Between 5am and 6am this morning, we were blessed with two new minions. Upon initial inspection they both appear to be hairless males, but they're very small, so I'll have a better idea of gender as they get bigger. No names as of posting this, but I'm sure they'll have names as soon as the kids get up
Welcome to the world little ones! May you grow up healthy and strong.
Last year I was a bad gardener. I winter sowed more plants than I could get in the ground (I never set up the second raised bed), so some of the plants got left in the milk jugs all summer (and now all winter). As we're starting to thaw again, I was looking at the old jugs, waiting for them to thaw enough to pick them up and clean them out. Much to my surprise, some of them are starting to grow again!! It looks like White Soul and Yellow Wonder strawberries are both coming back up, the chamomile is sprouting again, and the white Kohlrabi is showing green. I knew the chamomile would come back (though it never did flower last year). The strawberries I had hoped would come back, but the kohlrabi is a surprise. I knew it was biennial, but didn't think it would survive our winter.
Today is Floki's first birthday (Happy Birthday Floki). We are once again on kitten watch as Mabel is due any day now and is showing signs that the time is near. I brought her a big box after she inspected and rejected several that we had around the house. She immediately claimed it and has not left it for long since Tuesday evening. She's been grooming herself (and anyone who come near her) for the past 24 hours. The other kitties are enjoying the new nap location. I'm going to have to borrow a kennel to put Mabel (and the box) when kittens come to prevent kittens smothering under the pile.
Above is a photo of Trinket, Henry, Floki, and Mabel in the box, with Zombie napping up top.
This morning I made omelettes for the kids. I don't often cook breakfast, but we were out of cereal this morning. If I can make breakfast, anyone can! Here is my simple 3-2-1 Omelette recipe, complete with photos! The ingredients are simple.
2 mini bell peppers
1 handful of shredded cheese
I started with two red mini bell peppers. Remove the tops and seeds, and cut them into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the harder it is for the kids to pick them out or eat around them. Feel free to set the seeds aside to dry if you want to grow some yourself.
Put your cut up pepper into a bowl. A note at this point, feel free to add other vegetables or meat. I'm sure it would taste great with onions and ham too, but I had some mini bell peppers that were going wrinkly, and my onions have sprouted, so we used what was on hand to save it from going bad. Peppers have Vitamin C, which also boosts immunity in the winter cold and flu season, so it's always a good option to add in to your meals if you have kids that attend school (where kids pass illnesses along frequently).
Crack three eggs and add them to the bowl of chopped peppers. We used free-range eggs from Costco. Maybe some day we can use farm fresh eggs when we have our own free-range chickens.
I made individual omelettes, so we just did three eggs per omelette. You could probably make a bigger batch if you all want to eat closer to the same time.
Mix the eggs and peppers until they're thoroughly combined. At this point, normal folks would also add salt and pepper. However, my kids can never make up their minds or agree on what level of seasoning is acceptable, so I often leave salt and pepper seasoning to the individual eating the food.
Pour the mix into your pan. I had my burner set at 6, so just above medium heat. You can stir it around as it cooks, or just let it cook as it. I'm paranoid about raw egg, so I tend to stir it around to make sure it's cooking completely. Don't stir too much or you'll end up with scrambled eggs.
Once about half of the eggs are cooked, or the edge starts to pull away from the pan, add one handful of cheese.
Fold your omelet over in half so the cheese is sandwiched inside.
I sometimes fold it over once more to make it look more like a burrito, and less likely to spill the cheese out when you cut into it.
Slide it out of the pan and onto a plate. Grab a fork, some salt and pepper, and a cup of juice. Enjoy your breakfast!
I haven't checked the aquaponic tank in about a week. I just left it to grow and do its thing. Today I noticed the leggy dwarf grey pea plant had some yellow leaves. A closer inspection revealed aphids. Yuck! I thought I'd gotten rid of those little buggers!
I had to get rid of the aphids, and there were too many to smush by hand, so I pulled the entire pea plant out of the bed.
And then of course I felt guilty for killing a plant, so instead of wrapping it up and taking it out to the trash, I put it in the old floating cup in the smaller tank. It currently does not touch any of the sides, which means any of the little bugs that fall off or attempt to leave the plant will be in the water, where the three resident goldfish will inevitably snack on them. I don't expect the pea plant to do well here - there is no grow light, it's already leggy, and I wasn't very careful about tossing it into the cup. At least this way I can convince myself that the bugs killed it so I won't feel so bad. Maybe I'll change my mind in a few days and pull it out anyway. Who knows.
Back in the aquaponic bed, where the pea plant had been, I found stragglers. Nasty little bugs who want to eat my plants.... And I can't even spray them with the organic soap spray because I can't put soap into Minnow's tank.
The more I stare at the above photo the more bugs I see.
I was about to leave the aquaponic bed when I noticed a very tiny spot on the front edge of the tank, and then another... The area where the rocks are lowest (so the water is visible when the bed is full of water - thus growing algae) has two very tiny strawberry sprouts!
And not wanting the basil to feel left out, I have an updated photo of that too. Finally growing some true leaves, but still incredibly slow growing. At this rate we may be able to harvest some basil by Christmas... if the spider mites don't eat it all first.
Today I also checked on Penelope. Still no nest, so I decided to breed her again. I put her in with Bennett and witnessed one successful breeding, but then he seemed to lose interest and she was actively trying to get his attention. I decided to put her in with George then. He seemed much more interested than Bennett and three successful breedings were witnessed before she started getting crotchety and I put her back in her own cage. We should be getting an interesting mixed parentage litter in March (~20th) from this dual pairing. If successful, it will also make George a proven breeder going in to spring (when he will be paired with Cinder).
Today is just full of surprises.
Last night I saw an ad on a Facebook group for a breeding pair of Standard Rex rabbits. The ad offered a proven lilac buck, and a yet-unbred broken lilac doe. The price was pretty low, so I went ahead and responded to the ad. The lady dropped them off this afternoon.
As we were putting the buck in his new cage, I noticed that he appeared to have a dewlap. Wait a minute... aren't dewlaps for girls only? Gender check! Surprise!!! Now we have two more does.
To make matters worse, I'm not certain this "buck" doe is actually a lilac at all. She could be an Opal, and she's definitely an otter (lilac otter or opal otter, I don't know).
This pair was supposed to round out and finish my purchases of breeding rabbits for this year (except for replacement rabbits as needed). Now I'm left wondering - do I find a Standard Rex buck to breed them to? Or do I just pair them with George and Bennett? The point of buying them was to have purebred bunnies to sell to offset the cost of raising the mixed breeds. I'll have to sit down with Tony this evening when he gets home and go over the pros and cons of either choice.
This morning I made a run to the post office. I had several seed trades to mail off, and I am awaiting what should be a decent-sized surprise trade package. The much anticipated yellow slip was in our PO Box. For those who don't have a post office box, the yellow slip is what they put in your box to inform you that you have a package that was too big to fit in your box, and that you need to come to the counter and have a clerk retrieve it for you. I waited in line, full of anticipation, trying not to break out in my happy dance too early. When it was finally our turn, I handed the paper to the clerk. She spent the next five minutes searching through packages, bins, a cupboard, a shelf, asking two other employees and getting the senior employee (he's been there almost forever) to stop helping his customer to look too... Before she finally admitted defeat and said the yellow slip probably made it into our box by mistake, as there was a package for the box next to ours, but no sign of anything for us. How to go from thrilled to bummed in less time than it takes to actually drive to the post office... Fortunately Tony has tomorrow off so we will go back tomorrow and see if my package has arrived, or if they've found the mysterious missing package that may or may not have come for me today.
Tomorrow we're also planning to buy another bale of straw, and some of what Tony calls "milk board" which I guess is a sturdy plastic board material. We will be cutting it to size and using it as a barrier between the top and bottom rabbit cages to prevent the top bunnies from having accidents on the bottom bunnies. Right now I have an old sign separating the middle top/bottom cages, and then alternate cages (one bunny in the top left cage and one bunny in the bottom right cage) so nobody else is stacked. However, I will need all of my stacked larger cages come summer when I have baby bunnies who need more space to grow once they're weaned from their mommas.
The Weather Channel says we should get above 40 degrees both Friday and Saturday, so I'm hoping to use this warm up as an opportunity to clean up the yard a little. It's about time to shovel out under the bunny cages again. Someone in one of the rabbit groups I'm in suggested reusing the 50# bags the rabbit food comes in to put their fertilizer (bunny poop) in to sell it. So, if anyone in the Brainerd area wants natural humanely produced fertilizer, I should have a bag or two this weekend.
I've been working on several seed trades lately. I'm hoping to get several packages by the end of the week with new seeds to add to the stash.
Today I put Lola in with Bennett for a conjugal visit. Things went well, and we are anticipating babies around March 17th. They will be New Zealand / California / Harlequin.
As of today, Penelope is not showing any signs of nesting. I'll give her two more days, but if no babies by the 18th, she'll be making another visit to Bennett's cage.
Introducing Lola and George! Lola is a three year old Californian / New Zealand cross. She's a big lady! I haven't weighed her, but she's a big one. The lady I bought her from said she throws litters of 13-15 kits and is a good mom. She will be pairing up with Bennett soon.
George is Lola's son from last June or July. He is also a California / New Zealand mix. The lady I bought them from said he had been to the fair last year and placed fourth. She also had George's brother (solid black), but I passed on him. I think Bennett and George will be enough for our small breeding group. George will be paired up with Freckles in the spring.
Happy Valentine's Day!
The kids and I picked out a bunch of new packets of flower seeds yesterday. I've updates the Seed Stash page accordingly.
I participated in a group seed trade recently and I'm expecting my package in the mail this next week. I'm hoping to get some of the varieties I've been trying to get. We'll see. I'll post about that when it arrives too. From what other people are saying (who have already received their packages) it's quite a haul.
We've had another catastrophe. Patchetta and Freckles managed to get the hook off their door and go for a romp around the neighborhood. Freckles came home, but Patchetta did not. A neighbor contacted me that evening to let me know she'd found Patchetta, passed away near her house. :( This is incredibly upsetting to me. Patchetta was my pick of the litter to keep back for breeding.
Tomorrow, hopefully schedules line up and we can go see some rabbits that are for sale locally. I'm told they're New Zealand and California cross, one buck, one proven doe, and one she hadn't checked gender on yet. If we buy them, the doe will be paired with Bennett, and the buck will be paired with Freckles (and Pepper when she's big enough to breed).
If last months breeding was successful, Penelope should have a litter in the next day or three. I'm hoping for the best, but I don't think Bennett did his job. Penelope was too busy stealing his nice warm house for him to actually get anything done. Though they were unattended for a while, so maybe. Here's hoping. If no babies by February 18, I will put Penelope and Bennett back together to try again.
We took a late trip to the store tonight and I happened upon their garden section. While I intended to peek at their seed selection, I noticed some sad looking plants that were already clearance priced. I guess they don't do well on the shelf without light (duh). I picked a few out and decided to see if I could nurse them back to health. I got a Nephthytis "Maria" (Syngonium podophyllus) that was $1.19, a Croton "Gold Star" (Codiaeum) for $1.37, and a Dragon's Tongue (Hemigraphis repanda) that was $.93 (seriously, 93-cents, how can you pass that up?).
I have a black thumb when it comes to indoor houseplants. I've killed just about every indoor plant I've ever had from cactus to spider plant. Our current houseplants include a \n aloe plant that is thriving (needs to be re-potted into a bigger container), and two spider plants that the cats got to and I don't think will make it. I'll have to do some research on these, but I plan to re-pot them into bigger containers tomorrow.
The dwarf Grey Sugar Pea is quickly taking over the bed, but I keep trying to train it around in a circle so that it takes up less space. The lettuce plants are looking better every day.
We also picked up three dozen goldfish for Minnow. I hate getting "lucky draw" from the feeder tank. I always feel guilty feeding the cute ones to the turtle... This go round I pulled three of them out to put in another tank. I know, I'm a softy. Two are white with cute orange splotches, and one is a very tiny fantail that somehow made it into the wrong tank at the store. Those three are safe for now in my 29-gallon all natural tank. I hope they don't eat all of my seaweed and snails.
Today we also picked up one of those crafty knitting machines. I have had a couple in the past, and both met bad endings. I saw it and thought I might try again. Within 5 minutes of opening the box it was broken. I managed to nurse the machine through one sock (it was supposed to be a scarf, but the machine crapped out and I couldn't make it any longer), then tried to make another using the machine backwards (and it actually worked, albeit with a few issues). We are going to return it tomorrow to (hopefully) get one that works the way it's supposed to. The online reviews are horrible. Seems like way more of them jam up and break than actually work. I used to make scarves and baby hats on the two we had previously (until they both jammed up and broke). I was hoping to get back into that and maybe start selling them again. This is the first time I've ever made socks. I admit, I'm pretty impressed!
Of course little #4 has her eye on these socks too. I'm guessing she'll probably talk me out of them. They're surprisingly warm considering the holes between the strings. Best part is that because they're knit, they will fit just about anyone - just a matter of how long they are. For me they're a nice above-show length, and for her they're nearly knee-highs.
If I start making socks (or scarves, or baby hats, or doll scarves, or whatever else I learn to make), just reminding myself - the washer is OK, the dryer is not!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.