Ranch Residents: Meet the Chickens

We love our chickens, we give each of them a name, we make them our pets, and we spend time with them everyday!  Having a chicken coop, watching the chickens cluck and explore, and gathering fresh eggs are some of the simplest joys in the world here at the ranch.

In the spring of 2016, we built a chicken coop together as a family project. You can read about that HERE. The original seven chicks that we started off with were:

“Peach”–a Salmon Faverolle

“Gladys”–a White Brahma

“Alex”–a Gold-Laced Wyandotte

“Peepers”–a Golden Comet

“Star”–an Amerecauna

“Priscilla”–an Easter Egger

“Domino”–a Dominique

For being fragile animals, the chickens have done surprisingly well holding up to our rough little boys!  The boys love to chase the chickens around and pick them up and squeeze them.  Besides being fun, the chickens have been great in teaching our kids responsibility.  I look forward to years of fun ahead of us with these little ladies.



What I’m Reading this Year: My 2017 Book List

Hi friends! Today I’m sharing what’s on my bookshelf to read in 2017!

Last year I made a book list at the beginning of the year for what I wanted to read in 2016.  This helped me establish a plan, have something to look forward to, and build leisure time into my life! ( You can see what I read in 2016 on my Pinterest board here.)

Here’s my 2017 book list,in no particular order:

walk to beautiful

Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne–This was a Christmas gift from my mom.  She watched an interview that the author did and says his story is simply amazing.

entrepreneurial reflections

Entrepreneurial Reflections by Jay D. Rodgers–This was a gift from my sister.  Since Ryan and I are in the thick of #entrepreneurlife, I’m certain I will enjoy advice in this book!

god king

God King by Joanne Williamson–This is a book my daughter read in homeschool and couldn’t quit talking about.  She left me inspired, so I can’t wait to dig in!


Lighting by Chris Weston–I checked this out at the library because I received a new camera body for Christmas and lighting is on my brain!

in the company of women

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney –Anthropologie purchase from my momma. It’s got to be good!

new morning mercies

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp–Was given to me by my mentor, who is a a spiritual inspiration and highly recommends this devotional.  I have completed two of this author’s studies and he is one of my very favorite Bible teachers.


Uninvited by Lisa TerKeurst–Received this at a gathering of mommas and I’m looking forward to reading this treasure by an author I greatly admire.

deepening your roots

Deepening Your Roots in God’s Family–This is the 2nd book in the 2:7 series–Ryan and I did the first book in 2016, so now we are progressing forward in the series together! One of my favorite things is studying/reading/memorizing/discussing with him!

my bible

My Bible–Ryan gave me this NIV Bible the first Christmas after we were married and had it inscribed with my new name! It’s on every year’s reading list!

whole 30

Whole 30 by Melissa Hartwig–This is a re-read. I did a Whole 30 in August/September and I loved the way I felt when I followed the plan.  I know most of the do’s and don’ts, but I’m going to re-read it to review the science behind it and to try a few new recipes.

daring greatly

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown–I have this book on Audible and I started listening to it in 2016 and need to finish it up!

big magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert–I also purchased this on Audible and began listening to it in 2016 so I have a head start!

preemptive love

Preemptive Love by Jeremy Courtney–This book is the founding story of a ministry I was introduced to in 2016.

strong and kind

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson–I love Duck Dynasty and I love Korie Robertson, and I admire her intentionality as a parent so I’m looking forward to reading about how she helps her children succeed.

a more perfection union

A More Perfect Union by Ben Carson–I believe in what Ben is trying to do for our country and I hope to learn more about our Constitution and political system by reading this book.  The 2016 election revealed some deficiencies in my political knowledge.

i married adventure

I Married Adventure by Luci Swindoll–A Women of Faith book given to me by my momma.  I like the title already.

contentment in contentious times

Contentment in Contentious Times–One of my sweetest friend’s mother-in-law wrote this book.  My momma already borrowed my copy and says it is great!

wild and free

Wild and Free by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan–I am a fan of both of these girls, who I follow online, and I have heard lots of good reviews about this book.  I purchased it last year and am looking forward to pulling it off my bookshelf.

hope heals

Hope Heals by Katherine & Jay Wolf–I first heard Katherine’s story on the Happy Hour podcast and I can’t wait to dig into her inspirational story.

harry potter

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling –The 8th book/play in the Harry Potter series!


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery–I need more fiction on my list, and this is one of my most favorite childhood books and movies!  Can’t wait to enjoy it all over again.


That’s 21 books this year–I’m leaving some room open for books that come up…books that I check out at the library, books that friends recommend, books that are gifted to me, and books that I can’t resist purchasing!

My goal is to post a monthly book review that sums up what I’ve read for the month!

What do you love to read? What have you read lately that you would recommend?


Leisure: Stopping to Stare

Leisure time, baby on horse

Twice in the last thirty days, I have seen this poem…and I know that God is speaking to me. Leisure is what I’m lacking…


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?–
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

–W.H. Davies

He wants me to stop. Stop and enjoy the blessings all around me. Give into the joy of leisure, and not let me heart feel like it must “do” in order to be worthy to my people.  Stare at what is worth remembering.

And my people love it when I stop and stare and give them the most precious gift of attention and admiration.

I love the time after Christmas and before the New Year, when our family pauses and huddles together at home enjoying our new gifts, eating holiday leftovers and desserts, and snuggling together on the couch.  It is truly a time of year when I set aside responsibilities and instead relax from the hustle of Christmas and just enjoy my people.

I need more of these days in 2017.  Just the other night, Ryan and I lay in bed discussing how fast 2016 went.  How time is flying and we wished we could just press pause on life. We love this stage of life, the ages of our children, and the lifestyle we have created.  But it feels like we can’t ever press the brakes!

Focused attention on my precious peeps is what will slow things down.  I WILL create and make time to stop and stare!

Baby Riding Horse



That Guest Ranch: Revitalization of a Dream

Our twelfth anniversary fell on the third weekend of September this year and Ryan and I could NOT wait to get out of town and have some alone time together!  It was the first couple trip we’ve taken together since before Kash was born, so it was long overdue!

We decided on Fredericksburg (TX) because it was easy to drive to and we truly didn’t care where we went, as long as we were away together!  I checked out Airbnb on a friend’s recommendation and found a simple little one-bedroom house on a peach orchard.


We did some fun things while we were in town, like hike at Enchanted Rock, shop at Fredericksburg Trade Days, and drink wine at Grape Creek Vineyards.  But what was really fun for us was driving along Texas backroads, soaking in the sun, all while talking and dreaming about the future.  On the way to Fredericksburg, we just generally “caught up.” As in, “Hey, I think I know who you are but we haven’t had time to connect lately, let’s talk!”  And then while we were driving, this dream we had on our honeymoon twelve years ago became the subject of discussion.


For whatever reason, God placed on our hearts the dream of having a guest ranch. (Quick explanation: a working ranch where our family lives, and also hosts different families each week who want to vacation on the ranch.)  This dream started on our honeymoon and we dreamed about it for a full week while we were out in Cali, and then we came home and life just kept going.  Our little dream lingered in our hearts but we weren’t able to spend much time and energy into developing it because well, life.

Over the years, there has been small chatter about it but no action or deep thought on that guest ranch of ours.  But on this twelfth anniversary of ours, we got to our cozy little cabin and busted out a notebook and whipped out a bunch of crazy creative ideas. We nailed down the concept, the experience, the activities, the goods, the mission and then the next step was going to the local HEB (wish we had those in the DFW area) and purchasing some poster-board for these ideas that were too big for a regular sized 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  We laid out a sketch of the lodge, the house, the orchard, the guest houses, the horse barns, the mercantile, and all the other little places we need for our ranch.  We went to the local pizzeria and couldn’t quit talking about it so we used their big white placemats and drew on those and then we did what we always do and we checked out the local real estate.


It felt good to dream again.  To focus on the future, and not just the list of things that must be done this week for our family to survive.  It was freeing to recall those honeymoon memories and to acknowledge some different things God has put on our hearts.  And now as we work on our current and future goals, we are working our activities all around that little guest ranch dream that we hope to make a reality someday!


This Year School is at Home

The 2016-2017 school year is underway and this year our family has decided on homeschooling (again) for our 4th grader and our Pre-K student!

homeschool-studio-5 We first began homeschooling when Devynn (our 4th grader) was in second grade.

Homeschooling is not something that I EVER imagined I would do.


A few years ago I read several books and was inspired by some local friends as well as online homeschooling families.  It seemed like there were lots of benefits to school at home, but I was scared to death to make the jump into homeschooling.

homeschool-studio-3 After a lot of praying and encouragement from Ryan, as well as big excitement from Devynn, who thought it would be the coolest thing in the world, we decided to go for it!

That first year of homeschooling was both incredibly amazing and incredibly hard.  Amazing because of all of the time we got to spend together and the things we learned together…hard because it is truly a lifestyle change.  Gone were the days of meeting friends for coffee, or going to a morning Bible study, or simply running errands without my kiddos.  In a sense you lose a bit of freedom.  Also you feel a little bit “different” from all the other mommas that you are used to hanging with.

homeschool-studio-2 However, what I found during that year was that my heart was chasing after God because 1) homeschooling was way out of my league and 2) it increased my dependency on God because it wasn’t something I had any experience with and 3) The burden of my “to-do list” felt overwhelming so I felt myself coming to God often in prayer.  At the end of the year, I was glad we tried it! And upon completing the second grade, Devynn decided she wanted to homeschool every other year and so she returned to her school for third grade (and it was good timing since I had baby Kash at the beginning of the school year).

homeschool-studio-4 Well, here we are now and we are starting another year of homeschooling (every other year) and we are excited about our time together again!

This year we are using Sonlight curriculum.  What is nice about Sonlight is that they have all of your lesson plans for every subject prepared so that you have very minimal planning time.  This is perfect for me at this stage in my life because of the four kids I’m trying to keep up with!

homeschool-studio-8 If you’ve ever considered homeschooling, here are some books that I found helpful for both considering homeschooling, and then later actually homeschooling!

The Homeschool Experiment (A quick, funny, easy read about a mom’s first year of homeschooling)

A Thomas Jefferson Education (Probably the most meaningful book I read for home education)

Dumbing Us Down (Thoughts about public schools from a public school teacher)

The Well-Trained Mind (Subtitle: “A Guide to Classical Education at Home”)

Teaching the Trivium (How to teach classical style–lots of info, just flip through for specific needs)

Educating the WholeHearted Child (Written by an author I respect based upon other books she has written)

homeschool-studio-1 You will find that when reading about homeschooling, some authors have vastly different perspectives than you do regarding homeschooling; just use the information you find helpful, and discard the rest.  There are lots of different perspectives about homeschooling and I find that my family has its own unique identity among this group.  Each family will have different ideologies and that’s fine!

Cheers to a wonderful school year!

*Note: All images came from my actual homeschool studio 🙂


The Chicken Coop Scoop

NOTE: This post was originally published on our work website on August 12, 2016.


The Chicken Coop is finished! Ryan and I had such a fun time on this project and we enjoyed getting to share it with you live on our Facebook page. As promised, here is the scoop with details and sources.

Edited Full View 001

The chicken coop was a great project to work on as a family.  There were little jobs for little hands, and big jobs for big hands.  It was also a great time for Ryan and I to chat while working on it together.   We had lots of hands involved in this project and I intend on doing a separate post showing “behind the scenes” footage with our kids, neighbors, and friends helping out on this work of heart!

Below is the door detail.  As mentioned on our live video, we wanted to build this coop as inexpensively as possible.  So for the door, we picked it up at a local “junk” store for less than $20 and painted it.  I already had this paint on hand from a previous project, and it is “Slate Tile” by Sherwin Williams.  Ryan added two door latches–we needed a second high latch to keep the kids from opening it up and leaving the door open for predators. I picked up that dark blue planter on the left from our local junk man ($2), and the American flag was something I’ve had for years and even considering getting rid of before due to the sun fading the colors out, but now I’m so glad I kept it because the blue fade goes perfectly with the coop.  Ryan mounted a flower hook from Home Depot for me so that I could always keep a hanging basket of fresh flowers up.  It is August in Texas right now, so none of my flowers are doing too well! I will have to get creative with what needs to hang on there next.  Come soon, fall weather!


I absolutely love the rustic wood siding that Ryan used.  We were pretty intentional with the siding because we wanted it to be rustic and cheap but not too janky.  We were first going to use wooden pallets but a friend suggested using fence planks instead.  That decision turned out great and Ryan spent a lot of time pulling nails, cutting, and designing.  I adore the vertical planks mixed with the horizontal planks.

Because we have some other out buildings at our house that have red in them, I knew I wanted to trim the chicken coop out in red.  It made sense to make everything tie in together! This red is “Cherry Cola Red” by Behr from Home Depot.  Home Depot had a great color card that was my inspiration for the coop.  Click HERE to see the color card on our Instagram page.  I knew I wanted some type of gooseneck barn light and I ended up purchasing this galvanized metal one from Lamps Plus.  If you need a custom size, material and/or color for your barn (or interior) light, check out Barn Light Electric.  They have the dreamiest lights ever (and I love their tagline: “where vintage and modern collide”)!


“Ranch in the City” is the affectionate term for our home, and my mom gave me this old window several years ago with the phrase “Ranch in the City” hand painted on the window pane.  But the sun and rain faded the letters over time so I cleaned up the window and installed a waterproof decal that is supposed to last for 5-7 years.  The decal was custom made by Stormy Night Designs on Etsy and it the reason I chose this vendor was because I was able to choose any free Google font that I wanted for my decal.  I ordered the chicken decal separately from a different Etsy vendor, but in the same color so it would all tie in together.


Close-up photo detail of bench + flowers.

I used an old worn bench with warped wood to set in front of the coop to display flowers. The bench is special because it came from one of our properties that we purchased to flip. The previous owners left it outside and Ryan brought it home for me knowing that it would go perfect for this project. The 3 planters (left to right) were purchased from Canton First Monday Trade Days, Magnolia (at their old location), and from my local junk man.


Little shot of the run here.  I planted a crossvine plant that is an evergreen (yay!) and I’m hoping it will vine across the coop to provide some shade in the coop for next summer.  (We originally had a wisteria here but my mom tipped me off that it could potentially be poisonous if eaten by the chickens so we switched and put the crossvine in.)  The wooden tree stumps are also from one of our properties and they are the perfect place for the chickens to perch and feel important!


Beginning of some crossvine blooms!  The majority of my flowers were purchased from my favorite local nursery, Meador Nursery.


I love, love, love the combination of woods and metals!


You can see that the wood isn’t perfect, and that’s what I love about it.  Ryan pressure washed the wood to give it a clean look that better showed the imperfections.  He cut each piece with his saw to perfectly match up the pieces together.


This is an old window on the west side of the coop.  Ryan knocked the glass out and we installed this window for ventilation and placed some chicken wire over it to protect them from intruders.


I ordered “the hen house” sign from Liberty Island Farm on Etsy.


Another view taking a step back! The red tin roof matches our barn and was left over from when the barn was built, so Ryan used it for this roof.  Another element that helps tie the chicken coop to the other buildings we have on our property, plus it was free!  And I love the way the green grass contrasts with the coop!


Chicken coop interior coming at you now…who ever knew you would need to “decorate” a chicken coop?!

What’s more American than a chicken coop? Ok, maybe apple pie, but fresh eggs is a close second in our eyes! So I thought it would look great to use this wooden painted flag that I already had and hang it above their nesting boxes.  I purchased this old rustic metal box piece from Canton First Monday Trade Days a couple of years ago for $20.  I was using it in my art studio to store art supplies but once we built the chicken coop, I knew it had to be used for its original purpose!  Ryan used manila rope (purchased from Home Depot) to mount the coop.  We are in love with manila rope, and we use it on everything! I love the way the metal looks with the white and I love the metal plus rope combination as well.


These “Feed Your Belly Feed Your Soul” and “Freedbirds” wooden blocks are from a friend who did a remodel at Freebirds. (These were extras from the job site.)


Detail of the manila rope, plus rope clamps and XL metal screw eyes–these were used to hang the roosting boxes and we also used the same items to hang the chicken’s water bucket in the corner (not shown).


I took a step back in the photo below to show you a full length shot of the interior.  Although the interior didn’t need to be painted, I just knew a light paint would give the coop a lighter, more open look. I used livestock-safe barn and fence paint from Behr and the color is Barn White No. 35. It’s a great bright white even those these pictures actually make the paint look a little yellow due to the position of the sun when I was shooting.

We’ve got more tree stumps inside the coop, a metal bin to store chicken feed, and their water and feeder.


So, we started with seven chicks and still have all seven! (This is by the grace of God, because we’ve had two near-death accidents!) The chicks are growing like crazy and they love their tiny abode. The kids enjoy holding them and chasing them and we can’t wait for them to start producing some farm fresh eggs for us!  Here’s a roll call:

  1. Peepers – an Easter Egger
  2. Gladys – a White Brahma
  3. Peach – a Golden Comet
  4. Alex Morgan – a Black-Laced Golden Wyandotte
  5. Priscilla – a Salmon Faverolle
  6. Star – an Ameraucana
  7. Domino – a Dominique

The chicks were purchased at my local feed store, D &L Feed Store in Denton.  They were so helpful in helping us choose the perfect chicks for our family, and they let the kids hold a handful of chicks while we made decisions about our final inventory!


Big huge thank you to Ryan who put a lot of man hours into this project and made it the dreamiest coop I could have ever imagined! He is so talented!

Is anybody ready to build a coop?! We hope we’ve inspired you to potentially design your own chicken house!  If you have any questions for us, just send us an email or contact us on social media!

Adding this last image for potential Pinterest pinning!  Have a great weekend y’all!



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