The Toyn Homestead

Our adventures as we attempt to balance work, family, and our small homestead

Author: steph (page 1 of 24)


Just before we moved in, our next-door neighbors (a quarter of a mile down the road), had decided to take a job out of state. At the beginning of August, they contacted us to see if we would be interested in buying any of their sheep that they had to leave behind. Nick and I discussed it and decided to buy 3 ewes. One evening, we walked down the road to grab them and bring them home. We weren’t quite sure what to expect as far as trying to catch them and “walking” them back to our house. The owner’s brother met us there and what followed can only be described as a rookie rodeo. After some time, Nick was able to catch the 3 ewes we had chosen.
As we “walked” the sheep down to our house, I heard sudden screaming from Kylie. I ran to catch up to her only to find she had been stung by a bee on her head, and the bee was still stuck in her hair! I quickly grabbed a stick and was able to get the wasp out and kill it. I knelt down next to my 2 year old daughter and said “Sweetheart, I know your head hurts, but before I can help it feel better, we have to get back to our house. I need you to be super brave and run with me as fast as you can.” She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said “Ok, Mom. I can be brave.” Then, that brave little girl ran a quarter of a mile to our house without stopping! We got home and I gave her some Ibuprofen for the pain and swelling, pulled the stinger out of her head and put some baking soda paste on the sting site. After about 5 minutes, she was fine and wanted to go see the new sheep.
Since Brennan and Brayden had gotten to name the goats, the smaller kids got to pick out names for the sheep. Emma named the white ewe Isabella. At 7 years old, she was the biggest, oldest, and loudest. When she “spoke” it would scare everyone. It was almost like a loud belch. She was also the friendliest, and was the first of the sheep to let the kids feed and pet her. Austin got to name the brown ewe. He chose the name Rosie. Rosie had just been born a few months prior to us getting her, so she was a little bit smaller than the other two ewes, but she had this beautiful light brown fleece that was so soft! After a few days, she stopped being scared of us and would run up to all of us as soon as we went outside. Kylie got to name the badger-faced ewe. She named her Panda because she had black circles around her eyes. She was so proud that she got to name her and constantly referred to Panda as “my sheep that I called Panda”.
The sheep quickly got to work eating what had quickly become a very overgrown pasture. I spent a lot of time in the pasture that summer getting to know the sheep and goats and letting them get to know me. It was my favorite place to be.

The kids watching Nick catch the sheep.

Got one!

Poor sad Kylie, stung by a bee.

Our new sheep. Left to right: Isabella, Panda, and Rosie.

Left to right: Panda, Rosie, Isabella.

Sophia and Raya

After a little searching, Nick found a couple of female goats for sale. They were listed as Nigerian Dwarf goats, but after seeing them, we believe they are actually Pygmy goats. Anyway, Nick called the owners and told them we were interested, so on the evening of August 3rd, 2016, we drove about an hour to go pick them up. The moment the kids saw them, they were in love! They were young-about 18 months old, and they were twin sisters. They looked a lot alike, but one had a small horn on one side of her head from a disbudding gone bad. We decided we wanted them, so we loaded them up and drove home. The excitement was just about more than the kids could handle. They were giggling and squealing with excitement the entire way home. We got home and grabbed a couple pieces of bread to lead them into the pasture. Since the goats were twins, we told our twins they could name them. Brayden named the one with one horn, Sophia. Brennan named the other one Raya. By this time, it was pretty late, so we tried to get the kids to bed. For some reason, it took them forever to fall asleep.
The next morning, as soon as the kids woke up, they headed outside to play with the cat and the goats. I don’t think any of us spent any time inside that day, except to eat. Getting the kids to spend a lot of time outside was a big reason we moved out of our subdivision, so this made me really happy. The goats adjusted really quickly and became friends with the kids immediately. They would just follow the kids around, wherever they went. It turns out, goats are lots of fun! Good choice, Nick!

Arriving home with our new goats!

Nick unloading Sophia.

Emma getting to know the goats.

Kylie was so excited.

Austin introducing the cat to one of the goats.

Showing the goats the playset we set up for them.

Austin and the cat.


When Nick and I decided to buy our property, he told me he wanted to get a couple of goats. I laughed so hard, and couldn’t figure out what we would do with goats, but he kept persisting, and we did need some sort of animal to keep the weeds down, so I gave in. The pastures, however, were not set up for small animals, so we needed to do some work before we could put goats back there. Nick picked up a bunch of fencing on his way home from work one evening, and we got to work. The kids did a pretty good job of helping without complaining, which was a relief. One of the reasons we chose to move out here was so we could teach our kids how to work hard, so this was the first real test. We put up many hundreds of feet of fencing, just to get an area fenced off big enough that we could pick up some goats.

We found a bunch of big slugs as we were putting up fencing.

Kylie and Emma ready to work.

So much fencing.

Austin helping Nick.

The Huntress

As soon as we knew we were moving to the country, we knew we were going to need a barn cat to keep the mice under control. Three days after we moved in, I called the humane society to ask if they had any cats available to be adopted as barn cats. They told me they had one in mind and to come over and see her. I loaded the kids up and drove 40 minutes to the humane society where we were introduced to a 2 year old female cat. The kids fell in love with her right away. The lady that was helping us informed us that she was a friendly cat that like people petting her, but she did NOT like to be picked up. We decided to adopt her and got all the paperwork filled out and paid $10 for her-all spayed and vaccinated. They put her in a box for us to take her home. Well, she didn’t care much for the box, and I don’t blame her. As soon as I started driving away, she was scratching like crazy, trying to create a hole to escape from. About 10 minutes into the drive, she had made a hole, and climbed out of the box, right onto Kylie’s lap! Kylie started screaming because she didn’t know what to do. I was driving on the freeway and couldn’t really pull over. Even if I could pull over, what could I have done? There was a hole in the box. I calmly told the kids that it was going to be ok and to try and remain calm. The cat started going from child to child, seat to seat, trying to figure out what was happening. Before I knew it, she was climbing over the back of the driver’s seat. She made her way onto my lap and then stood up on her hind legs and put her front legs on the steering wheel. I’m sure the people driving around us were laughing pretty hard as I drove down the freeway with a cat in my lap, looking like she was the one driving.
We made it home and opened the car doors and the cat ran out as fast as she could. She was so fast, that we immediately lost track of her, and I thought she was gone for good. We put a bowl of water out on the porch for her, and went inside to eat lunch, hoping that our new cat would be back soon. After lunch, we went outside and found her laying down on the porch. I was so relieved! We wanted her to stay in the barn, so we took some food and water out there, and I picked up the cat and carried her to the barn so she would know that was her home.
Everyone wanted to be the one to name the cat. The kids each had names they liked and they fought and fought over which name was the best. That evening, I thought it would be fun to give her a name that meant “Hunter” or something like that in another language. I was hoping that it would inspire her to catch a lot of mice. We decided on the name “Cazadora” which means “Huntress” in Spanish. The kids all agreed that they like that name, and it stuck. She must have liked that name too, because shortly after we brought Cazadora home, we started finding dead mice all over the homestead! Nick and I never thought we were cat people, but we love this cat, and we especially love how good she is at her job!

Our sweet kitty at the humane society.

Our sweet kitty at the humane society.

After running away and coming back.

After running away and coming back.

The kids introducing Cazadora to her new home.

The kids introducing Cazadora to her new home.

The Homestead

July 18th marked one year since we left our home in a subdivision in Meridian, Idaho and moved onto 10 acres in Star, Idaho. We knew this was going to be a big change for our family, but we had no idea what kind of adventures we were about to experience. As we walked into the door, we will filled with a mix of emotions. The kids were not excited about having to change schools. Nick and I wondered if we would be able to keep up with all the yard work. We wondered how we would adjust to having a house that was half the size of our last house. But, among all our mixed emotions, the greatest was perhaps the feeling of excitement for this new life.

Goodbye old house!

Goodbye old house!

It was hard to say goodbye.

It was hard to say goodbye.

Finally moving day!  Some of the kids were more excited than others.

Finally moving day! Some of the kids were more excited than others.

Austin and Kylie in one of the amazing trees at our new house.

Austin and Kylie in one of the amazing trees at our new house.

Another one of our favorite trees.

Another one of our favorite trees.

When I was trying to pack up our old house, I bribed the kids with "trampoline points".  I told them if they earned enough points, we would buy a trampoline and set it up the day we moved in to the new house.  They worked hard and earned it!

When I was trying to pack up our old house, I bribed the kids with “trampoline points”. I told them if they earned enough points, we would buy a trampoline and set it up the day we moved in to the new house. They worked hard and earned it!

Last Baby-First Day of Nursery

Kylie’s first day of nursery was on Mother’s Day. I suppose it should have been exciting for me, seeing as for the last 8 years I’ve almost always had a baby or two with me all through church, but it was so hard. I feel like she’s growing up faster than I can handle. She hardly even seems like a baby anymore. She is so independent and always want to do everything the older kids are doing. I love watching her grow, it just seems like it happens way too fast! At any rate, we sure do love this little girl. When it was time for her to go to nursery, she walked right in like she had been there a million times before. After a minute, she looked back at me and the look on her face seemed to say “Mom, you can go now. I got this.” Of course, I’m a baby, so I cried. She had a great time and loves going in to nursery every week.

Memorial Day 2015

We had the best Memorial Day weekend this year. Friday evening, my mom and Lynn did a BBQ since all of my siblings were in town. It is always good to spend time with everyone, even if it’s just for a little bit. My siblings really are my best friends.
After the BBQ, we headed home and waited for Matt and Caramie and their kids to get here. Friday happened to be Matt and Caramie’s anniversary, and they still came to visit us. We felt so special. We let the kids play for a little bit Friday night then got them to bed, knowing they would all be up bright and early the next morning. Saturday, we headed down to my mom and Lynn’s new property to have some fun. They bought some property right on the river and it’s amazing. The day was spent “camping” there. We roasted hot dogs and did a little fishing. The fishing was so good that we caught a fish with every cast! Every kid was able to catch a fish. Lynn also gave all the kids a ride on his new tractor. I think out of all the kids, Austin enjoyed that the most. Lynn actually let him steer (brave man), and Austin’s was grinning from ear to ear the entire time. After a few hours, Caramie and I took the kids to play in my mom’s little stream and cool off while Nick and Matt cleaned up from the “camping”. We got the kids to bed and sent the men out to grab some dinner and bring it back to the house for a little double date.
Sunday we went to church and just let the kids play and watch movies. We also got some beads out and let the kids make necklaces.
Monday we headed out The Village to let the kids watch the dancing fountains. It was a hit. Then we went and played at the park and ended our weekend together with a pizza picnic at the park. It was hard to have Matt and Caramie leave after such a great weekend. It really was so great. The kids got along about 98% of the time, which is pretty amazing when you stick 9 kids in one house. I hope they can come play again soon!

Austin Turns 3

In December, Austin turned 3. It’s always tricky finding time to celebrate a birthday that falls 3 days before Christmas, but so far we’ve managed to make it work. On the 20th, my step-brother Brian got married, so that day wasn’t an option. We opted to celebrate with the family on Sunday, December 21st. It was such a fun evening. We made dinner for everyone, then opened presents and had cake and ice cream. He got puzzles, 1st responder toys, clothes, a matching game and a little plane he can take apart and rebuild.
Austin is such a fun kid. He has both a contagious smile and laugh. He loves to wrestle with his brothers and is always a good sport to play dolls and dance with Emma. He has been a big helper with Kylie, and recently as she has started to reach down when I play her diaper, he always run over to me when I’m changing her and grabs her hands to help me. Austin recently started preschool with the school district. He has been a late talker, so he qualified to attend preschool and get some extra help so he will be ready for kindergarten in a couple of years. When he was tested, he was only talking as much as an average 18 month old, but his understanding was equivalent to an average 5 year old, so he’s a smarty pants, but for some reason that “they” haven’t found yet, he just hasn’t been verbal. I was not ever worried that he wasn’t learning, I was just looking for a little help for him because he would get frustrated sometimes when I couldn’t understand what he wanted. Well, he’s been in preschool for a month and a half now and he’s blossoming like crazy! He is already much more verbal and he loves going to school. He has a best friend, and everyone from the crossing guard to the teacher calls him “smiles” because of his contagious smile. Austin is just awesome and I’m so glad I get to be his mom.

December Recitals

In December, we got to attend Emma’s dance recital, and Brennan and Brayden had their first piano recital. Seeing my children improve and learn new skills is one of my favorite things as a mom. Emma just lives to dance. Last year, she took ballet and loved it. This year, I found a different dance teacher that incorporates ballet, hip-hop, and tumbling in her classes. I switched her over to this teacher, and I’m so glad I did! She does an amazing job and Emma’s dancing has improved even more than I could have imagined in just a few short months. She was so excited for the recital. She did 2 numbers and had the time of her life. This recital was much more entertaining for those of us watching than last year’s ballet recitals. The music was lively, the dances were fun, and it didn’t take 3 hours, which was awesome!
I started teaching Brennan and Brayden piano lessons in July. I was really nervous to teach them myself, but they kept begging me to just teach them something about the piano. I relented and told them I would teach them as long as they didn’t give me a hard time and didn’t fight me with practicing. So far, they have really surprised me. They haven’t given me a hard time at all, and they are really enjoying it. They are learning quickly and it’s fun to see the different strengths they have. I hope I get to teach them for years to come. In December, they had their first recital. I have 12 students (2 of them couldn’t make it to the recital) and I split the students up into 2 recitals so they would be short since i know people are busy and they don’t want to spend an entire day at a recital when their child is only playing for a few minutes. The recitals were both great. I’m so proud of all my students, and it was fun to get to enjoy being both the teacher, and a mother of 2 of the performers. Each of my boys played a solo and I got to play a duet with each of them as well. I’m so proud of my budding pianists and my tiny dancer!

Kylie Bear is One!

On November 7th, my little baby turned 1! On her birthday, I took her down to my mom and Lynn’s house for a photo shoot. Shauna and my mom got some adorable pictures! Kylie loves the camera and the camera loves her back. The next day, we had a little party. First, Kylie opened presents. She got a lot of cute clothes, a toy dog, a shape sorter and a baby doll. Then, we had chocolate cake and ice cream, which was the highlight for Kylie. That girl loves chocolate!
We are so glad that Kylie is part of our family. She makes us smile every day. Here are some of the things we love most about out little lady:
-She is always happy. Even if I have to wake her up from a nap (which is every day) she just smiles at me.
-She talks! She has said so many words, including: mama, dadda, nigh-nigh (night-night), gin (again), more, no, done, Bubba, uh-huh, Diggy, uh-oh, Na-na (Shauna), and ru-ru (barking like a dog).
-He cute little waddle-walk. She started walking at 10 1/2 months, but now she is finally walking all over.
-She gives the best hugs and kisses.
-The way she folds her arms for prayers and “prays” along with whoever else is praying.
-Her tiny little toes. She has the littlest feet and can still wear size 0-3 month shoes.
We love you Kylie. Thanks for being part of our family!!

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