In the House and Fully Loaded

Last night we were able to get the new canning cabinet into the house. Although we finished it on Sunday, we had to wait for the snow to melt to bring it from the garage to the house. Of course, first we had to unload the old bookcase, then move it into my bedroom so it could go back to being used as a bookcase. Then my husband and son brought it up on its side on the green machine (which is a big gardening wagon, so it didn’t get dragged through the mud and turkey, duck, and chicken poo that our birds always so lovingly leave right in the middle of the sidewalk.

From there it went onto a big plastic board we put things on to slide them around in the house without damaging the floors, and used that to drag it across the porch and into the laundry room and to the main hall entrance. Then it had to go off the plastic to get through that door, pass the plastic through after, put it back on the plastic, and drag it close to its final destination.

Once it got manhandled into place, we were able to fill it. It held quite a bit more than I thought it would. It was quite a workout taking all those jars down and then putting them all back on again. I feel like I did an arm day at the gym yesterday or something. It is perfect, though. It is exactly what I wanted. I can’t wait to get the other cabinets built. We will be able to store so much more now, and once they are all done, have a place to put empty jars, too, until we need them again.

My husband and I decided that this might be a nice little side-income thing in the future, too. If we can continue to get the free wood (and we’ve got a great source) and only have to put time and the $18.20 for 2 x 4’s and screws per cabinet into it, we could turn quite a nice profit. The first one took us 8 hours to do with two people working. I think we can get that down now that we know what we are doing. If we switch to nails and a nail gun, we could probably do it quite a lot faster. But that would require buying a nail gun and an air compressor. We’ve been thinking about that anyway, though. There are so many times when it would have come in handy and made our lives easier.

We have also batted around selling the plans for making them for a small amount, like $5. I mean, the videos I made are available for free if people want to figure it out from those, but actual plans and an ingredients list (as I call it) might be more appealing to some people and since my husband’s original college training was in architecture, he can draw up blueprints and design plans easily enough. We’ll see, though. Hopefully he will get hired soon and I won’t have to worry about things like side income to help out as we continue to deplete our savings. My other blog and my youtube channel are starting to earn some money now, but it is certainly not enough to make up for not having his income anymore. Hopefully he will find work soon.

I think I will clip some rabbit toenails and then breed some of them tomorrow. Probably Bonfire and Ruby. Possibly Serenity. We’ll see. I always do full health checks on them before breeding to make sure there are no issues before putting the stress of pregnancy on them. I also need to do sex determinations on the youngest litter and start on weaning the boys. My husband cleaned the grow out cages so we can get that done now.

If we get a nice day we need to butcher the older litter. Because of the weather it has been hard to plan for a good day to do it. It wouldn’t matter so much if the roof had gotten put back on the butcher station when it blew off in late fall, but it hasn’t. So doing it in the rain is not a lot of fun. Doing it in the snow is not an option and it is supposed to snow again tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll get one nice day soon without a ton of snow on the ground and we can get it taken care of.

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The Kits are Thriving

I am so happy with how the kits are doing. They are growing very well. Admittedly I haven’t been able to check on them as much as I normally would. My husband and son have had to do the majority of the rabbit chores since I still have bronchitis and a lot of swelling in my sprained ankle. I can’t go out at night, because I can’t see where I’m putting my feet and I can’t risk rolling my ankle again and the doctor doesn’t want me outside at night until this cough goes away.

We got the hoops in the garden covered with greenhouse plastic today. We are due for our first hard freeze and possible snow on Monday night and possibly more snow later in the week, but tomorrow night will get down to 35. I want to jolly my lettuce, kale, and chard along through the winter if I can and protect my herbs.

I am really struggling with the nightshade allergy. They put paprika in everything. I even found it in my uncured, nitrate free, nitrite free, high fructose free hot dogs. And I realized that my shelf full of homemade canned garlic dill pickles are not something I can eat now because of the red pepper flakes. And no one else in the family likes dill pickles. So now I can’t eat pickles until I can make more come summer when there are pickling cucumbers again, without the red pepper flakes. It’s a little discouraging.

I’ve started loom knitting again. I quit sometime around April last year. I finished the sock that was on the loom, but I don’t think I have enough yarn to make a matching sock. I will take a piece to the store and see if they still even have that yarn. If not I will just knit another sock in a different yarn I don’t have enough of to do two socks and just wear that pair in my boots where no one can see them.

Tomorrow we are going to fetch a 55 gallon barrel of produce. It is $15 for the produce and $15 deposit on the barrel. We’re getting it to feed to the ducks, turkeys, and chickens. They need the fresh stuff at this time of year when the garden is only making enough for us to eat and only a little to share with them. I have been giving them squash guts and seeds, but I like being able to give them some green leafy stuff, too, as well as some more substantial veggies. It’s all stuff that was simply pulled off the produce shelf the day before. A lot of it is still good for human consumption since they pull it the day before the sell by date and that is not even the use by date. I don’t know if I would consider eating any of it. I’d have to see it. It might be worth canning if it is root vegetables that are in decent shape. He said he had a lot of organic stuff. We’ll see.

I’ll leave you with some kit photos. They are now three weeks old.

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Kindling Day One

Ella kindled this morning.  She had seven, but one bled out from not getting the umbilical cord nipped right.  That one was white.  All of the others look broken!  Zander, the sire, is my only broken New Zealand rabbit. Now we wait to see whether they will be broken red or broken blacks. With the genetic combinations there I could end up with a lot of things.

Ella is a black, but her mother Ruby is a red and her father Starbuck is a white.  From what I understand for Ella to be black, it means that Starbuck carries black, but it is masked by the albinism gene. Ruby has one black in her line 3 generations back and the rest are reds.  So Ella can carry a gene for black, red, and the albinism gene.

Zander is a broken black but his dam is a broken red and his sire is a white, which means he carries the genes for red and for broken from his mother.  His father must also be black masked by the ablinism gene or he wouldn’t be a broken black.

So if you get a kit with the 2 albinism genes then it’ll be white as that dominates and that must be what happens with the dead ones.  If I were to get a black kit out of this pairing then I would know that Hercules, Zander’s sire, had black under his masking albinism gene.  If I were to get a solid red, I’d know he had red under it.  If I were to get chestnut then I’d know he was agouti.  I think.  Rabbit genetics are complicated.

The guy I bought Zander from said he is lucky if he gets one broken kit per litter with Zander’s dam. So proud of Miss Ella. She did good for a first time mother. I’ll post pictures when the fur starts coming in and I have a better idea of what their coloring is.

Waiting on 3 more rabbits to kindle.  One due today and two due tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, have a gander at our nesting box build.  The does love them.  They are so happy with the higher walls and that they can have deeper nests in the back.

We’ve Got New Breeders

Aside from Zander, who I showed you previously, I have picked out a new buck and a new doe from our grow outs. Jasper is a New Zealand white buck with all of the large hindquarters of his grandfather Leo, the personality of his father Starbuck, and the fur quality of his grandmother Serenity, his mother Serena, and his father. He’s also got the larger, unbent ears I’ve been trying for. He is the culmination of what I’ve been breeding for for the past 3 years and is just a love.

Ella is a black doe kit out of Ruby and Starbuck. She has her mother’s personality and long body type and her father’s fur quality and she also has nice hind quarters, though that is more of a fluke. She also has the unbent, larger ears. Honestly her black fur is the number one reason we chose her, though if she had a bad personality, like the gorgeously colored buck kit we had planned on keeping until he got bitey, we wouldn’t have kept her. We want to breed her with our broken buck Zander to try for more brokens.

The younger kits are all growing up nicely. There are 12 between the two litters. I think we’ll have two different butcher batches because the one litter is smaller than the other and will probably take another week or two to hit weight.

The garden is doing really well. I am so thrilled with how much produce we are getting off of it already.

It is really nice to have cut our produce bill down so low already and to know it will continue through the season. I haven’t bought greens in 3 weeks and we actually got some broccoli already.

Gina, the turkey, is no longer limping and her feathers are coming back in nicely on her back now, after months of being half naked, poor thing. Wade’s limp is getting better enough that he is mating with the ducks again. It was bad enough, whatever he did, that he stopped mating them for 3 weeks.

Not too much else going on right now.

Kindling, Gardening, and Hurt Birds

Kalia kindled yesterday. She had just one kit again, but she’s getting old. Luna Blue was due on the 8th and nothing, so I think she missed. I was hoping she’d have a big enough litter I could give Kalia another kit to raise so hers wouldn’t be alone, but it looks like a no-go. I’m not sure why Luna missed. The only other time she missed was with Alex when it turned out he was sick. She had a litter of 6 last time. I think it might be Starbuck, but the four week old kits were all fathered by him. That was before the abscess on his shoulder showed up, though. So maybe his immune system is not doing well. I’ve read that can lead to low sperm count in rabbits.

It will be a while before Zander is old enough to sire kits. Leo is still out of commission due to illness and may never recover. We may very well be putting him down the next time my husband comes homes. We do have a four month old buck that could father kits in 2 more months if we kept him, which I wasn’t planning on. He’s very sweet tempered though and does have all of the qualifications for a good meat buck.

I need to make the decision soon on Persephone and Serenity. Persephone is still young, she just doesn’t seem to be shaking this. Serenity is getting old, but I really like her personality and she seems like she is actually recovering. But I have two doe kits right now that are coming up beautifully and maybe it is just time to stop trying to nurse them through this (it has been months) and replace them. One of the doe kits is Serenity’s granddaughter, but there is no off spring from Persephone, which would mean Phoebe’s line would end. Still, there is Piper’s line and Serenity’s line. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet.

If Serenity and Persephone go, that leaves Luna Blue, Serena, and Kalia as white does and Ruby, Firefly, Bonfire, and Cinnabun as red does. Kalia is pretty much too old to give good litter sizes anymore, so that leaves just six production does. I have thought of getting a red buck or a broken red buck. We’ll see. I don’t like just having one working buck, but Zander will be big enough soon enough.

On the garden front everything is growing well. Almost everything is planted, I am just waiting on cantaloupe for hotter days. We are having a very warm, very good start to the gardening season and I am already harvesting kale, chard, chives, oregano, sorrel, blood-veined sorrel, pak choi, and three types of lettuce. I should not have to buy any greens until October and November at this rate unless the lettuce bolts. The tomato plants are really taking off. Two of the ones in the house are ready for me to start hardening them off for transplant. I will have one Opalka and one Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom for sure. The basil I cloned is doing well, also. This is the first time I have ever cloned basil, so I am happy it worked.

Gina still has not fully recovered from her injuries. She spends a lot of time resting in the nesting box. She hasn’t laid eggs since she got hurt. Turkey eggs are my favorite, but what are you going to do? Her feathers are finally coming back in along her back. It looks terrible, but not as bad as raw skin looked. At least the hawk has moved on. I think George hurt him pretty bad when he tried to protect Gina.

Wade has a hurt leg, too. We caged him for 3 days to force him to rest, but let him into the coop with the rest of the ducks at night. He is walking better, but still limping and still holding one leg up when he stands. No signs of bumblefoot and it seems more like a leg injury than a foot injury. If it starts getting worse again, I will cage him for a full week. But it is hard on him, being a flock animal. He wants to follow the rest of the ducks around. They do stay with his cage part of the day, but it makes him sad when they go away to other parts of the yard and he can’t follow.

A New Arrival

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I purchased a buck kit yesterday for the rabbitry.  He is a purebred broken black New Zealand.  His mother is a broken red and his father is a ruby-eyed white.  My son chose to name him Zander.  He is going to be our second breeding buck.  Leo will probably never be a breeder again.  In fact we may have to put him down still.  But meanwhile, when this little boy grows up in about 3 months, we’ll have someone besides Starbuck to breed our does with.

Since he carries the broken gene, if we breed him to a white doe, we can get broken black, white, black, or agouti.  If we breed him to a red doe we can get broken red, broken black, solid red, agouti, or solid white.  And with both we could get mixtures that wouldn’t quite be considered anything, but would likely be pretty.

He’s a little stained on his feet and underside.  Not dirty, but stained.  I think it was because he was in a cage with a dozen grow out bucks, which makes it hard for them to stay clean if they don’t have a ton of space.  He should go to work cleaning himself up and be able to stay that way now that he has cage space and no brothers and cousins spraying on him.

He cost me $30.  Today I sold an old hutch, one of the first ones I brought home, for $30, so I consider it a wash.  I do have two more up for sale.  One person was supposed to come by today, but has no-showed.  I even gave them a 3 hour window, but they didn’t show up and they didn’t message me to say they weren’t showing up.  And I know they’ve seen my message to ask them what is going on, because it tells me when the message was read, but they haven’t responded to it.  I don’t like having my time wasted.

Oh, not there isn’t stuff for me to do, but if I have to stay where I can hear the doorbell it does limit my activities.  I would never dream of not contacting someone if my plans fell through and I couldn’t make it.  It’s common courtesy, but that’s gone by the wayside it seems.

I really want to get these hutches gone, because I want to build some compost bins in their place.  I’d like to do a 3 or 4 bin set-up with free pallets and some wire we have from previous projects. We have so much soiled hay, manure, and bedding material (mostly straw or pine shavings), plus some grass clippings and weeds, that we could easily be making our own soil, we just haven’t had much of a way to contain it, and usually end up hauling it off and dumping it at places where people are building new gardens or want to start a good compost heap.

I do have the small bins, but they only produce so much.  Larger ones could eventually supply all of our soil needs.  At least I’ve got the hutches moved out of the spot I want to build the bins in, but I still need to do something with the rabbit tractors.  The wire is always reusable and we might be able to make an irrigation system with the PVC pipes for the garden as we have time.  Most of them are only 6 feet long though, so we might have to get some couplers and then cut a couple pipes into shorter pieces to extend it to 8 feet long (or maybe 7 feet as we want the pipes in the beds, not on the edges.  We have plenty of the elbows.  I’ll see what the husband thinks when he has time to figure it out.

 

Yesterday was a Lot of Hard Work in the Garden

My most recent garden videos followed by a written update of what I did after those vids were made:

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I moved 2 more cubic yards of soil and filled in the top 10 inches or so of 2 4′ x 8′ garden beds. Then I planted cilantro, broccoli, kohlrabi, copra yellow keeping onions, bunching onions (green onions), shallots, echinacea, blood veined sorrel, and a purple and white sennetia flower to bring in the bees.

I left space on either side of it for calendula which are orange and yellow, so will contrast nicely. On the far side of where one calendula goes is the echinacea which will be purple/pink, and then on the far side of that is my yellow yarrow, so the colors will complement each other nicely.

I dug out the yarrow and common sorrel before filling the one bed, then replanted the yarrow and divided the sorrel. I put back about 3 of the sorrel into the place they had been once the bed was filled, but it is not up higher.

Mom took the excess sorrel divisions and heeled them into one of her beds to be placed later. After getting everything in place I gave all the beds that have plantings in them a good dose of water with my new 50 foot heavy duty, no kink garden hose.

It has a nozzle that is somewhere between a regular sprayer nozzle and a wand. It is not as unwieldy as a want, but still makes it easier to aim the flow of water where you want it. The hose is great as it reaches the entire garden easily and watering doesn’t take that long. I had planned on putting in a new irrigation system before the pay cut, one made with PVC pipe, but I couldn’t justify the expense.

It’ll mean a bit more work through the season, but I spent a total of $20 for the hose and the sprayer nozzle as opposed to what would likely come out to be around $75 to $100 to buy all the parts for making the system. The pipe itself is pretty cheap. It’s the couplings, timers, and switchers that get you.

It’ll probably take 20 to 30 minutes a day twice a week once things get going well, depending on heat. The method I’m using for growing maintains moisture pretty well, but if we get a lot of days in the 80’s then we have to water more frequently, especially tomatoes or peppers.

I’ve got a line on a broken black NZ buck rabbit. And the same people said that they have a litter of broken red NZ’s due to be born Saturday so they would be ready to go mid-June. Since the brokens can throw both red and broken when paired with a red or both black and broken when paired with a white, I thought it would be a good way to get the solids as well as the broken kits I want. I will go out to see him this afternoon and hopefully he will be what I want. He’s 12 weeks old and supposedly quite friendly.

They also have some 7 week old ones, so if I would rather do that I can pick one out and come back for him at 8 weeks old. I hope the older one is all that I want, though. I don’t like taking only 1 kit when they are just 8 weeks old. I feel like they still need to have another rabbit or two in with them until they are 12 weeks old. They thrive better. If I get one, I’ll put up a photo or video of him tomorrow.

The kits are doing well. Cinnabun’s are fat and already 2 of them are showing auburn streaks through the black fur. Bonfire’s are all still looking solid black. I did one extra nursing session for Bonfire’s kits two days running and then just did an extra session for the smallest in her litter. I think one more extra meal for it today and then it should be out of danger and able to fight better for its share of the milk.

I have to go clean out a cage for the new kit. It is mostly clean, but has been sitting outside so needs to have any wind blown debris wiped out and it never hurts to do another quick scrub down because a chicken may have pooped on it or something. I also need to go locate my transport cage. I think it is in the garage on my husband’s work bench, but it might be behind the rabbit shed. All right, enough lollygagging on the computer for me. Time to get to work.