Saturday, March 24, 2012

Top 20 Tasks That Have Been Keeping Me Busy

1.  Shovel dirt to fill the four new raised beds in my kitchen garden section.
2.  Cover the strawberries with bird netting after realizing the berries I stepped outside to pick were gone!
3.  Shovel dirt.
4.  Move perennials from the kitchen garden section to other parts of the yard to create a clean slate and to clean up the mess created when one flower overtakes another.
5.  Shovel dirt.
6.  Spend five minutes staring at the cute baby bunnies.
7.  Shovel dirt.
8.  Inventory my seedlings and start to plan what is going where.
9.  Shovel dirt.
10.  Dehydrate dill for future pickle-making.  I'm actually proud of myself on this one.  My dill always goes to seed before the cucumbers are ready to pickle, and I have to resort to purchased dried dill to make them.  That is senseless and wasteful when I grow dill every year.  I'm stoked to have my homegrown dill dried and ready for pickling season.
11.  Shovel dirt.
12.  Spend five minutes staring at the cute baby bunnies.
13.  Sand and paint old windows for a trellis project.  Three down and three to go.
14.  Shovel dirt.
15.  Start to direct seed some veggies into the garden.  Normally I don't put any summer items out until the first week in April, but this year has been so warm that I'm taking a chance.  I don't see any frost potential in the next week or two, so I'm jumping the gun by a few weeks.
16.  Shovel dirt.
17.  Research irrigation ideas for the raised beds.  This is what I think I'm going to do.$8.16%20Do-It-Yourself%20Garden%20Irrigator.htm
18.  Spend five minutes staring at the cute baby bunnies.
19.  Shovel dirt.
20.  Wonder with all of the dirt shoveling going on why those blasted beds aren't full yet.

Happy homesteading,


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Freak Out

So, this morning, I went out to check on the kits, and I could only find two in the nest box.  I saw a small drop of blood in the hay and started to panic.  As crazy as it sounds, I thought Olivia had eaten one of her babies.  I know mother rabbits will eat their babies, but to my knowledge, that happens shortly after birth.  It was an irrational thought because they will be two weeks old on Thursday, their eyes are open, and they are fat and healthy babies.  My irrationality came from the night before.  Normally I pluck Olivia and not shear her, but she made such a mess of her wool while lining the nest, I had no choice.  Plus, it's getting really hot fast, and I knew she would be more comfortable if I relieved her of her wool.  So, I plucked most of it and sheared her down.  Fast forward to this morning and my panic-induced conclusion was that she was so shocked at being sheared, she ate one of her babies.  I know it makes no sense because she is used to being plucked, and though I've never sheared her since I got her, I'm sure she's been sheared in her life.  And she behaved perfectly normal last night; she didn't act traumatized.  If anything, she probably felt cooler and better.  But what else could I think?  There were no signs of a predator attack, but that little drop of blood threw me for a loop.  I pulled the nest box out of the cage and searched it top to bottom and front to back.  The missing baby was definitely not on the cage floor, and I knew it just didn't spontaneously cumbust.  Just before going into full panic mode, I saw the hay in her bowl slightly move.  The baby had somehow crawled out of the nest box, into the hay bowl and was burrowed at the bottom beneath the hay.  I have no idea how it got itself into that bowl.  The bowl has really high sides and while the kits are starting to move around, I marvel at this one's ability to hoist itself up over the rim of the bowl.  In hindsight, I don't know why I ever thought such a thing could happen.  How could a mother eat her baby and only leave one small hint of blood?  She would have to be pretty adept at it, and to my knowledge Olivia doesn't even have that history in her background.  I apologized profusely to Olivia and begged her forgiveness for thinking she ate her baby.  I then proceeded to go inside and put a shot of whiskey in my coffee.  Just joking, but it did cross my mind. 

To make myself feel like less of a freak, please tell me you've had an irrational thought or two about your animals. 

By the way, I have two ruby-eyed whites and either a blue tort or a lilac tort.  I'll post pictures in a few days.     

Monday, March 19, 2012


Well, we started working on the new section of the yard yesterday.  Nate built the first four beds, and since our yard slopes, he had to move quite a bit of dirt to get them level.  I worked on moving the flowers that were in the way.  Of course, every place I wanted to put a bed had a stand of flowers.  I gave some to friends and transplanted others.  I still have some to relocate but the bulk of the plants that were sitting in the middle of a bed have been moved, so I can work around the others for now. 

I had been trying to work out a plan for this area on paper, but because I don't have a perfect rectangle, it was difficult for me.  I decided to make the bottle tree the focal point of the garden and work off of that as far as bed placement and future projects.  So with a tentative plan in my head, I decided to build the first set of beds and go from there.  Now, I can see where I have more space and in other places not as much.  The next task is filling them with dirt.  I hope to have at least one or two full by the time I plant my summer garden so I can take advantage of this growing space. 

It seems like lately all I've been doing is shoveling dirt to fill beds.  These beds are the most recent ones.  We built these along the fence to help combat the neighbor's weeds that creep over and take over the veggies growing on and in front of the fence.  Hopefully that will solve that problem.

After yesterday, I am one tired girl today!

Happy homesteading,


Saturday, March 17, 2012

One Week

The babies turned a week old on Thursday, and they are staring to look like bunnies, not piglets.  It looks like I have one tort like last time, probably either a lilac tort or a blue tort.  I could potentially have two whites, but I think it's too soon to tell with them.  Once they open their eyes, that may help.  A ruby-eyed white one would be fabulous!  They should open their eyes in the next day or two.  Really, whatever color they are doesn't matter, as long as they are healthy and thriving.


Happy homesteading,


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Toot! Toot!, Angora Babies, and What Did I Get Myself Into?

That's me tooting my own horn.  Just joking.  I took my practical today for beekeeping and am now a certified beekeeper.  Believe me, there are no special privileges or awards.  It just shows I have hands-on practical knowledge of beekeeping.  I can point out certain elements of a hive and answer some "what-if" questions.  It doesn't mean I'm a successful beekeeper, if harvesting honey is the benchmark.  Though the hive is strong coming into spring, and I'm hopeful honey is in our future.  During the practical exam, we noted several queen cells as well as evidence of a productive queen.  We cut out the queen cells to prevent swarming.  They have plowed through the honey I noted a few weeks ago but are in the process of capping more.  I don't believe in feeding sugar water for the sake of harvesting honey.  I believe eating their own honey will do more for them than substituting a substandard food.  So, we will be patient for a honey harvest.  Spring has sprung around here, and everything is starting to bloom so they should have good nectar sources in the coming weeks.  They are doing a stellar job of collecting pollen.  The hive was loaded with pollen.  We didn't see anymore evidence of mites, so the powdered sugar may have done the trick.  I will check them in another 10-14 days for honey production progress and queen cells.

Olivia, my English Angora, gave birth to four kits last night/this morning.  I found them this morning at various places in the nest box.  They were cold to the touch, except one, so I rushed them into the house and placed them on a towel over a heating pad.  Three of them were really fat and healthy looking, and I could tell they had nursed because they looked like balloons about to pop.  I brought in Olivia and tried to get the runt to suckle, but it just didn't have the strength.  I also tried to nurse it with a dropper, but it didn't respond to that either.  It died shortly after that.  They are now snuggled together in the nest box covered with a layer of Olivia's wool.  Here's a picture of the four.  You can see how much smaller the runt is next to the other three.  They are the most vulnerable the first ten days, so please wish them, Olivia and me good luck. 



I opened my mouth and out popped, "Yes, I'll do it."  What is it that I agreed to do you may ask?  I agreed to speak this Saturday at a local health food store on the subject of Urban Homesteading.  The store is hosting an all day event with different speakers on subjects such as beekeeping and emergency preparedness.  What have I gotten myself into?  I'm going with an arsenal of photos, stories, and hard lessons learned.  Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated right now!

Happy homesteading,


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bantam Babies and Chicken Innards

For a while, I have been wanting to get some girlfriends for Nappy.  He's such a little fella, and the big girls won't submit to him for anything.  About six weeks ago, I bought two bantam chicks.  This one is mostly Cochin.

It is turning into the cutest little chicken.  OMG!  It is such a low rider, and its feathered feet make it look like it is constantly sitting.  Nate says it looks like it has bell-bottoms on. 

The other chick we got is part Old English Game and part Cochin.  It should be along the same size as Nappy.

This one is turning into a cute bird too.  It doesn't have the flair the Cochin has, but it should be just Nappy's size.  He'll appreciate that.

Now the dilemma.  One of them is a rooster.  Even when we had them in the brood box, we could hear one of them trying to crow in the mornings.  A screeching noise that would stop when one of us would approach the box.  I have even heard it in the morning coming from the shed and run where we have them now.  I just can't figure out which one it is.  I think it's the black one because as a chick it would run up and peck my hand when I would reach in the box to change the food and water.  It has since stopped that behavior.  However, today, we put them into the animal yard to start getting to know everyone else, and Nappy made a beeline for them.  He flared up, and the Old English also flared back at Nappy.  So, now I don't know if it's the Cochin or the Old English.  Interestingly, the standard Wyandotte chick that I suspect is also a rooster also ran over and flared up.  Nappy flared up at the Wyandotte and made him back off.  The Wyandotte is now bigger than Nappy.  Nappy may be little, but he doesn't take any crap.    

Needless to say, it was an interesting dynamic to watch.  We potentially have 3 roosters on our hands, so we will have to decide what to do with the extras.  One that note, I attended a chicken processing class this weekend.  I learned so much and most importantly can now disembowel a chicken, just another thing to add to my farm repertoire. 

Happy homesteading,