Despite the weather doing its level best this week to be about as inhospitable as a rooster that does not know his place, my Italian plum tree has held on to its blossoms. And so has the neighbor’s. We have had snow and one night at 30 degrees F, and so much rain you’d think building an ark might be necessary. And the wind. The wind has been trying hard to blow these precious blooms away, but as you can see above, the plum tree is still loaded with white blossoms.
Our blueberry bushes also have blossoms on them. They won’t be berries until mid-July to mid-August depending on what our summer is like, but they are loaded. I saw a couple of bees during an earlier break in the weather. They are also on the little orange flowers that come up everywhere at this time of year. I keep expecting to see dandelions soon, but then I remember the chickens have taken over the last of the grassy areas so we likely won’t actually have dandelions.
Queen still isn’t her old self. We’ve removed her from the flock. She’s in the garage infirmary in her own big box of wood shavings and her own water and food dishes. We figured just keeping her to herself and out of the rain for a few days might help. We’ll be talking with our chicken mentor at the feed store tomorrow to see if there is anything we can do for her or if she knows what the problem might be. I’ve read that adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar to the water is supposed to be helpful with just about anything, but that may just be an old wive’s tale. So far none of the other chickens seem to be trying out for head hen replacement. They are all so mild-mannered though, I’m not sure who would try for it. Patricia is still second in command, but I think she might grieve if Queen dies, which would leave an opening.
All the rabbits are doing well. They are still grooming like crazy. I am wondering if this is just something they do as they get older, or if it is simply having the space to do so. Either tomorrow or the next day I will take the last kit away from Piper. She has already put on some weight and is catching up to her brothers and sisters without having them all in the same cage to compete for food. Phoebe is about two weeks shy of being 4 months old and she has definitely put on another pound. She is growing well. She is a funny rabbit. She does not want to be picked up and held, but if you leave her hutch door open she’ll come to it to be pet for as long as you want to pet her.
As soon as Piper is alone in her cage I am going to give her a half a carrot and do the same for Leo. The others are all too young for that, but I’d like to start giving them an occasional organic vegetable as a treat. Ultimately I’d like to switch them all over to organic feed now I’ve found a place that carries it in the 40 pound bag, but that may take a while. If and when I ever get up to the 32 cage system I’d like to have when we buy our farm (six does, two bucks, and the rest as grow out cages), I’d like to have the feed mixed according to my specifications, even if I have to do a full ton at a time. It can feed both chickens and rabbits, we’ll just need to make sure to have grit and oyster shell available on the side for the birds.
Putting straw on the floor underneath the collection bins and around the hutches is making a big difference already. It is doing the job I wanted it to and absorbing the urine that misses the bins. All I smell is straw now. Not that it was bad before with 4 windows and cross ventilation, but it is still better.
I don’t think I am going to try for worm bins this year. I think I have enough on my plate with the rabbits. I will keep reading about worms so I will be fully educated, but I don’t think adding yet another form of livestock so soon is a good idea. Not with meat chickens coming in May. We’ll have enough on our hands with three different flocks/herds. Plus the gardening begins in earnest in about ten days so I need to know my limits. The last thing I want is the muscle spasms and twitches in my left thigh and hip to start up again or my knee to decide it doesn’t want to support me. If it does that it will sharply curtail my walking around, might even put me back to using a cane every day and I don’t want that. I’ve already noticed some trembling in my left hand again, too, so I’ve got to start taking better care.
I had physical therapy today and she said my hip and thigh were in rough shape and gave me some different exercises to help loosen the muscles up again. Hopefully it will help as I have too much to do to go full stop right now. But at least if I have to the children can take over full care of the animals. They are well-trained now and could do it in their sleep. Hopefully they won’t need to.