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Category Archives: rabbits

Well, that explains it.

We had been trying to breed our rabbits for some time, and weren’t having much success. Then, Husband tried Fawn once more. He put her in Bear’s cage. And after watching at bit, he found out why Fawn would never kindle.

Fawn’s a buck, not a doe.

So… that changes our approach to things.

Autumn on the Little Farm

Well, howdy.

It’s been a while.

School started and swept me away from pretty much everything else. I’ve been busy, but I’ll let you know what’s been happening.

The chickens are getting big! We’re getting about three eggs a day, though at least one of those eggs is still very small – more like a quail egg than a chicken egg. But we’re just about to the point where supply is keeping up with demand. Now that the days are shorter, we need to get a light with a timer inside the chicken house so that the girls will keep laying through the winter. (If we’re feeding them, we expect them to keep feeding us!)

eggs

We currently have five rabbits: Bear, a buck who is getting old and may be just about past his usefulness; Brownie, a young buck whom we hope is virile; Licorice, an older doe who seems a bit lethargic lately, but who is still a good mother; and Fawn and Chocolate Chip, two young does whom we hope to breed as soon as they are old enough. Licorice is due late next week, and we’re hoping for a good litter of kits.

Our front yard, which I have taken to calling the meadow, never got mowed this year. (Last year, someone came and mowed it for the hay.) We’ve been lamenting how all that grass is just going to waste because we didn’t have a way to bale it. And then my amazing husband went to YouTube University and built his own baler! Now we can mow the meadow and bale it for use for the chickens and rabbits. It’s late in the season this year, but we’ve managed to get about half a dozen bales made. Next year, I’ll mow it earlier and we’ll bale a lot more. (In fact, we may be able to get two cuttings out of it if I plan it well.)

hay

Husband is planning the house building project. He made a model of the house and he’s scouting out trees in the woods to fell and cut for timber. He’s looking at attending an advanced timber framing workshop in June (he attended the basic workshop this past June). The internet browser is crowded with tabs of various tools he wants.

house model

Autumn on the little farm is lovely. The woods is just beginning to turn orange and the dry leaves rustle in the wind. Days are warm, but nights are chilly and cozy under the blankets. I spent part of today collecting kindling from the yard so we’ll have plenty for our fires this winter.

I’ve put away the summer clothes and pulled out fall and winter gear. We’re keeping wood stacked close to the house, and in all ways getting ready for the cold weather. I hope we’ll be able to keep ourselves and our animals snug in the coming months.

Garden Harvest, July 20

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We dug a lot of potatoes, but not as many as Husband had expected.  We think maybe it was too wet this year.  And when we dug them up, we found that quite a few of them had already rotted.  I accused Husband of planting mashed potatoes in the hopes of harvesting mashed potatoes.  Instead, they were just mushy, stinky potatoes.  Still, we got a lot of good ones.

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We’ve had a few tomatoes over the last month or so, but not a ton.  The little yellow sunsugars have been coming at the rate of a couple a week for a while.  This is the first red one we’ve gotten, but it was small.  Still, it was enough to add to our lunch today which was…

rabbit tacosRABBIT TACOS!

That is a new one.  We’ve never had rabbit tacos before.  They were darn good.

Anyhoo, back to the garden.

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We got a couple of squash, too.  There are a lot more yellow squash growing out there.  The zucchini are not growing as fast, it seems (this one being an exception.)  And we had a volunteer squash plant come up and it’s been terribly exciting to try to figure out what kind it is.  We think maybe acorn.  I was hoping for butternut, but I’m okay with acorn.  Or whatever it is.

Oh, and we got a handful of green beans today, too, after I took the photos.

One of the cherry trees is not looking good; its leaves turned yellow.  So that’s sad.  And I accidentally mowed down a blueberry bush, and that’s sad, too.  And the pumpkins don’t seem to be doing much.

But the corn looks okay.  Maybe we’ll have ears in August.

And it is, after all, just a first year garden, planted in newly tilled sod.  Even Pa Ingalls said a first year garden in tough sod can’t be expected to do much.  At least we’ll have enough food to get us through the winter and it’s very unlikely we’ll have to live on potatoes and brown bread and convince Almanzo Wilder to give us a milk pail full of his seed wheat so we can live until the train comes through in the spring!  (Can you tell I’m reading The Long Winter right now?)

And this fall, Husband will till up the ground again, plus maybe a bit more for next year.  And next summer’s garden will be even better.

Flood

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On Friday morning, I went out to the barn to find that the rabbits had begun building an ark.

Okay, not really, but it might have been better if they had. It had been raining all week long. The low spots in the yard had become sloshy mini-ponds, and when I entered the barn I found that it had completely flooded, with about four inches of water covering the floor. Thankfully, Husband had finished the second story of the chicken coop (and the chickens had not figured out how to get down to the bottom floor from the top), and most of the rabbits were in cages high enough off the floor to be safe.

Licorice (our breeding doe) and her not-quite-week-old babies, however, were in the water.

I ran back to the house to get Husband’s help. We first got the babies out. Still in the nest box, and most of them still alive (the ones who had died probably would have anyway, even without being flooded out), we got them to higher ground. Husband retrieved a cage from the barn loft and put Licorice inside, along with her babies. The poor girl was pretty wet, and I felt bad for her. She looked a little cramped in that cage, especially after having been in a nice big pen for quite a while, but she is such a mellow rabbit that she seemed to handle the transition fine.

The next task was to get all the wet straw out of the pen. Husband said it was a priority because “this is how barn fires start.” I was confused, but he explain that wet straw composts and heats up, and then a fire starts. That hadn’t occurred to me, but it made sense. So we (mostly Husband) worked on getting the heavy, wet straw out of the pen and out of the barn. We also needed to clean out the bottom floor of the chicken coop. All that wet stuff went into a big gray bin, and once the compost has aged a while, we’ll put it on the garden.

In the meantime, we are considering how urgent and important it may be to build a new barn since the current one seems to be in just about the lowest spot on the property. Its location has caused two different types of problems. In the late winter, when the snow melted and then re-froze, the track in which the door slides became frozen. I had to had the neighbor help me once, and a couple of Husband’s employees help me another time just to get the door open to feed the animals. Twice it has flooded: once in early spring as the snow turned to water and earth thawed and the rains began, and once this past week. Certainly this week’s rains were unusual, but I anticipate that we will have to deal with the flooding every spring.

One thought is to put a new barn on the concrete pad that currently makes a basketball court. Except that the basketball goal is broken and that’s where we currently store the Beast (our gigantic mower), the snowblower, and the tiller. It is higher and the ground around it was not as squashy as the ground around the barn was. Husband mentioned building a timber-frame barn in order to get practice in timber framing before he builds the house. I’d be okay with a cute pole barn with a gambrel roof and an enclosed lean-to like our neighbor has. Either way, we’d make the barn bigger than the current one so that we can have more room for animals and hopefully some space for the mowers and other machinery.

Plus then we won’t have to rescue wet rabbits anymore.

May Update

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When I go for runs, last year’s corn fields are a patchwork of color. This one is brown with remnants of old corn stalks. That one is freshly plowed with green spears of new corn popping up. And the next is covered with yellow flowers – mustard flower or goldenrod or something.

My back yard is green, green, green. The grass melts into the woods behind, and the interstate is finally obscured by foliage. Birds nesting in a hole in the side of the house chatter and chirp and screech at each other as they fly in and out. In the distance, goats bleat, and next door, the horses whinny and snort and gallop. Giant carpenter bees deafen me with their buzzing, and frogs in the dilapidated pool warble and croak, drowning out other night noises.

Though I haven’t checked on them lately, Husband tells me the chickens are getting big and feathering out, and the bunnies are turning into eating machines. Need to get the chicken coop and the rabbit run built.

I’ve seen flowers blooming that I didn’t know we had; daffodils earlier this spring, plus a few tulips. I discovered a peony bush, and I planted some resurrection lilies and some irises around the bird feeders I set up, as well as some echinacea and butterfly weed. Sunflowers will soon make a border along the road in front of our house.

The gardens have been tilled and planting has begun. Potatoes and corn are in. Hills have been hoed for the pumpkins and squashes. One of these days I’ll help Husband to do more planting. It’s hard sometimes after nine hours at school; I want to collapse on the couch and have someone else make me dinner, but the grass is ankle-high so I need to mow, and Husband has been working hard all day, too. Frozen pizza dinners are anything but rare around here.

My summer job list is long, and mostly involves cleaning up things that never got properly done when we moved in last summer. Certain things just got piled as we worked on getting other spaces ready. Husband’s shop is nearing completion, so now it’s time to tidy all the stuff that looks like junk. (And the stuff that actually is junk needs to be hauled away.) Need to pull out landscape timbers and river rock that was meant to border flower gardens but instead just prevents a proper mowing job and gives weeds a place to flourish.

Monday Night Dinners, our weekly tradition for the last eight or ten years, may be a thing of the past, and we look to new ways to show hospitality in a more remote area that seems to discourage regular visitors but may welcome occasional masses of guests for big get-togethers. A friend suggested a quarterly party, and we ponder what that might look like. For summer, it will be basketball and volleyball once we get the equipment ready. Camp-outs are a possibility, especially now that the outhouse is ready for use. We shall see.

I sit on the back porch regularly, enjoying the view and the sounds. Loving this property. Thanking God for what he has given us.

On Second Thought…

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We had made some decisions, and then we began to rethink them.

First, we had just about decided to get rid of the rabbits.  When the husband is gone and I’m still working full time, it’s hard for me to take care of them, especially when their water freezes several times a day.

But then, the husband found something unexpected when he went to check on them one day in March.

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Husband had bred a couple of the rabbits, but we didn’t think either of them got pregnant.  We saw no signs of either rabbit preparing a nest box.  And we looked during the time when we expected babies, and saw no babies.

But then, suddenly, there were cute baby bunnies!  And how can you resist those little fuzzballs?

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So we’ll keep them for a while, at least until next winter.

Another thing we’d thought we’d decided was to build a log home when we’re ready to build.  We went to a Log and Timber Home Show in March.

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We were inundated with information, but we did decide that we like the look of a timber frame home better than a log home, plus Husband thinks he could mill some of the timber himself.  We have a number of trees in our woods that need to come down, and Husband has a WoodMizer now.  And it would be pretty cool to have a house made partially from wood from our own property.

As if our heads weren’t full enough of house plans and ideas, we also went to a Tiny House workshop sponsored by Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.

SONY DSCWe had thought first that we would build a true Tiny House (around 200 – 250 square feet, on a trailer like a custom RV), but then we thought maybe we’d just build a small cabin of 350 – 400 square feet.  Then we realized that in order to do that, due to local building codes, we’d have to apply for a variance because we are permitted to have only one residence on the property.  (And we plan to keep the small house even after we build the bigger house.)  After we went to the Tiny House workshop, Husband determined that it made more sense to build the custom RV on a trailer than attempt to jump through all the hoops to apply for a variance.  And I realized that building a Tiny House actually doesn’t seem that hard, and we can totally do it ourselves.  That was exciting.

We have much ahead of us.  But it will be an exciting journey!

So Much

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There is so much happening, and so little time to write about it.

In the future, I hope to tell you about a Log and Timber Frame Home Show we went to, an unexpected litter of bunnies, plans for the summer, the Tiny House workshop we’re attending soon, and ideas for building a carport, our cottage, and our home.

In the meantime, I have sub plans to write, research to begin for the class I’m taking, a barn to clean out, and a lot of information to process!