Thursday, December 29, 2011

Write the Vision II

I love this  saying*.  So when people ask me why I work so hard, I can honestly say its not work.  Or at least it beats the alternative.

Last year I "Wrote the Vision" that we had for our little 'stead for 2011.  We done good if I may say so myself.  Tis the season to make our plans for 2012.  Its going to be a good year, ya'll.  I feel it in the depths of my muddy feet.

1. Install a water line and hose bib to the southeast corner of the house.  Anytime
2. Clear and fence 1 paddock in the pasture and install a sprinkler.- May
3. Add a poop catcher to the rabbit hutch to make collection of fertilizer easier. -January.
4. Construct a sheltered milking area, preferably with a concrete floor.  -June
5. Construct/create a hay storage area closer to pasture.   Anytime
6. Build a feed trough that sits outside the pasture fence and retrofit a portion of fencing to allow their heads through to eat.  Anytime
7. Re-rig the outside shower (dependent upon #1).  -June
8. Install a shaded raised herb bed... again.  -April
9. Build a tree house.   -December
10. Build a greenhouse that can be converted to a shade house. -January/June
11. Move bananas (if we can find a better place for them). -February
12. Plant blackberries and grapes where bananas currently are. -March
13. Find a way to grow garlic.  -September
14. Construct a durable, permanent clothesline for the kids.  -March
15. Construct a cover for the water system. -March
16. Make a quilt for Farmer Boy #1. -December
17. Start and finish scrapbook for Farmer Boy #2's infancy. -September
18. Repair old rabbit hutch into a finishing pen. -March
19. Plant a loquat (again) and kiwis.
20. Increase the family with 1 treasured foster child. -January

*If you can't read the sign it says, "The view from the barn door beats the view from the sofa.  -Cowboy wisdom"

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Christmas, yes, that's wonderful.  I like it, I really do.  And planning for spring planting is part of that!  This year Mother Earth News did an article on people's favorite seed companies

Seed catalogs have this amazing, kid-in-a-candy-store type affect on me.  I requested a few new ones, but Nichols Garden Nursery's got to me first (along with my old stand-by Southern Exposure).  I want to get seeds in the ground ASAP so the rest will have to wait until I'm thinking of my fall garden. 

So I ordered a lot.  I was low on a few types and, of course, I have to try new things.  I'm an absolute sucker for a seed catalog.  And Nichols had such interesting unique stuff- such that I hadn't even seen at Baker Creek!  I made a long list for both Nichols and Southern Exposure and now am waiting anxiously, very anxiously, for them to arrive. 

I salivate just thinking about it.

But for record keeping sake, here's my orders.  I know... I got a lot.  As I said, its totally a weakness, but I don't go clothes shopping.  I don't wear make-up.  I haven't bought new shoes in 5 years.  Indulge me my seeds, ok?


VCC567 Cucumber Lucky Dance
HBA215 Basil Bolloso Napoletano
HRB228 Papaloquelite
FLW316 Calendula Flashback - Organic
GRD115 Luffa Gourd
FLW123 Cosmos Early Summer Mix
FEV245 Strawflower Monstrosum
VSP405 Spinach  Malabar Climbing
VCE185 Celery Afina
VCE181 Celery Golden Bar
VKA557 Kale Redbor 
VLT631 Lettuce Matina
VME525 Melon Hannah's Choice
VWA509 Watermelon Ruby
VSQ621 Salman Zucchini
VSQ659 Squash Sebring Golden Zucchini
VTO438 Tomato Cherokee Purple
VTO549 Tomato Sun Gold
VTO443 Tomato Gold Nugget
MCO808 Sourdough Starter-French Lactic
MHG255 Plastic Plant Markers 5" x 5/8"
1 x Carolina Wonder PEPPER, BELL (SWEET) 0.5 g (46123)  = $2.50
1 x Jupiter PEPPER, BELL (SWEET) 0.5 g (46134)  = $2.75
1 x Rosita EGGPLANT 0.25 g (45203)  = $2.80
1 x Purple-Podded Asparagus (Yardlong, Yard Long) Bean 4g (11103)  = $2.95
1 x Cascade Glaze COLLARDS 1 g (24108)  = $2.50
1 x Savoy Perfection CABBAGE 2 g (22107)  = $2.05
1 x Ruby Red (Rhubarb Chard) CHARD, SWISS 4 g (32102)  = $2.05
1 x Lazy Wife Greasy BEAN, SNAP (POLE) 14 g (13603)  = $2.95
1 x Red Cherry TOMATO 0.16 g (49136)  = $2.50
1 x Matt’s Wild Cherry TOMATO, CHERRY 0.08 g (49804)  = $2.75
1 x Blacktail Mountain WATERMELON 1 g (55113)  = $2.50
1 x Jericho LETTUCE, ROMAINE 0.5 g (62706)  = $2.65
1 x Vates KALE 2 g (25101)  = $2.35
1 x Ashley CUCUMBER 2 g (51101)  = $2.50
1 x Star of David OKRA 5 g (69108)  = $2.50
1 x Roselle, Thai Red - Herb 0.6g (71301)  = $2.35
1 x Thyme, Creeping - Herb 0.2g (71249)  = $2.10
1 x Thyme, Summer - Herb 0.2g (71304)  = $2.25
1 x Della SORGHUM 7 g (72612)  = $2.50
1 x Black Amber Cane SORGHUM 7 g (72606)  = $2.75
1 x Sweet Potato Mix; Orange, White, and Purple, 6 Slips (74151)  = $10.00

Surprise! Babies!

Forgive me.  I never got a chance to even get a  picture.  December 19th, I walked out, checked on the rabbits and found 7 babies in Cream's pen. 


I didn't even know she was pregnant.  I tried to breed her with Brownie before he went to be the patriarch of another set of ladies.  She showed no interest.  He "attacked" from every angle but never got the good ole grunt and roll so I figured she just wasn't ready.

Fast forward 5 weeks and we have squirming babies on bare wire.  I quick flipped over the nest box and put them in.  I pulled some fur from Cream (who should have done that herself) who did not appreciate the help. 

The next morning 5 of them were dead.  A few minutes later I discovered Helen had miscarried.  Can we say "miserable day?"  The day after that the remaining 2 were dead.  This is not uncommon for new bunnies.  Its like it takes a tragedy for their maternal instincts to kick in.  So Cream will be visiting "Steve" (the bunny down the street) this weekend.  We'll give him a day or so to "reload" then take Sugar a-courtin' too.


Take a little walk through history with me.  In April of 2010, we acquired Helen and her daughter Doby who was only 2 months old.  Shortly after that she got pregnant and had Willy in September of the same year.  Then she got pregnant just one month later.  I didn't even know that was possible.  But sure enough, she birthed Jonah and Julius in March of 2011.  Jonah appeared healthy, but Julius seemed to lack a proper suck reflex.  He died about 2 weeks after he was born.  We got Copper good and isolated that very month. 

Or so we thought.

I had wanted to give poor Helen a nice break from babies.  But in November she started to look round.  She had always been so scrawny and gangly that seeing her a little on the plump side made me happy. 

We also, in the month of October, had some troubles with Copper.  It started with him jumping his 4' fence repeatedly.  We never found him in the paddock with the others, but clearly that was his goal.  He spent a week on the end of a chain until we could contruct "The World's Ugliest Fence" around the bachelor pad.  Then we went camping and came home to find that he had ripped a hole right through his fence, broke a 4x4 pressure treated post in half with his head, ripped the common area fence right off the rest of the posts and was in with everyone having a hay day.  His interest was mostly in Doby and Bella so I had hoped in those few hours (14 at most) that it would not just happen to be the 2 or 3 days in a month that Helen could get pregnant.

But then her milk dried up rather suddenly and she she started looking fat.  She's a lot like me... barely pregnant and people are already asking when the due date is.  I wondered if she was pregant or was she finally just recovered from multiple babies and lactations?

December 20th we had our answer.  She didn't come when I fed them that morning.  That's always a red flag for any of our critters.  I went in and checked her out and found two tiny fetuses hanging out of her.  They looked the same, size and all, of the rabbit babies that had also died that same morning (more about that later).  I mourned.  I tried to save her from pregnancy and didn't and now she has 3 dead babies (including Julius) all because her poor body was just tired and couldn't grow them properly.

She cried all night that night.  She didn't eat for a couple days.  Now she's back to normal.  So much so that she butts Bella away from the feed.  But we started wondering exactly what happened.

Possibility #1: Copper DID get in the common area in early October and then back out during those couple weeks we were fighting him.  Likelihood- very low.  If he got in and back out, Dulci would have surely followed him.

Possibility #2: Helen did just happen to be in heat when he got in the common area in late October.  Likelihood- about 1 in 14 chance.  Not to mention that he did not appear interested Helen when I was draggin him away from his harem.

Possibility #3- Helen lives in perpetual heat like a rabbit.  Likelihood- well, I've never heard of that before, but if anyone's like that its fertile Myrtle Helen.

Possibility #4- Those were Valentino's babies and destined to miscarry anyway.  Likelihood- moderate.

So, yes, sheep and goats can reproduce.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does they are almost always miscarried or stillborn.  Very rare occurances result in live births.  Odd as it sounds, I think this is the thought we'll need to run with.  That Valentino will need to be kept separated from at least Helen during times when she's not pregnant and we don't want her to be.

Is that feasible???  That's 7 months of the year.  And he can't be in the bachelor pad or he and Copper will kill each other.  Is it likely Valentino wouldn't attempt to mount her except in the fall when ewes are in heat?  Would that at least chop those 7 months down to 2?  Or would we just need to arrange her "schedule" so she's pregnant in the fall? 

Or does she need to get moved on to a home that's not so hard on her uterus?

Questions abound.  No conclusions just yet.  Any advice would be appreciated.  I just really don't want her continually pregnant by whatever random critter is woed by her feminine whiles.  I'd rather see her in a different home than harmed because we can't feasibly provide what she needs.