I realized that the rabbits have gotten very little blog space lately. It’s not that things are not going on with them, it’s just that other things have been a bit more “important” to talk about. So this Sunday Homestead Update will be heavy on the rabbits. The sheep have also missed blog space, but there really isn’t anything going on with them. They will get their turn in the spotlight later this fall when breeding season is upon us. For now, they are just happily living a drama-free existence on the farm…just how we like it!
Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits
We currently have 3 pregnant does and 1 that just gave birth. That is a lot of pregnancy considering we only have 4 does total!
Little Miss Fuzz Tail just gave birth to 10 kits. It was her second litter ever and she put them all neatly into the nest box as she should. We were very happy with that. The day after she kindled she was looking pretty bad though. Her eye was gooped shut, her nose was all runny, and she was just looking miserable. It was very worrisome for us. We took her out and began cleaning her eye up with a warm wet rag. Once we got the goop off of it and opened it we quickly saw the problem – she had a piece of hay stuck in her eye. We got it cleared out and washed up. We also wiped her nose, which we assume was simply running because her eye was running so much to clean the hay out. The next day she looked much improved, though the eye is still a bit upset.
Arania is pregnant and due in a week or so. We bred her to Homer, since her last breeding to Peter ended with only 2 kits surviving after one week. We were attempting to line-breed her to Peter, and we are not sure if the summer heat was the problem with that breeding or if the genetics are too close. Peter is her son, with Homer being his sire. We may or may not attempt a line breeding with them again later this fall or winter. At this point we need nice, big, healthy litters to meet all the orders our son has coming in for his business, so we went with the safer match of her and Homer.
Maple was accidentally bred by her half-brother (who we thought was her sister), right before they came out of quarantine. We have a nest box in her cage currently because we have no idea when they first bred since they were sharing a cage. She may or may not have taken as she was still a bit young. Time will tell with that one. Until then, we are leaving the nest box for 34 days.
The original Ebony, who turned out to be a buck instead of a doe, was traded back to the breeder for the new Ebony. The breeder bred her for us the day before pick-up so that she could be productive in quarantine. We decided that for this round of quarantine, since we just recently purchased from this breeder and did a 4-week quarantine with no problems, and since this doe was going to have to quarantine totally alone in a very quiet and solitary wood shop area, AND because we didn’t want to have to move her right after kindling lest we cause her to abandon her kits, we would just do a 2-week quarantine. So yesterday she was moved out of quarantine into the rabbitry. This will give her a couple of weeks to settle before kindling, and she wont be so isolated from any mental stimulation.
We have had a hotter week this last week, but it seems like it isn’t so much the temperature as it is the sun on the roof that heats up the rabbitry. And almost every afternoon this week it has gotten cloudy and rained, even if it is hot. So the rabbitry hasn’t been bad as far as heat, and that has been nice. I am guessing this is our last spurt of heat for the year.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em….but what if that doesn’t work either?
As I said in this post here, the chickens decided to lay in the sheep mangers and then the dog started eating all of our eggs. Which, by the way, has given him a beautifully shiny coat. So we took out the mangers, put in a hay rack, and built a nesting shelf up high enough the dog couldn’t reach it. At first the hens seemed to love their new shelf and we had several eggs in there for a few days. But then they changed their minds. And instead decided to just lay their eggs on the floor of the sheep stall in the shavings. Sigh. What to do now?
We sell eggs and have regular weekly customers, so going from 14 eggs a day to 6 eggs a day was not good at all. So for a few days, we had no choice but to keep the chickens closed in their pen and not let them free-range while we decided what to do next.
So plan C was to build a nest box that sat on the ground but that the dog couldn’t get into. We have finished it, but haven’t tried it out yet. I’ll let you know how it goes. I would hate to stop the free-ranging as it has worked out so great so far, but I can’t feed half a dozen eggs to the dog each day.
It looks like we will have at least one more week until our first frost, which is very exciting as the garden is really producing like crazy right now and we don’t want it to stop.
The beans have made it! They are all over and we have started harvesting some. I expect to be really fully into the harvest within the week. The green and the purple did better than the yellow, but it could have been location. I will try all three again next year.
The acorn squash has taken off. We have at least 10 almost full-sized squash on the plant and we are just waiting for them to ripen. Some of them have already started turning dark right by the stem! We tried something earlier this week, and I am not sure if it helped or not, but it seemed to. We went all over the acorn squash and the pumpkin plant and we cut off all the teeny tiny squash and pumpkins that were coming on that we knew would never make it in time. The theory being that the plant could put all its energy into finishing off the bigger ones that were on it. Like I said, it seems to have helped because the ones that are on have all grown a bunch and started to ripen this week on both the acorn squash and on the pumpkin plant. But maybe it was just coincidence.
The cabbages are doing great. I would say they are about 5 inch diameter now.
The carrot tops continue to grow and look great, though we aren’t seeing any shoulders yet. I have pulled a few, for a special dinner last week, and they were small but not terribly, so that is good news. So even if we get a frost we can pull them all and we will get something for the effort, even if they are small.
We continue to enjoy the lettuce, but the spinach all bolted early last week in the heat. We got most of it eaten before it bolted, so it didn’t get wasted. And we have some more cucumbers coming on nicely. I am so excited about the cucs since I have tried for years to get them to grow in our cool climate and this is my first success.
All-in-all we are overwhelmingly pleased with the harvest – it is MUCH more than we expected to get with the bad soil.
For the first time ever we canned salsa. We used more of our barter tomatoes. It looks great, though we haven’t opened a jar of it yet. But it tasted great before it went in, so we are hopeful it will come out great.
We used my husband’s salsa recipe. We love it fresh, but we don’t know how it performs when canned. For this reason we only canned a small batch. If it turns out well we will probably plan to can some more next year.