Chickens….and an accompanying impulse buy

We got the baby chicks! AND, drumstick…errr…drumROLL please, we also got ducks. After lots of researching for the best breed of chickens for our family, we tossed (not literally) two ducks into our cart like an impulse pack of gum.  I’m exaggerating slightly. Think you’ve got us figured out? Think again. Months of research AND a last minute decision. We are so unpredictable.


Spoiler alert: the ducks are a mess. They are fuzzy, and cute and fun and…so nasty.

They like to wash their food down with water. Translation? They turn their water into a sludge that needs to be changed out several times a day. That’s not even mentioning the duck drool and dribble they drip from food trough to water dish, soaking the whole brooder. Ick. Cute, fuzzy, messy little ducklings.

We call this one, “Dumpling”

While we are still working on completing the coop, they are living in two boxes under a heat lamp. They can’t move into the coop until they’re about 4-5 weeks and they won’t start laying for about 6 months.

We started them out together, in a large cardboard box, but the ducks grew exponentially that first week and it got crowded. Plus, they were being pretty rude roomates by pooping their giant poops everywhere, amidst their drool and dribble. Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time until they got evicted.

We now have them in two plastic storage type boxes, with the light between them.


As for the coop, we’ve completed, and painted the nesting boxes, cut a chicken/duck door, painted the human sized door and started screening everything in.




We used the same color on the coop door as our yellow house door. (Pittsburgh Paint “Stormy Ridge”)




We are using hardware cloth around the bottom and as a skirting to protect against predators. This step has been the most difficult so far, but it’s important to get the hardware cloth secure to ensure your birds will be safe inside the coop.

We’ve heard that chickens are the “gateway” to all things “farm”, or “homestead”….time will tell, I guess. For now, I know some kids who are pretty pleased with their new pets.




Thanks for reading! -Steph



He that has a choice has trouble. ~Dutch Proverb

We had our first of several design center appointments, and oy! SO. MANY. CHOICES. I consider myself to be a pretty decent decision maker, but don’t love having an over abundance of choices. I know what I love, like, and hate.
When I was choosing a wedding cake, the bakery had three big fat binders full of sample cakes to be inspired by. I said, “I’ll look at this binder,” picked one up, “and choose from this one. I’ll never know what I missed.” There’s really no need to look at 900 cakes is there? No.
Not to mention, Brian and I make almost every decision together…like, I’ll call him at work to discuss something at COSTCO. I know I CAN make the decision, I just really like to know what he thinks! So, many phone calls and picture texts were exchanged.One of my first choices was exterior paint color. As in, here’s a two inch thick binding of paint swatches. Pick one. Okay, yikes.  But, I have always wanted a yellow house. I started in the yellow family and decided on one. I think this is it.
What do y’all think?

The stone is what will be used as skirting under the siding and down to the ground. There won’t be much of it you can see. The blue is what I chose for the front door! A blue front door! Pretty excited about that….obviously. The white will be trimming the windows. Here’s just a sample picture of the house so you can picture it:
Here’s my interior paint choices: Toasted Almond. Yes, totally up my alley. (Brian’s reaction: “boring.”-sorry honey.) If you know me at all, you know that tan is my neutral go to. You also know that I love throw pillows. All throw pillows go with tan. So, toasted almond it is. The cream color is for the beadboard wainscoting throughout the house.

The kitchen was where I spent the bulk of my time during my appointment and where I still need a little help. I’ll post more on that later.

In other house news, we have a survey, should have our official deed this week and have crossed off the first step towards getting power set up. Moving right along….



Hopes and Dreams and Farmhouse Sinks

It was a big week inside the house! The tile crew was so hard-working, and finished their job early! They tiled all four showers, the kid’s bathroom floors and put up the backsplash.
Some of the previous crews have taken lots of breaks, forgotten to lock the gate, told us they were, “staying the night on the property”-a story for another time maybe-, they have left food, beer bottles and other trash and even milk, (yes! MILK.*gag*) on the porch and in the house. But, this crew was working by 8 am, packing up at dark and even worked this past weekend to finish up. They were clean and closed the gate. We are grateful for them, and hope the remaining crews follow in their footsteps. Here’s some of their work:

Master Shower (sorry about the blurry, dark picture!)

Isn’t that backsplash just the bee’s knees? We love it. I especially love how each stone is slightly a different shade. It looks natural and polished.
You can also see in this photo that the countertops have been installed! Granite was something neither of us cared about having, but was included with the price of the house. We just had to pick one. I think it looks really great, and we’re happy with it. The best thing about the coutertops is how they compliment my. gorgeous. perfect. double. basin. farmhouse. sink.

Obviously I wish I had removed the plastic before I took this picture. I was just so stinkin’ excited! It is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it with our dishes in it.


All the bathrooms have the same countertops. They look like this:


Carolynn’s bathroom

This week, the electrician and the plumber will be finishing up! We could have lights on by the weekend! The a/c crew will be here next week to install the a/c and finish up what they started.
There is still lots and lots to do…paint touch ups, painting the porch, finishing the gutter system, sanding and staining the floors, carpet upstairs, more paint touch ups, appliances…but closing by the end of the year is still the goal. Doesn’t look like we’ll be putting up our Christmas tree this year, but hopefully we’ll be ringing in the new year in the house. Finished. In our finished house I should say. 🙂

I have been thinking lately that as a family, we have hardly just enjoyed being here at the ranch, day to day, doing the things we always used to like doing here.  It’s real life here now. We need groceries and we need to go to school. Our time here is less novel, being that we are here all the time. We haven’t been adventuring, exploring, or frog catching as much as a family that lives here “should be”. Upon realizing this, I felt disappointed in myself. I have forgotten what we are really doing here. Of course, I deserve some grace at this time in our life, and I have had good intentions. We are gone every weekend doing laundry and taking hot showers!
But, this weekend, Landon had a later start soccer game, and we had a real breakfast together, Brian went out on the tractor, we played outside and breathed fresh air. We didn’t throw our laundry and the dog in the trunk, and drive away first thing Saturday morning. We came back earlier than usual on Sunday and explored and played in the mud. It was so refreshing, and comforting.

Oh yeah. Aaaaahhhh.


(originally published November 14, 2016)

Managing Our Expectations

Friends, I am so honored that so many of you have been reading. I am thrilled, and surprised that y’all are interested in our adventure. You are all motivating me to keep documenting.  Thank you!

So much has been happening at the house this week! Since we live on property, I drive by several times a day and can see who’s there working. Sometimes, driving by so much has been discouraging, like a few weeks ago when day after day there was no one there. Not this week. This week was major progress, and so encouraging. We might actually be in by Christmas! Could it be?! For several days there were four different crews there. Go guys go!

In the evenings, we would pile in Brian’s truck, and go check out what’s happening. We have had so much fun seeing each day’s progress. Here’s some of the progress:


 right side dining
right side of the dining room (from the kitchen)
Master bedroom (standing in the doorway, looking into master bath)
 master looking out
Master bedroom (looking out into the living room) We think they painted the wrong color, but more on that later.
Living room (from kitchen)
 living room windows
Living Room and back doors

The paint was finished, except for the crown molding, which as I left yesterday, they were working on. The crown molding will be white, to match the trim and beadboard. The beadboard is throughout the entire house. It’s even in the closets! I am happy with the paint and trim color, except for next to the cabinets, where I wasn’t sure it “went together”. I’m not even sure what I mean by that, but here’s a picture:

 doorless pantry
This is the pantry, without the doors, which they removed to stain. I have a picture of that too 🙂

stained doorsLaundry room

Can I just stop for a minute and tell you about my laundry room? It has a window, and a door. With daylight. Y’all, why have all my other laundry rooms been dungeons? Sunshine makes me happy. We should all be doing laundry with sunshine, and a smile.
Those are the pantry doors, which have actually been rehung as of yesterday. They look soooo good.
As I mentioned, we were surprised to see how dark the master bedroom paint is, so went back to check our selection, which was:

carpet and colors

Right? Looks like a different color to us, but I guess that’s the thing about paint, and the scary thing about making these choices from a small sample. “Here’s a square that fits in your hand, think you like that? Cool. It probably won’t really look like this.” No one really told me that, but that’s the cold, hard truth. I think I like the color as is, but we will probably bring it up anyway.

This situation really epitomizes why we didn’t really want to build a house. If I was house hunting, and these paint colors were on the walls, I think I would like it. Maybe I would consider changing it, but it’s fine. I probably never would have and would have been happy about it. But, since it was such a deliberate decision and one I really considered, it is almost a let down when you walk in and you don’t have an overwhelming feeling of love. It’s all about expectations right? You expect after all the hours spent working on your choices, that everything will be exactly as you want it, and you will LOVE it. It feels like so much pressssuuurrrreeee.

Speaking of pressure, here’s a close up of the beautiful pine floors in their natural shade. They have yet to be stained, and after some more thought, seeking advice, and pinterest searching I have decided I want the floors to be lighter than I originally chose (original choice pictured above). First of all, you can see how great they look now. But also, the whole ranch is covered in white dust, from the roads, which I’m sure will be covering my floors. The darker the floors, the more noticeable the dust. (I’ve actually named my van, “Pigpen”. You know, like the character from Charlie Brown? I drive around in a cloud of dust.)


Now, that being said, there are many many many options for “lighter” stains. So we still have that decision ahead.

Last thing, and it’s huge. Like actually huge. As in, 40,000 gallons of water huge. This is our rainwater collection tank. We will be solely relying on rainwater from this tank for all our water. I know what you are thinking…pretty much everyone I tell this to looks at me with genuine concern and says something like, “but what if it doesn’t rain?” It’s possible, this is central Texas. Here are our reasons for choosing rain water: the well water in our area is in danger of being contaminated by sewage (you can read more about that here if you’re interested, and we have an existing well at the ranch house, and it needs work. Lots of purification materials and water softening needed.


If we do run out of water, you can call the water truck to come and fill ‘er up.

The gutters are on, the tank is installed, and we are just waiting for the final step: down spout to tank connection.

We also have a filled, and buried propane tank, and completed septic system. It’s happening, people! Next week, we are expecting the tile work to begin, in the showers and upstairs bathrooms. Hopefully, our granite counter tops will show up this week as well. I am really looking forward to seeing that giant slab on my island. I’ll make sure to share how it looks!