Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Family, a Violet, and Tulle

We finally had a long awaited visit from my sisters family. They were supposed to visit last year, but they had a lot of uneventful happenings in their trip and never ended up making it out here to see us. One year later THEY FINALLY MADE IT! I missed them soooo much! I didn't want them to leave : (  It was so nice having family around.

Last year I won a beautiful tulle skirt from Kellie Arndt at  . Click here for the link to her Etsy Store. My wonderful niece, Jolie, had promised to take pictures with her fancy shmancy camera when they came out, but of course there was a one year delay......

And it finally happened.

Yet we had such a hard time finding a good background. Its kind of impossible here, so we made do. Which resulted in very few good pictures. But here goes.

Then we ditched the garden (it had a giant rat running around in the plants) and headed out to Violet, our LaMancha dairy goat. She is the sweetest, but required lots of figs to stand still or she was going to abandon us, so she could find her own.

Violet making fish lips haha! She wants to look glamorous. 

There were lots of pictures of me talking to her. They are actually my favorite. I think they reflect me the most, because I am ALWAYS talking to the animals.

Violet talking back!

And my favorite of all.

Then it was Vivienne's turn. She was the greatest little helper while here. She didn't want me to take care of the rabbits and guinea pigs without her. She happily rinsed and filled all of their water bowls for me. Getting her dressed up and taking pictures of her was like playing with a little Tinker Belle.

And last but not least. After I was done taking pictures of Vivienne, Christian wanted to try one of these little citrus fruit that my mom has in the front yard. He has the best sour face!

 He is a sweet little dinosaur, who loved to bring pine cones from their hotel for the rabbits to chew on.

~A big thanks to Kellie for the wonderful skirt.~


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spring Happenings

Did you think I fell off the face of the earth?
I know I haven't blogged in a really long time. I have this thing about writing blog posts with someone in the room. When people are looking over my shoulder, asking about what I am writing and the pictures I am using it throws me off, and then I can't remember what I was going to write rrrrrrr! But that's only part of my excuse. Do I really need to make excuses though? Its my blog and I can write as often as I like *Smile*.

I have been playing catch up on lots of projects, and things that just flat out need to get done. 

I have been fencing in our backyard around the rabbit area. I have been wanting to do this for a long time, but had to wait till the tree got partially trimmed or it would crush my fence when the branches were cut. So that got done. The goats and sheep loved the mulberry branches. After the fence is up I am going to turn my guinea pigs loose in that area. They will be able to eat all the food that the rabbits in raised cages throw out of their food bowls and all the hay that they waste. So they will act as my little cleaners. I am also growing grass for them, but its hard to grow grass when you have to constantly walk on it. The fence is also for prevention in the case a stay dog comes into the yard. I have seen too many pictures of peoples rabbits that  got their toes chewed off from under the cage (and much worse) by their neighbors wandering dogs.

Butchering rabbits. Call me weird, crazy, bunny killer. I don't care. It turns out that after a few rounds in butchering rabbits now, and getting past the not so good feeling of having to take an animals life, that I actually enjoy processing rabbits. No its not fun taking an animals life, but that's part of life, and to live life must be taken (all you vegans, don't even bother commenting). Butchering is time consuming, and work, but I enjoy doing it. Its rather interesting to be able to thoroughly inspect every part of your food as its processed. You get to see the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, heart, etc. and make sure that there is nothing wrong with it. 

I had to clean out all the rabbit pens when our major rains came to an end. All the shavings, and wasted hay was beginning to break down with their poo. I shoveled it all out and dumped load after load in one of my raised beds to fill it up. I should say that this is after I took half of my raised bed frames and set them on top of the other frames to make them twice as high and half as many. So now my garden is less to maintain. It was getting to be to much to water and weed. I decided over the winter that it was something that I needed to cut back on. I only have so much time and energy, and I had to decide on what things are most important. I had a extra pack of pepper plants that I didn't have room to plant in the main garden, so decided to plant them in the raised bed in the garden that I filled from the rabbit pens. The hay and shavings hadn't had the chance to break down all the way, so I wasn't sure if the plants would do well. It has been a few weeks and those plants are now twice the size of the pepper plants in the main garden and much greener.

A couple months back our neighbor had a black rabbit show up in his yard and he caught it and penned it up. Then about a week later my mom woke me up at 2 AM saying that one of my rabbits got loose and was running around the yard. Oh goody! I pulled on a jacket and shoes and we headed out to catch this rabbit she said was white. Then we found a fawn colored doe. It wasn't mine. I put it in a cage and we looked all over to find the white rabbit and never did find it, but none of my rabbits were loose. This was a nice little surprise to have this rabbit show up, because I had been thinking about buying a normal furred doe for breeding, so I could see what its like to process normal furred rabbits, because I only have Rex and they are harder to skin than normally furred rabbits. A couple weeks later the fawn doe pulled hair and made a nest. She wasn't pregnant, but she wanted to be a mom. So after a trip to visit my Rex buck, she has kindled 5 nice big healthy kits.

Almost all our goats and sheep have kidded / lambed for the season. At least I hope! Hyacinth is due any day and I'm still waiting on one of our standard size sheep. A couple months back my mom took me to my doctors appointment. Its out of town, so its kinda kills our whole day, but we enjoy the trip, as my doctor lives in a really beautiful mountainous area. When we got home that evening I went out to feed the sheep and goats before eating dinner, and Puddin was in labor. She was pushing and pushing, but there was no sign of any lamb. With all the goats we have had kid, we've had VERY FEW that needed assistance and that is usually just pulling a large kid that was presented normally.  I tried feeling around for hooves or a head and couldn't make out what I was feeling. My mom tried and had the same problem. It was dark out and it felt like I was working on a ship in a bottle while blindfolded. Whatever direction it was in, it wasn't making it into the birth canal in that position. My mom went inside and called a friend that used to raise sheep, while I tried more. I couldn't tell if I was feeling a ear or what. Our friend said to feel for a tail. That was it, a short Shetland tail. Trying to turn it seemed impossible, her contractions were fighting against everything I was trying to do. Finally I managed to find a hock and followed it WAY up inside her uterus and grabbed its hoof and then found the other and as carefully as possible pulled them around. Then I pulled the big ram lamb out backwards. He was a big guy, its a no wonder it was so hard to maneuver him around in there. We expected that by this time he was dead. At some point in the maneuvering I felt his leg move, but thought it was just me. No he was alive! I couldn't believe it. I swung him around to get the fluid out of him. and we dried and stimulated him with towels. Puddin practically needed some stimulation herself at this time, she was spent. It took her several minutes to regain herself and then she started to lick her baby. I put him on to nurse for a while and then we got Puddin up. She was shaky, but OK and then she was STARVING. After getting that giant baby out of her she wanted FOOD. We have had goats do this after having big babies. They suddenly have room to eat! I was so glad Puddin had a live baby, since she lost her baby last year thank to our goat Jetta. She loves her son and keeps him at her side at all times. Such a cute mama.

Back I think the end of January I got the idea to plant some seeds out in our main garden and put 2 liter soda bottles over them as mini hot houses. This wasn't completely my idea as Herrick Kimball of The Deliberate Agrarian had done a post on how he plants tomato seeds and puts Wall-O-Water's around them. But those things are expensive! We have one main slicing tomato that we all love and that's Ananas Noire. You cannot plant the garden without planting Ananas. Well my little experiment worked. The tomatoes and squash germinated. I think my onion seeds were too old, and come to think of it the pepper seeds I used didn't germinate for me last year, so they must not be any good.

At the time that we would usually be planting our garden we had tomato plants blooming. There are now some little fruit on the plants.

If I remember right, my goat Dandelion was the first to kid of the season, and had a sweet little white buckling. At three days old something ate him out in the back of our pasture. I had taken the alpaca out of our pasture when she kidded, so that he wouldn't bother her. Unfortunately that was a mistake. Lesson learned.

My other goat Daffodil had a beautiful set of twins.


I have been supplementing her morning and even. After a while Daffodil didn't like her nursing on her (she's rough on her moms udder), so she wasn't getting enough to eat. Now when she see's me she comes pouncing up to me. Its so cute!

Do you remember Dolly? Our sweet little bottle baby from last year that was born with contracted tendons. Here she is with her darling son. She delivered him all by herself, and he has nice strong legs. Most people would have culled her for fear that she would pass it on to her children, but it wasn't genetic it was a lack of room in the womb. She's turning out to be a good mom and her son is oh so sweet.

Here are some of the lambs playing. The one in the front is Puddin's ram lamb, behind him is Maizee's ewe lamb, and in the background is Mugsy our lamb from last year with her own ewe lamb.

And our standard cross with Shetland lambs peeking out from behind the tree.

I have another blog post in the works, but its going to take me a while to get it all together.


Friday, January 29, 2016

New Lambs!

When I went out to feed this morning one of the big ewes was missing. They are always standing at the fence waiting for their flake of alfalfa. Their pen opens into the neighbors field, so after throwing out the hay I walked next door. I found her a little ways out into the pasture laying with a lamb on each side of her. All cleaned up and spotless, and mommy was very alert to them. I was worried about these big ewes, because they were bottle babies. Their own mothers rejected them, and they say that lack of instinct can be passed on to the next generation. She loves her babies! And she CAN count to two! If one gets out of sight she checks for BOTH lambs. what a great start to the lambing season. One female and one male. They were sired by our Shetland ram (Eddie).

 Eddie took up standing guard.

 All the other sheep were curious about them, and had to give them a sniffing.

"Where did they come from?" At least that's what it looked like she was asking me, after checking them out.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Random Pictures

We have had a nice break in our weather. We had quite a bit of rain, and its finally starting to dry up before the next storm moves in. So I took a wander around with the camera yesterday.

 Sugar and Eddie standing behind him.

 Mugsy at her perching spot.

 A woolly feeding frenzy.

 Goat feeding time.

 Maxwell eating with his goats.

 I've started noticing some interesting mushrooms coming up in our pasture the last couple of years.

 I like these yellow ones. My battery died on the camera, so I had to pluck it out of the pasture for a later picture.

 These ones grow on an rotting board.

 This is growing on our mulberry tree in the front yard.

 Recuperating bunny. Had some tummy trouble. She liked to dump her water as you can see.

And the princess, Vicky, in her blankets.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tattooing It Up

Not myself! 
I would never get a tattoo, but when it comes to identifying the animals it is often a necessity. Since the rabbit raising adventure has been going well, the time has come to start tattooing some of these buns. Actually their ears.
When I was a kid and we had to tattoo rabbits using a clamp tattooer for shows (which was only a small amount) I absolutely hated it. Then one day we tattooed a rabbit and it jumped. They always jumped, it was a sudden shock of pain. I had it wrapped tightly in a towel and my mom was the one who stamped the old fashion clamp tattooer on the rabbits ear and the rabbit jumped out of my arms and to the floor, over extending its back in mid air. It could no longer walk. Only drag its back legs. I was so upset. I cried and begged my mom to call my 4-H leader. Thinking that somehow my leader could make things better. What a mistake that was. My leader told my mom to make the rabbit comfortable and that there was a small possibility that the rabbit had swelling in its spine and that after the swelling went away that it could regain use of its back legs. That didn't happen, the rabbit could no longer go to the bathroom, had to be put down. I was so upset thoughts flashed through my mind of getting rid of the rabbits, because I never wanted to tattoo a rabbit again.
Then I went to my next rabbit 4-H meeting. I think it was only days after this event, so I was still very sensitive about what happened. When I got there I soon found out that my 4-H leader was going to be giving a tattoo to one of the kids rabbit in the group. I broke out in a panic. I didn't want to see this happen and I didn't want to be there. I thought that was bad enough. Then my leader stood before all the kids and told them "When tattooing a rabbit, you want to hold it securely, but NOT TO SQUEEZE IT TIGHT. You could break its back if you do. Kim just made this mistake and broke one of her rabbits back." I did my best to hide my tears. I couldn't believe that she just said that to the whole group, in front of me, and it was a lie. It made me feel absolutely terrible as if I didn't already feel bad enough. Looking back I still don't know why she did that. But I never tattooed a rabbit again.
So that's why when I bought my Rex buck that I (very uncomfortably) let the girl tattoo it for me. I was so nervous that it would break its back, but I new that I needed to get over this fear. She pulled out her tattoo set and it was an Inkinator (an electric tattoo pen). That made me a little more comfortable. I had heard that they were a lot easier on the rabbits. I told her I had a rabbit break its back before when tattooing and she said "It was a clamp, right?" Yes "These are so much easier." She proceed to tattoo him and he only squirmed a little. She was having issues with her pen being clogged, so it took a while, but in the end I was happy, because his back was still intact. Yay!
Since we started raising the rabbits, they have produced a total of 57 live bunnies. I just figured that out the other night, when filling out some record keeping forms I got for free off . But 30 of those bunnies are under 8 weeks old right now.  As I said in my last post 6 went in our freezer, and I have cooked 2 so far. My dad says he doesn't want to eat bunny. I'm wondering if he is ever going to be broke of that. I really like the rabbit meat, and so does my mom. Tastes just like chicken! I have been selling the other bunnies, mostly all females, to pay for their feed and shaving and such. It's working out great. I would rather butcher the males than the females, but basically what doesn't sell will end up in the freezer.
With our numbers growing, and I have a couple pairs of does that look alike I needed to tattoo them, so I won't get them mixed up. On the rabbit group I belong to, several people have mentioned a electric tattoo pen called a KBtatts . I looked it up and at $40.00 INCLUDING the shipping, that is a LOT cheaper than an Inkinator at $100.00 plus shipping. Everyone that had ordered one said they loved it. I have also heard of another brand that is mid range in price, but have heard that it was a horrible waste of money, because everyone that buys one ends up turning around and buying an Inkinator. So I used some of the bunny sales money to place an order for the KBtatts pen, a replacement needle (gonna need one of those, so might as well order one now), the extra ink wells, both black and green ink (because I will probably be using it to tattoo LaMancha goat tails in the future, and green ink shows on colored skin), a skin marking pen, cleaning brush kit, and the KBtatts Bunny Balm. Then I bought some stuff I had also read about called Gigi spray from Sally Beauty Supply. Its a skin penetrating numbing spray sold for waxing. Some people spray this on the ear 4 minutes before tattooing. Makes me feel a little better. 
So today I got up my gumption, gathered my supplies, wrapped a rabbit in a towel, and gave it a try.
Here is how it looks.
Not to bad for a shaky first try, if I do say so myself.
She sat on my lap soundly and only fidgeted a couple of times and I think that is because they don't like the vibration of the tattooer. Then I did 6 more rabbits.
For anyone that is wanting to order their own my advise would be to leave off the cleaning brush kit, their bristles are falling out and a pipe cleaner would work just as well. Extra ink wells aren't a necessity. It comes with 2 and you can clean them out with rubbing alcohol, but if you don't want to bother with that, they don't cost much. 

I also made some cage tags out of Sculpey Clay. I got a little carried away with decorating them. Then got tired and just made little colored balls matching the color(s) of the rabbit. Now I need to glaze them and figure out some little wire hangers for them., so I can just hook them on the cage and move them easily if I move the rabbit.
Here they are ready to go in the oven.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hopper Soup

I finally got around to cooking some rabbit. I decided to make soup in the crock pot. It wasn't any special recipe, I just used what we had on hand. It turned out very good, and tasted just like chicken.

Here is how how I made it.

1 rabbit cut into large piece (4 legs and the back cut into 3 pieces)
1 medium onion, diced
Approx. 5 stalks celery, chopped
Approx. 8 smallish carrots, chopped
2 beets, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
water to cover
salt to taste
2 bay leaves
a few dashes dried thyme
a few dashes dried parsley

Reserve for after soup is cooked:
cooked rice

I tossed all the ingredients into the crock pot except the rice. I actually started this in the evening, so I turned it down to warm before going to bed and then back up during the day. picked all the bones out of the meat, and returned the meat to the pot. Then put some of the cooked rice into each bowl before adding the soup. I didn't put the rice into the main pot of soup, because I didn't want the leftovers to turn into a gluppy mess. The broth turned out very rich and tasty. There ended up being even more meat than I expected and the bones were very fine. I was careful to pick all the bones out, but still managed to miss some. We ate carefully. But anytime my mom makes chicken soup, we usually end up with some bones in that too.