Finishing one year, planning the next

If I’m to be completely honest, I hate the end of the school year. By May, I feel like I’m pretty much dragging my children kicking and screaming to the table each day. No one has any interest being inside; spring fever is the worst when you live on a farm teeming with life and its been a cold, wet winter spent mostly inside! So here I am not only trying to drag everyone to the finish line, but I’m simultaneously starting to look ahead at the year to come. Ugh. I want to do either/or not both! I get excited looking at what’s to come, but I get concerned about putting too much on our plates. I know I’m not alone in this. This fall will be my first time homeschooling 3 out of my 4 kiddos, and I’m nervous. My only saving grace is that 2 out of the 3 are close enough in age that I can combine some of their studies together (like science and history). My older is becoming a bit more independent in her schooling so I should be able to get her set up to work on something while I work with the younger two.
Each year as I plan, I look to see what can be re-used and what will have to be re-purchased. As I was starting this journey 5 years ago now, I was looking forward to reusing some of my curriculum to save on some money, but I’ve done so much tweaking the last few years, I’m not so sure I want to now! (shhh…don’t tell my husband) I guess school at home is a learning process for the teacher as well as the students.  Each of my kids are such unique little beings, each needing different things from their learning experience.  I’m blessed to be able to teach these guys at home and help them learn in the best way for them.  Prayers for our upcoming year would be appreciated, as well as prayers for the end of this one!

The Photo Shoot

I know you all will love this as much as I do! As I’ve said before, my oldest has quite the heart for animals. She loves them, and they love her. This shows in how they run to her, trust her, and will do things for her that they most certainly wouldn’t do for anyone else. Case in point: Hannah conducted a photo shoot with our little chicks. Complete with backdrops and props. She is so inventive! As she showed me her pictures this morning, I just had to smile. Who thinks of these things? Anyway, here are some of my favorites from her shoot. Enjoy!

Our two Golden Laced Wyandottes, Lacey and Lupita.
In case you’re wondering the backdrop you see there is our windshield cover.
Our two Rhode Island Reds, Rojo and Blossom.
This reminds me of a Where’s Waldo picture. The three Barred Rocks (Oreo, Plum and Daisy) are in the basket. You can see 2 out of the 3 of them if you aren’t disctracted by the chaos of my garage in the background.
This one makes me laugh! Why she decided to perch our JuJuBee on her brothers shoes, I’ll never know. She looks happy, though. She’s our only Jubilee Orpington.
These are our 2 Buff Orpingtons, Caramel and Toffee. They seem to dig the ladder scene. Makes a fun perch.
This is Luna, one of my favorites. She’s a Blue/black Splash Orpington, and is a bit on the shy side. Don’t ask me what she’s standing on inside the flower bin, I haven’t the faintest idea.
This beautiful girl is California, Cali for short. She’s a White Plymouth Rock. She’s a busy body and very nosy. Always where the action is.
I will end with my favorite. This is JuJuBee again. Look at that talent! Perched on a toy horse like it no big thing! Too cute!

The 12 chicks of Hoffmann Farm

I never thought I’d ever be a chicken lady, but here I am. I LOVE my chickens! They are so much fun! They’re also quite a handful, and I seriously can’t wait until they’re out of the brooder in the garage, and out in the coop in the yard. Recently, the chicks have taken to roosting on top of my water feeders, causing poop to go into their water supply and then ultimately tipping over the water feeder itself and saturating their bedding. I then end up having to clean out their brooder sooner than I would have liked. Everyone else loves brooder cleaning, because they all get to take the chicks out into the yard to play while I scoop out the stinky woodchips and scrub out the box. This time, however my mini-me decided she’d stay and help me clean out the box. She made my heart happy.

She’s cute, and she fits inside the box to sweep out the last shreds of wood chips. Win-win!

My oldest, she’s the chicken whisperer. Recently she’s decided to train the older three chickens to be able to do obstacle courses. I’m pretty sure I have a video of her first attempt. I’ll post it later after I get her permission. Anyway, she typically will take responsibility of the chicks while I clean out the brooder. Today we got all the girls out into our old baby gate/pen to spend some time in the grass. My oldest, being the sweet girl she is, made sure there was plenty to keep the girls occupied. A mirror for the Buff Orpingtons (they LOVE to stare at themselves in the mirror), a big rock for the Wyandottes, a piece of wood to perch on for the Barred Rocks and food and water for everyone. I think she also included an umbrella for some added shade should the need arise. She really is very thoughtful.


They’re growing so fast, it’s hard to believe they’re only 4 weeks old. They’ve gone from little puff balls to almost being fully feathered. Can’t wait until they’re old enough to start earning their keep around here and giving us some eggs!!

A day in the life

Life is busy. I know I am not alone in this– it is what it is. It’s normal. But every once in a while something happens to make me stop and evaluate our norm and realize how busy (and blessed) we truly are. Let me tell you about my day so far.

First off, let me preface this by saying I (and most of my family) am currently sick. The chest cold has come to our home and hit us hard. In the last week I have bought more Kleenex, Boogie Wipes, Robitussin, Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl than I’d care to admit. That stuff isn’t cheap when you’re medicating 6 people! I have our diffuser running 24/7, and vitamin C runneth over. Does this change my day to day life? Not in the least. I wish it would slow my kids down a bit, but no chance of that.

So, I wake up in the morning with a soon-to-be 2 year old draped across my head. This is how she likes to say good morning to me. I think she figures if she tries to suffocate me I’ll be less likely to stay in bed and will immediately get up and tend to her every need. This method works exceptionally well when I can hear her trying to catch the snot dripping off her face before it hits mine. Ah, the joys of motherhood. So we’re up! Breakfast is usually what’s on everyones mind, but before we feed ourselves we have animals to tend to. The chickens are pretty vocal in the morning as they wait for my oldest to head out and let them out of their coop. She’s the chicken whisperer, that one.

Next is the chicks that are still in the brooder in our garage. Our current problem there is that they’ve taken a liking to roosting on top of their water dishes. Not only does this lead to pooping in their water, but it also ends with the chickens tipping their water over and leaving us with a mess to clean up. I’m currently brainstorming a solution to this current issue. I’ll let you know what I figure out.

Then there’s the cat, Rolo. Rolo adopted us a few months ago. She just kinda showed up and never left. She lives outside on our front porch and we now are able to pet her and every once in a while even hold her. I wasn’t sure she’d hang around, but she seems to like it here. Rolo gets fed in the morning as well, but we have to be careful when we feed her. You see, our free range chickens like Rolo’s food and Rolo is afraid of our chickens. So we have to shoo the chickens away long enough for Rolo to have a fighting chance at eating. After ensuring all have been fed, we come in and feed ourselves.

After breakfast, its time for school. Currently 2 out of my 4 are being homeschooled, but that is to change next year. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what that will look like. Today is a catch up day. Catch up on math, reading and finally a paper that needs to be completed about Queen Elizabeth II. (fun fact: did you know she is the only female member of royalty to have served in the military?) We also have guests from out of town at our home at the moment so a plan to Chik-Fil-A is in the works for those of us who aren’t affected by the plague.

I’ll spare you the details of my oldest dragging her math lesson out to the point of me seriously just wanting to do it for her; or her brother who decided today would be a good day to forget all that he has learned about letters and reading this year. His blank stares can be quite convincing, but this Momma is not easily fooled. It’s hard to maintain a sense of normalcy when you have family and guests to distract you.

With school completed it was time to head out to Chik-Fil-A for a late lunch and some play time in their play place. Get the wiggles out! Perfect idea! Except when we get to our favorite restaurant, we find the play place closed for cleaning. What could have been a minor inconvenience quickly turns into its a disaster. My kiddos ate their lunch and patiently and waited for the closed sign in the play place to come down, as the staff said it should only be another 10 minutes or so. Truly their patience was inspiring! Then (bells ring, lights flash) here comes the wonderful employee who, with a wonderful smile takes down the closed sign!! Hip hip hooray!!! My kids run in and quickly get to playing. Enter employee number two, who also has a smile on her face. But this, my friends, was a different kind of smile. This was the “why do I have to be the one to tell these kids to get out?” kind of smile. And that’s just what she did. A mistake was made, the cleaning not complete, and would we mind stepping out while they finished cleaning the playplace. My children froze and stared at me with emploring eyes. All except my youngest, who simply melted down and started screaming.

Plan B: lets go to the park! This seemed agreeable to everyone (except me, if I’m honest. I know it was my idea, but my cold medicine was running out and I was tired. What was supposed to be a “let me sit here and veg while you play in the playplace” has turned into a “let me push you on the swing in the heat while I set the timer for when we can go home. One hour and counting.”) so off we go to play. The hour completed, the kids and I were ready to head home. By the time we get there, my youngest has fallen asleep in the car. I send everyone else into the house and sit in my air conditioned van while my little one sleeps. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes at this as you read it. ‘Just take her in the house’ you say. Impossible, I tell you. Believe me, I have tried. Doesn’t work. So I sit. I don’t mind. It gives me a few minutes of peace in the middle of my day.

Once we head in, its time to start thinking about dinner. As I mentioned we have family visiting and so tonight, they are preparing the meal. A wonderful treat for me! We eat dinner, take care of the animals and tuck them in for the night. We get ourselves ready for bed, watch a short movie, read a book and head to bed. A busy, normal day.

So what, my dear friends, is the point of all this? Simply this. I. Am. Blessed. By the home we live in, the animals we care for, and the family we are. Sick or no, I am blessed to be living this mad, crazy, busy life. I have my moments, there are times when I wish we could slow down and just be. But I know that these moments are all too fleeting. Sooner than I’d like to think, this house will not be filled with the screams of laughter of my little ones, but the pleas of teenagers wanting to use the car for one thing or another. Then college, and then more quiet than I’d like to think about. I will take my busy day and do my best to love and live the moment I am in. Adventures abound! I’ll be ready for them!! Just as soon as I take my next round of cold medicine….

To Homestead or not to homestead

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am! A long held dream of mine became a reality almost a year ago. For years, my husband and I have dreamed of having property. Our own little slice of paradise to call our own. A pipe dream, really, or so we thought. I mean seriously: We live in California. We have 4 kids ranging from 10 to just under 2 years old. . We both work and I homeschool our children as well. Our plate was full! We lived in a nice neighborhood, had a wonderful gardner to take care of the small yard that we didnt have the time to maintain. You know, your typical suburban family. I had the desire to start a little garden, but had difficulty keeping my cactus alive. So what possessed us to take on a 5 acre property with the intention to create a homestead? Simple. We’re crazy! But if I’m to be totally honest with you, it was the best decision we could have made. Our lives have changed dramatically over the last year. We have a wonderful foundation to build on, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.

One of the biggest reasons we decided to jump in to this adventure was our kids. We wanted our children to have the chance to live the country life. To play outside until the sun goes down, to help care for the animals and tend the garden. A homeschooler’s paradise, truly. So many hands on experiences to be had!! Did we have any idea what we were getting ourselves into? Of course not! Have we had some bumps and bruises along the way? Yes. Would we go back and do it all over again if we had the chance? Without a doubt. I love our little home. I love our chickens. I love the peace that I find out here. I thought about writing peace AND quiet, but then I remembered my 4 children and just went for peace. Lets be honest, unless all 4 are sleeping there is no such thing as quiet around here.(in fact as I’m typing this I hear a loud crash from the kitchen where my son had asked to grab a snack, followed by a small voice saying “I’m ok!” Is it bad that I’m still sitting here typing? I’ve seen his little self and can reassure you that no blood is involved.)

I digress, back to the topic at hand. Is homesteading for everyone? No, of course not! I’m sure our version of a homestead will look different than others would expect. I fully expect our dreams and ideas to morph and change as we grow and learn. That’s part of the fun of it! Our first adventure: chickens! We inherited a rogue chicken that escaped when the previous owners moved. We named her Becky. She was a raggedy little thing, and not shy in the least. She’d come up to our slider off the back porch and peck at the door. We adopted her immediately and started feeding her within the week. We fixed up a small coop for her at night and let her free range during the day. Within a few weeks we had an offer to add a couple of pullets into the mix so Becky wouldn’t be alone. We brought them home and named them Fran and Rose. The three of them get along well and continue to stay in the smaller coop and free range during the day. Last month, however, we added 12 chicks to our family. In true Hoffmann fashion we named them all as well. Don’t ask me how we’ll be able to keep them all straight, I’m leaving that resposibility to my oldest daughter. For your information and entertainment their names are as follows: California (Cali for short), Oreo, Plum, Daisy, Rojo,Blossom, Toffee, Caramel, Luna, JuJuBee, Lacey and Lupita. Honestly, I’m impressed that I can remember them all. You’ll hear more about the girls, have no doubt. We’re currently working on the larger coop and run so that when the girls are ready to graduate from the brooder, they’ll have a place to go to. 3 weeks and counting!

Thanks for joining us on our adventure. Come back by the site and check out our adventures. Homesteading. homeschooling, parenting, how to get chicken poop off of your patio with a hose and a scrub brush, we’ll talk about it all!