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.
Today #4 decided she would like to mow the grass. We have plenty of yard to mow, and it hadn't rained yet, so I showed her how to push the mower. It's one of the no motors kind (no gas, no exhaust, go green).
While she was busy with the mower (always within sight) I checked the little container garden space. We got two tomatoes and two peppers today.
Later, while walking around the yard, I found a wooly bear caterpillar (I'm sure that's not the official name, but it's what we've always called them). Usually they have black ends with a brown stripe in the center, but this little one was almost all brown.
The bunny barn was full of surprises today, but none of them pleasant. First I found two dead kits born on the wire in Charlotte's cage. She wasn't due until the 11th and I had provided her with a nest box and hay last night, but she didn't use it. There was some fur pulled in the nest box but she still didn't seem interested in it.
Before I left the barn, I noticed a pile of dirt near the edge of the wall. When I leaned down to fill it in, I noticed a small movement. A mouse! But he wasn't doing well. He didn't run away, he just huddled there. I bumped him with my phone and he made no effort to protect himself at all. I picked him up by the tail and took him out of the barn. I released him out in the long grass at the edge of the yard. I can only assume he will die soon, either from whatever is wrong with him, or a predator will finish him off. I will have to email the previous owners to ask if they put out poison or something.
Later in the afternoon when I returned to the bunny barn after Tony got home with more rabbit food, I found another kit, this one on the ground and still moving, but cold. I picked it up and started warming it in my hands. I looked around for several minutes and found another kit under Charlotte's cage, also cold but moving. There's a hole in the back of her cage opposite the nest box and it seems both kits fell out. The two older girls set to warming them up, but they just didn't look quite right. #1 likened them to "a bag of bones" and when she handed me the now-warmed kit she said "I don't want to touch it, I'm afraid just touching it will rip it in half." I think they're clearly too early, but we do what we can to help our animals. Now warmed, I added pine bedding to the nest and lined it with the fur Charlotte had pulled. I covered the babies with the extra clumps Charlotte had added since my first nest box check. We wished them well and then went off to have dinner with my mom. Unfortunately, when we returned, both kits had died in the nest box. Clearly they were just too early to survive.
Charlotte's last litter also had to be warmed up when they were born scattered around the nest box, but all five survived after the rough start (the K litter).
Penelope is due on the 11th and she has collected hay and started to pull some fur. She is very round currently, but no babies yet for her.
Tony woke the kids up before he left for work. It's about time we started transitioning to earlier mornings so school isn't such a shock. It was nice to all have breakfast together.
I got most of the kitchen stuff unpacked and put away, swapped the kitchen lights for energy efficient LED bulbs, and cleaned out most of my dresser drawers so #3 could have them for what is now her dresser.
While doing bunny chores I came across a Prairie Skink. He (or she) froze in the walkway. I admired the little reptile for a couple minutes, took a photo, and then shooed the friendly insect eater off to the side so I wouldn't accidentally step on him. He's beneficial, he will help keep insect populations down in the bunny barn, and eats spiders too!
I did a half-assed attempt at a mini Back-To-Eden style border garden. I only had half a bag of soil, so it's not as deep as I wanted it to be, and the bunnies haven't been here long enough to produce any significant amount of fertilizer, but I tried. #4 and I planted Garden Sweet Burpless Hybrid cucumbers, Snowbird snowpeas, Provider bush beans, and Black Beauty zucchini. I have no idea if this garden will grow or not or if the plants will have enough time to actually produce this year.
Then I planted the sad shriveled horseradish roots we bought this spring. I have no idea if they will grow or not. I hope so, but if not I can buy more next spring now that I actually have a place to plant them.
When I finally finished all of my chores, I put the corned beef into the crock pot and headed out with the metal detector again.
Another screwdriver, a couple nails, two railroad bolts, a four leaf clover, two pennies, a dime, a ketchup wrapper (seriously, it's metal), a bent pipe, some kind of oil container, part of a big spoon, the metal part of a lightbulb... Reminder friends! Sometimes treasure hunting can be hazardous! That light bulb had broken shards of glass all over in the dirt.
I dug up a lot of junk today too. I don't keep the wadded up aluminum pieces. The look like the mangled remains of pie tins. Beyond those, I also found some plastic and glass while digging metal up. Here's the "junk" pile from today.
I called it a night when the sun started to set.
Tony didn't get home until after dark. He bought a new screen door. I lovingly refer to this particular variety as a "bang door." You may remember the style from just about every old show ever. The wood and screen door on a spring that bangs closed when you walk out. It's an absolute must for an authentic farmhouse.
To y also stopped at the old house to pick up some of the plants. If he brings a few home every day we will soon have our garden moved! We now have peppers and tomatoes, squash, an eggplant, and chamomile on the homestead. Today's harvest included three red tomatoes (from the 100's tomato), and one purple tomato from the Indigo F1 tomato plant.
Somewhere down the road a skunk must have been hit by a car, and our little homestead was just the wrong way downwind. Tony said he could smell it down the road, though we had thought maybe a skunk had sprayed somewhere in the yard. It was pretty strong.
All is well tonight on the homestead. It was a busy but productive day. It's going to feel great going to bed after a long day of projects.
A brief metal detector outing this morning yielded small results. Two little bullet casings, three nails, and a random piece of metal. The bullet casings were pretty deep. Since we are on a waterfowl refuge, I wonder what someone was shooting at.
The little purple-headed bird came back to the seed feeder this evening. Again in a trio with two plain brown birds (his mate and this years offspring perhaps). This time they were joined by what looked like a thirteen lined ground squirrel (striped pocket gopher). The two brown birds are at the feeder and the gopher nibbled spilled seeds on the ground. Then the purple headed bird came to the feeder and started picking up seeds and dropping them to the gopher below! What a cheeky little thing! I guess we are feeding wildlife that pays it forward by feeding other wildlife.
This evening while everyone else ran back to Brainerd for a shopping trip, #5 and I went out with the metal detector again. We found a piece of pipe, a long hooked flat piece, a metal cap with words on it, and a screwdriver with a broken handle. He ran off with the first two calling them his "treasures" so I wasn't able to get photos of them.
Tonight we are washing our first load of laundry at the new house. Yay for small milestones. Tony goes back to work tomorrow. It's been great having him at home this past week. Now we will have to adjust to longer travel times, but I anticipate we will be just fine.
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.
Today has been exhausting. I woke up with a tummy ache, and #3 had a dental appointment to have teeth pulled. Neither of us was really up to doing much until noon. I worked on laundry and cleaned out the fridge. Managed to cut my thumb attempting to clean the freezer. Many years ago someone left a glass bottle of pop in the fridge to cool it off quickly, and forgot it - and as things in glass bottles do in the freezer, it exploded. We had cleaned it up when it happened, but I guess not well enough. There was a little shard under the shelf along the edge. Just small enough that I couldn't see it, but big enough to make me bleed. That put an end to that real quick. I have platelet problems, and sometimes my body likes to eat it's own platelets faster than I can make them. It took a while to get the little cut to stop bleeding.
So then I went outside and did modified bunny chores. I gave everyone hay and water, thinking I'd feed them once we had them settled at the new house. It was meant well.
My Mom and my brother didn't show up with the trailer until mid-afternoon, and we didn't get it loaded until it was time for Tony to go get the UHaul. We didn't leave with the first load until after 5:30. And we could only fit five cages into the inside of the vehicle. I realized this was a much bigger move than we anticipated.
We got to the new house with the first load, and put the bicycles, fence pieces, cinder blocks, turtle tank (which got dropped when Mom tripped over a bike loading it up), and first round of rabbits in the barn. Set up the gate below the garage door to give them air flow, and headed back. By the time we got back it was past 8:00pm, and my mom and brother decided to call it a day. They were tired and hungry (as was I).
So tonight, Snowflake and her babies, Jensen, Hodor, Elsa, and Little Black are out in the barn at the new house. Everyone else is still at the old house (where we still are). I hate having the herd split up, and I hate not being there in case anything happens. Leaving a garage door propped open isn't safe in the long run, and since there was a young skunk on the property when we pulled in, I worry what may be able to get into the barn to get my poor unsuspecting rabbits.
Tony swears he's leaving tomorrow at 1pm in the UHaul with whatever we've loaded. We only have it until 5pm, so whatever gets moved is what we've got. Anything else will have to be toted back and forth in the van or try to work it out with my brother or one of my parents to use their trailer. We still didn't manage to get the play-set moved and that's pretty big. Tony spent most of today tearing it apart.
Needless to say, I'm exhausted. I got home, put the tarps up on the bunnies (it's going to rain tonight and all tomorrow), and fell asleep. Tony woke me up to give me a sandwich, I barely remember waking up enough to eat it before passing out again. I'm typing this up at 2:30am because the dog woke me up to go outside. It's raining.
Back to bed I go. Tomorrow is going to be even more heavy lifting and running.
Welcome to August! I've been rushing through laundry one load after another all day to try to get it all done before we move. Because of the flood that kept us out of our house for 11 weeks, everything in the house has a faint septic odor. We decided we'd rather wash everything before we move than risk bringing that smell with us. One month in and I'm nearing the end of the heaps of laundry! Seven people have a lot of laundry! I did not realize how much "too small" stuff we still had laying around!
Today I did what may be the last bunny chores in this house. We are hoping to get the animals moved tomorrow, which means I don't really want full feed bins and water bowls jostling around with frightened rabbits running circles in cages in the back of the vehicle as we make the 40 minute drive to the new house. I'm sure my brother (who will be driving said vehicle) would also appreciate not having to clean up food and water in addition to the standard rabbit messes. We bought a big tarp today to make sure the inside of the vehicle remains protected while we make this transition. I'm still leery about having to make two trips with the rabbits. Than means loading half of them up and driving them out there, unloading them, and then leaving them behind while we go and get the other half of the herd. We've been to the property several times, and I know there is a mouse problem (as evidenced by multiple mouse nests, a couple dead mice, and the previous owners leaving Irish Spring soap all over the house). Where there is a mouse problem there will typically be predators around to take advantage of the boon in population. And what eats mice will often also prey on rabbits. I have no way of knowing if there are fox or raccoons or skunks in the area that could potentially get in to the new bunny barn (which has a large gap that needs to be filled in before we get too set up in there). We also have not installed an exhaust fan onto the building, so in the meantime I have to keep the garage door open, hopefully with a chain link kennel panel blocking the bottom of the garage door to allow air flow. Problem is that this will also let in little critters, as well as flies and mosquitoes, which are sure to flock to the shade and fresh rabbit food source. And the gaps left by putting the kennel panel in cock-eyed to keep the door open is another issue. So I'm worried that when I come back with the second load of bunnies, the first ones may have a Roanoke Colony experience. (Google search Roanoke Colony if you don't get the reference).
Today is the first day of the county fair. It's an odd feeling for me. I love the fair, and we go every year. We have taken our bunnies every year to show them, but this year we can't due to moving. It feels so strange to know that we have no bunnies there, we won't be showing them or sharing photos of our ribbons, and we might not even make it out to the fair at all this year due to packing and moving. This will be our last year in this county too, and the new house is far away from the county fair for that county. Strange because as of tonight the county fair is within walking distance.
The new house will be fun, but it's going to take some time to get used to all the new and different things. The sounds of the trains going by aren't much different right now than the sounds in our current home. It's the same train line that goes by, but the line is much closer to the new house. I'm sure it will be louder in the winter when the deciduous trees lose their leaves and the sound buffer isn't there anymore. It will be a welcome change not to have light flashing across the bedroom ceiling all night as cars drive by, or the sound of cars pulling up in front of the house at all hours when neighbors work late shifts or have friends coming and going - or when neighbors are having a spat and screaming and swearing at one another before squealing tires and driving away at 1am. What new sounds may greet us in our country home is yet to be determined.
There are all new routines and patterns to memorize. Which way to turn the knobs to get the perfect shower temperature, Where the silverware drawer is, and which cupboard contains the bowls and plates. These are things most people don't think about, or don't find all that important, but when you are a family with Asperger's, these small things are pretty huge hurtles and are likely to spark some serious meltdowns.
Oh, and did I mention that it's also supposed to rain tomorrow afternoon straight through Thursday? Moving in the rain! That should be fun. Tony booked to rent a UHaul truck tomorrow evening into Thursday to move anything we can't get moved with my Dad's trailer being hauled by my brother (since my Dad works this week). At least we will have an enclosed option if we have stuff we don't want to get wet on the trip!
Today we spoke to a second internet company. Apparently nobody has lines that go out to the new farm. We're at a loss. Satellite internet is available but requires a two year contract. We are still looking at balancing our budget and need it to be somewhat fluid in case we need to cut costs along the way. For now we are going to have to use cell phone data for any internet needs, including all blog posts from the time we shut off the computers in the old house to move them, until we can figure out another way. This will unfortunately mean no vlogs just yet. We won't have internet enough to do vlogs or YouTube videos for a while. I know I had promised vlogs starting when we moved. I am so sorry! I did not realize we would be this stuck for internet service options. I do hope to have videos posted regularly once we get internet, and as of right now, if I use my phone to make a video, I can upload it when we visit my parents using their wifi. However, due to distance, our family meals will no longer be once a week. We may have to cut down to every other week, or possibly once a month when the weather starts to get cold and the roads are slick.
I had a meeting scheduled today for someone to come and look at Lucien and Mittens. I was cautiously optimistic. These are two of the favorite bunnies and I really want for them to find a suitable home... But they are two bucks, and Lucien is just shy of 15 weeks old now - on the cusp of maturity and dominance issues.
The family was really great, it sounds like they have a plan for when they need to be separated, and they have kids who just adored Lucien and Mittens right from the start. I think they will do well with their new family. Congratulations Lucien and Mittens!
While I was setting up the cages in the front yard to meet the family that adopted Lucien and Mittens, I got a message from another family interested in meeting with another bunny. They came with their eye on Nafertiti, but they decided to adopt Namu-Manu instead.
In a surprise twist, after Lucien and Mittens went off to their home, I decided to stay in the front and see if anyone might stop by if I put up a few ads online. Namu-Manu's new family messaged me and said they'd be back for another bunny. They came back with more kids and picked out two more bunnies. Medusa for themselves, and Nyxx for a friend of their children who's birthday it was (and mom gave permission). Congratulations Namu-Manu, Medusa, and Nyxx!
So all together, we had FIVE bunnies leave today! Wow! I love it when we can match up that many in a day! Add in the two that went to new homes yesterday and the one the day before - that's eight bunnies into new homes in three days!
Tomorrow is breeding day, so I moved the remaining M and N litter babies to a cage together. Nefertiti, Nardol, Nuri, Maleficent, and Moira are getting along well. Neelix is still with his momma for the time being.
I'm really fighting with myself about Neelix. He's a sweet bunny, so tiny, and #5 just adores him. We don't need another buck, much less a small one. I don't have a spare cage available to keep him, and I'm sure at some point #5 will lose interest in him. I have someone who is/was interested in adopting Neelix, but I have been delaying calling her back. Why am I hesitating? I mean, we can't keep every bunny we breed that is cute or small or that we fall in love with. We just don't have the cages for that many, and they do eat quite a bit of food, which adds up in costs. But for some reason I'm really balking on selling Neelix. Someone talk some sense into me...
I digress. Breeding day is tomorrow. Gretchen will be paired to George for a meat litter, and Fern will be paired with Fabio for a colorful pet litter. Penelope and Charlotte are due in 11 days or so. They should have the first litters born on the new homestead.
Today marks Tony's last day of work for a while. He's taken all of this next week off to get us all packed and moved (since I've had no luck motivating kids to help with packing). The sooner we get packed, the sooner we get moved. It's crunch time now. The plan is to be completely packed up and moved to the new house by Thursday... We shall see how that goes. I think Tony forgets how much work it is to defuse arguments with a house full of autism. Keeping this one busy without distracting that one, keeping this one on task while that one takes a break, and explaining for the ten millionth time why this one has to to this chore while that one has to do that chore and how despite the fact that one chore is easier than the other, it's fair because the easier chore goes to the younger child. This should be an interesting week.
Busy day today! #4 had her dental appointment this morning, and we let the other kids sleep in. When everyone was up and moving, we went to the local zoo. They have some new exhibits this year, including my new favorite - a sloth bear that looks just like my brother's old dog Mowgli, and makes adorable noises. We also got to see a white tiger (new to the zoo) and got this cute photo. This South American porcupine has fallen asleep sitting on a branch with his hands in the food dish. This was too cute to miss.
After the zoo we stopped back and home to pack up the car and I did rabbit chores. While gathering the plants to go to the new house (German thyme, lemon thyme, purple basil, and catnip) I picked the one ripe tomato. This is the second ripe tomato of the year! It wasn't anything special to eat. Probably not one I'd plant again next year.
We picked up the cake, changed plans, and ran out to my parents' house for an early dinner and cake, and then headed out to the new house.
I'm not really sure why we made the 40 minute drive out to the new house just to open presents and then drive 40 minutes back again. I think we just like being out there. I dropped off the plants, a couple boxes, put the slinky on one of the shepherd hooks, and checked out the border gardens a little closer.
The border gardens appear sparse for the most part because they're pretty much all gravel underneath a few years of composted leaves. I'm not sure if we will dig out the gravel and add soil, or if we will put down cardboard and add soil and manure on top of it. If we do the latter, we may need to invest in bricks to be a border for the now deeper/raised beds. Tony wants to look at them before deciding. Sure wish he'd have taken a look at them today so I don't have to wait to make plans until next time we go out and then wait again to bring any supplies I might need.
For now I'm going to assume it will be best to just build new soil with the cardboard and soil method. This was the plan to build the gardens on the rest of the property as well (with mulch on top to keep weeds out). It shouldn't be too hard to get this set up. It's just time and labor intensive. I can have Tony pick up some soil and mulch before our next trip out, and we can use the moving boxes for the cardboard, since we won't be needing them once we unpack.
I'm still hoping that if we can get the border gardens amended soon after we move in, I could potentially plant beans and peas and have a late-season harvest yet this year. My parents might have some trellis pieces left over from their deck that we could use to grow beans/peas on. We will have to wait and see. Bush beans could also be an option if a trellis isn't available for us this year. Then unpacking and lots of plans for next year's garden! We have lots of land and innumerable options on what to put and where. The possibilities are nearly endless!
Now I'm dreaming of gardens full of peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, peas, beans, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, grapes, corn, and on and on... All the home-grown yummy goodies that we can eat fresh from the garden or preserve for later!
Today we finalized all the last minute plans for a birthday party (for #3) tomorrow. Cake is ordered, presents bought and wrapped, and a friend invited. Big day tomorrow. First #4 has a dental appointment right away early in the morning, followed by a family trip to the zoo. A break for lunch and packing up the car, and then it's off to the new house again for the party. It's so nice to have that big yard where kids can run and play and get their exercise, run off their sugar rush from cake and pop, get away from each other if they need to, and get worn out. I'm so looking forward to moving out there permanently. We're still packing now, but Tony took all of next week off, so hopefully we can get moving soon!
Today while admiring Snowflake's babies, I noticed two seem to be getting darker spots on their noses and ears. Is it possible? Perhaps they're going to be pointed like George! These will be the first pointed kits we've ever produced, so I'm going to be watching closely to see if more color develops, or if it's just wishful thinking.
I was hoping we could cram the tiller, a shovel, a big bag of rabbit manure, and some of the plants in for the trip out tomorrow so I might be able to get started fixing up the border gardens, but it's looking like the car may already be full between kids, a cooler full of pop, a cake, a couple presents, and a few more boxes we've packed up since the last time we went out there. I'm just itching to get gardening! There's so much to do!!
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 got some of the bunnies swapped into new cages. Elizabeth lost one of her kits sometime last night. We're not sure what happened. They were all alive and well yesterday, and she's been feeding them well. Anyway, the R litter is down to nine now, and have been moved to another cage that will better allow the babies to maneuver outside of the nest box. Momma Elizabeth isn't too sure about it yet, but we left her alone for the rest of the day to try to settle in. I have warned #4 that if she's too stressed out she may kill her babies. We're hoping that's not the case. I even cleaned out the cage to make sure it was nice for her. Fresh hay, full water, and pellet feed. She is now housed right next to Feather and her litter of eight.
Tomorrow I need to text the person I swapped frozen rabbit kits for eggs last time. The kids loved the eggs, which we are now out of, but we're up to ten kits in the freezer (all natural losses - we don't kill them to put in the freezer).
It's been a warm day. Indoor temperature reached 82 and is slow to lower. Fans are going and windows are open, but there's no breeze to help.
I managed to get five of the rabbit cages cleaned out. And by that I mean using the hose to break up any blockages from the hay matting up potty spots, washing out the nest boxes of bunny poop, taking out stale hay, cleaning up the water dishes, and in one case cleaning up the golf ball toy that rolled into the potty corner. It feels good to make progress, though we're still struggling with packing. The kids just want to leave to the new house, but Tony insists we have to have everything packed and cleaned before we can move out. I think he knows that if we move, whatever gets left behind isn't worth coming back for. I would be the first to admit that I'd be content to leave almost everything behind. Bring along the seed collection, the kids' bikes, the playset, the animals, what furniture we have left, the framework that will become a greenhouse, enough clothes that we aren't going naked... So much of what we've collected over the years isn't something we need to bring along.
So I have boxes and bags and containers of kids' clothes that either don't fit the kids anymore, or they don't like the hand-me-downs from their older sibling if they do fit. I've got all kinds of knick-knacks, antiques, art pieces, craft stuff, and random "stuff" stashed away in the closets and garage. Since our two day yard sale last month was a bust, I have no idea what to do with it now. It was all supposed to be sold on eBay or Craigslist, used as barter goods to get other things we need... So I hate to just throw it all away, and I know that a large percentage of things donated to local charities get thrown out too. I've considered new projects. Using shirts to make pillows, using little baby dresses, shirts, and pants to make purses, or cutting them up for fabric for other projects (cat and dog toys, doll blankets and doll pillows, sock bags, clothespin holders for the laundry line, heat packs, ice packs, etc.). Then I could store them in the quonset with the bunnies and not have to worry about if they smell like bunny after a while. I can just wash the piece(s) I need at any given time and use them for the project I need them for. But then again, is Tony going to want to move hoards of "stuff" that we really don't "need" at the new house? Hmmmm. My artsy-fartsy mind if playing games with me. I don't need tons of stuff, but it sure does come in useful when I have a project idea and need supplies!
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).
First morning waking up as homeowners. It feels good to know we will be moving soon. We're looking at renting a UHaul in three weeks when Tony has requested the rest of his vacation days to give us time to do everything within a few days.
I was up and out the door fairly early this morning (by my standards anyway) and got the bunny chores done. I cleaned out Alice's cage again. She keeps pushing her hay into the potty corner and then it blocks it up. But it gave her and the babies some time to nibble grass while I cleaned it out and waited for it to dry a bit.
I checked in on all the little babies today. Feather's eight are adorable. In the picture above you'll see the bottom left white kit. At first I thought it may be solid white, but it has little black flecks along the edges of the ears and a very small orange stripe over the rump. That means two harlequins and six broken tricolors for Feather. That little black harlequin kit is still alive and well.
Caduci Mook still has three fat little babies, and Elizabeth's big litter of ten is doing well (they look like they have brown spots).
In a bit of a mystery, I checked in on Snowflake's litter today. She has eight babies. Or at least that's all I've found previously. When we do daily checks to make sure all kits are accounted for, always eight babies in there. But today I swear I counted nine. I counted three times and came up with nine each time. I should have taken them out to confirm, but my back started hurting so I was in a hurry to go in and sit for a while. The photo shows eight. I will recount tomorrow to confirm (removing kits and counting to make sure nobody gets counted twice).
Someone is coming tomorrow to look at Fern's litter. This is new for me to have anyone come to the house. What a foreign concept. Inviting strangers to your home. This really does go against everything I teach my children. Hopefully it goes well though. They sounded really nice on the phone. Fern's litter won't be ready until the 27th, but they wanted to come and meet the kits and pick one out now.
I am glad I got rabbit chores done right away because I spent the rest of the day down and out with back pain. I'm not sure what I did. It is the same pain I was having before that has been largely under control ever since. Hoping to be right back up and moving tomorrow. We have lots of cleaning and packing to do!
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!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.