There's a massive black walnut tree at the very edge of the lake. It's overgrown with grapevines and various weeds, but we made a path to it, pulled out all of the dead branches, and it's a perfect little hide out. The opening to get up into it is on the lake side, and the way the tree branches out leaves the area near the roots open enough to climb in it. Another part off to the side of that is a little hideout in the branches. If it weren't for the major mosquito population, I think it would be an amazing place to sit and read. Granted you really can't see the water from there due to the dense cattails and reeds, but the water is just a few feet from the base of this enormous tree. I suspect this tree was likely there when the house was built in 1905, and is the origination point for all the dozens of other full grown black walnuts throughout the property. We now lovingly refer to it as the "Mother Walnut Tree" - and she will be loved and respected, and likely played in as well.
And speaking of bunnies, Feather and Elizabeth's litters have eyes open now (or most of them anyway). One from Caduci Mook's litter has eyes open today. I didn't check in with Snowflake's litter today, but I'm sure they're about at the same point. The kids are very excited. They get to handle the kits starting when their eyes open. #4 spent quite a while delighting over the "popcorning" her litter was doing. She's going to love playing with them all.
Since Elizabeth is a purebred Rex she asked me if any of her babies would also be rex. I had to inform her that Rex coat is a recessive genetic, and unless you have a rex buck or a rex carrier, you won't get any rex babies. Then she was convinced she needs to keep back a buck from this litter to breed back so she can have rex coated kits. I tried to explain to her the cost involved in raising a kit to adulthood for breeding, taking up cage space, and the fact that even then she'd only get half rex coats. Then I told her the average price for a purebred rex around here is $35. The smallest cage that I would allow her to keep a rabbit in is available at the local feed store for $26. Add in two bowls from the dollar store for food and water, and you've got a grand total of $63 as a bare minimum to get a new buck for her doe. Now, in her defence, just two kits will pay for that buck and new cage if she's successful in breeding them. But if she gets a young buck, she won't be set to breed until next spring or possibly later. Who's going to pay for all that food? If she can't breed them, she's not making any money, and therefore she can't afford to feed her new bunny... She's going to ask grandma and grandpa if she can do jobs for them to earn $63 so she can buy herself a Rex buck and cage. She's adorable, but we will see how dedicated she is with this. I have a sneaking suspicion that she will ask for chores and then not do them because she will lose motivation. But if she keeps up with it, perhaps we will be getting a new buck in the herd.
I have started cleaning the rocks from the turtle tank and aquaponics bed. I rinse them in a bucket with holes in the bottom, then soak them in vinegar water, before rinsing them again until they are completely free of vinegar smell. So far I've only gotten about a quarter of a five gallon bucket done. I have three five gallon buckets full to do. But hey, when we get into the new house it'll be nice to be able to set up the turtle tank and the aquaponics tank without worrying about bringing anything in from the previous uses. I will be putting the (freshly sanitized) aquaponics set up on the fish tank instead of the turtle tank. While it really helped keep Minnow's tank clean, it was kind of a waste of space because we couldn't eat what was growing (due to turtles potentially carrying salmonella which could be in the water and thus in the lettuce and other plants). Since the fish tank is pretty much chemical-free and has been for many years, it should be safe to use. It also has a very strong beneficial bacteria colony taking care of the waste, which will help convert the solid fish waste to the chemical version that is consumable by the plants as fertilizer. I'm very much looking forward to growing food indoors all year round.