Today the chickens enjoyed a round of bobbing for apples. A new form of environmental enrichment just in time for Halloween. They seemed to enjoy it too. I got a quick video:
There's one Speckled Sussex hen (dark brown with white spots) and one New Hampshire hen (reddish brown) in the video above.
Today we planted the last three fruit trees of the year, as the first snowflakes of the season fell. None of it was thick enough to stick around yet. We now have Hazen apple, Alderman plum, and Toka plum trees planted, replacing three of the dud trees we picked up this spring from the feed store ("dormant" my butt - they were dead sticks in a bag of loose soil). The apple tree came from Menards, and the two plum trees came from Erickson's Greenhouse in Brainerd. If you're ever in the area, you should look them up. Very nice family-run greenhouse with good prices, great selection, and the most knowledgeable and friendly folks you could ask for.
If anyone knows of any pear trees available locally that are hardy to zone 3 or 4, please let me know. We will be looking for some (fully leaved, non-dormant) in the spring!
After the trees were planted, watered, and mulched, Tony went off to work, and I went in to warm up. It's cold out there!
This afternoon I wanted to take some updated photos of our older bunnies that just haven't been sold yet for one reason or another. They're getting older and I want them to move out, especially the boys before I have to separate them out.
But alas, as I was snapping photos, I had the bright idea to do Facebook live videos of them instead. So here is the video of Raisinet and Diana Prince:
And here is the video of their brothers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Skor:
My birthday is coming up. I'm really hoping for a new camera and a sewing machine. I know, expensive wishes. I think my photos and videos could be a lot better with a nice camera instead of having to use my phone. And a sewing machine would mean I could make that quilt I've been planning, and the pillow case I promised #4, and other projects in the future.
Today #3 was able to catch our gorgeous rooster. This guy was one that hatched from the eggs we bought from #1's friend locally, he was fluffy and black as a chick, but as he's grown he's gotten the neatest white pattern too. He's a bit of a jerk when held (kept biting her hand), but he's shy on the ground, and I do plan to keep him around if he survives winter. He doesn't have a name yet, but he is a pretty one.
We're not sure what kind of a cross could produce a bird like this, but we'd love more. We suspect there's Americauna or Easter Egger in there, but if anyone else has any ideas on breeds, I'd be interested to hear. He has feathered legs.
Today I made an appointment to sell Yin, the black brother of Yang (who is white). I feel a little bad separating them, but Yin is a lot friendlier than Yang, so we kind of figured they'd end up split up. I'm just glad Yin has a home excited to have him. He leaves on Monday.
I re-checked Gretchen's nest box today. There were four dead kits, including the oddball dutch marked kit. There are three black and one white still in there. I moved the nest to a different container in hopes it would prevent babies from getting scattered. As of bedtime check there was still movement in the nest box, but I didn't dig to see how they were doing.
An old friend came to visit today. It was nice to chat for a while, and her kids seemed to have fun playing on the farm.
As of bedtime, I still had one surviving duckling with the flock.
Between two of the three hanging baskets, I got six strawberries today. The All Star basket is still all greenery and not a single flower. The strawberry bed - still not a single blossom from the three that were transplanted in as plants, and none of the roots have come up with any green at all.
Tomorrow we're making a run to Brainerd. I will be swapping rabbits with someone (his has suffered an injury and needs to be humanely dispatched, and I have offered to give him one of our babies as a replacement).
I had planned to go make another round of nanking cherry jelly at my parents' house, but Tony isn't keen on staying all day. Perhaps we will just go to the store and buy our own sieve so we can make it at home. Seems like a fine idea too. I'm sure I can make use of a sieve more than once or twice a year now that I know how to make jelly.
We have four Speckled Sussex pullets in the barn currently. Today #3 was able to catch all four at the same time.
It's also time for another feed store run. Someone told me they had plants on clearance last week. I'll have to stop by their garden area and see if there's anything left that we could add to our meager garden this year.
While I filled up the kiddie pool today the ducks decided to go for a swim. I'm pretty sure the white and brown one is Gaetos (Indian Runner) and I know the brown and silver one is Nanny (rouen cross).
Tony cooked steak on the grill and I made tinfoil packets of veggies as a side. Potatoes, onions, zucchini, asparagus, and carrots. I just wish I'd had some mushrooms to add in. Dinner was delicious. I do love when he's home to cook!
Big news today! I've been out at a family function most of the day and just returned. Here goes!
This morning when I went out to do barn chores, I collected six eggs today and found a bit of a surprise. I found two tiny eggs. At first I wondered if maybe a stray wild bird had managed to sneak in. But then I realized... these are guinea eggs. Very neat... but...
What have we been collecting that we thought were guinea eggs all this time? The eggs that were somewhere between chicken and duck egg size and were distinctly pointed... If they aren't guinea eggs, and they aren't chicken eggs (Henrietta will only lay her eggs in the nest box)... Were those pointed eggs from Matt all this time? The rouen/runner cross duck we thought wasn't laying? But then how did we get five eggs the other day, if we only have five females - and obviously none were these tiny guinea eggs?
We have some of the big eggs in the incubator now, so I guess we will just have to wait and see what hatches out. My new guess is that Matt has been pulling her weight and we've been giving the credit to Iris the guinea instead.
We have been on bunny baby watch for days now. This morning there were four new babies in Fern's nest box. Looks like two harlequin marked and two plain ones, but we won't know color for sure until they're a bit bigger.
Penelope had one kit that had died, but had a beautiful plush nest of fur and was still fat when I left. When we got back (late tonight), I re-checked and Penelope had five squirming babies and one more dead one. I didn't get a photo because I didn't bring a flashlight and my phone can't function as camera and flashlight at the same time. Photos will have to wait until tomorrow. I know there was at least one that looked like a broken fawn, but again, no way to know for sure until they're older.
The incubator is welcoming new lives. When I left there were four eggs that had pipped, and I was worried I'd miss the hatching. I checked the camera a few times, but it was a bad angle, and I didn't see much difference.
Tonight, upon arriving home, we discovered 11 eggs had pipped, including one that pipped on the side, and I worry it may have drown. I won't reach in and mess up the humidity to check though.
And in the amount of time it's taken me to write this brief blog, we have our very first chick hatched! It came out of one of the medium brown eggs we bought from #1's friend. Welcome to the world little baby!
Chores are done, sun has gone down, and I need to drag myself off to bed soon. Tony left with most of the kids to go to the funeral. He called to let me know he'd made it safely to the hotel, and to let the kids say goodnight. The last remaining child here is already snoring in bed.
My anxiety creeps up on me at night when my babies are far from home. I miss them, I worry about them, and it can be downright distressing. I'm trying not to think about it.
Tomorrow I have an appointment to bring Sage to the vet. Except now since all the kids have gone with Tony, and the last kid here will be in school - I've got to go all on my own. Which to a normal person would be a good thing. But for me - for me that's a major source of anxiety. I never go anywhere alone.
So here I am, up at just past midnight. I need to go to bed so I can get up and get that one kid up and ready to go to school. She wants me to cut her hair before school too. Then I'll need to do all of my regular chores (making sure all the critters have food and water, letting the birds out of the barn to free-range, checking in with the brooder chicks). I need to manage a shower in there somewhere, the brooder needs to be cleaned out (again), and I still need to clean out the colony building - which I think I'll put off until this weekend when kids can help.
I brought Peter Pecker outside today. That's the smallest gosling - the one who picks on all the other chicks. I put him in a big turtle trap out in the yard, in hopes that the flock would come and meet him and I could get a feel for how introductions would go later. Yeah, well, that didn't happen.
Josh took one long look at Peter Pecker, peeping in his cage, and ushered his ducks to the other side of the building. When I moved Peter Pecker's cage to the front of the barn, Josh again eyed him from afar before directing his ducks down the driveway and away again. Not wanting Josh to go any further toward the road, I brought Peter Pecker back in the house and put him back in the brooder. When I came back out, Josh and the ducks were back to playing in the pool like nothing had happened.
In a strange, partially related thought ... How do birds learn language? I mean, the ducks seem to somewhat understand what Josh is saying when he wants them to get up and move somewhere else. But what about birds like the embden goslings, who were hatched in an incubator and raised in a brooder? Is it possible they just don't speak the same "language" as Josh? I know mixed flocks figure it out. We have ducks and guineas, chickens, and a goose - and they all have their rolls and they do tend to keep their own mini-flocks based on species, but they get along at night when they roost and nest together, and they don't fight over territory in the yard. After today's avoidance of Peter Pecker, I have to wonder if bringing out four new goslings is going to create a second little flock of embdens instead of integrating them into the Josh-and-his-ducks flock. Not much to worry about yet. They hardly have any feathers at all. And it's still in the 30's and low 40's at night here... I don't think they'll ever get to go (and stay) outside at this rate.
I'm wondering about possibly taking some of the chicks outside that have discovered the gift of flight. They should be able to get up off the floor to various roosting places in the barn, and there are places underneath things that Josh cannot get to in case he gets mean with them. But then again, it's still cold, and the barn cats might not see them as flock birds so much as snack toys. Maybe I'll discuss with Tony about investing in some fencing and sectioning off a part of the barn - adding in a brooder light, and leaving some of the bigger, more aggressive, or better feathered babies outside with a heat lamp. I don't want to kill them, but it was a mistake to put a brooder indoors. That will never happen again. At least never on a scale like this! We have 50 chicks, 4 goslings, and 3 ducklings indoors, with more set to hatch in ten more days. That brooder has got to be moved outside. Tony gets off early next Friday and has next weekend off. Sounds like an excellent time to set up the brooder out in the barn or the garage. According to the forecast on the Weather Channel app, we should be in the high 40's to mid 50's for lows by then. Chicks will be 6 weeks old on the 14th (that Monday).
As you can see, when stressed, my mind wanders. Hence why I am still awake.
Today #5 caught all the colony bunnies so I could gender check and photograph them. Check out the Rabbits page to see! I know I said I was going to wait to gender check them, but someone asked me about which kits were girls. Well, it turns out, not many of them! There are eight bucks out of twelve kits! That's 2/3 of the kits! Yikes! We decided to keep the broken torte just to see how the color turns out. That leaves three girls and eight boys that will need homes as of the 25th of the month.
Check out today's video of #5 singing to tame another bunny HERE. Bunny in his arms is the black buck with a white foot.
Today the mail brought the Viking Aronia and the Fall Gold Raspberry plants I had ordered from Baker Creek. This morning I also ordered Edelweiss grape, canby raspberry, and Encore raspberry from another company. It occurs to be that we are going to have raspberries coming out our ears once they all start producing. But hey, we should have red, yellow, and black raspberries, blue and pink blueberries, and black and white blackberries. This could make for the coolest fruit salad ever!
The last few days Kaelyn has been pulling fur. I'm hoping she's just overzealous to get her nest started and that it isn't a sign of a false pregnancy. We no longer have the buck she was bred to, so this is our only shot at those precious vienna genetics we're trying for. Come on blue eyes! She's not due until the 9th.
For now, I'm taking Moose and heading to bed. I swear this dog is a life saver. I feel safe with him around.
It was nice and sunny today so I took the time to soak each of the winter sown containers. Since I don't have a good hose right now to give a rain effect, I had to soak them from the bottom. I used a clean litter box full of water and one at a time, set each container in until the soil was completely moist again. It felt like it took forever, but at least it's done now. I noticed a lot more sprouts today!
D'Anjou pears are coming up, just days behind the apple seedlings. I'm hoping if I get them transplanted sooner and mulch better, or maybe move them into the unheated entry way, we might be able to get them through this first winter. If the birds leave them alone that long.
The Garlic Chives container has a single sprout, but it doesn't look right to me. I wonder if some kind of weed seed fell in there, or crawled up from underneath. But alas, a seedling is a seedling...
The pampas grass I bought from overseas is coming up. Honestly that much does surprise me a bit. It looks like plain grass at the moment. I doubt there's any way to know for sure if it's pampas or regular grass but to let it grow. I'm expecting regular grass, so if it does come out as pampas grass I will be impressed.
There are dozens of tiny seedlings in the Massachusetts Wrapper Tobacco container. They're so little. It's hard to imagine now transplanting them. They'd get lost outside.
And a mystery jug. This is the first year winter sowing that I have had an issue with my labels fading. I have never had this come up before, though I've seen it over and over again in other forums. I usually label in several places, but somehow the labels on this one have disappeared - even on the bottom! I looked up old photos of the winter sown containers and I am reasonably certain this is milkweed. If it isn't, then it's Blue Bird Forget-Me-Not. I'm going to go with milkweed though.
There are also sprouts coming up in the Savoy Cabbage container and the All Seasons Cabbage container. So seedlings are even so far in the cabbage head-to-head (pun intended). Which one will produce better? We shall see!
Sage is looking better. Her eye is starting to heal up, she doesn't have the crusty green around her nostrils anymore, and she's perkier, more active, and playful today. In a rare quiet moment, I snapped this photo of Sage curled up with her dad (Henry). You can see where she got her looks from!
That said, she does still make noise when she breathes, so back to the vet we will go on Friday for a re-check of her eye and maybe to ask for more antibiotics for her respiratory crud that won't go away. Baby Sage is such a fighter. She's so little, but already she's proving she's got a strong will to live.
After school #1 went to hang out with a friend. When her friend's mom came to bring her home, we were talking about animals and showing off the colony baby bunnies. I pointed to one - the only broken fawn - and said "that one is impossible to catch." It's one of the older bunnies from the litter we discovered 4/13, and since it could escape the nest box, all bets are off trying to catch and handle it. It's cute, but the other day when we wrangled them all into a box for a photo and to introduce them to the food dish, the moment this one's feet touched the ground, it was off, hopping to check out the other end of the yard, before wandering back into the building.
Taking this statement as a challenge, #5 went into the building chattering away. Sure enough, a minute or two later he came out holding that wild little baby! At first it was wiggly and tried to scratch him, but he held it, ever so gently. He walked around the fenced yard with it, he snuggled and kissed it, he sang to it. After about five minutes of this, the bunny started to relax. I ended up taking a video probably 20-30 minutes in to his snuggles, and you'd never know this bunny was completely wild just an hour before. It's practically sleeping in his arms. He set it down a couple times just to prove that it was nice and wouldn't run away.
He says this one is his favorite, and that he will make sure it's really nice for whoever wants to buy it. Little bunny whisperer here... The video is on our Facebook if anyone wants to check it out. Bunny will be available to a new home on the 25th.
Tony was able to re-arrange his schedule to go to his grandma's funeral on Friday. He will be working an early shift tomorrow, coming home, packing up and taking a couple kids to head out. Then he will head home Friday after the funeral and end up working a 14 hour day on Saturday to make sure he still makes the minimum hours required to keep his bonus. Yikes!
Baby Sage is closing in on eight weeks old already. She's still super tiny though, so she'll be staying here for a while longer. I'm in no rush to push her out the door. Besides, it looks like she's starting to get an eye ulcer, so off to the vet we will be going just as soon as I can get in for an appointment. Here's a quick video update of her playing today.
While out doing the bunny chores, #3 discovered a sudden population boom in the colony. We had discovered a litter on Friday that was likely already a couple of days old. Today there are three litters in there. One litter is newborn today (there was fresh blood in the box from the birthing process), another litter that looks to be about a day old, and then the older kits (probably 5-6 days old now). Without pulling them all out, and while they were wiggling around, I counted at least 18 in there. Wow! It'll be interesting to see how they do all together like that. I'm sure this is probably how wild rabbits rear their young (in groups), so I'm going to leave them and hope nature wins out and they know what they're doing. There looks like there's some interesting colors in there. Some solid blacks, some broken blacks, some browns.
The chicks in the brooder are doing well. They're two weeks old today! The two Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicks were accurately identified. They both are starting to grow their tell-tale mohawks. I'm so excited! These chicks would run me $14.90 each if I were to have ordered them by breed. They're the most expensive chicks in the entire brooder, and I'm really hoping they're both little ladies. The girls in this breed are much cuter than the boys.
The build up of containers is starting to take over the kitchen again, so off to winter sow I went. I got eight containers out today.
Savoy Cabbage - The photos online of this variety show a gorgeous well-textured head of cabbage. It's so pretty, I just had to try it. We've never had luck at cabbage up to this point, but this is a new place, and maybe we will have luck this year. It's worth a try anyway. I planted 21 seeds in this container.
All Seasons Cabbage - A variety that is supposed to do well no matter when it's planted - heat of summer included. It's also touted as producing heads in the 10-12 pound range. Having never successfully grown cabbage before, that sounds pretty good sized. Should give us plenty of cabbage for coleslaw anyway. I planted 26 seeds in this container.
Peter Peppers - A variety I bought off eBay from a seller in China. Who knows if it will come true to advertisement or not. This one is meant for the "naughty row" in the garden that will also have Cow's Tit, Monkey Ass, and Bull's Bag tomatoes - if you get where that's going. They're supposed to be red and phalic. It's an interesting conversational piece for the garden, grown more as a novelty than actual food production (though they are edible). I planted ten seeds.
Goat Horn Peppers - A hot variety, grown for the interesting name. I planted ten seeds.
Bob's Pickling Peppers - I didn't get much information on this variety other than they're likely best eaten pickled - which really, I could have figured from the name alone. I didn't try real hard to research this one, but information was not forthcoming either. I figure, why not try it out and see what we get? I planted ten seeds.
Princess Faten Pepper - This one is a bit of a mystery. Like the Bob's Pickling, it was a freebie from PepperLover. This one seems to have absolutely no information whatsoever available. I found a few comments here and there from people asking what it was, people saying they were going to grow it out, but no results. Nobody came back to those posts to update, I found no photos, no information at all. If these produce peppers, I promise to write up about them. I planted nine seeds in this container, which leaves me with about four seeds to try indoors to see if I can get these to grow.
Romanian Sweet Pepper - An interesting variety that starts off ivory colored, then turns orange and then into red at maturity. It's said to have a nice thick wall and a sweet flavor. I do love my mild peppers! I planted ten seeds in this container.
Root Beer? Iris - While out in the yard today I noticed the bucket we'd brought some irises over from the old house had never gotten put in the ground. It still had dried flower stalks on it, so I harvested them and dug through to find eleven seeds. I think these are the root beer irises, but they might not be. We also had Rare Treat, and Siberian irises. I'm going to bet on Root Beer though. Seed produced irises are always a little different than their parent stock, so if these come up they'll be an interesting mystery. I planted all 11 seeds.
I know I promised a live stream. We managed to get it partially set up. The problem is that the only way to get it to stream to YouTube is to stream everything on my computer - which means I can't write my blog, update the Facebook page, or do anything else on my computer while it's streaming. And anything that pops up will be visible in the video.
Unfortunately tomorrow is another long day for Tony to work, and then we won't have time when he gets back to work on it, so it won't be until Wednesday evening that he can mess with settings and try to get it figured out. We are working on it - and as soon as I can get it up and running, without sharing my computer screen, I will certainly post about it here and on our Facebook page.
And lastly - the lady we bought Josh from - who we also bought the four goslings and the duckling currently in the brooder from... She's hatching Indian Runner ducklings tonight and tomorrow... Guess who's buying more ducklings!?
It's been snowing all day, with high winds. Several times the snow was going past the window completely horizontally. There are drifts up to three feet deep, though we probably only got 8-10 inches total. You can no longer see the 5-gallon buckets that are beside the garage. Several of our windows are now caked in snow due to the winds pressing snow into the screens. We made no effort to shovel the driveway today due to the winds. School was called off this morning, and by this evening they'd already announced a two hour delay for tomorrow as well.
This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the worst winter weather I've seen here in Minnesota. Not by a long shot. We can still open our doors, the electricity is still on, and we have heat. It is the worst we've gotten so far in the new house, but it's all good. That two hour delay tomorrow means kids can bundle up and help shovel the driveway. Tony is supposed to go back to work tomorrow, but I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work. We have a long driveway, and just snow shovels and man-power (or woman and child power on days Tony works). Anyone have a snowblower they'd be willing to sell for cheap in the Brainerd/Staples area? I just can't afford the $500 they go for new, and we did not budget in hiring someone to come plow (we can save money and shovel it ourselves - right?).
Using Google maps and the scale for distance, it looks like the driveway is roughly 850 feet long (.16 mile)
I've been hitting the penny auctions on eBay. My weird way of coping with stress. Today I won some blue seed beads, some unicorn charms, more moss rose seeds, a necklace (for #1), a bracelet (for #1), and a pair of earrings (future bribe for chores when I need a little extra help around the house).
I am still working on researching tomato and pepper varieties. I don't think I'm going to be able to get through them all before it's too late to start seeds, so I'm going to end up winging it... There are a few varieties I definitely want to plant though. Cow's Tit and Dino Eggs tomatoes, and Albanian Red Hot, Bell of Lebanon, and Black Pearl peppers to name a few. Some of these I have very limited seed (think 5 or fewer seeds in the collection), so it's of utmost importance that I grow them out.
Sage seems to be doing well today. Her eyes are open, she's been chewing on her feet (playing?) and Floki has resumed nursing as I have found her in the box with the kitten a couple of times, without me having to place her in the box.
Here's a quick video I recorded this morning.
I'm continuing to work on #1's purse. I didn't snap a photo of it today, but I got the bag portion done and I'm working on the flap now. Then it'll just be a matter of adding the loop and button closure and the cross body strap. It's looking pretty good. She chose the same variegated yarn I used for my prototype coaster (which I still love and used every day). I will try to get an updated photo tomorrow of my progress (or maybe even a finished product).
I made banana bread in the bread machine last night. This morning I took it out, sliced some of it up, packaged a couple slices for some of #1's friends (she wanted to take some to school to share) and asked the other kids if they wanted any. Only one kid got to taste it before our *very* naughty dog jumped up and stole the entire loaf right off the stove top! Lesson learned! Next time, it needs to be pushed all the way back, or put away as soon as it's sliced! Too bad I used the last of the bananas, and we're snowed in now. I guess maybe tomorrow I will make another loaf. Perhaps with peanut butter or something else I can find around the house.
This morning I went to check on kittens and found just Rosemary and Sage in the box. I admit, my first thought was that Floki had eaten Basil... She did kill kittens in her last litter. Then I heard the weak mew coming from under the fish tank stand a couple feet from the box. There was tiny Basil, chilled and weak, but alive. I don't know which cat pulled him out of the nest box, everyone here has their suspicions... It could be Mabel, grandma to this litter, who has attempted to steal Floki's kittens in the past and has started trying to lay in the box with Floki and the babies. It could be NetherQuartz, who takes any opportunity he can to attempt to treat a wandering kitten like a toy (which is why we moved them to a box they couldn't escape from). Or maybe Floki knows there's something wrong and is moving him out of the box? Or moving him to one of the sideways boxes on the fish tank stand and he fell out? I don't know.
I also don't know how long he'd been out on his own. One of his little toes is swollen, he's got little marks all over him now, and I strongly suspect one of the ladies moved him out of the box and then NetherQuartz tried to "play" with him.
I warmed him back up with my hands before returning him to his sisters, who welcomed him immediately by piling all over him and then sleeping in a heap together.
I again held him to assure that he got some nursing time without his big sisters knocking him down. He always seems to do so well, latching on, good suction, but never any swallowing motions. Below was the photo I took after I snuck my hand away from supporting him and blocking his sisters. They all seemed to be asleep but still attached to momma. The size difference is becoming painfully obvious. Basil is minuscule compared to plump Sage.
I went off to do some housework and returned a bit later to find Basil nursing of his own accord. No assistance and he'd found and held a teat against his sisters! Mind it was one of the front ones with less milk, but all the same, my hopes rose. I really hope this little one pulls through... though every ounce of logic and past experience tells me he doesn't stand a chance.
I did take another brief video today. I suspect it may be the last with three kittens in it. Basil can't hold out forever, and he's so thin now that I have to wonder how he's even here with us still tonight as I type this up before bed. Tony insists he's "looking stronger" and seems "more active" tonight, but I don't see it. I would absolutely love to see Basil grow up and be a spunky, playful, loving soul. I want so badly to see how he does with his bad leg and his nub tail. I want to see if his coat develops colors later or if he will stay white. I want to see him open his eyes, to play with toys, to pounce and play with his sisters.
Tonight I weighed each of the kittens. Sage is 4 ounces, Rosemary is 3 ounces, and Basil is 2 ounces. Why is there such a drastic difference between 2 and 3 ounces, but not between 3 and 4 ounces? Either way, here's the video from today - complete with a cameo from Mabel (their Rex grandma). She saw the box was empty and came to see what I was doing with them.
After completing most of the house chores, I sat down to work more on #5's bag. I got to the point where I could go no farther without the next color, so I texted Tony to let him know what I needed.
When he got home late tonight after working a close shift, I quick did the last four rounds with the new colors. The bag itself is complete. Now I just need to make and attach the straps (they will also be matching Ninja Turtle colors). What a cool creation - and even cooler that I made it up myself. No pattern, no Pintrest photo... just an idea in my head! I hope the straps work the way I think they should.
This bag now measures 17 inches wide by 17 inches deep. It took almost an entire skein of yarn to produce over three days (so far). Tomorrow I plan to do the straps and get a finished photo. Then onward to #4's bag (which I already started while waiting for Tony to bring home the new yarn). Hers will be a cross-body purse with flap and button/loop closure made from variegated pink/purple/blue yarn.
Today I finished the purse project I started yesterday. Yes, that's right.. An entire project in two days! Wow!
I used a yarn I had in the closet with a variegated pattern of bright colors. I didn't use a pattern or anything, I just made it up as I went along. It turned out quite nicely. I even made an attached strap.
Why did I create a colorful purse? While going through old laundry that hadn't been unpacked yet, I came across my skirts. I love my skirts. They're bright colors, elastic wastes, thin fabric, flowy and comfortable. The one problem? No pockets. I carry my phone, cash, and medication in my pockets all the time. I needed a way to carry small incidentals with me while wearing the skirts. These colors at least somewhat match most of my skirts. I imagine this purse will be getting a lot of use this summer!
Above you can see the front of the purse. There's a flap half the length of the purse that comes over the top to prevent spilling my goodies when I sit down. Weirdly enough the color schematic also makes it look weirdly like a rainbow.
Below you can see it from the back with the pretty vivid pink and lack of green. The strap is long enough to go over one shoulder so the purse sits at my opposite hip (cross body style).
As soon as I completed it, all the kids asked me to make bags and purses for them too. Seems like I'll be busy for a while! I just wish they'd do all the s\chores so I could spend all day crocheting new projects. Alas, the dishes and laundry would pile up if I only did crafts and fun things all day.
I did start on #5's bag. He wants one big enough to carry around several of his toys, so his is a lot bigger than mine. I only have the very bottom portion done so far, but it's clear we will need to go buy more yarn for his project!
Rosemary and Sage, the two hairless kittens are growing and active. They are thriving. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for little Basil, the Rex-coated male. He's fading away before our eyes, and there doesn't seem to be anything we can do to help him out.
At least twice a day (usually several more), I take the time to sit with Floki and her kittens and make sure that little Basil is getting attached to a teat and nursing. Even if this means literally holding him so he doesn't tip over and let go, or keeping the girls away as they tend to climb all over and try to steal his nursing spot. Yesterday I was suspicious of his nursing. While Rosemary beside him was nursing with the familiar "tick tick tick" ear movements that anyone who's bottle fed a kitten will immediately recall... Basil made sucking motions with his mouth, tongue in the proper position, firmly attached to the teat, but his throat wasn't moving, his ears never moved. I don't think he's actually swallowing anything. Nothing comes out his nose, and I looked in his mouth. There doesn't seem to be any cleft palate issues going on. I know he's got a bad leg and a short tail, but I have to wonder if something else isn't right with him internally. While his sisters are putting on a layer of fat and starting to look more healthy and rounded, Basil remains thin, to the point of concern.
Unfortunately, our vet has told us before that there's really nothing that can be done for such tiny kittens. Medicine and interventions tend to fail, they're too small for successful surgery, and often times they succumb to the stress of attempting any kind of treatment anyway. This means that we are largely responsible for offering home care as best we can until they are at least six weeks old. I don't think Basil is much longer for this world. It would surprise me very much if he was still with us by Monday morning. He has already started to separate himself from his sisters. I find him in the corner of the box. He lays down and doesn't move around much. His cry is weak and small. But today as I held him in my hands and gently petted his tiny head, he purred. I do believe this is a record. I have never had a kitten this young ever find their purr. It was a beautiful, special moment.
I took a two minute video of the three together in the box while Floki was off at the food dish. You can see how much Basil struggles to get back upright when he is tipped over. He is so weak, and it breaks my heart, but I don't know what else to do for him. I have moved the kittens to a box near the heat register to assure that even if Basil wanders from his sisters, he will stay at least somewhat warm.
Floki continues to diligently care for all three, only leaving them long enough to get a drink, or eat food, or use the litter box.
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!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.