Reviving the old blog.

I’m knocking the dust off this journal, as I’ve been searching for other blogs this morning to help me with our summer “chore” lists. I really love reading all the amazing things people are doing on the parenting front, and all the really cool ideas for all the various challenges we face as parents.

The main issue I find is that most blogs, probably 90%, are by and about moms. Not that they can’t be applied to Stay At Home dads as well, but the ones I enjoy and really need for my life all very specifically worded and directed at moms. Homesteading blogs, and home schooling blogs specifically. I doubt I am such an oddity that there are no other men out there doing what I am doing! But since I am unable to find one that speaks for me, I am going to attempt to speak for myself.

My first problem is time. That may well be why there are so few blogging, farming, gardening, smithing, DIY, stay at home dads speaking up. I attempted one day to write out all the things I do in a day, listing out each job on a sheet of paper, to help quench the thought that I am never getting anything done. I was amazed by all that needs to be done every day! And putting in blogging seems selfish and unnecessary. I feel that getting past that thought and making the time to write out what I’m going through will really help keep me sane, though. So today will hopefully be the beginning of a great summer of blogging.

In searching for what other parents have done to make summer chore lists for their kids, I realized that I don’t like the word chore. Work is a part of our life, and I personally love to work. Granted my kids may not, but calling them chores just seems negative. So I’m looking for a better way to say it. I won’t use the word duty. Cause, yeah, you said doody. Job list may be better, but I’m not set on it yet.

Today is also the day I made up a tentative job list/work list/daily to do for Alex. We need a routine, and having a list helps her remember things. It’s small things, of course, such as brushing her teeth and hair, feeding the cats and Gretel the indoor bunny. She loves to do most of it, so it’s easy in that respect. I’m also making out a rewards system that will let her earn stickers and other treats to help her remember to follow the rules.

I’m all out of time, as the kids are awake now. So we’re off to the races.

Peace and conflict to you.

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No store for you!

So I finally did it. we went to the store with rules firmly set in mind, and at the first infraction we went home. Left the cart where it was, pulled both of the kids out, and walked to the car. Drove straight home, with no expectation to return today.

Now, I got this idea from Kelley at The Morristribe. If memory serves (hah!) then I read it in her book, “Just Get ‘Em Fed”. (I hope she will forgive me if I misquote.) The thought is to have well-behaved kids in the store. And I would do just about anything for that. In this particular instance, we clarified the rules on the way to the store, singing them so that the kids would have them firmly in mind. Then I went over them again when we got the buggy, so everyone understood. The song I made up is very simple. “No grabbing, no running, no yelling out loud. Stay right by daddy and he will be so proud.”

Now, understand it is Christmas time. There are presents and toys and colorful items all over the store. I expect a bit of, “Oh please can we buy that!” I expect lots of it, in fact. But the rules are set to allow that sort of thing, without letting them go completely insane.

I think it took about 11 minutes before we left. Alex was being her usual, strong-willed self. She saw something that she wanted, something we were picking out together, that she wanted in blue and I wanted in red (this is not the exact story, as it is Christmas and we could have been picking out a surprise for someone who might read this). I said that the red one would be the right one, and that we were not getting the blue one. I took the blue one back from Alex, and put it on the shelf. I walked around to put the red one in the buggy and Alex harumphed, grabbed the blue one form the shelf, and said something to the effect of, “Well -I- want this one!”

I counted to ten. I took a deep breath. And in my calmest voice I asked her, “What is the first rule in the store?” She looked at me, very angry, and then her face started to wobble. She murmured, “Don’t get grabby,” so quietly that I could barely hear her. But she knew she was in trouble. And so I told her to get out of the cart, lifted James out and to his feet, and we went home.

The entire way they were both in shock. Shock! I think they’ve learned a valuable lesson. And I really hope it sticks. I have a big list yet to buy, groceries mostly but ribbon and such too. I think walking out was more tough on me than it was on them. But I would not have done it if I didn’t believe it would work.

Now to figure out how to get these presents under the tree without ribbon…


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Bunnies and Buildings

Fall is here in Georgia, and I’m happy to see it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Summer! And I already miss it, and the rush-rush-rush it brings. I love the heat, too, even sitting in the hot car for a few moments before starting her up, just to sit in the heat and feel it seep into my bones. But I love change, too, and am glad for the many (sensible) people I know who don’t love the heat that much. It also means my chores change, as do the needs of the animals.

Rabbits are on my mind more than any other animal this morning. When I started with the Manure Manipulation Project (also known as using bunny poop to make earthworm poop to make the garden grow), I bought three rabbits: a buck and two does. I had also purchased a used cage, and some materials to build a medium sized hutch on the outside of the house.I paid a steep price for the bunnies, but I knew where the bunnies came from and knew that they didn’t have diseases. More on that later.

Soon after, I was told about three bunnies running around in the yard of an abandoned house. So off I went to catch them, eventually picking up another three bucks, a small cage for transport, and a small bag of feed. The evicted residents had also left a freestanding hutch, with three runs ending in nesting boxes (of a sort). I eventually picked that up for free as well, as the owner simply needed it cleared out.

Then I got another offer, via craigslist, for a new cage, two does and a buck, all for $30. I could have gotten the rabbits for free, as he was actually only charging for the cage. But I figured I could always use more cage space, seeing as how I would love to breed bunnies to cover our meat needs in the house.

I began breeding the bunnies a month or so ago. I’m not sure of the health of the bunnies I got for free, so I have to have them tested to find out if I can breed them with the ones I bought. My concern, oddly enough, is STD’s. I mean, sure, it makes sense. But of all the things I thought I might be testing my animals for, gonorrhea was not on the list!

My first breeding attempt was a success and a huge failure. Our biggest doe, Jessica, bred with our biggest buck, Roger. So, yay! 29 days later she kindled 7 babies! Again, yay! And within 24 hours they were all dead. My fault, as I didn’t make the nesting box correctly and Jessica ended up laying on top of the babies. These things happen, right? It sure doesn’t feel like that. But we’ll have more babies soon, and a new cage that I actually know what to do with.

So here I am with 4 bucks, and 5 does. Rabbits being what they are, I only need 1 buck. So sometime this winter we’ll be eating three of the bucks (honestly I just have to decide how I am going to kill the bunny, as I’ve yet to find a humane way I can stomach). And growing from 3 bunnies to 9 in a matter of a month has shown me that if I’m going to keep rabbits for worms, I need a building for them.

In the next few weeks, I am going to harvest a couple of trees from our property. I plan to take these and cut them into sections for poles, to support a shed. I have a lot of scrap wood I’ve been collecting, decking and such, so I think I can finish off most of the exterior with that. I’m also going to have to use plastic to cover a good bit of it, as I just can’t afford materials. C’est la vie.

Once I get the rabbit shed up and in place, I’m looking to build a new place for my smithy, and then a greenhouse. I do wish I knew more about construction. LOL But I’ve got good friends who do know these things, so we’ll be fine.And next year at this time, I will have spent less then 30 minutes feeding and watering my animals, rather than two hours. Happy!




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Two sides of the same clique

While there are many things about me that are odd, I’ve never had a problem with that. I’m weird. I’m a little crazy, both in the, “What a fun guy!” way and the, “We the jury find the defendant…” way. I don’t fit in where I go, although I do make my own way and people mold themselves around my way like a fleet of row boats in the wake of an ocean liner. I have been aptly named socially awkward. And I am fine with that.

My child, however, is a different story. I ache for her, thinking that she might be at school being made fun of. Or not having friends. She is quite odd, being my child. I am trying to raise her with no boundaries, and with a love of all things. I am also quite encouraging of her goofy side. But being goofy and socially awkward isn’t going to make her fit in with the other kids.

I wonder if I want her to. It almost makes me cry thinking of her enduring the laughter and pointing that I went through. Having to be outside of things, instead of with the popular kids. But at the same time, she’s not like them. And I don’t want a Stepford child, a clone drone, exactly like everyone else. Her independent streak is going to set her apart from other people in a lot of ways. And I like that. And I don’t.


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Summer is moving on.

Well, my little girl is in school again. Kindergarten, and she’s very excited. This is her second week, and it seems very early! School signifies the end of summer to me, and starting in the beginning of August seems both early and wrong. And I don’t want summer to end! Granted, te heat has been high and I know people are wanting a break. I like the heat, though. And I want to keep growing my summer garden.

I have started the Fall garden. I didn’t plant anything yet (well, I planted more tomatoes and squash and onions, but they don’t count for Fall), but I’m picking out seeds and getting our trays ready for seedlings. I want to start the seeds in September, so by the end of September I have plenty to put in the beds. I’m very happy to live in Georgia, as our growing seasons are nearly year round! But I still don’t want summer to end.

And I was looking at this:

Kelly from TheMorristribe recommends it, and I’ve seen good reviews from other people as well. We’re not buying anything this year, due to budget cuts (LOL). But I wonder if I could make it! I have several old lawnmower blades, and looking at the shape I think I could do… something with those. I would need to manufacture a punch to attach the handle, maybe? But I think I could do it. And I’m going to look up some of the old-fashioned yard tools to see what our predecessors did. This looks to be a good tool, though, and I think it would be a good project to work on through the cold winter. Smithing in the cold! Now that’s going to be fun!

And now it’s time to put the grocery list together, grab my one lone coupon (I’m still learning) and get another thing off of my Daily To Do list!


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Lessons in butchering.

I’ve been remiss in my blogging lately. But I’ve been busy, and I expect anyone who might read this would understand.

This post is about butchering my own chicken, the first time I’ve done this, so it’s kinda gory. Please do not read this if you’re easily grossed out by the words blood, innards, or slice. And so:

If there is one thing my foray into the world of homesteading has taught me, it’s this: Butchering a chicken is like childbirth.

I started out with two chickens in my “meat chicken” tractor. A chicken tractor is not, in fact, a very small John Deere made for foul and nefarious purposes. It is basically a mobile chicken house, that allows you to move your chickens all about the yard so that they can eat bugs, scratch up weeds, and ‘fertilize’ everywhere they go. One of ours was empty, so I put the two birds I received from a friend in it. They were free, as she had gotten them from someone at the University. They had been doing tests on them by feeding them saturated and non-saturated fats. Nothing harmful, in itself. But factory chickens do three things: lay in their feed trough and eat, move their head slightly to drink, and poop on the floor. They do not, in fact, walk around. So when I put these two out in the tractor they looked at me like I was insane and literally tried to levitate above this mysterious and obviously dangerous thing called grass.

It took the meat chicks about three days to figure out they had to learn to walk. Their legs are tiny, as they’re bred for breast meat. Their breasts, on the other hand, are so heavy they actually make it hard for them to stand or walk when they’re bigger. These two guys had a heck of a time walking from one end of the little 4′ tractor to the other, and even standing for long periods of time was difficult. But they figured it out, and began to flesh out.

And never stopped. In fact, one of them died last week under mysterious circumstances. As I did not know what had killed it I couldn’t take the risk of eating it (and while it was a slim chance I might get something from it, it was still too much for me). I buried that one, and watched the other. This week he was being particularly sluggish, but nothing a little feed couldn’t motivate him out of. And then yesterday morning, his leg broke. As I said, he’s a very heavy chicken! And it happens with these guys that their legs just break sometimes. It usually happens much earlier, if it’s going to happen at all. But down he went, and down he stayed. So, that was a clear sign to butcher him before he suffocated. Which, in hindsight, is what I believe the first did.

Now, I’ve seen a chicken butchered. And I’ve watched a lot of YouTube on the subject. But I wasn’t ready to butcher a chicken on my own. So I did what many homesteading wannabe’s have done before me: I did it anyway.While my worst case scenario had me coming out of it as a hungry, horrible chicken mutilator, I had high hopes that I could do it. I’d seen it done, what else did I need?

Now, usually you put a chicken upside down in a killing cone. I shouldn’t have to describe what that is. It’s a cone. That you put chickens in. To kill them. Their heads stick out through the bottom, and they just sit there until you do something. A tiny slice with a sharp knife to the jugular, a splurt of blood, and the chicken just goes to sleep. It might kick a little, but really it just drifts off to wherever chickens go after they die. No hatchets. No breaking the neck. No chicken running around for what seems like an hour squawking and bleeding all over everything until it finally passes. Just a deep nick, and sleep.

I didn’t have a killing cone. But you can also cut the bottom out of a milk carton and nail it to a post, and then put the chicken in it. Holding a chicken upside down makes it very calm, and even when we’re moving them from one coop to another we hold them like that. So upside down was the answer. But this bird was -huge-, and it wouldn’t fit in a milk carton. So instead I hung it from a rope by it’s feet. No easy feat (hee!) all alone with such a big bird, let me tell you! But I got him hung up, thanked him prayerfully for his life, and nicked him.

No, I didn’t get the jugular. So I tried the other side. And got a lot of feathers and eventually a small stream of blood. I waited for about five minutes while the yellowjackets swarmed in the warm blood, and then cut him more deeply on the first side. Ah, success! And a huge relief for me! The rooster went his way, and I continued. I cut off his head, which took about eight minutes of bloody slicing here and there until I hit the right spot, and then took him down to skin him.

Now, here’s where the memories of childbirth come in. And let me tell you, anyone who says childbirth is a beautiful thing is insane. It’s messy, bloody, smelly, gooey, inappropriate and just gross. Just like butchering a chicken. I had most of the blood out, which was good, but there was plenty of ick inside the skin to deal with. I had to slice off the skin slowly so I didn’t cut the meat, so I had my hand in the ick for quite a while. But eventually, after much more time than it should have taken, I had a soiled, sticky, wet, bawling baby boy! Oh, no, that was childbirth. I had a sticky, wet, shiny mass of chicken!

But it did squawk once… I was cleaning out the innards, and let me tell you they are appropriately named and should remain where they are safely out of sight at all times if possible, when I evidently grabbed the lungs and squeezed them. And that rooster gave out one last squawk that made me nearly leap out of my skin! The noise maker is evidently in the throat, and the sudden forced exhalation made me think the sun was rising again. Fortunately, that was the last of it’s dying gasps, and it settled into my fridge with no more struggle or sound.

Today we put it in the crock pot for several hours, stuffed with onions and rubbed down with Italian dressing seasoning mix. It was delicious! And while I ate, I gave thanks to that rooster once more for the life it gave for me. And I thought about all the gooey horrors of childbirth, and the amazing reward that comes afterward in the form of children. I won’t compare my children to a good chicken dinner very often, but in this case I think it fits well.

Thank you, rooster. You were delicious.

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Raspberry Rum Balls

This recipe is posted for the Mom’s Menu Center on Facebook, of which I am a very proud member. Cause, you know, I’m only an honorary mom. But this one isn’t for your kids, moms. It’s for you, and I hope you love it. They’re “out of season”, but I’ve never made them and wanted to try it. Also, we were given a bottle of raspberry rum, which is delicious, but I wasn’t expecting we’d finish it this decade. So:


  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar


  1. Place chocolate chips into a microwave-safe medium bowl. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and then continue to heat at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Stir in sugar and corn syrup. Blend in rum. Add crushed vanilla wafers and chopped nuts. Mix until evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate until firm.
  2. Roll the chilled chocolate mixture into bite-size balls. Roll balls in a mixture of ground nuts and confectioner’s sugar, or just plain confectioner’s sugar. Store in a covered container for a week before serving to blend the flavors.
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