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Announcing … The Deluxe Clucks Live Brooder Cam!!!

Deluxe Clucks Live Brooder CamI am so excited to announce the Deluxe Clucks Live Brooder Cam!!!  My dad has been working on this project for a little while and he tested it yesterday with our three surprise chicks…. and it’s working!!!  There will be two ways to access the webcam feed.  You can go to and search for “Deluxe Clucks” and watch it there.  Or you can go to this blog and look in the right sidebar.  There you will see a box and you click play to watch the webcam!  Thanks Dad for getting the webcam working!!!  

The way it works is, we have a video camera over the brooder box that is connected to a laptop.  It is sending the live feed to ustream.   Isn’t technology amazing?!?

I hope you will watch the chicks often and enjoy them!  I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks!  Mom contacted Welp Hatchery today to see if the chicks had shipped on the ninth.  So be sure to watch on the 11th for the new frizzle and cochin bantam baby chicks!


See Ya’ Soon!

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Cedar Shavings Can Be TOXIC for Chicks!



Cedar Shavings can be Toxic to Chickens

Good afternoon!!  Yesterday I reviewed the comments on my posts and a few people were saying not to use cedar shavings. What’s wrong with cedar I thought? Well, after doing some research it turns out that cedar shavings can be toxic for chicks!!!  And, even worse, they don’t even have to eat the the shavings or breathe the oil’s fumes for it to hurt them. The oil from cedar  can be absorbed through the feet of the chicks.  The oil fumes can also cause respiratory problems and digestive track problems. The safest thing to use is pine shavings which do not have toxic oils. But for the first few days you need to use paper towels.   I wanted to be sure everyone knows not to use cedar for their chicks!

McMurray Hatchery states:

LITTER: Wood shavings, rice hulls, or ground cobs make good litter. Do not use cedar chips, sawdust (It is too small and the birds may eat it instead of their food), or treated wood chips. Sand, straw, or dirt will also work but are not as good as the others. Put the litter all over the floor at least 1 inch thick. Keep it covered for the first day with newspapers to keep the chicks from eating the litter instead of the feed. To avoid possible leg problems, remove the papers after the first day for heavy breeds and meat birds and after the third day for lighter breeds.

Thank you to all who commented for me to change the shavings!  You guys really helped me out and maybe even saved my chicks’ lives!  You all have been a blessing!  

See Ya’ Soon!

Spring has Sprung and the Snakes are Awake!


If you know me, you know I HATE snakes!  I don’t mean I just don’t like snakes… I mean I hate snakes with a passion!  So spring to me means the snakes are awake!  They scare me to death!  When God said He was putting enmity between woman and the serpent, He was NOT kidding!  (Genesis 3:15)  

Today we spent the day helping Gage get his brooder box ready for the 30 chicks that are arriving this week.  When Gage and I were about to walk out of the garage, he calmly announced “SNAKE”.  There slithering off of our front walkway into the shrubs is THE snake.  I immediately froze.  My hubby, David, was there with us so he grabbed a shovel and a hoe.  When Hubby approached the snake, he could not immediately tell if it was poisonous or not because the snake was acting so aggressively.  Well, it turns out it was a two foot Hognose snake!  And, to make matters worse, David does not believe in killing the wretched things unless they are poisonous… but he will take it off, at least.  Even though I completely abhor snakes, there are some good lessons here to learn.  And yes, I took these pictures!  

Snake Identification HognoseHognose snakes are hard to tell apart from a Water Moccasin (Cotton Mouth) snake when they are little.  If you are like me, kill the darn thing and worry about if it is poisonous after the threat is gone … but that is not hubby’s mode of operation so we have to learn this stuff when he is around.  

The color of a Hognose snake varies widely, so using color as an identifier is not viable.  As always, we look at the face and eyes.  But this guy was so small, we couldn’t see his eyes.  We did, however, notice its snout was upturned. But that actually made it hard to determine if it had a triangular or round nose.



Hognose Snake Playing Dead When threatened, a hognose snake will flatten their neck and raise their head off the ground and hiss like a cobra … behaving quite aggressively.  This also makes it hard to determine if they have a triangular or round head.  Our little snake was doing a fabulous job at acting all aggressive, hissing, flaring, etc.  He almost lost his head cause he is such a good actor!  So, needless to say, putting our face down there to see its eyes was completely out of the question!  

If flattening and flaring their neck and hissing  fails to thwart their attacker, the Hognose snake will literally roll over and play dead, with their tongue hanging out of their gaping open mouth. (Ugh!!!  Have I mentioned I hate snakes… ).  


Hognose Snake playing deadThe Hognose Snake will continue to play dead until the threat has disappeared.  I can assure you, no snake was harmed during this event (although this one is an excellent actor at faking it).  This snake WAS personally escorted off the property, by my hubby.  

Something every family that lives in an area where there are snakes needs is a great snake identification book!  Just in case the internet is down when you stumble upon one of these!  (Note we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program.  Any money received via this relationship is used for our homeschool!  PS. I’ve made a grand total of $0.00 from affiliate marketing… but the FTC says I have to tell you that IF you buy it, I will make 4% of the sale as commission.) 

Side note:  There is some controversy over if the Hognose snake is venomous or not.  Here is a Quote from Wikipedia:

The venomous nature of Hognose snakes is controversial, however it is generally agreed upon that they are not venomous. A bite from a hognose can result in swelling and numbness at the site of the bite, though this is likely the result of a simple allergic reaction. Similar symptoms can result from dog and cat bites, and even from human saliva. There does not seem to have been any scientific studies to determine the existence or characterize the nature of hognose “venom.”

The most reliable identifier of the Hognose Snake is the upturned nose.  It uses it to dig out toads, their primary diet.   These snakes are stout bodied and do not grow very long, adults are from 14 to 40 inches long.  They are diurnal (means they are active during the daytime), and burrow into loose soil.  Hognose snakes are not constrictors, they are rear-fanged.  Their venom enables them to overcome toads to allow the snake to swallow the toad.  Hognose snakes have mild dispositions and rarely bite.  Apparently this makes them attractive for those that like to keep snakes.  

I can assure you, this is one pet this household will NOT have (at least not while they are living here)!  

Until next time….. 

Note we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to 

We’ve Got Good News and Bad News

We’ve got good news and bad news.  First, the good news!  We have a small farm where we raise registered Jersey cows.  We had another first today… One of our Jersey cows, Buttercup, had her first calf.  This calf is also the first “second generation” calf born on our farm.  Girls are prized in the Jersey Dairy world… so we are very excited that Buttercup’s calf is a heifer (girl), we think.  My boys named her Matzah because the Feasts of Pesach and First Fruits are coming up and we eat Matzah bread for the feasts.  When we discussed the irony of her being two first born’s (Buttercup’s and the farm’s first second generation calf) they decided the name should focus on something that pertained to First Fruits.  I love the fact that our boys know about, understand and get excited about keeping the Biblical feasts!  What a blessing!  So, without further adieu, meet Matzah:

new calf, we named her Matzah

Jersey Calf: Matzah

Isn’t she just adorable?  And she looks like she might be a red heifer 🙂  Look that one up in scripture!    ‘Course it could be that she is still wet … tomorrow, I’ll head down there to see if she is still this red!  


On a more somber note, we lost Cooter Brown yesterday. The first day we saw the rooster, we could not catch him or lure him into the pen.  The second day we managed to catch him and put him in the pen with Rocky and the ladies (hens).  That didn’t go well, so we moved him to the other pen.  We put fresh water and lots of crumble and scratch in there to keep him happy and full.  The next morning, we discovered that Cooter Brown had “flown the coop”.  We decided to just open up the pen and let him come and go as he pleased with food and water in the pen for him.  It was that or just not try to keep him!  We saw him first thing yesterday morning, in the pen. Unfortunately, he chose to wander… and something got him in our field yesterday afternoon.

Ironically, another biblical principal was taught with this unfortunate incident. When we willfully choose to walk outside of Abba’s protection, we are vulnerable.  Our boys saw a vivid reminder of this.  They knew full well the extent of the actions we took to try to keep and protect Cooter Brown. But ultimately, it was his choice that led to his demise and it is the same for us.

We have witnessed the full life-cycle occur in the span of 24 hours here on our farm.  All teachable moments…  Teaching children about death is never easy!  But, in nature and on a farm, children experience both death and life, decay and renewal.  And not only do they learn these are a part of the life-cycle, they see the examples.  I know many parents are uncomfortable talking about death, but I think we do children a huge disservice if we do not help them work through death and loss.  Isn’t that our job, to help them learn these difficult concepts in a loving and supportive environment.  Our job is not to shield them from reality!  Here, on the farm, ignoring the topic is not an option…  

So… Today was going to be catch up day.  My middle son is trying to get caught up on some of his recent science experiments that he is behind on … instead of working on experiments, today, he got to experience science (biology) live and in-person.  Live and Learn Farm… yep, the name fits!



Matzah is no longer red!!!

Updated... Matzah 1 day old

Updated… Matzah 1 day old



Farm Volunteer Surprises!

What an absolutely beautiful day we had Friday!  We spent most of the day in the yard working!  And we are so thankful to have the warm day to do it!  This time of year, it is very common to get in the greenhouse and find a volunteer or two growing.  But this year, we have a whole new level of farm volunteer!  Look at what we found:  Ten Potato plants and Carrot Volunteers!!!  I didn’t even know Carrots would return if not picked!  (Ha ha ha…. Live and Learn, right?)!  Anyway, I thought I would share some pictures of what is going on around here.  Spring is when everything on the farm is starting to kick back into gear, including us… I’ve got a few winter pounds to lose myself due to lack of activity!!!  But, all of sudden, in the matter of two days, we have green plants everywhere, our pear trees are blooming like crazy and already we feel a sense of urgency…  as if we are behind in a span of less than 48 hours 🙂  

Anyway, get back to the volunteers… this year, we got an even bigger surprise volunteer… See the pictures below:


Meet Cooter Brown (my hubby named him)! A friend of ours called to let us know our rooster was out. When we got outside, our Rooster (Rocky) was safely in the pen. But the next day, we figured out it wasn’t OUR rooster that was out, but a new rooster visiting. He is young, he doesn’t even have official spurs yet). Looks like a Rhode Island Red mix. Anybody know? Look at those white tail feathers! Anyway, him and Rocky didn’t get along when they were in the same pen, so we moved Cooter to the other pen. This morning, Cooter was gone… but the gate was closed, so we now know he can fly. This afternoon, he’s been spotted back inside the pen snacking on crumble. We’ll see if we have a new addition to the flock, or if he is just a traveler passing through. Either way, this has been a fun adventure trying to catch and encourage him to stay!

I will post more pictures later with more details!  Until next time….

Traditional Garden Checklist by Month

Since we are just starting our Permaculture garden, I don’t have a checklist to go by yet!  So, I’ll have to modify the one we already have to Permaculture!  It is one I adapted from Southern Living Magazines years ago.  Note this is for Zone 7, for other zones, you will have to adjust the list to fit your area.  Here is a map to help you identify your region.   

Garden checklist by Month

Note the Last Frost date for zone 7 is approximately April 15th.  First Frost approximately November 13th


  • Inventory and Order Seeds
  • Prune shrubs (not flowering shrubs)
  • Prune fruit trees (tipping the main stem & main branches).  Apples and Pears:  Prune branches competing with the leader branch, branches that cross, grow inward, appear broken or disease or rise abruptly from horizontal branches.  Remove suckers from the base. 
  • Plant new shrubs and trees
  • Till garden when dry, working in compost  NOTE:  Back to Eden Gardens do not require tilling
  • Plant blueberries
  • Early January, plant Artichoke in greenhouse, move to 4-6 weeks at 35-50 degrees. Two weeks after last frost, plant in bed. 
  • Late January, plant Asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, broccoli, hot peppers in greenhouse.  Move outside after last frost. 

[Read more…]

Pickin’ Chickens!!!

Today we decided to get our “chickens in a row” and pick the chickens we want to add to our flock of Rhode Island Reds. We fell in love with Rachel, the red frizzled cochin from Kathy, The Chicken Chick!  So we knew one of the breeds we were adding would be frizzled bantam cochin!  (Note this is a long article, so I have chosen to use the “read more” tab below in order to shorten the articles on the home page… so if you are interested, please be sure to click the “read more” button right below the share buttons for the various social media sites).  See what a lovely lady little Rachel is:  



Our current coop / pen combinations severely restrict our options for adding chickens.  The way the coop and pens are laid out now, we can only prevent two breeds from mingling.  Therefore, we decided to go with all bantam / cochins.  We ordered them from a new hatchery we found Welp, Inc.  They have been in business since 1929, so they are certainly not a “new business” just new to us!  We will provide a review of this hatchery once we receive the chicks (they will not ship out until 4/9).  Below are pictures of the chickens we ended up pickin’ today:

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We’re Growing Mushrooms

You read it right, we are about to be growing mushrooms! Shiitake mushrooms, that is! Since we love shiitake mushrooms and nobody I know of around here are growing them, it seems like a perfect niche for us to add to our Practical Life curriculum. For those unfamiliar with Montessori education, the “Practical Life” curriculum for middle school students involves setting up a business. It teaches them so many things about life, economics, values, priorities but it also can help the boys determine what they want to do (or not do) when they grow up!! I have learned that if you love what you do, it is not work! So, our job is to introduce our children to lots of opportunities to help them determine what they do and don’t like!  (Note this is a long article, so I have chosen to use the “read more” tab below in order to shorten the articles on the home page… so if you are interested, please be sure to click the “read more” button right below the share buttons for the various social media sites).  

We ordered the shiitake mushroom plugs today and hope to get our first stack of wood plugged, waxed and ready to go in about a month. I never really knew how mushrooms grew, but I never expected them to grow in logs!

Shiitake Sharon Dale Farm









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Back to Eden Garden Bloopers!

2/5/13  Back to Eden Gardening.  

We are all getting so excited to start our Back to Eden gardens!!  We worked on them the very first pretty day we could and got one bed completed (see Garden tab).  However, in our zeal to get the rest of the area around our pool completed, we neglected to think about how far we were going to have to bring or throw the wood mulch.  So instead of doing the inside of the garden area completely and then moving to the outside, we cleaned up and tilled both areas…  AND, since it has been raining like crazy, here is what we have outside the fence:

Outside muddy edited


So there is no hope of backing up to this fence line and throwing the mulch in for the inner bed.  Oh well… “live and learn” 🙂



Until next time…

Back to Eden Garden Started

At the end of January 2013, we put our builders paper down and shoveled our wood mulch on top. This past week we have had massive amounts of rain, but our wood mulch held!


Wood Mulch Holding even with the Monsoons

Wood Mulch Holding even with the Monsoons











We are starting to work on the next area to be papered and mulched.  We have pulled out all of the raised beds, used the weed eater on all the weeds, tilled the high areas where the dirt was and are left with a muddy mess since it’s been raining so much.  We should have waited before tilling this area … alas, did I mention what the name of our farm is and why 🙂  Live and Learn!  

To Be Papered and Mulched 1


Evidence of the amount of rain… notice the pier is about under water!

Overflowing Pond


We will continue to give you updates as we start this new phase of our adventure!

Until next time…

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