When mother is away, daddy does….

My wife recently traveled back to Phoenix with 2 of our sons for the weekend.  While she was away I decided to do something on a whim without really thinking ahead to far into the future.  So, she came back to this….

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Yes, I did.  We now have 3 Jersey Bull calves that need bottle feed 2 times a day.  The small details that I wasn’t really worried about when I sometimes do things around the Homestead.  However, we now have our first heard of cattle that will help me keep our pastures grass down and save us a few hundred dollars not having to mow.  It all works out in the end.  Not to mention that in 18 to 24 months we will have plenty of meat in the freezer.

Our boys love them… I joke and say they love them now but just wait till daddy pulls off a tasty steak off the grill how much they will love them even more!  🙂

A boy, his dog and three bulls…  I think  that can be a good title to a good country song?

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Josie our adopted dog even loves sleeping with them now.  Or she just loves the straw?  Not too sure but these calves are now part of her pack and her responsibility to protect them as well.

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The funny thing about this adventure is watching my boys and just enjoying there expressions and reactions to everything.  I put out the first of many salt licks for our calves. My boys have never seen one of these and asked me what they are.  I told them, it was a salt lick, the calves will like it to get salt.  They asked if it was salty and I said yes.  Then asked if they could lick it.  My reaction.  Sure why not.  🙂

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So at the end of the day our adventure now includes 3 new Jersey Bull calves that in the next few weeks will become steers…  oh poor bulls…  going to lose your….

Until next time!

Puppies and names?

So, I came home today with two very cute surprises for our family.  Unknowing to my wife I had planned to bring home a little girl yellow lab today.  When I stopped to get her they had one more male black lab left.  So now the Turner Homestead has two new Labrador puppies.  I though about calling them Bonnie and Clyde.   However we are looking for other names.  So, the few people that follow this blog, help us with name suggestions? 


Little Chicks and more…..

Again it has been a while since I have posted anything about our adventures.  Between work and working to get our homestead ready I get a little too busy (lazy) to update our adventures.  I will try harder next time.  🙂

About six weeks ago we picked up some new chickens and Guinea Keets from a great location not too far from Waco.  It was a good drive for us but they were the only location I could find where you could get Guinea Keets in smaller numbers than 15 or 20 at a time.  If you are in the area of Waco and need some Keets and Chickens and don’t want to mail order I would suggest looking up Bossie Biddies.   Now, they are the first group I have worked with but the couple I worked with there were very friendly and very helpful and their prices are very fare.  We ended up getting 6 Orpingtons from Bossie Biddies and 6 Guinea Keets.  We are expecting to get eggs sometime late August out of our Orphintons.  We plan on only using this bread for eggs because they are smaller birds.  However, if needed we could eat them as well.

The Guinea Keets we bought are mainly for my fear of snakes and how good they are to alerting when a snake is around or even killing snakes.  They are also great birds to have around for pest control as well.  I have heard they are very loud birds but so far they have been pretty quite.  I am trying to train them to return back to either the chicken coop or at least the barn at night to protect them from predators.  They seem to be doing that now on their own.   I do have to laugh because one of the hens is always with the remaining keets.  They follow her around like it is their mother hen and she follows them around like they are her chicks.  She is getting bigger now and can’t get out of the coop as much unless the door is open.  She roost with them at times but now they are sleeping in the barn she can’t get to the spots they can.  I think we will have a heart broken hen here soon.

As I mentioned above, the remaining keets.  Yes, I do have some bad news.  We have lost 3 of the 6 keets we started with.  We lost 2 keets to one of our dogs and lost another keet but not sure how.  We never found the 3rd keets body so we don’t think it was our dog.  We are also down to 5 chickens.  We started with 6, 1 roster and 5 hens. The hen we know our dog got.  He also almost got another, the roster a few days ago.  Even went after him with me in the back yard.  I managed to save the roster and we kept him separate from the other hens for a few days until he was able to walk again. Chickens can be stupid birds but at the same time they will kill a weak chicken in an instant.

Not sure what to do with our dog.  He has been with us for 5 years which is longer than 2 of our sons.  We are not sure what gets into him, he never went after birds when we lived in the city.  In fact, he would just lay there while pigeons would eat his food from his dog dish.  I plan to make a dog run for him but don’t really want to do that to him.  Since my chickens are free range they have full access to every location.  The house and the yard is spit off by fences but the chickens are small enough right now to fit through the fencing.  I am hoping once the chickens get full sized he won’t go after them and they won’t be able to fit through the fence.  After all, I want the birds in our yard to eat the bugs!

So now comes to our new members here at the Turner Homestead.  I had attended a class at a place called Homestead Heritage.  They have a program called Sustain Life or The PloughShare.  It was a three day class on homesteading.  A very high level overview that covered so many topics.  One topic was on raising poultry.  They have an entire one day class just on this that I want to attend as well.  For the 3 day class they go over the basics on raising chickens.  They recommended a hatchery that you can mail order poultry from.  They also recommended a certain break of chicken based off of it traits.  They recommend Black Australorps based off the fact that these birds are none aggressive, good for multi-years, are both good for meat and eggs, and various other reasons.  They also recommended a hatchery called Murry McMurray Hatchery.  So we ordered 15 hens and 1 roster.  Within a few days I had 17 baby chicks inside a priority overnight USPS container I picked up from the post office.  The 17th was a free chick they always include.  I am not sure what kind of chicken it was but it was all grey and had grey feathers down to it’s feet.  I am sad to say that this one that I called Mango Habenaro didn’t make it after a few days.  The 16 other chicks are all doing fine today and growing like crazy!

The original container I used to store them in they outgrew fairly fast.  We ended up using a very large rubber maid container that I could attach the red light to and keep them warm at night.  The problem with this setup is this container would get very smelly very quickly and we needed a way to allow them to run free during the day but also be protected as well.

I am not or have never been someone that would be considered good at wood working.  However, I tried by first attempt at making what I call a Chick Condo/Tractor.  I planned it out, went to home depot and got all the wood I needed and within a couple of days I had built something I myself was pretty amazed at.  Now that I have built this I have more plans to build another but with wheels and other features I wish I had included in this first version.  The chicks love their Chick Condo.  In fact, this is their 3 week of life and we are going to start keeping them in there 100% of the time.  Their rubber maid container was great but this morning we had an escape artist and had to chase down a very fast little chick.  🙂  Once they are 6 weeks or so I will move them to the coop and keep them in there until they are about 8 weeks and then let them start free ranging.  It is quite funny, when they see me come outside they all run up to my side of the pen.  The other chickens we have don’t do that.  Maybe the young chicks think I am mother hen?  🙂 If they only knew this mother hen was going to end up eating them one day.

I have included a few photos below of the Chick Condo, of our other family pets, and just various photos I have taken of sunsets and sunrises around our homestead.

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Come to daddy (Mother Hen?)

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Chick Condo version 1

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Our very protective and adopted guard dog Josie.

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Lazy days!  Why is the cat on the dog bed?

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The reason for the chick condo???

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Sunset over our barn and my new chick condo.  

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Storm is coming….

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Storm moving in.

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Another beautiful Texas sunset.

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Watching my chicks play and the Texas Sunset.

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Morning Muggy Fog as I call it.  Just means today is going to be hot and muggy!

Chicks & Keets

So, we now officially have chicks and keets on our homestead.   After mowing yesterday and seeing hundreds of crickets and various other insects i decided it was time for some insect control. What better way than a flock of Guinea Fowl and Chickens?  Also, finding parts of a snake the my lawn mower took care of helped with the guinea decision.   The chickens will help with the insects as well.  Really looking to the eggs we should start collecting in 6 weeks or so.  I was told guinea eggs taste good as well.  Was also told guinea makes a wonderful dinner as well.  😉

This round of chickens is our practice round.  If they can survive long enough to lay eggs I will be over joyed.  Once we get the chicken thing down we will move on to meat and egg chickens.  After all, 3 hungry boys, my wife and I can eat a lot of eggs.

Cats and Dogs!

Nothing much has happened since we moved in a few weeks ago.  Mainly because I have had to travel to Redmond, Washington and Tampa, Florida for work.  This has been my first full week at home in a while.  So most of the things we have done around our new homestead have been standard cleanup and unpack and get organized.

We do have a new member of the family.  A little ball of fur called Charlie. I had brought her home specifically to become a barn cat but I think my wife has plans to keep her closer to the house now.  The amazing thing is both our dogs get along with her and our boys really love her.  (Just stating I still don’t care for cats.  Kittens are one things, cats… oh man!)

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We also decided to keep the stray that sort of adopted us.  Her name is now Josie and no longer calling her the Big White Dog.  Then we have our dog, Bear the dog.

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Like i had mentioned there isn’t much more that I have been able to do.  My primary focus is just managing the grass around the house for now.  So far this June we have had almost 5 inches of rain and we are not even half way through the month.  I have heard we are approaching the dry season here so things will stop growing as fast as they do.

Will close this short blog post out with various pictures of our barn and family.  Why not?

Moving Day, First Night, & Bob!

Well yesterday was moving day!  We survived our first night in our new home in the country.  Not much to blog about yet.  The only work we have done so far is on the house itself.  We had new carpet and the entire inside painted.  If you are in the central/eastern part of Texas and need a good contractor I can give you the guy we used.  

Like I had mentioned yesterday was moving day.  The entire month of May we took many trips from McGregor/Waco up here.  While here we would be visited several times by two dogs.  They looked like Great Pyrenees but not 100% sure.  Very friendly dogs.  Very starved for attention as well as food.  I talked to the neighbor and he had mentioned that a while back a few miles down the road someone had put a small trailer on their land and brought these two dogs down with them but have  never come back.  Basically they’re strays and from what I understand a few of our neighbors do feed them once in awhile.  Yesterday only one came up to us so I’m not sure where the other one is.  My worry is that our existing dog would not get along with this dog so last night I let our dog out and they got along very well.  We are thinking about bringing this dog in full time as our own.

I started calling this dog Bob.  My wife calls him Bones because he is white as a bone and you can see his bones he is so skinny.

So moving day was a success our first night at her new home was this success.  So we are looking forward to many many many nights at our new home in years of fun and excitement as we start our new adventure.

The Adventure Begins…..

April 28th, 2017 at 9:00 AM in the town of Corsicana, Texas our new adventure officially started at we signed the paperwork for our new house and land. Who would have thought that the Turners would be owners of almost 14 acres in beautiful Central Texas?  I know if you asked me a year ago I would have told you that would have been a nice thought but would never have happened.  However, it has and our new adventure begins, from suburban family to a homesteading family.  It won’t be easy, there will be a lot of hard work, and we won’t see the rewards of our hard work for some time.  However, we are excited to start this new adventure.  We are excited to share our adventure with you and hopefully through all our failures we can share our success we learned from those failures.  We know that we are in this for the long haul, that we need to start slow and not jump into this lifestyle or we it can overwhelm us which is not what we want.

A few weeks ago I took a very good and interesting 3 day Homesteading class by The Ploughshare, a school located at Homestead Heritage  in Waco, Texas.  It was a very intensive course that gave me some very good information on how to start our homestead, how to manage it, and also how to slowly become self-sustaining in time.  I highly recommend taking some of their classes.

So as our adventure continues we will try to keep our blog updated with photos, stories, and more.  There is a lot of work we have to do but we have plenty of time to do it in.