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.