Tuesday, August 14, 2012


 One long post about several completely unrelated topics. 

My hero knew about some wild elderberry trees and snagged me a pile of berries.  The girl child and I sat in front of  a movie and tediously picked them off the stems and I made some syrup for eating or for helping any sickies get better this winter.  Yummy stuff!
 Meet my new soap bazookas.  2" PVC with a cap at 1 end.  Little bit difficult to fill with no extra hands around.  (Correction... no extra hands around that would actually hold it still).  My main concern was how I was going to get the soap out.  I planned to make a plunger of some kind, but I ended up not needing to.  First of all, it takes at least a week for soap to set in these things.  So I poured it and left it in a corner for a good long while (I'm good at that).  Then I stuck them in the freezer for a day.  Then I pulled them out, let them thaw some (because of interruptions not because I know its necessary- it may not be) and they literally just slowly slid out.  It was great!  So now I have nice round bars that look a lot nicer than my lopsided cuts from a casserole dish.
 Here are a couple kids picking wild grapes.  We have a whole mess of nice, big, juicy, cultivated grapes to pick and they opted to pick the wild ones.  The next day the other 2 kids (unpictured) decided to shove said grapes up their noses.  I bulb syringe got them out, but not without some kicking and flailing and one boy being quite certain he was not coming out of that situation alive.  Now you can understand why the addition of 1 more toddler boy has completely wiped out every thought of spare time I ever thought I had.
And just a post to say I love my dog.  Angel has been accompanying me on morning runs while its dark and creepy.  She alerted me to a stray dog up ahead where I would have run straight into it before knowing there was something needing to be avoided.  And she's gotten to where she simply trots beside me instead of crossing back and forth in front of me in her drive to explore.  And the really funny part is when she comes home she's too tired to chase the goats to the milking table in the morning.  She just flops and lets them walk.  She's a great dog.

And something that has no picture as of yet, eggplant.  Last year I had big beautiful plants and no fruit.  So this year I tried a few more varieties... meaning I have about a dozen different plants.  And they are all going gangbusters this year!  I can't give away all my eggplant!  I've made eggplant parmesian, eggplant balls, eggplant lasagna, stirfried eggplant, battered and fried eggplant, every eggplant anything I can think of.  There are worse problems to have, but I wish I had okra to through in there too.  But Dulci has figured out how to easily escape the pasture and ate my garden down to nubs.  She's now clad with a cow bell and housed with Copper and his 7' fence.  Its time for her to be bred anyway, but we'll have to do some major fence overhaul before letting her back with the others.

And I think this catches me up on the main goings-on.  We're starting our homeschool year next week so it may be the last post until that somewhat new endeavor finds its groove again too. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rabbit update

Once again, so much to report.  So the last I mentioned was that all of Cream's babies died and we acquired silver foxes.  I bred Maxwell (the silver fox buck) to Sugar and Cream.  Sugar had 8 babies born March 15.  7 survived. Cream  then had 13 babies on March 19.  Unfortunately, they widdled down to 4 in the week that followed.  These have all been slaughtered and eaten or waiting to be eaten by now.

At the end of May I took Mocha, Java and Maxwell to a rabbit show... where Maxwell took 1st, Mocha took 2nd and Java took 3rd.  It was helpful that only 1 other breeder had silver foxes and she had only brought juveniles who hadn't begun to silver yet.  Fur is a major portion of their points. 
We had decided already to risk breeding in the summer so when we returned home, we promptly bred Mocha with Maxwell.  We did this so the girl child would have a silver fox, a smaller silver fox, to show at the fair.  A small girl needs a small bunny.  So we set Mocha up with a pen in the porch with a fan that stayed on her 24-7.  We also knew we needed to breed quickly to catch Maxwell before he went sterile from the summer heat.  So we bred them and 5 weeks later had 6 bunnies.  We figured if none of them survived, we'd just buy a smaller breed bunny for her to show, but we were hopeful.  And they ALL survived!  Compare that with all our previous breeds and bunnies where every baby from the first kit died to silver foxes where she had 6 and all are still doing great!  Very pleased.  Next week we'll wean them and examine them, chosing the one for show, the ones for sale and the ones for eating. 

Just adding a quick picture of our rabbitry.  You can't see the pen all the way on the left much, but there's 5 holes for breeding stock.  When babies are weaned (or if there's too many to stay in the normal hole), they are moved to the large pen on the right.  Nothing fancy, but its on the shadiest, coolest area of the property and no predators have gotten in.  A snake lingered in a tree one morning and a racoon was lurking about another morning, but they have not returned.  Mostly due to Angel, I suspect.

Bye Bye Zuma

  So much has happened that I haven't recorded.  February 23, Zuma had 2 beautiful lambs.  I was out of town, but my wonderful superhero handled things splendidly.  However, the ewe lamb was never very strong and eventually died about a week later.  The ram lamb is thriving, large and named Shaun the Sheep.

And despite Zuma doing exactly what we expected of her, that is giving birth to twins, we made the decision to no longer keep sheep breeding stock.  The main reason was feed costs.  With the rabbits and ducks, we have ample meet so 1 or 2 lambs a year are simply not necessary for our family.  Secondly, I did not want to tether them out to "mow the lawn" unless I would be home all day.  With the addition of our foster son and his crazy number of appointments, that basically never happened.  Meaning we purchased every bit of food they'd eat all year long.  And thirdly, Zuma just didn't compete for food.  The goats, even the littler goats like Doby and Bella, could bully her into giving up her portion of grain or hay.  She withered down, thin and hungry.  Without the separating and special attention I was giving her during pregnancy, Zuma would never thrive well here. 
So I called a few people and found a great new home for Zuma and Valentino.  It was sad to see them go, but  I know its for their good. 

Duck update

Did you think I gave up the blog?  Sorry, still here and still have grand intentions.  Just struggling to find my groove I guess.                                                            So anyway, March 1, I went out to check that nest I mentioned eons ago and found this.  18 little ducklings.  (4 days later we got our 4th child through the foster care system... hence why its been 6 months since I've blogged). Later that day we collected most of them and moved them to a pen.  We let Mama (now known as Big Mama) raise 4, but frankly, the pasture is a dangerous place.  One drowned in their duck bath.  A couple weeks later another was trampled to death in the barn.  We then rescued the remaining 2 and raised them with the others.

And here they are at slaughter size.  Just before we slaughtered the first batch, Big Mama hatched out another clutch of 10.  We raised them basically just like the chickens, but we also provide a big shallow pan of water for bathing in. 

From the 1st batch we saved out 4 females to add to the breeding stock.  We've had many requests to purchase ducks so figured we could always sell off extra ducklings.  We also slaughtered Big Mama's sister who never could even figure out how to lay her eggs together in a safe place.  I know these new ducks are laying now because I find eggs laying about, but Big Mama always lays now in a hollowed out palm tree that's been felled.  I'm hoping the young ones get their acts together and lay well come spring.  Big Mama has a nest of 8 eggs she's sitting on now.  I assume they'll hatch somewhere near the end of September.

As for caring for these breeding stock, we do very little.  We dump them some chicken grain (as some old, leftover grass seed) once a day and keep a bath filled with water.  They do the rest.  And Angel, the dog, is scary enough to keep predators at bay.