I'd share the recipe but my son got it from an email and sent me a screenshot, which I can't seem to read (it's fuzzy). I know it has eggs and milk, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Today #5 asked for "funnel pie" ... So #2 made funnel cake on the stove. Kind of messy, but so tasty!!
I'd share the recipe but my son got it from an email and sent me a screenshot, which I can't seem to read (it's fuzzy). I know it has eggs and milk, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
I got all of the tomato plants that have been in my kitchen window transplanted into buckets and out in the yard (in the fenced area to protect them from the birds). That's 13 plants. Off the top of my head I know there were two Mule Team, two Mark Twain, one Dark Galaxy, one Cow's Tit, one Pink Sunshine, one Azoychka, one Kosovo, two Isis Candy, and I can't remember the other two. A nice selection anyway. These were the ones that came up from the seed started indoors with my rarer or lower inventory seeds.
I also got a chance to check out the colony babies closer today. I had the kids round them all up and I checked genders and photographed all the babies. There are nine in there; six bucks, two does, and the little one I still can't tell. Check out the new photos on the Rabbits page! Two have ears that are damaged, and one is missing half a back foot. This litter was really brutalized and I'm not sure why. I'm hoping this isn't a new trend. There was one with a nipped ear last litter. I wonder how the nest litter will do.
We still have one little duckling. It's mommas have seemed to abandon it. It wanders the yard following various other birds. Today he seemed to prefer the company of Phil, our little bantam cochin rooster. If ever the little duckling feels scared or alone, it cries out, and if Josh is within hearing distance he'll let out a call, and the duckling will run to him for a while. I have no idea how this poor bird is going to survive. It has no set flock, but manages to get by.
While I was out taking photos, I took the time to snap some gender photos on the baby bunnies and updated the Bunny FAQ page to also have a guide with photos on how to gender check a rabbit. I've found that a lot of people, including a few local rabbit breeders, don't even know how to properly gender check a juvenile rabbit! So, hopefully this blurb and photos will help someone out there.
Not a lot got done today, but it was hot, and we have no air conditioning. It was 92 when I finally gave up and we got into the car and drove out to my parents' again. Just for a bit really, to pick up #3's bicycle that they bought for her early birthday gift. Then we got more chick feed, and supplied for dinner.
By the time we got home the clouds were looming large. By the time we fired up the grill there was some lightning starting (cloud to cloud flashing in the distance). We finished most of the grilling and brought stuff inside to start eating. When Tony went back out a few minutes later to check the carrots (in a tinfoil pack on the grill), it was pouring rain. Not a bad little storm. There were warnings and stuff, but there weren't any real bad nearby lightning strikes, and I doubt we've had any damages out there. Hopefully this will cool us off for a bit anyway.
Today we made another run out to my parents' house with jars and pectin and 3-1/2 pounds of Nanking cherries. We came home with ten jars of jelly! And this batch is tasty! I used less water initially, and instead of doing one recipe with 3-1/2 cups and then doing a second half recipe with the remainder, I did 1.5x the recipe and did it all at once. For the pectin I used one packet pf normal and the other half of the low-sugar stuff from last time. The jelly is a little runny, but the flavor is better.
This morning I went and swapped a bunny with someone from one of the Facebook groups I'm in. Their bunny had an accident in the middle of the night in her cage, and somehow managed to hurt her back bad enough that she's completely paralyzed from about halfway down her back. I looked at her on Tuesday and had hoped she could recover. It appeared her tail was up and she had bladder control. She has not gotten better, so I offered to take the bunny and give them a new baby bunny. They picked Yvette, one of the harlequin cross does. She's a good bunny. I'm sure they'll like her. Poor Hawkeye Pierce, the paralyzed bunny, is headed for the freezer if she's not too deteriorated after half a week of immobility.
I re-checked Gretchen's nest box today. There were four dead kits, including the oddball dutch marked kit. There are three black and one white still in there. I moved the nest to a different container in hopes it would prevent babies from getting scattered. As of bedtime check there was still movement in the nest box, but I didn't dig to see how they were doing.
An old friend came to visit today. It was nice to chat for a while, and her kids seemed to have fun playing on the farm.
As of bedtime, I still had one surviving duckling with the flock.
Between two of the three hanging baskets, I got six strawberries today. The All Star basket is still all greenery and not a single flower. The strawberry bed - still not a single blossom from the three that were transplanted in as plants, and none of the roots have come up with any green at all.
Tomorrow we're making a run to Brainerd. I will be swapping rabbits with someone (his has suffered an injury and needs to be humanely dispatched, and I have offered to give him one of our babies as a replacement).
I had planned to go make another round of nanking cherry jelly at my parents' house, but Tony isn't keen on staying all day. Perhaps we will just go to the store and buy our own sieve so we can make it at home. Seems like a fine idea too. I'm sure I can make use of a sieve more than once or twice a year now that I know how to make jelly.
We have four Speckled Sussex pullets in the barn currently. Today #3 was able to catch all four at the same time.
It's also time for another feed store run. Someone told me they had plants on clearance last week. I'll have to stop by their garden area and see if there's anything left that we could add to our meager garden this year.
While I filled up the kiddie pool today the ducks decided to go for a swim. I'm pretty sure the white and brown one is Gaetos (Indian Runner) and I know the brown and silver one is Nanny (rouen cross).
Tony cooked steak on the grill and I made tinfoil packets of veggies as a side. Potatoes, onions, zucchini, asparagus, and carrots. I just wish I'd had some mushrooms to add in. Dinner was delicious. I do love when he's home to cook!
Gretchen graced us with a litter this afternoon. She was delivering babies while we were feeding and watering everyone so I didn't really dig around in the nest box to look. I did come back and peek through the cage bars. I think there are five or seven babies in there. I anticipated black, white, and pointed, but it looks like there's a dutch marked kit in there. Maybe I need my eyes checked. Tomorrow I plan on getting a better look. Gretchen is solid black and is a New Zealand / Californian cross. The father of this litter is her son, Ulysses, who is the same mix, but is pointed. There shouldn't be any reason to have a bi-colored baby in this litter. I'm baffled. It's got to be something really recessive because this bloodline I've been line breeding. Gretchen's parents were mother/son, and Ulysses is out of Gretchen and her sire, now being bred back as a mother/son pairing. They're for meat rabbits anyway, but still, scratching my head at the potential for a black and white bunny out of New Zealand and Californian lines. I've been breeding this line for four generations now, and never had anything but black, white, and pointed kits.
This is the last planned litter for right now. If I were to breed now, babies would come in August and wouldn't be ready to go until mid-to-late-September. Bunnies never sell well in the fall, and they grow much slower in the cooler weather. So for now, just the colony rabbits will be left to continue breeding. Slow year for rabbit breeding, but I think it will be better overall. No surplus of little babies that are too small to butcher but not in demand enough to sell come cold weather.
We have been loosing the free range ducklings at an alarming rate. They seem fine, and then they just tip over and die. As of bedtime check tonight we're down to just one duckling following momma duck now. I made sure we have water bins low enough for them to get in and drink, they're free ranging and eating grass and stuff. They aren't being attacked by predators. I'm not sure if this is just first-time moms that are somehow doing something wrong, or if this is something I need to do something to correct. I think the next time we have a broody duck, we will steal half the chicks and raise them in a brooder to see if it makes any difference.
Today we discovered our first ripe black raspberries from the plants we brought over from the old house. Of course #5 ate them all right off the plant. I did get him to hold one long enough for me to snap a photo before he gobbled it up as well. They must be tasty!
Happy fourth of July to everyone! This is our first year sans fireworks. Last year we had just been pushed out of the hotel after 11 weeks when insurance wouldn't pay for it anymore, and we were living in a house with no heat, no AC, no running water... Because the basement had literally just been cleaned up from the flood last April. It was our last Independence Day in that house. It was just down the road from where they set off the town fireworks display, so we could sit in our front yard and watch the fireworks from home, then get back in the house and start bedtime before the traffic even started to file by. Avoiding crowds is always a plus. This year, we didn't celebrate at all. No grilling, no big family gathering, no fireworks. And honestly, I think we're all good with it. My parents always have some of the home fireworks (the legal kind that are for sale in stores all over around this time) and we usually wait a while and set those off at their house with friends and family at a gathering of our own. So it's not like we're really missing out on much. The celebration is just delayed to a more convenient time.
Today I was able to snap a couple photos of the new baby bunnies. Poor Gretchen is looking miserable. She's fat, so I suspect that her breeding took, but she's not had any babies yet and has not pulled any fur.
Lilith delivered her babies yesterday morning. She had pulled some fur (not much) but it had fallen out the bottom of the cage. So I put in a cardboard box. She delivered her five babies in the box, but has not pulled any more fur. It's supposed to be cool this evening so I'm hoping that she will either pull fur or lay near them... since I have nothing right now to put in the box with them. These are Rocket's babies and both rabbits are first-time breeders. The babies look fat and well fed, so I'm hoping they survive the two night cool spell (50's).
Kaelyn was bred to Servine for some Rex-cross bunnies. Both are also first time breeders. Kaelyn delivered nine babies yesterday afternoon. I didn't spend much time actually looking at the babies. I just did a head count and took a photo yesterday. Again today as well. It looks like a nice color assortment in there, and lots of fur! There's a little pink runt in the mix too. I'm excited to see if any inherit the Rex coat. Dad (Servine) is a purebred Rex, and mom (Kaelyn) is a Rex cross. Kaelyn's dad, Sushi, is a Rex cross who has been known to throw rex coated babies and his normal-coated son (Kaelyn's full brother Kin who lives in the colony) has thrown a couple Rex coated kits too. Kaelyn also has the Vienna gene, which means the kits could potentially inherit blue eyes and/or random white color patches. I see at least two in there with the Vienna markings on their faces. I'm excited to see how these ones turn out. Lots of fun recessives possible here.
Today when #3 opened up the barn to let the birds out, she came back in with two ducklings. One was dead and the other she said was dying. She was able to hold the little survivor for a while and reunite it with the ducks outside. By evening feeding time though, I found it laying on it's back in the barn. I picked it up and tried to put it in the barn brooder with the older ducks, but they kept trampling it. So I gave up... handed it to #3 and told her to go ahead and put a box together and let it in the house. So much for no birds in the house ever again, right? I don't think this duckling will last long. It keeps tipping over and is lethargic. It's in a box now with bedding, food, and water in #3's bedroom. As of bedtime it was still alive. As for the outside ducklings, one more disappeared over the course of the day. There are only two left following the ducks now. I'm torn on what to do. Do I leave the last two and hope for the best? Or do I steal them away and put them in the brooder with the older ducklings in hopes that protects them? For tonight they're out there with their mommas. But tomorrow if I'm down to just one outside, I may just have to put it in the brooder. I don't think Dashi is a very good mom. She wanders off and doesn't seem to care if her ducklings follow her or not. Matt isn't much better, but I have seen her a few times stop and turn around and wait for a slower duckling. Dashi doesn't seem to have any mother instinct at all except to bite if I get too close.
Today I met someone and sold a bunny, then came home and picked more cherries from the Nanking Cherry tree. I kept picking and picking and picking, I filled at least three bowls. Until #3 came back out and said we were over the four pounds we needed for the jelly recipe. With the 1-pound 12 ounces from yesterday, we ended up with 4-pounds 11-ounces. We put the four pounds in the bigger baggy to go for jelly, and the 11 ounces into a smaller baggy for the kids to eat or maybe for another round of jelly, depending how this works out.
Once we got to my parents' house, we started the jelly making process. If you've got a nanking cherry tree, this is how we made jelly.
To start - you will need:
3.5 to 4 pounds of nanking cherries
1.75 ounce package of regular fruit pectin
4.5 cups of sugar
Cheesecloth (100% cotton)
7-10 half-pint regular canning jars (sanitized)
Step One - Rinse and stem cherries. Use cool water, but do not soak them. Put the clean cherries into an 8-10 quart pot, Dutch oven, or kettle.
Step Two: Add enough water to barely cover the cherries. The original recipe suggested about 3.5 cups, but my mom said too much water will water down the flavor of your jelly, so we added three cups and it didn't completely cover the cherries.
Step Three: Bring the cherries to a simmer (do not boil). Let the pot simmer, uncovered, for "about 20 minutes or until the skin of the cherries start to split." Use a potato masher to smash the cherries as they are simmering. Remove from heat.
Step Four: Use a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and carefully pour the cherry mix in a bit at a time. Using a spoon or other tool (my grandma's old sieve has a wooden piece that came with it), press the mashed cherries through the sieve. You can discard the seeds and cooked skins. However, my 8 year old enjoyed eating the de-seeded skin pulp with a little sugar added. We also rinsed the cherry pits and will be using them to make a heat pack.
Step Five: Use four layers of 100% cotton cheese cloth over a colander or sieve, place over a bowl, and strain the juice. We put the cheese cloth over a pot instead, and my mom said she always used a flower sack dish cloth when she made jelly. A note here, if you let it drip at it's own speed, it can take a while but you'll have nice clear jelly. If you speed it along a little by running the back of a spoon over it to separate it out a bit, your jelly won't be perfectly clear, but still nice. You may lose the clarity if you squeeze the cheese cloth, but it'll still taste good.
Step Six: Measure out 3.5 cups of liquid and discard pulp. Again, not to waste, the pulp is the cherry equivalent of unsweetened applesauce, so we let the kids eat it. We ended up with just over 1.5 extra cups of liquid, so we also set that aside to try a half recipe later.
Step Seven: Use a 4-quart pot, heavy Dutch oven, or kettle, stir the 3.5 cups of cherry juice and the 1.75 ounces of pectin. Heat on High, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add the 4.5 cups of sugar, stirring to combine. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute (keep stirring). Remove pot from heat.
Step Eight: Skim off the top layer of foam with a spoon. The recipe says to do this quickly, but I found that giving it about 20-30 seconds to cool down actually made spooning it out a little easier. We put it in a sauce bowl and used it as a sample taster.
Step Nine: Carefully pour or ladle the hot liquid into hot sterilized half-pint standard canning jars. Be sure to leave 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rims to insure a good seal, and adjust your lids. A note here, my mom put the sanitized jars into a pan of hot water (so the bottoms and sides were in the hot water but not the top or inside portion). She said this helps to make sure you don't break the glass when the hot jelly is poured in to the otherwise cold jars.
Step Ten: Process your jelly in a boiling water bath canner for five minutes. Time should only start when the water is boiling, and it should continue to boil throughout the entire processing time.
Step Eleven: Remove the jars from the boiling water. Cool them on wire racks. As they cool they will often make an audible "pop" when the lids suction in for a good seal. Once your jars are completely cooled, press each lid. If the center stays down, you're good to go. If it pops back up, repeat step ten or use those jars right away and refrigerate them.
This recipe made seven half-pint jars of jelly, plus a little extra that we got to use as a taste test. After dinner, I tried my hand at a half batch made with honey instead of sugar. Unfortunately, my mom only had the pectin for "less or no sugar" on hand. I used half of the 1.75 ounce box, and 2 cups of honey. This resulted in three jars of honey-sweetened Nanking cherry jelly. Unfortunately, either using half of the pectin, or using "low sugar" pectin, or perhaps using honey instead of sugar, or some combination thereof made the jelly not set properly. So while the jars did seal, when they are tipped, the jelly is not firm. It tastes good, but it's a looser jelly than following the original recipe.
All together, a wonderful first experience making jelly. I am fairly confident that I could do it at home next time if I can acquire a sieve. Check out the original recipe here.
Today we also got nine new baby bunnies! Kaelyn and Servine are both firt-time parents and now proven breeders. Looks like we have some color variations in this group. Pretty neat! I didn't dig more than to count babies and snap a photo.
Last night I looked up a recipe for Nanking Cherry jelly. It calls for 3.5 to 4 pounds of cherries. Today the kids and I picked 1 pound 12 ounces of cherries. Tomorrow morning we will pick more before heading off to my parents' house to have my mom help me to make jelly. As a child I helped her once or twice to make apple jelly, but I was young and I don't remember. So she's going to help me. Tony brought home jars and pectin and cheese cloth, so we are prepared!
While out doing barn chores, #3 was catching chickens (just because it's fun and keeps the birds friendly). She picked up the smaller of the two Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens. The bigger one is a rooster, but this one I'm hoping is a hen. Either way, I love the head feathers. I should really come up with names for the birds we're keeping. Seems odd not to name them. I'm trying to avoid Elvis references, since those seem the most obvious for these birds (haha). Maybe Chanticleer (Rock-a-Doodle reference) for the rooster, but then I don't have a matched name for the hen (still hoping it's a hen).
Anyone have naming suggestions?
Today I repaired a damaged rabbit hutch, only to discover it was damaged somewhere else as well. I will have to fix that part another day. I put a box over the damaged part as the rabbit in the cage is due for babies any day now. She pulled fur and it all went under the cage (out the hole) so I'm hoping she hasn't lost her entire litter to the chickens below and that she will nest in the box now instead. At least the big hole in the front is repaired now. That will keep the cats from getting in.
I also finished the new Rabbit Tractor today. The wooden back door and the boards were in it from the last time I worked on it, but today #3 cut pieces of hardware mesh and I used wire to attach them to the holes in the cage. Then I drilled some holes in a small plastic tote for drainage in the bottom, and in the side so I could wire it to the side of the cage, up on the wood parts so it's up off the ground. We put Princess Poppy and Pocahontas in it for the first time to see how they did. They seemed to enjoy getting fresh grass.
After the photo below was taken, I also added a water bowl (also drilled for wire to hold it to the side of the cage), and used an old feed bag, cut open and attached with wire, to cover the top to keep them dry in case it rains. Tonight will be a bit of a test. We may get some storms coming through and I left the bunnies in the new tractor. I hope they do well. I may have to add more cross boards and another tote. I had originally hoped to put the colony grow out bucks in this pen, but they're small enough to walk right out between the bars. Then I considered just having one rabbit in there, but with the colony bunnies currently in a co-ed grow out pen, I figured it might be best to put these lovely ladies in there and then separate bucks from does in the grow out pen (using their old pen as the doe grow out - which is what it was last year - they just never left). I haven't moved the grow outs yet because I want to make sure this tractor design works first.
It wasn't until one of the kids pointed this out that I noticed... Princess Poppy has a crown mark on her nose. She didn't have this when she was a baby (when she was named) so it's purely coincidence, but it's pretty cute.
The original chicks we got in our surprise box are three months old today. I've been reading that most hens start laying eggs at 16-24 weeks old. That should mean somewhere between July 23 and September 17 we could potentially start getting eggs. I was thinking they'd probably get to proper size just about the time it gets cold again and they stop laying for the winter, so I have not been worried about nest boxes so much until next spring. Guess it's time to hang up a couple more just in case these ladies decide to start gracing us with food sooner than expected. With my ducks no longer laying eggs, and my only adult hen gone, I'd love to start getting daily eggs again.
Today I cleaned out the barn brooder and moved all of the ducklings out of the house and into the barn. I'm so happy to get the birds out of the house. never again! Never ever bringing birds in the house - ever again! They took stinky to a whole new level, and the dust? Oh my goodness - why did nobody warn me about "chick dust" and the fact that it covers every surface from floor to ceiling? The rest of this week will be spent cleaning and sanitizing the entire basement.
The one down side to this move? Peg-leg Sue is now out in the barn brooder. Now, the brooder in the barn and the brooder in the basement are nearly identical. They're both the same size, made of the same materials, the foam padding underneath the pine shavings in the bottom, I even moved their food and water containers out so that wasn't a change. But it means she's just one step away from the rest of the birds being released into the flock once they're all feathered out. If I can't find her an alternate home, I'm not sure what will happen to her. I'll have no choice but to turn her out with the others and hope the bigger birds don't kill her, that she doesn't get that bad leg infected from hobbling around in the barn and the yard, and that some predator doesn't pick her off. We did buy a pool noodle, and I'm contemplating buying vet wrap. How much do I want to invest into pampering this bird when it's chances of survival here are low? The couple of people who voiced interest in adopting her weeks ago have all flaked out. I can't say that I blame them. A disabled house duck isn't really what most people would consider a fun pet. I will talk to Tony tomorrow about ordering some vet wrap. It might be something good to have on hand anyway.
Tomorrow morning one of the bucks from the colony litter is heading to his new home. He's such a cutie with his little cheek patches. The last time we had one like that he was the first one sold from the litter too.
And here as I'm wrapping up writing this blog post it's pouring rain and there's rolling thunder outside. A good test for the rabbit tractor and for Pocahontas and Princess Poppy. I really hope they're smart enough to hop up into the bin and not just sit on the ground.
Welcome to July! Today the kids went off to their Uncle and Aunt's house. I got the last of my potato beds filled with compost and manure and planted (Superior, Pinto Gold, and Yukon Gold varieties). I got barn chores done, worked on cleaning some, re-planted in the garden space by the screen porch (Mellow Yellow beans, Lemon cucumber, and Picklebush cucumber seeds - still need to put up chicken wire fence though). I got the new strawberry plant settled into the raised strawberry bed, watered the various gardens, and noticed something has come along and eaten all of my giant cabbage plants. I was so happy they'd been growing so well... Guess that's another space I'll need to fence off. No idea how I'll get in there to harvest anything, but at this rate there won't be anything left to harvest if I don't.
We lost another duckling last night. No idea what happened. It was dead in the nest this morning. Not smushed or damaged, just laying there. Now we're down to five.
We have a tree that I thought was a crab apple tree, but it turns out, it's not. The little fruits are jellybean sized and turning red now. I took some photos and consulted a plant identification group. Turns out it's a Nanking Cherry! We can harvest, process, and eat the cherries. Now I just have to figure out a recipe for jam or jelly, or maybe pie to use some and try it out. I love when food is in abundance, and even more so when it's unexpected and free!
Floki's kitten is still alive. While it appears outwardly healthy, it cries almost constantly and is thin. I rarely see Floki in the box caring for it. Mabel has taken on the roll of nanny and lays with the kitten, letting it nurse, though she has no milk. We will just have to wait and see where this goes.
I went back out to the fallen log to check on the bean project. It's a tree that fell and got caught in another tree, leaving it about waist level. The center is hollowed out and I added some soil and planted some beans. Much to my delighted surprise, they're doing great and it looks like all of the seeds germinated! These are all pole variety beans so pretty soon they'll be climbing all over - as long as nothing eats them first. I'm excited to see if they survive out there far from the house with little human intervention. I didn't even bother to water these. They're surviving on nothing but rain and sunshine.
I was out in the barn and it occurred to me, while I am on baby watch for three does, I have not sold a single kit out of the last two litters. I'm not sure if I'm not advertising them as well, or if they're not as pretty, or what's going on... I have nine from the colony, and four Harlequin cross does out of Fern and Thatcher. If anyone is interested, please let me know! As of today someone voiced some interest in this fella (below), but that's just one of 13 available babies... And in less than two weeks, Zeek will be ready to go too! So many bunnies!! If you're looking to adopt a bunny as a pet, or a breeder, or for meat production - check out the Rabbits page to see who's available! As always, they come with a lifetime return guarantee. If your kids lose interest, your landlord changes the pet policy, your roommate is allergic, you have to move, your neighbor's dog won't leave it alone, you decide a rabbit just isn't the right pet for you, or anything else comes up, we will take back any bunny we sell, for the lifetime of the rabbit, no explanation required, no refunds.
I've been watching the three does that are due any time now. Kaelyn has pulled fur, but she has pulled fur previously and not delivered any kits. She's fat though, so I anticipate babies soon; maybe tonight. Lilith shows no signs of being pregnant or preparing for a litter. Gretchen has been cranky all along, but has not pulled any fur yet. I'm hoping she's manageable if she has babies. She grumbles every time I open her cage to refill her food and water, but she doesn't charge or scratch at me. She's just stating her disapproval of my being there.
I've got the new rabbit tractor partially assembled. We're using an old turtle trap for the "bones" of the structure. I've added the wooden door on the one side, and the wooden planks inside that will eventually hold the water dish and the bin for the rabbit to rest in up off the ground. I still need to drill holes in the bin and the edges of the food and water dishes, then wire or screw them into place. I also need to rig up old feed bags as the water-proof roofing. I'm still waiting for #3 to cut wire patches to cover the bigger gaps in the wiring. Once that's all set, we'll be ready to try it out! I think we'll use some of the colony grow outs that aren't selling right now as our initial guinea pigs to try it out. I'm hoping to get some photos tomorrow if I can remember.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.