We are safely home from our Disneyland vacation and we were practically mobbed by the chickens when they saw us pulling into the driveway around seven in the evening. If you’ve never seen chickens run at you at full speed it’s a sight to behold. And a little scary, because it looks very much like a stampede when 12 of them do it. Another blogger I read once mentioned that it reminded her of that scene in Jurassic Park where the raptors are running and I have to say, she was not wrong. They’ve been well-cared for while we were gone, but were definitely happy to see us.
The chickens in the photo above are a black Australorp named Half-pint and a white leghorn named Ecru. Half-pint was one of the tiniest chicks I’ve ever seen and she grew so slowly, as those of her breed do. So she and another chicken of the same breed were named Half-pint and Pipsqueak. Now of course they are the second and third biggest chickens we have. It took them longer to grow, but they sure made up for it. So Half-pint goes by Halfie these days and Pipsqueak just by Pip or Pippy. Ecru and the other leghorn Eggshell, got their names because I was sick of hearing them both being called Whitey by the children. I thought we at least needed to give them names that were somewhat more adventurous than Whitey and Other Whitey. Ecru and Eggshell are easy to tell apart because Eggshell is always dirty. She rolls in the mud. Ecru somehow manages to stay a pretty pristine white.
I didn’t check on the rabbits last night as my mother said they were all tucked in for the night when we got home and I try not to disturb them except during feeding and watering times. But I took care of them this morning and they are all doing beautifully. Mom took excellent care of them and made sure they all got handled and petted. This is important in getting them used to being touched so that they aren’t afraid of us during mating, cage cleaning, or butchering time. The little ones have grown considerably in the last eight days. They are now 5.5 weeks old. I will take a picture at six weeks.
I will need to go to the feed store and pick up another water bottle for Piper and the kits. They are going through it pretty fast and having two will make it so we don’t have to do a mid-day check. I’ll need to pick up feed and straw anyway in a week so I’ll just do it all now while the husband is home to do the hauling. I’ll need to make or get another cage soon. In 2.5 weeks it will be time to breed Piper to Leo and then start weaning the kits. By nine weeks they will need to be in the grow out cage or cages, and then we will butcher sometime between week 10 and week 12. I am not looking forward to that, but it is the reason we chose to keep rabbits. And if all goes well, Piper will be giving birth to the next batch of babies and we’ll soon have new little fluffers to raise.
It was very cold here last night, 29 degrees F. It is only 37 now. A far cry from the 70 degree days we left in California. Despite the temperature change, it is good to be home. There is no bed that is as comfortable as my own bed and no kitchen that is as good to cook in as my own kitchen. And now I get to start planning my late April garden in earnest.
My goal for that is to plant enough green beans and enough tomatoes to provide for a whole year of sliced beans and diced tomatoes. Also I want to provide for all of our potato needs, snow pea needs, and carrot needs for the year. I don’t know if I’ll have much luck with carrots, I never have, but I’m thinking about growing them in large bins so that I know the soil is completely right for them. We’ll see. I’d like to have canned potatoes and canned carrots on hand for making faster stews, along with canned beef, chicken, or rabbit. Stew can take so long to make from scratch and there are just some days you just do not want to cook and being able to pour and dump makes everything so much simpler.
I also plan on planting more herbs for drying. My thyme, oregano, and sage made it through the winter so I will be adding some more perennial herbs and basil this year. The herbs I dried last year are gone, but the bushes are getting bigger so I think they will produce enough for a year this summer. I am hoping my dill self-seeded and will come back on its own. I also want to plant some mustard for seeds for grinding to make my own mustard. I already make mustard from store-bought ingredients, but I’d like to try my hand at being more self-sufficient with it. Of course to totally do it myself I’d have to learn how to make vinegar. That’s a bit down the road for me. But if I can grow my own seeds and grind them, that will cover the biggest expense in making mustard (which isn’t all that expensive to make to begin with).
I’m about due to make mustard. I’m on the last jar I made last summer anyway. I’ll do a recipe with photos and post it here next time I make it.