Making Eggshell Supplements: A quick and easy how-to (with pictures!)

Just over a year ago, when I made the decision to get my first “livestock” on the homestead, it was a big step.  Many homesteaders joke that chickens are a gateway animal into homesteading.  But after a lot of research into the care and handling of said birds, I quickly realised that it was ducks, not chickens that would be the best fit for our homestead.

Learning to care for and raise them has been more educational than most classes I took in college.  And I took a lot of classes in college!

I started, naturally, by googling whatever information I could find, and quickly followed up by accruing a hard copy library of books on the subject that may well rival the resources of the local Ag Extension. {Click here to view some of the books I researched in my Goodreads profile}

Our intent was purely to keep our ducks for eggs and as pets.  So our mission was clear from the beginning.

Starting with all female ducklings, we raised them with love through the summer, fall, and winter last year.  And come this Spring we were blessed with this abundant reward.


Those are fresh from the coop, homegrown duck eggs folks.  Yes, they’re unwashed.  In this rainy weather they’re mucky as anything.  And they’re beautiful.


But to get eggs that big, beautiful, and bountiful ducks need an amazing diet.  And amazingly one of the best things they can have in that diet is their own eggshells!

Sure, their feed is high in calcium. And we could supplement with expensive crushed oyster shells from the feed store.  But the healthiest, surest way to make certain they’re getting the calcium they need is to give them back what they’ve already produced.

So when we use eggs around the homestead, we save those shells:

As you can see from the pics above, the eggs stay unwashed until we use them.  That’s to preserve the natural bloom which protects them from bacteria getting through those lovely shells.  Before they’re used, we give them a quick washdown in the sink, and the shells get a rinse after they’re cracked open and used.

What we’re left with is what you see above.  About once a week (we eat a lot of eggs round our place) we get to the business of crushing them (see below).  By hand or by tenderizer (we’re vegetarians — what else would we use it for?), the beautiful shells become confetti, and get spread across a broiler pan.

When they’re crushed into bite-size pieces, it’s into the oven they go.  I usually preheat the oven somewhere between 325-350 degrees, and the shells bake for about 10-15 minutes, just long enough to kill any lingering bacteria.

The end result is what you see below:

These pearly golden beauties get crushed a little further and added to the feed bin.  Mixed with their homemade feed and fresh greens, they give our girls a complete diet rich in the calcium they need to keep providing us with those big, bountiful eggs!

(And yes, you can try this at home – just remember:  this diet supplement is for the birds!)

 

Power Outages & Fireflies 

My girls’ scout troop had a great campout planned last weekend.  A chance to get away from it all, connect with nature, disconnect everything else…  We’d really been looking forward to it.

So it should come as no surprise that plans got switched up, pushed back, and in some cases put altogether on hold until further notice.

Thanks to the never ending rains that even now continue sweeping cross our area, washing over the land in one rising flood after the next, EVERYONE’S plans are getting tossed around.

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It’s an adventure.  And I am so grateful that in the midst of it all, rather than getting frustrated that things aren’t working like clockwork, my girls continue to make the best of it…

  • Can’t get home past the flooded roads and go camping first thing in the morning ?  No problem-let’s camp on the floor of mom’s office!
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  • Power’s been out all day?  No problem-let’s read books by candlelight!
  • Tired of being stuck indoors while it’s raining?  No problem-let’s go out in the break in the rain!
  • Nothing to do?  As if!

Last Friday, we:

  • spotted an EAGLE’S nest in the neighbor’s yard and watched three eagles soar through the sky!
  • Counted dozens of fireflies at play in the tall grass at twilight!

  • Watched our ducks SWIM in their duck run – it’s more of a pond now really.  And they love it!
  • Made glowstick necklaces for nightlights!
  • Had cookie butter sandwiches for dinner!
  • Took turns reading stories to each other by glowsticklight at bedtime.

We discovered technology takes longer to charge in the car too.

And the power stayed out.  All the way into Saturday afternoon.

But the camping trip was still on.  We just couldn’t head out until Sunday.  And it was an awesome campout! (But that’s another story)

In the meantime we enjoyed another great adventure. One that we might never have experienced  if things had gone according to plan.

“My entire life can be described in one sentence:  It didn’t go as planned, and that’s okay.”

–Rachel Wolchin

Slim & Sassy Summer Challenge!

I’m going to battle – and I want YOU to join me!

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The heat is revving up around here and it’s time for shorts, flip flops, and trips to the beach!  That means that it’s also time for getting fit and fabulous to contend with those climbing temperatures and exhausting days!

Starting June 7th, I’m taking the plunge and committing myself to 30 days of self care!  That means eating right, staying active, and most importantly — resisting those cravings!
Sign Up To Get Your Oils & Get Started!

Let’s face it — I’m a sucker for a donut.  A bag of chips whispers sweet, crunchy nothings in my ears.  And chocolate?  Sigh.  I’m weak.

And working my homestead in the 90+ degree heat?  Hauling hay bales?  In Summer?  In Texas?

Not in the shape I’m in today.  No, thank you, ma’am.

But it’s time to take control of those cravings and put my health on the fast-track to fabulous!  My secret weapon?

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Slim & Sassy – Just In Time For Summer!

For 30 days I’ll be making the most of doTerra’s amazing blend of Essential Oils designed specifically to get Slim & Sassy!  And I want YOU to join ME!  Just click here to join my Facebook event and I’ll contact you to get you started!

Follow this link to get your Oils at THE best discount and make the most of the challenge!
Sign Up To Get Your Oils & Get Started!

Joining the challenge you’ll get:

  • Daily Inspiration & Accountability
  • Access to the highest quality Essential Oils to curb appetite, increase metabolism, and cleanse harmful toxins from your system
  • Personal coaching to keep you on track
  • The opportunity to turn your 30-days of personal care into a lifetime opportunity for wellness & wealth!
  • The lowest prices on Slim & Sassy Essential Oil, TrimShakes, Appetite Control Bars, Drinks, & More!

I can’t wait to start this journey with you!  Join me today!

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Constructing an Ark

I’ve been considering constructing an ark.

All right.  Maybe not a full-on ARK.  But perhaps a small one?

Let’s just put it this way…  At least my ducks can swim.  Really, really well.

You see…  Just a couple of short months ago…  The homestead routinely looked something like this…

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And thanks to the brilliant suggestions of the exceptional mind of my 8 year old, the duck run was looking something like this…

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The ducks were sitting pretty — high and dry in the Texas sky.

And then this happened…

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And keeps happening.

Yep.  It’s been raining around these parts with little to no break since April.

The result?

The Great Flood.  We’ve managed to exceed rainfall for the 500 year flood plains.  And that’s no drop in the bucket y’all.

And while only the very back acreage on our property is looking quite that (see pic above) bad —

  • the duck run has been a steady 2-6 inches underwater and MUCKY!
  • We SQUISH across the stepping stones just to get from the front porch to the car.
  • And trying to check the mail?  Half the time the driveway is a sunken bridge.  The water in the “ditches” is flowing at full-river-force most days.

So yeah, it seems drastic.  But with the recent flooding, can anyone blame me?  While I may not have my animals lined up 2 x 2, I’ve definitely been thinking we might need an escape route.

All right, so maybe we won’t build an ark.  But it’s certainly an adventure keeping the menagerie from floating away some days.

And I admit — it hasn’t all been bad:

  • At least the garden is staying well-watered.
  • The car (well, the top of it anyway) is nice and clean.
  • The oleander are blooming beautifully.
  • And besides, who wouldn’t want to build a raft?  That’s fun homestead-y stuff right there.  The girls and I could make a weekend project out of it.

I always was a bit jealous of Huckleberry Finn and his adventures…

raft

 

 

 

Essential Oils To Keep The Bugs (And More) At Bay

If you missed it this evening, don’t despair!

As the weather grows steadily warmer here in SE Texas, climbing into the 80s at night as we rapidly approach midsummer, and the rains and flooding we’ve seen so much of this year continue…

Well, we’ve been finding we’re not the only ones seeking shelter indoors.
Already this season we’ve met our first beautiful ribbon snake of Spring sheltering beneath my daughters’ strawbale archery target.  Only days later my eldest opened the coop to find a rat snake visiting and trying to set up housekeeping.  Seems it thought the room came with free board (read:  my market and personal supply of eggs)…


Inside the cats were beset with fleas!  If you’ve never had the pesky bloodsuckers (No, silly!  Not the cats!) for roommates, let me tell you they’re not the easiest tenants to evict.

And have I mentioned the mosquitos breeding in the floodwaters that have grown in size to rival small hummingbirds?  Due in no small part to my routine blood donations?

Yes, summertime in Texas can be something to contend with!

Fortunately all hope is not lost.  For every problem there is, after all, a solution.  And if we learn from these experiences we can arm ourselves to prepare to overcome them when (as they certainly shall) they replay themselves in the future.  And sometimes the future is tomorrow.

Forewarned is forearmed!

Here on the homestead we like to employ the safest, most naturally effective methods to make life more livable.  And for us that frequently means using Essential Oils.  To see which one I use, click here.

That’s why I got the word out and earlier this evening got down to the nitty gritty on which oils work best, what they work best on, and how to use them to combat even the most pesky bugs and other creatures!


In the class we covered topics like:

  • Repelling mosquitos
  • Deterring snakes
  • Healing bug bites quickly
  • Preventing pests in the home
  • The BEST oils for all of this and how to use them!

Using some of my favoutite and most useful oils like lavender, clove, cedarwood, and some AMAZING blends!

And the conversation’s still going!

Click on through here to read all about it!  Then message me and let me know which oils you’d like to try!

Today’s Harvest

Blessed Be the Harvest.

It is sweet. It sustains us.

Nature provides. And all we must do is pay attention, and gratefully take what we are given. The bounty of the earth is there for all of us.

The blessings of a homestead are many, and one of these is the bounty of fresh harvested food for our table. While our garden is still small, our needs are few. And we supplement with wild forageables from the land on and around our property to fill our plates, our stomachs, and our hearts.

Today’s Harvest was meagre, but welcome. Kept inside most of the day by the incessant rain we’ve had here of late, I was able nonetheless to go out and check on the garden for a little while when we had a break in the downpour. There I found a mere three strawberries and three tomatoes waiting for me.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

But it is! When only two days ago I should have had three strawberries, but got to keep only two (the third had a slug hanging out of it, and was left for the slug to finish and then feed the birds). The tomato plants have struggled between the blessing of the rain and the onset of early summer heat to produce and pollinate. Yet still they provide! And my daughter will gratefully down those three little cherry tomatoes with more joy than most children get from a candy bar these days.

It really is the little things.

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Meanwhile the broad beans are blossoming, the zucchini are aflower, and the herb garden continues to grow. A lime bush we thought beyond hope, transplanted in a box from our previous home, has come back with full green leaves and is valiantly winning the struggle to grow anew. Cabbages which had all but dried out from the bright sun a few days ago have found new strength and are thriving in the shade of the straw bale bench. Rescues of begonia and petunia from the discount rack at the big box hardware chain are blossoming in bright abundance at the gate of the garden, putting on a show of reds, purples, and pink to thank us for giving them the chance to live.

And there is planting yet to be done. Soon we’ll be adding all manner of new edibles. And tomorrow, our dear ducklings will move outside from their bathtub brooder to their new home adjacent the garden. But that’s another story…

Gather with us…

This is the first post from the homestead.  In the coming days, I hope you’ll join me in exploring – getting to know, and love, our little home.  This is our place to share of ourselves and our musings, and we can’t wait to have you join us!