Friday, April 27, 2012

The Bane of My Existence

Do you see the three dark brown sesame seed looking dots on this squash leaf? You can click on the photo for a better look.

Those would be squash vine borer eggs. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I hate them. Last year, I fought viciously and daily to rid my plants of them with no success. I picked them off, tried to bury the vines above the damage to stimulate new root growth, tried to catch the vine borers themselves, used DE, and probably some other tactics I can't remember. I think I got one zucchini and that was it. It is said that in the South you have to lock your car doors in the summer; otherwise, you'll come back and find a bag of squash in the front seat.  Well, my car doors are wide open!  If you can grow organic summer squash near me, bring it on.  Hell, you can load up my trunk if you want to.  I don't see how anyone grows organic squash here.  I

Today I found eggs on my melon plants, winter squash, and my Zucchino Rampicante.  I have always read they don't touch winter squash, cucumbers or melons.  It is the summer squash they gravitate towards.  I chose to try the Zucchino Rampicante this year, rather than zucchini or yellow squash, because I read that even though it's a summer/winter squash, it is resistant to vine borers.  Apparently the vine borers in my neighborhood didn't read the same stuff I did. 

I just picked eight eggs off one of the Zucchino Rampicante plants.  I didn't even walk up front to check the cucumbers.  I'm afraid to.  I think I'm seriously going to cry.


Saturday, April 21, 2012


One thing that is important to me is giving the rabbits an opportunity to exercise and play.  The old chicken run is the perfect arena for playtime.  Jack always has the best time when I put him in the run.  He frisks about and bucks like a little rodeo broncho.  He ricochets himself off the wall, and runs laps of utter joy.  But, his favorite activity by far is digging holes.  He never digs too deep, but even if he did, the whole run is surrounded by buried chicken wire and bricks.  He's not going anywhere, so I let him dig to his heart's content.  He is such a wonderful rabbit with the best personality.  Here are some photos I snapped yesterday.  If you want to see a close-up of a photo, just click on it and a slideshow will pop up.  Enjoy!

Happy homesteading,


Monday, April 16, 2012

Rooster Count

One:  Napoleon, aka Nappy, bantam, Old English

Two:  Big Boy, silver laced Wyandotte, huge next to Nappy

Three:  Sir Elton, a bantam, mostly Cochin

Four:  no name, mostly Old English

Of the five chicks we bought this year, three are roosters!  We gave number four away last week, and now we are down to three.  Nappy, whom we've had the longest, is by far the loudest and crows the most often.  Of the three, he is the one that is most annoying to me.  Sir Elton has a very soft crow, and he only crows a few times a day.  Big Boy just started crowing and while his crow is definitly loud, he also only crows a few times a day max and normally in the morning.  Fortunately, none of them crow early in the morning, at least so far.  Nappy doesn't get revved up until about 7:30, and on a few occasions, around 6:30. 

We've decided to keep Sir Elton (named after Elton John).  We love his flamboyant feathers and his feathered feet.  Since we separated him from the other Old English bantam rooster, he has kept to himself.  He is not aggressive to the other roosters, nor they to him for the most part.  The fact that he rarely crows is a plus for him too.

I actually don't like Nappy.  His crow is shrill, and he has started attacking me when I enter the animal yard.  It doesn't hurt because he is so small, it just startles me when he does it because he comes from behind while I'm walking.  It's terribly annoying.  Nate loves him.  He is very protective of the older hens around Big Boy.  My goal was to get two bantam girlfriends for Nappy, but since both turned out to be roosters, I didn't really meet that goal.

Big Boy is coming into maturity.  He has started crowing and also mounting the ladies, or trying to mount.  A few of them do submit, but Nappy usually runs over and puts a stop to it before anything happens.  Even though he is 5 times the size of Nappy, he runs.  I am curious to see how this plays out.  The other older hens give Big Boy what for when he tries anything, and they end up chasing him away.  His two sidekicks (the light Brahma and black Australorp) are still a bit young, but I suspect if he stays around, they will be his primary hens.  I would like to keep him, so we will wait to see how his crowing develops.  So far, he only crows about once or twice a day for about 5 minutes.  No early crowing either.  Of course, now that I've written that, he will start crowing at 5:30 a.m. 

This is my rooster saga.  If the neighbors have not complained about Nappy, they should have no reason to cmplain about the other tow, at least for the moment.  We shall see how it develops.

Happy homesteading,


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bunny's Babies

Pardon my absence, but work has been a literal nightmare lately.  It has totally sapped my energy and desire to do anything other than the basics and vegetating on the sofa.  Plus, getting those beds filled on top of everything else almost killed me.  Hopefully things are settling down now, and I can get back on the right path.

A few weeks ago, Bunny, my American Chinchilla rabbit gave birth to five kits.  I wasn't sure if she was pregnant, but I placed the nest box on day 28 anyway.  She did look rounder in the belly, but my only experience with pregnant rabbits is Olivia, and her wool totally disguises any belly roundness.  I also noticed Bunny moving the hay around in the nest box, and she ate plenty of it as well, so that really didn't help me decide.  I found her toys in the nest box more than once, so I thought she was playing around.  Then, one evening, when I was returning the angora kits to their mama, I noticed Bunny had totally outfitted her nest box with enough fur to choke a mule, and it was moving.  She didn't play around.  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.  Her nest box was not like that a few hours prior. 

I've had Bunny for several months now, and I bought her as an adult.  I don't really know her background, but she has never warmed up to me.  She's not mean, just very timid around me.  Jack, my AC buck, whom I bought from the same place, also as an adult, is as friendly as can be.  So, knowing Bunny's timidness and not really wanting to stress her out too much, I left the kits alone and decided to check on them the next morning.  They were all fine the next day, and each morning since, I've been peaking in the nest box without touching them. 

I have trusted Bunny to be a good mama, and she has risen to the occasion.  I have pretty much left them alone until I needed to make sure their eyes opened.  So, here are the first pictures.  I have to say, they were really ugly until a few days ago. 

You will notice the fat white one on top of its siblings.  So I have four babies that look just like mama and daddy and one albino. 

I was curious about how a white one ended up in the mix, and while I know it's based on genetics because of my angoras, I didn't realize Bunny and Jack could produce a white baby.  The other four are the spitting image of mama and daddy.  Here is an interesting article on ruby-eyed whites and the genetics behind them.

Technically, these are my first meat rabbits.  I haven't decided what I'm going to do with them yet.  I may sell this bunch to help recuperate some of the cost of the rabbitry or even pay for the rest of the cages I need.  So, we'll see. 

Happy homesteading,


Friday, April 6, 2012

Triple Threat of Cuteness

I have a longer post coming up, but for now, here is a quick peek at our 4 week old English Angora kits.  They are so cute at this age.  They are starting to show their personalities, and it's so interesting to see how each one is different.  Their wool is getting longer, so they are starting to look more like angoras, and it just amazes me how soft they are.  It looks like we have two blue pointed ruby-eyed whites and one blue tort.  Enjoy!

Triple Threat of Cuteness

Cutey patooty!

They would not sit still!

I love looking at them face on.  Are there eyes in there somewhere?

 Happy homesteading,