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!
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Joining the challenge you’ll get:

  • Daily Inspiration & Accountability
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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…

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