Ready for Spring

What I wouldn’t give right now for some garden fresh vegetables picked from my own garden. The weather returned to a beautiful 45 degrees today and brought with it gardening dreams. This next week is supposed to be pretty nice. We might even get up to 50 degrees. That’s positively balmy for this time of year. And it’s not getting dark until 5 p.m. now. I do appreciate that immensely.

Of course I didn’t get to spend much time outside today. My knee is swollen to twice it’s normal size, rendering it pretty unbendy. But tomorrow we are slaughtering rabbits, so I will get to spend a couple of hours outside, even if it is mostly just sitting in a chair providing moral support while the husband does the deed. I do get them out of their cages and weigh them before and after, but other than that there’s not much I do on slaughter day. My part comes later after the rabbits have aged for a few days and rigor mortis has passed. Then I cut them up into pieces and either freeze them, can them, or take the meat off the bones for grinding.

This week we will be grinding the majority of the meat, but we will do two bags of stir-fry meat as well. I’m going to make soup to can this time. I’ve canned enough stock, but I’d like some ready to go rabbit vegetable soup on the shelves as well. I’m not sure if we’ll be doing 5 or 7 rabbits tomorrow. I’ll be weighing them to see where they are at. I know for sure that 5 are over 5 pounds, but since I haven’t weighed the rabbits in almost two weeks, I don’t know for sure on all of them.

We will be doing some probably right before the husband goes back up to Alaska as well (he just got home yesterday). From appearances I’d say they are all over 4 pounds so will likely hit the 5 pound mark by then.

I’ve been debating what I am going to do with Andromeda. She is still tempermental. Not as bad, but she really hasn’t calmed down the way the other rabbits have. And her first litter was small at 4 kits, which I guess can happen, but I’ve never had it happen with any of the others. And I saw her doing the dominance thing on one of her own kits at the six week old mark on two different occasions. I don’t like that at all. Part of me wants to give her one more litter, but I’m not sure if I should. All of her kits and her foster kit are fat and sassy and healthy, so she is a good mother, despite the dominance thing. Everything I read says to cull rabbits with undesirable traits, but when you’ve raised one from day one and put nine months into growing one up, that’s not as easy. I could sell her with full disclosure on her behavior.

If I do get rid of her I don’t think I’d keep one of her kits, even though they are all sweet and friendly. I think I’d grow out one of Lola’s, who is her full blooded sister from another litter, instead. Lola may not like to be touched much, but she tolerates it, she is a good mother, doesn’t bite, doesn’t freak out, and has the same blood lines I’d want to continue. Either that or get a New Zealand Red or a Blue Beverin doe to replace Andromeda.

I’m still researching duck breeds and aquaponics. One of the things I saw was what someone called duckponics. They grew duckweed in a pond that the ducks swam in. The ducks’ manure fed the duckweed and then the ducks ate the duckweed.

I’ve also been researching the laws on building ponds in my county. It looks like if we want a decent pond we pretty much need to find a property with an existing pond. They really don’t like big pond-building here because of worries about avian flu from wild birds that will be attracted or some such nonsense. Like that doesn’t come straight from the huge confinement chicken houses and not backyard bird raisers anyway. We could put in little ones, but I’d really like a nice sized one for the ducks, a natural one that I wouldn’t have to clean out constantly.

I don’t know, the more I research the more I feel like that book Joel Salatin wrote called Everything I Want to Do is Illegal.

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3 thoughts on “Ready for Spring

  1. valbjerke says:

    From my own experience 😊
    We built a huge kidney shaped pond for our ducks and geese – maybe 150 feet long, 30 feet wide at its widest, 12 feet deep in the middle area. We wanted something natural looking, and hopefully maintainers cue free.
    HA HAH on us.
    Things you’ll want to know that will save you grief.
    – it matters little the size of the pond, it takes three to five years to establish itself as a natural pond.
    – ducks in particular are by nature, destructive. They tunnel into the mud banks, they like to escape to nest elsewhere, they will happily eat every speck of new growth they can see.
    – you will have algae. Lots of it. Yes you can plant ‘algae eating’ plants – the ducks will eat those too.
    – two things you can do for algae – lime the pond, or aereate by using a pond pump or designing a waterfall feature.
    – try to have your pond where it can get shade. More shade – less algae.
    – do not introduce duckweed unless you have a LOT of ducks. They can’t eat it as fast as it grows – thereby creating more algae.
    -avian bird flu – travels on wild birds. Yes wild ducks can introduce it to your pond – as well as leeches.

    We have had one or two wild pairs of mallards nest and hatch at our pond for years – but one year because of a lengthy fall, wild ducks decided to hang out here while they waited for what I’m not sure – we walked out one morning to startle several hundred Mallards that were happily eating all the grain. We moved the feed, fed in the dark – still – they were here for a month.
    – do a soil test first – to see if you have the kind of soil that will hold water. Lining a pond is hideously expensive and will need to be cleaned a lot. A natural pond in a clay base will hold its own.
    Hope that helps.

    • LuckyRobin says:

      Thanks, that is a lot of good information. Most of the soil around here is clay. It’s good to hear from someone who has a lot of experience. I’m not sure I ever said, since I was sick when I got it, but that email with all the rabbit info was great, too.

      • valbjerke says:

        Thanks 😊 I always figure if I can save somebody a big headache I should probably do so.
        If your soil is mostly clay you’re in good shape for a pond. (And no we don’t bother with permits and stuff where we are – we just had a guy come dig the thing – traded him two pigs and a couple of turkeys)
        The one mistake we made – we were worried the thing wouldn’t stay full – so we made certain that any drainage from our field would head in that direction in the spring. Good idea gone bad – every spring we have to fire up the big pump and pump the fool thing out because it overflows – sometimes for days in a row, and again if we get lots of rain. Sigh. So if you do tackle the project – just be patient – it will fill and it will seal up just fine on its own.

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