MooMoo (she came with the name) was advertised as broken black, but she has dark chocolate brown in her black spots, so I doubt she'd be show quality. She does have a breeder tattoo in one ear.
I spent several hours today repairing a couple of cages. One just needed a little repair work and the other needed a lot of work. The kids helped, with #5 actually climbing into the big cage to pass the wire back and forth as I weaved a patch over a big damaged area.
Why were we repairing these cages? Because on his way home from work, Tony picked up a couple new bunnies. I had seen an ad for a couple of free bunnies and I offered to take them. Two little Holland Lop does joined our family today.
MooMoo (she came with the name) was advertised as broken black, but she has dark chocolate brown in her black spots, so I doubt she'd be show quality. She does have a breeder tattoo in one ear.
Calliope was advertised as an orange sable, but she looks like a black tort to me. I don't know standards on colors, but up close she almost looks gray in the face. She's a young one yet, at just 5 months old while MooMoo is 14 months old. Calliope is gorgeous, and seems to be a little friendlier initially than MooMoo. No tattoos for Calliope.
I'm torn on what to do with these pretty new ladies. I could cross them back to one of the bucks I have now, though all of my bucks are bigger. Or I could spring for buying a new Holland Lop buck to make a trio. But I keep saying I don't need more bucks. I do have one friend who has a Holland Lop buck. I wonder if she'd trade pick of the litter for stud services. Then I could sell off some babies to pay off buying a new buck. Holland lops sell for $30-$50 each here, while my mutt bunnies are selling for $15-$20. It might be worth the $50 to buy my own buck up front. Alas, I have time to think about it because the new girls still need to get through their quarantine time before they can even be considered for breeding.
Tony was supposed to have yesterday off and we were supposed to get a bunch of stuff done. Then the assistant manager didn't bother to show up for work, and Tony had to go to work instead. And again today the assistant manager didn't come. No call, no show, won't answer his phone. I even checked the local in custody and accident reports, but couldn't track this guy down. I guess today they got a hold of his father and asked him to check in to see what was going on. In the meantime, we're slipping further and further behind schedule. Never got the gardens in, still have permanent plants that are running out of time to root before it gets too cold - still needing to be transplanted, I've got all kinds of projects in various stages that need to get done before winter... I can't help but feel like with him being gone 70+ hours a week for going on three weeks now (tomorrow is day 21 with no time off), I'm struggling to get things done and I need help.
I wish he could work from home, but right now there's nothing he could do from home that could pull in enough to cover our bills. House payment, electricity, gas, phone bill, and of course the astronomical feed cost for all the animals I keep.
I think he just calculated we have something like $300 in rebate checks to Menards (love 11% sales). Perhaps we will buy a chest freezer to store meat in, and we can process some critters before it gets cold.
Matt continues to be a good mom, staying on her hidden nest at the edge of the yard. She comes off to eat and drink, and then goes right back. Today while she was off I put the wire cage top over it and put a feed bag on top of that, then opened up the side door and left it over the nest. The idea being two fold. If the cage stays on her nest all the time she can still come and go as she wants to, but now she only has to guard one opening rather than all around her. We are also expecting a lot of rain in the nest couple of weeks, so by putting the feed bag over the top, it may help to keep her nest at least a little dryer than it would be otherwise. I did not lock the little cage top over her tonight, but instead left the door open in case she wants to go get a drink or something. Every night out is a predator risk. Perhaps the smell of human so nearby, including my touching the feed bag and cage will deter would-be predators. I can hope anyway.
We lost one baby from Snowflake's litter, and Thumper still has no babies. Tomorrow I need to sanitize one of the smaller cages and move Skittles in to the colony building. He needs to get acclimated to the ladies before he's let loose. He's currently smaller than the girls in there, and that worries me a bit. I've got a place set aside for his temporary cage in there while he and the ladies meet through the cage. I don't know how long he will stay in the cage in there, but I'm tempted to leave him in there until he's grown larger than they are. They should definitely be acclimated by then. Since he's not old enough to start breeding right now anyway, it could also give the ladies a chance to deliver any litters they may be pregnant with now and not have to worry about Skittles harassing or harming the babies (not that I think he would). And of course once Skittles is moved to the colony building, that means Rugby will have to be moved over to the buck cage, because it won't be appropriate for him to stay in the cage with his momma any more.
I need to work on getting more ads posted and get more bunnies moved out. I could use the money to pay for more feed, and I could certainly do with fewer mouths to feed. Of course, the more I sell the fewer we have available to feed us through the winter. I'm especially hoping to find a home for Peter Parker. He's too cute to eat, and I don't need another buck.
I was watching something the other day and there was some story about how people sell their adopted kids online when they don't adjust well or have special needs they don't want to deal with anymore, and how it's a way for child abusers and sex traffickers to get kids without having to kidnap them. It broke my heart that someone would willingly place a child in danger like that. It's a good thing I don't understand how that system works, or I'm afraid I'd go off and start collecting unwanted children to save them from bad situations. I wonder why this is happening. Is there some government office working on tracking down the people doing that and rescuing the kids? On the other hand, I honestly have to wonder what kind of a price tag a human child comes with on this "black market" of sorts. When adoption is so expensive, why would people go through all the background checks and home visits, paperwork, and expense, and then turn around and throw a child away? I don't understand. It makes no sense. Then again, I have special needs children, so perhaps I'm biased. My heart goes out to those poor unwanted children who find themselves trapped in a broken system.
Rough day today. Two of our hens are down and lame, and I don't know why. Same symptoms as previous roosters. They just lay down and act like their legs don't work anymore, they looks weak and tired, then die within 24 hours. I expect they'll both be dead in the morning. Are they eating the potato plants? What is the problem?
The kids caught Luna (one of the barn cats) with a baby bunny in her mouth. Bunny was warm and unharmed, but we can't figure out where the baby came from. Spotty had her litter a couple days ago, no babies since, and her cage has 1/4" mesh so a baby couldn't have gotten out. Thumper has no fur pulled and isn't nesting yet. Snowflake was panting a bit, but no nesting. The kids said they found Luna under Snowflake's cage, so I put the baby in her nest box hoping she'd accept it and pull some fur. A while later, the kids reported that Snowflake has not taken an interest and baby was getting cold. So we warmed it back up and ended up adding it in with the youngest colony litter. They're already growing fur, but it's the only option I had.
While in the colony building, the kids found our big buck had died. Kin hadn't been well lately. He started losing patches of fur and he wasn't eating as well as he used to. I figured maybe the ladies were picking on him. Tomorrow I plan on cleaning out the entire building and bringing in fresh bedding. Better safe than sorry. I had been considering replacing him since watching him chase babies in the last two litters. I guess now I don't have a choice.
My replacement options are fairly limited. Today I sat down with #3 and consulted her on her thoughts on a new buck. Together we looked at each of our bucks, their genetics and colors, and ruled out using any of our adult bucks. Now we are considering keeping back one of our buck babies. Will it be Skittles, who is absolutely adorable, but comes from a diverse genetic background? Or Peter Parker, who'd be breeding back to his mom and aunts, but would throw a lot more long haired babies? Right now I'm leaning more towards Skittles, just for the color diversity he'd being in. It would also mean having another crack at Bennett's genetics. I do miss Bennett. He was an awesome breeding buck. Still kind of kicking myself for selling him. I only have one of his grand-daughters and one of his grandsons left (Skittles' parents).
And to kick the whole day into another level of disappointment and sadness, this evening Hermione was struggling to breathe. I know she'd had a goopy eye yesterday and the day before, but this came on suddenly. She passed away late tonight just before I typed this up. She was just hours short of being three weeks old. Now it's just Harry left, and one of his eyes is a little wet. I'm worried. But our vet won't see babies until they're six weeks old. So we have to get Harry through three more weeks before we could even hope to get him real medical help if he gets sick. We're going to watch him closely and hope for the best. We're madly in love with him.
We did have one bit of happiness today. We found Matt, the missing duck. She's built a nest just off the side of the yard in a nice well hidden area. She's sitting on 8-9 eggs (according to my husband who braved to bother her with a flashlight in hand tonight). I don't want to destroy her nest, and I'm not willing to set up the incubator and brooder again, especially this late in the season. I was worried if we moved her, she may abandon the nest. So I took the wire top from a cage and gently set it over her tonight. It doesn't sit even on the ground, it won't stop predators from coming, but it may slow them down, or at least give her that much more time to wake up if she's sleeping. We will have to take it back off in the morning and put it back on at night. I don't even know if she's going to be able to hatch out and raise ducklings now. It may be getting cold by the time they hatch. Let's see, if she went missing yesterday, we can start our egg incubation count from there. That means eggs may be due to hatch around September 24th. That's a really late hatch considering how slowly ducks feather out. I don't see this working out. I have to give her big credit for building such an awesome nest and hiding it so well. I hate to just shoo her off it and take the eggs away. This may need further thought. I may end up just taking her eggs and sending her back to the barn. For her own safety and so we don't get our hopes up for babies that either never come, or die soon after.
I continue to have allergy and sinus issues. I wonder what's blooming right now that's setting my allergies off so bad. It's not just me either, because #1 and #2 are also suffering from the sniffles.
Now I'm wondering if I got the kittens' genders completely backwards... Is Harry a girl? Is Hermione a boy?? It's so much more complicated when they're furry! Naked kittens are easy to gender check. Maybe next time I'll wait until they're several weeks old to give names and check genders. That seems to work well for the bunnies too.
We're on bunny watch, but no new babies today. Both expectant does are due tomorrow. So far no hay stashing or fur pulling from either bunny. Thumper had pulled some fur a couple days ago, but has not pulled any more since we gave her a nest box. Snowflake does the bulk of her fur pulling after she delivers.
I felt better yesterday, and this morning was alright, but I hit about 2:30 this afternoon and I was falling asleep sitting up. I took a nap and woke up back to the same level of miserable I was at a few days ago. Why does my body ache? I feel like it's 90-degrees in here, but it's not. No fever, no chills, no headache, so not the flu. Still hoping it goes away on it's own so I don't have to go see a doctor.
This morning Matt, our rouen cross duck, was out on her own before I opened the barn to let the other birds out. This is the second time. So tonight when #3 closed up the barn I asked her to look for Matt. Matt did not come in at dark to get locked in the barn. We aren't sure where Matt is going at night, but at this rate, Matt won't be around for much longer if she doesn't start coming back to the barn. There's no predator protection out on her own at night. Silly bird.
It's been a bit of a rough day. This morning I went out to let birds out and check bunnies. Now that nest boxes are in we will be doing at least twice a day nest checks. Spotty had delivered, likely in the wee hours of the morning. Six babies, two days too early. Only two were moving when I found them, and despite bringing them all in the house and warming the entire litter, we lost five right away. We warmed the last one up and it was moving nicely, but it was still obviously earlier than it should have been. We put it back in the nest and gave it back to Spotty, who was still actively pulling fur. An hour later when I went back to check, the baby was cold and hardly moving. We tried to warm it again, but it didn't make it. Two days early is just too early altogether.
Not to be brought down by the situation, #4 asked if we could give Spotty another try. Well, it's late in the season, and I wasn't really wanting to breed for a late September litter, but sure, why not. I didn't immediately re-breed, I thought I'd at least give her some time to recoup from delivery and maybe mourn for her lost litter. If rabbits mourn. Some of ours have clearly been distraught when they've lost a baby, while others don't seem to care at all. It's rough to lose a baby, but it's even worse to lose an entire litter.
It was one of those days where it was just wet enough outside to discourage you from getting any projects done, but just dry enough to make you want to get some yard work done. I caught Josh (our African gander) under the apple tree again this morning, ripping leaves and immature apples off the tree. He can be such a jerk, but he's so good at protecting the flock that I put up with his naughty behavior.
No goodies in the mail today. I did start a crochet project though. I'm going to try to make some kind of a triangle hair cover thing. Kind of a homesteader, nature hippy, boho feel to it. I never use a pattern (can't read them anyway), so I hope it turns out the way I visualize it. Time will tell. I still need to finish work on #2's bag too. I'm running out of time, but I'm still trying to figure out how to line a crochet yarn bag with fabric without using a needle and thread or a sewing machine to attach the fabric. I wonder if I could manage to sew it using yarn and a yarn needle to try to keep the outer appearance looking good. I have some old baby onesies stashed away that could be used for fabric for this project.
Late night rambling thoughts about where we're going with the farm next. I have more ideas than I have time and finances for. I remind myself daily to try to pace myself, but it's all so new and exciting. I've been dreaming of my very own farm since I was a child and the possibilities seem endless.
I know next spring I do want to try my hand at selling seedlings. I can winter sow my seeds, and when they're up and looking healthy, I can transplant them into cups and then sell them off to gardeners in the area. It's a thought, I'd like to make it a reality. It would be easier to do with a greenhouse, but I think I can manage on a small scale to see if it's even a viable market. There are greenhouses in the area here, and I don't want to come off as competition. I'd be offering weird varieties not likely to show up in a small town green house.
I want to get some of the Back To Eden style gardening spaces set up this fall before the snow flies so it has time to compost down a little before planting next year. We didn't do any in-ground gardening this year aside from a couple border gardens. This would also mean fencing off parts of the property to try to keep the birds out. The chickens can get into the rafters in the barn, so I'm not sure any amount of fencing would be practical to keep them out of the garden. Maybe electrical poultry netting. I will have to do more research.
I still need to plant the grapes and some berry bushes and shrubs yet, but Tony has been working solid and I don't have the ability to do it all myself. Especially not while refereeing kids all day. Some days they're sweet angels who help out and play nice. Other days I get nothing done for all the time I spend making sure they're not fighting or making messes every time I turn my back. They've got me outnumbered!
I also have all the apple and pear seedlings in little plastic cups in the entryway. The plan is to get a shelving unit and some plant lights and move them downstairs for the winter. It stays pretty consistently 65-degrees down there, so as long as I keep them watered and the lights on a 12 hour timer, we should be able to pull them through their first winter and transplant them in the spring to bigger containers. Depending how that goes, maybe we could even plant some here to start growing!
It's also time to consider last minute fall gardening. Do I still have time to plant cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans, peas, spinach, and lettuce? It might be worth a shot just to see if I can get some last minute crops out yet. I think I did the same thing last year and only got a handful of peas before the cold weather took the plants out. I never know when to plant a fall garden. Everywhere else plants much earlier in the spring and further into the fall. The season is short here, so for procrastinators like me, gardening can be a bit of an extra challenge. I will learn and adapt though.
I did notice the okra plants have little flowers forming, and the tiny watermelon plants in the buckets are covered in flowers. The okra might make it, but I'm pretty sure it's too late for melons to be starting.
Just for a giggle, here's a photo of one of the green bell peppers we got from the CSA yesterday. I drew the eyes on.
I've been off the computer for several days. My apologies for not keeping up with the blog. I've been a little down and out. I'm not sure if it's just my allergies getting the best of me or what, but I spent the last two days largely in my bedroom. It was, admittedly, a nice break to be able to use the television.
So, updates... Here goes!
I finally finished the bag for #2, ahead of the looming school year. It has one main area, and one red pocket on the front. There's also a drawstring bag that attached to the die knob inside the bag.
He has since found some flaws in the bag design, so I will have to modify it some. His writing utensils stick out the bottom of the red pocket, so I will have to figure out how to line it with fabric somehow. He also said the drawstring bag rests on the bottom of the bag when it's closed because the string is too long, so I pulled it partially closed, then cut and shortened the drawstring so it can't fully open (at his request) so it stays higher up in the bag. I offered to just make him a smaller dice pouch, but he just wanted the line shortened. I also need to lengthen the top flap, so I made him take all his school stuff out so I could fix it. Lessons learned I guess. It's all an experience and I think over-all I did pretty good considering I didn't have a pattern and did it all by pure imagination.
To celebrate finishing a big project, I worked on some smaller projects. My first attempt? A cat toy. This one is made from the plastic ring at the top of a milk jug, and some blue yarn. It looks like an octopus. I have not tested it on our kitties yet, but hope to soon.
I also decided to try making a coaster, but make it one layer, rather than two. The kids all agreed they prefer the double layer coasters, so I figure the single-layer ones could be used for washing dishes. At one point, #1 commented on wanting a rainbow one. So I took it as a challenge. I had made several different colored ones, even some variegated, but this time I was doing it purely for fun.
Turns out, the only yellow yarn I had was the fuzzy kind. I don't even know why I have it because I don't use it. Anyway, I managed to made a rainbow colored dish washing cloth, which #1 was pleased with. She won't use it to wash though because she likes it too much. When you make something a little too well, I suppose.
My next project was to make individual colors to make a rainbow pack - one red, one orange, one yellow, one green, one blue, and one purple pad and they could be sold as a set. I know I had a nice skein of soft yellow yarn once upon a time, but alas, it was in the basement flood last year. I really lost so much. All of my crafting stuff. Makes me sad to think about it. But I digress. I have made five of the six so far. I picked up a skein of yellow yarn today while out shopping..
Yesterday the younger kids rounded up the baby bunnies from the colony so we could get updated photos and check them out. They only caught six, so I'm not sure where the illusive seventh bunny went.
Looks like we have three white with black or really dark chestnut spots, one black with a white foot, one weird black/chestnut colored one, and one tort. If our early estimates are correct, we might have a lot of girls and just one little boy. It's too early to tell for sure right now, so don't think it's set in stone. Lots of longer lionhead fur in this litter. No short curly rex coats this time around.
There is one oddball in the litter. The one that's not quite black, but not completely chestnut either. This is also the one I suspect to be a boy. He has lighter fur around his eyes and over his back, chestnut ticking over the ears, back, and paws, but long black fur where the lionhead fringe is already starting to grow in along his lower sides and cheeks.
This poor guy has it rough though. He seems to have suffered a leg injury. He's not using his back right leg as of when we were handling him. I'm going to keep an eye on him and see how he progresses. I don't know if we're dealing with a strain or a sprain or something worse. I'm hoping he'll be alright with some time to heal. So for now, this little baby is getting the dreaded "not for sale" designation.
This morning I cut into one of the Bush Goliath tomatoes I'd picked a couple days ago. They've been sitting in the kitchen windowsill enjoying the sun and breeze. Much to my surprise (and delight) the first tomato had a grand total of two seeds. It was solid "meat" and it was delicious! Just a sprinkle of salt over it, and yum! Home grown tomatoes are delightful.
Today I had two rabbit meetings to meet two different people to sell a total of five rabbits.
The first lady never showed up. Over an hour later she did get a hold of me, and it turns out she's had some personal issues come up and won't be able to adopt bunnies right now. That means the two littlest bucks from Kaelyn's litter are now back up for sale. They'll need names now, since everyone else got names. The other two are Newman and Corduroy. I'm not sure what these ones will be called. I was really hoping they'd just find new homes today, but alas, they're back home tonight with their momma.
The meet this evening went much better. Three bunnies (Meadow, Almond, and Twinkle Star) all went off to their new family.
I got nest boxes in Snowflake, Spotty, and Thumper's cages. Thumper started pulling fur this morning, and Spotty had a mouthful of grass and fur when I put her nest box in this evening. Official due date for these three is the 26th, but with a rain storm coming tonight and tomorrow, it's possible we may have early arrivals. The bunnies do seem to prefer delivering during shifting weather conditions.
We have four new arrivals in the colony building. It seems Spot has gifted us with a small litter just as the other litter is leaving the nest box and darting around the building. There were six, but two didn't make it through delivery. The four survivors were transferred off the ground and put into a nest box to help keep them a little more contained and hopefully deter the bigger babies from trampling them. There's one solid black, two broken black, and one that's white with markings but they're not black. Maybe fawn or tan or tort? They're pretty hairless at the moment, so I'll have to see how that one comes along.
Re-reading that last section it occurs to be the confusion possible with the similar names of Spot and Spotty. Spot is a Dutch/Lionhead doe in the colony building. She lives free range in a building and fenced area with her two siblings, one of their offspring, and Kin, our colony buck.
Spotty was supposed to be a rex that we bought for #4, but she's not. She's been bred to Servine, our purebred Rex buck to see if she throws Rex coated kits. If she does, she carries for Rex and is a Rex cross. If not, she's not even a Rex cross and we will have to guess her breed. I have asked #4 several times to rename Spotty, but she likes the name. So, we have a Spot and a Spotty... Oddly enough we also have a Dot for sale. I think we need some better names. I'll try to do better in future litters and breeders.
The neighbor's across the road (down our long driveway, well out of view from our house) had a demolition fire today. I'm not sure if that's the proper term or not. It looked like one of those where you let the local fire department come in and burn down an old house as a learning experience. It was neat to see as we headed out back to Brainerd for the second time today and all the fire fighters were suited up and in a line outside the building with smoke billowing. By the time we got home a couple hours later it was just burning rubble on the ground being tended by a couple fire fighters. I wonder what they'll build in its place.
On Friday the kids and I took the metal detector out for a little while. We didn't find much of interest. One giant square-headed railroad tie, one smaller square metal bolt, a U-nail, what appears to be a toy car axle, and a bunch of rusted metal scrap. While digging, #3 made the realization that "clay soil" literally means it's clay. At that point the detector game was over and she was more interested in digging up some clay to see if she could make something. Since I didn't want her digging up the yard, we found a place out in the front fields near the crab apple trees for her to dig up some clay. I picked up a bunch of crab apples off the ground while she did that. Here's Friday's finds and harvest:
I'm not sure how to tell when crab apples are ripe. The big ones in the left container were all on the ground, but on another nearby tree were much smaller apples that hadn't started to fall but were darker red. So I picked a few of them. I do plan on doing more research, but for simplicity sake, if anyone can just shoot me an email, I'd appreciate someone explaining crab apples to me. A good jelly recipe for them would also be greatly appreciated!
As of Saturday, both kittens have their eyes open. I am 99% sure that Harry and Hermione are both girls. The kids are split on changing Harry's name. I say we keep it. Harry could be short for Harriett, right?
Today was Sunday. I laid down early last night, not feeling well, and fell asleep before Tony got home. Thankfully the older kids are more than capable of watching the littler ones. Built in babysitters are a blessing! I woke up this morning feeling achy and sore. It took me all morning and into the afternoon to finally drag myself out of bed. Hot pack, ibuprofen, and the need to pee fueled my eventual rise. Even so, my knees hurt. What a weird thing, when the ibuprofen took away all the back, tummy, sinus, and throat aches, but made my knees hurt? Needless to say, I didn't get much done today.
I snapped a few photos of the spitz pair. They are gorgeous birds, but I don't think I'll be able to do them justice as a pair. I have no way to keep them separate from the rest of the flock to keep their genetics pure. If I did, I'd keep them in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the coop available locally that could fit two birds is $250 and with no heat and no way to move the open-bottom cage in the winter to prevent build up when it's too frozen to clean it out regularly... It's an expensive and risky investment.
Above and below are photos of Rockadoodle, our Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben rooster. What threw me off for a long time is that he doesn't have a large comb or waddles. Someone else posted a photo of their golden spitz roo and he had prominent waddles, so I started to doubt myself about this guy.
His giveaway though is that he has saddle feathers and one of his two rooster tail feathers has started to grow in. Even though he hasn't crowed yet, this one is definitely a rooster! He's also a good deal bigger than the other one, and walks more upright.
There's also a strange color contrast between these two. Rockadoodle had developed more of a black with gold flashes appearance, while his girlfriend is clearly more golden with black flecks. I don't know if this is normal or not, but I've been told this breed is not color sexed, so I suppose it's not common.
Above and below are photos of Goldie, our Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben hen. She's much smaller than Rockadoodle and walks normally like the other chickens (not the weird upright way he does). You can see on her face that she has no comb and only the tiniest smidge of waddled. Her face is also pink, while his is red. She does appear to have noticable hackle feathers. I'm not sure what to make of that
On her back side, she has no saddle feathers, which would further indicate she's a hen. The one thing that's throwing me right now is that she does have one longer tail feather. It's not as narrow and pointed as a rooster feather, but a hen shouldn't have any longer feathers like this.
Bonus points to anyone who caught the throwback to a 1991 children's cartoon movie called Rockadoodle (main character is named Chanticleer and he gets a girlfriend named Goldie). Anyway, since a Chantecler is a breed of chicken, I went with Rockadoodle for the rooster's name instead.
I am so glad I stayed up to write this blog! As I was writing I head Josh (our African gander) outside hollering, and a duck frantically quacking. This is not normal behavior. So I put the dogs out and ran for the barn. One lonely duck was outside the barn, desperately trying to get through the fence to get in the barn as it started to downpour. I got the duck in the barn, wrangled the dogs back in the house, and now that I'm done blogging, I do believe it's time for bed.
Today I paired up Quetzal and Quimby, and Feather and Servine for September litters. I considered breeding three other does that hadn't been bred this year, but I don't want a million babies as the weather gets cold. This will give me a litter of French Lop cross, and a colorful litter with potential for Rex coats and blue eyes (given genetic backgrounds and past breeding history).
I also lost two of the new colony babies today. I'm not sure what happened. Two two-week-old babies were out of the nest box (as they do hop in and out now), but both were in different places, and I thought both were dead. I picked them up and they both did the gasping thing. I knew they were too far gone, but I held them and comforted them as they passed. I hate losing animals. Now I'll be keeping an even closer eye on the other babies in there. They had food in their bowl, water in the container, and their nest box is accessible (if they hop out they can hop back in). We had some losses last litter too, and I'm suspecting perhaps one of the adults may be chasing babies. None are ever sick, they don't have diarrhea or sneeze, no goopy eyes, they're alert and well fed, active and healthy, and then during the day they just lay down and die. No injuries, no signs of trauma. I'm baffled. Last litter I watched Kin chase the babies around. Is it possible to chase them to death?
Harry is starting to peek now. His (or her) eyes are opening. I'm sure Hermione won't be far behind. In the photo above, yes, Harry has red nail polish on some of his front claws. It was so we could differentiate him and Ron, as they were nearly identical.
And of course, if I post a photo of Harry, I have to post one of Hermione too, right?
I went through one of the packets of fabric that I got in the mail yesterday. It's thin fabric, but I think it will work. I'm still not sure when I will be able to get a replacement piece for my sewing machine, or get a new sewing machine all together, but at least the fabric is here when I'm ready. It's a nice little assortment of colors and designs.
I think I'm coming down with something. I've had a runny nose all day. Yuck.
The French Cuckoo Marans rooster I'd brought into the house died yesterday. He lasted longer than I expected. I had food and water in there with him, but he never made an attempt to eat or drink.
Yesterday one of the bunnies from the superhero litter left to his new home. This morning two from Kaelyn's litter and one from the candy litter (Cookies-N-Cream) went to their new home. I've got two more meetings scheduled next week to send five more babies off to new homes.
Mail delivery today was exciting. I got the fabric squares I had ordered to make a quilt. Which would be really awesome if I hadn't realized last week that my sewing machine no longer has the pedal and plug in. Another victim of the basement flood last year. Guess that project will just have to be put on hold for now. I also got a skein of yarn I ordered, the little circle things I had hoped to make earrings from (not sure if they'll work or not), and one of the Christmas gifts I had ordered. I do love getting packages in the mail, even if I have to buy stuff to get stuff in the mail.
Yesterday I picked our first viable ripe tomato. We've had two that had blossom end rot so bad they weren't edible. This is "Bush Goliath" that we bought at Costco. It's still in the bucket it came in; all I've done is protect it from the birds and watered it. I did throw in a handful of the good soil after the two BER tomatoes and it seems to have corrected itself.
I'm almost done with the bag project for #2. The bag itself is made, complete with front pocket, top flap, support straps, a cross body carrying strap, and an additional smaller drawstring dice pouch. All that's left? I need to sew on the "button" that will hold the drawstring bag. But instead of a button I went for re-purposing an old die. I drilled out the (one) pip and glued in a tiny eye hook. It should be dried by tomorrow so I can sew it in and be done.
I also threw together a bread mix into the machine with blueberries and set it to be ready about 6:30am. Blueberry bread, fresh eggs, and fried zucchini for breakfast tomorrow!
It's hot today. High 80's, but we didn't quite get to 90. It's too hot to do much. At least today we had a nice strong breeze all day. That helps.
I put the laundry out on the line and it was nearly horizontal, and dry in a remarkably short time. I got the old tarp out of the barn and hosed off so we can use it while bringing bunnies to various meetings in the near future.
The first of the meetings is tomorrow. One of the June colony babies is heading home. He's such a cutie too. He's the white one with black spots and the lionhead tuft between his ears. They said they were naming him Jon Snow. I love it! Our albino bristle nose pleco (whom we've since identified as female) is named Jon Snow.
Then we have a meeting we're still working on for Wednesday to send three more babies off to a new home to a lady who bought Ulrich (Ulysses' brother) a few months ago.
More meetings to follow next week to meet two more people and move five more bunnies to new homes.
Tony doesn't have a single day off this week or next. We're squeezing meetings in during other appointments that he's worked into his schedule. We will be running - constantly - for the next two weeks. He is scheduled for 70 hours this week, and 70 hours next week. At least the paychecks will be nice. He has promised to use a few of his vacation days coming up to have some down time with the family after this crazy work month. Maybe he can help us get caught up on homesteading stuff too since he'll be home.
Today I found one of our French Cuckoo Marans (FCM) roosters down in the barn. He didn't look good and wasn't moving. I picked him up off the floor so the other birds wouldn't trample him, and gave him a handful of food just to himself. When I came back the other birds had eaten all his food and our two older roosters (Big Red the Rhode Island Red and Phil the Bantam Cochin) were taking turns mounting him. So I took him outside and set him in the shade of the bee tree. A favorite resting place for the birds. A few minutes later I caught Phil and Big Red attacking him again. I moved him up near the door, figuring since he isn't moving around, and the roosters might be discouraged from coming up to the house, he might be safe. Nope. Caught them bothering him again. This poor bird is bedraggled. I don't know what's wrong with him. He won't eat, he only drank one beak dip, and he won't walk more than a few steps before he lays down again. This will be the second FCM rooster this week to exhibit these symptoms and then die. The other one I didn't realize may have been harassed by the older roosters. Aside from the fact that they are the same color and of similar size to our old hen (Henrietta, Barred Rock), I'm not sure why the roosters would take a sudden sexual interest in these boys. They're not crowing, they aren't attempting to steal any ladies from the older roosters, and they're not aggressive at all. Why is this happening?? At this rate we won't have any roosters to butcher because Big Red and Phil will harrass them to death. Keeping in mind these roosters are as big as Big Red, and bigger than Phil. Might be time for Big Red to hit the crock pot.
So, long story short, the FCM rooster is now in the house in a storage tote with some grass for bedding. If he's going to die, he should have at least the dignity not to be raped to death by our jerk roosters. And you know what? Husband didn't even bat an eye at the box in the kitchen. He asked if Mazikeen had bothered him, and I said no, I don't think she even realizes there's a bird in there. Better that way I think. I full anticipate having to take a dead bird out tomorrow morning. Poor guy.
Yesterday I mentioned to my husband how much I really wanted fried zucchini. This morning he got up extra early to cut up and fry zucchini for me before he left for work. Awesome. Thank you dear!
It's late and I'm tired, so this blog will be short.
Sadly, this evening one of the new kittens passed away. Baby Ron is no longer with us. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong, but I suspect Henry suffocated him by laying on him. He has killed several new kittens this way in the past, and I have yet to find a way to keep him away from the babies short of locking him in a cage (which isn't fair to him).
So our wizarding trio has become a duo. Little Harry and Hermione are left. I moved them over to an open space so Henry won't be as likely to want to climb on them. They were in a box. I hope they stick together and don't wander off.
And on a side note, I think Harry may actually be a girl too. Ron was definitely a boy, Hermione is definitely a girl, and Harry looked like a boy initially, but I may have been wrong.
I got the barn mucked. That is the proper term right? I shoveled out underneath all the rabbit cages. Two wheelbarrows full into the compost! That's brown gold right there. It's going to make good nutrient dense soil for our gardens.
This afternoon I had #4 help me move the rabbit tractor to another part of the yard. They've successfully mowed the entire section they were in. Now they're off to another space.
It's been warm today, temp in the mid to high 80's, and no breeze. It's hot. Too hot to cook. The whole area has a weird haze today. It doesn't smell like smoke, but it reminds me of a milder version of when the Canadian wildfires a couple years ago sent smoke across Minnesota and the entire area turned a dirty orange color and it smelled bad. Today it's not that bad, and I don't smell smoke, but it's a weird cloudy fog that isn't fog. It almost reminds me of when it's about to rain or just finished raining where the clouds blot out the sun, but this is weird because it's almost foggy on the lake, but it's not fog. I don't know how to make sense of it. I wonder if this is also due to the Canadian wildfires going on now. It's a little eerie. Not as much as when the entire homestead is enveloped in fog and it's dead silent. That's unnerving.
I really want to fry up some zucchini, but today it's just too hot. It's supposed to be hot the next couple days (expecting 90 on Monday), and then rain on Tuesday and back down to 70's again.
Today I finished the drawstring bag portion of #2's bag. This one has been a challenge, but I'm on the home stretch now. I just need to sew on a button and add on the cross body strap. I need to go find a button. Turns out I only have two pinks and a yellow button, and I need a blue or a red button. This is such a foreign problem to me. Before the basement flood I had jars and drawers full of crafting buttons. Guess I'll have to go buy one.
The kids found Bufflehead in the barn this afternoon, passed away. My heart is broken. I adored Buffle. He was one of my three favorite birds on the farm. I loved him so much I was in the middle of securing him a new home where he might be safer, for fear of the bald eagles circling here daily now. Just yesterday while out feeding everyone, I caught one of the lady geese stepping on Buffle. One giant goose foot on his back, and another on his neck and head, pinning him to the barn floor under her immense weight. I had to push her off of him. Buffle seemed too dimwitted to get out of the way. I suspect that's how he died. The kids found him near the food bins, which the geese test the lids on. My poor Buffle. I will miss him terribly.
I don't think we will have another like Buffle, unless we end up with another surprise box. I knew his breed wasn't good for free-ranging, so I won't be going and getting another one.
We made a run to Brainerd today and forgot half of what we went to buy (one of those days I guess). Then we stopped by the CSA pick up at the farmer's market on our way home. Oh the goodies! Tomatoes, peppers, green beans, corn, squash, cucumbers, and more. It's a welcome package considering my garden was a flop this year. So glad our local farmers are there to fill in for the meantime.
Because this has come up several times in the past couple of weeks, and is likely to come up in the future, I want to take the opportunity to discuss safety.
It's an unfortunate reality that in today's society you have to err on the side of caution more often than not. We've all seen the news stories on TV, read them in the papers, or seen them online. Cases of women being kidnapped, raped, or murdered when they met someone from an online ad. Men being mugged, beaten, or killed when meeting someone to sell things they advertised online. Or children being kidnapped, molested, or murdered following their parents having someone come by the house to pick something up that was advertised online. Stories of people using online sales ads to canvas neighborhoods and come back later to burglarize homes. On the flip side, we've seen news stories of people posting looking for a babysitter only to lure, kidnap, rape, and murder the women who come to respond to the ad. People I've spoken to have lost numerous, sometimes quite expensive animals by letting people "just come by" to pick up an animal, only to have those people come back later and steal more animals. I have met people who lost entire households of pets after someone came to "look at a puppy" and introduced parvo - killing the entire litter. We've all heard the pleas of folks asking people not to give animals away for free because who knows what kind of person may gather them up and use them for target practice, or training their dog to be aggressive, or feed them to their large reptiles. I happen to have actually met one such person when I worked at the pet store - the stories are real, and it's not "just in big cities" or isolated incidences. This is becoming a serious issue.
And what is the common theme here? Online ads. Whether you are selling something or looking to buy something, it can be dangerous. You don't know who this other person is. Sure, you can talk to them on the phone, you can email back and forth, you might even look them up on social media and "Facebook stalk" them to see if they have a creep-factor. But in the end, this is someone you don't know. Would you willingly give a child molester your home address if you have children? Would you knowingly bring someone to your home who has a history of breaking and entering? How about someone who may end up stalking you, peeping in windows, or harassing you if you decline their advances? What about folks who would then turn around and do things to try to "punish" you if you didn't drop your price or declined a sale to them? I've had a few people I have met who have dealt with that one... They refused to drop the price on what they were selling and pretty soon they were getting regular visits from the police because the person who didn't get a cheap deal decided to call in various false accusations just to make the seller's life miserable.
Let me stop here. There are plenty of good people out there. A lot of kindhearted individuals who genuinely just want to buy or sell something, and have no ill will in mind (myself included). A vast majority of the people you meet will be this way. The problem is that those bad ones can seem innocuous at first. Maybe they come with a small child, maybe they give you a sad story about why they want what you're selling or why they're selling what they're offering. The problem is, you can't always tell who's the creepy person ahead of time, and once you give out your home address and invite them over, it's too late.
Yes, I am starting to sound a little paranoid now, but let me repeat - A vast majority of people you meet online are not bad people, and they mean no harm. A lot of the people you meet online are having these same thoughts, because they don't know if you might be one of those scary people.
For our household we have largely maintained a "safety first" mentality. We are a family with autism, and our home is our sanctuary. We don't want random strangers here, nor the stress of if they might be one of "those" people. We do not want to expose our animals to would-be contagions by allowing strangers on the property. We also do not want strangers on the property due to insurance issues. If my dog bites you, you step in chicken poo and ruin your shoes, you twist an ankle stepping in a hole in the yard, I'm not interested in paying for a legal team to fight off a lawsuit or having my insurance hiked because of it. We are lower income and simply can't afford the risk. Besides, having visitors gives me major anxiety attacks. Yes, even when it's people I know and trust. This is part of my PSTD brought on by Asperger's. This is part of my life.
When I post bunnies for sale, I always offer multiple cities I'm willing to travel to in order to meet people. I take photos and try to describe personalities here on the website. I am happy to take short videos of rabbits interacting with the kids or just out in the yard in case you are seriously considering adopting one. I've even been known to load up my car with a dozen bunnies to let someone pick which one they want. I think that's going above and beyond.
So please, when you respond to an ad for a bunny (or anything else for that matter) for sale, if you ask to meet at the person's house and they say no, please leave it at that. I've had two people this week try to badger me into letting them come over. The answer is no. No, I will not give you our address, and no, you cannot just wander through the barn to pick out a bunny you like. If that makes you uncomfortable, I understand. You are always welcome to find another rabbit breeder who is willing to let strangers come to their home and walk through their home or barn, potentially exposing their animals to illnesses and diseases, and potentially putting themselves, their family, and their property at risk. It's not going to happen here.
I don't mean to be rude, and I hope that nobody takes offense at this post. Please use it to consider your own safety when dealing with random people you meet on the internet. Police advise people to meet in public places that are well lit and have security cameras. Many police stations have even offered open places right in front of their locations which are "safe zones" to meet people. Women are advised to bring someone with them, always carry a cell phone and be alert of your surroundings. I will never schedule a meeting without my husband or someone else with me. It's a safety issue. Yes, this means I might not be able to meet you "right now" or "this evening," because I'm at the mercy of his work schedule. I do apologize for the inconvenience. That said, I'd rather be too cautious than dealing with the consequences of not being careful enough.
Today has been an interesting one.
This morning my husband woke me up on his way out the door to tell me we had fresh Zombabies in the bathroom and that Zombie was not cleaning them off or chewing umbilical cords. I shot out of bed and grabbed some supplies on my way into the bathroom.
We have three new babies, and all three appear to be in good health so far. They're a little sneezy but I suspect that's from her not cleaning them off. By the time I got down there, Mabel (our dominant queen) had taken over and cleaned them up and set them in a clean spot, so I just had to cut cords.
Introducing, Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They all appear to be long haired. Harry and Ron are both a gorgeous silver grey (blue), and Hermione is white with blue patches.
Zombie was a terrible mom with her first litter - a single kitten clearly born with some kind of defect (I can't explain what was wrong with it, it just wasn't "right" and it died shortly after it was born). Zom never cared for it at all. Wanting to be proactive, Tony stopped by the feed store and bought a baby bottle on his way to work, and was planning to stop for a can of goats milk on his way home. Fortunately, it seems Zom has figured out she is expected to feed her minions. Now if I could keep Sage from rough-housing and Mabel from trying to steal them...
I realized while finishing adding all the updated photos to the rabbits page, that the older colony litter is already 11 weeks old. Yikes! Time for brother Skor to move out! So I swapped Skor (who'd been living with his four sisters), and Dianna Prince (a doe from the month younger colony litter who'd been housed with her six brothers). So now Diana is with the candy-named litter, and Skor is with the hero-named litter, and everyone is split; bucks in one pen, does in the other.
While out and about, we had a bit of an incident. The birds were hungry so they followed me down to the little field behind the barn. I had been hoping to have such an opportunity to show them the field and the lake access from it that they hadn't discovered yet on their own. While down there, a couple of the birds stopped by the edge of the lake to drink, and that's when Mazikeep decided it would be fun to scare the chickens and chase one out into the lake. Well, she only gave chase until she was about ankle deep in water, but the chicken was already out in deeper water by then. He (it was a cockerel) managed to flap through the duckweed to get to a bog about eight feet out. Unfortunately, that bog had no ground connection to the yard and the reeds around it were so close together, he couldn't go anywhere.
With a little courage, #3 and #4 decided to go on a rescue mission. You can watch the video HERE. The cockerel was safely recovered and brought back to land and was at the food bowl this evening. Still a little wet, but otherwise he seemed no worse for the wear. Hopefully he leaves the swimming to the ducks and geese from here on out.
I am a huge believer in environmental enrichment for caged pets... But it occurred to me, the joy should be for all animals. Today we gathered duckweed from the lake and deposited it in the pool when I went to refill it. The ducks loved it! I went back to the lake to get more after I took this photo, and the girls stood in the pool to hose off after rescuing the chicken, so by the end of the day there was plenty of duckweed to go around. Even the chickens seemed intrigued by their new tasty water salad option.
Not sure what I'm planning for tomorrow. I'm still up in the air about a couple people who want to meet for rabbits. I'm hoping to get a bunch moved out into new homes this month before school starts next month.
Yeah, I can't believe I just said that. School starts next month! We're already there... To that school shopping season again. The end of warm weather and gardening and playing outside, the end of barefoot walking through the yard, the end of t-shirts and open windows to feel the breeze. I'm never ready for the cold weather to hit again. But hey, I should have enough indoor and craft projects to keep me busy this winter. Crocheting new things, making earrings, maybe even learning something new (soap making, candle making, get better at sewing?). Lots more garden plans, and once January and February roll around, it'll be back into winter sowing season again. This will be my last school year with a kid at home. I'm seriously considering home schooling #5 just so I don't have empty nest syndrome on winter week days while kids are at school. I've been a full time mom for nearly 17 years now, so it's foreign to think about spending days all by myself. Good golly, I'd have all the time in the world to wash laundry and dishes and do crafts... But alas, the thought scares me. The house will be too quiet without kids. I'm not ready yet. Good thing I'm a full year out from that.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.