Friday, May 27, 2011

Cold Turkey

Even though I knew the time would come to sell the babies, it seemed in the future, always another day.

Buddha Boy was my first to go a few weeks ago to the home of a friend.  I took it hard but well enough since I still had two babies at home and BB was going to a place where I knew I could see him in the future.

At this point the weaning wasn't too severe.

Then, I sold the lilac buck.  I got a deposit on him a few weeks ago, about the time BB left, with a promise to pick him up by June 1.  He was going to TN, over 6 hours away.  I knew I would never see him again.  That stung, but I still had the lilac tort doe I had been calling Sweet Pea.


I had received some inquiries about her, but no one seemed serious until a few days ago.  I've also been screening inquiries to try to ensure good matches were being made, so I eliminated some prospects in that way.  I set up a time for the lady to come see her on Thursday.  Also, the lady from TN called to say she was coming to get her baby on Thursday to beat the holiday traffic.  Yesterday morning, I told Nate the buck would probably be gone by the time he got home from work so he should say his goodbyes.  I prepared myself to see my boy go knowing I still had the doe to ease the pain. 

A slow wean was what I could handle. 

In the back of my mind, I didn't expect to see the doe go.  Maybe I didn't really want her to go.  She went; she's gone.  The lady who bought her was very nice and has had an angora in the past, so she knows the care and upkeep required.  She immediately fell in love and whipped the cash out of her pocket before I knew what was happening.  I stood stunned as she and her friend drove away.  Then the TN lady arrived to pick up her baby.  He went; he's gone. 

Cold turkey in one day, and Nate didn't get to tell Sweet Pea goodbye.  We were both sad this morning.

I gave Blue Moon and Olivia some extra lovin' today, and told them they made such beautiful babies that someone drove over 6 hours one way to buy one and that when she saw him in person for the first time, she said it was worth every mile.   


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blazing Hot!

Okay, it's not even June and for the past several days the temps have almost reached 100 degrees!  I can't bear to thing what the dog days of summer will bring.  I just know July and August are going to be brutal. 

My biggest concern with the rabbits was managing the heat, since they are covered in wool.  Imagine wearing a wool coat in 100 degree weather.  Not pleasant.  They are in the shade, so that provides some relief.  And, for the past few days, I've been freezing 2 liter bottles of water and putting them in the cages.  The rabbits quickly figured out what to do.  When I checked on them later the first day, each rabbit was stretched out by the bottle, and when I placed my hand between the bottle and the rabbit, it was cool to the touch.  The babies were stretched out one on each side of their bottle.  Too cute.

I also clipped down Blue Moon a few days ago, and he looks so pitiful, not like himself.  It looks like a $5 haircut at a beauty college.  I told him it would grow back, but he wasn't hearing anything from me.  He sulked for about a day, and now he greets me again.  I think he knows it is for the best, but he wouldn't let me take any photos.  I've been plucking Olivia, and her coat is thinned out pretty good now.  Her wool seems to release better than BM's, so she is easier to pluck.  She'll probably get clipped as well though.

So, we face the summer with shade, frozen water bottles, and crew cuts.

Happy homesteading,



Friday, May 20, 2011

SVB, Round 3

I keep writing about squash vine borers because they won't go away, and being a somewhat newbie gardener, I wish I had someone to make me aware of them last year.  I lost all of my squash last year, and I'm fighting desparately to keep the ones I have this year.  In the past few days, I've picked probably 30-40 eggs off my squash plants.  I came home today mid afternoon during a break in appointments, and I saw her on my cucumbers.  My cucumbers did not get hit last year, so I haven't been concerned about them, even though I knew there was a possibility she may lay on them.  I've had a pretty stressful day, so seeing her just put me over the edge.  I tried to sneak up on her, but she kept flying to either side of the fence through the welded wire.  Finally she made her way over to my squash plants, and as slowly as I could, I worked my way over.  I knelt down and tried to grab her, but missed.  She travelled to the next plant, and I was able to cup her in both hands, and the rest is history.  She will lay no more eggs on my plants.  Of course, there are probably others so the fight continues.  Once she was out of the picture, I did my daily sweep of the squash plants and probably removed about 10 eggs, and then I, with a huge sigh, made my way back to my cukes.  I found eggs on my cucumber plants, probably about 6.  I have some beautiful Delikatesse cukes just forming, and I'm going to be heartbroken if I lose them. My lemon cukes haven't started blooming yet, so I found no eggs on them.  Now, I can only hope she just started laying on them today, and I haven't  underestimated her territory.

I've lost a few eggs in the mulch as I've tried to pick them off the plants, so I'm wondering if the eggs have to be on the plant when they hatch to give the borer the best opportunity to bore or can a just hatched borer travel?  I know once they decimate a plant, they can migrate to others, but do they have the power when they are first hatched to travel to find a host vine?  That's probably a hard question to answer, but if anyone has any insight, please let me know.

My back-up plan is to start a succession round of squash and cukes just in case the current ones get destroyed.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wool Dryer Balls and Squash Vine Borers Round Two

Recently I discovered wool dryer balls, and while right now, I line dry as much as possible, we do use the dryer as well.  These dryer balls are supposed to lift and separate your clothes in the dryer to help them dry faster, and they act as dryer sheets as well.  It's recommended you use 4-5 balls in a normal load.   

I thought making dryer balls would be a great way to use up some of the junk wool I get off of Olivia and Blue Moon.  So, I took a sock and stuffed it with wool until I had a pretty good looking ball, and then I used a twist tie to close it up.  I threw it in with the laundry, and it felted.  I added more wool and washed it again.  Now it's about the size of a tennis ball.  I haven't tested it yet, but I'm anxious to see how it works.  I'll keep you posted.

Now I need to get some more junk wool together and make 3-4 more.  Do you have any experience with wool dryer balls?

Here's a pic:

The battle with the squash vine borers rages on.  I've seen her several times since my last post.  She is a diligent moth, and she has more time than I do to hang around the garden.  The only thing the neem oil seemed to do is burn the leaves, and the DE did nothing as well.  So, I have been faithfully checking each plant daily and manually removing the red sesame seed size eggs.  I find them on the leaves, in the nooks where the leaf grows from the stalk above and below, and at the base.  The eggs stick pretty well to the vine, and they have a hard crust, but I have been able to scrape them off with my fingernail.  Once I get them off the plant, I've been piercing them with my fingernail.  It sounds tedious, but it really only takes about 10-15 minutes a day.  This morning I didn't find any eggs, and I spotted my first zucchini developing.  Let's hope this year is better than last!

Happy homesteading,


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trespassing for Fruit and Market Finds

I've never eaten loquats before yesterday.  I don't know if I've ever heard of loquats before a few weeks ago.  My friend mentioned them to me during a phone conversation, and then she gave me some loquat jelly.  It's delicious, and I remember her discussing the location of a few trees with somone else on FB.  Yesterday, I decided to try to find some.

Long story short, I drove over the to quasi-public park and found a loquat tree almost on the street outside of the main gate.  As I was picking fruit, some homeowner came over and told me the park was closed and that I was trespassing.  He asked me what I was doing, and I said, "Picking loquats."  Then he asked me if I even knew what a loquat is.  Hello?  I said I'm picking loquats.  Obviously if I called them loquats, I know what they are. 

I left and went to our downtown market, and lookie lookie at what I found for sale.


A loquat tree!  If you're curious about loquats, here's a link:

There is a girl at the market who sells "exotic" plants, at least plants that aren't commonly sold in these parts.  Her booth also had a variety of citrus trees, and last year, I wanted one, but they were out of my price range.  Yesterday, she had some sizes closer to what I could afford plus a few I couldn't.  So, I bought what I was told was a meyer lemon, but when I got it home, I looked at the tag and saw that it was a kaffir lime.  I didn't really want a kaffir lime tree, so I had to go back to the market.  I just wanted to trade, but of course, they didn't have a meyer lemon of that size, so the gentleman who helped me upgraded my purchase and I got one of the larger meyer lemon trees for the price of a small one.  Awesome!

Here's my new meyer lemon tree!

The lemon tree has to be potted because our winters are too harsh for citrus, and I'll probably pot the loquat tree for now until I decide where I can put it. 

If I can get everything fruiting and keep the birds and tree rats away, I will have quite the menagerie of fruits on the homestead.  Loquats, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, strawberries, figs (two varieties), ground cherries, garden huckleberries, pomegranates, oranges, meyer lemons, and apples (I don't expect apples really because they don't get enough sunlight where I have them.)

Oh, and props to our outdoor kitty (OP2).  We saw her stalking a tree rat in the backyard yesterday.  I told her to park herself under the peach tree and do her job as a farm kitty.

Happy homesteading,


Friday, May 13, 2011

Things That Make Me Happy

First blueberries of the season

Not having to buy onions at the store

Gifts from a friend, loquat jelly and vidalia onion relish

Spotting the first tomato, a Green Zebra

Trying new things, garden huckleberries and ground cherries

The scent of a gardenia

Happy homesteading,


Around the Garden

And my favorite one because I caught one of my girls hard at work.

I'm trying to add more color to the garden, and I have several old window frames without glass and some leftover paint.  Nate wanted to get rid of the window frames, so I had to come up with a plan to keep them.  I decided to paint them different colors and hang them along the fence.  It's simple, but I like it.  This is my first one. 

Happy homesteading,


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Oh Yeah, It's On Like Donkey Kong

This little -ucker is on my most wanted list right now!  The flea beetle has moved to #2.

This, my friends, is a squash vine borer.  It was the cause of my lack of zucchini or any squash for that matter last year.  This time last year, I saw evidence of my first zucchini and shortly after it started developing, I would come home from work, and the plant leaves would be wilted.  I thought the plants just needed more water, and my lack of knowledge did me in.  Not this year.  I have been on the lookout for it this year.  I have been faithfully checking my squash for signs each day.  A few of my plants are just starting to bloom.  Today, as I was checking each plant, something caught my eye.  I looked up, and then surprise, recognition, and shock flooded over me.  She was hovering over the squash plants in the bed next to me and looking me dead in the eye!  The nerve of this -itch!  I know she knows I know what she is and what she plans to do to my squash plants.  Before I could react, she flitted away.  Last year I was too late, and she had already laid her eggs and they had already bored into the vine.  This year I plan to be as proactive as possible.  I doused every plant with neem oil and then dusted them with diatomaceous earth.  I found every container in my house that had yellow in it and filled them with water and put them in the beds.  Of course, they are attracted to yellow, the color of squash blossoms, so these are supposed to work as traps.  I've read mixed reviews about wrapping tin foil around the vines, so I haven't done that yet.  I've already been battling flea beetles on my eggplants, so I'm trained and ready to fight.  It's on!

Happy homesteading,


Thursday, May 5, 2011

More Bunny Photos, Please!

You all seem to love the bunny photos, and why shouldn't you?  They are to die for! 

A friend is buying a bunny for her daughter's 4H project, and she and her husband brought their daughters over yesterday to pick out a bunny.  And for good reason, they couldn't decide.  Do they want the super cute doe who has the sweetest face known to man or the lilac buck or the blue buck I call Buddha Boy?  He is so fat and mellow!  So they left a deposit with me, and I'm waiting to find out which one they've chosen.  Plus, my friend wants to harvest the fiber, so one of my babies will be the perfect pet for them.

So, I have pedigree English Angora rabbits for sale.  They will be 7 weeks old on Monday, 5/9, and I will start to wean them at that point.  If you live within driving distance of eastern Georgia/western South Carolina and are interested in a bunny, let me know.

Without further delay, here is the main attraction!

This is the one I've been calling Buddha Boy.  He has the most mellow personality, and he is a chunky monkey!  His smokey wool is starting to grow around his mouth, so it looks like he has a moustache.  He looks like his daddy! 

This is my lilac buck, and one of the girls commented yesterday that he looked lavender in the sunlight.  That's exactly what he should look like.  He was frisking about today acting a fool and throwing the toy rattle I keep in the cage.   

Finally, this is my lilac tort doe.  She is fawn and lilac colored, and like I said above, she has the sweetest face! 

I can't believe how much they've grown in the past few weeks.

Happy homesteading,


Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Five Queens of Colony Two

Oh, the trials and tribulations of beekeeping.  I tell you, if it can happen in beekeeping, it has or is happening to us.  The fact that we continue to persevere means we're really stupid and don't know when to quit or we just aren't quitters (yet). 

This is the story of a chemically-murdered queen, a queen-cell queen, an unprotected installed queen, a pseudo usurper queen, and a protected installed queen.  This saga is almost as bad as Henry VIII's parade of queens and almost like them:  divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, widowed.  I love Anne Boleyn by the way. 

We had a swarm delivered to us three weeks ago.  The person who delivered it discovered once it was delivered and opened that it didn't have a queen because he killed her with miticide (ugh!).  That's one queen down.  A queen cell was naturally formed to replace the queen the colony lost, but the person who brought the swarm to us tried to rectify the situation by bringing us a new queen.  He installed her directly into the hive unprotected, and they immediately balled her and more than likely killed her.  When he installed the queen, I asked him if we needed to destroy the queen cell or leave it.  He said leave it and check it in a few days.  In the meantime, a worker bee decided she wanted to be queen, and she started laying eggs, which if you know anything about beekeeping, you know she can only lay drone (male) eggs.  A pseudo queen bee does not a queen make.  This also told us that the installed queen did not survive.  Now, back to the queen cell, she hatched, and up until yesterday, we were hoping she was still in there even though we had a usurper pseudo worker bee queen on our hands.  If the hatched queen was indeed still in the hive, we were waiting to give her time to make her mating flights and assume her throne.  We checked the colony yesterday and could not find her or any evidence she was present. 

So that brings us to our last queen, the protected installed queen.  Believe me, she will be our last queen for this colony.  We bought her today locally, and she came in a Benton queen cage.  We were told this is a risky attempt at re-queening because once a worker bee starts laying, it's hard to convince the rest of the colony a new queen is needed.  They see eggs being laid and they go about their respective jobs.  Everything to them is dandy in the bee world.  So to help ease her transition to the colony, we took two frames containing capped and uncapped brood from our other hive, inserted them in the queenless hive and suspended the new queen in her box between the two frames.  Apparently capped brood emits pheromones, like the queen, so between the brood and queen pheromones and by the time the bees eat through the candy plug of the queen cage, the queen should have had time to establish control of the colony.  If the new queen is accepted, the usurper will be relieved of her duties. 

Long live the queen!