Friday, June 8, 2012

New Addtions to the homestead

Well, everything is doing well here on the homestead.  The Peas are growing tall, we have Blueberries ripening up, Spinach is just about ready for Harvest, the beets were a hit, and the onions and carrots are going gangbusters! We have had a wonderful Spring!

But backing up to Mother's Day, on our annual trip out to Flower World...the little missus and my kiddo both fell in love with some bunnies running around.  Skip forward some, and I began to notice Wild bunnies in our neighborhood, must be 5 - 7 of them, running around where the City Hall was, and now there is only grass.  Seems like somebody was pointing me in a new direction.

Fast forward again to just last week, and I found myself putting together wire cages for you guessed it, bunnies.

So today, I spent the day putting together a hutch for the bunnies, as we were to pick up two furry furies this evening.
Here I am in front of the frame for a two tiered rabbit hutch.  One of the cages is in the frame for measurement sake. Each cage is 3' x 2'x 18".  This two tiered hutch will eventually be 5' high at the back, and almost 7' long!

Here's a closeup of the construction.  It's made from 2x3's, and the cages will hang above trays for the bunny poop.  One cage on top, tray in the middle, another cage below, and tray below that.  The Hutch will hold 4 cages, the idea is for 1 buck and 2 does, with an extra cage for the litter.

Well, everything was going smoothly, I had the siding on the back and both sides,  when my lovely wife realized that this was going to be too tall for in front of the window!  After some careful deliberation, and more than a little head scratching, I made an executive decision to scrap the original plan, and push forward with a more moderate one.

My kiddo is peeking out from the left of the photo, her Beau Irving is seated (in red) helping me race to put the changed plans together, and my father (in background) giving sage advice (which we probably didn't listen to), my charming missus is taking the photo (thanks Luv)

So, the more moderate plan is to make a single layer hutch, with two cages inside for now, as we are only getting the two tonight.  This photo was taken 40 minutes before we were to leave to get the bunnies!!!.  The back OSB panel was used to make a temporary roof (I will be getting White plastic sheeting (not corrugated) to cover the roof) then the OSB will be cut down for the back piece.  The sides are not in the picture, but unfortunately didn't quite get on before we had to boogie.

Here is the "nearly" finished hutch, with rabbits, water, food, hay.  The sides are just laid up against the hutch now, I will attach them tomorrow.  The buck is in the left side cage, the doe in the right.  I will be adding more cages later.

Well, we hightailed up north to pick up the bunnies.  We got two New Zealand Red Rabbits, a solid Red Buck, and "Broken" Red/White Doe.  They are 12 weeks old, and weigh just under 6 lbs.  When full grown in 5 more months, they will push 10 - 11 pounds, and be ready to mate.  The litter could be; all red, "broken" red/white, or all white.  The idea is the litter will be used for meat rabbits.  Though some could be sold if there is a market.  

Now it's time to meet the newest additions to our homestead:
Mr. Nibbles our Buck.  He has certainly lived up to his name so far, nibbling on anything he can get is teeth on.  

This is Isis, she is our "Broken" red/white doe.  The term "broken" refers to any multicolored patterned rabbit, She is termed Heavily Broken as she is predominantly Red, with white belly, feet, and cheeks.  She is really shy, and more than a little bewildered by her new surroundings.

Well, this was a successful little project, one that I hope grows, and proves successful later.  I am already thinking about my next project, a watering system for the chickens, and possible rabbits, that will hold 5 gallons of water and allow them to access it at will.  It will use a 5 gallon bucket, and some PVC pipe.  If all goes well, I will post my project here.

Happy Spring to everyone!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Okay, okay....I have been shamed into blogging again.  I apologize for the gap (heck a gap as wide as the grand canyon..) I have only myself to blame.   I shan't share my woes, suffice it to say I got lazy and stopped writing. 'Nuff said.

So to update folk, if anyone is still reading....

I started last Spring with 4 new chickens, well, one started to crow, and we had him for dinner the next week.  So this Spring, I still have 3 chickens.  Twinkie the Buff Orpington, Diva the Welsummer, and MeToo the Golden Lace Wyandotte.  Here you can see how they've grown (the playpen is new for them, made it to take the place of the wooden ark that was too cumbersome to move around by myself.) They are laying a remarkable amount of eggs, often 3 per day.  I really didn't expect this type of production, but it's nice.  And really, once you've had fresh eggs, eating store bought just doesn't make sense.

 This is the playpen, I realized the girls needed more space, so this is 1/2 inch pvc with plastic chicken netting.  It is 
6' x6'x3' so the girls have plenty of room to roam, and I can pull this around the yard with one hand.  Have to get rid of the crappy old blue tarp though. 
 Twinkie in the fore, MeToo in the rear.  MeToo got her name due to following Twinkie wherever she goes.
Diva is perusing the buffet...what no desert tray again!!! Shot this photo though one nesting box.  The coop is really holding up well.  You can't see it in the photo, but I re-purposed the infrared light from the brooder box into this coop to keep it warm on nights it dips below freezing.  This winter, the inside of the coop was a balmy 46 degrees and the water never froze, even though we had weeks below freezing here.

As for the veggie side of the operation, I made some changes to my layout.  We were gifted 3 lovely mature Blueberry bushes to go with our previous 4.  So I had to add 3 new garden beds and moved all the blueberries together.  I also made two new beds from cinder blocks I got from Craigslist, and filled one with Strawberries, and the other with Raspberry, Marionberry and Boysenberry.  I now call this the Berry Corner.  It is joined by my pallet board compost bin.

 Here are the two cider block beds, the strawberries were picked up last fall from the plant farm, they had a sale, 25 for 10 bucks. so I dropped the "dime" and put 25 strawberry plants, plus a few we had from before into this 4x8 bed.  I mulched over the winter with bedding from the chicken coop.  The Strawberries are tremendously big now!  The other bed took in the Raspberries, moved from the driveway beds, as they kept spilling out into the other beds.  Let's see them try to go through cinder blocks! Ha!  oops should not tempt them.
 Here is my thrown together pallet board compost bin.  I am thinking of taking off the farthest bin, as I really don't need it.  I have some really sweet compost in bin #1, and am starting anew in bin #2.
Here are the newest beds, paired with some put together last year.  In the nearest, I have Onions and Carrots, the one with trellis' are the Peas, and the next three hold Blueberries. Seriously hoping for mondo amounts of Blueberries this year.

So, having moved the Raspberries from the Driveway beds, due to them spilling (is that possible...or would invading be better) into the other beds, I had a 2x4 bed that I needed to find a use for, then it hit me:
Lettuce, yes some thinning is needed here...

Lettuce, we really don't eat enough to plant a ton, and it always comes up.  I planted 5 varieties, because it just makes salads more fun.  Salad bowl (a fav!), Revolution (the red), Flashy Trout Back, Pom Pom (so cute they named it twice) and Mache.  I'll thin some out, and use it on sandwiches, or burgers, then when they grow up, it will be cut some leaves, and let them grow out again.  No need to re-plant, cut and come again.  Love it!

We spent today celebrating Mothers Day, as my lovely wife has to work tomorrow. So we went and had brunch at the Maltby Cafe (always a winner) then went over to Flower World.  Man, does this trip always bust my chops.  I so want a little spread of land to have Lambs, Goats, Chickens running free, harrumph...sigh.

Well, I won't soon be getting my own slice of heaven on earth, but both my daughter and my wife started talking about Rabbits; there's a thought.

I'll try to take pictures of the hutch when I start the build later this Spring. 

Enough for a 1st time out in a long time.  I will try to write regularly, I didn't realize I missed sharing this much.  Thanks to those who took the time to read my silly rantings, and those who needled me to get back into the saddle and write some more.  A big thanks.