Tag Archives: raise your own food

That Backyard Farm Life

Border collies, and chickens, and tomatoes, oh my!!

If you weren’t already aware, I have quite the little backyard farm going on!

I grew up on an 80 acre farm in rural Illinois and I miss it all of the time, but my tiny little backyard set up does help. Also maybe it’s practice for a future real farm someday? I sure hope so!!

But before we get into everything I’ve going going on in that regard I just wanted to quickly mention that I got pooped on by a bird during my run this morning. That was definitely a first for me and I thought it was pretty funny. πŸ¦πŸ’©πŸ˜‚

Ok, so backyard farm.

Obviously I’ve got my 4 border collies. They have been my dream since I was 10 years old and I cannot even being to describe how happy they make me! One day I’d like to actually have some real livestock for them to work (Lily actually has worked cattle before and does know a few real herding commands), but for now they just help me keep my chickens and rabbits in line. πŸ˜‚

One of my rabbits has a habit of escaping her hutch at night and getting under our shed. But when she eventually comes out Finn knows to keep her from getting back under there and will hold her in one place so I can quickly grab her. Border collies are incredibly smart and the fact that he’s caught on to what I need him to do is just so awesome!

Don’t worry! This doesn’t stress the bunny out! If you’ve ever seen border collies work then you know they’re very quite and deliberate with what they do. Plus she’s just super used to it and isn’t afraid of my dogs at all. Hahaha if she was a sheep she would be considered β€œdog broke”. Which just means she’s used to being worked by my dogs.

So yeah. I’m just over here living one of my childhood dreams and it’s pretty fucking sweet!

Now, I’ve really debated talking about this next part, but I’m briefly going to get into it. Super duper long story that really doesn’t matter anymore and even if it did I wouldn’t get into it anyway, I’ve recently come into the possession of 2 as of today 6 day old border collie puppies. Like I said, it’s a long story that really doesn’t matter. But what does matter is that they’ve been keeping me very busy! One is a little boy and the other is a little girl.

Unfortunately the little girl has a cleft palate so we’re not sure what’s going to happen with her yet. We’re planning on taking her to the vet soon and seeing what they think we should do. Obviously I’m not a vet, but from what I’ve read it might just be better to euthanize her. Unfortunately stuff like that happens. But we’ll see what the vet says. So I was bottle feeding her, but that wasn’t working well since puppies with cleft palates can’t create the proper suction to nurse. So I’ve switched to feeding her with a syringe for now. And I may have to keep doing that for 3 or 4 more weeks until I can start weening them. That or I’ll only have 1 puppy to care for soon. We shall see.

Little girl fell asleep in my hand after I got done feeding her. Poor baby, is doing a lot better after I started feeding her with a syringe though.

Note; we are not keeping either of these puppies. I’m just taking care of them until they’re old enough to find new homes. But they are adorable! And while they are a lot of work, I do like having them around. 😁

Okey doke! Moving on!!

My chickens are doing well! Nothing really too exciting to report on that front. They eat, poop, and lay eggs pretty much every day. Jethro, my rooster, gets a little bit high and mighty anytime a man gets anywhere near the coop but other than that he’s the nicest rooster I’ve ever met. πŸ˜‚

Since my hens are pretty well established and laying almost every day (they’ve slowed down a little bit because of the heat) I’ve been selling eggs to a few people. Nothing too crazy, but they have paid for a few bags of their feed, so hey, I’ll take it!!

Fresh and pretty eggs washed and ready to be delivered to my neighbor!

So this year my garden is much smaller than it has been in previous years, but it’s doing much better than it did last year!! Last year we legit went 2 months without a drop of rain and my poor tomato plants suffered because of it. This year the weather has been much better and we’ve had a ridiculous amount of tomatoes!! And a decent amount of cucumbers too! 😊

Luke and I have already made 2 jars of tomato sauce and we plan on making more! Plus a bunch of pickles. Canning is a lot of fun, plus we like to have homemade tomato products for chili. We make a lot of chili in the cold months hahaha. And homemade sauce made from a homegrown tomatoes just makes it that much better.

So all of this backyard farm stuff is a lot of work! Monday I spent 2 hours in the morning tending to everything outside and today I spent 3 hours out there! And that’s not counting caring for the puppies and feeding/cleaning up after the rest of the animals. πŸ˜‚ Mostly those 2 days were filled with general yard work, weeding the garden, picking tomatoes and cucumbers, watering the garden, and weed whacking.

Whew! All of that stuff counts as cross training, right?? Hahaha I sure think it does! All that stuff is hard freaking work! I enjoy it though. I guess you could say it’s in my blood. Now if only I could actually make some real money off of all of this! It’s a lot of work and little reward if you don’t count the eggs and produce. Mostly it’s just thankless work. A lot of people assume that since I don’t have a “real” job that I sit around all day doing a whole lot of nothing but that definitely isn’t the case!

So yeah. That’s basically my life at this point! Running, raising dogs, chickens, and growing food! Along with blogging and general household stuff of course. It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s mine and I love it. 😊

I hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday!!

You’re backyard farming friend aka Farmer Dan (it’s an inside joke πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰),

~Ashley

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Chicken Stuff

I swore up and down that there would be no more chickens in this house! They’re messy, smelly, and annoying to clean up after inside. But low and behold, I had a freaking chicken in my living room on Sunday night.

Poor girl was getting bullied by my rooster, Jethro. She was super stressed out and wouldn’t get into the nesting box at night and had stopped cleaning herself (hence why she looks so terrible in the above photo). So I brought her in and set her up in a dog crate in my “exercise room”. Luckily she seemed perfectly fine with all of that. As far as she was concerned it was a smaller version of their nesting area outside and it got her away from Jethro.

So she got to hang out inside with us for a few days. She calmed down and started cleaning herself again. She never stopped eating, drinking, pooping or doing other chicken things, and her eyes are clear and she’s not sneezing or anything so I was very confident that she wasn’t sick. Just being bullied.

On Tuesday I locked Jethro into the nesting box and let this little lady hang outside with the other hens for a few hours. That experience 100% confirmed my suspicions that it was only Jethro being an asshole to her. The other hens just went about their business when I brought her out, while Jethro freaked out in the nesting area. πŸ™„

After a few hours I brought her back in and let Jethro out. At that point he got a banana too. πŸ˜‚

The next day I decided I was going to let the hens into the bigger run of the coop and leave Jethro locked in the inner area of the coop all day. My hen was doing fine inside, but these are flock animals and they can get stressed out being separated from the group. Plus she’s a chicken and chicken like to be outside. πŸ˜‚

So I went ahead with my plan. Jethro was super pissed that I had separated him from his harem, but at least my Brahma hen got to be outside and do chicken things with the rest of the flock. As the day went on Jethro finally calmed the fuck down and do that evening I gave him run of the whole coop again. I kept a close eye on him though. Obviously I didn’t want him harassing that poor hen again. Luckily he didn’t and that night when I went to lock them up they were nesting together, fast asleep. So hopefully Jethro has gotten over whatever his issues with her was.

Jethro might be an asshole, but he’s MY asshole. πŸ˜‚

So a rooster picking on a hen is actually a pretty common occurrence. Sometimes there is literally no reason for it. But I’m thinking (and hoping) that this whole situation happened because my little flock is currently molting. They’re shedding their winter feathers, growing their summer feathers, and apparently tension is high. πŸ˜‚ But again, that’s all pretty common stuff.

Obviously I’m gonna have to keep a close watch on them to make sure they’re all getting along (or ya know, to make sure Jethro stops being a bully). But I think once they’re done molting everyone will calm down and go back to normal.

So since they are molting I was expecting their egg production to go down at least a little bit but it really hasn’t. I’ve been getting at least 4-5 eggs a day. But a day were all 7 of my hens lay an egg isn’t uncommon at all. So needless to say, I have a bunch of eggs. πŸ˜‚

A couple of people Luke works with want some so we’re going to sell them some. Plus I’m going to be leaving for Colorado next week for my first race of the year and I plan on bringing a bunch of them with me to give to my dad. But I think over the summer we’re going to have to put an ad on Craigslist or something because there’s no way we’re going to be able to eat all of these eggs! πŸ˜‚

It is pretty sweet to have our own fresh eggs though! And pretty soon we’ll be planting our garden and we’ll have fresh produce to go along with them. 😊

So yeah. Chicken stuff. πŸ“πŸ₯šπŸ˜„

Hopefully by next week I’ll have some fun hiking stuff to talk about! And then of course as the week goes on running stuff and eventually a race recap!

Honestly I haven’t really had anything super exciting to talk about running wise as of late. I’m trucking along and I feeling great about what I’m getting done, but to be honest it’s all kinda boring! πŸ˜‚ Just putting in the work and getting in the miles. I’ve really been enjoying the whole process though! Although with summer running quickly approaching I’m not sure how long the whole “enjoying the process” thing is going to last. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, that is all for today!

Does anyone else have any upcoming races they’re looking forward to? It is that time of year after all!

Happy racing season everyone! πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ˜„

~Ashley and her small flock of chickens

August 27th, 2018

Around this time of year the sun shines through the trees right into our backyard in the morning and I think it’s super pretty. πŸ™‚ I’m gonna have to start eating breakfast outside, just for the views.

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Honestly I’d be much more inclined to eat outside in the morning if it wasn’t so freaking out out. At 7:00 this morning it was 80 degrees out and by 3 pm it was 92 but it felt like 100. Yuck. So yeah, I probably should have gotten up earlier to run this morning. I woke up at 7, but I probably should have been up at 5. That would have at least made my run for today a little bit more enjoyable.

The plan for today was 4 easy miles. Mission accomplished!! But since it was so hot out I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish anything other than an easy run today. I know I complain a lot about the heat, but it’s mostly because it’s just so damn frustrating! It slows me down hardcore, and that’s saying something because I’m already a super slow runner. It makes running much more difficult and I usually end up feeling drained, tired, and exhausted for the rest of the day after a run. Summer is just not for me, my friends. My body does not react well to hot weather.

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That being said, today’s 4 miler wasn’t really too terribly bad. It was hot and humid and slow, but it wasn’t too miserable, all things considered. For going on 3 weeks now Rancid’s album Indestructible has been the soundtrack to like 90% of my running haha. But since I’m currently very much into that album right now it definitely made my run a little bit better this morning. πŸ™‚ But it’s supposed to be even hotter tomorrow morning and no amount of good music is going to make that better, so I might just end up doing my interval workout on the treadmill. That thing has come in very handy this summer and I am eternally grateful to my sister for giving it to me!

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Anyway, lucky for me I still have half of a watermelon in my fridge and literally nothing is better than cold watermelon after a super hot run! So refreshing! So tasty! Watermelons are probably my favorite thing about summer! Haha I don’t even bother slicing them or cutting them up or anything. I just scoop the flesh right out of the rind. My preffered method of doing that is with an ice cream scoop (because bigger bites, duh πŸ˜‰ ) but a normal spoon works just as well. πŸ™‚

 

After my run I did a little bit of strength work as well. I wanted to do at least 30 minutes but I made it through 15 haha. I was completely dead after running in the heat this morning. Who’s bright idea was it to only ever run fall half marathons? Because a good majority of training for them happens in the summer. Maybe I should aim for a spring one next year. The only problem with that is that I’m terrified race day will end up being warm and I’m obviously not a fan of that. Oh man, honestly it’s probably a good thing that I always aim for fall races. That pretty much forces me to run in the summer and I need all the motivation I can get to run when it’s hot out.

Anyway, I’ve spent a good majority of my day searching for one of my favorite t-shirts. Have you ever had one that was just super comfy and fit you super well and that you absolutely love? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this one, but dammit if I can’t find it anywhere! And I’ve looked in some weird places. Sure I started out with the obvious ones, my closet, drawer, and the laundry room. But eventually I resorted to under my bed (and we don’t have a bed frame so I literally had to lift up the mattress and box spring), behind the dresser and my nightstand, under/between the washing machine and dryer, and under the couch. But nope. Nothing… It’s very sad really and I have no clue where I could have left it. I just noticed it was missing because I almost exclusively wear tank tops in the summer, so who knows when I actually lost it. Sad face. Haha but on the bright side, I cleaned pretty much everywhere I looked! You would not believe the amount of dog hair and dirt that accumulates under my couch in just a few months. I should probably clean under there more often. πŸ˜‚

I also had some more chicken drama today. It can get pretty windy here in Kansas. Especially in the spring and fall, and the wind has definitely been picking up lately. This afternoon it was particularly bad. So bad that it literally moved the dog kennel around the chicken coop back a couple of feet, and somehow while that happened two of the chickens got out. Luckily they’re pretty easy to catch and they never go far, so I was able to get them back to where they belong pretty easily. But since the wind was still blowing the dog kennel around, I put them all into the actual coop so that couldn’t happen again. Luckily that is too heavy for the wind to blow around, so it wasn’t going anywhere.

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You can see the line in the grass where the kennel used to be and obviously the pool used to be inside of it. The wind moved it pretty far!

So when Luke got home from work we set to work, anchoring the dog kennel to the ground, so this whole situation wouldn’t happen again. We had some little anchors that Luke hammered through the very bottom of the chain link into the ground, but we didn’t think that would be enough, so he also put in a post to help keep it in place. Then we made a few adjustments to the tarp situation, and now we thing it should hold up better in the wind. πŸ™‚

The tiny raptors were very happy to be let back out. There isn’t a lot of room in the inner part of the coop for all 8 of them. That’s part of the reason we built the whole dog kennel set up thing. Plus as long as it’s not being blown around by the wind, it gives them a little bit more protection at night or if we’re not home to keep an eye on them.

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But anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today!

Your hot and sweaty friend,

~Ashley

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Buy Me A Coffee

August 21st, 2018

Hey guys! Sorry about the lack of posts lately. Our wifi was going in and out and it was a whole thing…It’s fixed now though, so we’re back in business! πŸ™‚

Anyway, we had two whole days of rain on Sunday and Monday and that’s really cooled things off here in Kansas! It’s been great!! Running is so much more pleasant when the temperatures are in the 60’s. πŸ™‚ Yesterday’s easy 3 miler was great! And I wish I could say the same about today’s 4 mile interval workout. That didn’t go as well. My quads were just absolutely dead today. Not sure why but I figured that was a pretty good indication that I needed to spends some quality time with my foam roller today. So I cut my run short halfway through at 2 miles. I really didn’t want to, but man my legs just weren’t feeling right, so it was probably a good decision. Just one that I wasn’t exactly happy to have to make.

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While short, this run was still kinda interesting! Since the weather has been really nice there are a lot of people outside mowing their yards, working on roofs, putting in new windows, and there is a little bit of construction going on in my neighborhood. So trying to stay out of other people’s way and not get run over by heavy machinery is a great way to spice up any run! πŸ˜‰ Plus I saw two loose chickens in someone’s front yard this morning. I have a feeling they weren’t supposed to be there and I hope they eventually got put where they should be.

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That’s one very amusing thing about living in a very small, semi-rural town. Our city ordinary specifically says we can’t keep chickens, but there are at least four other people in my neighborhood, aside from myself, who definitely have chickens. And honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t more! Haha one guy even has geese, doves, and other kinds of birds, along with his chickens. At one point he even had a peacock and he also breeds his basset hounds occasionally. So obviously these city ordinances aren’t being enforced. But I feel like as long as it’s not causing any problems nobody really cares. They joys of small town living! πŸ™‚

Before we even got our chickens we actually asked several of our neighbors if they would mind and they were all fine with it, which was super cool. And so far we haven’t had any issues with them. Hens are usually pretty quite unless they are upset about something or are laying an egg, and even then they aren’t too terribly loud. Plus we don’t have a rooster so we don’t have to worry about that. Really the only potential issue we would have with them is the smell. Chickens aren’t exactly cleanly animals and their poop smells (but in all fairness, who’s poop doesn’t smell?) and their feed can smell too if it gets wet and starts to mold. So we just have to keep their coop nice and clean, which isn’t an issue because that’s something I’d do anyway. Healthy chickens are happy chickens, and happy chickens lay better eggs. πŸ™‚

 

So after my run I washed all of their stuff and cleaned out the coop. I shared a lot of that process on Instagram so I figured I might as well share that here as well. πŸ™‚

First I washed all of their “dishes” and their pool. Haha I had several different containers out there for snacks and ice water from when it was super hot out, so usually I wouldn’t have this much to wash, but either way it needed done.

So mud and chicken poop got scrubbed off of all of that stuff. Including the pool. Then most of that stuff went back in the house where it got washed again, and then run through the dishwasher. But their water thing and the pool got filled with clean water with a little bit of apple cider vinegar mixed in with it. I swear ACV hasΒ  a use for just about everything! In this case it helps keep the pool from growing a bunch of algae and keeps their water container from getting really slimy and gross. Plus it can help keep the chickens from getting internal parasites, so it’s just very useful all around!

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Yeah, this will stay clean for about a day…

After that was all taken care of, I moved on to the inside of the coop. Luckily it usually doesn’t get too gross in there, since they usually only sleep up there. So I scooped out their old straw, poop, and what not and then put new straw in their nesting area. Fun fact; chickens create a lot of dust! Between their poop drying up and old straw and feed breaking down, it gets really dusty in there! So I have to wear a mask thingy because I have asthma and that shit irritates my lungs haha. But the mask really does help.

The chicken pictured above is my smallest one. But she’s my little buddy. She follows me around and lets me pick her up. I’m not sure if she actually likes being picked up, but she tolerates it better than the other 7 haha. As of yet she doesn’t have a name, but I’m thinking she’s gonna need one! Well, as long as she’s distinguishable from the other 5 Rhode Island Red’s. They’re all kinda hard to tell apart. She’s just easy because she’s smaller than the rest of them.

Anyway, after the inside of the coop is clean then I clean up the outside area. That usually just involves cleaning up more poop and old feed. I actually didn’t have much to do in that department today. It was a little muddy in there from the rain so there really wasn’t much to clean up. The tarp we have over the outer coop keeps the chickens relatively dry when it rains. At least dry enough that they don’t want to go inside haha. But some water does drip down and it seeps in from the ground outside of the coop. It’s not too crazy muddy in there though. Just muddy enough to keep me from having to clean up a bunch of poop haha. πŸ˜‰

It does take a little bit of work to keep them all clean, but honestly it’s really not bad. I’d imagine if I just let it all go and not keep up with it for a while it would get pretty gross in there though. But anyway, that’s what I do to keep my coop clean and my chickens happy. πŸ™‚

Now then, I really need to go foam roll. I’ve been putting it off all day…

~Ashley

 

My First Time In Nebraska, Home Sweet Home, and New Addition To My Backyard Farm!!

My brother and I left Colorado Friday evening around 5 pm and ended up going on a little adventure haha. To avoid taking the toll roads that are in Colorado and Kansas, my brother ended up going just a little too far north and we ended up in Nebraska. That was pretty funny. When we crossed the state line and saw the “welcome to Nebraska” sign we looked at each other and asked how the heck did we end up here? Luckily we were still heading east, so that’s all that mattered haha. So we drove through Nebraska, into Iowa for a little bit (that was my brother’s first time in Iowa haha I’ve been trough there when Luke and I went to visit his mom in Minnesota), down into Missouri, and then finally into Kansas. We ended up adding an extra hour to our trip, but neither of us were too worried about that. Although it did kinda suck that we finally got to my house around 6 am.

We brought my mom’s dog Bella with us. My mom is currently in Illinois with my grandma and my brother needed to get some stuff in Illinois from my dad, so that all ended up working out well. She road on my lap the whole way to Kansas and then my brother had her in a crate for the 5 hour trip to Illinois from my house. Apparently she did well on that ride too. I’m not particularly a fan of little dogs, but she is sweet. πŸ™‚ Although my dogs weren’t too sure what to think of her haha. Especially Finn. I don’t think he’s ever seen such a small dog before.

Apparently leaving the dogs/cats/rabbits/ferrets/Luke all alone for a week wasn’t a great idea. Apparently Luke spend the whole week living off of frozen food, trying to keep the dogs under control, and they all spent the week wrecking the house haha. So I spent yesterday scrubbing floors, doing laundry, washing dishes, and lots of other cleaning. Fun times…But someone needed to do it. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, yesterday Luke and I started our next new and exciting adventure! We are expanding our backyard farm with the addition of 5 new chicks!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Luke bought/built a chicken coop on Friday while I was still in Colorado, and then last night we went to Tractor Supply and got a brood box, heat lamp, a feeder/water thing, feed, vitamins, and of course the chicks themselves! Originally we were going to get 4 Isa Brown chicks, but they only had 3 of them left. So we got them and 2 other chicks of a different breed. Not gonna lie though, I don’t remember what they are haha. That’s not really important though, they’re good for laying and that’s what we want!

So we got our new babies home and set up in their brood box and slowly started introducing the dogs to them. Luckily Lily grew up on a farm and has some formal training, so she knows how to handle and how to behave around livestock, so we weren’t too worried about her. Haha she was actually pretty excited to see them! She used to herd my dad’s chickens all the time! Dean doesn’t want anything to do with them, which isn’t surprising. Dean has very little in the way of herding instinct and is pretty wary of anything new. Finn was the one we were most worried about. He’s got very impressive herding instincts but he is still young and very immature. Plus he really likes to nip at faces, which would be really good if he was working on cows, but obviously not so good when we’re talking about tiny little chicks. He ended up surprising us though and was very calm and never once showed his teeth to them. He has absolutely no clue what they are but you can see that he wants to herd them so badly haha. But luckily it’s looking like the dogs wont be an issue at all, so that’s good. πŸ™‚

So far the babies seem to be adjusting well. They handled meeting the dogs perfectly fine and they seem to have done well over night. They’ve been eating, drinking, pooping, and pecking around their brood box. So I’d say so far so good!! πŸ™‚ They’ve got to stay inside in their brood box for several weeks, but once they have all their feathers they get to be moved outside into the coop. Well, as long as it’s warm enough outside. So that’s all pretty exciting stuff! And before too long we’ll have our own eggs! I’m super excited about that! Like just about everything, home raised eggs are sooo much tastier/nutritious than store bought eggs. πŸ™‚

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And pretty soon we’ll be tilling our garden plots and getting ready to plant some things! As sad as I always am to see winter go, spring is a pretty exciting time around here. πŸ™‚

Oh and I’ve currently got 2 5k’s on my scheduled to look forward to! Next Sunday I’m going to be doing a Whiskey 5k with my dad. That’s going to be a lot of fun!! My dad and I always have fun together but I think this is going to be extra exciting haha. It’s my dad’s first official 5k, we get a super spiffy pint glass at the end, and Jack Stacks is providing brunch for all of the finisher’s which is awesome! Jack Stacks has some very tasty food!! πŸ™‚

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This is basically the perfect 5k for my dad. His last name is Martin (and mind was too before I got married haha), he basically collects neat glasses like this, and he likes whiskey. So like I said, perfect! πŸ˜‰

And then in May I’m doing the Running With The Cows 5k again. I’m really looking forward to doing that! I had a lot of fun at that race back in 2016 and this year I even plan on training for it! I’ve never done an actual 5k training program before so that should be interesting. Training for that actually starts tomorrow, so I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on how that goes! I’m hoping I’ll be able to shave off a little bit of time from current 5k times, so hopefully I’ll be able to make that happen! πŸ™‚

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That’s all I’ve got for now! No weekly recap for this week. I pretty much posted everyday while I was in Colorado and I really didn’t do much running anyway haha. Plus I’ve still got a bunch of cleaning to do and I’ve got to tend to my flock of chickens! πŸ˜‰

Happy Sunday!!

~Ashley