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.