Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to keep your chickens laying through winter

I love my chickens.  They are the most easy care and rewarding of all farm animals in my opinion.  But I am also a pragmatist.  My chickens are here to DO something, and that something is lay eggs.  These are not pets, they are food producers that I also find beautiful and entertaining. 

I provide them with a clean living environment, free ranging fun, food, and protection, and they provide me with eggs.  When they stop laying eggs my family eats them.  Some chicken owners may wince at this outlook but my family lives on a shoestring and we cant afford to feed animals that aren't giving something back.  Our dog provides protection, alerts us to strangers and danger, hunts, while also being a great companion, our goats provide milk and eat down weeds and pasture, our cats keep the mice down.  I strive to give each animal a happy life.  But to me it must also be a useful life.

As you can imagine I want to keep my hens laying throughout the winter.  This can be a problem as the temperature drops and there is less light. The old proverb "An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of Cure" is so true when it comes to raising animals.  Here are the challenges you must combat in the winter and how to counteract them.

Water  Unfrozen water is absolutely essential to egg production.  Even one day without water can throw off egg laying for days.

Solution: I like to use a automatic waterer like THIS ONE and check it every day in winter to make sure it hasn't froze up. It keeps the water clean, takes a long time to empty, and doesn't freeze up easy.

Shelter Most animals need shelter in winter and chickens are no exception.  In fact if you want eggs it's best to provide a shelter that is well sealed against the elements.  Not only will this keep your hens safe from colder temperatures and predators, but it will also give them a place to lay your eggs that you can find easily.

Solution:  Shelter doesn't have to be fancy for chickens to be happy.  If you don't already have a chicken coop a truck cap is enough in a pinch. You could also use straw bales with a sheet of plywood over it.  It simply needs to be draft free, keep out the rain and snow, and be fairly easy for you to get into to check for eggs.

Heat There will come a point if you live in the north, when it just gets too cold and your chickens will stop laying.  They may even get frost bite. Chickens need heat to produce eggs.  If they are too cold they will stop laying because most of the food they eat goes to heat production not egg production.

Sweeter Heater - Overhead Mount 11 x 40Solution:  Have a safe source of heat for your chickens.  There are many on the market now like THIS ONE but I still use a heat lamp right near their waterer.  Not only does it provide heat and light, but it also keeps the water from freezing. Also sealing any holes and drafts will help immensely.

Food  A few homesteaders believe in letting chickens forage for themselves while not providing food (I do not reccomend this). This may work ok in the summer when food is plentiful and if you have enough land, but if you want eggs in winter you will need to provide feed to your chickens.  Also it is pretty cruel to not feed your chickens in winter when there is so little to forage for.

Solution: Buying bags of layer pellet feed is the best option.  Also providing corn or scratch will help your chickens maintain condition through the cold with its nice high protein content.  The more energy your chickens expend on keeping warm the less eggs they will lay, as that energy is going to come from either their body or their food.

Breed Selection Some chickens are better suited to certain climates than others.  In fact there are some chicken breeds that will literally die if they go through a typical northern winter.  So breed selection is very important to your winter egg production.

Solution:  If you live where it gets cold and dark in winter then choose chickens that are known to lay well in winter.  My favorites are Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, and Araucanas as we live in a very cold winter area.  A good place to compare different breed of chicken is the Murray McMurray Hatchery website.  In their descriptions of the different breeds they specifically note which chickens are good at winter laying.

Light This in fact is the most important and least understood reason that chickens stop laying.  Chickens need a certain amount of daylight to keep laying.  When it falls off their bodies tell them to stop laying until springs extended sun hours arrive.

Solution:  Put a light in your chicken coop and leave it on.  You can shut if off at night if you want but we don't because it adds heat and the chickens do fine.  I use brooder lamps like THIS ONE. These can be picked up at any feed store or even Walmart for less than $30.00. You can choose from white or red bulbs. The bonus to red is that it helps to prevent chickens from picking at each other.

Litter  What you use for chicken litter will depend on your personal preferences.  I like pine wood shavings because they mix well with the manure and absorb and dry it while adding a nice scent.  Having a layer of dry litter is important to laying production because if your wet your cold.  Also chicken manure is high in ammonia and lets off the stuff in large amounts.  This can irritate your chickens lungs.  Your chickens will be spending much more time in their coop during cold weather so keeping their coop dry and their air clean will help with egg production.

Solution: Every week spread an inch or more of litter in your coop.  Adjust frequency and amount as needed.

Supplement's  Egg laying chickens use allot of nutrients to produce an egg a day.  Providing a balanced diet is easy if you use layer pellets. 

Solution:  Provide oyster shells for added calcium even if your using layer pellets.  Chickens will take what they need.  Also providing grit is also a good idea since dirt may be covered with snow and if your feeding corn or scratch they need the grit to grind the grains. I also feed my chickens scraps soaked in sour milk.  They love it and it adds calcium and protein.

the Vitamin Shoppe - Cod Liver Oil, 16 fl oz liquidCod Liver Oil  An essential supplement that I have found highly effective to keeping my chickens in lay is Cod Liver Oil.  The reason why is that not only does cod liver oil provide omega oils, it also is a great provider of Vitamin D.  Now the interesting thing about Vitamin D is that it is produced by sunshine.  Human bodies cannot produce it on its own.  This is why mothers a hundred years ago made there children take a spoonful of cod liver oil every day in the winter.  Are vitamin D levels an influence on egg production, cuing the chickens brain back into laying?  I don't know but it works every time I use it.

How to Use:  I simply buy a big bottle of the cheaper Cod Liver liquid LIKE THIS ONE.  Then I squirt a few tablespoons into the water of my chickens.  That way they get the same  dose approximately.  I figure a few tablespoons per day for a few days until egg production starts up again.  Then the same dose a few times a week.  Be sure to use this in conjunction with a light in your coop.

Green Stuff-  Chickens loves fresh green stuff like lettuces, grass, and weeds.  You can sprout your own greens at home super easy.  I love my Easy Sprouter and you can find it on amazon.com by clicking HERE.  The Easy Sprouter is of course for human use, but providing such high nutrition greens to your chickens will not only help them lay, but also make their eggs taste better.  Or you can give them leftover salad that has wilted. Another option is to ask your local grocer for produce that they are going to throw out.  Your chickens will bless you for the treats.  Just avoid onions, garlic, cabbage, and any of the brassica vegetables as they can give a bad taste to your eggs.

I hope this helps other chicken raisers to keep their hens healthy and laying all winter.

This post contains affiliate links.  By clicking the link I may receive a small commission.  This in no way effects your price.  I was not compensated for the mention or recommendation of any products.  Plus you support this blog!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Real Truth No One Tells You About Being A Mother

I see allot of funny things about being a mommy online.  The "they never told you" kind of stuff.  But I want to share my experience on that topic.

What They Never Told You About Becoming A Mommy

That you will suddenly stop caring so much about "self" and find happiness in doing things for your children.  Instead of buying that new outfit, pair of shoes, or high tech device you will want to buy something for your child instead.  If you have no money you will wear your underwear until it falls apart so your child has shoes and clothes. You will go without nights out, treats and fun so your little ones can go swimming or have music lessons.

You will have sleepless nights of every two hour feedings, or when they are sick nursing and caring for them.  You will clean up ALL SORTS of fluids and only feel concern for the one who is not feeling well.

When your child is broken hearted your heart will break even more.  When your child is treated badly or bullied you will want to righteously punish the wrong doer.

You will endure years of pain, sadness, and depression so that your child will not feel that pain as well.

When you are exhausted or sick you will smile and hug that child who excitedly comes up to you with another question, request, or need.

This is the mother we all think of.  Motherhood at its best and most terrible.

But here's the thing no one tells you.  You WONT MIND DOING IT.  I mean it really.  You wont even think twice or bemoan how you sacrifice for your children.  You wont tell your children what a burden they are, or make them feel guilty for their needs. It will be something you just DO.  And you will look at that precious child sleeping peacefully in bed after an exhausting day, and thank God that He gave you them.

Is there something super human in this?  Something mystical or holy?  Yes I think there must be.  It is truly the mother of a child who teaches tenderness, love, and sacrifice.  Yes we all fail at times, we all have moments.  But this unfailing love renews, grows, and replenishes every day. At her very best a mother is an example of God's unfailing love for us all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fermenta Cap! Home Fermenting Made Simple, Easy, and Cheap!

fermenta sauceYears ago I got introduced to fermenting veggies BEFORE it became oh so trendy.  My Grandmother In Law sold me on the health benefits and ease with which you can ferment your own pickles and sauerkraut.  Not only that but they taste so much better than anything in the store!  I would have loved to invest in many of the crocks sold online but the price was way out of my range.  So instead I used a rather low tech way of fermenting.  However it was much more time consuming and messy than a nice crock would be.

Then I got introduced to a great product for home fermenting called Fermenta Cap by Firelight Heritage Farm!  OK so not only is their products easy to use, and effective.  But they are also AFFORDABLE!  If you are a beginner at home fermenting you don't have to put out a boat load of money to try it.  I love that.

Also Fermenta Caps Made In The USA, and was invented by the people who make it. Firelight Heritage Farm's is a home based business and not only did they create the process behind Fermenta Cap, but they make the silicone valves in an environmentally friendly way.  There are many copycats on the market that took this amazing product and are generally knocking them off so make sure to go with the original!

They sell everything you need to ferment your own food from valves and weights, to complete jar sets. Also they sell several sizes of jars, crocks, and lids so you can buy a size to fit your family. What a great and unique gift this would make for Christmas.  I make fermented sauerkraut all year long in small batches so even in the dead of winter you could be fermenting!  They also have a huge index of fermenting tips, directions, and ideas for the newbie and expert alike.

To get your very own Fermenta Cap you can click on the links in this post or there is a Fermenta Cap Advertisement in the right top-hand corner of my blog.  Click on that one and I get a small commision that in no way affects your price.  Happy Fermenting!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Going It Alone As A Homesteader, Mommy, And Prepper

I have hardly posted for a few months now and am sorry dear readers, but I have been going through my own personal hell.

Long excruciating story short.  My husband of 15 years has left and now wants a divorce leaving me with 4 children and a small homestead to take care of.  We just moved to a "fixer upper" and I of course assumed when we moved here that I would have his help.  No such luck I'm afraid.

Suddenly I'm looking at a totally different life.  And the question is can I do all the homesteading chores, plus raise four children, plus work?  I think it is possible because I love this life.  My children love this life.  And I believe it is giving them a wonderful childhood.

Separating from my husband has been so incredibly painful, not because of myself, but because of my children.  They love him so much and it is very hard to explain why we are divorcing.  Since the beginning of our marriage he has been emotionally and mentally abusive and manipulative.  Finally I came to the point  where I told him (two years ago) that he had to seek counseling or I would have to leave for my own mental well being.  He never went, even when I made the appointments for him.

So now it's over.  He has told me he knows he's abusive, that he can't change and he is just like his dad and grandpa.  I asked him if he would go to counseling and he said no, that it wouldn't help him (revision: now he says he just doesn't want to go). So that's it I guess.

How is life going now that I am separated?  I have always done most of the work around our place like yard maintenance and small repairs, animal care, as well as all the womanly chores. So this weekend I learned (thank God for Youtube) how to wire and install my dryer that was so kindly donated to me, fixed the goat fence, did repair work to the house.  And today I am sewing some curtains from fabric I got at the good will.  Mending clothing, applying for jobs, baking bread, and possibly putting up a  wall to shield the wood pile from snow if I have time!  Not to mention I already got the kids off to school, fed and watered the animals, did laundry, and vacuumed the house.

I find that I am happier without him here to put me down.  And the children are adjusting.  It is what it is.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Heartwarming Autumn Meals and Treats!

I love baking and the smells of spices and cider.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year and this year I am looking forward to it more than ever.  This summer has seemed endless with it's blasted heat and smoke.  I thought I would share some recipes that look to good to pass up for this fall.

My favorite fall activities is decorating, baking, going for walks to admire the colors, hot cider next to a burning hearth and candle lit rooms.  Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting - Creme de la Crumb

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze

These Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops are AMAZING!  Perfectly seasoned, juicy, delicious and ready in under 30 minutes!

50 Fall Breakfast Recipes

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Using Unripe Apples

One year  I made a mistake on when to harvest the apples.  I thought they were green apples and so harvest them only to find out that, no, they are most likely Galas.  So  I had two huge five gallon buckets filled with green unripe apples!  I couldn't even consider just throwing them out, what a waste!   But searching around my books I did not find one recipe for unripe apples.  Then I started researching it on the internet and found that you can use them for apple jelly.  In fact unripe apples contain much more pectin (which aids in jelling) than ripe apples so this would be a good use for them.  I processed them just as you would regular apples by first making juice from them and then getting on with the jelly process.

My only change was that although the recipe said to just cut them up core and all into the pot to make the juice I cut out the core for a few reasons.  You should know that apple seeds contain natural cyanide that can poison a person if, say, you ate like forty apples including cores in one sitting. So with that in mind I did the following.  First these apples are much smaller than store bought due to being under-ripe so you would have many more core to apple ratio than in a standard recipe upping possible cyanide, also the seeds themselves would be less mature and soft so much more likely to leach the cyanide into the boiling juice, third much of the cores were infested with worms so I just cut them out.  By the way never feed whole apples to rabbits!  They eat the seeds and die from cyanide poisoning!  We had this happen once!

Everything worked fine and now I have 10 pints of apple jelly.  It tastes like it should and I will use it on toast or to glaze ham, chicken, or pork chops.

This would be a very good way to use up green apples that fall to the ground before their time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Unintended Consequenses of Making Foods From Scratch

I first started my from scratch cooking life it was out of desperation.  We were broke and it was either make/grow it myself or go without!  Soon I was canning all our own jams, jelly's, fruits, pickles, and veggies. I would ask people with fruit trees if I could pick their unwanted fruits.

I planted a huge garden every year and I froze stuff or canned from the garden for the winter. I learned how to bake bread, make noodles, and pretty much provide all my own baked goods. Lucky for me I actually enjoy cooking!

However now that we are a little better off I have found unintended drawbacks from having raised my children on real home grown, home cooked, non processed foods.  Last year I was out of action in much of the fall due to surgery and couldn't cook or bake or can.

  As my children began to experience processed foods more we discovered they HATED store bought foods.  The cans of peaches and pears weren't like home canned.  The breads and treats didn't taste as good.  And on it went! I now HAVE to cook home made because my kids don't like the other stuff.  So beware!  If you get your family used to good home cooking their may be no going back!

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Simple Way To Teach Your Children To Appreciate Each Other

Most siblings know they love each other but rarely express it as children.  I think children need to be taught to appreciate other people just as they need to be taught their ABC's and how to tie their shoes.  They need to learn gratitude for having people in their lives who love and care about them.  This is one way to get children to be less ME focused and more focused on others.

Every night at dinner we pick one person in the family and each of us tells them something we appreciate or love about them.  It has really helped our children be more loving to each other and realize that it is a precious gift to have a family.  It is also super simple and fun!  Every dinner time they ask who's turn it is to be complimented.  And don't forget parents too!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pickle Making and Home Fermentation Made Easy!

Canning day! I'm a history buff when it comes to how people actually lived and what they did to survive. When you look at the history of food preservation before canning jars came to be it was five things they did to prolong the foods life. This is not counting root cellaring.

"Of course I can!"Salting- which gave you good outcomes but made the meat very very salty. However since people back then ate very little meat the extra salt was probably appreciated.
Drying- no comment necessary

1950's housewife.....still using skill learned on the farm.....everyone was into canning food.Larding- things like mince pies or cooked meat was layered between melted fat and put in crocks in a very cold secure room. This was done in the late fall of course.

When we had so many chores, we didn't have time to worry about...all the crap we worry about now!Sugaring- preserve fruits in very high (like inedible) concentrations of sugar. The foods has to be soaked in water before eating. But this was only used infrequently because truly poor people had very little money to use sugar this way.

Fermented pickling- this was very common and used on meats, veggies and fruits.

Olde America Antiques | Quilt Blocks | National Parks | Bozeman Montana : Agriculture and Farming - Woman Canning 2I love fermenting my pickles and veggies. It doesn't require heat treating or self sealing lids. I have made both fermented pickles and regular pickles. I like fermented pickles for dills and mixed veggie pickles. They are always crisp tangy and have a zing that is almost like carbonation that other pickles don't. Also there is a lot of info out there pointing to lactos fermented pickles being very good for your health. I only do Bread and Butter cucumber pickles the standard way. The recipe I use for that is from my favorite book The Joy of Pickling.

Vintage canning graphic.  Mom canned a lot of the things we ate.Fermenting is also easy, much easier than making standard pickles. All you do is mix the brine, throw in the spices and veggies, cover with brine, and bam! Your done. The fermenting takes place in a moderately warm room or shelf. You check them ever so often to make sure the brine is covering the veggies and to make sure that the fermentation is doing it's thing. That's it! After two weeks you have really amazing food. Keep it in a cool place and they last up to a year like the fridge. Mine are gone way before that though! You can use used canning jar lids and quart jars for this. Or you can get old fashioned pickle crocks. You could also use non reactive tubs.

13 great posters on preserving food, when it was life or deathAnyone here who has put up lots of food for home use will know that the summer is frenetic in its pace. You are constantly planting, harvesting, canning, and preserving all the food to get you through to the next year from dawn till dusk. So anything that cuts down on processing time is a blessing, especially if you are using a wood cook stove to process jars in a hot kitchen .

Just to give you a clue on how much food you'll need to be canning for fall/winter/spring use I tell you mine. I have a family of 6. To get us through from fall to late spring I have to can:

Some Basics of Home Canning (recipes and how to use home canned items also)30 quarts applesauce
30 quarts cherries
30 quarts pears
30 quarts peaches
20 quarts assorted pickles
20 pints of assorted fruit pickles
15 pints each of strawberry, cherry, peach, and apricot jams at least
45 quarts marinara sauce
30 quarts tomatoes
30 pints of misc. condiments like apple chutney, salsa, and ketchup.

vintage housewifeI don't can green beans because it freaks me out with the low acid so I freeze tons and tons of them for dinners.

I also freeze a mix of summer squash/onion/eggplant for casseroles, soups, stir fry, and oven roasting in the winter.

There is so much more I do or want to do but these are just the main things I shoot for. We also root cellar a lot of winter squash, potatoes, apples, and onions. You can see how busy you'll be just doing preservation if you really had to grow all your own food. And I don't even reach that goal. I'm going to try doing sauerkraut this year too. It's supposed to be much better than the store stuff and you can ferment it in quart jars.

Two great books on easy fermenting foods are:

The Joy of Pickling- has a huge section on fermented pickles. The other sections are great too, I tried making pickled grapes last year with a recipe from this book and even my very picky extended family loved them at Thanksgiving. They were more like a condiment you would serve with meat. Like cranberry sauce.

Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables At Home- Klaus Kaufmann and Annelies Schoneck- This is where I first learned to make fermented pickles. It explains how Lactic acid fermentation works to preserve the food safely and a step by step look at the process which The Joy of Pickling does not. The Joy of Pickling has many more recipes for flavors of fermented pickles. They sell this book in health food stores.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Using Chickens to Clear Land

Now that we have moved into a new home I  wanted to plant a garden.  I knew in our last house was only temporary until we found something more suited for our family so even though I was itching to plant I didn't do more than some tomato plants.   I never really knew how much I loved gardening and canning until I was suddenly unable to do so.  Last year I was so ill all summer that I was happy just to be breathing and couldn't even think of gardening.  But this year I so wanted to get my hands into some dirt again!

The problem was that although we could garden as much as we wanted the entire yard is in grass which is such a pain to clear.  Both husband and I revolted at the thought of the back breaking labor of breaking sod after all the work we have been doing for a solid two months so we took the lazy mans approach that is slower but just as effective.  We used our chickens as land clearing machines!

I'm sure you all know that if you leave chickens in a run long enough they will turn it to bare dirt.  The smaller the run the faster it goes to dirt.  They eradicate every blade of grass, every weed and weed seed, and every bug in the area.  Chickens are quite wonderful in this way.  So husband and I set their run over the area we wanted cleared and BAM! Two weeks later weed and grass free land well fertilized and ready for planting.  Husband turned over the dirt a few times and I watered it a every day for several days to mellow it out and now I just planted some seed perfect for a fall crop.

I planted

broccoli rab

Here are some picks.  We have 10 chickens in the run




Oh chickens how I love thee!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Home Brands USA United States Flag Review! Plus a huge discount!

Home Brands USA is a company that sells a HUGE assortment of amazing products for your home.  They sent me their American Flag Patchwork Rug to review and with 4th Of July almost here it's a perfect item!  This rug is made from 100% wool and I love the look of it.  It actually looks antique.  Now you notice it only has 13 stars right?  Representing the first flag of our country.  I love it but as a side note I will never put it on my floor.  Walking on our flag is hugely disrespectful in my mind.  However this makes a beautiful and unique wall hanging. My husband loves it!

Just like the incarnation of the original America Flag, this reimagining of the classic design with 13 stars was hand woven with the same patchwork methods. It's vintage look and feel are sure to cozy up any patriots home. Each produced as one of a kind with a cotton cloth backing. Made in Turkey

Right now  Home Brands USA is offering a sale on Momeni Rugs for the Fourth of July.  75% off on all momeni rugs on their site!  To go along with this Home Brands USA is offering a special additional 15% discount for the 4th of July weekend on top of the sale and runs from July 1-7. Including the 15% off  on top of their standard 60-70% discount on Momeni rugs the savings could end up being a total of 70-80% off which is huge!  Click HERE to be taken to the site and check out the great deals!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why Women Need The Second Amendment

Human Events's photo.
There is allot of debate on weather America needs to take away the second amendment after the recent church shooting.  The logic is that if there are no guns there will be no gun violence.  Of course this is a completely illogical line of thinking because if you look at cities that ban guns they have some of the highest rates of gun violence i.e. Chicago.  The problem is the only people you are disarming are law abiding citizens that don't commit gun violence anyways.  Criminals don't care if they get their guns illegally because their going out to commit crimes.  So the only people who suffer are those of us that use guns legally.

As a woman I am very glad I have several guns in my home.  My father had four children, three of them girls.  He taught all of us how to shoot effectively and safely.  The reason was that women are in most cases unable to fight off an attacker.  He called guns the great equalizer.  Meaning a guy may be stronger and faster than me but he is NOT faster than my gun!

As our economy gets worse and drugs become more prevalent we will, and are, seeing more crime.  I have personally been on the receiving end of this trend three different times now.  All three involve men on drugs coming on to our property.  The most recent is as follows

Just recently we were woken up at 3:00 am by our 17 year old daughter running up the stairs in panic because a man was at our back door trying to kick it in.  Our dogs were going nuts and my husband and I sprang into action.  Police will tell you to never confront or allow someone to get ahold of you.  If they are on drugs they often are impervious to pain, abnormally strong, and especially with the new street drugs, extremely violent and dangerous.

My three younger children ages 6, 10, and 11 woke up and were terrified asking if the person was going to hurt them.

My husband and I worked quickly as a team.  I got on the phone and called 911 while I hustled my four children into a defendable and secure room.  I stood in the doorway waiting with a view of the stairs.  My husband got our shot gun loaded and headed down stairs.  While on the phone I also armed myself with a hand gun in case whoever was down there got through my husband.

You see we didn't know if this man was armed or not, or was coming in to kill us.  I could hear my husband yelling that he was armed and if the man came through our door he would defend himself and his family.  This did not deter the man in the least as he kept running a kicking our door.

I prayed and prayed that the door would hold.  We could feel it upstairs every time he kicked the door and our windows were shaking.

Meanwhile I was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher explaining the situation and that my husband was armed. 

The police showed up (thankfully) within 2 minutes and were able to get the man.  He was completely strung out on several drugs we found out.  He was making no sense and fought the police when they tried to get him in the patrol vehicle and later fought the jailers.

The only thing that stood between my children and that man was a regular back door with a dead bolt.  If I had been unarmed and without my husband my only option would have been to pray.  That is NOT an option for me.  Instead of being helpless in the face of attack I am empowered to protect myself and my children.  And you can bet NO ONE is going to hurt them without first having to come through me.

So when people cry about needing to ban guns I think of the countless women and children in countries where gun ownership is not allowed that are raped and murdered.  How many of those crimes would be averted if those women were armed and taught how to use them?  There are thousands of cases every year in America of women defending themselves with firearms against men that never make it to the mainstream media because it doesn't fit with their agenda.

We know that disarming a population does not decrease violence, it just shifts or even increases because criminals know they have defenseless victims.

Guns are not the problem, it is criminals that are the problem.  As my father told us, guns are just a tool.  A dangerous tool just like a skill saw, but still a tool.  You must respect them and use them safely.

My husband and I have been teaching our children gun safety and marksmanship as they reach ages that are appropriate.  My eldest daughter is nervous of guns but an excellent shot and knows how to load and fire.  After the above incident she told me how glad she was now that we have firearms.

And as I say to my children now.  The only time you need a gun is when you REALLY need a gun.

So how can you prepare for home invasion or violent crime?

1. Be Prepared

Think out different possible scenarios and your reactions in your head.  If you have a spouse talk about them and work out what both of you will do to deal with the situation.  The more you do this the less likely you will be to panic.  Knowing what your going to do is a huge confidence booster.

2. Get A Gun and Learn How To Use It

This is what stands between you and a criminal.  Learn to use this tool and use it safe. Learn how to clean it, load it, and reload it.   This also means educating your children about it and keeping it somewhere secure but accessible to you in an emergency.  You wouldn't leave knives down in a toddlers reach so don't do the same with your guns.

3.  Make your home less attractive to criminals

Have motion lights, lock your doors and gates, and teach your children not to open the door to strangers. Also hardening your home is a good idea.  Have a gravel path all around your house so that if someone is walking around looking in windows it is noisy alerting you or your dog.  Plant thorny hedges in front of windows.  Make sure all doors are well lit.

4.  If you don't have a dog consider getting one

Dogs hear and smell better than us.  Our dogs let us know whenever someone is around.  Also our Golden Lab is mildly intimidating so very few people will chance going into our yard.

5. Learn self defense

Most crimes against women start with a man surprising her and grabbing her before she knows what's going on.  That is the last situation you want to be in as a woman because a man is generally much stronger than a woman, but learning personal defense moves can save your life and get you away.

6.  Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Looking purposeful and aware deters criminals.  They want soft easy targets.  When you are walking to your car look around, pay attention, note people around you.

At some time or another most people will experience a violent crime.  It's really not a question of if but when.  So don't be a victim be a victor!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dear Mom's - Why when you feel Overwhelmed, Horrible, Or Angry You Should Take a Break

Dear Moms,

I know how it is.  There is always something else that needs to be done right now.  There is always a child asking for help, to have another snack, or just made a mess. There is the mountain of laundry, the dirty dishes, the thousand errands.  And that is just the regular stuff.  There is also all those expectations we put on ourselves to be the perfect mom.  Canning our own food, baking our own bread, gardening, sewing, making our house like a picture from a magazine.  I know that feeling that there is no end until you fall into bed exhausted at night. I know what it's like when you find yourself angry and impatient and snapping at your children and then feel horribly guilty afterward. Or (especially for me) that time of the month when for a few days EVERYTHING is horrible.

I went through that for years.

Then I had a moment of clarity.  I pushed myself every day, every hour, 365 days a year past my limits.  I wasn't calm or happy and with every day felt worse and worse as a mother.  In that moment I realized that my family didn't want a cleaner house, home sewn clothes, perfectly planned days.  They just wanted ME.  And I also realized that I was not the mom I wanted to be.  I want my children to look back on their mommy and remember not a frazzled, tired, and angry woman.  But a calm, joyful, kind mother.

So what did I do to change?


When I feel angry, depressed, exhausted, or find myself getting into the nasty mommy role I go upstairs to my bedroom, bring in all the kids, and we cuddle on my king sized bed and read or watch nature shows together. When it is cool weather I light candles and play soothing music.  When it is hot we read together in front of the air conditioner.

Yep that's it.

And it has changed our home for the better.

I forget about all the stuff I need to get done (which being a neat freak is really challenging)  and concentrate only the things that HAVE to be done.  Like dinner.  Because truly caring for four children is enough of a full time job and THEY are my biggest priority.

Because here is the thing mom.  All those "things"  that seem so important and good, really aren't good at all if you are stressed.  The "things" your family really wants is just you.  To talk to, to be with, to share love and just BE there with them.

I give you permission to take time off.  Stop being so hard on yourself.  You are already everything your children and husband need.  When you feel yourself being overwhelmed you NEED to take that time out and just cuddle your children and lay down.  Life is too short and precious to spend it unhappy.


Your Friend and Sister in Mothering