Archive for April, 2012

Raising Chickens

I desire to raise more of my family’s food.  Much more of it.  In fact, I would like to raise almost all of it if ever I could.  I would LOVE to have a larder packed full of row after row of home-grown, home-preserved, organic and super-healthy sustenance.  We have expanded our garden quite a bit this year, though it is still a far cry from producing a year’s worth of vegetables and fruit for a family.  We’ll get there, step by step.

Day Old Chicks in the Brooder.  We keep the tops of the feeders open the first day or two because amazingly they are small enough to get stuck in there.  ;)

Day Old Chicks in the Brooder. We keep the tops of the feeders open the first day or two because amazingly they are small enough to get stuck in there. 😉

One of the main ways we are growing our own food right now is by raising chickens.  Every day the little ones go out to gather the eggs… like fresh manna every morning at our house.  I don’t think the wonder of those eggs appearing out there every morning will ever wear off.  We love our laying hens, and we love their eggs.  We also raised our first batch of meat chickens last fall.  It went fairly well for a first run and has been good eats for us all through the winter and spring.  We are expanding our chicken farm this year to provide free-range chicken and eggs not only for our family but for many families.  We will be selling both chicken and eggs in a few months, and right now we are in the thick of chick season.

The farmer has spent the last month rebuilding a planter and a disk, as planting season will be upon us in a matter of days now.  He drug that disk through the fields yesterday evening and all day today, and crashed into bed this evening – 14 hours bumping through the field can really take its toll.  He has worked very hard this month, and I am really proud of him.  I’m not sure how he knows how to rebuild a planter or a disk, or set up the guidance system and 2 other computers that go in the tractor, but I am really thankful that he does.  But back to my original thought path – we are up to our necks in chickens around here!

Right now we have 160 almost 2 month old pullets out there, who will begin laying 50-60 dozen eggs a week in a few months.  We have 250 broilers (meat birds) who just got moved out of the brooder, about 2 1/2 weeks old.  We have another 225 3-day-old chicks in the brooder, cute as can be.  We have 3 more batches just like that coming in the next 3 weeks.  At the height of chick season in about 3 weeks we will have 1150 broilers and 160 pullets, as well as the miscellaneous rabbits, roosters, turkeys, and our own family laying flock.  By that time, I am hoping that the farmer will have his crops planted…or at least be getting close.

My Feed Run Today

Simultaneously starting two businesses at once is a big job for any couple.  There is much to be done.  I am so glad that my body has held up physically, as I am not the strongest of stock.  I have picked up chickens from the post office, gotten them settled into their brooder, restocked the brooder with wood chips, restocked food and water daily, washed out waterers, and yesterday moved 250 broilers out to a chicken tractor in a scorching spring heat wave (with the help of my son).  Today I got to pick up 2 tons of chicken feed at the coop, cruise through KFC on my way back with some lunch, and catch escaped chickens from their pen.  I have worked the ground by hand and planted my garden almost entirely myself.  And I say this because I am so thankful for the strength and stamina to work, with my body and my hands, with God’s creation outside my doorstep each day.  What a privilege, what a joy.

And tomorrow I get to wake up and do it all over again… 🙂  Wohoo!





Confessions of an Introvert Homeschool Mom

I had an hour alone in the garden today, and other than the fact that I was huffing and puffing and hurrying to get my project done before my time was up, I was enjoying being alone.  I had time to think, which seems rare these days.

With longer daylight hours upon us, the kids’ bedtime has been pushed back usually nearing 9 pm.  Spring is heavy upon us at the farm, with the constant push to get more done than humanly possible before the next rain, which is every few days.  The farmer feels the burden of a first year farm’s worth of work to do, Mt. Everest before him.  He has little time to give the introvert homeschool mom her usual breaks.  Things I usually do alone I have done together lately – grocery shopping, sometimes meal preparation, or a night out with a friend.  To put it concisely, I have less time to myself these days.  Certainly there will be chatter in the room before I finish this blog.

Self-awareness is a good thing.  Not self-centeredness or self-absorbtion, but self-awareness.  What is my nature, what makes me tick, when do I thrive, how to I relate, where are my strengths, where are my weaknesses? One thing I have more completely understood about myself the last few years is how much of an introvert I am than I previously thought.  I have also gained a clearer understanding about what an introvert is.  Being introverted is not the same as being shy.  Introverts do not necessarily have any fear of social judgement that would cause shyness.  Rather, introverts find too much socializing (or interaction) exhausting and would rather in be alone or in the company of a select few people.  Introverts have a great ability to focus for long periods of time, giving them the ability to learn skills well, listen thoroughly, consider and weigh the risks and benefits of a given situation, as well as other strengths.  Also introverts prefer to avoid excessive amounts of stimulation.  A peaceful evening reading a great book may be preferred over a social gathering, and the “M” on the mute button is usually worn off on an introvert’s remote control, or perhaps the remote may even be lost (or hidden).

So with my new understanding of what being an introvert is, I find that it describes me almost completely.  I prefer quiet and dim places.  I will often move to a different table if one is too loud or too bright.  I have also been known to unscrew the light bulb from a light fixture that hangs just above the table.  For each house I have lived in, the thing I disliked the most about each one of them was the noises in or outside of the house.  Those who had the quietest nature brought me the most comfort.  I am easily overstimulated, and will usually find a quiet place to escape during gatherings for a bit of decompression before reentering the social setting.  I have even been known to chunk perfectly good noisy toys in the trash.  I have always preferred to have only a few close friends, and rarely enjoy being with acquaintances.  I have always (since early childhood) enjoyed spending time alone doing quiet activities such as reading, writing, scrapbooking, sewing, gardening, even baking and cooking.  3-4 hours can fly by when I am alone after everyone else has gone to bed, as my focus is allowed to run its course until sleep takes over.  I have a few extroverted tendencies – I willingly participate in class discussions, I will express my thoughts and ideas confidently, and I am willing to take charge if I must.  Nonetheless, all of this to say – I am an introvert, and proud of it.  

So embracing my introvert self, I realize that it is okay to enjoy time alone.  I have at times felt guilty for wanting to be alone (translated “without my kids”).  There have actually been seasons when I truly did savor our long days together, enjoying being with my beloved children, and smiling on them as we shared hour after hour and day after day together.  I do love them immensely.  But as an introvert, I do not express my love to anyone by wanting to be with them 24/7 without any breaks.  Yes, I want to be with my children.  It is my choice to be a stay-at-home mom and to homeschool, it is not forced upon me.  But that does not mean that I do not also want to be alone.  I want to be alone.  Lately, with the great demands of building a new farm from scratch, the long process of moving and finishing house projects, all the extra that must be done these days has left me tired, in need of alone time as much as ever, and yet I have had less time alone than usual.  I have found that a struggle, and I am doing what I can to enjoy those moments that I do have alone.

This is a mild discomfort compared to great and strenuous trials, but I want to trust the Lord to sustain me through this time, to provide what I need personally and emotionally, and to conform me to the image of His Son.  Most surely He has created me and knows me and will walk with Me hand in hand, through all seasons of life be they short or long.  I am thankful I know where my Help comes from, and to Him I look.  And, I also look forward to 9pm.  🙂

Can any of you introvert homeschool moms relate?  Have you felt guilty for wishing for time alone, feeling inadequate that you don’t have what your children need every minute of every day?

Yep… one of them is showing me how long her arm is right now and chattering away as I finish this sentence.  *sigh*

Oklahoma Food Coop – A Great Place To Get Natural and Organic Food

As I mentioned in a previous post, it can be hard to get natural and organic foods in a rural area. I did discover that a local grocery store carries a pretty decent organic selection I had not yet discovered. I was pleased to discover that at Food Pyramid in Ponca City! I have been buying some organic produce and frozen goods there (frozen hamburger buns, corn, and mixed veggies mostly). But let me point you to the best source of locally raised organic and all natural food in Oklahoma – the Oklahoma Food Coop!

Here’s how it works. First check out their website. You can see the various products available, all Oklahoma grown. Keep in mind that the products available vary each month as the growing seasons change. Next, sign up to become a coop member. There is a small one time membership fee of $50. When your membership has been processed you can then shop online and fill up your cart with healthy locally grown food.  You pay when you pick up the food on delivery day.

Once a month farmers from all over the state deliver their food to the Coop. Then volunteers distribute the food to the correct drop off vehicle in coolers. The food is then delivered to your city where you meet the delivery truck to pick it up. It works beautifully!

I have gotten amazing grass-fed beef from the coop (the only beef we eat now). Cheese, butter, yogurt, and cream from grass-fed cows, organic wheat flour or grains, organic veggies (last month amazing lettuces, celery, and sweet potatoes), farm fresh eggs, and of course pastured poultry (grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free chicken)! There is really a huge variety of food raised right here in Oklahoma, and Oklahoma Food Coop makes it convenient to buy.

Keith and I here at Fifth Generation Farms will be the newest producers at the Oklahoma Food Coop this spring, soon to be selling our pastured chicken and free-range eggs.  We hope you’ll get signed up as a Coop member and support Oklahoma grown food!