The guineas are much louder when they're outside. They're quiet and docile in the coop, but today #3 told me they chased her to the barn when she went out to do bunny chores.
Today I left the coop door open again and was delighted to see both guineas and several chickens wandering the yard throughout the day.
At sunset when we put their food down there were seven birds in the coop. There should have been nine. I left the light on in the coop and the door slightly ajar for several more hours in hopes the two missing birds would come back. No luck. Big Red, the big red rooster, and Boss Lady, the Easter Egger hen are both out for the night. Surprisingly both guineas came back to the coop!
The guineas are much louder when they're outside. They're quiet and docile in the coop, but today #3 told me they chased her to the barn when she went out to do bunny chores.
Today #5 and I walked to the vet clinic with Gypsy and Luna in a cat carrier. The vet looked at Gypsy, took her temperature, and prescribed some antibiotics. While we were there both kitties got their first vaccines and dewormer just to be on the safe side. They sent enough antibiotic home that if Luna starts to get sick, there's enough to dose her too. And as we were leaving the vet informed me that giving the antibiotics is in no way a guarantee of survival. Wait, what?
I've done rescue work before and dealt with sick animals frequently. I worked in a pet store and have helped sick animals recover (and lost a few that were beyond help). Never ever have I been told by a vet that antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection might not work. I have never had a vet suggest to prepare for a loss while also prescribing medicine to fix the problem. I have to wonder if this is because I specifically called her a barn cat, and not a house cat. To us the only difference is that she lives in the bunny barn and runs the risk of being taken out by an eagle or hawk... while the house cats are in the house and if the house were to burn down, they'd probably not know how to get outside. Each has risks I suppose, but we love them all the same... Seems odd to change the diagnosis or outcome odds based on the label given to the cat. I asked if I should put them in the porch overnight again, but they said the temperature change from warmer indoors to colder outdoors could cause even more problems. I was advised that fall is a rough time to start keeping barn cats. Yeah... I see that. She suggested that perhaps the problem was a bad combination of timing (fall, everything is getting colder), and age (immunity she got from nursing with her mom is running out and now she has to build her own). Either way, she was much more active today, though still not fully herself. She was still sneezing but no longer dripping green gunk. After her vaccination and coming home to get her first dose of antibiotics, she was really tired. She and Luna spent most of the rest of the day laying in the hay nest they use as a bed. I hope Gypsy perks up more tomorrow. I know vaccination day is always a downer, but she seems to be feeling better this morning before the vet appointment, so there's hope. I just can't have them in the entryway anymore because they do not understand a litter box. One of them peed on the floor. Fortunately nobody pooped. They use the sand outside, so the litter is probably a strange concept to them.
Today was exhausting two-fold. I finished taking care of the remaining quarantine rabbits. As of tonight I have one rabbit somewhere in the barn that sneezed once as I was passing out food and water, but I am not sure which one it is. Otherwise, we have eliminated every rabbit in the barn with snotty feet, yellow nasal discharge, or sneezing. Once I can root out this last one (if it is indeed sick and not just a random sneeze), I believe our nightmare illness outbreak will officially be over (knock on wood). All of the remaining bunnies appear symptom-free so far (aside from the single sneeze heard this evening).
Boon is doing better. Both feedings today when I put his nest box in with his momma, she jumps right in and takes care of him. Yesterday I was beginning to think maybe she was considering abandoning him. He's getting quite plump now. He's got little popcorn responses when we first touch him, which is adorable. As soon as he realizes it's just one of us, he settles right down. I think he will be a very tame little guy if he survives to grow up. I've been cautiously optimistic, but as he continues to do well, I'm slowly losing the cautious part and becoming more hopeful. He is one week old today and has been shelved for four days. So far, so good!
The ducks made their debut today out into the homestead. Their first time out of the bunny barn. They were reluctant to leave the barn at first. It is becoming obvious that Leonardo and Tweak, our Indian Runner ducks are the pivotal connection here. Josh (the goose) protects Leonardo and Tweak and leads them around. Dashi and Captain Barnacles stay nearby because they want to be part of the duck flock with Leonardo and Tweak, but they don't take orders from Josh. His alarm call does not put them on high alert to come to him or go to the barn, and he seems to take little interest in making sure they stay nearby. The new ducks seem confused by the pool. While Josh, Leonardo, and Tweak were quick to jump in, splash around, and groom themselves, Dashi and Captain Barnacles stayed out of the water, even wandering away a couple of times. Once to look at the outdoor bunnies, and once to go back into the barn. It's a work in progress at this point. The bonds aren't strong, but I hope they become a cohesive flock as they spend more time together.
I got a video of them playing in the pool. Because they were locked up in the barn for several days to acclimate the new ducks, Josh was obviously happy to get some pool time in. Even Leonardo and Tweak were splashing more than usual.
They must have worn themselves out foraging today because just after sunset they came into the barn, stopped for a quick drink, and bedded down right away. They didn't charge the food bowl like they usually do, and they were tucked up with heads down before I even turned the lights off!
The dutch cross doe that kindled 10/5 has largely refused to eat since I moved her to a cage with a nest box. I have been giving her fresh pulled grass and weeds, free choice pellets, black oil sunflower seeds, and fresh comfrey. Of that she ate only the grass and weeds up until last night when she finally ate some pellets. She's not enjoying cage life at all. This is why we're keeping the others in a colony style in the chicken coop. Rabbits that have been raised with little human contact in a free-range setting do not adjust well to living in cages. As a result of the stress from being in a cage, and refusing food (which she was eating in the chicken coop just fine prior to being moved), her milk supply has completely dried up. We lost four of her five kits today.
The last surviving kit is the black one. I've brought the nest box inside now because I know one lone kit doesn't stand a chance to keep warm at night in October in Minnesota. Twice a day now I will have to bring him (or her) out to the barn, flip Alice over, and let the little one nurse. Alice's kits are already two weeks old with eyes open and starting to leave the nest box, so fostering the little dutch lionhead kit won't be possible. His odds aren't great, but I'm going to give him every opportunity I can.
I was able to flash a couple of updated photos of the younger litters, but admittedly they aren't the greatest photos. I was in a rush to get the little kit back into the house before he got cold. I will try to get better individual photos when time allows. I've got a lot on my "to do" list lately.
I've been having increasing problems with my tummy pain issues. It's not just lactose that I can't have anymore. I've started getting horrible pains after eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which don't have any dairy in them at all. I can eat saltine crackers, but Club crackers cause intense pain. Oddly this newfound pain seems strictly on the right side, while the lactose pains are always on the left side. So today I compared ingredients. Whatever is in the saltines must be safe. So what is in bread, peanut butter, and Club crackers that is not in saltine crackers, coffee, or creamer (largely what I've been living off the past week)? Well, it seems the only ingredient present in all of the offending foods, but not in the safe foods... soy. Soybean oil, soy lecithin, and monosodium glutamate. So starting today I am attempting a soy free diet to see if that takes care of the problem.
It's incredibly hard to run a homestead and wrangle five kids, when you're sobbing in bed feeling like someone is ripping your guts apart for hours on end. Before I always thought that a lactose intolerance just meant people got a little gassy or got diarrhea or something. While I have not been tested to confirm a lactose issue, I largely got rid of these pains last year by cutting out all milk and cheese. Over the last year though the issue has gotten to the point where I can no longer have anything containing dairy at all, even with a couple lactose pills. Within a few hours the pain will start, and depending how much I ate, it can be intense agony for several hours that ibuprofen doesn't even begin to help with.
As a result of this newfound allergen (possibly), I've lost six pounds in the last seven days while largely on a diet of saltines, apples, and coffee - the only things handy that I know won't cause me pain. I'm hoping tomorrow I can get an early start to try to chip away at my "to do" list. This past week a lot of that has been pushed aside.
Anticipated temp when the kids go off to catch the bus in the morning? 39 degrees. I guess I'll be getting my indoor chores done first! Tomorrow night we've got freeze watch alerts as the temp is supposed to drop to 29. Brrr! Chilly weather incoming!
The missing chicken showed up in the yard today. The kids were able to snap a few photos, but the bird remains on the loose.
In preparation for releasing the chickens currently in the coop, tonight I started feeding them in the evening just before lights out. This will encourage them to come back to the coop at dusk for food. Or so I hope anyway. I'd like them to be able to free-range, and I'm certain they'd appreciate it too.
I sat in the coop for a long time today. I observed the birds interacting with one another, seeing who is aggressive, who is submissive, who dominates at the food dish and who waits for scraps at the end. Here is one of the videos I took today of the birds eating. This was after the three silkie roosters rushed the food bowl and pecked anyone else who tried to eat until they were done. Those three will be leaving as soon as I can line up a new place for them. They're not nice to the other birds or rabbits.
I plan on taking updated bunny photos tomorrow if the weather cooperates. I need updated photos of at least Fern, Alice, and Penelope's litters.
We are anticipating our first below freezing temps Monday night. Looks like fall is officially here.
I took a short video inside the chicken coop today. A brief view into the lives of our newest friends. Three hens, two Dutch cross rabbits, and even Luna, the new kitten, wanders in for a while. Yes, that's a desk - the hens seem to enjoy hanging out on it when they're not up in the rafters. I do plan on pulling the boards off the outside of the window to let more natural light in, but haven't gotten to it yet.
The same hen left us a second egg today. I know it was her because the Naked Neck and the Barred Rock should both lay brown eggs, and this was another blue/green egg like the last one.
Yesterday I was too sick to deal with the rabbit tractor, so the two bunnies sat in the same spot two days in a row. I wanted to show everyone the difference just one day makes. In the photo below, the cage has been moved for the day to fresh grass (you can see it's nice and green in there). The space directly in front of the cage is where it sat for two days. Note that it is brown and well chewed except the one green patch where the nest tote was sitting. The space to the right of the bare patch is where it was the day prior, and all the spaces behind that are days before that... All green, but with short grass. As though it's been mowed, but not destroyed. They did start to dig, likely out of boredom, sometime late in the second day stuck on the same patch of grass. This is the importance of moving your rabbit tractor every day!
My belly problem has been escalating. Though originally it seemed to be limited to a severe dairy allergy, I continue to get painfully ill when I eat a peanut butter sandwich, despite the fact that neither the bread, nor the peanut butter contains dairy products. Tony has suggested perhaps I am also acquiring a wheat allergy. I hope not, but as of right now I'm not sure what to think. I will continue to wean things out of my diet until I am back to normal.
Today a sandwich in the afternoon lead to pain in the evening. I was near tears by the time we got home from our trip to Brainerd, and ended up laying in bed with a hot pack. Two Advil did nothing to stop the escalation of pain. I have got to get a handle on this.
We did meet someone today to pick up more bunnies. We now have three more cute little fluffy friends. I'm not sure on breeds or genders yet. Like I said, I pretty much came straight home and was in too much pain to do anything. I know there are two broken blacks, and one odd colored one (oh that one is gorgeous). I didn't get any photos yet, but will try to get some taken and posted tomorrow.
Tonight we have bunnies in travel carriers as I wasn't able to get them set up in their cages. This means the travel carrier we usually keep the kittens in at night is currently occupied. I was assured the kittens were snuggled up together in the bunny barn when Josh and the ducks were put away just after dark. I still worry. I hope they'll be alright on their own in the barn for the night.
It got down to 38 or 39 degrees last night. I think it was enough to make Tony seriously consider options. Tonight the low is supposed to be down to 40 and Tony turned on the heater. This is the first time we've used the heater, but he cranked it up initially just to make sure we would be safe. We have carbon monoxide detectors on all floors and in or near all bedrooms. He made sure it ran for three hours before he turned it down to 65 and came to bed.
Tomorrow we go back to pick up more chickens and rabbits from the people we met on Sunday. No word on how many and what kinds they have for us. She did mention giving us some ducks last time too. It will be an exciting adventure. I'm really hoping I can keep my tummy troubles in check long enough to go out and haul critters home and get them all set up.
In addition to that, I am also hosting dinner tomorrow for my mom following #1 and possibly #2, playing in their first school tournament. Wishing them luck!
Little #5 and I took the metal detector out today for just one dig. It wasn't much, but as #5 tells me, it's still treasure. Not sure what it is, likely just a broken piece of something bigger.
We went to have dinner at my parents' house, and just at the edge of their property there was a roadkill turkey. It was a neat find. Poor bird had at least a broken leg, broken wing, and dislocated leg. It was already dead when we found it, but it was fresh (still warm, not in rigor mortis, and the blood by it's face wasn't even dry yet). Poor bird. Later on we heard other turkeys in the woods nearby shuffling around and calling. Some of the kids took some feathers for future crafting.
I am continuing to sort out the bunny barn. I have one more sneezer in the grow out pen, but the little booger won't sneeze while I'm watching, so I'm not sure which one it is (though I have my suspicions). I also found diarrhea in that cage, so I know one of them is sick. I have increased the amount of apple cider vinegar in the rabbits' water. They got black oil sunflower seeds today. I will offer fresh comfrey again tomorrow at feeding time.
We have two bunnies due any day now (still no fur pulling or nest building yet), and I'm really worried about them getting sick. With snuffles being highly contagious, I can only imagine if I had a nursing mom get sick, the entire litter would likely die. I am continuing to sanitize and clean everything. I have a few more cages to get to, but hopefully I can get those done tomorrow.
Today I was able to get the two lighting storm videos up on the YouTube channel that I had hoped to post yesterday. They're not great videos, but I'm celebrating that we finally have a decent camera that I can take video with. Now if I could just figure out how to edit...
Today there was some discussion on #1 possibly taking on a small breeding project. She's still in research phase, but she's considering guinea pigs, or chinchillas, or gerbils. We've bred them all in the past, and they all have their pros and cons, but she's going to need to research it herself. She'll need to figure out feed to sales ratio, breeding schedules, genetics and sales potential, marketing, competition, upkeep costs, and so on. Not something we will be jumping into, but she wants to get a job next year, so she may have some extra money available to invest into such a venture.
Happy Sunday from the homestead! I didn't get around to taking new photos of bunnies today, but I did play a game of Monopoly with the kids. It's nice to spend quality time with them and sometimes it's worth putting off some of the non-essential chores to let them know they're important too.
I have noticed that since we've moved to the homestead and the kids have seen us doing a lot of small repairs and discussing budgeting major repairs, they've started to do some on their own too. #2 made a simple sewing repair to his beanbag pillow that had a tear, and #3 took the hammer and finishing nails into her bedroom and fixed the door trim that was loose on her closet.
Yes, my son knows how to hand sew, and my daughter can use a hammer. Both are skills that are important to know. Today #1 and #2 discussed potential elective classes. We discussed which classes may give them a leg up in the future, and what courses would be fun to learn a skill that may help if they follow a more specialized work in the future. I encouraged both to take an economics and business management course, and agreed to pay the fee if they decide to take woodworking or photography or pottery - all of which are subjects of interest to them.
This morning on his way to work, Tony was trapped in the driveway for 40 minutes by a train stopped across the driveway. He texted his boss a photo of the train and explained he'd be late. Fortunately he didn't get in trouble (this time). This is only the third time we've had a train stop there. We had one a while ago, and another when my parents were coming over (they waited 15 minutes to be able to get up the driveway). Then today we had the delay this morning, and another one stopped around noon. Apparently the train tracks get so busy there are delays and trains have to stop and wait their turns. Hopefully we can plan around these unexpected delays by leaving earlier. In this case, the train was already parked when Tony left for work, so leaving early wouldn't have probably helped. Patience I think will be a big factor. Today we laughed about it. I hope we keep the sunny disposition on the downsides of a homestead on the tracks.
Today the bird aggression has escalated. Now it's not just Tweak leading the attacks on Josh, but Leonardo is partaking as well. I got a short video of the ducks chasing the goose through the bunny barn. Please excuse my tarp mess at the end - I plan on getting them washed off as soon as we get a garden hose to rinse them off.
The lady we got Josh and the ducks from suggested maybe the turn around is because Josh is alone without another goose. After some careful consideration, and a brief discussion with Tony, I have asked Josh's previous owner if she'd be willing to part with another goose.
The western border garden is coming up well enough. Looks like there are plenty of peas, beans, and zucchini, but something has been eating the cucumbers as they come up. We only have one sprout currently.
We had another beautiful sunset on the homestead. I am so blessed to have a place like this to call home.
Tomorrow is rabbit breeding day. Elizabeth will be paired to Sushi to test for Rex genes (which are suspected following the Rex kit in Feather and Sushi's litter). Alice will be paired with James for some big Flemish babies.
Happy Memorial Day! It's the end of May already! Time is flying by. We are approaching the end of the school year which is always a busy time. With warm weather the outdoor chores are calling. Today I finally got my wooden potato tower set up. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. The grow bag and tire have not seen any visible sprouts above the surface yet. The wooden set up is in more sun, so hopefully we get some blue potatoes!!
Today I also took some videos of the bunnies eating dandelions. I've added them to the Rabbits page (edited: where they don't seem to be showing up properly), but if you want to save yourself a click, here they are:
I still need to get my bean trellises made, and till the back area. Almost none of the winter sown plants are big enough to transplant yet, but on the good side - there are a few tomatoes starting to sprout! It seems like they're so late, and none are transplant size yet, but last year I remember lamenting over how tiny they were and they got huge!
The lettuce I planted in the bricks around the front raised bed are doing well. One of them got chewed down to nothing, and some of the spinach leaves have bites taken out of them. I suspect the wild bunny, but haven't actually seen the culprit. Some of the varieties never even came up. I plan to re-seed those varieties here in the near future. Today I'm going to harvest all the big leaves and bring it as a mixed salad to my parents' house. We were invited over for burgers on the grill for Memorial Day. We're just waiting for Tony to get off work now.
You may notice that there's a particularly large leafed plant on the far end... That's not lettuce. It's actually a radish that seeded itself from last year's radishes we grew in buckets over there. The two corner squares are spinach. The middle square at the bottom of the photo is the one something nibbled almost into the ground. Must have been a tasty variety. I hope it grows again so I can try it too.
I should probably get cracking on measuring out my squares in the big raised bed and getting some seeds in the ground. I will be direct sowing peas, cucumbers, and beans in there this year. Those varieties didn't do so well last year as they were smothered by the squashes. This year the squashes are going to be in the smaller raised bed and allowed to train through the yard again, on the other side so they don't kill off the beans/peas/cucs. I'm hoping to get more squash, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and the bean trellises in the back garden. Whether we have corn or not will depend on how much space is taken up by tomatoes and peppers. So far it looks like a small selection, and I didn't get all the varieties I wanted to plant in the winter sown containers this year. I do have some hulless popcorn I'm hoping to try, but I love sweet corn too. I need to start making some decisions before we get too far into the growing season to follow through!
I attempted a bath yesterday, but Roland decided he needed to play in the tub.
Today I set out three more "wintersown" containers, though really it's warming up so they're more just "mini greenhouse" containers. I am trying a bit of a science experiment here. I got a packet of Moon & Stars Watermelon from Livingston Seed Co., and from High Mowing Organic Seeds. The packet from High Mowing says they get 6-15 pounds, while the packet from Livingston says they get 30-40 pounds. That's quite a discrepancy, so I'm trying a couple seeds from each packet to see what I come up with. I also planted some Charleston Gray Watermelon seeds.
Floki is doing well as an only-sibling now (knock on wood). Today I caught her chasing dice around the living room. She's pretty darn cute prancing and pouncing and flipping the die around.
It was 29 degrees outside this morning. I'm glad I covered the plants! Those in the ground don't seem to have been effected by the cold. Good thing they're hardy.
This afternoon we visited my parents, and got to see a male Scarlet Tanager come to the feeders there several times. Beautiful bird!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.