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Homeschooling The Well Prepared Child: May 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Calm After The Storm

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Photo credit goes to my Amazingly Awesome Neighbor, Bree.

   I hear my town was on the news for last night's storm damage. My son happened to be in town when it hit. He is 19 and had rode to town with me earlier to go to his friends house. I had to come back a few hours later and would just pick him up then. Hey, saves gas!  As soon as the worst of it was over, I went to go get him. So many downed large trees in the streets, I had to detour several times just to get to his friends house. 
The little seasonal creek. On the other side is land. You can see the walk bridge behind the bush on the right. The water is washing over the bridge. 

The road in front of our house. This is where the main creek starts to enter our property before converging with the little seasonal creek that runs through our property.

Next day aftermath. A tree had come down, completely across the road. We could hear them cutting it up to move off the road. 

You would not believe the actual size of this trunk. If my husband and I tried to reach around it, our fingertips would barely meet.

     There are also trees down all over around my property and on our neighbors. The wind we got last night just pushed many right over. Healthy trees, falling because the ground is so saturated the roots have nothing to hold on to.  Roads are flooding over. Although the rain is a blessing to our drought ridden state, we have had more than enough in a very short period of time.  
     When the wind and rain came in, the electric went out nearly immediately. My husband had been watching the weather channel all day and had warned me of the severe storms coming in. We were prepared. 
     While others in town were scrambling for dinner and candles, my family ate a pork roast that had been slow cooking since that morning. We ate in the garage with the big door open for light and watched the rest of the lightening storm go by. We played cards there until we could not see anymore, came inside and lit my oil lamps
     We got in a discussion about our G.O.O.D. bags and my daughter got hers out. We organized it and changed out her clothes. We all talked, laughed, and told stories. I drank coffee that I had made right before the storm hit. (I have to have my nightly coffee!) It stayed warm by our tuna can burner. When we were ready for bed, I brought in our out door solar garden lights so we could see just enough to not stumble around in the dark. 
     The electric came on right before midnight. It had been off for 8 hours. I did not worry about the food in the fridge or freezer. We keep large jugs of frozen water in my big freezer just for these times. I pulled a few out and placed them in my refrigerator and freezer compartments. It helped to keep everything cool and frozen. I'll write more on that another time. 
     So that was our night. While being prepared does not keep things from happening at your house, it sure does make the aftermath a bit more pleasant.

Praying for all those that were affected by this storm all over Texas and the U.S.. 

Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A New Friend

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     This was actually meant to be a post about our new bunnies. The mini lop rabbits we got at Easter breed and 7 little baby bunny kits were born this month. Our rabbits live in colonies, not cages. Two died from being dragged out of their nest by mom. Because of all of the thunderstorms that weekend, we didn't realize they were out until it was too late. I imagine it is about the equivalent of being born on the wire. We were sad, but we had 5 baby bunnies to make up for it. 

She was so happy.
     Then the other night, thunderstorms came again. I work up at 4:30 amidst the thunder, lightening and the downpour of rain. Did I pull the tarp back down over the rabbit shed? Did I put the lid back on the tote used as their house? I could not sleep. Finally, I put on my sweatshirt and mud boots to go outside. The tote's lid was secure, the tarp was in place, and everyone was just fine.  I posted on the blogs Facebook Fan Page about my early morning adventures and went back to bed with a sigh of relief. 
     When I awoke later that morning, my husband was just coming in from feeding the animals. I could tell something was wrong. He told me he had bad news. Four of the kits made it out of the tote and then out of the rabbit shed. Four bunnies laid on the cold wet ground, dead. My heart broke. Not only for the bunnies, but for my daughter as well. She had spent the night at my mom's house. We were meeting in just a little bit in town so Zoey and I could go paint the boys bathroom at my work. I dreaded telling her the awful news. 
     I checked on them. They were all fine just 3 hours before! What could have happened? Maybe when I went out there, the mommy bunny was nursing? Maybe she drug them out of the nest on accident while she was trying to figure out what I was doing? Did they crawl out? How could baby bunnies crawl out of their nest, out of the tote and out of the shed? :( I'll never know. 
     Zoey was devastated, as I knew she would be. She has decided maybe the rabbit business is just not for us. We had three other rabbits die previous to this. All three escaped and was 'rounded up' by our dog. We fortified the colony after that and thought we were on the right track. It is hard on us. Maybe we are just not read for rabbits yet... 
     As we finished painting and started cleaning up for the night, my son texted me, "Can we have a cat?" My first reply was, "No!" My husband is not a cat fan, he would not be happy! We have chickens and rabbits and we certainly didn't need a little predator running around that lives with us! We have enough problems on the farm as it is! 
     When I picked up my son from his friends house, I saw the kitten. I saw my children's faces. In a moment of weakness, I said "yes" to the cat. 
     The new kitten was at our house for over an hour before I told my husband. I gave him my best pouty face and said I was weak hearted from the bunnies dying. After a little of working my sweet magic, he sighed his resignation to the fact we now have a new friend. However, the kitten can not sleep in the house at night. (We have made him a bed in a cat carrier until he gets big enough to roam on his own.) AND if he smells cat poop in the house, it will not be allowed in the house anymore, period. (My hubby is cat poop sensitive and can smell it a mile away. Even the best kitty litter around can not keep him from sniffing it out! Kids are now on constant kitty watch.)  

     Today, the kitten came out to the garden with us. We spent a good deal of time weeding and planting. It ran around our feet, climbed up our legs, attacked our toes and kept us smiling and laughing all day. I think we all really needed him as much as he needed us. 

By the end of the day, we were all tired. 
Especially this little guy! Zoey tried everything to get him to wake up for some photos. Nope. Not happening! 

Do you have a cat around your farm? We <3 your comments! 

Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Time Well Spent

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     I don't think my garden has ever been more important to our family. With Mike out of work, we are going to need all the help we can get. My husband's work would not clear him for 'light duty' like the doctor ordered. He does not go back to the doctor until the end of June. Even if he starts work the following Monday, it will still be mid July before we see a paycheck form his job.
    My paycheck usually goes to groceries, gas in my vehicle and any odds and ends I feel necessary. The less food I have to buy, the more of my paycheck that can go to paying the bills. So far we are doing okay. Thank goodness I prep! We have been using the food I have tucked away for a rainy day. Well, baby, right now it is pouring! ;) Only problem is, my family is more of a 'Fresh' fruit and veggie type of family. We don't eat a lot of process foods. When you prep, you buy a lot of foods that have a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, most of those are processed.
     Until the garden comes in, I am buying a lot of my 'fresh' items from the grocery store and some from a local produce stand. I can't wait till the garden is in full force! 
     Biggest problem we have had is the rain. Good grief I wish some of it would save its self for this summer! By August, I'm sure we will be begging for this weather. For now, we are gardening in between thunderstorms and wading to the garden to get covered in mud. What we have managed to get in the ground is growing well. WE CAN"T WAIT!! Thought I would share a few pictures with you of the garden thus far. 
I saw mound gardening somewhere.. Thought it was a really cool idea. Just in case we can not weed fast enough, we can weed only the mounds and then use the weed eater to cut the grass around them. Crossing my fingers on this! 

This was supposed to be full of potatoes, but a sink hole created by the way the yard is leveled and all of the rain took most of the dirt and the potatoes seed plant under ground and washed them away. I planted some tomato plants instead. Regular sized heirlooms and cherry tomatoes. We have no money for tomato cages, so I am hoping these cut saplings help to keep them under control and out of the dirt.

Most of the garden is shown here. It is only about 20x20 feet. On our land, it is mostly clay dirt and this is the best place to put it other than in the very front yard. 

Our green beans and peas. In the background, what looks like tall grass is actually our corn growing. We never have much luck but we love corn on the cob and keep on trying. 

So we planted some cherry tomatoes in here.. but they didn't grow. So Zoey planted some more. Then they ALL came up. Believe it or not.. this is AFTER I have already thinned them out into other parts of the garden and containers. 

Last year we had lettuce, spinach and onions in here. This year I have cabbage and onions. We have almost eaten ALL of the onions already, I think will go get some more onion bulbs to plant. I like home grown onions a lot better than store bought. 

Not sure about tire planting, but we had one and needed another container to plant in. I have heard good and bad things about using old tires.. We will see. More Cherry Tomatoes. 

I have not grown cabbage in YEARS. My amazingly awesome neighbor gave me some plants a while back, so I thought, "Why not?" We do not eat a whole lot of cabbage but it looks like I will be selling the extras and looking for a whole lot of new cabbage recipes. For some reason, they remind me of Harry Potter...

Hard to tell here, but there are four tomato plants and a pumpkin plant here. If you look to the upper right, those are dandelions and other 'weeds' that my rabbits like to munch on. We let the weeds grow up on that side. 

We had to put the bucket Cherry Tomato plant into the ground. It just did not look healthy. We have been getting lots of rain, but the soil always looked dry. Maybe too many drainage holes? I hope we did not kill it, beacause, it is LOADED with cherry tomatoes. 

The new potato bucket is growing strong! At least I hope.. Sure looks pretty though. 

Remember last year? This spot was covered with the 'Mystery Pumpkin' plant. This year we have two tomato plants. We still have 4 more that need to get in the ground. Not sure where I am putting them though. 
     So there you go. A little tour of our garden. I am really loving all the time spent as a family to help grow us food. Even my 'I hate gardening' teenager and my injured husband are pitching in! 

Does your family garden together? We <3 your comments!

Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Vehicle Preparedness

 This post contains Affiliate Links.

      As you know, we have our G.O.O.D. bags. They are packed and ready just in case we need to get out of our home quickly and efficiently. But what if we are not at home? If I am not at home, I am at my work or I at least am near my Tahoe. Disasters strike when you least expect them. I always try to be prepared for those unexpected times. 
     What if my car breaks down when we are far from home? It has happened before... Late one night my husband and I were traveling home from out of town. My truck started to overheat. We ended up stranded on the side of the road. It was so late and we were still so far out, we did not want to call anyone. AND we are way to frugal to call a tow truck. We used the extra blankets in the back to snuggle up with and called someone in the morning. 
     Since I live in Texas, there have been a few times we have been at the school, hunkered down in the hall ways, on our knees, praying a tornado does not come. But what if one did? Although the school has preparations in place, I will still have to travel home at some point. 
     Ever been at the ball field or park and suddenly find yourself in need of a medical kit for a scrape or cut? A couple of weeks ago, Zoey was playing with her little cousin and stepped onto a metal spike (OUCH!) and it went through her shoe. Quick trip to the truck for some disinfecting and a bandage.. and she was off and running again! (Okay, so she was hobbling, but she did not let it stop her.)
     When I got the call about my husband being in the hospital after the accident, I went to my truck and grabbed out what I knew I would need at the hospital. Ibuprofen and my allergy medicineChap stick, lotion, snack bars, and my 'rainy day' money. But, those are a just a few items I keep in my truck. 

So what else do I keep in my truck? 

     This is the back of my truck. Is it always this clean? Not necessarily.. I haul feed and hay in this thing. I did spend some time last week getting all the nasty out and vacuuming it. I also went though my prep bags and made sure everything was put back in order. We actually use all of these things quite often. The booster seats are for when I get my nephews. (Got to be prepared for that!) Zoey's soft ball backpack and bat are in the back as well. If we have to try to get home on foot, her bag can be easily emptied and items from the back of the truck put into it. The bat can be used for self defense. I have a little black tool kit and jumper cables.  

Did you notice the red and white bags? They are insulated bags I got a while back for FREE! One has blankets and a tarp in it. The other is my emergency food bag. There is a gallon baggie with plates, napkins, and a few of those take out fork, spoon, and knife sets. I keep a jar of peanut butter, a couple packages of crackers, some snack bars, dried cranberries and pretzels. I added a plastic jar of instant rice with a left over packet of chicken seasoning stored at the top. The seasoning was left over from a ramen noodles packet. I also put some take out condiments in it. Soy sauce, honey, and ketchup! Cause you never know when you will catch a squirrel when you are stranded. 

     My tool box is not a tool box. It is my medical kit. It's okay, still working on it. But it has most of the essentials. Today I reorganized it and even added some feminine pads. Along with the normal stuff, there is also juice boxes, snack bars, a book, CPR mask, 2 sunburn relief gels (one with lidocaine), and toilet paper. I like my tool box, but I think if I get another one, it will be like THIS. How much cooler would that be? Do you have a mini med kit in your vehicle? What is it stored in? What's in it?

     That is pretty much a mini run down on what I keep in my truck. I use all of my kits often for a variety of reasons and they are there when ever I need them. 

What are some reasons you need to pack a few "Get Home" items? We <3 your comments! 

Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.

Friday, May 8, 2015

We Saved A Baby Bird

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     Thought I would share this interesting story with you. A few weeks ago, my husband came in and said, "A bird laid eggs in the fence post again." Zoey was excited, but I thought, "Oh, great. More dead baby birds!" (Yes, that is sarcasm..) 
     Every year, a momma bird lays eggs in the fence post of our yard. And every year, we end up with dead baby birds in our fence post. I can't understand why they do this every year! Does the momma bird not get that the babies never make it out of there? Sheesh! 
     Zoey runs out to look, and sure enough, there are cute baby birds looking up at her through the hole. Every day, she goes out to check on the baby birds. They are living and thriving. Cutest little fluffy baby birds ever. The whole time I'm thinking, "She will be heart broken AGAIN!" Yesterday, we are out walking the yard with her dad and she ran around the house to check on the baby birds. Suddenly, she is running back telling me "We HAVE to save it!" One of the baby birds died, and the other was sitting on top of it, crying out. The dead baby bird is already starting to smell very foul. Poor little guy! We must save him. 
     Now how on earth am I supposed to rescue a baby bird that is over a foot down this narrow pipe? Light bulb! I send Zoey into the house for a cup of wood chip bedding and a pair of tongs. (I know the tongs sound scary, but bear with me.) The tongs do not reach the baby bird at all. Slowly, I start to drop a small amount of wood chips into the side of the opening. The bird flutters about and is raised ever so slightly. (Pretty ingenious, right?) Drop a little more. Flutter a little more. Bird gets a little bit higher. Now, mind you, this is a very slow process. I don't want to bury the little thing in wood chips! Slowly but surely, it is working. I know it is strange to think the little birdie understood what was going on, but it sure seemed to. 
     When the bird was about 8 inches from the top, I lowered the tongs down into the pole. Guess what happened? The little bird perched on the end of the tongs and allowed me to raise him out of his little hole. Zoey cupped him lightly and put him into the cup we had the wood chips in! SAVED! 
     Poor thing was a bit funky from sitting a top of his dead room mate. Zoey decided he needed a little bath. She put a small amount of water into the bottom of the bathroom sink and let him splash around in it. Then, she lightly wrapped him in a towel. 
     As he dried, we wondered what kind of bird it was. We got on Google and searched for 'Black baby birds with a white ring around it's head.' Nothing really looked like the baby bird we had. Most of the babies that came up had grey under bellies and more white around them. Zoey remembered she had a bird book in her room. We looked at all the birds, the only one that looked remotely like it was a Chickadee. Alex had come out of his room to see what all the fuss was about. He read to us what the book said about a Chickadee bird. Zoey and I searched more info on the computer. Here is the book Zoey had. It is actually a pretty cool series. Not sure where she got it from but it was published in 1960 and it is called the Standard Treasury Of Learning

     While it did have a similar shape, our chick just did not have the same coloring. Or, it didn't until he fully dried. Look at the whitish feathers coming up on its chest and under belly. Our little rescued birdie WAS a Chickadee! 
And this Chickadee was not happy unless he was being held.   

     For about an hour, we wondered what the heck we were going to do with a baby bird. Zoey found a worm in the garden for it. He was not interested in it until she chopped the worm up. Gross. He ate a few bites though and we were grateful he was trying to eat! Still, what on Earth are we going to do now that we saved and cleaned him up? Mike suggested we put it out in the chicks cage. I was afraid they would attack the little guy though. 
     While I was sitting there, little birdie in my lap, talking to my husband about what we were going to do, IT FLEW! Not like a soaring eagle kind of flew, but an, "Oh, no! I don't know what I am doing but I am just going to go with it." kind of flew. That is when we realized, little birdie didn't need us anymore. We had rescued it from the fence post, bathed and fed him. He was already ready to go about the world and do his thing. 
     Zoey, her dad and I walked out to the corner bushes to let it go. The little bird chirped and cheepped frantically.  When we got to the corner bushes, I noticed the sound of another bird chirping and cheeping. Sure enough, what could possibly be the little birds mommy was darting with in the bushes. What luck! :D
     We placed him in the bushes and backed away. The mature bird came and flitted around the trees and bushes where our baby bird was at. It was time for us to say goodbye. Zoey was a little sad. She had hoped we could keep it a little longer. We walked away arm in arm. I told her how proud I am of her. She encouraged us to save a baby bird. She loves all animals and has a huge heart. I am so proud of the little woman she is becoming. 

Bye little birdie! Good luck, and try not to lay your babies in the fence post.. PLEASE! Ah heck, maybe we just need to get a cap for the post... 

Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Starting The Garden

This post contains Affiliate Links.

     It is that time of year again! Spring is my favorite time of year. All of the new plants and flowers coming up. The birds are returning. Days become longer and warmer. Everything is just green and sunny and perfect! Time to start our garden seeds! 
     We started by going though our mess of a seed bag. All of our seeds we have been buying have been randomly thrown into a gallon size baggy and stored in the freezer. It was stuffed full of individual packets, (some new, some opened) and all of the random packs we created last fall when we harvested our own seeds. I did not realize how horrible this picture was until I tried to load it on here, but as you can see, we have many seeds. This is after we started to sort them. 
     Then we made a list of all the plants we wanted to grow this year. The whole family got involved and created the list. When planning a garden, I have found it is better to grow what your family will eat. AND in quantities that will be easily eaten or preserved. One year I had 10 zucchini plants. My husband will not eat it and the kids only in moderation. After a few weeks, kids were tired of it and I had no way to preserve it. Most of it was wasted, (thinking I could do something with it, but never getting around to figuring out what) or given away. Then, last year I only got a few tomato plants to grow. When we ran out of tomatoes, which was often, my amazingly awesome neighbor Bree kept us supplied with her juicy mators as much as she could. There was never enough.  Better to sit down as a family and decide what and how much needs to be grown. Okay, back on topic! Now that we had our list, Zoey and I selected the seeds we wanted from our sorted pile on our table. Then they sat there... till we got out of the hospital after my husband's accident
     Wouldn't you know it.. I forgot to get pictures of us starting our seeds! We mixed in some of our composted wood dirt with some of our garden dirt, potting soil we had left from last year, and the oven baked egg shells I make to feed back to our chickens. We placed the mixture into the 9 pack containers (kinda like THESE) some plants came in and I saved from a few years ago. Pickling cucumbers, regular cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, jalapenos, and bell peppers were started in these trays. We already had started tomato plants, a new bucket of potatoes (white bucket), sugar snap peas, and onions. 
     Do you see the orange bucket with the big tomato plant in the back? That is my tomato plant I have been babying all winter! It grew but never produced any flowers until I got it out into the sun. I feel like I am WAY ahead of the curve on tomatoes! :D Only, guess what? It is not a regular tomato plant. It was a volunteer plant I got from my Amazingly Awesome Neighbor, Bree. It came up on the side of her grandma's house. She gave it to me, I grew it all winter.. and it is a CHERRY tomato plant. Kind of bummed about that. Thought we would be making salsa soon. On the bright side of things, at least my salads will be yummier soon. Just look at my cherry tomatoes already growing! 

     In the mean time, my son, Alex, tilled the garden. My husband did it last year, but since the accident, there was no way he could do it this year. My tiller is old and is a beast of a machine. I suppose if I had to run the machine myself, I could. But, with a big strong teenager around, why would I. ;) 
Have you started your garden this year?

Disclosure: I am Amazon Affiliate and may receive a small compensation for including links on my blog. Buying through my links is not necessary, just appreciated. Amazon does not charge extra for linked items recommended by their affiliates.  I only recommend products that I use and trust OR plan on using in the future. Please buy responsibly and do your own product research before buying anything online.