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!
I took a lot of photos today, so prepare for a bunch of pictures!!!
I got some better photos of Luna's kittens (now just shy of two weeks old). The kids decided to name these kittens after Overwatch characters (a Blizzard video game). So, I'd like to introduce Mei, Tracer, Mercy, Hanzo, Genji, and Lucio... Though #5 insists that Genji is to be called "Cutie" like the mini oranges...
The blueberry plant in the side herb garden is in full production. Fortunately the short fence has managed to keep the wild turkeys out. Today I went and harvested as many as would fall off when I ran my hands gently over them. Not a bad harvest for a plant that's only about 9 inches tall!
I snapped this photo of our Bourbon Red turkey. I had wanted a trio and twice this year I bought three of them... We have this one, and one little tiny one in the brooder yet. I'm really hoping they're opposite genders and survive the winter and thrive to produce more next year. I adore this little turkey and it's so friendly. She doesn't like to be touched, but follows us around and is always looking for treats. She will drink water from my cupped hand, even if she's standing beside a water dish. Silly bird. I assume female, but I don't know for sure. The other turkey is a big white one (a production bird). The big white turkey will be our Thanksgiving meal if it survives until fall. This Bourbon Red will be more of a pet.
In rabbit news, yesterday Hazel delivered three. MooMoo has pulled a lot of fur but not had any babies, and it looks like Fern missed her breeding again.
This morning both Peanut and Rascal had escaped their cages by removing their food bins. We managed to catch Rascal, but as soon as I got Rascal back into his cage, I couldn't find Peanut. Tonight he is still on the loose. He does not appear to be in the barn anymore, so good luck to him... If he survives the night and comes back in the morning we will try to find him again.
Here is an updated photo of Wanda. She's one of Calliope's babies (half Holland Lop, half Jersey Wooly). #5 slipped her a carrot, which she seemed to appreciate.
We have so many flowers in bloom right now. I know most people would mow the lawn, or at least clear the areas around their houses. So many people complain about having to mow often. But why? I lived in a town with a mowing ordinance for too long. I want nature to flourish. We don't mow. Yes, it looks unkempt to most people, but I love it. Each summer there are more and more flowers coming in. The first year we had lilies, milkweed, black eyed Susan, and phlox. We now have creeping bellflower, purple coneflower (echinacea), scarlet beebalm, astilbe (below), ninebark, campion, Virginia waterleaf, Lily of the Valley, columbine, violets, and thistle,among others have started popping up. I plan to plant more flowers too. The bees really seem to like the astilbe plant below. They're showing up in a shady forgotten part of the yard behind a big patch of phlox. What a joy to find new things coming up. I want to feed the bees and butterflies and all the other bugs. When we start gardening more we will need these pollinators!
In a lower note, as of about 6:30 this evening, both Ditto and Carbon were playing in the yard. That's when I was out taking photos of the little kittens. We went in after that so I could email the photos of Wanda to someone. Later, around 8:30, #3 came home from a friend's house and couldn't find Carbon. I figured he was just off playing somewhere, but tonight when we went to close up the barn, he didn't come in. We found Ditto and locked her in the barn, but much searching with flashlights, calling, shaking the food bin, and wandering around the yard searching everywhere got us nowhere. Like Peanut, we're going to have to hope he stays safe overnight and comes back in the morning.
My poor animals. That makes two that are missing tonight, plus Tigerlily, who's been missing since Monday and is now assumed to be gone. I know we have bald eagles in the area, but I'm still hoping that Carbon and Peanut (and not likely, but still hoping Tigerlily) all come home safe.
I did finally get the indoor brooder back up and running. Its more like a playpen or a prison enclosure at this point since the duckling (Ping) and the gosling (Morgana) don't use a light anymore, but aren't feathered yet to go outside. Daily cleaning because water fowl are messy... but if my critters are starting to go missing (all of the outside ducklings from this year are gone, our older duck Matt is gone...), I am leery to put Morgana and Ping outside.
We went to the farmer's market today and picked up some carrots, a cucumber, some green beans, a couple of tomatoes (because something got into the greenhouse last night and ate all of mine), and a jar of strawberry jelly. I do love the farmers market. I hope they have watermelon and squash soon. I'm feeling a little miserable since I wasn't able to do a garden this year. I'm glad I didn't though because with how tied down I am right now with my tummy troubles, I wouldn't be able to maintain a large garden or deal with the produce from it. I'm barely getting through barn chores and daily routines at this point.
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.
I've been off for a while. I'm still struggling with pain levels. Yesterday I had a bout of crippling depression. Yes, I get emotionally attached to random things... inanimate objects, animals on the internet, and yes - celebrities who make me happy (they're not as common as you'd think). I suspect this is a side effect of having Asperger's. Yesterday morning one of my favorite actors passed away (Cameron Boyce) and I spent most of the day in tears. Yes, I realize it's not rational to be so distraught over a death that literally had nothing to do with me. Never met the guy, never planned to meet him, didn't know him personally, he was just a good guy that made me smile whenever I saw him on TV. Today my eyes are still swollen from ugly crying yesterday, but I do feel a little better. Emotionally anyway. My tummy and my throat still hurt today.
I recently got an account on TikTok (thatpetlady). I'm still trying to figure it out and I use it mostly for finding interesting videos, but this morning I did post a video of Amos purring.
I also recently joined Instagram. I had an account before that I never used, but when I re-downloaded the app on my phone I didn't remember my username or password... So I started a new account (that.pet.lady) and I posted a photo of Amos today.
Again, I'm not really sure what I'm doing on these new forums/platforms and I'm not sure if I will keep up with either of them.
Due to my delays in doing literally anything this past week, I didn't get the hatching incubator set up... I now have chicks hatching in the other incubator - with the egg turner still on. Yeah... So... As soon as they stop hatching and it looks like no other eggs are pipped, I'll take the chicks out to the barn brooder to join the three Dark Brahma chicks and the two other chicks from the last incubator hatch. These will be my last incubator hatched chicks for the year. There is one duck egg in there that's set to hatch next week, but I never bothered to candle or check any of these eggs... so who knows. As of last check it looks like there are five black chicks and two yellow chicks hatched and napping in there.
Tomorrow Ginger Bear and Blue Star have an appointment for their microchips. It sounds like Blue Star will be heading off to her new home on Sunday. Yay! I hope she does well off on her next adventure. The home sounds just perfect for her.
On Saturday I finally set up the sewing machine I got last year for my birthday. Part of me put it off because my mother in law was always the crafty one and the cutting board and roller tool that we presented to me at the same time kind of brought up some sadness and I just wasn't ready to take on the role yet. With a lot of help from #3 (she read the manual and got it all set up for me), I got through a couple different projects.
Project #1 - I took a shirt that was too small for #4, sewed the bottom together, cut and re-stitched part of the top, and made it into a cute little shopping bag.
Project #2 - Seeing what I did with the shirt, #3 brought me an old pair of jeans that didn't fir anymore. She just wanted the legs to make doll clothes from, so I cut the legs off, sewed the leg holes shut, and used a couple strips cut from the length of the pant leg to make a strap. Voila! Now it's a purse. I remember my mother making one when I was little - though she was never much of a crafter, I do recall her making a couple of this particular type of purse. I was much too small then to have helped, but I winged it and it turned out pretty nice.
Project #3 - Playing off the success of project #1 with the shirt, I took a dress that was too tight for #4 and I sewed the slip inside together at the bottom, then cut off the extra outer frill that hung down, leaving just enough to cover the slip. I used the part I cut off as a belt for it. Unfortunately, it doesn't look modified enough, so it literally just looks like a dress, while the other one is easier to recognize as a reusable bag. I think perhaps infant dresses would work better in the future than bigger sizes. I may end up giving this one to #4 and letting her use it for whatever. Might make an interesting overnight bag.
Project #4 - I used a scrap of pant leg in a rectangle, stuffed with scraps and a jingle bell, to make a cat toy. I gave it to the cats right away and it has already disappeared.
Project #5 - OK, so I didn't really use the sewing machine for this one, but #5 was sitting there with his Ninja Turtles figures and he asked if I could make them clothes. I took thick strips of fabric, cut a line in the middle and made little ponchos for the turtles. Some got belts to hold their ponchos and some didn't. Then #5 took a pair of scissors and cut some of them short in the front (to his liking). Still technically a project though... 100% scrap fabric from the pants!
I didn't take photos, but I'll try to remember to in the future. I kind of want to try more projects turning old clothes into bags. I took a shirt and made a pillow case a long time ago, but never found the proper stuffing to finish it. It's still in the closet. I wonder if I could find some stuffing if I stopped by a craft store...
I may have given the wrong impression, because Sunday night #5 came down the stairs (after bedtime) with the sleeve of his shirt in his hands. He'd used some scrap yarn to tie the wrist end shut and had stuffed the other sleeve (which he'd also cut off) in as stuffing and was asking for a jingle bell so he could make a cat toy too... I explained to him that we only use clothes that we can't wear anymore. Ones that are damaged or stained or otherwise not valuable enough to be passed on to someone else. We can't be cutting up the clothes we wear on a regular basis, and now he won't be able to wear one of his favorite shirts anymore... He was a little upset about that, but hey - a cat toy! Pretty awesome that he came up with the design on his own - it wasn't like the one I'd made. Way to be creative at five years old! This morning I helped him stuff it with a clean unpaired sock from the sock bag in the laundry cabinet. Ironically, the sock bag used to be a t-shirt that we made into a bag many years ago.
Looks like we're supposed to get rain tonight and tomorrow. It'll be nice to have a good storm. Might cool things down. It's been about 80-82 degrees in the house. Not bad under the ceiling fan, but it can get hot if we need to cook or work outside. Tony has assured me that tomorrow (his day off) he will muck the barn for me.
Today #3 came running in with this photo on her phone asking for an identification...
Turns out it's an Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake. Thank you DNR for the handy snake identification manual! Turns out this one was out in the yard, likely hunting for toads (its favorite food), and #5 unknowingly got too close to it. #3 saw and pulled him back as it stood upright and flattened out like a cobra. Nobody got bit or stepped on. It was a great teaching moment to explain that he (or she) is just here to find food, and that he/she was rearing up as defense (don't step on me!). They went out again to observe the snake from further away.
We got our guinea order today! Yay! Three dark brahma chicks and 15 assorted guineas. Two white, four are a pretty lavender color, and nine (presumably) normal colored ones. No DOAs! They all went straight into the barn brooder. I evicted the five large ducklings to make sure the tiny guineas don't get trampled. So far the ducklings are sticking together. This will be their first night out of the brooder. I hope they do alright. They are in the barn, but they're free-roaming in the barn - and so are the four big geese. I suppose better to learn their place in the pecking order now.
Tonight Sapphire went off to her new home. It's a good thing too. I'm out of cage space and this opened up a place to move some of the bunnies around to make everyone fit better. Celery is back into his original cage and Egg is now going to live in the cage Sapphire just vacated.
My biggest push now (aside from finding homes for the extra cats) is to get Peanut and Donna sold. They've been here waiting for homes for way longer than they aught to. They deserve good homes that will love them, or at least a farm home that can use them for breeding. Right now they're just sitting around. Anyone interested? Nice rabbits, they've got good potential. Just don't need them here.
I also need to find homes for the two remaining kittens (Ginger and Blue), their dad (Netherquartz), and Sage (the special needs sphynx kitty). And Gypsy's kittens will be ready to go in a few more weeks. They're currently leaving the nest area and exploring the barn near the nest. They haven't left the barn yet, but we still check every night when we lock the barn up to make sure all three are safely inside. I need to get updated photos. They're cute little boogers. They've been named Carbon (Carbon Copy Cat looks a lot like his momma), Ditto (she also looks like Gypsy), and Tigerlily (who has a gorgeous marbled pattern and white toes).
I've got a handful of rabbits due to have babies around July 6 and July 7. I think it may be time to pair a few more up again. If I pair them up in the morning or the evening when it's a little cooler out maybe I'll have better odds of success. I'll have to consult my notes to see who should be paired to whom. Maybe I could aim for some Rex coated kits this round.
The King Theodore Nasturtiums are blooming. Beautiful!
I've been putting off the blog for too long. It's been a rough week+ with my food and pain issues flaring up. I'm still barely functioning and on both ibuprofen and acetaminophen just to be upright, but here's a recap of the last ten days.
I finished the fairy garden out at my parents' house. I doubled the size this year and incorporated live plants. The hostas to the left were planted last year, but were not originally part of the fairy garden. The stacked pot piece in the back corner was planned out last year but we never got around to it. This year my mom picked out three little succulents from the greenhouse and I put them in the top two tiers and the front little pot, and then I filled in space in the biggest pot with smaller plants (moss roses and something else with small purple flowers). This way at the end of summer, she just has to pull the three small pots out and bring them inside to keep the succulents alive, and then next year when it's warm enough she can bring them back out and put them right back where they were.
This year we kept part of the stream theme, but this time it starts as a pool surrounded by moss under an overhanging flat rock. The kids picked out a couple new mermaid fairies to add to the one from last year. My mom picked up some more stuff for the fairy garden, so the metal solar house on the right and the pool, and the wishing well and some of the fairies are new. I love that days after I put this together it rained, the that little pool filled with water, just perfectly so that the mermaid is perched on the edge of the water. I'm hoping it will look even better as the plants get their roots in and grow a bit bigger. I love how it looks with the live plants in there; a lot more natural. I did my best to make this one of those gardens where the longer you look at it the more you see, different aspects being visible from different angles so you really have to view it from multiple angles to take it all in.
This week Gretchen had her litter. She had five but two were already gone when I found the litter. Of the three remaining kits there was one heck of a surprise. Gretchen's litter is line bred. Gretchen's mother was also her grandmother, and the father of this litter is Gretchen's son and grandson. We have been breeding mother to son, and daughter to father to produce our meat line. As a result, all offspring are Californian/New Zealand, and all are black, white, or pointed.
So how did we manage to get one harlequin patterned kit in this litter? I'm baffled. My best guess is that Rascal (the Rex/Harlequin in the cage beside Yang) somehow managed to get to her through the cage? Considering I was only away from the cages for a minute, it's hard to imagine we could possibly have the first ever "through-the-cage-bars" breeding that people talk about. I've never seen it, we've never had it happen, but I guess there's a first for everything. This is the first time we've ever gotten anything other than black, white, and pointed.
A while back we studded our Jersey Wooly bucks out to a breeder friend of ours. In exchange we were supposed to get pick of the litter. I wanted a couple of does to pair back to our bucks (Celery's daughter to Mister Cellophane, and Mister Cellophane's daughter to be paired to Celery). Both litters produces one doe each. So while we didn't really get to pick based on color or temperament, we still got what we had hoped for.
This past week, Egg came home. She is Mister Cellophane's offspring. A broken black doe born on Easter (April 21). She has the neatest ear markings. Most of her siblings were also broken black, and one was solid black. Momma was a broken black. I know the black is masking the pretty chocolate martin I know is hidden in the DNA. I'm hoping we can get some pretty colors pairing her to Celery (a broken blue?) when she's old enough.
The other doe (Celery's daughter) is also a broken black. She's out of a blue mom. She will be coming home on Sunday. She's the only survivor from her litter. I'll get photos of her as soon as I can when she comes home.
This past week we moved five animals into new homes. Cloud (now Benntlei) and Butter Beer, our sphynx cross kittens, both went off to their new homes. Three of the colony rabbit babies went off to new homes after finishing their 21 day Corid treatment.
We just have one bunny left from the colony. The kids have named her Cheddar. She's a broken red doe. She seems a little lonesome in the big cage all by herself, but at least she has a great view of the lake.
The day before yesterday we picked up a new baby gosling. We got her from the same breeder we got all four of our bigger geese from. I think we're going to name her Morgana. She's half White Chinese and half Embden, so she will be smaller than our other geese. She's also got the upper hand of being in the house. She likes to snuggle and the kids absolutely love holding her up so she can rest her head in their hair. We are assuming female (hoping she's a girl - we already have two boys and two girls). Welcome to the homestead Morgana! When she's big enough she will go out to the barn to join Josh, Ryan, Maeve, and Mavis.
In the meantime, yesterday we had two ducklings hatch. They were the two eggs we stole from Nanny's nest when the geese started laying their eggs in her nest and rolling her eggs out. Now Nanny is sitting on goose eggs (which may or may not actually be fertile), and her sole surviving eggs have both successfully hatched indoors. The two new babies are joining Morgana in the house to keep her company until they're big enough to go outside.
Yesterday the kids caught all of the adult chickens and I was able to put poultry leg bands on all of them. Turns out we have 27 chickens. I thought we had 25. Not bad for chicken math. We now have eight spring hatchlings and something like 17 freshly feathered chicks out of the brooder and running the barn (and outside when they're brave enough). We still have several more in the brooder, plus three turkeys and six duckling... plus the two ducks and gosling inside.
Today is our hatch day for our first ever meat birds. I'm not entirely sure what to expect. We will be building the new mobile pasture coop tomorrow to hold them when they arrive (likely Thursday morning).
I ordered some Peruvian potatoes online this past week. They arrived yesterday. I'm hoping we can get another potato tower set up and ready tomorrow too so I can get them in the ground right away. I also ordered some parsnip seeds. I'm wondering if a deeper potato tower with maybe three boards worth of soil could be used as a parsnip or carrot planter, rather than trying to till soil to create an area to plant. Experiment time!
As I mentioned before, my health issues are back with a vengeance, I apologize in advance for not keeping up regularly. I'm suddenly having major pain reactions to almost all of the foods I could previously eat. As of right now I can eat plain white rice, and I can eat a plain bagel from Costco with soy-free vegan butter and raw unfiltered honey. Anything else makes me have so much pain I'm non-functional for 6+ hours at a time.
I've done more research and believe I may have figured out the cause. I suspect adhesions; a complication caused by scar tissue growing out of control after an injury or surgery. I had my laparoscopic tubal surgery four years ago. The pain and food issues started three years ago. The source of the pain is very close to one of the incision scars, but further inside. I suspect scar tissue has started choking my intestines and/or bowels, which would explain why I'm in immense pain two hours after I eat just about anything. The scar tissue would be pulling nerves and restricting movement of my natural digestion. It makes sense when I compare it to my symptoms.
My problem is that I am afraid to go back to the doctor again. I went in three years ago when this all started and had pretty much every test run. I had blood work, a CT, an MRI, X-ray, ultrasound, physical therapy, consulted with my OB/GYN and a chiropractor. Nobody could give me answers. I actually had one doctor tell me to my face "there are people out there in more pain than you." When I refused the opioid pain meds he offered, he actually got mad at me and told me something along the lines of "we can't help you if you aren't willing to even take pain control" - and yet I'm sure he'd have labeled me a pill seeker had I taken them. He told me to "suck it up" and actually wrote "get more exercise" on my discharge papers, despite me telling him that exercise made the pain flare up - I had actually blacked out from pain the last time I had tried to be outside with the kids. As I left the nurse at the front sneered at me and said "Guess you didn't get what you were after, huh?" I remember that visit because I went home and I cried and I told my husband I couldn't live like this anymore. That doctor and his lack of bedside manner literally made me lose hope and want to curl up and die.
Fortunately drastic diet changes and strict adherence to a regiment of Bean-O, Lactaid, and over the counter pain meds (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, menstrual pills, etc) as well as a lot of trial and error on what I can and cannot safely eat, kept it in check for a while. Earlier this year it started to come back. I tried cutting out soy, but some products containing soy didn't cause issues, and some did. I came to realize I could eat Costco cheese pizza with two Lactaid pills, though any other product containing even a bit of milk would send me into a twelve hour pain cycle that would shrug off pain meds and leave me in such pain I'd be vomiting up the pain medicine. It started to dawn on me that I may not be dealing with food intolerance issues after all. I started taking probiotics, which helped a little at first, but now don't seem to be making any difference at all.
I went back to my primary doctor in February or March and explained all of this to her. She didn't take me seriously at all. She came up with the dumbest explanations. She told me "as we get older our bodies change and we can't eat like we used to" - yeah, I get that - but I don't see anyone else living off of rice and bagels because if they so much as taste something else they'll be on the floor in agony for hours... I want another doctor, but how many doctors will I have to see before someone listens to me and gets to the bottom of this? They don't seem to understand - I don't want pain meds. I want a permanent solution. I want to know what is causing my problem and I want it corrected. Not just slap a Bandaid over it and call it good. No, I don't want Vicadin or whatever else. I know the levels of ibuprofen and acetaminophen I'm on will damage my liver... that's why I want answers.
So here I am, hungry all the time, not losing any weight despite the fact that I'm literally on a rice and bagel diet, on constant pain meds and still not really functional... and I'm afraid to make an appointment because it's just one more co-pay, one more bill I'll have to pay, one more financial burden - and the odds are stacked against me. I don't have any faith in my "care team" anymore. I feel like nobody listens, nobody cares, they just want to give me some BS to get me out of their office.
My body is hurting, there's something wrong, and until I can get answers, I'm afraid I'm going to end up making things worse while I wait for someone to realize that I have a legitimate issue. How long can I survive on rice and bagels before I start to suffer the effects of malnutrition? How many doctor visits, scans, blood work, and additional bills will it take before someone actually listens to me? I'm afraid I'm going to get a lot sicker and worse off before I get the help I need, and I'm afraid if it goes on too long I could have serious, possibly permanent issues. I mean, adhesions can cause complete bowel blockages. You can literally die from this, and nobody will take me seriously.
So for now, I am doing my best to see the positives. I'm taking my sore and hungry self and being as active as I can. I'm still going to visit my parents. I'm still hanging out with the kids. I'm still managing to trudge through barn chores (though I need several hours after to recoup and wait for doubled up pain meds to take effect again). I'm finding positives to hold on to every day. New babies on the homestead, critters finding new homes, birds visiting the feeder, getting small things accomplished.
Recently #5 got a little watch from a Subway kids meal. He's been obsessively checking and announcing the time since. The problem is that he doesn't fully understand the clock, so he will read it literally. "Hey! It's one one colon three five!" - Yes, it's 11:35 dear. Adorable.
I got the barn chores done, watered the plants, and mixed up some medicated water for the colony rabbits for tomorrow before heading out. I took all three dogs and we (#5, #2, and I) are over at my parents' house taking care of their dogs and watching the house for the weekend.
Before I left, I happened to look out the window and saw a tiny baby duck in the big plastic kiddie pool. Phyllis, one of our rouen duck hens, has successfully hatched a single duckling. The poor baby was stuck in the pool and couldn't get out. Rather than just picking it up and letting it out, I put an upside-down terra cotta pot in, but the way the pool edge and the pot are both narrower at the bottom, it ended up too far from the edge. So I brought some little bricks over and stacked them between the pot and the edge of the pool. Baby duck could get up on the bricks, but wasn't making the jump from bricks to edge. So I added more water to the pool. Sure enough, when the bricks were just above the water level, then little duck made the leap and escaped the pool.
I let the kids know to keep an eye on the pool to make sure if the little one gets back in there it can get out. I'd hate to have the little baby drown in the kiddie pool when it hatched on a bog out in the lake and had to swim to get to the yard to jump in the pool.
I also noticed today that Psy-duck (an unrelated rouen cross drake from another group) was missing most of the webbing between two of his toes on his left foot. It looks fully healed, but I suspect turtles may be to blame. Just yesterday #3 and I were watching several turtle heads poke up in the water as we planted the raspberry plant. Now I'm a little worried. A turtle big enough to remove all the webbing between the toes of an adult duck may be big enough to take out a little duckling. Good luck Phyllis! She seems to be a good momma so far. She stayed near the pool and kept talking to her baby until it was able to get out. She even went back into the pool a couple of times to try to show the duckling how to get out. It was adorable, but a little sad. I didn't want to stress her out but she was patient with me as I built up space for her baby to get out.
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.
Well, we had a bit of an expected surprise on the homestead today. One of our two barn kitties has been rather round lately, and we anticipated kittens at some point, but we never saw a male around, so we didn't know when exactly she'd grace us with babies. Today is the day! This evening while refilling brooder food and water in the barn, I noticed Gypsy snuggled up in one of the nesting boxes. This is not completely unusual, but I figured I'd go take a closer look anyway. Sure enough, one little dark mini-Gypsy. Not identical to Gypsy - this kitten is darker, and has white feet and pink paw pads. Gypsy is lighter, solid tabby, no white, and her paw pads are black. She's not done yet - she's still round and I can still feel little kicks and kitten karate going on in there. I think she will have five, and #3 is guessing the same. I guess we will have to wait and see.
We're a little concerned about the chickens attacking and killing the kittens if and when Gypsy leaves the nest box. We've all seen the videos online of hens brooding over kittens or puppies or piglets. I'd like to think our hens would be kind, but the reality is that they are free-range birds and it would not surprise me at all if they catch, kill, and eat mice or other small furry things. Short of forcing Gypsy indoors (which nobody would be pleased with, most of all Gypsy), I don't have an alternative. It's warmer in the barn than in the screen porch, which is the only outdoor area the chickens cannot get to.
In the last two days we've lost three turkey poults (two bourbon reds and one broad breasted bronze), and one Easter Egger pullet. I'm not sure what's going on. They're literally being raised in the same conditions as the chicks we got from the same hatchery two weeks before. I'm going to attempt to put the older chicks out into the brooder in the barn this weekend. We should be having highs in the 60's and lows n the 40's, which is up from 50's and 30's respectively that we've been seeing lately. Still too cold for little chicks, but these ones are starting to have full feathers - or at least on their wings. They need more space than the small indoor brooder can provide, and with two heat sources outside. it does seem to keep the brooder right around 70-80 degrees (during the day when I was checking anyway). It's going to be a bit of a gamble. I think I'll start with just the biggest chicks and see how they do first.
This week #5 had his kindergarten screening. He's excited to go to school this fall and keeps asking "how many more days until I can go to school?" I hope he's still as excited when he has to get up at 6am and has a whole new set of rules he will need to follow while there. This fall will be the first time ever that I will be home alone without a child during school. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also anxious about it. I'm sure I'll end up blogging about it, so I guess, stay tuned!
I continue to escalate with my pain levels every time I eat. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat or what supplements or probiotics or digestive aids I take. Some foods are far worse than others, but now there are no safe foods that I can eat without pain. Despite being on a rather restrictive diet, I'm not shedding pounds like I'd expected. My insurance, unfortunately, has such a high deductible that there's no help for me at this point. Tony is trying to get us back on MA for a while so I can get this addressed, since we otherwise cannot afford it. I hate falling back to needing help, but I'm glad it's there when we need it for temporary coverage.
My suspicion is that my surgery four years ago caused some scar tissue to attach part of my intestines (which have no pain nerves) to the inner wall of my lower belly where the incision was. In this manner, whenever I digest food, the motion of the intestine pulls on the tissues inside my belly, which is causing the pain. I have no idea how I'd go about proving this, and it's unlikely they'd ever admit that's what it is for fear of admitting guilt or opening themselves up to a lawsuit. Of course, I'm not interested in wrongdoing or lawsuits - I just want it fixed so I can lead a normal life again.
As of bedtime, still just the one kitten. I think it's a girl. Still more kittens in her belly, so maybe by morning we will have more. I'm not sure what to do with barn kittens. This is a foreign concept to me, as these are our first barn cats and we figured with no males around this wouldn't be an issue... Guess we learned otherwise. #3 is hoping for a little ginger (orange) kitten, but I'm not sure how that would work from a genetics standpoint unless the father is also an orange cat. Whatever they turn up looking like, I'm just hoping we can find them all homes in a timely manner.
Lady Mo died today. She was one of the Dutch / Lionhead does in the colony. It was #5 who found her, it must have been just minutes after she died because she was still warm. She died beside the nest of younger bunnies. I don't know if they are hers or not, but if they are I sincerely hope one of the other moms will care for them now. They're too young to be without momma. I did a home necropsy to try to figure out what happened. Aside from a fatty lump on her tummy, everything else looked good. I've never seen mastitis in a doe before, and the lump was near a teat, so I am left guessing that might be what it was. I've seen infections before, but this was not like those. No gross stuff, no bad smell. I looked u causes of mastitis and it included having a rough surface as a potential issue. I wonder if it has to do with the cement wall they run along, or if if may have to do with them digging their nest tunnel under the chicken wire in the yard. Since the colony does are pretty much hands-off, it's hard to be able to detect these issues in advance. She was a little more aloof than usual yesterday when I sat at the food bowl to observe the babies, but she usually won't come to the bowl if I'm that close anyway.
On the plus side, #5 got a bit of an anatomy lesson, so there was at least some small value in her passing.
The young litter includes a broken chocolate bunny. I was hoping to keep it back if it's a girl, but now I worry if it will survive at all if Lady Mo was their mom.
I took a nice photo of Sage's sneer today. She's the most loving kitty and she wants nothing more than to be petted and loved on. She loves having her ears and the back of her head rubbed. I'm not sure if it's a tooth issue or a side effect of her sinus issue, but she has this sneer most of the time. It's like she's biting art of her lip, and it makes her look grumpy and judgmental, but she's not at all. Here she is sitting next to Amos. Goodness, he's almost as big as she is already! She's small and he's going to be a lot bigger I think.
Tomorrow is Tony's early day and then he has the weekend off. I'm hoping we can get some projects done. First and foremost the brooder in the barn needs to be set up because the brooders in the living room get stinky even when I clean them out every other day. I still need to get the tube feeder installed into the chicken coop we bought for the French Black Copper Marans breeding group. I need to fix Yang's cage because he pulled the feeder off and now it's wide open - so he's staying in a temporary cage until I can get it fixed. I need to refill the bird feeders again, and one of the kittens has outgrown his collar so I need to get him a new collar and put his bell onto the new collar.
The hatching incubator needed to be cleaned out but one of the duck eggs had piped, so rather than clean it out, I just took the towel out (it's there to catch all the gross stuff to make the actual incubator easier to clean), and put in some new towels and put all of this week's remaining eggs back in. Fingers crossed to the late bloomer duck egg. There are 19 eggs in there now that were set for hatching next week, including several duck eggs.
I have a hatchery box coming next week. Hatch date is the 15th. I need at least one duck to hatch here because I ordered a single ancona duckling (they're expensive) and need it to have a brooder-mate. This box will also have Easter egger pullets, Buff Orpington pullets, our sexed Salmon Faverolle breeding group (1 cockerel, 3 pullets), and turkeys. Our first turkeys! This is a hatchery we have not used before, but if these babies come healthy and grow true to type, I'll definitely use them again because they are actually cheaper bird-for-bird than the hatchery we used last year and this year due to their free shipping.
We are also anticipating baby bunnies next week. Crossing our fingers for some nice healthy babies.
We have two chicks hatched in the incubator today. One black chick from the Columbian Wyandotte egg (clearly Doodle's chick - making this one a Columbian Wyandotte / French Black Copper Marans cross), and one Easter Egger (adorable thing with grey and brown chipmunk stripes and a beard). I'm not sure where I'm going to put them. Guess I better get that figured out fast! I already have two full brooders in the living room and will be setting up a third for the chicks coming next week.
I keep telling myself I just have to get through this week. As of Sunday the forecast shows no more below freezing nights. I want to go get the barn brooder set up and get some thermometers out there to see if it can stay warm with lows in the 40's.
Yesterday we got the new big rabbit cage cleaned out, and today #3 caught the three spare does from the colony. Another little bunny was dead in the colony today. I had no choice but to separate them out. Now Rose, Clara, and Sapphire are in the big grow-out pen for a while. Usually I'd say thirty days for their hold period, but as #3 noted, all three are quite plump and aren't missing a lot of fur, which would indicate they're all likely pregnant and have not had a litter recently. We put a nest box in and put up some feed bags as wind breaks. I'm hoping we won't have to wait too long for some babies, and from there we can start the six week countdown to finding new homes for all of them.
This evening, #5 (age 5) asked me for simple addition math problems. Now, he counted his fingers to solve the problems, but he was so excited every time he figured it out. It took him just three days to memorize the alphabet once we told him he'd need to know it for Kindergarten. He is so excited for school. Now if we could just get him to identify more letters, I think he'd be set for school this fall! Good thing we have all summer to work on it.
As I head to bed tonight we have several pipped eggs in the hatching incubator, including the Columbian Wyandotte egg from the hen that went broody over a single egg in the barn loft (we didn't realize when we took the egg because she was kind of nonchalant, only realizing after the fact that the egg already had veins, so we popped it in the incubator with the other eggs for the same hatch day).
I planted my asparagus crowns into buckets because they were starting to grow in the bag from the store, and I'm still not 100% certain where I want to plant them permanently. They need loamy or sandy soil, and most of our soil is clay, so I have to choose carefully.
The strawberries I transplanted are already rotting. They had some mold on them when I opened the package, but now they're continuing to mold in the soil cups. I did my best to remove the moldy soil around the edges of the crowns and moved all 25 cups down to the indoor garden under the lights until it's warm enough to put them outside.
It looks like tomorrow night may be the last below freezing (dare I hope?). It won't be soon enough for me to get these baby chicks out into the brooder. The house is starting to smell like brooder even though I'm cleaning them out often. I could tell that I struck a nerve when I mentioned needing to set up a third brooder for the box coming next week...
The box next week should have three bourbon red turkey poults, two random broad breasted turkey poults, three buff orpington pullets, three salmon Faverolle pullets, one salmon Faverolle cockerel, one ancona duckling, and three Easter egger pullets. This will be from a company we have not used before, so we're trying them out.
I found plans online for a mobile rabbit tractor that I think I could modify a little to make it a mobile chicken coop too. I wonder if Tony would get the lumber and fencing materials and help me build about half a dozen of them. I'd love to have more of the rabbits out in tractors this year. They seem to enjoy being able to forage, and it keeps the grass down. The only down sides are moving them every day (good exercise though), and feeding and watering when it's raining out. They certainly save on rabbit feed throughout the warm months though.
If I could build some for chickens too, I could separate a few more breeds out for purebred egg and chick production. I've got a set of Salmon Faverolles coming, and I could always pair off some of my other hens and find suitable roosters. It would also give me more options for size than buying a commercial chicken coop. Probably cost me less too!
I set a total of 14 eggs into the incubator today for hatch in three and four weeks (I set both chicken and duck eggs). Included in this batch, one egg from Betty White (our Polish cross hen), two eggs collected from the French Black Copper Marans pen, one egg from the Black Cochin, three blue duck eggs, and the biggest duck egg I've seen yet (or maybe it's a very small goose egg?).
Last week #2 made a cement stepping stone with bits of glass for decoration. It was really pretty, and when he came home with it he handed it to #5... who then dropped it. Today I attempted to reassemble it in the garden where #5 asked for it to be placed. I managed to break it worse when I put a little pressure on it to try to level it out. Regardless, our little side garden now has its first stepping stone.
I got a nice photo of the two Brown Leghorn hens in the barn tonight. They were roosting side by side, which almost never happens. On the left is Comby (pronounced KOAM-ee, due to her large comb that flops over), and on the right is ... well, I guess technically we call her "Not Comby" right now. I suppose she needs a name of her own. I'm open to suggestions.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.