Sunday, August 4, 2013

How long has it been?

I will readily admit to being a horrible blogger.  I never seem to be able to keep up with it.  I have two blogs, this one and her sister, The Good Little Housewife, and I can't keep up with either.  It's not for lack of material, but more because I simply forget to update.  Then one day, out of the blue, someone messages you asking about your rabbit hutch and you remember that you have a blog to update.  lol

Since I last updated, we have tried our hand at rabbit breeding.  Most of them did not make it, so we gave our does away until we could figure out a better breeding cage set up.  It was really a blow to us since we had planned on doing this for meat.  We ended up keeping the two males for manure and the fact that one is the offspring of our first rabbit who passed away a couple of years ago.  Either way, maybe in the future we can try again.

We still have our chickens and they are wonderful.  I would recommend chickens to anyone.  The eggs are great and the birds are entertaining.  When we finally get a little land of our own, we want to raise more chickens, even some of the fancier breeds.  The eggs sell well at farmers markets, plus, it will keep us in a better supply of chicken meat.  It seems that store bought meat has no flavor, anymore.  

Our gardening is not going so well.  We are not sure what is going on, but nothing really grows.  Last year, during the drought that dried out the midwest, we were trying to water with the hose.  Our city municipalities put so much chlorine in our drinking water, that it was killing the plants.  So we lost all of it.

This year, we didn't get anything done in time for spring planting.  My husband was busy with finals and graduating and I was busy trying to get my soaping business off of the ground and homeschooling the kids. On top of all of that, we have been working on remodeling our home.   I also got started on a course study in herbalism so that I can make medicines and such for my family.

We do have some pumpkin plants in the ground and are preparing for a fall planting.  In the meanwhile, I have canned up a bushel of green beans, put some corn and berries in the freezer, and will be canning some jelly very soon.  Every little bit helps.

I seem to be full of empty promises when it comes to my blogging, but I will try to keep updated a little more.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Moving right along

Well, trying at least. It seems that once we think Mother Nature is done handing us cold weather, she comes back for more. That's the beauty of living in the Ohio Valley, if you don't like the weather here, stick around, it will change. We had 70 plus degree weather last week and then it snowed a bit last night. It's all melted off, but still chilly. I had to bring my rosemary pots in last night for fear of the cold killing them. On to the good stuff, though. We have a wee little rabbitry going in our back yard. Hubby is working on the new hutch as I type this. We have two Californian bucks. They are great boys, pretty lovable. Back in the fall we bought two New Zealand does. We have been trying since to breed them for meat, but to no avail. I don't know the reason, but we are going to continue to try until we know for sure they are duds. Right now, at most farm supply stores, you can buy rabbits for breeding, eating, showing or pets. My husband went to Tractor Supply today to get some rabbit food and they were bringing a new bunch of New Zealands in while he was looking around and talking to one of the employees. Since it's very difficult to find rabbits in the off season (you should have seen what I had to go through to find my does), he bought two new does. They are only about nine weeks old, but we figure if the older girls won't breed, we need a back up. They should be ready in a few months. Now we have six rabbits. At least that is a lot of manure for composting.

It is absolutely amazing to me how fast chickens grow. This has been our first experience ever with chickens. They were so cute when we brought them home. You can see how little they were in this picture. Well, they have grown.

They are going through a rather ugly phase right now as all living creatures do during early adolescence. They are dusty and are starting to smell a bit in my little kitchen, so they are now in the garage until we get the coop done and they are a little bigger. Still, I can't wait for those farm fresh eggs.

Week before last, while the husband was on vacation, we had a gentleman build us a storage building/barn. We really were in need of extra storage since most of the garage is now our bedroom. We had a small shed out there, but it wasn't hacking it. The barn is great. I do hate how high we had to have it jacked up off of the group because it looks so strange, but our back yard holds water and we really have no choice but to raise it. I plan to get some lattice and creek rock to trim it out. We are going to fill the creek rock border with soil and plant something there. Haven't decided if it will be herbs or vine beans, but it will be something. Our goal is to have as much food growing on this property as possible.

Finally, here are some pics of my pooches. The first is Charlie and the second is Daisy. We are planning on breeding them as well for a little extra money to offset their vet bills. I love this breed (Shetland Sheepdog). They are one of the top ten most intelligent breed of dog, although I wonder about Daisy sometimes. She is such a goofball.

Hopefully, next entry, will have a finished hutch and coop. Maybe a recipe or two, I don't know. :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's been a while since my last post.

I have been busy with life in general. The holidays came and went and we enjoyed ourselves very much, but now spring is coming and off we go on our true adventure in homesteading.

Our rabbits have not mated. I was looking so forward to having the baby buns around. I am not sure to whom the failure belongs, the bucks or the does, but we are kitless right now. I am considering buying two new rabbits, one of each and trying it out with them. I suspect the problem is my does, but either way, they are not earning their keep, so to speak. We have been the recipients of a lot of manure, so I guess it works out in the end. It will be wonderful for the garden. The Good Little Husband has been dumping the cleanout in the garden bed all winter. The ground should be nice and rich. Looking forward to the yield.

As for the garden. We are not 100% sure when we should start planting. It is still very early and we have had so much rain. Our back yard is flooded, again. It does this when there is a lot of rain. The county is supposed to be fixing it, but who knows how long that will take. I told my husband we should dig a small well to pull some of the ground water out to the garden. I still need to do more research on it. My husband says the soil looks great, even though there is so much water hanging out back there. My responsibility will be with the herb garden. I am looking forward to that. I am planning many different herbs. I have mixes I want to make and may even sell the abundance. Herbs can be so beneficial to your body, mind and spirit.

The Good Little Husband's friend is raising goats (my main reason for wanting baby rabbits). I want some of the milk as I intended to make soap. I still need to get my soap making supplies, but he did give me a quart of milk. I have it waiting in the freezer. Currently, he has four kids. We took our kids out to see his kids. Sadly, they couldn't get too close. He has an electric fence around the area in which the goats live, so I didn't want my children to accidentally touch the fence. The kids (not mine, the goats') were having so much fun frolicking and trying to climb on their mothers. I hope my husband's friend continues to have milk on hand. As soon as this little rabbitry gets off of the ground, I am going to be in need.

We have also made a major shift in our home. We pulled the kids out of public school back in January to homeschool them. I didn't feel they were getting the education they needed. I won't get into a big political tirade, but we all know how our school systems are right now. Some are better than others, but even the best are needing revamped. We had the kids in a good school, but they just weren't getting what I thought they needed, so we bought ourselves a great prepackaged curriculum (because I need that for myself) and will be starting with it in April. We have been using web resources since we withdrew them, but it isn't enough for me. I feel like I am leaving too much out of the mix. So far, though, the kids are thriving.

Today was a fun adventure. Many farm stores are getting their small livestock for spring. We went to Orscheln's and Tractor Supply today to see what they had. I had to resist buying two very cute baby rabbits. I love the baby bunnies, in case you couldn't tell by a former paragraph. I did manage to beat the temptation.

Instead, we bought another spring cutie. We picked up six baby chicks. They are adorable. They were of a mixed bag, so I am not sure of the breed, but we did get three reds and three blacks. I think the blacks are Barred Rocks. We are hoping the reds are of the Rhode Island variety. Fresh eggs here we come!!!

Here they are in their brooder. My daughter is absolutely in love with them. Naturally, they have had a big day being moved from the farm supply store to our home. They were trying to fall asleep so my daughter decided to tell them a bedtime story. I wonder how much she'll like them when they get bigger.

We have decided to make ourselves a chicken tractor. Between the feral cats my next door neighbor keeps around and my dogs, I am afraid for their safety being completely free range. My kids have a trampoline that isn't good for much right now. The padding dry rotted and the enclosure blew apart, so I don't feel it's safe to jump on anymore. We are going to enclose the underside with chicken wire leaving one side open for the coop. They will have a lot of room to forage and we can move it as needed. I thought I would put a canopy over top so the kids and I can take our reading and some of our assignments outside and have a comfortable place to hang out. I know we can sell it for scrap, but why when I can repurpose it? The chickens will be safe from over head predators as well as having shade. Win, win!!!

So, this is the goings on in my life right now. Hopefully, I will have more to post as time goes on and our little mini farm starts showing what it's capable of.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update on what we have been doing

I just posted about naming our little farm, but wanted to tell you some of the things we have been doing as of late. Honestly, it amounts to a whole lot of nothing. The area has seen record highs through the summer and drought conditions. We have been spending most of our time indoors reading and researching.

We have looked into digging a small well in the back yard. We want to use it for irrigation. We have a lot of water underground as we discovered when we put the fence up last spring. Water shot up out of the ground when the auger got deep enough. We checked out a book from the library called Back To Basics. It has excellent ideas and instructions. They talk about building a small well that is the diameter of a large pipe. After the drought this year, I would be afraid that we would run out of water for our garden if we experience the same lack of rain next year.

We also found a company to build our barn shed in the spring. We can't wait for that. Our metal shed just isn't cutting it. lol

I think I have figured out what type of herbs I want to grow and how I plan to grow them. I am hoping to use cinder blocks to create a raised garden. I also want to sell them at the farmer's market in town. I have been looking more into soapmaking and plan to start that after the holidays. I am always thinking on what new project with which I can experiment.

I made the rosemary and lavender jellies. Both are very good, but sadly, I think I am allergic to lavender in food form. I am disappointed about that. I also got my rosemary all dried out, but that is really it for food preservation this year. It has just been so hot and we have been so busy with life that I have run out of time. Sorry I don't have more to report.

Oh, I mentioned in a previous post that my husband was trying out homemade upside down planters. I wanted to let you know how they did. Most of our veggies died. Two tomato plants survived and produced some tomatoes, but they are still on the vine and still green. They didn't ripen. It was a total loss. I don't know if it was the heat, the drought or the system. I will urge him to try with at least one bucket in the spring to see if it will work under normal growing conditions and let you know. I hate to give up on it. We're still going to use our fence posts for the buckets, but he plans to plant them right side up. lol

All in all, this was a pretty unproductive summer with the exception of getting the little rabbitry started. I guess it's all baby steps and I can't complain because at least we accomplished something, right?

Naming our little farm.

The kids and I have been trying to come up with a cute name for our little farm. We were going to use our last name, but thought it too boring.

We recently brought home a new rabbit. We named her Priscilla, Prissy for short and her name fits her well. She is a Californian, the same as my buck, but she is solid white instead of white with black/blue trim.

I didn't know whether I wanted to breed the two, but after talking with some people, decided to go for it. We can use the extra manure come spring. I will go into more of that in another post since this one is about farm names.

I wanted something that would fit our farm size which is in my backyard in the middle of a subdivision, but I want to be able to carry it to our acreage when we finally fulfill our dream of owning property. I also wanted it to reflect what we plan to work on most which is the rabbits at this point.

Since we have the Californians, we thought we would breed them for meat, but I want Angoras later for the fur to spin into yarn. I found out it can be done and I love yarn. I could have a lot of fun with it and it's not cruel to the animal.

Anyway, what do you think about Cottontail Corner which could be changed to Cottontail Acres in the future? I think it is cute and fitting of our little start to farming. Now to convince the husband.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

4-H Ag Day

Today, my son's class took a field trip to the 4-H Fairgrounds for Ag Day. The teenagers, who happen to be 4-H members, taught the third graders from all over the county about animals, farm equipment, vegetables and other farming topics. As a future homesteader, I listened to them very closely and learned so much. It's amazing the things you can learn from kids. lol

My son has decided he wants to join 4-H. We thought this would be a great opportunity for him to learn more about farming and agriculture and practice these lessons at home. We want so badly to pass this down to our children so that they can be self sufficient.

The kids got to learn about the milking process, egg laying and candling, large animal veterinary medicine and tractors. Farm Bureau Insurance sponsored the food, one of the dairy farmer's brought organic milk and the kids got popcorn, too. They also brought home pencils, candy and coloring books.

Check with your local 4-H chapter and find out when they are doing Ag Day in your county. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Bunny

My Kirby has been a bit lonely since my black rabbit, Frankie, died two years ago. Kirby needed a mate so I found him one. She is a gorgeous, little, white, four month old darling. We have named her Priscilla and call her Prissy for short. Kirby is in love.