Donna Noble, Hazel, MoR, Cheddar, and Vanilla are currently for sale. Waldo, Dexter, Thimblenimbus, Calliope, and Kaelyn will be staying. I do plan to get back into breeding them at some point, but on a much more limited scale. I'm honestly already having second thoughts about putting Cheddar up for sale. I may end up keeping her back too. That would give me an even set of two breeding trios to work with.
It's taken me several months, but I finally updated the rabbit pages. I've been considering downsizing our rabbits for a while but I love them and don't want to get rid of them. I've slowly been working on it, and now we're down to the last ten. I've decided to put five of them up for sale and keep the last five.
Donna Noble, Hazel, MoR, Cheddar, and Vanilla are currently for sale. Waldo, Dexter, Thimblenimbus, Calliope, and Kaelyn will be staying. I do plan to get back into breeding them at some point, but on a much more limited scale. I'm honestly already having second thoughts about putting Cheddar up for sale. I may end up keeping her back too. That would give me an even set of two breeding trios to work with.
It turns out our only surviving Bourbon Red turkey is a tom. We've named him Norbit and he keeps doing his "sexy dance" for all the chickens - who are thoroughly and remarkably unimpressed. I'm hoping I can find a lady turkey for him so he's not so hopelessly lonely. If anyone in the area has turkey hens for sale - while I would definitely prefer Bourbon Red, I'd accept any heritage breed if the price was right... I'd even barter a rabbit!
Goodness, we're just over a week into December already! This year is flying by. Or maybe I think that every December.
I've been working on writing a fanfic. So far I'm about 37 pages in. I think it's good, and I've read it to the kids and they are excited for each new chapter. I mostly write while they're in school so I don't have interruptions. Weekends are a bit of a slow time for productivity.
I need to get updated photos of the rabbits and start actively trying to sell them off. It's something I've been putting off for too long. Procrastination is starting to cost me with ongoing feeding bills. The kid with rabbit allergies is starting to get stuffy with four in the house now. While Dexter didn't cause her any issues (and he lives in the kitchen), when the other three came in she started to have issues. They need to go. We're kind of liking having Dexter though. He's in a cage with an open top. The cats come and go and sometimes hang out with him. They all share a water dish (so the dogs don't slobber in it). Yesterday he was doing his happy bunny hops and dancing around, and then he'd stop and stand next to Mason (cat). Mason would reach out and put his foot on Dexter's head. Then he'd go hop and bounce again and come back to Mason. The kids lament that we didn't catch it on video to put on TikTok with the "you need to calm down - you're being too loud" audio (Taylor Swift).
Our Christmas tree isn't up yet. Am I behind schedule? There's still time I suppose. I don't have any gifts to put under it anyway, so perhaps best not to put it up yet.
The other day I was talking to the older girls about potential cosplay plans if we can afford to go to the Harry Potter convention next year (not likely, but it's fun to consider it anyway). I said I'd like to attempt to cosplay Remus Lupin, and wouldn't it be adorable if #5 could be a part of the cosplay. So I asked him if he'd like to participate. I said he could wear whatever clothes he likes, maybe we could dye his hair (temporary of course), and he'd need a "Hi! My name is..." sticker and we'd just write in Teddy Lupin. He was enthusiastic to participate but then he asked if he played Teddy, could be play a different character on another day? He's never asked to cosplay before, so I asked him who he wanted to cosplay as...
So this week Tony and I were at the store looking for ideas for #5's birthday (he'll be six). He asked "what do you think he'd like?" and I just smiled, went straight to a certain toy isle, and said "No judgement - because I cosplay male characters... he wants to cosplay Owlet from PJ Masks." and they had a mask and top for dress up. Guess who's getting his first official cosplay for his birthday? He already has the Gecko costume from a couple Halloween's ago, but this will be his first requested cosplay outside of Halloween costumes. I hope he likes it as much as I think he will.
We are one week away from Thanksgiving. Where has this year gone?
The three returned bunnies are adjusting to life in the house here. I hope to get photos of them soon, but I've been distracted with all manner of other things. They're all available if anyone is interested in an indoor bunny (or two or three). I'll even send them off with their cages, since those were returned with them. They need to go to indoor pet homes (they're not food). I will warn that two of the cages do not have trays underneath, so two of the rabbits will need more appropriate indoor cages anyway.
I wrote my first bit of "fan fiction" yesterday. I published it on a site #1 suggested, and so far (in 26 hours) it's gotten 125 views. Not bad for a first attempt at writing something in a genre I'm not at all familiar with. And no, I'm not sharing a link. I don't think that anyone on a homesteading blog would be interested in such a thing anyway. I mean, fanfics seem to have a very specific audience for the most part.
There's not a lot going on lately with the homestead. Gardens are all tucked away for the winter, it's too cold for anything to grow, the chickens have stopped laying due to the short days, and we don't breed rabbits in the winter months.
Tomorrow we are taking in three more rabbits. Two came from our colony rabbits (Lapis and Cheddar), and the other is from a different breeder. It seems that last year about this time we had rabbits returned too. I wonder what it is about this time - cold weather and upcoming holidays - that seems to make people decide to return their rabbits. Anyway, as of tomorrow when we get back home, all three of the new rabbits will be available for adoption. The sooner we can move them out the better, since I'm running out of space in the house for rabbits, and one of the kids is very allergic to them...
This past week has been spent working on my next cosplay project. I'm (slowly) learning about make up. I've been trying to do beard make up, with varying success. I mean... it's not great, but it's not absolutely awful either. I have a lot of room to improve. I'm worried that I could actually make the cosplay worse by using the beard make up at this point, so I need to practice and figure it out. I have the basic idea down, but I can't seem to get the chin and under-lip area to look right, despite consulting numerous pictures, videos, and a couple tutorials. I'm hoping we can grab a different color of make up tomorrow while we're in town to see if maybe that will help.
In the meantime, I added a few accessories and a ring light to my Christmas wish list. I'm now working on crocheting a scarf with the Gryffindor (Hogwarts) colors - since I can't afford the $40 they want for an authentic one from Universal Studios. Of course, #1 has the authentic one from our trip there many years ago, so if I totally botch mine, I can still borrow hers... I just doubt she'd borrow it to me knowing I may end up accidentally rubbing my beard make up onto it. It does smear on everything it touches.
Which brings me to a question. Having not been one to wear make up... like... almost ever... how do you make-up-wearing-folks not touch your face!? Good golly! I'm constantly itching my nose or rubbing my cheek or putting my hand under my chin or swiping hair out of my face... This whole "don't touch your face" to avoid smearing or smudging make up is frustrating. Is there a trick to it? If I'm not in front of a camera or mirror, I tend to forget I'm wearing it...
The big seed trade package came in the mail today. Yay! I went through it briefly to make sure everything was in there (as it wasn't closed properly), but I haven't had a chance to sort it all out and update the seed list yet. Maybe Wednesday when the kids are in school and Tony is at work I will have time to spread it all out on the table and get it all inventoried.
Today I learned how to put my hair in a ponytail using a pencil or crochet hook. I guess I need to learn to do the same with a wand for my next cosplay, but I need to buy my wand first. Unfortunately, the two I'm looking at are pretty expensive ($38 for one of $53 for the other). That's why they're on the Christmas list.
This past weekend has been quite the experience. We went to GalaxyCon in Minneapolis (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). We left the two little ones with relatives, the middle child stayed home to take care of the animals, and Tony and I, #1, #2, and two other teenagers went off on an adventure. My very first Con! Lovingly referred to as a Con-Virgin.
While #1 and the other two seemed most interested in running around and meeting other cosplayers and making new friends, I was more interested in the panels. Over the weekend I got to sit in panels and listen to celebrities tell stories... I got to see Alex Kingston (whom I've been a fan of since ER, but loved her in Doctor Who as well), Karen Gillan (loved her in Doctor Who and love her in Jumanji too), Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek TNG), George Takei (Mister Sulu himself), and a panel with David Tennant on live Skype chat from his home (as his wife just had a new baby). I also went to panels about gender-bending in cosplay (and learned what crossplay is). I tried to go to the panel on posing and photography for cosplay, but had a coughing fit halfway through and had to leave. #1 and I went to a panel about Lolita fashion - something I'd never heard of, but it was quite informative. I also went to a panel about how cosplay and fandoms can help with anxiety and depression. That one was pretty good too.
On day 1 and 2 I was in my OC cosplay (yet un-named, non-gendered person), and I had enough confidence by day two to actually walk around and go to a panel on my own. This is huge. As I've mentioned before, I have Asperger's and one of the side effects is that I have such severe social anxiety that I am unable to go anywhere without someone I know being with me at all times. I'm talking about not being able to excuse yourself from a room to go to the bathroom without someone walking out and back in with you. Not being able to go down another isle at the store to check something out, not being able to order food at a restaurant, and having to plan around always doing something with a chaperone - it means missing out on a lot of things because my interests and the schedule for things that interest me do not always match up with other peoples'. But on Saturday, I was confident enough with the layout of the convention center that I went to a panel alone, and walked around a bit. It was something I can't really remember doing (without a service dog anyway) since I was in school. I've gotten so used to being a closeted hermit that I've forgotten how it feels to have a taste of freedom.
Day 3 my dear daughter talked me into attempting to cosplay a known character (Hange Zoe from Attack on Titan). Problem being that I don't own the clothes the character is known for... No white pants, no yellow button up shirt, no Attack on Titan jacket or straps. So all I could do was put my hair up like that character, wear my Hange (Hanji) keychain (the only thing I bought at the convention), and hope people might take a stab in the dark at who I was. I posted videos on TikTok, Instagram, and Tubmlr while we were there, but nobody stopped to say hello. In fact, only three people spoke to me at the convention at all... one vendor to ask what I might be looking for (Hange/Hanji merchandise) on day one, one person asked me what was up the stairs while I was sitting on a set of steps (no idea) on day two, and one person asked if they could use the chair beside me on day three. I admit, I had to remind myself the entire time to keep my head up. I'm so used to staring at the floor and trying to avoid everyone, it was a whole new experience to walk around with my head up and actually look around.
I also found that the first two days when I could easily pass as being male, if I accidentally made eye contact with someone, almost always they'd look away, even before I could. Nobody seemed to feel the need to start a conversation with me because I made eye contact. Something I could never avoid when dressed as a girl. Why is this? But on the third day when I had to wear my hair in a feminine fashion, I became cripplingly insecure again. I think some answers came from the gender-bending panel. Three female cosplayers were hosting the panel, and one of them explained it quite well. She said when she dressed in a male cosplay, and her sister dressed in a female cosplay, her sister got a lot more attention, but most of it was "oh you're hot" and "can I get a picture with you?" kind of interactions. While she got less attention but the interactions she had were a lot more genuine. I think this is a huge part of why I really am only interested in cosplaying male or gender-neutral characters. And besides, let's face it - I do not have the body to pull off an attractive anime girl in any realm, and even if I tried, I don't have the bold personality needed to flash off more skin than can me seen in a Minnesota winter. I'm a prude - or so I've been told.
My dear husband is considering starting a website for our cosplay, since #1 cosplays, and #3 is starting to get into it (she just made an OC Hogwarts Professor on TikTok and has as many followers as I do already). I'm not sure how I feel about that. ... The website idea, not my daughter being more popular than me (no surprise there). I mean, who wants to see my miserable attempts at cosplay? I'm a nobody, and I don't even know how to put on make-up. My "look at me, I'm a girl" phase lasted a couple months at best in high school and I had some hand-me-down eye-shadow (one blue, one silver, both used), and two very used eyeliner pencils (black and blue, about 2 inches long each). That was the extent of my make up - and nobody ever taught me how to use it. I guessed. I mean, I suppose there's got to be makeup and cosplay tutorials on YouTube and whatnot, and if I can teach myself to crochet a scarf and turn that knowledge into making bags and purses for the kids and blankets and stuff... I should be able to get an idea of make up, but the thought terrifies me for some reason. It's expensive (make up in general), and I can't help but think that practicing and trying new things is wasteful. I feel like I'm just way too old to be starting into this. I'm in my 30's now, and I have no idea how to use make up. I'm having body image issues for the first time in my life, I have never dyed my hair, and I don't understand how people can wear a wig all day (so hot and itchy). Besides, I touch my face all the time and would inevitably smear any make up I put on. I don't know. Maybe we could get into making props or making and selling accessories or something on the side to help fund the cosplay expenses.
The convention was fun though and when I asked Tony if we could do another, perhaps one Harry Potter themed - he immediately pulled up a convention scheduled for next year in Florida. Florida? That's a heck of a drive for an amateur cosplayer. He says he's game if I can cut down on my animals so it's easier to travel and we can save up some extra money. Since I was already planning to downsize the animals, it seems like a good motivation. Perhaps I should re-read the books again and take notes on character information. I know #3 wants to cosplay Luna Lovegood. I'm currently enamored with a cosplayer who does an awesome rendition of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. I might want to gender-bend to be one of them... if I can get my body into shape. No way would either of those characters have a "mom bod." Of course, a trip to Florida would be crazy expensive. I don't think we've ever taken a family vacation. We'd have to save up... a lot. I refuse to beg for handouts, though Tony is considering a Patreon... once we figure out content.
But I digress (a lot).
Today we had a rabbit return. His name is Dexter and he is Peanut's brother (out of Kaelyn and Sushi). He's such a sweet boy. He sat in my lap most of the way home and hopped around at my feet the rest of the time. We have him in the house as he was a house rabbit in his previous home. Their landlord said no pets, so here he is. I'm secretly hoping that nobody buys him and that I can give him back when they eventually move out to a new home... but in the meantime, Dexter will be staying with us and I will casually be trying to find him a home. Of course #1 is highly allergic to rabbits, so having him in the house is not the greatest, but it'll have to work for now.
I wanted to quick tell a story from the convention. I was sitting with a group of cosplayers (for an anime I don't watch - so I was really out of place, but was there with #1). A man walked by with a young child who was in costume. The child was maybe six years old (my guess based on appearance). One of the cosplayers at the table saw them and jumped up. Running up to them she asked the man, "Can I take a picture of (child's character's name)?" and the man stopped and said yes. But she didn't take the photo. First she knelt down to get face level with this little kid and asked him, "Is it OK if I take your photo?" and that is what I love about the cosplay community. That right there. Consent. Not just from the adult, but from the child too. Thank you cosplayer, for asking that little boy if it was OK to take his photo. For giving him bodily autonomy and feeling like he has a say in what happens to him. And yes, the boy agreed and the cosplayer took his photo and then thanked him for allowing her to take a photo. A+ behavior at this convention. A great way to start my cosplay and convention experiences.
Has it really been this long since my last blog post? Goodness, I need to get back into the habit of blogging more often! Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot to blog about. I've been doing a lot, and doing nothing, all at once.
I decided that I want to sell off most of the rabbits. I had been considering it before, but now I'm on board for it. The kids want to keep a couple of their favorites as pets, but I'd like to rehome most, if not all, of the breeders. I want to keep some, but the reality is that I don't really have the time or energy anymore. It's about an hour a day to do all of the barn chores (feeding and watering everyone), and when it's -60 in February, even properly bundled, an hour is a long time to be out doing chores. We didn't do much with them this summer, production is down (again, partly because we didn't really dedicate the time to breeding them) and sales are down due to Facebook banning animal sales. I haven't processed any rabbits in nearly two years, so it's not like they're filling the freezer at this point either. So - if anyone is interested in buying some rabbits - for pets or for breeders - now's the time. Make me an offer.
I've been going through one of my weird mental phases this past week. These happen from time to time, when it's almost like a bipolar high. It can last for days or weeks. I eat less, I'm more active, I have all kinds of ideas, and more energy than usual. This time I'm inspired to change myself. I've been stuck in a rut for years - same clothes, same hair, same everything. While I don't have any money right now to go buy a new wardrobe, and the thought of going to a salon is appalling to me, I've found little ways to change. I parted my hair to the side and flipped it over - it's different but it looks nice and feels good to be a little different. Turns out that when I put it in a ponytail this way it doesn't give me the migraine headaches like I get putting it in a normal ponytail (my only hair style other than "it's brushed."). I pulled a couple of button-up shirts out of the back of the closet that I haven't worn in years and my husband asked why I was dressing up. Well, isn't it about time I wore something other than graphic tees and jeans?
We're going to a convention this month. This is something #1 really wants to go to, and we're presenting it as her birthday gift, though her birthday isn't until December. She's invited a couple of her friends, and Tony and I and #2 are all going. It's about three hours away and we will have to stay in a hotel, but tickets are bought, so here we go. My issue is that I have horrible anxiety in crowds. Terrible anxiety. Crippling. The thought of this convention terrified me. So my daughter suggested I role play. This is a convention of role players, nerds, geeks, and anime folks, so role playing would be acceptable. My problem? My only "character" is my D&D character and she's definitely not an option to role play (she's a thief who's also a merchant so she can sell what she steals). Role playing that character would be asking for trouble. So I've been forced to come up with a new character. Originally it was supposed to be just for this occasion, but really I'm feeling the love for it, so I may stick with it for other crowded scenarios in the future if this works. But oh there's a twist... such a twist...
My new character - my new extension of myself... is androgynous. Now, before anyone gets in a huff that I'm not respecting the LGBTQ+ and/or androgynous folks out there, I was androgynous growing up, but five high risk pregnancies, nursing five babies, decades of misdiagnosed and untreated mental health issues, and a chronic illness that can randomly keep me in bed for weeks to months at a time have left my body in permanent "overweight mom" mode. So I bought a binder. A tank-top style binder to smash everything down to give me a less pronounced "I've had babies" body. It's not perfect, I still have pretty obvious breasts, but my kids assure me "you just look like you have man boobs." Well, that's a start I guess.
I've also been working on losing some weight. I'm not one for an exercise routine, because I'd get bored and not want to keep up with it. So instead, I turn on some music, turn the volume up, and I dance. I dance while I wash the dishes, I dance while I pick up the living room, I dance in the kitchen until I'm good and sweaty, then I take a shower and feel better about myself. So far I'm down something like 7-pounds in the last week. You can't tell by looking at me, but I'm hoping it's just the start. I do have a weight goal that I am trying to reach before the convention. Just a personal one. I want to get back to the low weight I had just before I got sick this last time and gained everything back. And then from there I want to push hard to lose more. With a daily exercise commitment and a good diet, I should be able to get in better shape and keep it off, if I can avoid another chronic pain issue again.
I posted a potential OC cosplay character to most of my social media today (you can find it here on Instagram or here on TikTok) and asked for feedback. I don't really have much of a following, so I'm not getting much of a response. It was fun fixing my hair for it. I've been following a particularly great cosplayer and picking up little tips here and there. It's been a learning experience if nothing else. #1 is already planning for me to cosplay Hange from Attack on Titan... but I don't have any desire to wrestle into the straps or try to keep white pants clean, so I don't know how well it will go.
I finally got some photos of the new rabbit. We're still awaiting his official name, as #2 hasn't picked one out yet. He's a handsome bunny, brown eyes, pointed grey fur, and his left ear is torn (old injury). Yes, it looks like he has a dewlap, but when I tried to check gender it looked like a buck down below. Perhaps I'll have one of the kids help hold him so I can check again without so much squirming.
All of the former barn kittens got their rabies vaccinations on Friday, plus Netherquartz. He was due by Halloween anyway, and since Mercy already went off to her new home, I had a space open. Either way, they're all set now until January when the little ones are old enough to go in for spay/neuter surgery.
Ditto is set to leave on Tuesday. We will miss her. She's been a great companion and we've grown to love her.
Earlier this week I noticed the new hairless hamsters seemed to be a little lethargic, so I set up a space heater near their cage (several feet away pointed in their general direction, set to keep the area just a few degrees warmer than the room). They still looked like they could use a little more help, so I took the seed starting heat mat and put it under their cages. It's conveniently just long enough to go under both side-by-side cages and cover about half the space (so they can also lay on the other side away from the heat mat). The way the ten gallon tanks are set over the edge of the cupboard gives the under-tank heat a natural vent so things don't get too hot under there. Since then the hamsters have been active and seem happy. I've named them Carlos and Sally. Carlos prefers to sleep in the pine shavings, despite having half the tank with fabric cloth. Sally prefers to stash all of her food in her little house on the fabric side and sleep there. Sally loves to run on her wheel, while Carlos only sometimes uses his.
Ditto spends a good portion of every night sitting beside the cages watching the hamsters. I'm sure she'd love to eat them if ever she figured out how to remove the screen lids.
I re-potted several pothos and wandering jew plant cuttings today. I've got four plastic cups that I rigged up with sisal twine to hang in windows, and two larger pots. One has a mix of pothos and wandering jew, the other is just fresh cuttings of wandering jew as the plant is starting to take over the kitchen sink and needed to be cut back a bit. If the plants take well to being in soil, I do plan to sell some of the cuttings. I also took more pothos cuttings and have them in water now to get roots started. I've found the pothos roots better in water, while the wandering jew plants tend to prefer being in moist soil. I'm still trying them in water though as it's more convenient overall.
If anyone would be interested in some variegated pothos, or some wandering jew cuttings, or rooted plant starts, let me know. I'd also be happy to barter with them.
The exotic auction was yesterday. I took #2 with me. We saw all kinds of interesting critters, and a vast majority of the people there were from out of state. I only saw two other buyers there that are at the regular exotic auctions. This one was largely advertised to more exotic-type buyers and sellers, and less to the common local folks. You could tell by the types of animals brought in for sale. There was a bottle-fed Eland, a Patagonian mara, an emu, miniature cattle, an Arctic fox, several tortoises, English Angora rabbits, and of course more normal critters too.
My eye was on those hairless hamsters though. About a decade ago I was breeding hamsters for the pet store I worked at, and it was so much fun. When I learned about hairless hamsters I did a ton of research on them and wanted to get into them, but couldn't ever find any for sale. I managed to get some tricolor hamsters and was breeding some pretty interesting colors. Then I got into Satins just before the store closed down. With no pet store and no place to buy hamster cages and supplies, people stopped buying hamsters, and the market went dry. I had to sell them all.
I loved having hamsters. This is the first time in a decade since I first heard of them existing that I found hairless hamsters for sale anywhere near me. Now, you have to have a quick basic knowledge check here. The gene responsible for hairlessness is interlinked with the genetics for mammary development. This is why hairless female hamsters cannot produce milk, and thus all of their babies die. In order to breed hairless hamsters you have to cross a hairless male to a furry female, and then take a carrier female (furry but carries the hairless gene) and breed to a hairless male. The resulting litter will be half hairless and half furry that carry for hairless. All I wanted was one single male to try my hand at breeding again. Imagine my frustration when I found the hairless hamsters in the warming house... two cages, each with one male and one female. Why would they do that!?
The first cage came up and I was quickly outbid and bidding went fast. There were about five people in the crowd vying for them. The first cage sold for more than I could afford to a guy two rows ahead of us. The second cage... I knew this was my only chance. Tony had given me a spending limit (for these hamsters specifically - he thinks they're ugly) and I was pretty sure that wasn't going to cover it. I decided on the spot that I could go hungry and use the money we'd set aside for food to boost my buying power a bit. I bid and hung on for dear life. The bidding wasn't as aggressive this go round, and I managed to sneak away with a winning bid at the highest end of what I could afford.
Between the cost of gas, the seating fee, the money we did spend on food, plus the winning bid, we ended up spending over $100 to bring these babies home.
We did buy one other critter while we were there. A lop buck. Sweet looking rabbit, #2 wanted him to pair to his doe (Quince). Quince is half French Lop and part English Lop. This new guy was labeled as Mini Lop, but there's no way - he's huge. He's currently in quarantine (as all incoming rabbits go through), but we already have a cage space picked out and waiting for him in the barn once he's cleared his hold time. I have not snapped a photo of him due to the cage he came in not really allowing a clear photo and not getting him settled into a decent cage until after dark.
Back to the hamsters though. The photo above was taken in the car on the way home with them. This is the cage they were sold in. The gel and Live Animal sticker on the side indicate they came from out of state. On our way home we went the long way to stop at the pet store to pick up a female furry hamster. Much disappointment - it turns out the local Petsmart only sells male small animals... Male mice, male gerbils, male hamsters, male guinea pigs... no girls at all. When we got home, my husband got on the computer and found that the Petsmart an hour away does have female hamsters, but we were too exhausted to drive anymore.
That's all I remember before I passed out. Husband says I was in a feverish delirium all evening. I didn't eat dinner, I even turned down a cup of coffee one of the kids made for me (and I never turn down a cup of coffee). I passed out on the couch and around midnight my husband had to coax me to go up to bed, where I passed out before waking up feeling much better. These auctions take a lot out of me.
For now the hamsters are still in their little box they came in, though now they have food and water. Tomorrow I plan to dig out all of the supplies to get their permanent homes set up. They will be in glass aquariums to keep out drafts, with lids to keep out the cats. Their bedding will be fabric to avoid scratching their delicate skin, and to make cleaning that much easier. Yes, they will have to be separated. They're both young right now. The female is probably just past weaning age. I'm hoping they're not old enough to have bred yet (but yeah, they're hamsters so...). The plan is to buy a furry female the next time we have the ability and time to go the hour trip (two hours round trip) to the other store. Until then, we're just going to enjoy these two and get them used to handling. I think the little girl may be available for sale soon, since she's of no use as a breeder.
In other news, today little Mercy went off to her new home through the rescue. We will miss her, but we're glad she found a good home that will treat her well.
While continuing to clean up, organize, and research the seed collection, I did find the two missing lettuce seed varieties and most of the missing pepper varieties too. Now I'm just missing two pepper varieties. I got the tomato seed bin alphabetized again but haven't gone through it to check to see if all of the varieties are there yet. It's tedious work.
Today I finally had to give up and turn the heater on. Tonight we're supposed to get down to 34 degrees. I closed up the little greenhouse and I'm hoping the plants in there will be alright. I didn't get them transplanted in time and now I'm afraid I'll have to look after them all in the basement again over winter.
I've gone back to research the low income spay and neuter clinics (again). We do qualify by the income guidelines, but it's still expensive. There's one that has mobile clinics with limited availability. I could make a dozen trips to various places (mostly down in the cities 3 hours away) with a few cats at a time and it would cost me $770 (plus travel expenses) to get every kitten, both barn cats, and Sage fixed and microchipped. There's another one that used to do mobile clinics but now only offers them down in the cities (again, 3 hours away). They're a bit more expensive but have a lot more open space to schedule more at once. They'd cost me $1,040 (plus travel expenses) to get the same ones spayed/neutered and microchipped. If I went with our regular local vet the same services for the same animals would cost me $1,750.02 plus tax. This does not include any vaccinations.
I need to have a fundraiser to get enough to get them all spayed and neutered. Anyone want to donate toward getting ten cats spayed and neutered? The longer it takes, the more likely we are to have even more to have to deal with. I wish our community had a free clinic for spay and neuter surgeries. I think if people could get their pets fixed without the financial burden we'd have a lot less overpopulation. I've found a vast majority of people do want their pets fixed, but can't afford it, or can't take a day off work to drive hours to get to one of the clinics they could afford - which fill up so fast up north of the cities that it's almost laughable that they won't schedule more up here than one every couple of months. And even those are an hour away. Can you imagine if even half the vet clinics picked one Sunday a month to do free or reduced cost spay and neuters... how many people would happily line up? And honestly, as someone who pays for vaccinations and routine care as well, I'd be proud to support a clinic that I knew was helping to decrease the overpopulation problem by offering such a service. How very frustrating that those who could be helping choose to put their profits above what could be a great community outreach.
Perhaps I should put more time into getting all the clothing listed for sale so I could advertise all sales going toward the spay/neuter fund... I've got so much to do and I feel like I'm always picking the wrong thing to focus on. Priorities need to be straightened up. Maybe I should just put the seed collection away in it's horrible jumble of boxes, and sort them later.
I hate how everything always seems to boil down to money. Why can't we barter for veterinary services? I'd gladly trade some laying hens, some breeding rabbits, some clothing, a crocheted baby blanket, a bucket of black walnuts, some houseplant cuttings, some beefsteak tomato seeds, some handmade jewelry, or whatever else I have on hand for the services I need. Any takers?
In the meantime I am continuing to offer the kittens for adoption to approved homes with a refundable spay/neuter deposit. If I can move them into new homes and still be assured they'll get fixed when they're old enough (local veterinary clinics will only spay/neuter at 6 months and will not do any younger), then that sounds like my best alternative right now.
I'm also really considering selling out of almost all of the rabbits. Even more than I originally had planned to sell off. Like maybe just keeping 8-10 rabbits total. It sure would cut the food bill and make barn chores over winter a lot less time consuming.
If you're looking for a rabbit - check out both the rabbits (for sale) page and the breeders page, see if anyone looks interesting. Make an offer - at this point, with the exception of a few rabbits that I won't sell - a decent offer would likely be accepted.
Like I often say - the best way to make money on a homestead is to cut your expenses. My animal feed expenses are closing in on our mortgage and car payment budget - I need to downsize.
Has it really been this long since I blogged? Wow. Well, not too much to update actually. We've had a bit of a heatwave recently (a "second summer" before the cold really sets in). I had to open the house windows again to keep from baking. I do love having the windows open and the breeze through the house. With no air conditioning it gets hot in here quickly with windows all shut.
Today I worked out how to make adjustable crocheted bell collars for the kittens. Hanzo got green, Lucio got red, and Mercy has yellow. I made orange for Mei, blue for Genji, and rainbow for Tracer. They're ridiculously cute. Best part? When kittens out grow them (they are adjustable), they can be used as a toy too!
I have been slowly acclimating kittens to the house. Hanzo was the first. He came in last Saturday when they first turned eight weeks old. He's a house cat through and through. A couple days later, Lucio came in the house. It turns out he loves to snuggle and makes a great indoor cat too. Today I added Mercy and she's been purring and snuggling and playing and napping all day long. She has a loud purr too!
I have brought all of them in, but had some issues with the last three. Tracer is so scared of the dogs and the constant flow of movement through the house that in the several hours she was indoors, she never left the litter box area. She's going to need some reassurance that it's OK to be inside. She's also probably going to do best in a quieter home. Genji did well for the couple of hours he was in a few days in a row, but he always ends up in the window facing the screen porch, crying to get back to his momma and out of the house. He has learned to escape the screen porch and now runs and plays in the yard. I worry he may disappear like Tigerlily and Carbon did. Mei is a strong independent girl and she's not so interested in snuggles and cuddles and all that mushy stuff. She might need some serious work coaxing her to behave like a house cat and not an adventurer on a quest to explore lands unknown, or scale heights unclimbed. She actually reminds me a lot of how Ditto was when she first came in. It's doable, but right now I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. These babies need to start finding homes soon. Anyone want a kitten?
Today I dug up the last three garlic plants. From what I understand, the little fragrant bulb pieces where the flower expired should work as seed parts for planting. I'm going to give it a shot, because there were no bulbs around the root area. A couple tiny cloves, but no bulbs. I do have two bulbs of purple garlic from the local farmers market that I did plan to use a few cloves to plant this fall too.
I sold Wanda (Holland Lop / Jersey Wooly bunny) on Thursday. She's such a sweet girl, I'm almost sorry to see her go. I hope her new family will enjoy her. Now if I could just find homes for Waldo and Peanut.
Little #5 had his first sick day on Thursday. Poor kid was up half the night coughing and then ended up puking. He loves school so much, he hates weekends. He cries on Fridays because it means two days away from school. What a gem. I hope he learns to read soon. I'm fairly certain the ability to read will unlock the world to him. He's a clever boy, and has been all along. I think the world has big things in store for him. Once he can read, I doubt anything will slow him down.
I de-wormed every cat and kitten today (including the barn cats). Oddly enough, none of them seemed to mind.
Little Hanzo purrs a lot. He loves to snuggle. Ditto has stopped beating him up and they cuddle and nap together on the couch. I just need to train Hanzo to use the scratching post and not the couch. He also hasn't figured out how to get to the hidden food bowl yet. It's in a cupboard to keep the dogs out of it. Today I just gave him a bowl and fed him on the couch while the dogs were out for a potty break. Tomorrow I'll put him in the cupboard and let him find his own way back out so he'll better remember where the food is normally.
I separated Rhona from Snowflake and Lorna. I've been meaning to for quite some time, but just kept putting it off.
I dug up the last of the potatoes today. Not bad considering these beds were not maintained at all. No weeding, no watering, no mounding, no added dirt. Just 2-5 seed potatoes dropped in the compost-amended soil and left all summer.
The Purple Majesty variety had fewer potatoes over all because only one seed potato actually grew, but the potatoes were a lot larger than Red Thumb. There was a lot of creeping charlie in this bed, and almost no worms.
The Red Thumb potatoes were all over in the bed, but some of them are no bigger than the fingernail on my pinkie finger. I doubt they'll stay good for long. This bed was positively crawling with worms, some of them large (night crawlers?). In an additional experiment, I used tall grass I hand pulled from the yard and laid it over this bed to make a barrier. I want to see if doing this makes any difference when I go to plant next year.
I can only imagine how much bigger this harvest could have been had I maintained the potato beds this year. It's amazing the difference location and soil amendments can make!
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.
Yesterday Bacon went off to her new home. The person who wanted Wanda asked to reschedule, but hasn't gotten back to me. We're still planning to send Ginger Bear off to his new family on Saturday.
Our last baby bunnies reached their wean day today, so I moved them to the grow out pen. I'm working on scheduling a meeting for someone to possibly buy two of the three on Saturday.
I moved Waldo to his own individual cage yesterday to avoid any accidental litters. I had to move Wanda to her own cage today because she got an attitude when I put the three little ones in the grow out pen.
I'm still looking to downsize the herd if anyone is looking to buy a bunny (pet or breeder, we have both available). Now is the time! I may be changing a lot of stuff up as of next summer, so downsizing now will be good for me. Less work over the winter, and more options in the spring. The last fall auction is next month. I've asked Tony if he can take me.
This is the little doe from the youngest litter. I've named her Pilot because she reminds me of the lead singer of 21 Pilots in the Tear In My Heart music video. She's beautiful. I'll happily keep her if I can't find a buyer... though I really shouldn't, because... downsizing and all... but she's so stinkin' cute!
If anyone is looking for a kitten - Luna's litter will be ready this weekend! They are litter box trained and used to kids and dogs.
This week looks like it might be a good one. Moose, #4, and myself are already on to the itchy phase of healing (bee stings), which means they'll be better in no time! I've got two meetings lined up tomorrow to meet people to send Bacon and Wanda off to new homes. I had hoped to get something lined up for Donna and possibly Fabio too, but that person never got back to me. This Saturday Ginger Bear finally gets to go to his new home.
I got a really nice photo of Aziraphale yesterday. He's our Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben (pretty sure he's a rooster). We also have two young Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben roosters. We call them Crowley and David Tennant. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to sell them to someone who's not going to eat them. I want to keep them, but I love most of my roosters and would end up with way too many boys if I kept them all. They're all getting along well so far, but none are mature enough to be courting the ladies yet. David Tennant is gorgeous but part of the back of his crest goes backwards. Crowley would be a better option if you want to breed to standard. I'd keep Crowley and Aziraphale if I had hens to pair them to.
I also snapped a couple updated photos of Wanda and Waldo since their ears have largely gone back up again. Someone seems interested in taking Waldo next week if we can line up schedules. That would save me from having to set up another individual cage.
A couple of things happened today that made me realize that I really need to focus on alternate ways to earn income on a regular basis. The couple of dollars from RedBubble isn't paying the bills, and we are really heavily relying on my husband's job. What happens if he gets hurt and can't work? What happens if his hours get cut? What happens if something happens to our vehicle and he can't get to work (or home from work) for a while? Since the car died last month we've been on a tight budget. A big thanks to my mom who paid for the RenFest adventure for #2's birthday - otherwise we wouldn't have been able to go. I need to focus on diversifying our additional income.
I could write a book full of income diversity ideas... sell firewood, rabbit manure, rabbit pelts, rabbit feet keychains, baked or canned goods, flowers, vegetables from your garden, extra fruit from your orchard... rent out a portion of your property to photographers for wedding or graduation photos, lease a portion of your land to a hay grower, sell chicken and duck eggs or hatchlings... Sell your services - whatever you might be talented at. Knit, crochet, metalworking, blacksmithing, painting, website building, seamstress work, car repairs, cage and coop building, or writing guides. Sell stuff from the end of your driveway, or at a local farmer's market. Get into bees and honey production, or get goats and rent them out to people to help clear land. Breed rare breeds of animals, or breed angora animals and sell their wool. Offer on-farm classes, or farm-to-table dinners. Check local restaurants to see if you can sell your eggs/veggies/greens to them. And yet despite this vast well of ideas, I can't seem to make any work for us and our homestead.
With Facebook stopping animal sales, rabbit sales have become a trickle. I sold Ebony yesterday, but it's been a while since the last rabbit sale, and at $15 and $20, each rabbit sale buys one bag of feed, which lasts 3 days or so... So unless I'm selling at least two to three rabbits a week, I'm bleeding money and it's not even the cold season yet! With my ongoing health issues and my current inability to lift much, I'm going to have to make drastic cuts to our herd. I've got ads posted on Craigslist, Hoobly, and here on the rabbits page, but alas, not much luck moving them.
I had decent luck selling hatching eggs and chicks this spring, but that's seasonal and again, with Facebook cracking down, it's harder to find animal buyers. Our flock is mixed, so we don't have any purebred eggs/chicks. We tried separating the trio of French Black Copper Marans out, but as soon as we did, one of them became an egg eater. All three are going to the processing place this fall with the meat birds.
I can't rent out part of our property or have on-farm classes because of our dogs. They don't exactly enjoy company. I'm also paranoid about biosecurity, so it would be a nightmare with a free-range flock to have people coming on the property.
I need to focus on what I CAN do. I'm good at crochet. I've finished four blankets this year. I'm good at making cat toys. I'm learning how to re-purpose old clothes into purses and bags. I have an eye for photography, but I don't know how to sell my photos outside of Redbubble. I'm an expert at all things cat and dog, but again, I'm not sure how to turn that into a business model. I wrote a guide to cat behavioral issues, but I have no idea how to publish it or promote it. I could always fall back on my old stand-by of selling leftover garage sale junk online, but with the increases to postage in recent years, it's getting harder and harder to sell less valuable items (which is the bulk of my sales). On the plus side, I have a lot of inventory to move, and kids are constantly outgrowing their clothes, so it's a never-ending supply.
I think once I get in the swing of things with all the kids in school this year, perhaps I can focus on getting stuff in the Bonanza shop again. That might be a good first step anyway. It would also help me de-clutter again.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.