Wednesday Update

Just a quick update on the goings on around the ‘stead.  I’ve been busy doing spring cleaning around the property.  The trees I cut down over the winter left a lot of branches that need hauled away or burned.  I prefer hauling them away but some junk wood needed burned, so I burned some branches as well.  Mowing is a never ending chore that I continually put off.  Some of my grass is waist high because I put it off so long.  I could bale it if I had a tractor and baler!  But I only have a push mower, so that makes it more fun…

About half of the garden is in.  I’m falling behind in my schedule because of rainy days and other chores.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, were some of the latest plantings.  They all seem to be going through a bit of transplant shock or I didn’t harden them off enough before planting.  Some tomatoes had new growth so I think they will pull through.  I need to plant beans, pumpkins, corn, popcorn, whatever other seeds I have at the house, along with a second round of greens and radishes for staggered harvests.  I did finally get new cherry trees and grape vines from Lowes after losing some over the winter.  They still need to go in the ground, though.  Potatoes, blueberries, raspberries, and the seeds I planted a couple weeks ago all seem to be doing good.

This past weekend I traded the black rabbit buck I got as part of the three “does” I bought for a New Zealand white doe and bought one of her sisters as well.  They are only about two months old so it will be a few months before they can be bred.  When they are ready I will breed them to the red NZ buck.  I still haven’t decided what to do with the only doe of the three.  Maybe I should ask the person I got the two new does from if we can breed her to one of their bucks?  They live close so it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

A busy week and weekend lie ahead…  Work at the CSA tonight and Thursday.  Friday will be a travel evening after work back to my parent’s house in NW Ohio.  Saturday is a good friend’s wedding.  Sunday I will be coming back to the Rural Side, hopefully getting some work done around the house.  Monday is Memorial Day so I don’t have to work, which as a contractor means I won’t be getting paid at all, but the day will most likely be spent working around the house again.

In other news, I have launched my first business.  Still working on getting the name out and getting my first customer.  I’ll post more about it soon.  For now, check out the website for Cincinnati Backyard Farms (still a work in progress)

5 Tuxedos – Officially Addicted

This was quite a busy weekend on and away from the Rural Side.  Saturday I worked down at the CSA pulling and hoeing weeds in one of the gardens.  After a few hours of that I went and helped a friend get mulch for around his house.  When I got home I worked around the property before supper and continued for a little bit after.

Sunday morning we went to Troy Swap, an animal swap and flea market in Troy, Ohio.  I have been looking for some rabbits since we figured out we got two bucks and a doe.  There weren’t as many vendors as last year when we went, with most of this year’s vendors selling flea market type stuff instead of animals.  There were a couple pens of rabbits but none that I was interested in for how much they were asking.  We didn’t go home empty handed, though…  The last vendor in the line had some chickens.  They were mostly roosters in cages with some day-old chicks in a pen.  As soon as Heather saw that they had D’uccle chicks she was interested.  At first she found five that she liked, 3 black and white and two lavender.  We put those in the truck and walked around a bit longer and she decided to get two more of the black and white.  So from the swap we ended up with seven chicks.  She decided on the way home she was going to call them her “5 Tuxedo” chicks because of the black and white chicks.

We stopped at Ludlow Falls which is near Troy on the way home.  There is a cool waterfall that Heather had never been to, so I wanted to take her there.  We walked around, went down to the base of the falls, hiked down the stream a bit, relaxed in the sun on a rock, before heading back to the truck to head home.  On the way home we stopped at Rural King to get some chick feed.  Of course they had to have D’uccle chicks in, which they had not had any of every time we went this spring.  They had Mille Fleur and porcelain colors so Heather got two of each, along with two brahma chicks.  We got the food and finally got home with our newest additions to the homestead.  I think we are officially addicted to chickens!

The cornish were still in the brooder because I was waiting until the afternoon when it was warmer to move them out to the coop.  I had made a temporary partition on the remaining side of the coop to keep them for the next month or so until they go to freezer camp.  I moved the cornish out to the coop, we cleaned out the brooder, sanitized it, let it dry, added new bedding and finally put the new chicks in.  The heat lamp had been acting funny and flickering sometimes so I was looking at that when I discovered that the metal end of the bulb was melted and blackened.  Not wanting to continue using that lamp we went to buy a new one quick so the chicks would stay warm.  Here are the new chicks in the brooder and Heather sitting in the brooder playing with them.photo 2 photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After everybody was settled in I started working around the homestead.  I finished moving the railroad ties from by the garden to by the driveway so that someone can easily take them all away whenever I post them on Craigslist.  Some of them are really heavy so it was quite a bit of work flipping nine of them end-over-end about fifty feet.  Taking a break between moving some of those I picked up sticks in the yard, mowed some of the grass, dead-headed flowers, and turned some compost.  My plan is to get rid of a lot of grass, keeping the area around the house and out to the road.  There might be the strips between the rows of grape vines left and a couple rows around the pond, too.  I’d like to mulch the area that will become the orchard and the west and south sides of the pond I would like to let be natural, if I can keep honeysuckle from taking it over.

After eating some dinner and finally relaxing, we had one more little task to take care of for the evening.  One of the tuxedo chicks had a toe that was curled under its foot.  We crafted a splint out of a piece of card-stock, tape and a band-aid.  This will hopefully get the toe to grown out straight, so that there are no issues in the future with the chick.  It even got an Angry Birds band-aid!

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Sad Morning

It was a sad morning on The Rural Side.  Heather went out to feed and water the rabbits this morning while I was still getting ready for work.  Suddenly I hear her screaming and yelling for me to come quick.  Not knowing what was going on I hurried out the door towards the garage meeting her in the breezeway where she says one of the rabbits has babies.  She had just told me a few minutes before that she doesn’t like April Fools so I knew it was no joke.  In the cage there were seven little babies strewn about.  I quickly gathered them up and started checking them over to see if any were still alive.  Three gave some signs of life, moving slightly but barely breathing.  We took them all inside, into the bathroom, turning on the heater to warm them up.  The three started moving more as they got warmer, one even whimpering some.  The other four still showed no signs of life.  After ten minutes or so one stopped moving, with no sign of breathing.  Down to two, with them being thoroughly warmed I went out and built a nest for them using some hay and the little bit of hair the mother had pulled out.  I placed them both in the nest and waited to see if the mother would take care of them.  After a few minutes another stopped moving.  The lone survivor continued moving some but the mother didn’t seem interested in her little one at all.  By this time I have done everything I can think of to help, so I leave them hoping the mother will do what is needed to take care of her baby.

When I bought the rabbits they were supposed to be all does, so babies showing up in a cage was a complete surprise.  Being a first time rabbit owner I didn’t really know how to check to be sure of the sexes, taking the previous owner at their word.  After looking at the other two closely it appears we got two males and a female.  Nutmeg, the only one Heather named, turns out to be a boy.  Because he is a red New Zealand I want to keep him, but the other may end up being dinner soon to make room for another female.  I feel terrible because my ignorance caused the babies to suffer.  I sometimes jump into things without being fully prepared.  I should have found a local breeder who would show me what to expect, how to check sexes, and anything else that I need to know.  I should still do that.  I jumped into chickens with no experience and it has turned out alright.  We lost one guinea keet last spring for an unknown reason but that has been our only issue.  The internet is a great resource but it can also give a false sense of knowledge sometimes.

Tuesday Update

The first two days of the work week I continued on working hard around the homestead.  Monday I finally planted my first round of seeds for the garden.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, celery, more tomatoes, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli were all planted.  In a week or two I will plant another round of seeds.  Some will be for succession plantings of things we like to eat a lot like broccoli and others will include chard and lettuce.

I also filtered and bottled my first round of maple syrup.  I was so excited when it was finished, I could have drank the whole jar it tastes so good!  I still think I may have over boiled it a bit.  It looks darker in the picture than it actually looks.  Next time I will know what to watch for and not boil it as long.

Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

And I won’t have to wait long to start making more because I collected about 14 gallons from the five trees tonight.  I wasn’t expecting that much because the weather has been below freezing the past couple days.  So tomorrow I will start boiling it down for a few hours after work each night.  It would be better to do it all at once I think but I don’t have anywhere to store the sap so boiling it a little bit as I go will have to work.

And I promised a picture of the rabbit hutch so here is the (almost) completed hutch and a couple of the rabbits.  I still need to put on the last door and build some hay racks to complete the hutch.  The rabbits are New Zealands, the red one has been named Nutmeg and the black ones don’t have names as of yet.  Heather names them, not me.  I’m terrible with remembering names anyways.  Only one or two chickens can I ever remember the name of.IMG_0335

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And I know I had said I would talk about the non-profit that I applied to work at in this post but it will have to wait for tomorrow.  I haven’t heard anything back yet so I’m still hoping to get the job.

Until next time

Chuck From the Rural Side