I need to plant some beets in buckets here pretty soon. My Mom has expressed interest in getting some home-made pickled beets.
I'm finally getting around to planting the block holes around the raised garden bed. Today I put in seeds for Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, Straight 8 (or Slice More?) cucumber, Summer Savory, Sweet Marjoram, Black Magic kale, Green Curled Afro kale, Red Russian kale, Blue Curled Scotch kale, Sardinia spinach, Giant Noble spinach, Champion collard greens, and eight varieties of radish (Comet, Hailstone, White Icicle, White Tip Sparkler, Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle, Watermelon, and Opolanka). There are still more spaces, but I'm not sure what I'll add yet. Probably a few of the winter sown stuff that is still languishing in containers.
I need to plant some beets in buckets here pretty soon. My Mom has expressed interest in getting some home-made pickled beets.
I went out to feed and water the rabbits and noticed one of the baby bunnies was in an awkward position and struggling while the other baby bunnies jumped over him (or her). Upon closer inspection, I realized both of bunny's back legs were stuck through the hardware mesh on the bottom of the hutch. It was clear the little one had been struggling for a while, as both feet were swollen and the fur was rubbing off the backs of its legs, but no blood, no open wounds, and with a little maneuvering I was able to free both legs. Bunny's feet are very swollen and baby isn't hopping around, but I'm hoping for the best. Here are the feet of the unstuck bunny (tan) compared to a normal sibling's feet (dark) to show the swelling. Poor bunny.
Four ounces of Champion collard greens, fresh from the shade garden. Made a lovely salad for Tony and I. It feels great to go from garden to dinner table in a matter if minutes. Of course little #5 enjoyed sharing the salad with me too, though I suspect he likes salad more for the dressing than the actual salad.
The raised bed in front is growing well. Or I should say the pumpkins and squash are growing magnificently. Today I made note of the squares that failed to germinate, and replanted seeds. Some of the squares are already being taken over by over growing gourds... In all I had to re-seed the Moon & Stars watermelons (both varieties), Minnesota Midget melon, Israel melon (Ogen), Black Beauty zucchini, Rattlesnake pole beans, Lemon cucumbers, Dragon's Egg cucumbers, and one National Pickling cucumber (only one came up).
When I watered the tomatoes I noticed that at least two of them look like they probably aren't going to make it. I need to make a master list of what is planted where in case the tags fall off or fade. I'll put that on my list of stuff to do tomorrow.
I spent most of today transplanting tomatoes. It took longer than anticipated to prepare the backyard to be a garden, so we only tilled and amended this section for the tomatoes. Last year the tomatoes ended up abandoned in garden cups in the back yard for months while we dealt with other stuff. I didn't want a repeat, so we made the tomatoes a priority. Every tomato was winter sown this year. I didn't do any indoors. The real test will be to see if they actually grow and produce tomatoes in abundance. The neighbor commented that we were "going to have enough tomatoes to feed an army." I just replied with, "I sure hope so!"
The tomatoes closer to the bottom of the photo are the "leftovers" that didn't make it into the garden. One solanum spontaneum that will be planted at my parents' house, hopefully tomorrow. There's two Cow's Tit tomatoes that have a place reserved at the T-pole for the clothes line, a couple Tiny Tim tomatoes that will be moved into containers, and a pretzel barrel with an Uluru Ochre tomato - from the Dwarf Project... that one is already in it's permanent location.
All together, I put 46 seedlings and young plants in the ground today. I hand dug each hole, filled it with water, added a pinch of Epsom salt, and then transplanted the tomatoes (and watered them a few more times for good measure). I did run out of bamboo poles in the end there, but I plan to go to Menards tomorrow anyway so I can pick up a few more while I'm there.
I took an updated photo (again) this morning of the raised bed. now you can (kind of) see the mint in the corners. The neighbor commented this morning that it looks like some of it is already taking over the bed. Yup, that's the blue pumpkin plant. It's already crowding out the spaghetti squash , delicata squash, and baby Pam pie pumpkin plants adjacent to it.
Baby bunnies are doing well. I picked each one up today to give a once-over. The runt is about half the size of the others, but has a full round belly. Penelope has taken to pooping in the corner of her nest box now, so the poop is slowly encroaching on the nest. I'm fighting between cleaning out the nest box, and not wanting to upset her by moving her babies yet.
The Red Russian Kale is growing very well in the shade garden. I harvested all of the plants (there are six or eight all together) down to just a few leaves left on each plant. I ended up with 6.5 ounces of kale with stems. I rinsed them and removed the leafy tops. I have no idea if I did this right because kale is new to me. Little #5 saw me and climbed up on a chair beside the kitchen sink and started to rinse leaves and pull them apart, albeit clumsily, he definitely had the right idea!
After I rinsed and de-stemmed, I dried the leaves while #3 and #4 fed the stems and "yucky" parts of the leaves to the rabbits. The dry leaves weighed exactly 4 ounces, so the bunnies shared 2.5 ounces of kale stems and broken or bug-eaten leaves.
Here's an updated photo of the raised bed garden. As you can see the winter down squash and pumpkins are really taking off. Today I transplanted some winter sown lemon mint into the four corner blocks. Mint is supposed to deter rodents so perhaps it will keep squirrels and bunnies out of the garden. I also planted more seeds, this time for Early Silver Line Melon, Lebanese White Bush Marrow Summer Squash, Snowbird Snow Peas, and Carnival Squash. If I have time tomorrow I want to plant more herbs in the border blocks.
Baby bunnies are almost a week old already! They're growing fast and today they kicked all of the fur from the nest out the bottom of the cage. I suppose it's been rather warm lately, so I can't really blame them. Ten beauties range from one solid red kit, one red with just a few black marks, all the way up to almost black with just a splash or orange here and there. It is supposed to rain tomorrow (their one week birthday), and the mosquitoes have been bad. I think I'll put off individual photos until their eyes are open. They're cute and cuddly. I noticed two in the bunch today that are very similar but opposite - one has black on the left side of the face and the other one has black on the right side of the face, both with very similar markings.
The grey doe is looking better. Her eye still has some green crusties but most of the goop in her eye is gone. She is still eating and drinking just fine. After some research, I believe she is an American Chinchilla rabbit. I will consider bringing her to the County Fair to show her to see what a judge thinks. Of course, only if she's alive and well and gets over whatever eye cold she seems to be working through now. She still needs a name.
I went out today with #2 and we labeled all of the squares in the raised garden. All of the pumpkins and squashes are up, a couple of the melons are starting to come up, the beans are looking good, the peas are sprouting up out of the soil... but the cucumbers just aren't showing up. I think there are three cucumber seedlings in the whole garden, and I'm starting to worry that we won't get any cucumbers! I was really hoping to have cucumbers galore - enough to try a variety of pickle recipes without getting too terribly upset if some of them failed. Now I'm worried we won't even have enough to keep up with the fresh-eating demand of a family of seven. The Dorinny Sweet Corn is up. My Mom used to always say "knee high by the fourth of July" for corn to make it to harvest up here before the cold. With just eleven days left until the fourth of July, I don't know that we'll make it... It is growing fast, and it's getting lots of sunlight, but I don't know. We'll see.
Day five and we still have ten healthy wiggly baby bunnies. Penelope is still not fond of me handling them, but hopefully once they're up and moving with eyes open I can get some individual photos of the babies.
The grey doe has managed to pull off the bottom board of wood from her hutch door. I'm going to attempt to put wire over it to prevent further chewing and escape attempts. I'll have to replace the wood before it gets cold as it acts as a barrier to keep the nest box warm.
Bunnies are four days old and growing fast. I picked a few up today but Penelope wasn't happy about it and stood over the neat to nurse babies to stop me. At least she's not aggressive about guarding her nest!
I've been feeling under the weather lately. I think my allergies have turned into a sinus infection which is causing a sore throat, sinus congestion, and swelling around my eyes. I'm miserable even taking an allergy pill, pseudophed, and ibuprophen all day long. I suspect the beautiful blooming tree in the front yard. I've never formally been allergy tested, but this flare up coincides perfectly with the tree blooming. And I was dumb enough to go sniff it directly. It smells beautiful, but not worth red puffy painful eyes. Daughter #1 tested positive for an allergy to that type of tree too but she's never had such a bad reaction as I am right now. We may have to cut the tree down for both our health and safety. Maybe we could plant an apple tree or something instead.
And of course, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!
Baby bunnies are three days old now. Penelope allowed me to pick a few of them up. One of them is solid red with no markings that I could see. Takes after grandpa (New Zealand Red). Lots of pretty colors in the mix though. Some are mostly red with black marks and some are mostly black over red. Some are lighter tan and some are darker red. Either way, they're all beautiful.
Baby bunny count still stands at ten from what I can tell. I have not picked any of the babies up, but it's fun to just sit and watch them popcorn around in the nest.
I bought a new doe. I'd had my eye on her for a while, but when the lady dropped the price to $5, I couldn't pass her up any more. She's a mixed breed rabbit, chinchilla grey with one floppy ear. She said the rabbit is just over a year old. I plan to breed her to Bennett. Can you imagine adorable grey harlequin bunnies?
Unfortunately, when we got her home I noticed she has a goopy eye. I don't know if she is sick or not, so she is in her own cage and not breeding for now. I don't want to accidentally spread something. I'm a little upset that this wasn't disclosed up front.
Announcing Penelope and Bennett's very first litter! I haven't pulled them out to count, but it looks like we have at least ten baby bunnies with a beautiful assortment of harlequin coloring. Babies were born this morning (I assume), so birthday is 6/18/15. They will be six weeks old on July 30th. They are 1/2 Harlequin, 1/4 New Zealand Red, and 1/4 English Lop. I'm sure I'll have a lot more photos to share as they get a little bigger and I start handling them more.
I was starting to get discouraged, since Penelope was due to have her litter a few days ago but made no sign of being ready to nest. I figured I'd check one more time before bed tonight, and if we still had no babies, I'd pair her with Bennett again tomorrow. Much to my delight, Penelope has started nesting! She's pulled out copious amounts of fur, so I gave her a few handfuls of straw (which she immediately picked up to add to her nest).
I anticipate some wriggly babies tomorrow when I go to feed and water the rabbits.
Tony and I have long thrown around the idea of opening a business, but we don't have the capital (money) and neither of us have any experience with what goes on to actually get a business started. Someone recently gave us a nudge to look into it again, and I've been immersing myself in ideas for the last week or so. I'm not ready to jump in with both feet just yet. The idea of asking for a financial backer for a business that will require quite a bit of money to start is intimidating to say the least. So far we've driven around and checked out a couple different business sites currently on the market, we've compared some prices, crunched some numbers, and told almost nobody about it.
We are in the process of writing up a business plan, and I think the plan is to try to get a hold of some kind of a business lawyer this week to ask some questions. I need to call some distributors and get some more numbers as well. I'm feeling really lost at this point. We have to get prices from distributors in order to get a better idea of expenses for the business plan. We need a business plan before we can go forward with trying to find a financial backer. We need the backer to pay the bills to get all of the business stuff in line. But the distributors I've contacted so far don't want to talk to me until we're set up and ready with paperwork and a location so we can place an order. Also, without a financial backer in line, I don't know what kind of price range I should be keeping in mind when looking at potential buildings for sale and lease. The whole thing is confusing and frustrating to me.
I know how to run the business once it's all said and done and set up. I know the products, I know the target market, and I know my area of expertise. Unfortunately, getting to that point may prove to be exhausting to the point of losing interest due to frustration. It's only been a week and I'm already feeling like I've run a marathon and gotten nowhere.
I may end up starting a GoFundMe (or similar) page to see if there's anyone out there that might be willing to help. It might be easier to find 100,000 people willing to send $10 each than to find one person willing to invest $1,000,000 into a start-up business.
Last night I stayed at my parents' house to watch their dogs while they were away. Lucky #1 stayed with me and we were richly rewarded. Late at night the dogs started to bark. I went out to get the big old dog in the house to avoid bothering the neighbors with his barking. As I called him, movement caught my eye just 40 feet away to the left. An adult black bear, standing on hind legs. Time to get back in the house (with the dog of course)! As the dog and I went for the house, the bear scurried up a nearby tree and started making what I can only call a "chuffing" noise. We took photos from the safety of the house. Soon the bear came down the tree, but she didn't go away.
A call to my mom (who is out of state for a business trip) confirmed that a female black bear with triplet cubs had been sighted in the area and this was likely her... With cubs up the tree, she wasn't going anywhere.
We stayed up all night, checking on Mama bear with a flashlight from the house to see if she had left yet. At one point I didn't see her anymore, so I went out to retrieve the two bird feeders she had assaulted. I got halfway through the yard and thought.., what if she's still here and I just can't see her in the dark? I shined my flashlight up the old oak tree and sure enough, a small black blob was in the highest crook... A cub. Bird feeders would have to wait. I went back in. Just in time too. Mama bear had gone to raid the feeders on the other side of the house.
In all, Mama Bear spent about four hours in the yard, three bird feeders and two shepherd' shook poles were damaged. The poles can be bent back but the feeders are trashed. She came alarmingly close to the house at one point (for a feeder) and I was able to snap this photo.
I consider the experience a blessing. Some documentary videographers and wildlife photographers don't get that close to their targets. How amazing to have gotten to see a wild bear up close and personal without the fear of being mauled.
Oddly enough, last night also marked the first time I've spent the night away from #5, who stayed home with Tony and the other kids.
Both net trellises are up, but neither of the Moon and Stars watermelon seedlings are looking good. They've both shriveled up and turned brown and dry, despite keeping the soil moist enough that you can see the color difference around the plants. I will be planting a new seed in each square today to see if there's time to grow a new plant. I have to question if it's because of the full sunlight, but the other (bigger) seedlings appear to be making progress already. The Charleston Gray watermelon seedling could go either way. One leaf has dried up, but the rest looks OK. I soaked the whole garden down today to try to combat the heat. It's currently 75, but the high is expected to be 78 today.
The Beaver Early strawberry plant produced two more strawberries. Each is smaller than the previous one. I suppose that's fairly normal with all fruits and vegetables though.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.