Welcome to Antler Valley Farm


April Fool’s Day

I wish this April Fool’s Day was a prank. I mean, can we say “Just Kidding!” and this all be a cruel joke?  I want a do-over of 2020 so far!  As of Arpil 1st nearly a million people are infected with Covid-19 and over 120,000 of those people are Americans. It just seems to be the worst and cruelest prank. It’s a plague of biblical porportions really.  And we have a shortage of Toilet Paper. That is just sad and funny at the same time.  Where are all these people even storing that much toilet paper???  Come on people!  Share the TP!

Anyway, by the second week of April we were urged to wear masks in public.  People everywhere were panicking about everything from food shortages to doctor visits.  Yet, here on the farm, life continued pretty much as usual and I was incredibly thankful.  If nothing else, I felt like I was able to protect my kids from some of the craziness that flooded everyone’s lives.

My happy place.  I love the quiet mornings by myself to watch the farm come alive.

Watching sunrises just makes my day special somehow.  I love, love, love sunrises! Which you probably already know since I talk about them and put numerous pictures on here every month.  Yeah, sorry about that.

Even though the kids and I pretty much had the same routines here on the farm, April still just felt weird.  Ya know what I mean?  Then one afternoon Desi seemed weird.  My sweet Desi girl.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with her.  She was eating great but she was not herself somehow.  I checked on her multiple times and she seemed fine but by late evening I noticed her left eye starting to water.  It was a minor thing but it was the eye that she nearly lost a few years ago so I took it pretty seriously.  Her eye looked fine and was perfectly open but I was still suspicious that it was bothering her so I called the vet and scheduled an appointment for the following day.  I put Desi’s eye mask on which makes her look like some sort of alien ant/horse hybrid with huge bug eyes sticking out but it keeps her from being able to rub her eyes or injure them in any way.  So, she became an alien ant/horse hybrid for the night and got to sleep in the barn for the first time.

Sure enough, the next morning Desi’s eye had multiple ulcers and the entire back side of her eye appeared cloudy and dull.  The vet arrived late morning and was initially concerned that she might loose her eye with all the cloudiness.  After a UV stain she realized that Desi’s eye wasn’t taking any of the stain so the ulcers weren’t acutally ulcers but instead inflammation.  Maybe.  And Maybe not.  It’s never simple unfortunately.  With Desi’s history of eye problems a few years ago, it was complicated.

So…..we decided to treat her with several antibiotics every few hours and then switch her to steroids on the fourth day so any ulcers would be healed already.  If the ulcers weren’t healed then the steroids could cause major issues in healing but the steroids were the only way to calm the inflammation in the her eye.  It wasn’t an ideal plan, but it was the best we could do to try to calm her eye.  I spent the next few days pampering and loving on my sweet old gal and her eye continued to get better and she seemed more like herself.  I was so relieved!!  She still has multiple spots of scar tissue on her eye but that’s to be expected with her age and eye problems.

This girl just makes the barn stalls look GOOD.

With all the craziness of Covid-19 we had people buying Maleah’s eggs at record pace.   People we barely knew were calling and stopping by to try to buy eggs and we didn’t have enough.  Our hens could only lay so many eggs!  We had a waiting list of people and stores that wanted to buy eggs from her so she decided to buy more pullets that were close to laying.  So we welcomed 26 new Golden Comets who should start laying in the next few weeks.

Meet the new layer ladies.  They aren’t the friendliest birds yet, but I believe that Maleah will work her magic on them in no time.  They will be running to her and following her around very soon I predict!

Around the end of April Jim started working on the driveway and grading work for Maleah’s new chicken barn.  I think I’m going to call that driveway Easy Street and name her chicken barn the Layer Mansion.  Haha!

Well, Easter was definitely different this year since the kids couldn’t see family and we couldn’t celebrate at church.  We made the best of it though and spent the day outside having our own family fun.  We’re pretty good at having fun on the farm at this point.

These 2 kiddos love having fun and getting dirty.

My little redneck farm kids.  Awww.

Their very own Redneck version of Ninja warrior.  Haha!

Lego building contests on the trampoline?  Well, okay.  Cam’s face is so serious!

Surprise mud attack on Maleah?  Of course!  Love that smiley face of hers!

Spring Break came and we weren’t able to go on our first scheduled vacation in almost 4 years!  I tried to keep my disappointment in check and not complain since we were all healthy and happy and the rest of the world was… Well, the rest of the world was not healthy and happy really.  So, we made the best of it.  We spent nearly every afternoon of Spring Break exploring our land.  There is so much to see and so many areas that we still have to discover.  It’s so exciting!

Waking up to these sunrises and spending the whole day with my family while we explore our farm is heavenly. Truly heavenly.

This tree wins the award for Coolest Tree on The Farm.

We are pretty sure this is an old gravestone but I really don’t want to dig up some bones to confirm it.  So we’ll just say we “think” it’s an old gravestone and leave it at that, shall we?? Yes, we shall.

This is my favorite spot on the creek.  It’s one of the reasons we bought the land.  We just fell in love with this spot.  And now our kids have fallen in love with it too!

Maylin is my little science explorer.  Her little brain contemplates a million questions every day.  I love trying to answer her multitude of questions….most of the time.  I’m only up for about 10 questions at bedtime though.  Then it’s REALLY time to be quiet and go to sleep young lady.

This swimming hole was a lovely surprise.  It’s at the bottom of a steep hill and we had no idea that it was there!  We had never walked the entire length of the creek before so we were happily surprised when we found this deep hole to play in.  We did decide to wait until the weather warmed up a little before we jumped in.  I have a feeling that this summer we will be enjoying this spot a lot.

I love this man so much.  He is the best husband and Dad that I could have ever asked for.  Love you, honey!  I tried really hard to get a picture of him looking at me but he kept turning his head.  Hmmmm.  I wonder who taught him to avoid cameras??  Oh, yeah.  That would be me.

My crazy crew of adventure partners!

This was a great science lesson on the erosion of this rock.  Maylin and Camden named this rock Elephant’s butt.  I tried to rename it Elephant’s tail.  But Nooooo.  They found Elephant’s Butt sooooo much funnier.  Oh, dear kids.  If you ever hear my kids talk about Elephant’s butt at our farm you’ll know what they’re talking about now.  For anyone else that doesn’t read this, I am so sorry.  Please try to use your imagination, I suppose.

Oh, look!  It’s E.T.  Sadly, my kids didn’t even know who E.T. was!  Don’t worry, I have some family movie nights scheduled to rectify that parenting mistake.

Maleah has always been a quiet, thoughtful girl.  She still is.  She loves to quietly watch the world around her.  Let’s just say that she doesn’t get that from Jim….

Cam has officially entered the phase of a boy’s life where they HAVE to make a face when they see a camera.  Okay, Cam.  Okay.  Maylin has decided to channel her inner Pippi Longstocking today.  She had no idea who that was either.  I added that movie to our family movie night list as well.  I can’t believe my kids don’t know some of these classics!  This is where Jim would remind me that I restrict their TV watching too much and insist that they play instead.  Sorry, kids!

A relaxing beach vacation would have been nice, but having a quiet hike in the woods with my family was pretty cool too.

Rubber ducky races are always fun.  Except that I always lose.  Oh, well.  Maybe next time.

This is another sweet little waterfall we found.  Sometimes I just can’t believe how blessed we were to find this piece of land and make our life here together.

All good things must come to an end.  And so our Spring Break ended and we were back to work and schoolwork.  (Big, sad sigh!)  It really did feel like the end of a great vacation and I was so disappointed that we had to go back to work and schoolwork.

We might have been back to schoolwork but we still had to take some time each day to enjoy the little things in life-like baby chicks!  Yes, even though Maleah bought 26 new older pullets she really wanted to get some chicks to love on too.

If you ever get bored, just throw a cupcake liner on a chick and have yourself a good laugh.  It’s totally worth it, I promise!!  Just ignore the stink eye that the chicks give you and have a good chuckle.  Then, remove the cupcake liner and snuggle the chick while apologizing.  It will all be okay!

I can’t talk about Spring Break without sharing some spring flower pictures.

Our Iris’s went crazy this year.

We had over 50 beautiful blooms by the beginning of May.  My eyes were in heaven!

Then, it was back to work.  Work for Jim and work for the farm.  We almost have the cattle shute and all the surrounding panels in place.  Almost….

Camden is such a good helper.  He likes to do exactly what Daddy is doing.

I just know that I will blink and he will be as big as Jim.  Time PLEASE slow down!!

Jim’s birthday this year was a lot different than it normally is.  He took it all in stride but I knew he was missing his usual birthday “day to himself”.  We tried to make it the best we could without movie theaters and restaurants open for him to fully celebrate.  We took him to Redbox and let him pick out some new releases and then went home and fixed him some of his favorite foods.  The next morning we let him sleep in and then served him breakfast in bed. I even took the kids all the way to Asheville to pick up his favorite foods from PF Changs so he could watch his movies.  It wasn’t the best birthday he’s ever had but it was the best we could do under the circumstances.  When all this is over, we will have to let Jim have a do-over for this birthday weekend.

Toward the end of April we made the decision to take the rest of Aroura’s eggs from her.  (Aurora is the turkey that was sitting on something like 40 eggs at one point!)  She had amassed another 30 eggs and some of them were obviously rotten.  You could smell the stench in the coop whenever you got close to her. So we left her with only 6 eggs and took the rest up to the house.

We candled the eggs and, of course, they were at all different stages of development.  I nearly cried.  Some were rotten and some were nearly ready to hatch.  We got rid of the rotten eggs and tried to divide the rest up into groups with similar developmental stages.  I use the word “tried” because we were kinda flying by the seat of our pants!  Yet, we “tried”.   “We’ll try” became my comment for everything with these turkeys and their eggs.  I must have said it 100 times this year.  And we’re still trying!!

We had 4 different groups of eggs now in 2 separate incubators and then had to buy a 3rd incubator.  I’m pretty sure Jim thought we had lost our minds but he was so agreeable to having our house taken over by incubators everywhere.  He’s such a good guy.  He didn’t even get mad when I would “We’ll try” for the hundredth time.

The day after we took the rest of Aurora’s eggs, the 15 eggs we took from her originally started to hatch.  Over the next 4 days we hatched out 14 of the 15 eggs.  Sadly, one egg had failed to develop and was thrown out a week before.  Some of the eggs we took from Aurora the day before were starting to hatch as well.  We had eggs cracking everywhere.  I was a nervous wreck!

The kids loved watching all the babies hatch.

After the babies hatched we would put them under a feather duster to snuggle just like their Momma would do.

Turkey babies….

and more turkey babies.  We had turkey babies and incubators everywhere!!  I feel like we have officially crossed the line into crazy farm family.  Yep, we’re definitely there now.

I was a little worried about Maleah selling the turkey babies.  I knew it would be incredibly hard for her.  She did shed a few tears but I was so proud of the way she was able to let them go.  It helped tremendously that some of the first poults to leave were to some friends of ours.  We knew they were going to a great home which made it a little easier.  The next batch of 11 that were sold to a virtual stranger was a little tougher on her but she handled it well.  Every time another egg hatched I worried if we would be able to sell it or even give it away.  Yet, every time someone would pop up that wanted some turkey poults and they would be sold almost immediately. I was so, so thankful!

A few days after we took all but 6 of Aurora’s eggs we started smelling a yucky smell in the coop again.  We hated to do it but we moved her off the eggs to take them all.  Sadly, we found a turkey baby that had hatched and been suffocated under her.  Aurora made the most pitiful sounds when we took that baby and the rest of the eggs.  It broke my heart!  Maleah just sat and held her while I took all the eggs and cleaned out the coop.  After Maleah let her go she would circle her old nest and make whimpering sounds.  It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.  Yet, it was the right decision because only 2 of the eggs was fertilized.  The rest were horribly rotten.  So, we added the 2 eggs to our growing collection and vowed to never let them try to hatch eggs again.

The last few days of April were spent hatching and loving on turkey babies.  Having these poults as a distraction during all the covid craziness has been too wonderful for words.

Giant bubbles are also a great distraction!

Bubbles are always fun!  It turns all of us into a big kid again!  Who doesn’t love that????




Share this post