Thursday, June 30, 2011

Unprepared & Emotionally Exhausted

It has been a horrible day. They kind where a major, unexpected event happens and throws the whole day into unplanned chaos. We were terribly wrong about the rabbits not being pregnant and lost (almost and may yet) an entire litter. All I can say is it wasn't a happy morning. My worst nightmares happened. Our wicked witch doe... now named "Emma Frost" had her litter some time last night or in the early morning. No nest box. No baby safe sides... I couldn't even figure out who had the babies. And the babies were everywhere. Ultimately, seven lost souls with one hanging on for dear life. The one surviving soul had taken refuge in the cage of our sweet doe, "Queen Elizabeth", who was frantically trying to make a nest.

Gary came home from work on a week that was supposed to be bookoo overtime to frantically help me sort out the mess and decide what should be done. The sides of both female cages were blocked with hasty cut and hammered boards. The babies had to be made safe from "The Duke" our buck and the ground all the while I cried about how everything I touch tends to fail. It has been one hard hitting season...

I had already determined that Queen Elizabeth was still pregnant and had started to labor. In a last ditch effort, I lined her metal nest box with card board and wood shavings and pilled high the hay. I salvaged some of the fur she had already pulled out from the ground and threw it in the box. Gary had returned to work, the baby was napping and I had an hour of garden watering to do. We just had to hope she would have her babies in there. Emma Frost had her last surviving babies in her cage with her but it looked bleak. She clearly didn't have a maternal instinct yet and was just peeing and pooping in her nest box.

After Gary got home from work he announced that Queen E had her babies. She managed to have three in the box and two on the wire floor. We moved the two into the box with the others and kept hoping for the best. However, Queen E was doing her job. She had snugly tucked them in with about a pound more of her fur and was resting quietly as the pink little ones shook the hay and fur with their baby movements. Nothing like trial by fire and no amount of reading prepares you for baby bunnies gone wrong. We also hope that Queen E will adopt the lone survivor from Emma Frost's litter. It isn't looking good for that little one.

At the end of the day here is what we learned. Emma Frost is a bit immature. Next time around (we will breed her again with Queen E) she will be older and wiser and so will we. Baby bunnies at the most need to be fed twice a day so bottle feeding is an option if we are prepared. Domestic rabbits don't freak out like wild rabbits about human scent so handling the babies is OK just not too much. No need really if all is going well. Supposedly male rabbits and rabbits in general don't cannibalize their young... I am not so sure about that but I am going with it. Rabbits feed their babies for about 5 minutes a day (usually between midnight to 5 a.m.). We will have to let you know about that for sure in the morning. If they are pink and have round bellies you are doing good. Even with my own baby feeding at first makes me nervous. The little ones can't tell you with words you are doing it right. The infant stage makes me way tense. Hopefully baby rabbits will get me over that.

The disaster is hopefully passed and we will soon have cute rabbit babies to show you. The loss is extremely sad and disappointing but has to be dealt with on a farm. Even if the purpose of that life is ultimately death at least it isn't traumatic, which is the point of raising your own livestock. Life doesn't always work out as planned. As I asked myself why oh why do we do this and not live a normal life? I am reminded that our health depends on it. We may not be growing cheaper food but we certainly are growing healthier for us food. As my heart struggled with why we try to do this over and over as it beats us back. Gary stumbled across this quote:

"Discontent is the want of self-reliance." Emerson

Surely we would be discontent if we weren't slowly, clawing our way towards self-reliance. Don't think though that as we take three steps forward and two steps back I don't need something to remind myself of why we are doing it to get us past the bumps in the road. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guess Who's Not for Dinner: Ticked Off at Rabbits

Did you ever feel like your captive rabbits are
looking at you like this? Source

So our lovely buck and ladies have yet again failed to provide us with any litters. The buck is very enthusiastic about missing when he is doing his duty. I did think this last time he was successful. I am most ticked off that we have thus far invested 9 months of feed at a venture that doesn't seem to be working.

I am not giving up though. I will be breeding them again this week... several times to make sure. I think rabbit will be a great source of backyard protein. Any suggestions? A proven buck? Another senior doe? Alas, they are only just a year old now and are large meat rabbit types. Perhaps they were too young at 9 months to breed...

One way or another bunnies... I will win. Whatever happened to "multiplying like rabbits"?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alternatives to Toxic Medical Cancer Treatment

I share this video (which may or may not be available to watch online for free much longer) because I find it directly correlates to certain farmer's struggles with the FDA. Just as farmers and consumers a like struggle for the right to sell and consume raw milk and healthy traditional, real food, so is Doctor Burzynski struggling to be allow to save people's lives.

Our government has a strong hand on our health and choices regarding our health. If you don't know that, then you need to. If you choose to not vaccinate or delay vaccinate your own child, no doubt you have felt some pressure regarding your choices. One parent in the video even states that as they faced terminal cancer in their very young child's brain their very doctors told them that the parent's opinions and choices don't weigh as heavily as the doctor's opinions and choices. Those doctor's were in favor of heavy radiation treatment that would leave the child a vegetable for the rest of his or her's very short life.

What a travesty it is to live in a nation that alternative and scientifically successful medical treatment is treated as fraud and persecuted as our farmers are. I share this video not just for Dr. Burzynski's struggle but the struggle of every person facing cancer and not able to have honest choices regarding their health.

Please take sometime to know the battle's these parents, individuals, and doctors are going through.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who Says A Farm Can't Be Pretty?


There are times when I feel surrounded by mud and chicken poop. The mud gets into the cracks in my feet and hands and I simply can't even scrub it away. Dust and dirt fills my house and my baby crawls around in dirty pants from sitting in the greenhouse. My one pair of cut off shorts that I run to the grocery store in has permanent dirt stains on them and make me feel like I stick out like a sore thumb.

Our budget is ZERO. If it isn't free; we can't get it. It is like eating a piece of humble pie to compare my farm with the lovely backyards out of magazines or HGTV. I live in the city so I want my barn or chicken coop but I want it to look like a garden cottage. I will tell you a confession of the heart right now... I want pretty things. Yes, I want a farm. Yes, I want to raise my own food. No, I don't want it to look junkie, smell funny, or appear run down. So when you are faced with the reality of buying a run down, falling apart house, with a yard that hasn't been mowed regularly in years and having a ZERO budget things don't always look like you want and it can be discouraging. What can you do but keep on trucking?

I trust the vision in my head and hope that some day it will look that lovely in reality. Until then? Who says you can't have a pretty farm?

Decorating the Farm

To read the whole New York Times article entitled The Decorator Shed. It certainly isn't much of a working farm but I can relate to the feelings behind giving up on the working farm life and giving into the pretty... OK just a bit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gardeners Math

One neglected tea kettle found in a burn pile...

Plus one sad wiry orange mint (free with my farmers market purchase)...

Equals an adorable little something for my front porch.


Sorry friends for our severe lack of blogging these past few weeks. The photos from the birthday party are still on my camera card just to let you know how far behind I am here. The rural blue house is coming along with projects getting checked off the list every couple days. It feels good after a long winter to get outside and get dirty. So please forgive us as we plant and tend our gardens and keep our animals to provide food for our families. As usual there are tons of ideas and thoughts buzzing around in our heads and we can't wait to pass our nonsense along to you. Thanks for you patience.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mulching (AKA: How NOT to Spend Your Summer Weeding)

Garden? Planted...

Plants? Content...

Water? Every other day...

and weeding? Nope.

What? Really, you ask...

In my garden there is very little weeding. (I mean, come on there are so many other things I would rather be doing than weeding like alphabetizing my homeopathics or cleaning out the freezer of the-year-before-last-years remaining vegetables.) Hello free time! Yes, welcome to the wonderful world of mulching. Summer months are when plants and weeds struggle for all those good things that help make green things grow. Mulching around plants helps keep the weeds down and water in the soil. This one thing has saved me countless hours bent over in the garden.

Some people use actual wood mulch but there are other cheaper alternatives too. I've tried newspaper and cardboard but since I tried yard clippings, I'll never go back. Here's what my mulching routine looks like.

Step 1: I catch yard clippings in my push mower.

Step 2: Fill my nearby wheelbarrow with clippings, about 6 bags.

Step 3: Push full load of clipping to your garden plot and spread a generous layer (think wood mulch, about 2-3 inches) around plants, but not too close. I leave a two inch radius around the stems free from the grass clippings.

Step 4: Nothing! Just water and pull an occasional renegade weed.

This is what my mulching looks like immediately after... it starts green and poofy.

a day later... losing some of that color and height.

and a week later. Completely brown and flat.

See how the clipping form a thick layer. I would compare it to a grass mat. Keeps light out but still lets water in and keeps it there. I wish I had a picture of last years garden later in the season. The only weeds we were fighting were on the walking paths that we hadn't mulched. Also, my grass clipping are NEVER grass. More like weed clippings. And yet mulching my garden plants with them doesn't just give me more weeds. I know, amazing!

What other tricks do you use to keep weeds down in your garden?

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