Today Moose found another hole the pocket gopher dug under the American Basswood tree in the front yard. He enjoyed digging for several minutes.
Mattie went back to her home tonight after dinner. She hasn't been the greatest house guest, but it sounds like we're still on to dog-sit again next week. She bit #4 this morning, and peed on the carpet yesterday. We are not used to having a senior dog in the house, and between the dog being pretty much deaf and my kids being active and often fast-moving, it's just not the best combination. Next weekend I will try to have the younger kids kept busy to avoid any potential issues.
Today Moose found another hole the pocket gopher dug under the American Basswood tree in the front yard. He enjoyed digging for several minutes.
The four litters that were all born within a couple days of each other will all be ready to go by the end of this week. Wow! Time flies! These babies have grown up so fast! I snapped a new photo of #4 holding Octavius, the wavy-coated runt out of Feather's litter.
I've finally figured out how to put my cellular data onto the computer so I can use the internet to properly edit the website. I will be updating it as I have time.
We are watching Tony's dad's dog this weekend. Her name is Mattie and she's a senior miniature Australian shepherd. She's a little naughty after dark, when she gets into any garbage or food she can find, but otherwise she's a pretty quiet girl. Her age is catching up to her and she sometimes struggles with the two steps up to the door, and I suspect she is pretty much deaf as well. She kicks her feet out as she walks, an indicator that her vision may be failing her too. She certainly doesn't like Moose and she growls at him if he wanders into her vacinity, even if it's unintentional. We get to watch Mattie this weekend and then again next weekend.
This morning we still had five kits in Penelope's nest box, but I could tell the tiny one was struggling. This evening the littlest one had passed and there are now four babies in the nest box, including one more particularly small kit. It looks like one of the kits is harlequin marked. The others are yet to be easily identified.
I didn't have a lot of time to go treasure hunting but in the three holes I dug I found the goodies below. One nail, a thing you'd use to secure a pipe to a wall, a flat square with a round hole in the center, and a small railroad tie thing.
We now have most of the kitchen and living room unpacked, the furniture in, books on the book shelf, and all of the smaller kitchen appliances in and ready to use.
Rabbits got fresh hay from one of the bales in the front fields today. It's so beautiful out here. I snapped a photo of my view from the hay bale I was pulling hay from.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day, so I took advantage of the sunny day by hanging the laundry out to dry. Turns out I need a different kind of line because this one stretches to the point the laundry is literally touching the ground. After I pulled the dry laundry off, the line continued to sag.
Moose had a blast chasing down his frisbee today. He's thoroughly exhausted tonight. A tired dog is a good dog.
I staked two sagging tomato plants in preparation for the next couple days of rain. It'll be the first rain that I won't have to worry about my rabbits getting tarped up. Yay for finally having an enclosed bunny barn!!
It feels so good to wake up in paradise. This morning when I came down stairs, I found two kids eating cereal in the entry way, perched on stools, peering out the window.
What was so interesting on this, our very first morning on the homestead? Sandhill cranes. A family of four Sandhill cranes, casually walking through the field that will become the orchard. They're quite noisy, but it's fun to have wildlife right outside your door to admire.
They did fly away when we started to empty the UHaul and Moose went to check the bunnies in the Quonset, which seems to have been too close for their comfort (despite a good distance and a row of black walnut trees and tall grass between them). Moose didn't even seem to notice the giant birds.
They did return a few hours later and Tony was able to take this photo of them crossing the driveway.
I did see some birds coming to the seed feeders today as well, including a trio of medium sized song birds. Two brown and one with a purple head. They seemed to be together, so I'm guessing purple head is a male. I need to get a bird identification book for Minnesota species to help me figure out who is visiting our feeders.
Today I took the metal detector out for a few minutes while I waited for Tony to be ready to go return the UHaul. I found the metal part of a shotgun shell, a handle, and a piece of a hinge. Might not look like much, but it's sure neat to find old stuff that people have lost or forgotten about.
When we returned the UHaul we filled the van with more stuff from the old house. I managed to fit Penelope in the big hutch, Elizabeth and all of her babies, Feather and all of her babies, and little Neelix in the back of the minivan. We also brought some hanging plants, the clothes pins for the clothesline, the computer, the tv, the crock pot, the boys' pile of clothes (that got missed yesterday), and a few odds and ends. We stopped a couple places to pick up some food to make meals the next couple of days, and some parts to get the stove, washer, and dryer connected. The kids got a few minutes to play on their bikes while I re-arranged and then fed and watered the rabbits. Then we enjoyed the setting sun over the lake.
We will be going back to Brainerd tomorrow to go to the fair. I'm hoping we can do a little more running and bring more bunnies home. I still have two hutches and six more cages with rabbits that still need to get moved out to the new house. I have three travel cages, so the two in hutches and the one with the biggest cage could go in travel cages in the vehicle if we could get my Mom to pull the trailer to haul the empty cages. Then we'd just have two bigger cages and three smaller cages to fit in (obviously you can't haul the rabbits in the trailer, and with only three travel cages, the other bunnies will have to be in their cages inside the vehicle). I just want all my critters in one place and safe. We did the running back and forth to feed and water while we were stuck in a hotel... but now we are a 40 minute drive away. Tony has this weekend off, but goes back to work on Monday. We still have to move furniture around, and get the last critters to the new house. Then we can sit back, relax, and enjoy the new house... for a while anyway before the garden projects and repairs start.
I'm looking forward to all of it. I love my new home. It's absolutely perfect for me. The rest of the family is still adjusting to the new homestead life, but I think this will be a wonderful place for them as well.
It's Moose's birthday today! He's two years old now. Happy birthday Moose!
I was up early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I decided to go do bunny chores. I got everyone watered, then I went to check on the back garden and the plants in buckets. When I came back around the bunny barn there was a commotion at the end of the barn just underneath the tarp at the end. I peeked around the corner to find the latest stray bunny, struggling to balance on the edge wall piece beside Hodor's cage. It was quick and easy to reach out and grab the bunny. Quick gender check (no surprise, it's another black buck) and I put him into one of my bigger travel cages. Gave him some hay and water, set him up with some old feed bags as a roof and sides in case it rains, and carried on with my outside chores. I have been calling him "Little Black" since I wasn't sure if he was a buck or a doe until I caught him today.
Little Black has been hanging around for a while now. It seems that in the absence of Loosey (the previous stray black rabbit that plagued our rabbits), he took to eating the food under the cages and using the bunny barn to hide from storms. Being a responsible person, I've put ads out to try to find his owner, but I am pretty safe betting that he was abandoned and nobody is looking for him. At the very least, Moose won't chase him through the neighborhood anymore. I'm not sure what we will do with him. I don't need another buck, much less a small one of unknown breed. Hopefully I can find him a home when no owner comes forward.
Miss Elsa continues to escalate with her aggression. I have to poke a stick through the opposite side of the cage to distract her (she likes to chew on it, I don't use it to poke or harass her) to reach in long enough to put her food in. Even then sometimes it takes several minutes and multiple attempts. She is in a cage with bars smaller than the other cages to prevent anyone from sticking fingers in and getting them bit off (because at this point, I wouldn't trust Elsa not to chomp fingers clean off in her rage). She is also housed away from most of the other bunnies. Don't get me wrong, I do like Elsa. She was a sweetheart for a while, and I remember fondly the face rubs and snuggles we shared. But she arrived here as a rescue due to her aggression, and it's become obvious that she can't handle change, so finding her a new home is out of the question. Unfortunately, she is also not safe to keep. Miss Elsa will be heading to "freezer camp" as my fellow homesteaders call it. I just have to work up to it. She will be the first bunny I've had to slaughter that we have named and loved and kept for any significant amount of time. In the meantime, I will continue to walk a tightrope to make sure she has food and water every day, that she has fresh hay, and that she is comfortable in her pen. As other fellow homesteaders also say - the life of an animal should be all happy, with just one bad day. I'm sad to think that Elsa's one bad day will be coming all too soon. I owe it to her to give her a swift end after giving her a good life. I hope she remembers those cuddles and face rubs too.
Miss Elizabeth is adjusting to the new housing well. All nine of her kits are doing well. Feather's eight are keeping up their growth. Even that little runt, though a little thin, is still doing well. Today all three of Caduci Mook's kits were out of the nest box and hobbling around the cage. They are absolutely adorable. I wish I'd snapped a photo of them, but they don't tend to hold still unless I'm holding them, and then it's harder to get a group photo. Looks like there are two bucks and a doe, or possibly three bucks. It's difficult to determine on the broken brown kit.
It's hard to believe that Fern and Alice's kits will be ready to go in just six more days. They really do grow up fast. Mittens is completely healed up and unless you're looking for his bad feet, you wouldn't noticed his missing toes just watching him hop around. He does remain the runt of his litter though.
I also snapped a new photo of Jensen. He's four months old already. I'm surprised he hasn't found a home yet. Now he's practically old enough to be a breeder. Like I said before though, I don't need another buck right now. He's a sweet boy though.
We are hoping to make another run out to the house tomorrow. My parents, being the awesome supportive people they are, are buying new mattresses for all of the kids when we move. Largely because of the lingering odor from the septic back-up. We will be swapping beds around due to the room constraints, so new mattresses will be a welcome comfort in the new house.
The bunk beds currently in the boys' room will be going into the room for #1 and #3. The bunk beds in the girls' room will be split up and one will become #4's bed, and the other will be #2's bed. Then my parents are hoping to find a trundle bed for #5 that can slide under #2's new bed to save room in a small space. If they can't find one, I'm kind of hoping maybe my dad will just build one... because how cool would that be to have a hand-crafted bed from Grandpa??
Tony has this weekend off, so hopefully we can get a lot done.
We are hoping to put up bird feeders, bird houses, and bat houses at the new house to attract birds and bats that may cut down on the insect population. Being on the lake means a lot of mosquitoes, and horseflies. If we can remember to bring a couple screws and the drill, maybe we can hang up the bat house that I got for Christmas and already brought over to the new house. It says 10-15 feet up on a South facing building or tree. I think we're going to put it up either in a tree or behind the garage. I think the plan is to buy more as we have the ability so we can have several.
Maybe we can remember to bring the bird feeders and shepherd hooks along, pick up some seed on the way, and set up the bird feeders to start attracting birds before we even move in. Maybe a slinky too. Despite not seeing any squirrels on our visits, I'm sure food will attract unwanted hungry friends.
I also have to figure out what I'm going to do about the rodent problem at the new house. I've found mouse nests in both out-buildings, and the house has Irish Spring soap stuffed in funny places. I can't have mice infesting my bunny barn. So do I invest in a trio of barn cats that may eventually cause problems when I decide to get ducks or chickens? Or do I get some chickens - that I'm told will catch and eat mice - despite not having a proper set up for them and not wanting them to eat my garden? Though cats might poop in my garden - making my organic soil into a nasty mess. I also have to keep in mind that both cats and chickens are likely to kill any rabbit kits that somehow find themselves on the wrong side of the wire. I wonder how other homestead folks deal with mice. I know you can get a terrier dog, but I'm sure that's a bad idea when it comes down to keeping other small livestock (rabbits, chickens, ducks, etc.). Any ideas? Send me an email and let me know how you take care of mouse problems in your barns! I'm sure Mabel will make quick work of any that venture into the house. She's a wonderful mouser. But she is also strictly an indoor only cat.
I was looking at Elizabeth's litter this afternoon and discovered something a little strange. A kit with a heart on it's face. While this is adorable and kind of unique, what seems really strange to me is that Elizabeth had a litter last year with a different buck (the father of the buck she was paired to this time), and had one kit with a heart on his face as well. How very interesting!
I got a few more plants moved into buckets today before I ran out of dirt again. This is becoming a fairly expensive project in soil and bucket costs. Hopefully with a little manure added every year I can re-use this soil for a while. It will be a small miracle if these plants produce anything this year. This late start is really a problem. Hopefully we can get through this meager winter on rice and sandwiches, and next year we can get our garden started a lot earlier! It will also give me more time to get more five gallon buckets and wean out the 2-3 gallon buckets - or use them for herbs and such. Tomatoes, peppers, okra, and eggplant really should be in a five gallon bucket though.
Moose is loving being able to get up on the bed. He was never allowed up on the bed before, but now when Tony is off at work, I often let him up onto the bed when the kids and I are watching something on Netflix, or if tony works an early shift and I'm still in bed after he leaves.
We are now officially on the lookout for a couple of barn cats to keep the mice out of the bunny barn. If anyone knows of any bar cats in the Brainerd, Pillager, Motley, or Staples areas... We are looking for two spayed female cats, proven mousers, for permanent outdoor living. Cats will have access to the bunny barn and will be provided with food and water daily, as well as vet care as needed (provided they aren't completely feral). I'd prefer a calico or two - but can't be terribly picky, since they're going to be out in the bunny barn anyway.
I'm also on the look-out for a canoe or paddle-boat, 5-gallon buckets, bird feeders, bird houses, and bat houses if anyone has some they'd like to donate or barter for (we have rabbits to trade).
We ran out to the new house today to check for storm damage. Nothing noteworthy, but it gave us an excuse to go back there again. We brought a few more things along, I put up the wooden butterfly wind chimes, and the kids explored the property.
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.
We also saw some birds on the lake, but they were too far away to identify. It looked like a family group, and I know there's a breeding pair of swans in the area. Perhaps these were them?
And now that Moose has discovered the water, and splashed around in it, #5 is begging us to somehow buy a boat. I don't think she understands just how expensive boats are. If anyone has a canoe or paddleboat that is "seaworthy" and won't sink - we're interested in barter to get one! We don't have much of value to trade, but hopefully someone out there might have one they don't particularly want anymore. We have plenty of bunnies we could trade for...
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 had to share photos with a plant identification group on Facebook to get an ID on this plant, but it looks like they are Siberian Pea Shrubs, growing in an untidy thicket-row at the back corner of the house. Apparently the bean-shaped seed pods are edible when cooked, as are the dry beans, again cooked like dried beans of regular variety. It is considered a survival food. A wonderful addition to our homestead!
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.
Today was definitely one for the records I think. This morning we were up and out the door before most of the kids were awake to go to a final walk-through at the new house. It really was lovely. We got there before the real estate agent, and as we hopped out of the car to go look around, Tony locked the keys in the car. Well darn! And of course, this is the one time I wore a skirt to look nice for the closing, so I had no pockets - and thus had left my set of keys in my pants pockets back at our current home.
The walk-through went well. I am so happy to see that not only did they mow, but they also baled it all up, so now there are three huge round bales of hay on the property... Something that, if kept properly, could feed our bunnies all winter. of course they had no way of knowing what a blessing this would be to us. The holes in the upstairs ceiling and wall have been repaired, the roof patched, and the house cleaned out. I walked around the yard and found some interesting plants that I will have to identify. The flowers over the cistern look like they're getting ready to bloom.
Tony tried unsuccessfully to use a wire hanger to unlock the door. When we were out of time to get to the closing, the real estate agent took us in her car. Not only did she get us to the signing within the time we needed to be there, she took my set of keys (after having stopped by for us to grab them on the way) and proceeded to drive 40 minutes back to the house with a family member who then used my keys to unlock the car and drive it back again! Fortunately the vehicle was returned a the very end of signing because it also had my photo ID and the check for the down payment on the house!
The sellers were in another room, and they asked to meet us in person. They were very nice folks, and we are grateful for them sticking through the long delays along the way to let us buy this property. A couple of them gave us email contact so we can ask questions about the property if need-be. I would love to hear all of their stories about the house... but I don't want to sound weird by asking. I'm so excited that they are also happy with our plans for gardens and birdfeeders and wildlife enjoyment. And the kicker of it all? Their mom (the lady who owned the house before) didn't drive either. So she and I are really a lot alike. I think I'd have liked her quite well had we met. Unfortunately she passed away after suffering from dementia. A horrible disease to be sure. I'm glad we can honor her memory with gardens and bird feeders in the yard again.
So today we signed on a house. We bought a house. We now have a home. We are officially homeowners! Let the homesteading begin!
We got home from the signing, changed clothes, and gathered up some stuff, packed up the kids, ran some errands, and headed out to the new house. It was the most amazing feeling. It felt like coming home after being away for a long time. Everything was just perfect. The kids spent hours running through the yard, the fields, exploring the outbuildings and the house, climbing trees, and playing a couple of yard games we brought along.
Miss #4 brought along the flowers she got for her birthday and left them there. They will be the first flowers for the new gardens. Since we won't be sure when we will be returning until we make our official move the first week in August, we're not moving the rest of the garden plants, or the animals until we're completely moved in so they don't miss out on daily care.
We took some mental notes of things that we needed to repair or replace, things we needed to remember to bring next time we go out. Soap, hand towels, garbage bags, and such. We remembered the toilet paper this time at least.
We already called to have the electricity put in our name - as of tomorrow the bill is ours. Tony looked it up and it looks like we should be eligible for internet out there. We will call later to ask about cost to install it. We need to figure out who does garbage services out there, and we're going to need a mail box.
Eventually my parents joined us with dinner and cake, and we celebrated together for a while. When we were all thoroughly tired and ready for a good nap, we (reluctantly) left home to go home... What a strange concept.
It was sunset when we left, and it was beautiful, shooting pink and purple across the western sky. This place really is a dream. Yes, it needs elbow grease, and some updates, but it's home. I am feeling so completely blessed today. My kids are happy, my dog is happy (oh boy he was running and running and running... he was so happy to be free to run), I am happy.
Wading through the next three weeks until we can officially move out there permanently is going to be difficult. But I hope that today's fun evening is incentive to the kids to get their stuff packed up all that much sooner. I think Tony is planning to make a few trips out there before the big move to haul some boxes and stuff out little by little on his early off days or days off.
Today we left the two bird houses, the bat house, and the yard games. I think we're planning another trip out on Sunday to drop off whatever the kids and I can pack up between now and then.
But for now, it's been a long day, and I am exhausted. I'm off to bed. A happy camper, with my mind full of all the ideas I have for gardens and orchards, beehives and birdfeeders, butterfly watering stations and bat houses, I'm sure to be quite busy in the weeks to come!
The kids and I slept in today, while Tony worked a morning shift. It was a nice relaxing morning. Little #5 came and crawled into my bed at some point after Tony went to work and joined Moose and I in sleeping in a bit longer. Morning snuggles are the best.
When Tony got home we ran errands. We bought milk, picked up a couple of turtles we had been hoping to adopt for my brother's dog, and ran out to my parents' house to deliver and set up said turtles. My parents have been turtle-sitting Minnow since shortly after our basement flooded back in April, and noticed that my brother's dog would spend an inordinate amount of time just sitting there watching our turtle.
So when I found an ad from someone getting rid of a couple of turtles, I asked my mom if she would be interested in adopting them for Mitzu. She thought that would be a fantastic idea.
So after getting all the stuff set up, the filter assembled, the substrate sanitized, the water into the tank, and the turtles settled in... Mitzu seems pretty pleased with his new
Moose loves going out to my parents' house because they have so much more space than our little home in town. He gets to run and play with the other dogs in the big fenced in area. It'll be so nice when we move and he can run free every day without worrying about neighbors leash laws. He's going to be a happy dog.
In other news, Mittens is now completely healed up. His feet are fully recovered, skin is healed, no more open spots or scabs, and his fur is starting to grow over his damaged toes so at some point you might not even realize there's anything wrong at all. Yay!
I also talked to a really nice guy who will be coming out on Saturday with his wife to look at Fern's litter to pick a bunny. Of course they aren't weaned yet, so they can't leave just yet, but they can get an idea of temperament and put one on hold for when they are weaned. I don't usually have people out to the house - it goes against everything I know... but with us moving in the very near future, I think it's alright.
We are set to sign on the dotted line tomorrow morning. From there we will be getting glasses for a couple of the kids, and then heading out to the new house to replace locks and spend the day getting to know our new home. We won't officially be moving in just yet, but soon. It's going to be a bit of a process, especially with so many things that need to be moved, but we'll get it done. Soon... So soon!
Tony ended up having today off, which was refreshing after a 68 hour work week (yikes!!). He has an interview set for Monday for a promotion from first assistant manager to manager of a different department.
Today we took the K and L litters out (separately) to the grassy fenced in kennel to get an idea of temperament and personality. I learned a lot!
The L litter was first, and while I was pretty confident that Lucien was friendly (and he is), and I knew the black does were shy, I did not anticipate the drama involved when I took the first one out. She kicked violently, tearing at both of my hands, she flailed and twisted and flopped. And then she started to scream. If you've never heard a rabbit scream, let me inform you. They typically only scream when they're being killed (when an owl or fox or something grabs them). It sounds something like a woman screaming, or (in the case of this young doe) like a little girl screaming. And it's loud. I'm pretty sure my neighbors were getting ready to call the police. It didn't help at all that the flailing and kicking (and screaming) got Moose into a frenzy and he wanted to eat that bunny and kept charging forward to try to nose-bump it as I was trying to re-adjust my grip to avoid her claws and settle her down. I managed to get her to the grass kennel, but not without getting some painful scratches on both of my arms.
I brought the rest of the litter one by one from their normal cage to the kennel with much less fanfare. Upon entering the enclosure with the litter, Lucien greeted me at the door and sniffed my shoes before hopping off to nibble grass. Lilith (the screamer) started racing around the cage, bouncing over her siblings, kicking them, dominance thumping her feet, and charging. She started them panicking, which made the kids afraid to sit down in the kennel to play with the other bunnies. So Tony came in and sat facing the corner Lilith was in, and attempted to pet her and calm her down, and yes, I said "attempting" because Lilith is a monster. She hunkered down and stopped charging as long as he kept his hand on her, but the instant he lifted his hand she'd shoot out from under it and start springboarding off of her siblings, through the water bowl, and eventually face-first into the kennel panel before he herded her back to his corner. While Tony distracted Lilith, the rest of the kids all climbed in the kennel and had a great time playing with Linda, Lorelei, and Lucien. Linda and Lorelei look very similar (though #3 insists they're slightly different colored - one being "more black" than the other which is "more brown"). Lorelei has white hairs on her front left foot, while Linda does not. Fortunately there's no mistaking Lilith as she's got agouti patterning over her entire back. Since she's definitely not pet quality, and no responsible breeder will want a temperament like that in their bloodlines, it looks like Lilith will be doomed to be a meat rabbit. Lucien on the other hand is a model bunny, friendly and sweet. Little #5 (three years old) picked him up at one point, unassisted, and carried him to the other side of the kennel to sit down with him. Within several minutes the kids were arguing over who got to play with Lucien because he was clearly the nicest. Not to discredit Linda and Lorelei. They're a little shy, and they did kick just a little when I first picked them up, but they calmed down immediately when I held them close and put their faces under my arm. They'd be good pets with a little more work, but right now they'd also be good for future breeding if anyone is interested.
After the L litter was put back in their cage (I had Tony move Lilith and he had no problem at all moving her from the kennel back to her normal cage), I took out the K litter.
No surprises here, they are wonderful little bunnies. Temperaments couldn't be any better. They're curious, outgoing, and happy to come and check up out as we sat in the grass with them. They were taking turns running and kicking their little bunny heels up. They scampered and played, nibbled on grass, and really seemed to enjoy having the space to stretch their legs.
I took the opportunity to clean out their cage. I guess all the hay I've been giving them lately created a block in their potty corner allowing it to start building up. Yuck! So I took care of that right away. I'd have noticed it sooner if we did rabbit chores in the light more often. Poor bunnies were starting to get stained yellow. That's no good. Hopefully they'll groom themselves and be back to their beautiful white coats (for Kin, Kai, and Kaelyn anyway) within the next few days.
I did change the spelling of Kaelyn's name (previously Kaylynn). She's such a pretty bunny.
There were more strawberries in the garden today. They smell so sweet, but the texture is not appetising at all, and if you don't eat them immediately, they turn to mush.
We got the turtle filter replaced today too. I can hardly wait until we can get Minnow back into her big 55-gallon tank and out of this little tote bin she's been living in. I'm fairly certain she feels the same.
We also got our laundry done today. My mom was prepared with a list of jobs she needed done. Much to her surprise, between the kids and I and my mom we got them all done within an hour. She figured it would take a couple days to get to all of it. Brush moved, lawn mowed, bird bath removed, fountain set up and running, plants moved off the deck and watered, and the dishwasher unloaded (clean dishes put away). Kids were still asking for tasks, so Tony had #2 clean out our vehicle. Nice!
It's wonderful to leave the hotel. It's literally a breath of fresh air.
It's been a rough day. The kids have been at each other literally since they woke up (still fighting in the next room as I type this up). This is not like them to have meltdowns days long with no end... This hotel is not conducive to a healthy family. Everyone's nerves are frayed and nobody is sleeping well. All night long all we hear is doors slamming up and down the hallway, and you can hear everyone who walks by as clearly as if they were in the room with you.
This morning I killed 31 ants in the bathroom (yes, I counted). I have no idea where they're coming from or what is attracting them. We've been really good about keeping the (tiny) room clean. I have to assume this is not an isolated infestation. I don't want to tell the hotel about it for fear they will put down ant poison - and with Moose staying with us I don't want to take risks with his safety. Ironic timing, since just yesterday I was counting a lack of bug infestation as a blessing...
Nobody has come to look at or correct the broken light/fan in the girls' room. The girls continue to have to bathe in our bathroom and use the toilet with their bathroom door open. I am not impressed. This hotel is stripping away our dignity bit by bit.
Tony ended up working over three hours past his scheduled time, which put me in a bad mood having to deal with kids alone stuck in a hotel with no idea when backup was coming. We eventually made it out to my parents' house for dinner. Steak, corn on the cob, and pasta salad. Usually this would be very exciting, but my mind is still seeming to be stuck in a dark place since the hotel swap. I find myself irritable, stressed out, and having great difficulty "resetting" my mood.
I shucked the corn, then brought some of the husk out to put out for my parents' tame bunnies. They have two that run loose in their yard - Loosey (our former stray) and Coleson (one of our babies from last year that stayed at the resort last summer and was used to being free-range). While I was at the back of their yard, I noticed my dad's hops plants were looking a little smothered out by tall grass. So I hand pulled a lot of the grass away from the various plants. Then I went over to the area where our three beloved dogs are buried to see the foxglove flowers that were blooming. I pulled the tall grass out by the handful, and took some sticks out of the area. Then I wandered down to the side yard and looked at the wild patch of daylilies, some of them have buds starting to form - they should flower this year. I made a circle back up to the house, checking on the blueberry bushes (no flowers) and the apple trees (forming apples) along the way.
When I got back into the house I decided to clean out Minnow's little tank. Once I got it all cleaned out and refilled, the filter wouldn't work. I tried all the tricks I could - unplugging, filling it with water, giving it a couple minutes... It turns on, and it makes grinding noises so I know the spinning part is loose, but it won't push the water up and out of the filter. Tomorrow we will be heading to the store to buy a new filter. At least it's fairly affordable. This filter lasted something like seven years, so I guess it's not surprising it finally died. Tony thinks he can fix it if he can open up the motor, so maybe he can repair it and we can keep it as a backup in case the new one ever fails.
After dinner we took the remaining corn husks, and the watermelon rinds and headed to the house to do bunny chores in the dark. Alice still has four kits. I didn't check on Fern's litter, but she's been great so far so I assume they're all good. All the bunnies enjoyed the snacks. I love the sound of lots of bunnies munching on fresh crisp fruit and veggie treats.
Tony and I discussed options for the rabbits and the future of our breeding operation. Since we've been stuck in a hotel, admittedly I have not been pushing as hard to sell the bunnies, and we've made just one sale so far. With more litters coming up, we really need to start moving rabbits. Tony suggested dropping the price. He thinks we can still break even on feed bills if we sell enough bunnies at $20 each instead of $25 or $30. So as of tomorrow all of my ads will reflect the new pricing. All bunnies will be $20 each to try to move them out.
WARNING - THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS HOMESTEADING STATEMENTS THAT PET-RABBIT OWNERS MAY DISAGREE WITH OR FIND ALARMING!! Any bunnies still here after 16 weeks will become pelt and food. It's a hard reality, but it is what it is. The point of raising these mutt rabbits has always been to put food in our freezer and I have been failing on that end. I hate the idea of taking a life, especially one I brought into this world, named, nurtured, and came to love. But as a meat-eating family, I will take solice in knowing that our rabbits will be well cared for, loved, and live a good life with sunshine and fresh fruits and veggies and gentle handling, and will end with a swift fear-free death. Humane food. Our rabbits will live a much happier existence, even if it's short, than the animals that provide the meat you buy in the grocery store. I know it's not a popular topic - but it's part of homesteading. In Minnesota we simply do not have enough gardening time in the short summers to grow enough food to last us all year long on a vegetarian diet, especially not in a small house with very limited storage space. We can only can, pickle, dehydrate, and shelf-store so much produce. Besides, rabbit stew is delicious.
And to clarify, when we sell a rabbit, we have a return guarantee. If you can't keep your bunny for any reason, we will take it back, no explanation needed. Rabbits being returned will be rehomed unless their temperament or health makes them a danger to themselves, their handler, or the animals around them. I wouldn't want to eat someone's pet, and since that's where most of our babies go, I want people to know that returning your pet is not a death sentence. Returned rabbits will be rehomed if at all possible (and I'm pretty stubborn about trying - just look at crabby Elsa).
Today was 30 days since we submitted the application for the easement to the railroad for the driveway of the new house. They said "it could take up to 30 days" but that they would "try to get it expedited to get it through in a week or two." Well, 30 days has come and gone now. I asked the real estate agent today to check in and see what's up. She assured me she had been checking in regularly and was also frustrated. She said she'd email the seller's agent and the closing people to see if anyone knew what was going on and get back to me. She's usually really good about keeping us updated, so the fact that I didn't hear back from her today tells me that she didn't hear anything back either. So for now we are dreaming of a new home, but have absolutely no timeline at all. I'm very afraid that if we file for yet another extension the sellers will grow bored and kick our offer out and move on to try to find someone who can make the sale close faster. I think everyone involved is likely frustrated at this point with the amount of delays and lack of communication on the one paper we're still awaiting. Seriously, come on railroad company! Please, just sign the application so we can move out of this hotel and start our garden and get some fresh air already!
Tomorrow Tony has to go in and work (on his scheduled day off) for a few hours. He swears he will be out on time, but after this week of long days stretching hours past his scheduled time, I'm not holding my breath. When he makes it back we have to pick up a new turtle filter and then go do laundry at my parents' house. It'll be really nice to be able to wash our own laundry in our own home again some day. Sometimes it's the oddest things we miss the most... like being able to wash laundry.
Day four at this hotel and still no housekeeping. To be fair, I did have the Do Not Disturb door thing on yesterday so we could sleep in. But we haven't heard from any housekeeping staff since the first day when someone went to the girls' room, changed out their garbage, and said she'd tell the office about the broken light/fan in their bathroom. Nobody has picked up or brought more towels, nobody has been by to make beds or change sheets, no vacuuming, the garbages in our (adjoining) room has not been taken out at all. We went out and bought garbage bags, and now I understand why there are always bags of trash by the back door... because apparently there's no housekeeping here. And the girls still have no light or fan in their bathroom, which means they have to shower and use the toilet either in our room or with their door wide open.
I try to remain positive. I try to find the positive in every situation. At least we have a roof over our heads, a place to sleep with locks on the doors, and a bathroom with hot water to shower. We have a microwave and a tiny mini fridge, and the grocery store is right there so we can buy food as we need it. This hotel is going to be good practice for the new house. Since we've pared down what we brought, there's really only one functional bathroom, and very little room outside of sitting in your own bed to play or do anything. There's no internet (unless I use my phone as a hotspot) for the computer - spotty internet for the phones, but we do have a functional Roku - so apparently the TV does have an internet connection. There's a positive.
In the meantime, #5 has decided that hiding in the closet is a great pastime. Yesterday the kids made an air fort by putting the sheet over the air conditioning fan and stacking pillows around the edges of the sheet on the bed.
Tony's boss is on vacation this week, which means he's managing his department all week. Long hours keep him away for 12+ hours a day with no day off this week. It's only Monday and we're both exhausted. Him from working and me from wrangling kids. This will get better once we've moved. There's no outlet here for their pent up energy. No pool, no playset, no park, and the yard is littered with dog poop and random broken off metal poles. While we pick up after Moose and the kids learn about responsibility, it appears that being in a "pet friendly" hotel also means that other people don't take responsibility of their pets and it makes it unsanitary for the kids to play in the grass.
We've had a little catastrophe with the baby bunnies. Alice has decided that her nest box is also her litter box. She has urinated all over her babies, who are now covered in dried urine and are struggling to stay warm. One spotted and one dark kit have already died.
I stuffed the other part of Alice's cage with fresh hay and moved her eight remaining kits into the fresh hay. I'm hoping they'll pull through. Normally I'd take them inside and wash them up, but the house still has no hot water, and attempting to rinse them off in cold water would only do more damage. Clean bedding in a new location in the cage is the best I can provide for them right now.
Fern is taking good care of her litter. All nine look happy and healthy. So much so that I decided to give the runt from Alice's litter a chance. The runt is a spotted kit, so caked in urine that it blends in with Fern's litter. It's already cold to the point that it doesn't really want to move much. I'm hoping the warmth of the rest of the litter will help this little one. Twice I re-checked and the foster kit had been pushed off to the side. I kept putting it back in the center of the nest. I honestly don't hold out much hope for that one, but I figured it would have better odds in an overcrowded litter with a good mom than in a fresh nest full of stinking urine-caked siblings and a mom who doesn't understand not to pee on her own babies.
And in another cage we've got an anomaly. Miss Elsa is building an epic nest to rival all others. Her fur and hay nest takes up the entire corner of her cage! The problem is that Elsa hasn't been bred. She has had a big cage to herself since she lost her last litter several months ago. Her son is in the cage next door but he's a good 2-3 inches and two cage walls apart from her. I'll keep an eye on her and see if she surprises us, but really, I don't think she could be pregnant. Maybe she's just weird.
The purple Siberian irises are in full bloom now, and the one plant is just exploding with flowers!
I picked nine more strawberries from the garden tonight. They're still grainy but they smell pretty good. I think maybe if I watered them daily they might be better, but for right now I don't have that ability.
I feel like a broken record adding this, but - No news on either house.
It's been a long day. Turns out there really isn't any internet here at the new hotel. I'm trying to post this via a phone app.
A friend of mine informed me that this hotel is where the police bring the drinks and druggies to "sober up" when they're not bad enough to be admitted to the hospital. It's where vagrants, homeless, and drifters are brought to get them out of areas where people have complained. It's a common dumping point for the worst of our society. Our neighbors here are likely drug addicts, child molesters, and potentially violent people. I have been warned not to let the kids out of the room unattended. No more letting the kids take the dog out to go potty or running down to the lobby to get an extra fork.
The mini fridge was set too cold and we didn't know it. This morning all of my home grown lettuce and the kids' yogurts were frozen.
Today I took the kids (and Moose) to the grocery store. It is within walking distance. We bought more than I had intended, but we stuck to the list. The total was a lot higher than I was anticipating but is likely in line with the cost of feeding our big family for about a week. Tony has always. Even the one to deal with finances, so I'm not sure.
Our real estate agent called today. Still no word from the railroad company (it's been 23 days since we filed paperwork and we were told it "could take up to 30 days"). She was OK-ing another extension. This one to the end of the month. We are really hoping to get this done and over with. It's exhausting to live in a hotel for this long with five kids and a dog.
Today was absolutely crazy - but in a mostly good way.
We had breakfast at the hotel for the last time, then packed up our belongings, and checked out. We spent eight weeks plus one day there. It really was starting to feel like home in a weird way.
We went back to our house to do rabbit chores and to re-evaluate the stuff we took out of the hotel. We seem to have accumulated a lot of extra stuff we don't need. We had coats and jackets, boots, and end of school stuff, papers and receipts, and all kinds of other random tidbits. We took three trolleys full of stuff out of the hotel (we certainly didn't come with that much - it barely fit in the car with all of us in there). Heading to the new hotel each child had their clothes plus one 18" duffel bag of extras to keep it to a minimum. The car ride was much more comfortable.
I found someone needing to find a home for a Flemish buck today. Since we have two Flemish cross does (Alice and Charlotte), I figured the price was right. We went and picked up James today.
We are pretty happy to get a Flemish buck. He's a sweetheart, loves to check everything out, great with the kids. He doesn't seem at all interested in greens (grass, clover, dandelions, etc.). He's also not fond of being picked up, but he's fantastic when all of his feet are on the ground.
Upon returning with James, I did my daily headcount for the bunnies. Alice was still grumpy, but now displayed a line up of wiggly kits, all born on the wire. I grabbed one of the plastic tote nest boxes and filled it with the straw and fur she'd left in her built-in nesting area, and then added the kits. She seemed upset that I was handling them, but let me get them situated (her cage door open so she could see what I was doing), and return them quickly. Her built-in nesting area is narrower than the tote box, so now it's taking up her entire cage space on the other side of the nest area. She just lays in the front of the cage with her butt in the built-in nesting area and her head in the area with the new nest box. She has five spotted and five dark kits. This is her second litter, but her first was born too early in the season and didn't survive. We're hoping she's a good mom... She's certainly behaving like one so far.
Our herd had grown by ten and I was thrilled. I don't know how Alice managed to keep them all happy and warm on the wire, but they all appear in good condition.
We took several hours at the house going through hotel stuff, paring down what we'd be taking to the new hotel, feeding and watering all of the rabbits, playing with James in the outdoor kennel, checking on the plants. The Siberian irises are finally blooming for the first time. They're beautiful.
After a while, Tony took the four youngest kids to Costco to pick up some dog food, price check glasses, and grab some hot dogs and brats for lunch. #1 and I stayed home. Costco was busy today and it took them longer than anticipated. I went back around to refill bunny waters when I discovered that Fern had delivered her litter while we'd been busy in the yard going through hotel stuff!
Fern's litter is nine strong. Lots of little harlequin babies anticipated in there, but I didn't really get a good look. There's one with gorgeous markings. I'm looking forward to seeing how that one turns out.
We went to the new hotel and got checked in. The rooms are a lot smaller, the bathrooms seem impossibly tiny, but at least the rooms are adjoining this time! We are right next to the grocery store and a nice locally owned diner, so hopefully things will work out for the best. No pool, but it's pet friendly, which means Moose will seem less out of the ordinary. He will continue to wear his vest and accompany me everywhere, but at the end of the day when the vest comes off, now he can jump up and sleep at the foot of the bed (on top of the cover of course - not on the sheets).
Once we checked in we headed out to my parents' house to do laundry before returning to "the new hotel" (as #5 calls it) to get settled in for bed. It took the kids an hour to finally settle in and stop disagreeing over who sleeps where. These rooms have two beds each, which means two of the girls will need to share a bed. The previous hotel had a hide-a-bed so they each had their own space. There is no couch in either room. Honestly there'd be no space to put one.
So by the end of the day, we moved to a new temporary home, washed our clothes, stopped to smell the flowers, and expanded our rabbit herd by twenty!
We had a lovely fish fry tonight at my parents' house. I believe it's fish they caught while they were out on vacation at their friend's cabin a few weeks back. It was pretty good. And it gave me an excuse to have tartar sauce, which I never seem to have on hand when we have fish at home.
Moose got to test out his Service Dog etiquette when we had lunch at a local diner. When we were done two of the waitstaff looked at each other and said "Hey, there was a dog in here?" and even Tony looked at Moose when we got outside and said "I forgot you brought him with." - Yes, that's how it's supposed to be! Good job Moose!
Bunnies got fed and watered, plants were checked on, and we had our first official harvests of the year.
We got seven strawberries out of the strawberry patch. They smelled delicious, but as always, the first strawberries of the year always end up mealy. The next batch should taste much better.
And I finally got around to harvesting some of the lush carpet of lettuce from the front raised bed. First salad of the year was colorful and tasty. We ended up with enough to fill three gallon baggies. We left one at my parents' house for them, and brought two more home - and didn't even make a dent in the overabundance of our garden. I noticed today after #1 mowed the front yard that we have lettuce growing in the lawn now too. That's cool by me. I'd love a lettuce lawn! Eat it, don't mow it!
And the irises are blooming!!!!
The root beer irises are always my favorite to smell. They genuinely smell just like root beer. I've never seen (or smelled) such a thing in nature before. I love them!
And when it comes to eye candy, the Rare Treat irises are second to none. They're absolutely gorgeous with their purple edge ruffles.
We're anticipating two more litters of bunnies this week. Fern and Alice are both looking rather round. They both lost their last litters due to the cold. I'm hoping they do better now that it's warm out.
We managed to get back to the hotel with enough time for the kids to have 30 minutes at the pool before it closed. It's a fun way to make them all take showers.
And now I'm off to wash some laundry at the hotel laundry room ($1 to wash and $1 to dry) because my pants got jelly all over them from lunch and they're my only pair of pants (except my pajama pants), so I've got to get them clean and wearable so I can take Moose out to potty in the morning!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.