I finished #4's purse this afternoon! It's pink, purple, and blue variegated with a cross-body strap and a button and loop closure. She's excited to start using it right away!
I've noticed lately a large growth deficit between the remaining kittens. Rosemary is starting to fail while Sage remains robust. I'm not sure what the problem is, but even Floki seems to notice and several times has pushed Rosemary away, or had taken Sage to another spot and laid down to nurse her without Rosemary. We continue to try to make sure that Rosemary gets nursing time, and Floki does allow her to nurse. Rosemary still actively seeks out a teat and seems to nurse well. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I can only assume Floki has a better idea that something is severely wrong that we can't understand.
It's been a bit of a busy day today between trips back and forth to a couple appointments and a shopping stop along the way.
The two remaining kittens seem to be doing well. They are content and mostly quiet. Floki and Mabel both lay in the box with them. A couple of times I've found a kitten in the middle of the floor. I'm still not entirely sure which cat is moving them out of the box.
I completed #5's bag this morning, in time for him to bring it to our appointments. He was quite excited to bring his toys with him.
Onward to the next purse project! I started #4's purse the other day but set it aside to finish #5's bag. Now back to her purse.
This morning I went to check on kittens and found just Rosemary and Sage in the box. I admit, my first thought was that Floki had eaten Basil... She did kill kittens in her last litter. Then I heard the weak mew coming from under the fish tank stand a couple feet from the box. There was tiny Basil, chilled and weak, but alive. I don't know which cat pulled him out of the nest box, everyone here has their suspicions... It could be Mabel, grandma to this litter, who has attempted to steal Floki's kittens in the past and has started trying to lay in the box with Floki and the babies. It could be NetherQuartz, who takes any opportunity he can to attempt to treat a wandering kitten like a toy (which is why we moved them to a box they couldn't escape from). Or maybe Floki knows there's something wrong and is moving him out of the box? Or moving him to one of the sideways boxes on the fish tank stand and he fell out? I don't know.
I also don't know how long he'd been out on his own. One of his little toes is swollen, he's got little marks all over him now, and I strongly suspect one of the ladies moved him out of the box and then NetherQuartz tried to "play" with him.
I warmed him back up with my hands before returning him to his sisters, who welcomed him immediately by piling all over him and then sleeping in a heap together.
I again held him to assure that he got some nursing time without his big sisters knocking him down. He always seems to do so well, latching on, good suction, but never any swallowing motions. Below was the photo I took after I snuck my hand away from supporting him and blocking his sisters. They all seemed to be asleep but still attached to momma. The size difference is becoming painfully obvious. Basil is minuscule compared to plump Sage.
I went off to do some housework and returned a bit later to find Basil nursing of his own accord. No assistance and he'd found and held a teat against his sisters! Mind it was one of the front ones with less milk, but all the same, my hopes rose. I really hope this little one pulls through... though every ounce of logic and past experience tells me he doesn't stand a chance.
I did take another brief video today. I suspect it may be the last with three kittens in it. Basil can't hold out forever, and he's so thin now that I have to wonder how he's even here with us still tonight as I type this up before bed. Tony insists he's "looking stronger" and seems "more active" tonight, but I don't see it. I would absolutely love to see Basil grow up and be a spunky, playful, loving soul. I want so badly to see how he does with his bad leg and his nub tail. I want to see if his coat develops colors later or if he will stay white. I want to see him open his eyes, to play with toys, to pounce and play with his sisters.
Tonight I weighed each of the kittens. Sage is 4 ounces, Rosemary is 3 ounces, and Basil is 2 ounces. Why is there such a drastic difference between 2 and 3 ounces, but not between 3 and 4 ounces? Either way, here's the video from today - complete with a cameo from Mabel (their Rex grandma). She saw the box was empty and came to see what I was doing with them.
After completing most of the house chores, I sat down to work more on #5's bag. I got to the point where I could go no farther without the next color, so I texted Tony to let him know what I needed.
When he got home late tonight after working a close shift, I quick did the last four rounds with the new colors. The bag itself is complete. Now I just need to make and attach the straps (they will also be matching Ninja Turtle colors). What a cool creation - and even cooler that I made it up myself. No pattern, no Pintrest photo... just an idea in my head! I hope the straps work the way I think they should.
This bag now measures 17 inches wide by 17 inches deep. It took almost an entire skein of yarn to produce over three days (so far). Tomorrow I plan to do the straps and get a finished photo. Then onward to #4's bag (which I already started while waiting for Tony to bring home the new yarn). Hers will be a cross-body purse with flap and button/loop closure made from variegated pink/purple/blue yarn.
This morning was awesome! I got all the garbage taken out (it's garbage day), #4 got in a morning shower, the kids actually worked together to solve a problem, and they even went out to the buss before the bus alarm went off to tell them it was time!
Two minutes later I get a frantic call from #1. She's out of breath and I couldn't understand anything except "train" and "bus left with (#4)" ... Slow down! What? They had gotten to the train tracks they have to cross to get to the bus stop, and there was a train coming. Despite being told never to run across in front of a train (EVER, even if it means missing the bus), they decided to make a run for it. I will be talking to them when they get home from school about this. They made it across the tracks, but #4 was about 20 feet ahead of them and as the bus pulled up, she got on. The driver didn't see the other kids running to close the gap, and left without them.
I called the transportation office, and much to my surprise, without identifying myself, my location, or my student's names, they knew exactly who I was and immediately radio'd the bus driver. I suspect he's a substitute for the normal driver. He seemed confused, and said he'd made a wrong turn, picked up the one kid and left the rest, then missed the next stop, and picked up the one after that and was now trying to backtrack. Just a combination of factors here. The driver was having a bad day, the train was either early or late (usually already gone or comes after kids are on the bus), and the kids weren't at the stop waiting like they normally are. Anyway, the guy at the bus garage said he'd send someone with a car to personally bring them to school if I didn't have another way to get them there. I said I'd call a relative and get back to him.
I called my mom, who was headed this way this morning anyway, and explained the situation. She said she'd be able to give them a ride, but they'd be late to school as she was just heading out and we are 30-45 minutes from her house.
At this point I'm wondering why the kids have not come back inside. It's cold out, and I'm sure they're not out there playing. So I called #1's cell phone to tell her to come in and that grandma will come get them when she gets out this way.
A reminder here, we are a family with Asperger's (high functioning autism), so sudden change is not well accepted. Poor #1 is in full blown meltdown, sobbing in the cold because she can't feel her legs anymore, she's freezing, and the train that they crossed in front of - has stopped on the tracks, blocking their ability to get back to the house.
But then, just as I was trying to figure out how in the world to calm my child over the phone with no real way to help her... Behold! "The bus came back! The bus is here! Bye Mom!" and that was it. The transportation folks worked miracles. It was 15-20 minutes after they missed the bus, but they got on the bus and I didn't have to work out alternate travel arrangements.
Let me be the first to say - that would never have happened at our old house. I can't help but feel completely blessed here. I was going to call the transportation office again, but then I realized, this could set back this route 15 minutes or more, and possibly more buses down the line since they have to meet up to swap kids to other buses. I didn't want to clog up their phone line when I'm sure other parents are probably calling to ask where the bus was. So instead I pulled up the district on Facebook. I've messaged with them before when we wanted information about the school here before we put in an offer on the house (seriously, I did a lot of research). Anyway, I explained the whole story (above) and thanked them for getting it all sorted out. They promptly replied that they'd get the message to the right people. :D So, thank you bus driver, for coming back to get the other kids. And thank you transportation team for getting that all fixed, and offering to personally chauffeur the kids to school this morning. And thank you to the office staff who took the Facebook message and will take the time to forward it to the bus people. What an amazing team they have working at this school district!
Last night little Xavier passed away. I'm at a loss. I have no idea what happened to this one. She was doing well, she was eating, she was in good health, she wasn't thin or underweight or dehydrated. She was growing well and active. I don't know what went wrong.
Today I got the phone case I ordered with my dog design on it. I am so happy with it, and excited that it arrived two days earlier than anticipated. If you'd like to have a phone case with this design, or perhaps a shirt, mug, sticker, clock, or bag, please take a minute to go HERE to see what's available with this design on it.
The live trap caught something today. It wasn't the raccoon we were hoping for, but one of the local red squirrel babies. When we moved in last August there were several tiny baby red squirrels, likely just weaned. There was no mama squirrel around, just several babies and they would run through the yard and climb the trees all in line. They were about the size of mice when we first arrived, and now they're about the size of a chipmunk. We have two that are still around. One that seems to live in the "mother walnut" tree beside the chicken coop, and one that has claimed the walnut grove with the black raspberry plants as it's territory.
So when this cute little guy triggered the trap and was springing around making crazy circles in the cage, we had no choice but to let him go. I snapped this photo as #3 opened the cage to let it out. It lost no time in making a prompt escape. This one happens to be the one that owns the raspberry bush area.
I used as much of the red white and blue skein of yarn as I could and came up with a grand total of seven crochet coasters. Of them, six are variations of more or less stripes and blue star sections, and one coaster that is just stripes, with no blue star part.
I only got a photo of six, as #2 picked one out that he wants to give to his history teacher. Of course that meant that #4 wanted to bring some for her teachers too. So now I'm left with three.
I guess they're for sale if anyone is interested. They're double thick, hand crocheted, and are roughly 4" x 4" (slightly more rectangular, so closer to 4" x 3.75"). I've been using the prototype for a while now and it's actually quite nice. I haven't had to wash it yet, so I don't know how that will work (wash cold, line dry). I expect it will wash as well as my pot holders that are made the same way.
We lost one of the silkie roosters last night, and one of the shelved kits passed away this afternoon. I couldn't get the smaller one to take an apple, and the two momma rabbits out in the coop are not feeding the kits. With their mom gone, I'm not sure what else I can do to keep this last kit going. Wisp has taken a liking to the last kit though. She won't leave the nest box (though she's more than capable or jumping out). Instead she spends her time cuddled up with the little baby.
I was admiring how similar they looked, and then it dawned on me. They have the same mother. Maybe it's sisterly love, maybe it's just Wisp wanting to steal the apple slices, but whatever it is, it's adorable to see them together. Wisp will sprawl out, legs stretched out, and Xavier will be curled up next to her. Of course the instant I pull my camera out, they jump up and act like they weren't just besties.
Still no babies from MoR, which seems odd. She's always been right on time delivering new kits. Maybe tomorrow.
Tonight we had dinner at my parents' house. Their new bloodhound ate one of #4's brand new Shopkins shoes. My mom was going to throw the remaining shoe away (since all of my kids have two feet, one shoe isn't worth keeping), but I had an idea.
When I have time, I plan on adding soil and seeds and making the shoe a planter. I mean, it's not a big deal if it doesn't work out, because it was just going to be thrown away anyway. My thought is that the bottom sole is rubber, which means I can use it as an indoor planter without worrying about the water spilling out from the bottom. Since #4 has a nice West-facing window in her bedroom, perhaps she can keep it in her room as an odd, but still relevant Shopkins collectible (she does love them). I will have to take photos.
Also, this year, I'd like to start making videos to add to my blogs. I'm expecting some seeds in the mail tomorrow. My kids love watching videos of people opening things. Perhaps a quick video of my opening the seed package will be entertaining.
If I knew how to video edit, I'd make the shoe planter a video too. I could do videos on winter sowing, seed saving, and homestead chores... Once I figure out editing, the sky's the limit. Here's to a busy year full of new opportunities and lessons to learn!
This was the temperature when I woke up this morning.
That's -31, with a windchill down to -46. My heart sunk. I just knew we'd have losses. Even with bedding and enclosed buildings, at that temperature, it's just not enough.
We lost Elizabeth, James, Hodor, Speckles, Lorelei, Willy, Machu, and Um, and one of the guineas too. I don't even know what to do now. Tonight is supposed to be the same. There's nothing more that I can do, but keep the barn and coop closed up for the night and hope for the best. It's been several years since we had -40, and we lost rabbits then too. But back then they were in a lean-to with nothing but tarps for walls. I had hoped the enclosed buildings would provide more insulation for them.
Today, #4 cried because Elizabeth was her rabbit. She had plans to breed her to Sushi in the spring to see if he carried the Rex gene and could produce Rex coated kits. Now she's asking if she can pick one of the other rabbits to be hers. I told her to wait until spring to see who is still here. We don't usually get this cold until February. I really hope this is it, and that we won't have another round in February.
We have the rabbits on winter rations (full feed bins), and the three in the cages outside seem to be doing alight at this point. I'm not sure why the ones in the barn and coop are dying. They have no wind, enclosed spaces, and bedding.
Knowing that tonight will also be bitterly cold, I made the decision to bring Wisp in the house. We fought hard to get her to survive when she was tiny, and I couldn't leave her outside to potentially freeze. She is the smallest bunny out there. Today she is in the house, where she will remain until she finds a home or until the spring weather outside allows her to go back out.
The future is looking bleak for the two kits in the nest box right now. Their momma was among the losses this morning. #3 tried to foster them on to MoR (who is supposed to have babies any day now), and Lady Mo (who lost her single kit just a few days ago). Despite having time with both moms twice today, it doesn't look like either kit actually got a meal.
For now I'm reluctantly hoping that MoR delivers her kits tonight and has milk soon enough to save the two inside. Unfortunately, with temps like this, if she delivers out there, there's no way those kits will survive. It's just too cold. It's going to be losses both ways at this point I'm afraid.
What a hard way to end the year.
Refusing to end the year on a sour note, I am determined to remain positive. When #3 came in with Wisp, I had to snap a photo. She's got a full mohawk between her ears!
Wisp is so soft, her fur is fine and long. She reminds me of the angora rabbits we used to have. This worries me a bit because I was also deathly allergic to them (which is why we don't have them anymore). It seems she has the same fur issue they did. Everything gets stuck in her fur and starts to mat. I'm still picking pieces of pine bedding out of her belly fur.
Now that she is in the house, she can no longer be sold as an outdoor pet, which is great because I really want her to be someone's indoor pet. She's fantastic, well socialized, and so incredibly soft. If I wasn't allergic to rabbits, I'd strongly consider keeping her as our own indoor pet.
I even took a photo of Wisp and Moose together.
2017 had many twists and turns, come curve balls, and definitely some beautiful moments too. We were devastated when our house flooded, and frustrated living in a hotel for 11 weeks. We were elated and a little nervous when we signed on the dotted line, got the keys, and moved into our new home. The kids have taken the move in stride, making new friends and fitting in to their new schools seamlessly. While we continue to struggle with finances, we are so much happier here on the homestead. That makes it all better.
In 2018 I am looking forward to our first official garden on the homestead (may it get bigger and better every year). I am looking forward to learning to can our harvests so they can last us through the winter and beyond. I am looking forward to finding new ways to make some money to help pay the bills. I will be making some major changes to the rabbits we're breeding this next year, and I hope the tweaks and fixes correct some issues on my part. I'm hoping the new year brings our family even closer, that we enjoy time together, make memories, share fun experiences, and learn along the way. And in 2018, I hope you will join us on our adventures in homesteading, raising kids, and finding our own way to do things. I'm hoping to make videos a part of 2018, but I've got to figure out video editing first.
Happy New Year!
Tony was able to find the conversion kit for the stove this morning, so that's good. We got four of the five stove top burners swapped out for the propane orifices. The part to adjust the flow to the oven is missing. Since we've never had the oven worked on before we moved, and it was supposedly bought new... I know which furniture company won't be getting any future business from us! The conversion kit and the valve should have come standard with this model and now we're having to buy replacement parts. Frustrating.
So the stove top works better now. No more flame thrower when it comes on at first, and boiling water on the lowest setting. Still can't use the stove though. My dad said he'd order the missing piece after the holidays and they'd plan another trip out to do a third fix attempt to get the oven into working order. Well, no Christmas cookies this year in the new house, but I'm sure next year we'll have a constant stream of them coming through!
This morning #3 was awarded Student Of The Month. I'm so proud of her!
The kids came home with random gifts from their schools. #1 brought home a bag of fruit, a shirt, and some toiletries. #4 came home with a blanket, a scarf, and a pair of socks. #3 got a new ornament for the tree from her teacher. One of the schools sent home some Christmas gifts for the kids, and a box of food. When I got back home I got another call from a local food company asking if I was home so they could deliver a box of food too.
We got a ham, a chicken, canned vegetables, two frozen pies, a box of Mac & Cheese, some pepper, some chicken wings, a package of dinner rolls, and some turkey stuffing.
I had no idea we'd be so blessed when I filled out the form to ask the school for help with Christmas presents for the kids. There will be a lot of thank you cards going out in the mail soon, and we will be paying it forward when we can.
The current shelved litter is doing a lot better. One of the Charlie marked kits is still thin and isn't getting as full at feeding times as the other three, but is doing better than it was a few days ago. The momma has started to actually nurse the kits, which is progress since she completely abandoned her previous litter (Willy, Wonka, and Wisp). I'm thinking we will have four survivors for the X litter. Names are being considered. Xavier, Xanadu, Xander, Xandra, Xandria, Xylon, Xara... X is a difficult letter to find names for, but four should be manageable.
I got confirmation that Babylon and Wonka will be leaving on Christmas Eve to their new home. They will be a Christmas gift, but the parents and grandparents are fully on board with caring for them. They'll be breeders producing meat bunnies, but they will be pets for their son/grandson. They're getting the "big hutch" prepared in advance of their arrival. I hope it's well stuffed with straw, because Christmas Eve night is supposed to get down to -16 degrees, and -18 Christmas night! Yikes!
I've been cleaning, entertaining guests, fixing stuff, and dealing with kids all day. I'm worn out and ready for bed!
The last four kits in the nest box in the kitchen seem to be doing better. They're nursing longer, and getting fuller tummies. I'm starting to become hopeful these four might survive. We're left with two Charlie marked broken black, one well marked broken black, and one well marked broken that is starting to turn chestnut brown (the biggest of the entire litter).
I am continuing to do tomato research as time allows. Didn't get very far today as I spent most of the day washing dishes, doing laundry, and all the mundane routine chores. Chickens and rabbits are fed and watered, litter box got scooped, all meals have been made and served, dusted the old stove off, cleaned our stove.
My dad and uncle are supposed to be coming over tomorrow to fix the stove. It's set for natural gas (what we had in our previous house) and here we have propane. It pretty much shoots flames at this point, and the oven has been unusable.
Tony bought a conversion kit online. It costed something like $40. It's been sitting around waiting for someone to put it in for the past couple of months. Tony is always too busy or other things come up. Sure enough, they're coming tomorrow to install the conversion kit and now we can't find it! He found the instructions that came with the conversion kit, but insists he left the kit by the stove, and it's not there now. I'll have to ask kids in the morning before school if any of them might have moved it. I can't imagine they'd have taken it, but I'll ask before calling my dad to tell him we're horribly irresponsible and can't keep anything of importance without mucking it up somehow.
I'm hoping Tony can find it in the morning, but I'm doubting it. He's got limited time as we've got to be at one of the schools at 8am for an award ceremony, and then when we get home he's going to have to get ready to go to work again.
It's really lost. I searched the cupboards, the shelves, on top of the fridge, in the cabinet with the tools, in the oven cubby, the spare drawers we're not using yet, and he searched around his desk. I'm baffled where the kit could have gone. He had it out about two weeks ago because he was seeing what all he needed to install it. I'm not sure what came up that day, but he didn't get around to it.
Hopefully we can find the kit and get the stove fixed. I'd love to be able to bake cookies, or make a dinner in the oven (you know, a dinner that doesn't involve the crock pot or stove top).
#4's school has a program where good behavior earns them credit towards a Christmas store, where they can spend their credits to buy gifts for their family members. Her shopping day was today, and she was so excited to come home with the goodies she bought for us for gifts. She asked to wrap them herself, so I let her pick out whatever wrapping paper she wanted and she did alright for a first-time wrapping (she's 8).
She even made the little to/from tags. I have to admit, I'm a little excited to see what is in the packages from #4. This is the first time she's gotten the opportunity to actually pick out gifts for someone without having a parent or grandparent there to guide her. It will be interesting to see what she selected for us. I'm sure we will cherish it, whatever it is.
Today I sent #3 back into the space to see if she could fetch a container from one of the boxes of freeze dried food. Unfortunately four of the cases are stashed so well, they cannot be reached. She did manage, after several minutes of fighting with a box, to remove one large can of rice and chicken.
I sent an email to the company with the code from the bottom of the can to see how old it is. They have a 30 year flavor guarantee, so I was wondering if they'd replace it if it tasted funny.
The gentleman who's name appeared on the package died in 1996, the to/from is stamped onto the box several times, and the address is the man's name, c/o his business, with city/state/zip, but no numerical address. Add in the fact that three of the boxes are stashed behind heating duct work, indicating the house was literally being upgraded around these boxes... I suspect these boxes may be older than I am.
The instructions were simple enough... Add 6 cups of boiling water, stir, and leave for 5-10 minutes.
Since we already had the can out, and I hadn't put anything in the crock pot for dinner, we figured why not? Let's try some really old freeze-dried emergency rations...
#4 used a can opener to carefully remove the top of the can while I started the water boiling. The contents took up about 3/4 of the can, and it smelled alright. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it looked fine.
We added the boiling water, stirred it up, and set the table while we waited the ten minutes for the food to rehydrate. It ended up looking a little plain, and the kids were hesitant to eat it at first.
I dished everyone up a small portion, and the older kids waited for me to taste it first. Tony was on the phone by this time, on his way home, and said "So if I come home and everyone is sick, I'll know not to eat the food."
I took a bite at the same time as #4 and #5. It was delicious! The only one that didn't care for it was #5, and he turns his nose up at most dinners (he's a breakfast boy). Tonight #1, #4, and I all had seconds. #2 had three portions. And there was still enough for Tony when he came home! That means we got 12 portions out of the big can.
Now, you might be wondering - where do I go to get some freeze dried emergency rations that will taste that delightful in 30+ years? Well, my friends, you are in luck! Mountain House sells their products on their website, but their food is actually cheaper to buy through Amazon (affiliate link below).
We will be keeping the remaining cans where they are. Partially because they're virtually impossible to get to. But really, it's good to know that we have emergency food in case there is ever a time when we really are in a bad situation and cannot afford food, or we get snowed in for more than a few days, or whatever else might come up. I had always hoped one day to have an emergency pantry. Something with canned vegetables and such from our garden, and extra bits of stuff here and there that we've been able to save and store away. It's never happened, largely because we don't have the extra money to buy things, and I've never tried canning (yet). We also eat - a lot - and the idea of having more than we can eat has been a foreign concept for most of my adult life. Until I started gardening, that is. The meaning of abundance is found in over planting a garden. Next year I want to work on preserving those harvests for even longer. Imagine how much more I can grow if I know how to store it, and with all the more space we have now. These freeze dried rations will be the foundation from which I will build my own pantry with foods I grow and can myself.
Which leads me to a thought in the back of my head... Now we have chickens and Josh the goose... While the ducks will likely leave my garden alone (they're supposed to eat bugs from the garden but leave the plants alone), chickens are known for destroying gardens, and Josh - well, he destroyed every pepper and okra plant we had this fall... How in the world am I going to keep them all out? I can't afford fencing, and I don't want to coop them all up - I believe in free-range if it's safe. Something I will continue to ponder. Perhaps some pallets and metal fence posts are in order.
And in other news... I am an admin for a Facebook pets group. Someone posted bloodhound puppies yesterday. I approved the ad after admiring the pictures. My parents always joked that when my mom gets her deck, my dad can have his bloodhound. These are two things they've both wanted for a long time. This summer, my mom got her deck built. So every time I see bloodhound puppies for sale, I think about my parents' agreement.
Well, Facebook removed the ad for some reason (as they sometimes do in an attempt to prevent animal sales), so the lady sent me a message to ask why her ad was removed. We got to talking, and I complimented her pups and told her about my parents' deal. She said she sometimes takes in surrenders too, and she just happened to have one now. A one year old purebred bloodhound that she sold as a pup. The owner had a drug problem and went to jail, so the dog came back to the breeder. Now she was trying to find her a home, for a fee much smaller than a bloodhound pup sells for. So I did what any good daughter would do... I forwarded the photo to my mom and reminded her that she got her deck... So dad should get his bloodhound.
My mom contacted the breeder, and they chatted. Then my mom told my brother she wanted to buy a bloodhound for my dad for Christmas. Being the voice of reason, my dear brother told mom she needed to talk to dad first and not just spring it on him. After that summer we lost three big dogs to different issues, he swore off ever having big dogs again because "digging big holes is too much work."
Tonight my mom showed the photo to my dad, and said "I want to buy this dog for you for Christmas." Much to everyone's delightful surprise, my dad agreed! The bloodhound will be coming home sometime in the next week, whenever they can make the arrangements to pick her up (they are three hours away, but willing to meet part way).
So here I am, worker of miracles. I have hooked my dad up with a dog of a breed he's wanted longer than I can remember, and at a price he could afford. I can hardly wait to hear her braying when we come up the driveway for Christmas. It's been a while since my parents' house was blessed with a hound. Our beagle taught our dalmatian to howl when I was a child. That was beautiful. I wonder if this bloodhound can convince the pugs to howl.
I have so much to share today!
This morning we went and picked up five new ducks. They're supposed to be Indian Runner, but one may be crossed with a magpie duck. One has a white collar stripe and the blue patch on the wing, so it may turn out looking like a mallard. One is a dark brown color with an olive green beak. Two more are brown, but have a lovely creamy color along the backs. The last one is black and white splashed (the mix). They're fully feathered, but they're still babies (they were eggs in the incubator back when we brought Josh and the first two ducks home on October 1). I brought them home in a large wire dog kennel, and transferred the kennel right in to the bunny barn when we got home. I left them in the kennel for the remainder of the day, allowing Leonardo, Tweak, Captain Barnacles, Dashi, and Josh to meet them and get to know one another behind the bars (though all the ducks could stick their heads out/in, so they were nuzzling and chatting a lot).
At night before bed, I closed up the bunny barn and let them out. They are flock animals and they went straight over to Josh and the ducks. I refilled the heated water bucket (that I brought in the bunny barn just for today and tomorrow while they're penned up), and they all gathered around it and drank. I refilled their food, and a few wandered over there. I hope that Josh is able to keep command of his now large flock of ducks. He started with two, then four, and now he has nine. A couple days in the bunny barn together should help them to learn each others' languages and what is expected of them when Josh calls to herd them one way or another.
Josh is an awesome guard goose for the ducks. We've had bald eagles come to the yard a few times, we've had hawks circle over the fields while they were out, but so far (knock on wood) we have had no predatory losses because Josh keeps them safe, running them back into the barn or into the trees for cover when aerial predators are spotted. I highly recommend a goose as a flock guardian! That said, ours are free range, so they aren't likely to get stuck against a fence or pulled through a fence, it would be hard to corner them.
If sexing by the noise they make is accurate, I'd say we have four girls and a boy here - but that would mean the bow-tie striped one is a girl, and it's looking a lot like Captain Barnacles looked when he first arrived (before his gorgeous green adult feathers came in over his head).
So far just the one with the white neck stripe has a potential name. It reminds me so much of a bow tie that I wanted to call him Matt, after Matt Smith, who plays The Doctor on Doctor Who (he always wears bow ties, because "bow ties are cool"), but then the name wouldn't fit if the duck is a girl. So perhaps Mr. Smith, which can be changed to Ms. Smith if it turns out to be a lady. Or maybe we can scrap that and name them all collectively... Gem names, like Pearl, Ruby, Amethyst, Onyx, and Opal. Or maybe nature names like Twig, Brook, Branch, Stone, or Pebble. Or flower names (Marigold, Peony, Zinnia, Pansy, and Petunia)... or herb names (Thyme, Rosemary, Mint, Basil, and Sage). But I get ahead of myself. I need to wait until they mature to see which ones grow the curled tail feathers (boys).
When we returned from getting the ducks, as we pulled up I saw all of the chickens huddled outside the chicken coop. It's snowing and cold, and I wasn't sure right away why they were all outside. I went to go take a peek and here they'd bumped the door shut and couldn't get back in! As a result, the eggs in the nest box had gone cold, and Boss Lady has abandoned them. In a strange twist, there were only six in the box when I pulled them after she left them and they cracked. I searched for the seventh but didn't find it. Weird.
Today was also #4's Christmas program at school. I think she was more excited about being able to buy ice cream for #5 afterward using her own money than the actual singing.
And in other news, the chomp on Babylon's nose is much worse today. She's got a bit of a flap, and an open space, but she seems alright otherwise so far. She was a little hesitant to let me pick her up today, but I was careful not to touch her nose at all, so she will be more trusting tomorrow when I go to catch her to check how she's doing.
For dinner we'd planned to break in our new smoker that my parents bought us for Christmas. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it to work and have to return it tomorrow. The pork chops were wonderful, the brine and rub flavored them up nicely, despite not smoking them. Hopefully we can try the recipe again when we have a functioning smoker so we can fully appreciate the flavors.
I spent yesterday boiling the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving and then de-boning it. Tomorrow we're having turkey soup. I just have to add in the vegetables and cook it tomorrow and it's good to serve. Tasty!
Wow it was a busy day! I am really hoping that Tony gets up with kids and #5 lets me sleep in. What a day!
This morning I sent seven bunnies off with Tony on his way to work. He met someone on the way to swap six of the bunnies for two wire cages. I haven't had a chance to go look at the cages, but I'm told at least one is in rough shape and will need repairs before it can be used. Still, a good deal I think. Six fewer mouths to feed and some more space to put the remaining bunnies.
Today the kids took the three older shelved kits and released them in the living room. They were running and kicking their heels up and playing. It was fun to watch. I'm sure they enjoyed having the space to hop around too. I was a little worried that Moose might think they were something to play with, and while he was excited to have them out and about, he did not chase or paw at them at all. In fact at one point the little brown kit came right up to Moose. Moose was sitting and leaned his head down, and the tiny bunny sat on his back legs, leaned up, and they touched noses for a moment. I wish I'd have gotten a photo; it was priceless.
Dinner was my attempt at crock pot chicken soup with no recipe and limited ingredients. I had a package of frozen chicken tenderloin, potatoes, half an onion, leftover apples from the tree, a handful of fresh thyme, a clove of garlic, and I added a dash of oregano with the salt and pepper for good measure. It smelled really good. I made rice to go with it just in case we needed more filler. It was so bland though. My mom came by for dinner, and suggested chicken bouillon. How did I forget that? So I added some after we had all dished up (of course). I had hoped it would improve the flavor for Tony when he got off work. He just said "It's missing something." so I guess at least it wasn't bland anymore. I used nearly an entire clove of garlic, and it didn't come through at all in the flavor. In fact, you couldn't taste the thyme, the apples, nothing. It was just flavorless texture in your mouth. Ugh! I have got to figure out how to use herbs and spices! Better luck next time I guess. It was at least better than my last crock pot meal - Barbecue rabbit soup... Don't mix herbs and BBQ sauce into a soup... It doesn't work.
The oldest two kids went off to a school dance tonight. Both came back with a poor attitude, both blaming the other for their bad mood. Well guess who isn't going to be getting money to go to school extra-curricular activities next time?
The younger kids were in bed early tonight. #5 was in full blown meltdown mode by 7:30pm. He got up early today, and because he's three, he doesn't believe in naps anymore. Every time I try to lay down with him, I fall asleep, so that's not an option. My mom left at 7:45 or so, and by 8pm I had #5 laying down. By 8:15 I was rubbing his back and he was drifting off. At 9:45 the phone woke me up - Tony was off work. Darn it, I fell asleep again! I must be sleep deprived or something (five kids - go figure). Both of the girls (#3 and #4) were asleep when I crept out of the room around 10:45pm to get on the computer and write my blog for the night.
So now, at 11:42pm, the house is quiet. Kids are all asleep, bunnies have settled in for the night, the dog is snoring, and I am ready to go to bed. For real this time.
Not much to blog about today. I got the kids up and off to the bus this morning, then went back to bed. I slept in, later than usual. Glad Tony had the day off. He made some phone calls to figure out re-filling the propane tank for our heat this winter, and got the ball rolling on that.
Today I got a response to a barter ad from someone that will be meeting Tony tomorrow on his way to work to trade six bunnies for two old cages that need some repairs. Not bad. I can repair cages. I have before anyway. As long as they're not rusted solid or have major structural issues.
I talked to my mom and she offered to take a pair of bunnies at her place again. They'd be free-range, but she provides shelter and food and water and hay and straw.
That will be eight less rabbits, which should help with the feed bill.
By this evening when I went out to feed the birds and close up the barn and the chicken coop, I was feeling sick. My headache has turned into nausea, and now I am flashing through being too cold and having the shivers, and being too warm and wanting to puke. Ugh! I don't have time to be sick!
Ibuprofen didn't help the headache, and pseudoephedrine hasn't helped either. Perhaps more sleep is what I need. I know I'm not the only one. #1 complained of feeling sick after school today, #3 said she had a bad headache and laid in bed after school, and for the last several days #4 has been falling asleep much earlier than usual.
I did peek in at Boon today and he has really changed in appearance. He has a full mane now! Our little Boon baby is a lionhead!! He's also six weeks old today, so officially available for sale.
As October comes to a close, we celebrate Halloween. A holiday where people are expected to pay for an over-priced outfit that will likely only be worn once, and encourage kids to not only approach strangers, but knock on doors and ask for candy... Often after dark. What a strange way to celebrate harvest season.
The kids had fun. We kept our expenses fairly minimal this year. For #1's Skrillex outfit, we bought black hair dye, and she wore clothes she already had and borrowed the "nerd" glasses her brother used a couple years ago when he was a nerd for Halloween. For #2 he borrowed a dress from one of his friends at school and was a prom queen (clever use of what was available - his costume was free). #3 was Little Red Riding Hood - I had a red hooded cape from several years ago, which she forgot at home, so she just used a red blanket. Another free costume! #4 was a fairy this year. She wore all pink, and borrowed the wire edged wings that have been sitting in my closet for several years. Another free costume! #5 had originally asked to be a witch, and only after we bought the hat and broom did he decide he absolutely had to be a ninja turtle. His ninja turtle costume was $15 which makes his the most expensive costume this year. Not bad. Here's to creativity! They're already thinking about how to create costumes for next year.
The bunnies in the chicken coop are looking good. Momma has them on top of about a foot of bedding inside the tote, and makes sure to bury the entry every time she leaves them. Looks like four white, two black with white markings, and one oddball - possibly a torte?
Today #5 wanted to check for eggs. He is three and sometimes he wants to do everything himself. So he checked for eggs. He found an egg in the big dog kennel in the chicken coop, and carefully leaned all the way to the back to pick it up, ever so gently, in his little mitten-covered hand. He made it all the way to the coop door, where there's a big step to get up and out of the coop before...
It slipped out of his mitten grip and hit the cement step on the way down, ending up in the dirt at his feet. He was pretty bummed out, but I told him it's just an egg, and there will probably be another one to collect tomorrow. Learning experience. Now he knows just how fragile the eggs are and (hopefully) will try to be a little more careful in the future. Perhaps slipping it into his pocket would be a better option next time.
This is the only hen that has not laid an egg for us as of yet. She was in poor condition when she arrived, missing big patches of feathers, and some of her skin was raw and open. She looked like she had road rash. Poor girl. She's looking beautiful now, so I hope she will start laying soon.
I froze my fingers today out in the bunny barn taking updated photos of almost all of the available bunnies in advance of the quarantine being lifted in two days. Then I spent the better part of today getting the website updated with those new photos. If I counted correctly, we have 28 rabbits ready to go as of the 30th, with another five that will be ready in a week.
Tonight when I went out to do chores, I was delighted to find a new litter in the chicken coop. I don't know who the mom is. The broken black was plump yesterday and digging holes, so I figured they'd be hers, but she is still plump. The fur pulled in the nest is black and white, which doesn't help at all because all three of the coop does are black and white. I did move them into the nest tote, just to keep them safe from the chickens. I don't know if their mom will continue to care for them in a new location. I hope so. I will be checking back tomorrow. They were nice and warm in their little nest, so I hope they stay warm in the more confined area with their nest.
Last night #4 and I went through the bean collection and finished up the inventory of the seed stash (minus the flowers, which are #3's project). Now I will be working on expanding the wish list. It seems that having a small wish list and an extensive seed list would make it harder for would-be seed traders to find something in their collection to trade. If the wish list were expanded, it would give people more options to offer a trade. It seems the seed list is pretty intimidating. It already spans 30 pages when I print it. But I'm a seed hoarder, and I am always on the look out for some variety I don't have already.
Day four and egg four. This time I caught Turducken shortly after as she was still sitting on it. It was warm. She wasn't broody though, so into the collection the egg went! Now we have three light brown eggs and two blue green eggs (not including the one light brown that was cracked when I found it).
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.