In other news, Luna's kittens are eight weeks old today. Hanzo figured out how to get out of the screen porch, so he came inside and will be an indoor cat now. They'll all get their first round of dewormer tomorrow.
Today Ginger Bear went to his new home. I'm happy for him, they're a great family and he's going to be very loved. After we got home, I went to swap laundry and it really hit me. My Ginger buddy wasn't there to talk to me. He wasn't there to greet me at the door, demand attention, refill the food bowl, or sit beside the sink and meow at me because I wasn't petting him. I know Ginger Bear was #5's favorite, but for nine months he's been my little shadow. I'm going to miss him.
Two of the three youngest bunnies went off to their new home today too. Just sister Pilot left from that litter now.
In other news, Luna's kittens are eight weeks old today. Hanzo figured out how to get out of the screen porch, so he came inside and will be an indoor cat now. They'll all get their first round of dewormer tomorrow.
We had a bit of a rough day today. While #4 and I were in the side garden picking blueberries, Moose was sitting beside a mound of sod left over from last year when we prepared the garden space. He had his frisbee with him and was waiting for us to be done so I could throw it for him. The garden is fenced, so he was on the other side of the short fence. Suddenly he did some kind of spectacular side kick flip (quite a feat for a heavy bully-built dog like Moose). He then yelped, tucked his tail and ran like death was chasing him off and around the house. He's done this before and I recognized it immediately as a bee sting. I didn't think much of it. He probably tried to snap at it while it was flying by. But then at the same time I heard the buzzing and looked over to see his white frisbee go completely dark with swarming bees. This was only about three feet away from us, so I stood up and yelled for #4 to get up and run in the house as fast as she could.
I was too late. She looked up, hesitated a moment, and was covered in bees. I was already opening the garden gate on the opposite side, and as she ran through screaming and flailing. At this point I was alternatively telling her to stop yelling and flailing, while calling dogs and the other two kids who were out in the yard to come in. We converged at the doorway, three dogs, two kids, and me - barreling through and slamming the door behind us, #4 still wailing, and #5 not knowing why we were so frantic. We got in the house, and I found the other child who'd been outside, safely indoors. I tried to check what the damage was. Poor #4, I could see her nose swelling up under her glasses, tears streaming down her face, obviously trying not to scream as she indicated her forehead scalp area. There was a bee, caught in her hair, still stinging her. I grabbed a paper towel and removed it from her hair, while getting stung twice in the back by a bee that followed us in. As I was un-ensnaring #4's hair bee, #3 started shrieking in the other room. Another bee that had followed us in was caught in her shirt and she'd manage to pull her shirt away from her body with the bee tangled in the shirt, avoiding a sting. As I grabbed another paper towel and took care of that bee, I felt another sting to the back of my neck. I asked #1 to put some baking soda and water in a bowl to make a paste and pulled my own shirt off, revealing a sting to the arm, two in my armpit, two on my back, and fortunately the sting to my neck did not deliver any venom.
We patched up all of the stings with the paste and let it dry. This helps get out any stuck stingers or extra venom. I don't know if #4 will be able to wear her glasses to school tomorrow. She got stung right on the bridge of her nose and just beside her tear duct on her nose., she has a sting on one leg and the spot in her hair where the stuck bee was repeatedly stinging.
Once I got her calmed down, I turned my attention to the dog. Moose's right eye started to swell up, he was obsessively licking his side, and kept randomly running through the house like a maniac. He's got welts all over his back and sides, but after a few minutes he settled down for the most part. We peeked out the girls' bedroom window, where Moose's frisbee still sat, just a few feet away. It was close to 45 minutes after the initial stings when the bees stopped swarming over the frisbee.
We caught one of the bees that followed us in, and I put it in an old cinnamon container with the sprinkle lid so it would have air. #3 looked it up and identified the culprits as yellow jackets.
I'm so glad that nobody is allergic to bee stings!
Of course this puts me in a tough spot. I love nature, and firmly believe in the "they were here first" thought process. I would prefer to leave them alone and just let them be. Unfortunately they are right up in the yard, where our kids and pets play, literally feet from the house and the garden space. This hive is a (proven) danger to our homestead. With some sadness (yes, even after they stung us), I had Tony pick up hornet killer after work today and he will be spraying them down, hopefully in the morning. He was going to do it tonight but he couldn't figure out where their entrance is in the dark and he's hoping first morning light will help him pinpoint where to spray. I don't like using pesticides, and I don't like destroying wildlife. This one was a harder choice than it should be. But alas, safety is paramount.
My goal for this week is perhaps a bit lofty, but I hope to go through the seed collection and get it reorganized and put back together. It's gotten a little spread out and messy and even when it's neat and tidy it can be daunting to find what I want. The collection has become a bit of a hoard. On the plus side, I have instructed my family to donate the collection (less whatever they want for their own personal use) to Seed Savers when I die. I've got some fairly rare varieties in there that may be of better use in the hands of professional growers. And who knows? Maybe by the time I die some of the common ones won't be so common anymore. Or better yet - maybe the rare ones won't be so rare anymore. But either way, the entire collection will be donated upon my death to help preserve biodiversity. I only hope at least some of it ends up being useful to someone.
I also have a laundry basket full of clothes the kids have decided either they don't want, or they don't fit in anymore. I have to go through it all and figure out what is too stained, torn, cut, or damaged to be of any use (crafting materials), and what looks good enough to sell or donate. I see a couple of coats in there. I should call the local charity that does the coats for kids thing around Christmas and see how I can donate them.
Toby went largely untrained for the several months I was so sick. I'm making up for it now. Toby usually sleeps in a crate. He tends to chew on things and often can't "hold it" for long periods. Some mornings he would start to pee at the door in his excitement to get outside, and leave a trail as he ran out the door (even if the door was open when he got to it). I'm so happy to say that the last two nights, Toby has been allowed free roam of the house. He hasn't been crated at all in several days now outside of bedtimes last week. He's only had one accident in the house, and I'm not sure why he did because he'd been going out regularly. Either way... progress! He's also very much enjoying sleeping in the bedroom with Tony and I and Arya.
Which reminds me. Ditto is now fantastic with dogs! She slowly came around and she now plays with the dogs. She'll bat at their snouts (no claws) to instigate play, and then they will mouth her (open mouth, not biting down). It's adorable. I have a video of Toby and Ditto playing on my TikTok (thatpetlady) if anyone wants to go look it up.
I'm still discussing with Tony on what we should do with Luna's kittens. They're nearing the eight week mark where they can start finding homes, but none have homes lined up yet. It's getting cold out, and a big part of me wants to bring them indoors... but our house is full now and packing in six more kittens doesn't seem like a great idea. I mean, when Ditto came in the house she didn't have any siblings - it was just one kitty and she was already well past eight weeks old. At least the kittens have been using the litter box in the screen porch so we know they're capable of using one if they come inside. Ideally I'd just like to find them all homes. That would solve the problem!
Welcome to September already! Temperatures are cooling down, the leaves will soon start changing colors, and before we know it, we'll be in the bitter grip of winter again. School starts this week. I'm both excited and anxious. All of the school open houses, teacher meetings, and kindergarten screenings are done. Backpacks are packed, some are already in lockers dropped off on open house days. The bus driver has called with the new pick up time. All of the new school clothes are folded and put away, awaiting the school year. Schedules are printed, locker combinations have been tested, and the kids have connected with friends once again and compared schedules and lunch times. The kids are excited to head back to school.
Yesterday Tony and I took the two oldest kids (#1 and #2) to the Renaissance Festival. It was so much more enjoyable without the little kids. I've never gone without little ones, so this was a real treat. I love seeing the vendors, the entertainers, and the costumes. I always ogle the beautiful dresses in the shops. I have neither the body, nor the pocket book, for such beautiful things. This weekend the theme was Bellies and Beer I think, but they were having a costume contest: Steampunk. I admit, I love the aesthetic of gears and old fashioned things, so we scheduled our trip accordingly.
While there we watched the costume contest, Danger Committee, and Puke & Snot. We tried to watch the jousting but it was so crowded we couldn't see anything and the announcer's microphone was cutting out badly, so we couldn't even hear what was going on. Not a big loss though, we've watched the jousting before. I love seeing the dogs that people bring. We saw German shepherds, great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, huskies, malamutes, great Pyrenees, and more. At one point #1 just rolled her eyes and said "Mom, quit pointing out every dog you see and saying what breed it is..." We walked past the little exotic zoo, and the pen right out in front had white geese just a hair smaller than our embdens. As we got closer I realized what they were and got excited. I pointed to the gorgeous curled feathers and exclaimed "Sebastapol geese!" to which my daughter replied "Of course you'd see geese and know what breed they are..." We all have talents and passions, mine just happens to be knowledge about animals. We had a good laugh about that.
Not to feel left out, Grandma took the three younger kids (#3, #4, and #5) to the zoo. I'm told it was crowded but fun. The zoo was having some kind of promotion where they invited people to enjoy the zoo with various "local heroes" - police men, EMTs, firemen, etc. Apparently it brought in quite a crowd.
On Friday I dug up the King Edward potatoes. I failed miserably at gardening this year, and despite not doing anything to my potato towers (like, not raising it and adding dirt like I needed to, never watering it, and letting the grass grow long around the towers), this variety managed to produce some good sized fingerling potatoes.
I still have two more potato towers with other varieties that haven't died back yet. I'll have to wait a bit longer to see if those ones produced anything. It's worth noting that I did end up throwing out about four potatoes because they were turning green from sun exposure. The shallow soil had allowed the potatoes to push up above the soil, and green potatoes are not edible. I will try to do better next year.
I have started a GoFundMe campaign to try to help pay for getting Luna and Gypsy and all the kittens spayed and neutered. I calculated it out and it's going to cost more than $2000 for just basic vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries for nine cats. That doesn't include the $64 per microchip, the $3 for worming medicine, the $5 collar, or the cost of food and litter. My thought is that if we can get them all spayed and neutered, even if we can't find them homes, we won't have to worry about having a ton more next spring. Don't get me wrong, kittens are fun, but we have more than enough as it is.
Yesterday I got the first handful of packages from the penny auctions I won on eBay. These are the pendants I bought for the crafting challenge.
I bought a bunch of cheap pendants on eBay. They'll be placed into a bag and when we have the time and money, those who want to participate will be given a set amount of money ($5 or $10), and when we get to the craft store, each person will pull a pendant at random from the bag. They will then select beads and accessories to make a necklace for the pendant. Once complete they will have to sell the finished necklace. Whoever makes the best profit wins. Even little #5 is excited to try his hand at jewelry design, though he will need help selling whatever he makes. He says he just wants to make enough to buy a big bucket of cheese puffs. At least he has a goal in mind.
Yesterday I got a box from Amazon. I thought it might have been the sweater we bought for #1, so I gave her the box. She was disappointed to find it full of yarn. My back-ordered yarn - all eight skeins - arrived! I'm so excited, but I'm still not done with the blue baby blanket yet, so it'll have to wait for now.
Today I emailed back and forth with someone interested in buying Hoshi and Umeko. We're scheduled to meet them on Saturday. Yay! They're so cute, I'm a little surprised they stayed here this long. I'm glad they're heading off together. They do seem to be good friends.
One of the kids' friends gave us several garbage bags full of second hand clothing recently. Today the kids went through and picked out what they wanted. There's a small pile of "leftover" clothing that either doesn't fit anyone, nobody wanted, or was badly damaged. Some of it (largely the stuff too stained or holey to be usable) will be used for craft projects. The rest we will pass along to someone else - and if I can't find any friends or family that can put it to good use, we can always bring it to the Salvation Army thrift store. Pass it along to someone who needs it, right?
Today Morgana the indoor gosling kept escaping the brooder box she's been living in with roommate Ping (the duckling). Ping panics and cries when Morgana is out of sight, and I can't have a goose wandering around my house pooping as she goes... So today was the sad day when Ping and Morgana moved to the barn brooder. The weather has been nice outside and there's a heat lamp out there in case it gets chilly. They have plenty of space. I just hope big Morgana doesn't trample the last of the baby chicks in the brooder out there.
I don't have much else to report tonight. I did not make it outside today (#3 did barn chores), but I did manage to make dinner (chili) and take a shower. Yay for self care!
Today was a good day as far as my activity level and health. I went outside and managed to get half the barn chores done. Everyone got watered, I fed the chickens, and I talked #3 into feeding all the rabbits.
I pointed and she hauled bunnies around. We paired Kaelyn to Servine, Fern to Mister Cellophane, Spotty to Fabio, Lilith to Rascal, and Feather to Peanut. Unfortunately, by the time I got out to the barn it was 90-degrees out and none of the does was having any part of lifting. I doubt any of them actually got bred. Perhaps if I have time and energy tomorrow I can pair them up again.
I went into the colony building and fetched out the two babies. They're over three weeks old now and looking much better than they were before. We've named the brown and white girl Eeyore, and the tan and white boy (Winnie the) Pooh. She has crimped whiskers and wavy fur but doesn't have soft or dense fur. I am considering keeping her back since the last brown one we kept back didn't make it and we did lose one of our breeders to mastitis this year. I'm still thinking about it. I do plan to pull them out on Saturday and put them in the grow out cage since that worked well with the last litter.
Our vehicle needs repairs. Yesterday while parking the car as he pulled in to work, it made a loud sound. He and another employee who was nearby both stopped to investigate because "it sounded like I hit something, but I hadn't." Then on his way home from work today his reverse went out. I didn't even know that could be a thing, but apparently it can, and ours did. Our poor vehicle can no longer move backwards. Fortunately tomorrow is Tony's day off so he's going to try to get it in for repairs tomorrow. Crossing our fingers it can be repaired quickly and affordably.
I started a smaller blanket project a couple days ago to tide me over until the back-ordered yarn for my next full blanket project arrives. I had planned to use up the last of a couple skeins of gender-neutral colors, but after about 6 inches of striped colors I realized I wasn't going to have enough to do a full baby blanket, since #1 talked me into making the blanket twice as long as I had planned. Today I figured out a way to get around the conundrum. I'm not crocheting in light blue. I have a large skein of it just sitting around and can use it to fill space. When I get about 6 inches from the size I want the blanket to be, I will use the last of the original skeins to mirror the stripes I started with. This should prevent me from running out and having to buy new skeins of the same color (which would negate the entire point of the project to use them up), and keeps the blanket from looking too busy with constant color changes. Also, the yarn I'm using up on the stripes is considerably softer than the light blue yarn, which means if used by a baby, the softer end portions would be in contact with baby's face, while the slightly rougher portion would be over baby's clothing. I'm sure after a wash or two it would be soft too. I got a shipping notice that the first skein of the new yarn shipped yesterday (they had one in stock and the others were back-ordered). I think I will wait until all of the skeins are on hand just so I don't end up with a started project that gets set aside in case the back order gets bumped even further back (as it looks to have been already). This will give me a little more time to work on this impromptu baby blanket.
Ditto continues to do well as an indoor kitty. She is using the litter box exclusively and is becoming more tolerant of Moose. She remains scared of the two puppies (Arya and Toby), but they're big and bouncy and don't respect boundaries, so I understand how she feels about them. Perhaps a couple of good claw swats to their noses will give them the attitude adjustment they need. For now though I just try to keep them away from her so she feels more at home. Moose laments that he can no longer nap on the couch, as Ditto has claimed the couch as her official nap spot.
I finally finished the rainbow blanket project! I'm so excited! My sole complaint is that I didn't have an in-between color to transition the yellow to the green, and maybe the red to the orange, which makes the blue end a bit longer than the red end. Either way, I think it turned out pretty awesome. I transitioned from color to color in the center to give an added visual appeal. Each color stripe is about 7 inches wide. Of course #1 asked if she could have it. Shh, don't tell her but I'll probably end up keeping it in my cupboard until her birthday and giving it to her as a gift.
I made it outside today for a while. We haven't been able to find Tigerlily for a couple days. No sign of her, but Ditto and Carbon are still around. I've been locking them in the barn at night for their own safety.
I went to check on the St. Patrick Rose that I got from a mail order catalog this year. It's blooming!
The blueberry plant outside of the bathroom window in the little side garden is starting to ripen up. I snuck a few to taste and they're pretty good. I'm surprised at the amount the tiny plant produced, so I'm excited to see what it can produce when it's a full grown bush!
This evening #1 and I finished watching Stranger Things (season 1) on Netflix. It's hard to find time to watch together because #4 and #5 tend to get into trouble if they're not supervised, and #2 and #3 aren't always home to watch them. We managed to get time to watch the last episode of season one today when Tony got home from work and got the kids to bed.
Today I didn't finish cleaning out the brooder for the living room (I'm out of bedding), which leaves Morgana (gosling) and Ping (duckling) living in a cardboard box temporarily. As such I can't give them their regular water container because they spill - a lot. So tonight I put them in the bathtub and let them play in the water for a while. They seemed to enjoy it for the most part. Amos even climbed into the bathtub out of curiosity. He could hear them and smell them, so it was cute to watch him try to touch them. Amos is our blind kitten for those who don't remember.
For the record, I did bleach the tub out after their pool party to make sure it was clean for the next time the kids need to use it.
I think today is the first day in nearly a week that I haven't been completely sick or in pain all day. Not for lack of trying though. I was struggling all morning and all afternoon. I felt better around 7pm. I did manage to make dinner tonight (spaghetti) which is an accomplishment at this point. I also skipped the medicine (today) that's been escalating my pain in hopes of being able to be upright tomorrow for a scheduled appointment in the afternoon. We will have to see how it goes.
I found a pretty yarn I want to make a new blanket with. I figured if I used 3/4 of each skein and I used ten colors for the rainbow blanket, I should need about 8 skeins of yarn to make a blanket the same size if I use all of the yarn in each skein. Problem is I found it on Amazon and they only have one in stock. I will have to ask Tony about investing in them when they come in stock again... It's a pretty aqua and brown mix (variegated) yarn. The website says it should be back in stock August 1.
While out and about today I did find a couple tiny apples on the apple tree. I thought it hadn't flowered at all. After the bumper crops it has produced the past two summers, the three apples on there I found won't be enough to re-stock our apple butter stash this year. Alas, perhaps the poor gardening wasn't entirely my fault with all my ongoing issues, but perhaps a lot was the cold spring too.
In rabbit news, Hazel is spending a lot of time in her nest box, but isn't pulling fur yet. MooMoo is pulling fur, but no babies as of bedtime check. Fern is showing no signs of impending delivery. With all the ongoing issues I have not had the chance to breed any rabbits since the last time, so for now, no more anticipated litters in the barn for a while.
The colony rabbits do have another litter. I found two kits that look to be about two to two-and-a-half weeks old. They look weak and sickly. A chocolate brown and a red, both with a partial Dutch shoulder stripe. I always hope they make it, but this year has been brutal and these babies don't look well at all. I am not even going to post them on the rabbits page unless they survive long enough to be separated and moved over to the grow-out pen and survive for at least a week over there. Separating early seemed to have been the right move for Hoshi and Umeko, who were removed from the colony when they were about three to four weeks old. Crossing my fingers these little ones make it a little longer. They're still way too small to separate for right now. I suspect that Phoebe has a litter down the burrow hole. She's been coming and going from there a lot. Spot has recently lost some fur which is also a good indicator there are babies down there. The two in the building appear to be from MoR who pulled fur about three weeks ago.
In case anyone feels like being generous and wants to make my day... I made an Amazon wish list, which I guess allows other people to buy you gifts and have it sent to you... So here goes. You can find my wishlist HERE. I keep adding to it as I find neat things. Right now it's mostly craft project stuff, but eventually there will be other things as well.
I stepped on a bit of glass from a broken heat bulb in the living room. I thought it had been vacuumed but it hadn't been. Now I have a piece of glass of unknown size stuck in my foot. I've tried epsom salt baths, I've poured generous amounts of hydrogen peroxide over the entry point, I've looked at it with a magnifying glass, I've dug at it with tweezers and nail clippers to no avail. It's buried deep in there, in the pad just below my toes. The part of my foot I use to walk on because of the bit that got stuck in my heel last year that never came out... So now I can hardly even hobble. Which isn't so detrimental at the moment since my tummy issue continues to escalate.
I'm now setting timers every 3 hours round the clock to stay on top of my ibuprofen and acetaminophen and I'm still mostly in bed all day. I hurt even when I don't eat. I eat almost nothing. Today I had a handful of trail mix (nuts and dried fruit) and some pumpkin seeds. Yesterday I had that and 13 cherries, plus a bagel. The weird part is that I'm barely hungry. I mean, I register that I should eat something, but I'm full after just a few bites and I seem to be fine most of the day. Do I crave a Big Fish sandwich from Burger King? Oh yes, I do... but I don't know that I'd be able to actually eat it all without making myself sick. I think I'm literally giving myself an eating disorder. I eat, it causes severe pain, so I don't eat... I need help. I've lost 16 pounds since my last doctor appointment this spring, almost all of it within the last month and a half since the tummy issue has flared back up.
I have an appointment for Friday. I hope this doctor takes me seriously. Crossing my fingers I don't get dismissed and overlooked again.
Sorry for the sparse blog, I have no photos to share. I didn't make it outside today. I barely made it out of bed to crawl into the shower today. My tummy hurt for hours even though I was piggybacking my medicine. I ended up falling asleep for about an hour once the pain meds got it under control again. Being in pain is absolutely exhausting! Who knew?
I have made progress with the rainbow crocheted blanket. I finished the medium blue and decided to skip the dark blue and go straight into dark purple. I will finish with a lighter purple color, so I only have this color and one more before I'm done! Yay! I had hoped to sell it, as I've got $40-$50 in yarn costs into it, but dear #1 is begging for it to be hers, and I know she will take good care of it. I know she will cherish it because she saw how much time and love went into making it. *sigh* I wonder what color I will do for my next project. This was pretty fun, even if it's been time consuming. It's been something to keep me busy while I'm stuck in bed with tummy pains and now a foot problem too. I especially love how the light blue and the "delft blue" colors look next to each other. I wonder if I should do a blanket with just two colors? Hmmm....
Facebook has systematically been shutting down all of the pet groups. I guess PETA and the likes have convinced them that selling animals through Facebook is somehow dangerous to the animals. It's sad really, because using Facebook allows breeders, or just everyday folks looking to rehome a pet, the ability to look into the people inquiring about adopting or buying. It also allows would-be buyers or adopters to look into the breeders or rescues they want to buy or adopt from. Facebook, for this very reason, is by far and away one of the safest places to buy and sell animals.
Unfortunately, almost every local group I was in is gone now, shut down by Facebook for "violations to the Terms of Service" for having people listing animals for sale. As a direct result, I've opted to get back on MeWe. An alternative social media platform, I had an account a couple years ago, but nobody else I knew had an account, and social media without any friends or family seems to be a pretty bleak place, so I abandoned it.
But here I am, two years later, starting back up on MeWe. If anyone wants to send me a friend request, my direct link is HERE. I will be using the account largely for homestead announcements and animal sales.
Today was the last day of school for the kids. Tomorrow #1 goes off to grandpa's house to house-sit or three weeks. Good thing her other grandparents are just down the road a few minutes and can help her out or pick her up or bring her food or something if she needs anything.
This morning Tony caught the two puppies chewing on what was left of one of my little chickens I just released on Monday (one of my three California Whites). I told him I knew it was his pup (Arya, the Saint Bernard) but he insisted something else must have killed the bird and the puppies just got to it after the fact. This afternoon the kids let the dogs out while they were playing in the yard, and despite reminding them to keep an eye on the pups, I came out twenty minutes later to figure out what all the barking was about. I caught Arya with a second little chicken, devouring her kill. Nope. Done. I raised my voice, I yelled, and I held her collar while pointing to the torn apart corpse of my chicken and I repeatedly told her "THIS IS A NO! BAD DOG!" I didn't hit her, I didn't tie it to her neck like some of my old farm friends swear by, I didn't pick it up and hit her with it (eww, gross). I raised my voice and I was firm. Then I sat down on the ground, not sure what to do with the situation, and honestly ready to cry. Arya put her head in my lap and refused to look at the bird. She stayed like that until I stood up several minutes later. When I tossed the remains into the compost for the barn cats, she made no effort to go anywhere near it. Toby did, but a quick "no" was enough to get him to leave it alone.
This better be the end of it. I won't tolerate a chicken killing dog. If she gets one more of my birds Tony will have to invest in an overhead trolley system for Arya or fence in the yard around the side door to keep the dogs contained. I lost two birds today because someone else let the dogs out and didn't pay attention to what they were doing. I'm livid.
While out doing barn chores I found an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. Gorgeous butterfly. It didn't stay still long enough for me to get more than a blurry out of focus photo of it; just enough to get an ID looking it up online and comparing.
I put an ad out in hopes of finding someone willing to barter with us for a canoe. I didn't realize they were quite so expensive. I was hoping maybe some bunnies, or chicks, or hatching eggs, or perhaps some crocheted dish cloths could entice someone who isn't using their canoe to swap with us. I'm a little discouraged after seeing the prices people are asking on Craigslist. I'm still hopeful someone out there might have one sitting in a garage or shed someplace who'd be generous and barter with us. Farm fresh eggs can only take us so far I suppose, but hey, you never know, right?
Today I added four tiny hatchling chicks to the barn brooder. This is really an experiment. I know it's warm in there. There's a light and a heat plate, and other chicks to have body heat too. The barn was almost up to 90-degrees today, despite the high temp being in the high 70's. It was even hotter in the brooder. Most of the bigger chicks were on the far side of the brooder to get away from the heat sources. I'm crossing my fingers that these four little experiment chicks do well. This is our first time going straight from the hatching incubator to the outside brooder. If it doesn't go well, I may have to set up an indoor brooder again for the guinea order coming at the end of this month. I don't think anyone will be pleased with that, but it's better than losing chicks to something as preventable as heat issues.
I found someone who raises turkeys in a nearby town and have inquired about buying a couple more Bourbon Red turkey poults. We originally ordered three in the hopes of getting a pair, but two died already. I'm hoping if I get two or three more, I'll have good odds. We ordered two broad breasted turkeys to eat at the end of the season. The hatchery sent three and we still have two. I just don't want the one remaining Bourbon Red to be lonely or have to wait an additional year for poults to grow up next season. Here's hoping they still have some available and our schedules match up to go and pick some up!
You may have noticed there are no photos in today's blog. I apologize for this. Yesterday Toby chewed up the cord that connects my phone to my computer, so I'm no longer able to get photos onto the blog from my phone until I get another cord. Good thing they're not terribly expensive.
It looks like the weather has finally decided to warm up (we got to 83 degrees today). It's still getting cold at night, but alas, we've seen sunshine and the forecast looks lovely!
I had hoped to release the first of the spring chicks into the flock this weekend, but I've been asked to dog/house-sit for my parents while they're out of town this weekend. It'll have to wait until next week when I will be home to make sure they make it back into the barn every night until they know the rules.
I'm still hesitant to send the smallest of the chicks out to the barn brooder. Not just because the chicks out there are significantly larger, but due to the cold nights we're still having. I have to figure something out though because brooders in the house are nasty, even when they're cleaned every day! Next year will someone please remind me not to order chicks until June so they can go straight out to the barn brooder?
Nanny the duck continues to sit on the embden goose eggs. I'm not sure if the effort will be fruitful though. The egg we took from the nest is a dud - no development at all. While I'm certainly not outside monitoring the birds at all times, I have not seen any breeding behavior between Ryan (embden gander) and either of the ladies. A couple times we've seen Josh (African gander) attempting to breed with one of the embden ladies, but she doesn't seem interested in him. Here's hoping they're just being amorous when we're not looking. I don't even care if the resulting goslings are purebred embden or African / embden crosses. I think it would just be lots of fun to have baby geese again. They were fun, but they grow fast!
Calliope's remaining four babies are doing great. They're fat little ones. Both of the blacks turned out to be black otter (with the white in the ears and underbelly). The two whites started off white, then got grey ears, and now they're grey all over. I'm not sure what to make of it, but they're gorgeous! Still too little to get an accurate gender check yet, but it's going to be tempting to keep back one of those silver/grey babies if it's a doe. Not like I need any more rabbits of course. It should be interesting to see if they inherited momma's lop ears and dad's long fur.
I returned to my crochet blanket project this morning. It was cold and crocheting gave me an excuse to sit in bed for a while with a warm blanket and feel productive.
The tulips are finally blooming. They somehow managed to survive the ducks and chickens and geese all pecking at them when they first came up. We have pink and white tulips by the raised strawberry bed, and we have darker pink and yellow tulips by the half-finished herb garden. I know we planted some really dark ones too, and I hope they bloom soon, but they haven't yet.
Gypsy's kittens are doing well. There are three of them. Our first ever barn cats born here on the homestead. Two are mackerel tabbies, one boy and one girl, and the other is a classic (marble) tabby with white markings (girl). Unlike the sphynx kittens, we're not going to wait six months and have these ones fixed. They'll be ready for new homes at eight weeks old (July 18th). If they're still here at 12 weeks old (August 15th) I'll get them rabies vaccinations. They're sure to be well socialized. The kids love checking in on them. They're just starting to open their little eyes now. They're one week old today. No names have been chosen for them yet. I did suggest the mackerel tabby girl be called Ditto since she looks exactly like Gypsy - to which #3 suggested Carbon (AKA Carbon Copy Cat) for the boy, who also looks just like Gypsy. For now the kids are still trying to talk me into keeping a kitten. The answer is no. I had originally wanted three barn cats, but I wanted pretty colorful ones (calico colored). We do not need a second tabby barn cat.
It's almost June already and I keep having a bit of panic thinking I'm so behind on planting my garden. But the reality is that the weather just hasn't been cooperating. Even the commercial farmers have only just gotten their corn planted within the last week. Yes, I do need to get to work in the garden, but I refuse to feel bad for procrastinating when this time, it was out of my hands.
We had two chicks hatch this week. Unfortunately the French Black Copper Marans chick managed to drown itself in the waterer last night in the brooder. The other one is a pretty blue colored chick. I suspect it may be another of Blue's eggs (our splash cochin). There's something wrong with my hatching incubator. I think I may need to replace it already. It's getting hot to the touch above the heat unit on the lid, and it won't keep humidity in. I get it up to 60% and the next day it's down to 40%. My hatch rates have been dropping and eggs I candle that are alive and good don't hatch once they're put into the hatching incubator. I can't afford to go buy a new one right now though, so I'm not sure what to do. It might mean no more hatching for this year (one we get through what's already in the incubator). Perhaps I'll see if Tony has any ideas. He's more mechanically inclined than I am and could probably take a look and have a better idea of how to potentially correct the issue than I can. My biggest disappointment is that this week I had Betty White's egg in there, and it candled alive and moving before it went into the hatching incubator. It was not one that hatched, and I am greatly disappointed and saddened.
Before it got too terribly hot today, my dear husband and little #5 assembled our new greenhouse. My mom found it at a moving sale for $75. It's six feet wide, eight feet long, and six and a half feet tall.
Of course, when it was all assembled we had to bring most of the plants from the basement garden out to the greenhouse! We now have strawberries, grapes, blueberries, aronia, gooseberry, mint, oregano, tomatoes, and some very leggy hens and chicks in the greenhouse. Plenty of space for more! I hope it doesn't just cook everything with the temperatures being so high. I opened the windows, but had to close the door to keep the birds out while we were gone. I think I should get a thermometer for in there.
We went back to the old house today. It's likely the second-to-last time we will go there (just need to go back with a trailer for some bigger stuff). While Tony and #2 and #3 worked on tearing down the auto-shelter frame, I dug up some plants to bring home. I took one raspberry plant, one patch of irises, and six strawberry plants.
The raspberry plants from that particular garden are a natural seed cross of the black raspberries we had at the old house, but they are red and they are incredibly sweet, but also very seedy. I had brought some with when we moved, but at the time I didn't know that only black raspberries can tolerate being near black walnut trees. I transplanted all the raspberries in a row between black walnut trees. Only a few came back last summer, and only two are coming up now. I suspect our days of bumper crops are over for a while. So I dug up one plant and we planted it out on the peninsula. It will get full sun with afternoon shade from the tree it's near, and it's in an area where it can kind of go to town and spread a little so we might be able to harvest more. I also tucked it away behind the normal walking area so it's less likely to be bothered by our geese and ducks while they go down there to play in the water.
The patch of irises is a guess. Several years ago I bartered some seeds for some root beer irises. They are the most phenomenal flower. They actually smell just like root beer! I love them. Unfortunately, when we moved, I dug up everything I could find and split them. Half I gave to the local greenhouse, and the other half I brought to the new house. Unfortunately I had so much to do that I never got to transplanting them, and they didn't survive over wintering in a bucket. Entirely my own fault. So when I saw them in the garden, I dug them up. We did have other irises in the garden, but I'm crossing my fingers and really hoping that these are my beloved root beer irises and that I just missed them last time. I planted them out on the west side of the raised strawberry bed, so it will get full afternoon and evening sun. We (#3 and I) even took time to separate the roots out to give them better growing conditions, and then mulched the little make-shift space to try to give them a head start against the grass.
The strawberries were originally from the USDA. They're called Beaver Early. I planted them several years ago and they quickly propagated themselves throughout the old garden. When we left, I dug up all I could find, but like the irises, I didn't get to planting them in time, and they all died. I dug up six, which was all I could find in the overgrown old garden at the old house. It's a good variety, quick to come up, grows even when grass overtakes it, throws out beautiful, albeit bland strawberries, and then goes to town putting out runners and taking over more space. Just what I want in my strawberry bed! Well, except maybe the bland flavor - but Tony says that could have more to do with soil type and watering, and lack of sun through all the raspberry plants and grass around it. Perhaps they will do better in the raised strawberry bed. I planted them around the Quinault strawberry - the only one to come back from last year's 50+ we planted.
We stopped at Menards to pick up some stakes and a rubber mallet to stake the new greenhouse properly. We ended up picking up a hosta and #3 picked out a new container of hen and chicks while we were there. We stopped by the feed store and ended up bringing home a little piglet yard statue. It was just too cute to pass up. I put it in the front yard under the big shade tree, in the little bushy part off to the side, so it will look like the little piggy is hiding - and hopefully will deter the dogs and birds from bothering it. When I first sat it down in the yard #4 (who wasn't with us when we bought it) asked if it was a real pig.
I woke up with another bellyache so I didn't get much done today. It seems I'm becoming less and less tolerant of food in general, it's making it harder and harder to find things I can eat without getting sick, even while taking digestive aid pills. I've been having escalating tummy pain for a few days now. No fun.
This morning I ran out to check the big cage with the three does we pulled from the colony. It was already raining and I know from past experience that rabbits often have their litters when the weather changes. Sure enough, seven beautiful babies in the nest box, but no fur pulled and all were still. I brought them in and tried my best to revive them, but alas, to no avail. All seven were already gone. They're available as frozen food for reptiles or raw feeders if anyone is interested. Five dollars takes the whole bag.
I moved the four chicks from the hatching incubator over to the brooder that has the most recent (shipped) chicks. They were starting to peck at one another and I know they need food and drink. They were pretty happy to be in the bigger space and took to the water and food right away. The Columbian Wyandotte cross chick that I thought was Doodle's is most definitely not his. The baby has a beard! That one is a Columbian Wyandotte / Easter Egger cross! That makes Sherlock the father.
Tony brought home a couple thermometers tonight, so I'm hoping I have the time and energy to start working on the barn brooder tomorrow. I have an appointment out of town in the afternoon and I'm not sure when I will be able to get home again after that. Brooder set up may have to wait for Friday or this weekend.
We were finally able to get to the PO box again and there was the awaited deposit for Butter Beer. She now officially has a home lined up for her once she's spayed next month. Yay for Butter Beer!
Ginger Bear and Blue Star are still waiting for someone to want them. Twice now I've chatted with someone about Ginger Bear and everything looked good, but when it came down to actually answering some direct questions and putting a deposit down, both people disappeared. I guess better to flake out early on than when it's time to actually pick up, or care for the kitty, right?
I'm still trying to find a home for Netherquartz too. He's the only cat other than the kittens to have normal fur, and poor #1 is horribly allergic to him. Besides that, I think the entire family has a smidge of disdain for him having stressed Henry literally to death. He deserves a home that can love him fully, and I'm getting the sense that here that opportunity may be too far gone now. It's unfortunate really, he's an awesome cat, loves everyone, gets along with the dog and the other cats, uses the scratching post, uses the litter box, doesn't demand a lot of attention, pretty self sufficient really. He's a big sweetie, but now he has that negative strike against him.
I really should start looking for a home for Sage too. We have had a blast raising her. It's been a real challenge with her unique medical issues, but we never intended to keep her permanently. I suppose she probably will end up staying because who's going to want a cat with chronic medical issues? Her nose is slightly misshapen, flattening out just below her eyes, which means her sinuses can't drain properly. This causes her to have a perpetual sinus issue. She sneezes frequently, sometimes she shoots inch-long boogers across the room, and she perpetually looks disgusted with everyone by lifting one part of her lip up in a weird sneer. Of course she's a lover, nothing makes her happier than being petted and touched. She loves having the back of her head rubbed and will stick her tongue out or flick her tongue if you get just the right spot. I have to schedule her for a spay surgery. I'm not in a huge rush though. With Henry gone and Netherquartz neutered, I have some time yet. Besides, I can't imagine people lining up to pay full price for a cat who's going to leave nasty green snot rockets around the house and need regular doses of antibiotics for flare-ups.
I suspect Gypsy (our tabby barn cat) may be pregnant. She's rather round. It's a mystery how that would have happened. They chased off the only other cat we've seen on the property last fall, and we're surrounded by water and a busy roadway, with no nearby neighbors. I guess we'll just wait and see if we end up with even more barn kitties. I had attempted to raise funds to get them spayed last fall, but never got anywhere with it. I hadn't really thought any more about it until we noticed her round belly.
Phyllis, one of our Rouen ducks, has gone broody. She's selected a bog patch in the inlet area of the lake (it won't drift away). Today we didn't get a single duck egg. Production is way down. Today we got 14 chicken eggs. Yesterday we got ten chicken eggs. Last week we were getting 18+ eggs per day plus 2-4 duck eggs per day. I suspect Phyllis isn't the only one with a nest somewhere. Some of the chickens may be laying elsewhere too. We are letting Phyllis sit on her nest. She comes back sometimes for food, but stays on her nest most of the time. On last check, #3 counted 11 eggs in the nest. Here's hoping this year's babies do better than last year. Perhaps Phyllis will be a better natural mom than Dashi and Matt last year.
My apologies for the lack of a blog the last half of this week. We've been busy, and I haven't had time to sit down on the computer to type anything up.
Thursday we took a family trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota. I had emailed earlier this week asking if someone there might be able to email me some information on taxidermy, because I have a weird phobia of taxidermy animals. Perhaps having some more information would help keep my brain busy thinking instead of panicking when I saw the big bears (or the birds hung overhead). Much to my surprise and delight (and a little bit of terror), I got an email back from Dick O., the biological collections manager. He was intrigued with my fear of "objects that can not harm you" and offered to give me a brief behind the scenes peek into the biology portion of the museum.
I have to say a big thank you to Mr O. for being patient with me and explaining things, answering questions, and taking time out of his day to show me around. I took #1 and #2 with me (they wanted to come for this rather than explore the museum with Dad and the younger kids). We got to see a taxidermy baby penguin, lots of native birds, small and large, we saw mice and reptiles stored in jars of alcohol, dried plants from not far from our own home, fossils, butterflies, insects, an elephant skeleton, a tiger's skull, a taxidermy rhinoceros head (terrifying), and we got a glimpse of some artifact items (pottery and such) as we were walking too. It was really an amazing opportunity. He showed us a golden eagle, and a bald eagle, and discussed the difference between them. He showed us hawks and discussed their hunting tactics. We learned that the butterflies are not actually blue, but iridescent and we just perceive them as blue. The native birds here also have no blue pigment - it's just how we perceive them with the refraction of light. Isn't that awesome?
Armed with this pre-adventure and some new information, I made it a point to go and visit every taxidermy animal I could find. The exhibit of a lake shore scene with birds, turtles, fish, and a porcupine up in a tree - no issues. The big white birds (are those Trumpeter Swans? They look too small to be Trumpeters) scared me - I didn't want to walk under them... But I did. Twice! I got right up to the glass where Kuma, the zoo polar bear is on display and while I wasn't comfortable, I wasn't terrified either. They had moved Don the gorilla to sit beside Kuma (he wasn't there on Sunday when I'd been there before). I thought he'd be scarier. I had looked up information about him before coming to the museum, and the tour had included viewing the plaster cast of his face before they skinned him (so they could make him look more lifelike with the taxidermy mount). I didn't get right up to the glass, but I was closer to him than I thought I'd get. I was close enough to notice that the insides of his elbows were mostly hairless. I don't know if this is how all gorillas are, or if it's a side effect of his particular taxidermy journey taking several years and his fur falling out during that process. We went to visit the male polar bear, and he is still scary enough to keep me well away. I even had #1 go over and read his placard to see if that might helm me, but no... that bear is just plain terrifying. Try as I might, I couldn't get near him. Not to give up, we went and found the big brown bear that had scared me last Sunday too. I kept reminding myself - he's just an item. He's just a decoration.. like a piece of art or furniture... And wouldn't you know it, once my kids got me past him (there's an elephant skull hanging behind him, some birds in a glass display case, and a window to see the dermestid beetles at work cleaning bones), he wasn't nearly as scary. I still didn't want to go right up to him, but the blind terror was only when viewing him from an angle near the front. I ended up laughing walking away from him because his eyes are very close together, which gives an awkward appearance - aggressive from the stance and the open mouth and teeth, but somewhat bewildered with the close-set eyes. We visited the male polar bear one more time, and I still couldn't manage to get near him. I still count this one as a win though, because I've never gotten so close to taxidermy without a complete meltdown before - and I didn't even have nightmares about it!
We also explored the dinosaur exhibit, the sports exhibit, the gaming exhibit, the body exhibit, we saw a mummy, went through the Native American exhibit where we saw a bison skeleton, learned about weaving using little bits of wool, and got to see jingle dressed up close. We went to the Omnitheater National Parks presentation. At the end of the day, aside from food places and a couple live shows that weren't open when we went by them, we had pretty much explored the entire museum. There were two exhibits we somewhat skipped over - the medical devices (lots of reading, I saw it Sunday and kids weren't interested) and the hands-on stuff outside of the dinosaur area (kids were hungry and wanted to find food by then). All said and done we stayed for seven hours with no food breaks. We arrived just before noon and decided to check out the gift shop just after 7pm. Each of the kids picked something from the gift shop to bring home. #1 picked a lined note book to write in, #2 picked a shirt with minerals on it, #3 picked out a ring and some rocks, #4 picked out rocks and then used her own money to buy some suckers with bugs in them, and #5 picked out a backpack (really expensive but he's excited to go to school this fall, so this will be his school bag). I bought a deck of cards with native fruits and berries on them. I figure it might be a good way to help me identify some plants here.
Friday I transplanted the bare-root strawberry plants that came in the mail. I had ordered them last year and received dried up dead roots. I followed their instructions and planted them and waited, but nothing ever came up. When I went to dig them back up to plant something else in their place, some were entirely rotted away, and some still had desiccated dried up roots, but no signs of growth. The trees they sent were similarly dead - no roots, just a cutting that never grew. I followed the instructions to get a replacement (one year guarantee), and never heard back from them. Then I got a shipping notification. I figured they'd sent the replacement order. Nope, just the strawberry plants... but at least this time they had some green! So I got them put into soil in cups indoors right away to make sure they had the best chance (it's still too cold outside to put them in the garden). Some of the plants looked like they had mold on them (fuzzy and white on the green growth portions), and most of them were already starting to rot (black and squishy just above the crown making the green growth above it die). Since planting them into cups, almost all of them look pretty rough. All of them with the black rot are dying back. I'm hoping it's just from being in the plastic shipping bag and the long journey (seriously, over a week in the mail - FedEx surely you can do better). I'm excited to move them outside when the weather warms up in a couple more weeks (I hope).
Today I spent most of my day cleaning, but we all played outside for a while. It was 65 degrees today and warm enough to go out without a coat on. The kids gathered sticks and played a game, I sorted through the old bird cages to see what all matched up and what I could use for scrap. I found a bunch of wood that would look really neat in a reptile tank. #2 figured out how to open the metal door to the cistern, so we peeked in there (but did not go in). The kids and I caught Sherlock and loved on him for a while before letting him go again.
Today I also discovered that we do, indeed, have baby bunnies. And not just a couple either. I counted at least 12 in the colony, and they're all about 3-4 weeks old based on their size. The kids caught a few and we handled them. Cute little things. Three tans, two blacks, and lots of broken patterned bunnies. They caught one that had an odd rex coat. Not plush and full, but wavy and soft just the same. Another they caught had the crimp and the softness, but the fur was longer. And one of the tan babies is fluffy - and adorable. I wish I'd have taken photos, but I didn't have my camera on me at the time. I think we will wait until they're a little bigger to round them up and take photos and do gender checks.
My parents stopped by today to bring over the big outdoor cage that came with Hazel. Hazel has already been transitioned to a smaller cage, so she won't be going back to that one. We do plan on using it as a grow-out pen for the bunnies. It will allow them a lot more space than our other cages. The only down sides are that it's big enough to be difficult to reach them if they're not tame, and the hardware cloth it's made from is too small to let poop through so it has to be scooped out regularly. It will not be suitable for winter housing as everything would freeze on (we don't have a heated barn) and prevent proper cleaning.
Taking advantage of the warm day, #3 went out and sprinkled about a dozen packets of mixed flower seeds all over the septic mound. We can't grow anything edible up there, and it has to be something that will be self sustaining, as we really don't want to be walking up there at all. Why waste it with grass? Make it a mound of flowers to feed our pollinators! She also took four packets of Hungarian Blue Birdseed Poppy seeds and sprinkled them along the far edge of the driveway where our driveway meets the road. With any luck it will make a pretty patch of flowers that will make the walk to the mail box every day that much more enjoyable.
And how could I forget!? The chicks arrived this week! Our first order of the year, we ordered 15 assorted rare breed chicks from Cackle Hatchery. They sent 18, but we lost one. His head feathers were stuck to the address label through the top air hole. I don't know how long he'd been like that. He was alive when he arrived, but he was clearly exhausted. He spent all day sleeping, and passed away that evening before bed time. Poor thing. The remaining 17 chicks look good. It looks like we have three Polish, three Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben, two Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben, four cochin (a buff, a splash, a red laced, and another one I'm not sure on), a Lakenvelder, two tiny grey chipmunk chicks, and a standard chipmunk marked, and I'm forgetting one... It's a nice assortment though. The Polish ones are for sale if anyone is interested. Looks like we have a Golden Laced, a White Crested Black, and the last one is probably a white (though it could be blue or splash, I can't tell for sure).
We're supposed to get our second order of chicks (from a different company) in another week and a half or two weeks (hatch date 5/15, anticipated arrival 5/17).
Last, but not least, we have more eggs in the hatching incubator anticipated to hatch early next week. Two duck eggs (our first of the season), and 13 chicken eggs (one blue cochin, one Columbian Wyandotte, two Easter Egger, and nine of the darkest marans eggs from our ladies). Here's to a good hatch next week!
As of this evening our box of chicks is in Waite Park. They'll be to our local post office in the morning! I'm excited to see what we get. The second brooder is set up, light is on, food is in the dish, I just need to add warm water when they arrive so they have a warm drinking source.
Today I paired some of the rabbits up. I paired Feather to Thatcher (witnessed two fall offs), Spotty to Fabio (witnessed one fall off), and I attempted Bacon to Yang (for #1), and Quince to Rascal, but neither Bacon nor Quince would participate. I will try them again tomorrow.
#1 is doing a science presentation at school about rabbits and she wanted to include a punnet square for genetics. She asked about dominant and recessive genetics. I told her white masks all colors, and agouti is also dominant, but I'm not sure which is more dominant. I've never bred a white rabbit to an agouti rabbit before. She asked me to try so we could fins out. Of course it will be too late for her assignment, but in the name of curiosity, I paired Bacon (agouti lionhead doe) to Yang (white New Zealand / Californian buck). They should make some interesting, and likely ugly babies, but we will have learned something from it.
Can you believe we're done with April already and on to May? It feels like it's so much earlier in the year still. Probably because it's so cold still.
I emailed the Science Museum today. While researching Kuma the polar bear for yesterday's blog, I came across some information about a gorilla from the same zoo that is supposed to be on display as well. I want to see him, but at the same time, I don't. You see, I am phobic of taxidermy animals. What a weird phobia to have, right? I'm slowly trying to work through it and desensitize myself. So far I'm getting better with birds and small mammals, but big things still scare me. Deer heads, bears, and presumably gorillas too. Anyway, I asked a bunch of questions about their taxidermy specimens in hopes that maybe I could have some bit of information to focus on so I wouldn't be in panic mode. Thank you Allison I. for getting back to me so fast and forwarding my questions on to the taxidermy expert, Dick O. It turns out they're having some kind of an open collections day in July where people can see how the specimens are prepared. If it helps me to get more familiar with taxidermy, and be less afraid of it, then I think it's worth another trip to the museum. Husband agrees and has suggested he takes that day off as a four day weekend and we can make a trip of it.
That said, the Science Museum of Minnesota currently has an exhibit about gaming. The kids (and my husband) are very excited to check it out. Enough that we've decided to pull kids out of school for a day and go down to visit the museum as a family. The exhibit leaves Sunday so we only have this week to go and see it. I left a message with the school to see if we could somehow make it a school / educational credit instead of a parent-excused absence since it's to the Science Museum. I haven't heard back yet.
This conversation happened in my house today:
Me: Hey Honey, can I spend more money?
Husband: How much are you thinking?
Me: Um, give me a minute... (grabs pen and paper)
Husband: That's never a good sign...
Me: Well, before tax and rounding a little... about $300.
Husband: For what?
Me: I have an addiction...
Husband: Yes, you do.
Me: At least it isn't drugs.
Husband: That might be cheaper.
Me: Maybe I should try smoking pot (jokingly)
Husband: No, 'cause then social services will take the kids away.
Oldest Daughter (from the other room): Well that would definitely be cheaper then!
Alright, so a little context. I want turkeys. Specifically, Bourbon Red turkeys. I want a trio to breed and produce purebred hatching eggs and offspring, so they would be our only turkeys (aside from some broad breasted that can't breed naturally to raise for food). A lot of hatcheries have a minimum. I don't want 12 or 15 or 25 turkeys. I want three. And since almost all of the hatcheries charge huge shipping fines for ordering less than a set number of birds (if they'll ship at all), that means trying to find a dozen more birds to fill out the order, which makes an already expensive breed choice that much more expensive.
Today I came upon a hatchery that offers free shipping if you order at least 15 birds. Their prices are around the same as other hatcheries but without the segregated minimums (you can mix and match species to fill the minimum). So I put together a mock order. Three Bourbon Red turkeys (unsexed), two assorted broad breasted turkeys, three Buff Orpington hens, three Easter egger hens, one ancona duck, three Salmon Faverolle hens, and one Salmon Faverolle rooster. Then I went back to my preferred hatchery and put together the identical order. The new hatchery is cheaper by $23.22 ($125.52 versus $102.30).
This would mean I'd have to get another coop ($220) set up for the Faverolles. A breed I have not tested yet. There doesn't seem to be any available locally. Or at least I have not seen any ads for Faverolle chicks or hatching eggs. They're gorgeous birds and I think posting some photos of the grown adults would be enough to sell the eggs or chicks. But will it be enough to pay off the coop? I won't know until next year. That's a pretty big investment on a whim with no source of information on how that breed will sell here.
The Faverolle is listed as Threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. So is the Spitzhauben, which is why if we get a hen in the assorted box coming in a week and a half - then I'll be buying (or building) another coop for them too... And I ordered the three Dark Brahmas to arrive in June or July with the guinea keets... Might be time to work on building some coops!
So here we go. I placed a third hatchery order for this year. I'm done now. I think three orders is more than enough. I've spent enough on birds this year! This should be 46 ordered birds this year, plus any bonus chicks the hatcheries might throw in. We're anticipating 15 rare breeds the first week in May, followed by the order I mentioned above coming mid to late May, and the guinea and dark Brahma order that still hasn't had a ship day confirmed, but is supposed to be coming in June or July.
Easter eggs are boiled and dyed. Each child got one dozen eggs to color, and this is what they came up with.
We just used two of the traditional dye kits (pellet in vinegar water) this year. Nobody complained. It helped that I did the dying in waves. First the younger three got to dye theirs, then the older two came to the table and did theirs. Then the younger ones got the opportunity to re-dye their eggs in a second color if they wanted, followed by the older kids getting to re-dye. Much smoother experience with less bickering.
We used a mix of chicken and duck eggs (what a great excuse to use up the older eggs). I love that the subtle differences in the brown eggs made the same dye color each egg differently. The lighter brown eggs turned gold in the yellow dye.
Some of the kids are excited for the egg hunt on Sunday - some are more excited for Grandpa to turn their eggs into deviled eggs afterwards.
We have baby chickens!! I'm a little confused how we're getting so many black chicks when I'm hatching out brown, dark brown, and blue eggs. Today we got to meet some new faces. Welcome to the homestead new chicks! Most of them will be available for sale. I do plan on keeping a couple back to see if we can get some olive egger hens from our own gene pool.
As of writing this we have nine chicks hatched out in the last 24 hours. One brown chick and one black chick out of blue eggs, one black chick out of a dark brown egg (but the clever little one managed to get out of the netting area, so now I can't tell it apart from the others. We have five black chicks out of brown eggs, and one penguin marked chick from a brown egg. The brown one and the penguin one may end up staying. I put a tiny rubber band on the black chick from the blue egg. I haven't decided on that one yet. It has heavily feathered legs too.
Today we were one egg shy of getting two dozen eggs. Wow! What a color assortment too. One really dark brown, various shades of tan, a couple that almost look pink, and two blues, one white, plus three duck eggs. I jokingly told Tony I need more incubators... I wonder if he will take a hint and consider buying me another. Perhaps later in the season when it's warm enough to put them in the outside brooder in the barn.
Tony is still pretty set on calling the puppy Arya. Our eldest daughter (#1) is rebelling by referring to her as "A Puppy Has No Name" which Tony thinks is even better. I'm just not sure how to shorten "A Puppy Has No Name" besides just calling her Puppy, which is what we've been doing anyway... Something I'm sure we will think on more in the future.
I harvested the dark opal basil from the aquaponics set up again today. It filled three trays on the dehydrator. I have a bunch of lime basil growing in the windowsill in the kitchen too, but I don't think it's big enough to harvest just yet. I'm going to have to transplant it out to multiple containers because I seeded heavily, and germination was great.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.