02 November 2018

Molly is off for a weekend fling

Yesterday, after coordinating with Frank and Caroline, I loaded Molly up into the largest old dog crate in the bed of the pickup and took her up for a weekend fling with Harry Houdini, Prim's son.  Both Molly and Tangie are still giving a decent amount of milk, which I am attributing to the very wet summer resulting in lush green stuff in the pasture even up through the present (when usually the August heat makes the pasture dry out a bit).  Molly's absence was noticeable this morning, as she is still giving a good quart-and-half per morning.

We're all hoping Molly does triplets again.  Frank and Caroline are intending to replace Harry, as he has gotten a bit destructive, and the fencing is his preferred target.  Ideally, they want a polled son, which would be a first for Molly, but they definitely want a kid from this year's crop as I am planning to bottlefeed all kids this coming season.  I also plan to practice with the disbudding iron where appropriate.  It is going to be some work, but I saw with Tim and Andre just how easily bottle babies sell themselves, and the Cocoa/Chaos Puff shows how responsive bottle babies are once they grow up.

The polite version of yesterday's events is that Harry knew Molly was there before he even saw her.  In fact, he met her at the gate - and I had to push her in the last couple steps, as he was right there "with bells on."  Frank and Caroline both have a rather, um, "earthy" sense of humor so I'll spare y'all the ribald jokes, but let's just say Harry was interested and enthusiastic, while Molly had a "What kind of nanny do you think I am?!" look on her face.  Harry finally got the clue, and when we walked back to the house, he was busy wining-and-dining her, probably whispering sweet nothings to her as he licked her ear.  We'll go pick her back up either Sunday or Monday, depending on when hubby feels more up to it.  I won't be able to get Molly up in the truck by myself - she does NOT like traveling.  At least this time, I didn't get pulled over because someone on the highway couldn't tell the difference between a complaining goat and a "wounded deer," like what happened when we took Maggie up there.

Just for the record, Prim is STILL milking after more than twenty months.  That is exceptional!  It's also the main reason Harry is still intact and alive at this point - this breeding has been planned since last year, but Hurricane Irma messed up plans on both ends (they took damage last year).  I've been forced to learn a bit of patience, as things happen in their own time here.

30 October 2018

Planting notes for garden box 1

Since I've had C.R.S. (Can't Remember Sh ...Squat) since Iraq, I thought to make notes.  My wall calendar is a little short on space, as it has notes on setting eggs in the incubator and trying to breed bunnies, so here is as good a spot as any to make notes.

  • Garden box #1 (the first we set up) was re-weeded three days ago while the moon was in the air sign Gemini (which is good for fruit trees, but not much else I cultivate).  I discovered one of the digging forks' handle is totally toast, as if it had absolutely no treatment for the wood at all.  This was the one we bought new in '13 or '14.  The digging fork I picked up at the flea market of unknown age is still in good working order.  Go figure.
  • Since the moon phase is waning (and we hit the 3rd quarter officially tomorrow) this is a good time to plant below-ground crops.  I selected daikon radish, carrots, and beets, with intent to pickle most of the harvest.
  • Burpee brand daikon long radish, ordered from website so nothing fancy on the packaging.  Marked 300 seeds, packed for 2017 (except goats happened last year), origin Italy (I so love what Italians have done with any vegetable that catches their fancy!), lot 20.  Three rows, as it's a main focus for this box.
  • Burpee brand carrot, Burpee A#1 Hybrid (I think I have Queen Anne's Lace growing out in the uncultivated areas around us, which is basically wild carrot and will cross with domestic carrots).  Again, a nothing-fancy package from the website.  Marked 1500 seeds (that ought to keep me busy this season), packed for '17, origin USA, lot 14.
  • Burpee brand beets, heirloom Cylindra variety.  These are supposed to grow as fat cylinders for easy slicing.  Nothing-fancy pack from website, was in the lost-for-a-month package with my Roma tomatoes the other year.  Three rows.  Marked 1000 seeds, packed for '17, origin Italy, lot 14.  I must have planted some a year and half ago, but don't recall if they sprouted or not.
I have this set up as radish-carrot-beet-carrot-radish etc, so the beets and radishes are separated by the carrots.  Beets and radishes aren't antagonistic to each other, but according to the companion planting chart I like, they are neutral about each other but both love being by carrots.

Hubby cheered when he came outside and saw me finishing up planting and watering.  He says he is very much looking forward to homegrown garden-fresh produce again, now that the worst of the troublemaker goats are contained in a hard pen.

Still to do today: test the garlic to see if any still have life in them.  I read in a blog discussion a while back ago that garlic doesn't keep well more than 2 seasons.  I am also going to check some beet seeds from '13 and '14.  Call it a little science fair project.

09 October 2018

2018 Ugliest Molt winner

This year's prize for the ugliest molt in the chicken yard goes to Ducky, hubby's yard ornament rooster.  The hackle feathers pretty much all fell out a few days ago, but that doesn't seem to crimp his style with the young layer hens any.
Ducky's ugly molt
For the record, he is NOT a naked neck chicken, though he sure does look like one right now!  All the roosters are missing their tail feathers, except the youngest one hatched this spring.  I think even Mac Daddy, the remaining Silkie rooster, is actually missing tail feathers, but it's hard to tell on him.  It could just be that I gave him three new hens Saturday night, and he's been macking his tail fluff off since daybreak Sunday morning.

23 September 2018


This morning, before daylight, I was outside with the dog and heard Molly and Maggie crying.  I was worried one of them got caught in the fence, but no ... when hubby and I got back there with our headlamps on, those two had their butts up against the pen gate and were crying and doing the shameless-hussy routine for Brownie (aka Pepe Le PEW, this time of year).  So, I got in touch with Frank, who has Prim's son Harry Houdini, to arrange a goaty booty call.  We loaded her up in a dog crate in the back of the pickup and headed up to Frank's place north of Palatka.

Harry was certainly interested in Maggie as soon as she went into the pen, and she immediately squatted and peed for him, and the normal goat courtship dance commenced until Cocoa (Chocolate's daughter, and Cocoa Puff's mom) and Toast (Harry's wethered son)came over to interrupt.  Cocoa was jealous ... she really hasn't changed much in that department, and Toast was just excited because a "new" goat was back in the pen.  We left Maggie there, and will pick her up Thursday to give the love-goats enough time to work around the jealousy.  We also left the dog crate at Frank's, so the truck bed had plenty of room for the feed run.

Driving back into Palatka, after we had reached a decision on where to grab some fast (junk) food for lunch, we got pulled over by a sheriff's car.  He had drove up alongside us as if he was going to pass then dropped back and turned on his lights.

"Are we getting pulled over?"  "I think we're getting pulled over."

The babyfaced deputy walked up and didn't take hubby's license and insurance card, but said someone had called in saying we had a wounded doe in the back.  Now, Maggie is a rather vocal goat, and she was certainly complaining all the way up to Frank's, and she is also the goat whose coloring is closest (but not identical!) to a deer's.  However, there are also quite a few goat people who call their billies and nannies "bucks" and "does" just like the deer terms.  So, we heard "doe" and were thinking goat, for obvious reasons.  When we said we took her up to a friend's to be bred, he asked if we had the proper permit with us, or if he needed to call FWC (Florida Wildlife Commission) about it.  At that point, I realized he was thinking deer, and said, "No.  We have GOATS!"  That cleared things up.  He told us bow (hunting) season has already started.

Yeesh.  Apparently, someone thought we had a deer-doe, and that the deer-doe was crying and must have been wounded.  When I told Frank about it, when he got done chuckling he mentioned we should probably mark the pickup "Goat Transport" and of course, put "No kidding!" across the tailgate.  I had already brought the subject of marking the pickup with ALL the species we do to make the farmers' markets a bit easier.  My friend Lynn's comment was, "Gee, don't people know the difference between deer and goats?!?  Really?!?"  Apparently not, not even down here.

Oh yeah, to top it all off ... the register at Tractor Supply did a weird error.  I put my chip card in to pay, and instead of asking for my PIN it opened the cash drawer and printed a receipt saying I paid in cash.  It took a phone call to the regional help desk to fix that on the computer from their end.

I had to say my usual punchline: "More than just a job, it's an adventure!" when we were just about home.

27 May 2018

On the chick hatching idea

I borrowed Frank's spare incubator, and got it almost filled before the rain started the other week.  I had already filled my incubator, which has resulted in only two surviving chicks out of 42 eggs set.  I only had nine eggs develop, so 33 eggs were clear/not fertile.  Three chicks hatched, but one was on its back doing the dying cockroach the next morning.  I had also set eight eggs under the Black Swedish hen and Minty, the Ameracauna hen I got from Luanne.  Of those eight eggs, only one chick hatched, but he (?) is doing quite well under the Black Swedish hen's care.  She was wrapped too tight even before she went broody, and the hormones of broodiness made her absolutely psycho until that chick hatched.  Now she is just an angry dragon-mom.

Refilling the incubator is on hold due to weather.  We had about four days without rain this week, and during that time we went to get the new bunny hutch, I went up to Tractor Supply to refill the feed shed, and yesterday went to the grocery to refill our fridge and pantry.  Hubby had gone into town before the previous week-plus-of-rain started to fill the two five gallon fuel cans for the generator, as it really only takes an average-strength thunderstorm to knock power out.  And now, we have the first named storm of the year out churning in the gulf, but the feed shed has plenty of critter chow, the fridge and pantry have enough food for another two weeks, and we have two full fuel cans for the generator in case a tree comes down on the line somewhere.  We're both low on the money side of things, but we won't need to go anywhere except for one appointment up in Palatka.

Oh, baby bunny update:  Gracie's one little kit didn't make it in with Brooke's two huge hungry hippos - but those two are seriously large!  Shalimar is down to three kits, and I suspect the one that died was the one I couldn't get to eat when I was handfeeding them.  I did do a supplemental feeding on one kit, and will check again this afternoon to see if another is needed.  Charky wasn't pregnant, but ought to be as of last night.  I'll pop Brooke in with Jack this evening (she was bred to Larry for the hippos) and Shalimar in with Larry this time.  This should give me a clue as to where the size of Brooke's and Larry's two kits comes from - or if it's a combination of both parents.  I am wanting large, meaty Rex-furred bunnies like these two babies.  I'll get pictures of the kits after they've opened their eyes and gotten more fur - baby bunnies are born nearly-naked, and with their eyes closed like kittens.

24 May 2018

Katrina has a new wabbit hutch

Today we went to collect the new Wabbit hutch from Frank the Wizard. He has been working on his design for quite a while. Katrina commissioned one.

These are the pictures Frank sent us while he was building the one we bought.

It's very heavy and very sturdy and very professional in appearance. Frank takes a lot of pride in his work and it shows!
We had to take it apart to put it in the truck, I drove home carefully as it weighs a LOT!
Unloading the truck took just a few minuets much less time than packing it into the truck.

Assembly was fairly easy to do on my own. The parts have weight to them but everything was marked and predrilled so it was just a matter of situating the parts and putting the deck screws back in place.
                                              This took maybe an hour total to reassemble.

It looks like a lot of space for these rabbits and they look quite happy in their new luxury home.

I think that is about it for now. 
Thanks for reading!

23 May 2018

Baby bunny time

Let me get my days straight here .... today is Wednesday, so Shalimar kindled Monday evening.  I went out for a cig before evening critter time, about 1830, took the dog out with me, and as I was sitting there I got the very strong impression I needed to go check the bunnies.  I thought to myself, "But we'll check them in less than half an hour," but the impression got stronger - I needed to go check the bunnies.  I walked over, and there was Shalimar, with five kits on the wire floor.  I had planned to put in the nest box at critter time, as that was day 30 for her.  Oops - apparently rabbits can kindle as earlier as day 27!

I don't know if it was lack of the nest box, or the armadillo crashing around (it sounds ten feet tall and bulletproof when it moves around) but Shalimar was stressed or freaked out and started attacking her kits.  I "EEEK!ed" and grabbed them up, then took them inside and pulled a small jar of goat colostrum out of the freezer.  This right here is why I save some in small jars.  I ended up staying up to almost 0200 trying to get warmed goat colostrum in those kits with an eyedropper, because the small kitten nipples I have are just a little too big for them.  I lost the runt that evening, but it had born the brunt of Shalimar's attack.  One kit has only one ear, but is otherwise fine and wriggly and hungry.

Yesterday when we got back from picking up the new rabbit hutch (hubby will post on that) I checked on Shalimar and discovered not only did she look down, but she had pulled a bunch more fur, and bundled it up into the size and shape of a kit ... basically, she made herself a baby doll.  I mentioned this to Frank when he called to ask how the reassembly of the hutch went, and he said he'd never heard of that before, either.  First, I put back the kit who was refusing both eyedropper and nipple, and Shalimar set out to gussy up her nestbox.  I put the other three in shortly after, and I have a happier bunny doe.

After setting up the hutch, I moved Charky, Gracie, and Brooke over, wanting to give Shalimar a day or two before moving her and her kits.  This morning there was a BUNCH of light colored fur under Brooke's section, and she had two big and fat kits.  One has Larry's markings.  Gracie had been pulling fur since yesterday, and finally kindled just an hour ago - just two, one already dead (a BIG blue that may have gotten stuck too long in the birth canal) and one little wriggly black one.  I'll move the survivor over with Shalimar's crew to replace her runt, and also because single kits don't usually make it due to lack of littermates to keep warm with in the nest.  Well, there's also the bit about Gracie's history of killing her kits.

Now, I am just waiting for Charky to kindle.  It's her first time, so she'll likely be late.  Oh, reading Monday night while the milk warmed, I saw rabbits usually have kindled by day 35 .... but the person who wrote the book I need to buy says she's had a doe go 40 days.