Eating from the Pantry Week Four and the Garden

I have completed the challenge and you can see the results in the video above. I did pretty well with it, though not perfectly and saved $750 by not doing any real grocery shopping or going out to eat at all during this time period. I just need to save another $150 to pay for the set of four new tires the van needs

George is hurt, but he is starting to improve. We lost a chicken. We think it was to a hawk and that George fought off the hawk and that is how he got hurt.

The garden is doing fantastic.

We have kits due on the 3rd or 4th. They got their nest boxes last night and all three rabbits promplty got to work nest building. Persephone and Luna even started pulling fur.

The foster kits and Phoebe’s one kit are doing really great being raised by Phoebe. They are starting to catch up to the size they should have been if all had gone well from the start. They are 4 weeks old now and the sweetest, friendliest little loves.

We weaned the previous 3 litters this week. I need to let the lady who is going to buy Serena know that her kits have been weaned. It will be hard to see Serena go, but I know she is going to a good rabbit person who knows what she is doing, so that makes it easier.

It has been so hot here the last week or so that I feel like I am living in California and not NW WA. We have 7 fans going in the rabbit shed and between that and the pavilion they seem to be staying fairly comfortable. We check on them and their water bottles several times per day. So far no one seems to be having any issues, thank goodness.

Getting Ready for Kindling

I spent a few hours today with my son cleaning rabbit cages. We had to rotate 9 rabbits around. The 3 pregnant does are now in the top Mama cages, the 3 does with kits are now in the bottom Mama cages, and the does whose kits have been weaned for a couple weeks now are now on the wall with most of the bucks and the majority of the grow out cages. Tomorrow I will give the pregnant does their nesting boxes. They are due on Saturday or Sunday.

Ruby is the only first time mother this time around. Serenity and Phoebe are old pros at it. We will be having one red litter and two white litters, no mixed litters this time. Which is okay. I wanted to see what color of red Ruby throws before deciding if I want to mix her with one of the white bucks. The only red doe I for sure want to breed with Wildfire consistently is Firefly since they are not related, but if Ruby throws dark red I will likely continue to breed her to her father.

It’ll be a little nerve-wracking having newborns again. It always is with a first time mother, but I’ve been pretty lucky so far this year. Firefly and Luna Blue both proved to be excellent mothers. I am sure Ruby, with her sweet temperament, will be as well.

I can tell already this garden is going to be challenging to keep up with when it comes to harvesting. But that is a happy problem to have! It’s just so prolific already and that’s just the kale and lettuce!

The birds are enjoying the sunshine.

A bit of a look at the irrigation system.

I tried the chicken I canned the other day. It was great. I am very glad to have it. I am hoping to get some rabbit canned the next time we butcher, too. And maybe some hamburger. I like having hamburger canned. It makes cooking so much more convenient.

The Growth is Explosive

I have never had a garden year like this and it is only just beginning. In the past 2 days since I made the above video all of the beans that I planted have started coming up. Everything is growing with a vengeance, it seems.

Well, except the corn, but that finally started today. But on Sunday when I did the below video I had only seen one corn seed that had sprouted.

I am now harvesting lettuce and kale daily and one of the kohlrabi is almost ready to be picked. Definitely in another couple of days.

I am going to fill up the old duck swimming pool, the one that cracked last winter, with manure and compost and soil and grow cucumbers in it. Cucumbers were something I couldn’t fit into any of the other planting spots and I want to grow some for fresh eating. I don’t need to pickle any this year as I made lots of dill pickles last year, so if it doesn’t do great, it isn’t a big deal. If it does, than I’ll make some sweet pickles for the husband. He doesn’t eat them often, but likes them as an occasional treat. I’m a dill pickle girl all the way myself, but as no one else eats them, the 12 jars or so I have will last me a long time.

All of the animals are doing well. Gina did not end up going broody, but she sure was acting like it for a day or two. Now she’s acting like she couldn’t care less about it. The ducks are needing their water refreshed throughout the day because of the heat. The chickens are under the house eaves in deep wallows of dirt. Even George is making a big wallow in the shade for himself. For the rabbits we put up the pavilion again to shade out some of the direct sunlight and a screen to keep out the flies and other biting bugs.

There is a lot more work to be done these days, but I love it. I love being able to be out working in the garden and see my happy animals.

My Turkey is Broody

I think Gina is going broody. And while I don’t actually mind it, her timing isn’t great, since I am collecting eggs this week for a lady who wants to try hatching turkey eggs. The other problem is where she wants to nest, which is in the duck’s favorite nesting box in their coop. She’s been laying her eggs there for several days, which again wasn’t too much of a problem because the ducks have all laid by the time we let them out in the morning and Gina lays her egg around 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

But for the last few days she has been staying on that egg longer and longer. Today she went in at two o’clock and was still on the nest at 8 o’clock and when we went to shoo her out so we could put the ducks away for the night she growled. I have never heard a turkey growl before, but I have heard a chicken growl (on youtube, not in real life) when she didn’t want to get off the nest.

We bought Gina a nesting box just like the ducks’ box and put it in the turkey coop two nights ago, but so far the only ones laying eggs in there are a couple of the Barnies. My son did get her off the nest and had to carry her to the coop. He put her in that box and she stayed for a couple of minutes, but seemed confused when she didn’t have an egg under her.

I am going to try to get 2 more eggs for the lady who wants them and then if I can convince Gina to lay in her own box in the turkey coop, I will let her try to hatch some poults if she wants to. But the husband is going to have to fix the door that leads to the pen. We can’t risk a mouse or rat getting in there if she is on a nest. The gap is big enough for that, but I don’t really worry about it now, because they are up high on the roosts at night. And now that they are allowed out in the yard, they don’t need access to the pen, at least not until poults hatch. And even then we’ll have to devise a ramp or something.

If she does hatch some, we would only keep two to grow out for the holidays. After they got to about six weeks old we would sell the rest.

In other news, my mother got 4 pullet chicks.

I potted up (put into larger pots) what is left of my unplanted tomatoes and peppers. I am going to give them another week to gain some more size and then sell them. I need to separate and pot up some chard, pot up some lettuce, and take some of the excess zucchini and yellow crookneck summer squash that came up in the raised bed and put them into pots. Every single seed I planted of the zucchini and squash came up so I have quite a few I can put in the plant sale.

We got the supports strung for the tomatoes that don’t have cages last night, so that is now in place. We still have a couple leaks in the irrigation system that need to be fixed, but otherwise 7 out of 8 beds are watering fully. Hopefully once the big leak is fixed the 8th bed will be, too.

I have someone coming to buy Felix tomorrow and someone else coming to buy the refrigerated turkey eggs. We may or may not butcher some rabbits in the morning. I am having trouble with my foot again. The one where I think I may have broken a little bone about five weeks ago. I have iced it tonight and if it feels okay tomorrow we will butcher. Otherwise we will wait until Monday and I will ice it as much as possible tomorrow.

My daughter is going through some serious health issues right now. Prayer would be greatly appreciated.

Another Video Dump

I am so tired. We have been working really hard to get all of the raised bed garden planted and it is now done. Still having a few irrigation issues. I think we just need a pressure reducer. I hope that is all it is. But it could be faulty connectors as well. Anyway, I made some videos this week. I find it is easier when I am super busy to make them than to sit down and find time to write. Though I do have time to write tonight…although I should really be sleeping.

Did I say the 3 Sisters Garden was started? Yeah, it is.

The gutter garden is coming along and George makes an appearance.

Gina thinks she is a duck.

The fruit crop looks to be amazing. Especially the blueberries.

Tomorrow we have to cut the meat off the bones of a bunch of old rabbit we’ve been thawing and grind it for burger. And try to fix the irrigation system. Saturday we will be butchering at least six of the 10 week old rabbits. Sunday the lady I bought Leo, Piper, and Phoebe from will be coming to buy Felix and take him home. She will also buy Serena once her kits are weaned.

While butchering will ease the current crowding in the grow out pens, it will be good to have another cage, giving us a total of 6 grow out cages. Serena’s cage will go to the doe kit we keep from her litter. The next litters only total 14 rabbits, not 18, so that will help, too. But they are not quite 4 weeks old yet, so I have a ways to go before I need to worry about them.

The pregnant does are all doing well. Serenity is back to her sweet self. She was very cranky before I bred her.

The almost 4 week olds are so beautiful. I really like the colors that came out of the last breedings. I don’t think the one I thought was solid black will stay that way, so it is doubtful we would keep any rabbit from these litters. Just the white doe kit (if there is one) of Serena’s. Any kit that baby has will be pedigreed if bred with either Starbuck or Alexander.

We are contemplating names right now for a new white doe. Serafina and Sephira are currently contenders. We want to keep the Se and an r in the names of the rabbits descended from Serenity and Serena. But I also like Savannah, which only keeps the S. I’ve thought about Serra and Seriah, too. Well, I have a while to decide, and only if any of her kits are does and have the qualities I want.

I might keep Sephira for one of Persephone’s future offspring because it has a ph in it like she does and her mother Phoebe does. Or I might tweak the spelling and do Safira as an offspring of Firefly and Wildfire since it has the fire bit to it. I don’t know. Names are such interesting creatures.

I Can’t Believe How Well the Garden is Doing

Long View of the Garden

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The Peas are Sure Climbing

I don’t think I’ve ever been so far ahead on the garden before. Between the mild winter and the beautifully warm spring we were able to do so much early. Even though today is not gorgeous, it is still 63 degrees and the plants are very happy with it.

We are putting the supports in for the tomatoes. I’m not sure when they’ll be big enough to need them, but that’s one of those things that if you blink one day they’ll be overgrown and then it’ll be hard to get them installed. I think I will end up planting 5 more tomato plants and then call that good.

That will give me 16 plants and if they all do well I’ll be over my head in tomatoes. I want to make enough spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and ordinary tomato sauce to get through the year. And make some ketchup, though I don’t know if I’ll have enough to do that. It really depends on how well they produce. If what I’ve gotten so far growing this way is any indication, it will be a bumper year, though.

I want to plant as many peppers as possible. Although I may have too many seedlings, my priority is to have enough paprika peppers to dry and grind my paprika supply for the year. Then secondly to strip and dice and freeze enough sweet peppers for the year. If after that I can then also do a good supply of the dried or frozen jalapenos, that will be icing on the cake.

We go through a lot of peppers and onions during the year in stir-fries or chili. I have 3 gallon size bags of them left in the freezer, so I did pretty well with freezing my supply last year. While I won’t make it until these ones are ready, I made it a lot closer than I thought I would get. It was nice not to have to shell out so much money for organic (when I can find them) peppers throughout the year.

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George Hanging with the Chicken.

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Sunbathing ducks.

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Willow the Barnevelder Mid-molt

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Gina in the Duck Coop Nesting Box Where She Lays Her Eggs

The Rabbit Kits are Thriving

I have to say that I am very happy with the grow out rates. This new organic feed is just amazing. I have not had a single fader or sick rabbit kit since switching to Modesto Mills. They waste far less of this feed than the other feed. They seem to enjoy eating it more. It smells so much better. When we switched to the organic feed we also switched to organic whole oats from Scratch and Peck and we made sure the hay we were getting was no spray and not alfalfa (which is basically all contaminated by GMO’s now}.

The husband and I finished filling the last two garden beds today. We moved 1 and 3/4 cubic yards of soil. I put 3 trays of seedlings out into the sun for a few hours for the first time today and the last trays that were under the grow lights went out onto the porch today.

Over the last two days the corn strip has been rototilled and planted and the potatoes we had planted in April have been weeded. We also planted more potatoes. I think we will definitely have enough potatoes for the year, Yukon Golds, reds, and russets. We will can most of them. After the corn is a foot high we will plant pole green beans in them as well as sweet meat squash. We decided to go for the 3 sisters.

With the pole beans being planted with the corn, I can just plant bush green beans in the one bed. I was worried that pole beans would shade the raspberries, so now that won’t happen.

The 10 tomato plants I put in are doing well. We are still having an issue with the one line of irrigation we put in so I’ve been watering the tomatoes by hand. I planted some more chard in Mom’s section of the raised beds. My zucchini has started to come up and one of my yellow summer squash plants.

We are going to plant the sunflower seeds in the front garden area. I’ve got a nice variety so hopefully they will be really pretty.

We took one of the top roosts down in the turkey coop. George was getting stuck between them and sort of having just to plummet down instead of fly and I think it was hurting his feet, plus he was rubbing off some of his feathers. He easily came down from the roost today without any help. He seems happier. Gina could always get down easy, but she’s a much smaller bird.

Gina, by the way, is now laying her eggs in the duck coop in one of their nesting boxes instead of from the perch. The box isn’t really big enough for her, but she is managing. She won’t lay in her own nesting box. I’ve always thought Gina wanted to be a duck. She hangs with them now that she’s allowed out of the pen. She was sunbathing today with the ducks and her tail was all fanned out and she was half wallowed in the dirt taking a dust bath. I am so happy I decided to risk letting them out. I think it has improved their quality of life massively.

Well, I best get to bed. We have a lot more to do tomorrow and I’m exhausted.