bed with my baby next to me instead of sleeping in the uncomfortable hospital bed with nurses coming to check on me every few hours.

So you’ll probably be seeing some handmade baby clothes soon, maybe some homemade diapers and wipes and diaper cream, etc. I’m excited that this time around I can make a lot of the stuff that baby will need, instead of buying it.

I have TONS of stuff pinned on my Pinterest baby board and I can’t wait to get sewing! 🙂

I’ll still write about other things too, don’t worry, so don’t stop reading if you don’t have a baby/don’t care.

Thanks for following along with me in this journey!

So Much Going On!

Hi!

Life around these parts has been crazy these days.

First: We went for an awesome family camping trip over the weekend!

It was SO much fun.

It was my Dad’s birthday and 4 out of 5 of us kids, my Mom and Dad and some of our friends went camping up at Teanaway; where we used to go camping every year for a few weeks when we were kids. My brother Jason couldn’t make it cause he lives in Missouri and well, that’s a long way to come. 🙂

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Ethan watching my sis Emily, family friend Colton, my brother Scotty and his girlfriend Carly dance. 🙂

We took up three campsites and spread out and had a nice big space to chill and for the kids to run around in.

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Me and my brother Brian deep in conversation.

We gathered firewood. We drank a lot of coffee. We ate bacon. Three essential camping activities. 🙂

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 We went on a hike up the mountain to “the big rock”- which is really big. And the view is just breathtaking.

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Just starting out- we hiked about 5 1/2 miles all together. We were all SO tired by the time we got back, especially the kids! They slept well that night.

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Papa Don helping Ethan. They were so precious! I love my Daddy and my son.

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My Brother Brian, his girlfriend Sarah, my hubby Tim and our kiddos, Ethan and Eliana

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Cool rocks!

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Gorgeous fragrant flowers.

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These flowers were growing out of the big rock. They were so beautiful!

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This is “The Big Rock”. It’s a sheer drop off from up where everyone is standing. I couldn’t even get close to it without starting to freak out, so I stayed back with the kids.

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The view from the big rock- Mt. Stuart and some other gorgeous mountains. That road is the one you drive in on the way to the campground.

And under the big rock is  “The Coliseum”. It’s amazing how the rock has been worn away over the years to create this cool amphitheater space.

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It’s just so majestic!

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Emily and Sarah, being cute like they are. 🙂

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Family picture! Kinda. We never can get both kids to look AND smile at the same time.

We went shooting, we enjoyed just being unplugged and relaxed and hanging out near the river.

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My little sis Emily shooting the bb gun at a can across the river.

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My turn! I actually hit the can too! Woo Hoo!

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Mom and Dad enjoying the stories around the campfire.

It was a great camping trip, with lots of good memories made.

Then– the day after we got home we started cleaning the house we’re moving in to!!

As some of you may know, we lost our house last year and moved across the country and have been living with my parents until we were on our feet enough to be able to rent.

Well, God worked out an awesome situation where some people we know moved far away but have a house here still and didn’t want to rent to someone they didn’t know…so we’re renting their house!

We’ve been cleaning and packing up their stuff (since they live far away and still have a bunch of stuff in the house) and getting it ready to move into for the last 3 days.  I am so exhausted! Moving and cleaning are hard work!

We spent our first night at the new house last night and it was nice. We still have a lot to do to make it “ours” and some of our stuff to move. Thankfully there’s no hurry.

It’s bittersweet leaving my parent’s house. They are so gracious and sweet  and we have loved living with them for the past 9 months!  I’m glad they’ll only be about 20 minutes away so we can still come over a lot and my mom is watching the kids for me on the days I work for awhile, so we’ll see them often and let them get their grand kid time. 🙂  Plus, our chickens and our garden is at their house so we’ll be there regularly.

It IS nice having our own space though- our new house is 1900 square feet; which is twice the size plus more than our old house in Memphis. I keep getting lost in our house! It’s funny.

And the master bathroom- oh, my. I will be spoiled beyond all reason. There’s a big round soaking tub and a separate shower with double shower heads. AND the room is like as big or bigger than our dining room in Memphis. It’s so spacious!

And there is a double oven in the kitchen. And organic raised garden beds outside that deer will eat from if we don’t protect it from them. And a worm bin.

And the owners left a bunch of dishes and some furniture so we pretty much have everything we need. The only things we have to buy are dish towels and dishwasher soap and dog food. And I get to use their gorgeous Le Cruset cookware! Seriously, I can’t believe it! ( I’ll do a home tour post soon so you can see.)

God is so good, to orchestrate everything to work out perfectly and give us more than we ever dreamed we could have. He is amazing!

So that’s what’s been going on around here.
I apologize if posting has been a little sporadic. It probably will be for a few more weeks until we get settled in. But I’ll try to give you something once a week to read. 😉

I hope you all are enjoying the beginning of summer! It’s been beautiful and sunny and warm here- finally!!

Springtime Fun in Skagit Valley

On Saturday, our family went on a little adventure up in Skagit Valley, Washington.

Skagit Valley is in Northwest Washington, nestled next to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It’s full of beautiful fields, rolling clouds, small towns and quaint villages.  There are berry farms, dairy farms, tulip farms and everything in between.

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Burlington is probably the most “modern” town- all of the big box stores are there, like Costco and Target and Best Buy and the Cascade Mall is there. We go up to Burlington to go shopping every couple months.
Mount Vernon is just across the Skagit river from Burlington and still retains more of it’s small-town charm with a cute little downtown and artsy shops lining the streets along the river. Skagit Valley College’s main campus  is also located there.

Hubby had to go up to Mt. Vernon to get his Washington driver’s license and we made a nice day trip out of it.

After the business of the day was done, ( the kids and  I waited in the car while hubby got his license because Ellie fell asleep and it was raining like crazy) then we went to the Skagit Food Co-op for lunch.

The Skagit Food Co-op is like a grocery store/ deli/coffee shop where organic meats and dairy and produce is sold, as well as healthy dried goods, bulk items like oats and rice and dried fruits. There is also a pretty good-sized vitamin and body product section, as well as a mercantile upstairs that sells clothing, kitchen utensils and all around interesting stuff.

They also hold educational classes on natural living and wellness for the general public, which is cool. It’s kinda like a local version of Whole Foods Market.

We just ate at the deli and got some coffee and perused the selection of groceries. I expect if you’re a member (you pay an annual due and get discounts in return) , it may be worth your while to shop there but I found it somewhat overpriced for the things we usually buy- bulk steel cut oats and regular rolled oats were more than our local grocery store (which we consider on the more expensive end of things!) and the meat didn’t look any better than what we have  closer to home- it was the same selection for more money. I found a new appreciation for our local store after browsing around the Co-op.

They did have some really good local organic, heirloom seeds and seed potatoes/onions- if I hadn’t already ordered seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds I may have bought some there.

After lunch, we started moseying over to LaConner; a charming little town along the Salish Sea that separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland.

On the way we passed the world-famous Skagit Valley Tulip Fields.

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They are SO beautiful!!

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Every year there is a tulip festival for nearly the entire month of April and there are fields upon fields of gorgeous tulips and daffodils for you to enjoy.
There is an admission charge to park and get out and walk through the tulips, but you can see them just fine driving by- which is what we did.

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There are also some really neat barns and farmhouses around that area, which I love.

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After the tulips, we continued on to LaConner.

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It’s such a cute little town!!

We strolled around the square,

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browsed through some antique shops and a book store and then we saw a huge old section of a tree- it was like 7 or 8 feet around and just as tall. Incredible.

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Of course, we had to walk along the channel and see the boats.

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And no trip to a cute small tourist town is complete without  cheesy pictures- or ice cream!!
It was really good ice cream too- locally made with wild blackberries. Yum!

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When we tired of strolling, we got back in the car and headed over to Anacortes, back on Fidalgo Island.

There is a park  way up on the hill above the city called Cap Sante Park.

And there is an AMAZING view our over the water from it.

On one side you can see Anacortes; on the other side you see the oil refineries and then out across the sea.

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Part of Anacortes

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The Oil Refinery.

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Looking the other way, out to sea. Isn’t that a huge ship?

The park pretty much consists of really big rocks that are kind of scary to climb on. (really, just scary to let your 3 and 5 year old clamber over. I kept envisioning them falling the hundreds of feet into the water.)

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Of course, they were careful and were just fine, although I did freak out once when Ellie ran toward the edge. It seemed like she was right on the edge, about to fall when in reality she was still about 10 feet away. That’s more than close enough though!

Anyway, the wind was cold and it was dinner time, so we left and headed home.

What a wonderful day!

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If you live any where near Skagit Valley, it’s definitely worth visiting. We love it there.

Chicken Coop Update

Hi, did you have a nice Resurrection Sunday yesterday?
We had a lovely “linner” (lunch/dinner) of ham, mashed potatoes, asparagus and salad and then watched movies and a bunch of my sibling’s friends came over and we played games well into the night. It was really fun!

Today, I thought I’d update you on our chicken coop progress.

It’s still not quite finished- we need a roof and to put up the chicken wire enclosure, but there are four walls and we’re able to put the little chickies out during the day.  There is a chance that they could be eaten by a passing hawk or eagle, but since the dogs are usually outside and chase away anything that might be lurking around, the chicks are fairly safe.

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This is Daisy, peeking over the board we put in the doorway of the coop to keep her out and the chicks in.

My mom and dad had some beautiful cedar shingle siding left over from when my grandmother had the house built, so we used that for two sides of the coop. It looks so pretty!!

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The walls made out of poles had pretty large gaps in between them, so we nailed up boards over the inside to keep out drafts and rain and possible predators. Some of them are old signs from around the Island that my great- grandfather found and brought home a long time ago. (This land has been in my Dad’s side of the family for generations.)

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The chicks are going to be five weeks old tomorrow- it’s amazing how quickly the time has gone!

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They are looking more like real chickens now instead of babies.

Only 15 more weeks before they start laying eggs! (only 15…haha)

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The kids are enjoying holding them, as you can see, and I love watching the chicks peck around in the dirt and hop and fly and play-fight. Chickens are so lovely!

Do you have chickens? What is your favorite thing about them?

Chicken Coop: Construction-In-Progress

Last weekend we started building the chicken coop.

We have 17 little chickies that are a week old today, and they’re fast outgrowing their little container that they’re currently in. Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll be able to move them into this new coop.

It all started with dirt.

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Moving sod, digging, leveling the dirt to get the site ready to build on. We all jumped in and got it done.

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Thankfully, it was a nice sunny day. Then we dug a trench around the perimeter of the site (which is  10′ long x 8’wide ) so that we could put chicken wire down in the dirt and bury it to deter any digging predators/pests like rats or raccoons.

And once we were done, we realized that the trench wasn’t over far enough. So we dug it again.

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Next, we dug the post holes for the corners!

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And installed them..

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My Dad has a never-ending supply of wood, being a logger. We’re so thankful for that!

We used cedar posts and fir for the cross beams and the main body of the coop.

We were going to use this log as corner posts, but when my brother Brian opened it up, it was full of termites. Ick. Thankfully we had more cedar for posts!

We were going to use this log as corner posts, but when my brother Brian opened it up, it was full of termites. Ick. Thankfully we had more cedar for posts!

Then it was time for the rafters to go up! This was interesting to watch. I’m glad I didn’t have to help; it was rather precarious! The guys tied a rope around the cross beams and lifted them up, then slid them into the notches that had been cut into the front posts. It took a few tries of sawing bits off and adjusting the beam to get it to fit.

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End of day one: Not too bad! We got a good start on this project.

Day two: We laid the chicken wire on the floor, buried it, then finished putting up the rafters and started on the walls.

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We peeled the logs for the rafters to help them dry out quicker and keep them from rotting.

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Then Dad and Tim finished putting up the rafters and started on the walls.

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Then, we found a door lying around in the back shed and built a frame for it.

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And installed it.

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Finally; as the sun was sinking behind the hill and the temperature was rapidly dropping, a bit of the walls began to go up.

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The guys were so ready to come inside and eat dinner at that point- it was a long, hard day but we got a lot accomplished!

I can’t wait til next weekend when we can work on it some more and hopefully get the rest of the walls done!

 

 

Shared at WildCrafting Wednesday

We Have Chickens!! (again)

Yesterday, the chicks came in at the local farm store and we just had to go and get a few.

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Or…

Seventeen.

Yep. Seventeen.

We have the chicks under a red bulb heat lamp to help them stay calm and not peck each other.

We have the chicks under a red bulb heat lamp to help them stay calm and not peck each other. And of course, to keep them warm. They have to be at 95 degrees for the first week.

We planned on getting an even dozen- with us buying six and my mom and dad buying six, but then my mom (who loves babies of any kind) decided that if we ever move out and take our six chickens with us, she still needed a good-sized brood so she wanted ten chicks instead. And then we miscounted and an extra chick somehow made it into the box.

So we have seventeen baby chicks and boy, are they adorable!

As far as breeds go, we have Australorp, Buff OrpingtonRhode Island Red and Barred Rock chicks- all great laying breeds and some are dual-purpose for meat birds as well, although I don’t think we’ll be eating any of these. Unless like six turn out to be roosters or something.

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Ethan holding either an Australorp or Barred Rock- they’re hard to tell apart at this age!

We made sure to get organic feed so that we’ll have healthy chicks that haven’t been fed GMO grains and in turn, we’ll have healthy eggs once they start laying in about five months.

I’m happy because the feed is semi-local. It’s from Canada, but in British Columbia, which is only a few hours away and as the chicks get bigger and are able to eat larger grains, we’ll buy feed that is unprocessed, organic whole grain feed and is from Bellingham, WA; only two hours away! So we’re supporting local businesses as well.

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As soon as the chicks are big enough, we’ll let them free range around the yard in a semi-enclosed space, to gobble up bugs and grass and get great nutrition the way God intended- from nature! We have a lot of hawks and eagles around here, so the chicks will have to be under netting or chicken wire most of the time to stay safe. We’re hoping the dogs will also help protect the flock from getting eaten. So far they’re doing pretty well with the chicks, although Daisy tried to pick one up in her mouth. She wants to mommy them, but she’s not too gentle about it! Our dog, Lucy is really protective of the chicks- she remembers the smell from when we had our chickens in Memphis and knows not to eat them. Bailey, the puppy doesn’t seem to care about them. She took one look and then walked away.

The kids sure are having fun with the chicks, they want to go check on them all the time, but we make sure the chickies have enough down time that they don’t get over handled and the kids are not allowed to go in to see them without an adult. I don’t mind checking on the chicks, I think I’m having just as much fun with them as the children! 🙂

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Maybe I”ll do an upcoming post about how to take care of baby chicks, for those who would like to get a small flock and are not sure how to start. I’m by no means an expert, but this is our second time around with baby chicks and I’ve found lots of great resources on chicken raising. I’ll include some links and tips to get you started, at least. 🙂 Leave a comment if you think that is a good idea.

Hope you have a great Thursday!