Friday, May 3, 2013

Wow... one year later...

It's been a year since I've updated the blog, so let me fill you in, in a nuttyshell, to what is going on our lives.

I survived with never-ending migraines for 6 months- I could do nothing when they hit, and they went from one per month, to one per week, to multiple, and they would incapacitate me for days to weeks each. I tried traditional medicine (turns out I am allergic to some migraine meds, in a bad way), tested for allergies, changed doctors with no new, creative thought, changed my diet, and finally got my eyes checked (my idea, not the doctor's). Turns out I needed glasses. I got glasses, and haven't had a migraine since (okay, until last night, but that's another story).

In early March of this year, the real estate broker I worked with off and on to look for a bit more land for us emailed. We had wanted about an acre, but right in town, and there is only one area with property like that, and is mostly out of our price range and the demand is so high that those places sell the first day they list. Well, he found one that wasn't on the market yet. We went and looked at it before it listed, made an offer, and found ourselves suddenly having to list our home because our offer was accepted. It's been a busy month! Our place is now under contract too, so the insanity is lessening.

Since last year, we did retro-fit all the rabbits with cages, which helped us problem-solve. Turns out rats moved in, and were eating the babies, so the cages give us (and the kits) a fighting chance. It also turns out my buck is past his prime, and is producing very small litters, and has a hard time performing. I'm demoting him to 'back-up buck' and retiring one doe who is a bad mother. My daughter has requested that we get a breeding pair of New Zealand reds, since we love our NZ black so much, and we'll also have some color variety for our pelts that way. It took forever, but I finally found a breeder two hours south of us who will have a pair for me in June, after we move.  We're holding off breeding our others until after we move, too, so it's simpler to relocate them all. I'm also keeping a baby from my NZ black as a breeding doe due to her size and friendly nature.

So now... our new place. We move in the first week of June. It's fantastic! It's just under an acre, and has amazing mature shade trees in the front and over the house and immediate back yard, but sun in the far back where the vegetable garden is... and yes, there is already one there, so I'm not having to start over from scratch! There are great shade trees where the rabbits and chickens will be, along with a fence around that area we'll use for them, so it's practically set up already. We'll have to do more predator-proofing there, since we're right by the Open Space parks and reservoir where there are more foxes, coyotes, and even bears, not to mention raccoons and hawks. I decided that I'm going to partially disassemble the rabbit condos and chicken run and coop, and move them over with help from movers. It's too much for us to move by ourselves. I'm sure it will not be the strangest request they've gotten. :)

The garden area is perfect for setting up a folding/accordion greenhouse over part of it, in the lee of the west winds. Because we're right by the creek and the water level is so high, it is cooler at the new place, so the greenhouse will help extend our growing season on both ends. More on the garden as I get to know it. ;) There's a nice spot for some raspberry transplants, strawberries, and heirloom berry bushes, and maybe some wild plums along the back fence.

My son has plans for the new place, too. He's almost 4, and has decided he wants to raise honey bees there. He also wants a slack line, swings, and a treehouse. Those will take time, and I want to leave the place as natural as possible, so we'll have to live and plan for a bit and negotiate to find a happy medium.

We're in a flood zone. We will have bugs. So I am planning some mediation: catnip plants, citronella grasses, and rosemary are all natural mosquito repellents that I can put in pretty decorative pots and bring inside for the winter. We'll also build a bat house for the far corner in the trees over our leech-field  Leech-field?  Yes. We'll be living off of two wells and maintaining our own septic system. We're not part of the city water or waste-treatment system. :) I love it. The current owners say the land there is named Lily. So we're going to plant some native lilies there when we move in.

So overall, this move will probably result in increasing our rabbitry from three does and one buck, to four does and two bucks, our six chickens can gain some Bantoms and grow to 8 or 9 now that we have more space (and I LOVE my girls!), we'll add the honeybees I've always wanted, since I have an interested kid who can grow into being our family beekeeper. That's the overall view of what might happen this year. We'll see what really happens! I'll write more soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Bun or Not to Bun?

I commissioned a cage for one of my rabbits, just the right size to fit into the condo and hang nicely. It's here, ready to test out... but... now I'm on hold due to health problems. I haven't been able to do any yard work, chores, or even drive safely due to a never-ending migraine. It's been since March.

My husband and I are considering downsizing or eliminating the rabbit project as a result. It's too much work for one person with the dirt-burrow system as it currently is. Heheheh. Nothing like a few solid weeks of tending to the rabbits for him to finally understand how much work these ground-based burrows have been! I think what I would like to do is get rid of a doe or two, save my favorite and my buck, stop breeding so they're more like pets for now, and when I recover, I will retrofit the condos as I planned. If that makes it easier to tend to them, then we will start breeding again, and I'll look for additional does at that time, maybe later this summer.

That implies a solution to my current situation will be found in a timely fashion, and I will be able to resume some or all of my work.

Life requires of us nothing less than flexibility towards change, adaptation, patience, and humor. I'm still working on more humor. Got any good jokes? I need to laugh more!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Worms! The next step in building a healthy eco-system

I'm researching good composting worms right now, since I'm going to build some worm bins to place under the buns (see previous post on design alterations of the bunny condos). I found this easy to understand blog:

This supports other statements I've heard people make on the pros and cons of both worms. I think the Eisenia Fetida will be the worm I start with (commonly called Red Wiggler). I have them in the garden already, and they have been very happy with my varied and extreme conditions (and care). Despite me, they have thrived. That's a good sign. I inherited a worm bin last summer and they have multiplied and taken over the garden beds- yay!

Now I'm working on design. I've got a bunch of sites I'm checking out.  I plan on building my own, but I think you learn the most from seeing what other people have designed. Some of these sites sell the equipment, but I'm just looking for reference. I really like this one: because it takes advantage of red wigglers' tendency to exhaust their food source and then climb higher to find more- they are surface feeders. That means I can have a tray they start off in with plenty of food. Then I can stack a higher one with more food. As they process the lower one and run out, they will move up. Then I just pull out both trays, set the one from the top on the bottom with all the worms in it, and empty the bottom one out (all nice castings and some eggs to hatch directly in the garden later) and then when the bottom one is full of bunny poo, I stack the empty back on top. So I'm thinking I'll have two layers. 

This next site has lots of good information. I recommend perusing its pages. I like the DIY page the best: I could post all the information I'm finding, but I think it's better for you and me to link to the original sources of the information rather than have me regurgitate it, yes? ;)

More sites to check out:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tanning hides- a spring project

I have 30 or so rabbit hides in my basement freezer right now, and it's time to make them into something useful. I also have two lambskins that I want to process. Here are the links I have decided to follow. I will do as they say, and then report back on my success:

How to tan rabbit hides
How to make sheepskin rugs

This next one looks wild- I am not sure I like it, since you don't actually treat the hide- it just all dries out and is, well, in my imagination, crispy. But I like the idea of the design. I might try it with treated hides, and maybe if I have too many hides to deal with, I could make one his way for the kids to have outside in their play house:

Make a rabbit blanket

All of these articles are from I just subscribed to their magazine, since I really like their 'DIY' and 'Homesteading' archives, and it's only $10 for 6 issues. We'll see if their current issues are as interesting as the old ones!