26 February 2016


Our two new goats, Chocolate and her doeling kid, Coco.  Both have the same middle name: Nut!  Chocolate (named by her previous owner) was already weaning her twins when we got her, so was drying up ... and is unused to being milked on top of that.  So no goat milk yet.  I do still need a buck, and would like one more doe of the small Nigerian Dwarf breed variety.

24 February 2016

Some footage of the baby chicks !

Thanks for looking!

21 February 2016

New critter pics, part one

Before I hit the highway to get my goats, I felt inspired to snap some pictures of the new critters.
new castor (black agouti color) buck

Pork Chop and Hammy, my four dollar lesson in pigs

nine Meaties chicks and two Wyandotte chicks, hatched Feb 18th

setting eggs for March hatch,
from Feyd's, Silkie Dude's, and Spikey's groups
OK, now to finish coffee, have some breakfast, then hit the road.

20 February 2016

New critters

Just got in from the livestock auction, with three new critters.  One rabbit, some kind of meat line buck, and ... two pigs.  I got them both for $4.  No, not a typo - I paid four dollars for two male potbelly pigs.  These were the largest of the potbellies, and people tend to want the itty-bitty ones that are fed only so much a day to stunt their growth, so I got these two for only two dollars each.  Try buying more than 12 ounces of bacon for that at the grocery.  I told hubby, "Meet Pork Chop and Hammy."

The rabbit will also end up on the dinner table, but I want to fatten him up a bit first, and also give him a chance to breed Brooke.  George has tried, but the first time she refused to lift her rump and the second time he was more lovey-dovey, grooming her face and ears while making little snuffle noises.  I threatened to play Aerosmith for him to get him in the mood.  I even put Brooke in with Jack to see if he was ready, but still nothing.  I need to get my rabbits to breed like chickens - the roosters waste no time.

Pork Chop and Hammy have a day or two before they meet their destiny, as tomorrow I will finally get my dairy goats!  WooHOO!  I was going to drive out today to get them, but I called before leaving Palatka, and she said they needed to run out for the afternoon, but tomorrow around lunch time/after church was good for her.  I will be coming home will no less than two goats, and no more than four.

It's dark outside, so no pics unless hubby snaps some tomorrow while I drive to the other side of Gainesville to get my goat.

19 February 2016

Update for past week

OK, no good excuse for the radio silence this past week, other than I've felt more like doing things than blogging about them.  I intended to catch up yesterday, but got hit like a ton of bricks with a lower digestive tract bug of some sort.  It knocks me flat around lunch time - hit fast and hard, so I was not inclined to go too far from the bathroom.  Funny thing was, yesterday I woke up feeling normal, with a bit of energy and planting plans ... go figure.

Today I am still staying close to the house, but so far so good.  I moved the newly hatched chicks out to the brooder tub, as right now we have no broody hens and Pollux has his wings full with last month's horde of Wyandotte chicks.  This month, Azar's group had a horribly low fertility rate, and then only two of the four who developed made it out of the shell.  Spikey's group fared much better, with nine of the no-so-little cheepers out and popping around.  Only one didn't hatch.

Spikey's chicks definitely have his wide and flat back ... a couple I observed ended up on their backs when they flopped out of the shell for the first time.  It took them a bit of effort to flip over on their feet.

On the plant side of things, I did manage to get the cheater-starts of Swiss chard in the ground, and have plenty more that I started from seed ready to move.  I also have a few spinach starts, some broccoli starts, and of course peppers and tomatoes to transplant into larger pots.

The one really impressive volunteer mustard green continues to impress - I am going to do my best to get every seed from it once it bolts.  The original parent plant was a Florida broadleaf variety, if memory serves, but I will be calling this strain Putnam broadleaf if I can keep it going.  It is strong and healthy, and keeps putting up new leaves (to the bunnies' great delight).  While we have no idea how it tastes, the rabbits certainly approve of it.

Oh, of the old seeds from 2013 that I planted a couple weeks ago, I have some white radishes sprouting.  I was a bit surprised to see that the other morning.

Pics later - I am still trying to get caught up after yesterday's gastric fireworks.

10 February 2016

Getting a new bunny

Friday, after my appointment in Palatka, I'll be driving west of Gainesville to pick up a new bunny!  He's twelve weeks old, an unpedigreed standard size Rex, and he is the same opal color Brooke is, which means when he gets old enough to breed with her, all the offspring will be some variation of blue.  Opal is technically blue agouti, and the agouti pattern gene is dominant over both otter and solid, so I could get any or all of the three.  No surprise, I have been geeking out on coat color genetics.  Finding some good geeky fur quality genetics articles seems a bit more challenging, but I am now posting a bit at a forum called RabbitTalk.com and can always ask there.  Here are a couple pics of the cute little fellow, provided by the seller (and used with her permission):
12 week old opal Rex buck

12 week old opal buck
I've been working with George, Gracie, and Brooke on getting them accustomed to being petted, and now held.  Gracie takes it the best, especially when I have a cabbage leaf for her.  Brooke is still the most skittish, but I managed to trim all their nails the other day without bloodshed (mine or theirs!) and today after she wandered under the truck and around the carport, Brooke did not struggle when I caught up with her and calmly picked her up while calling her a "silly wabbit."  I did have a cabbage leaf in hand as a treat-reward.

09 February 2016

Update sans pictures

OK, so it is still cold and windy, but according to the forecast the rain has passed for now.  Some chickening and gardening updates are in order.

  • Saturday morning was the farm swap in the Tractor Supply parking lot, and I headed up the road that morning with twelve chickens in the back.  I dropped the three cockerels off at Leo's restaurant (two Wyandottes from the October hatch and one black Silkie), then went to the swap to sell the nine cull pullets after having sorted out the four grow-out prospects.  I managed to sell all nine at the swap, and got $10 per bird.  The last bunch sold, the fellow tried hard to get me to come down off the already-discounted price (I was asking $12 per bird, but willing to make a deal), and had even left for a while before coming back to try again.  When he mentioned he was hoping to get them cheaper, I replied that I am not working towards "cheap" but for quality.  When I said that, he sighed and then paid what I wanted.
  • I didn't have anything to put up for auction Saturday evening, but I did show up as a buyer.  I was very much outbid for Silkie hens, but feel like I scored some decently-priced equipment which included three wire cages of various sizes, eleven (!!) waterers for rabbits and one for chicks, and an old styrofoam incubator with egg turner that needs the viewing windows replaced that I intend to use as a hatcher.  I even left with $6 still in my pocket.  This was after I had already put the pullet money from the morning up.
  • I candled the eggs in the incubator early this morning, and there are a LOT of clears.  In fact, only 14 out of the 41 show development.  Since most of the clears are from Azar and the Pretties, and that cross had a MUCH better development and hatch rate last time, I presume this is a fertility issue related to the weather.
  • We had a surprise frost yesterday morning, but it looks like none of the garden plants took any damage.  The walk-in greenhouse has a tear in the plastic up by the roof centerpiece already, and I can't tell if it was the wind, something falling, or an owl trying to perch that caused it.  My sprouts are doing decently enough, even with the damping off problem, and some of the spindly tomato seedlings are putting out true leaves now.  A few late sprouts are growing properly as well, so not a total loss.
  • Bright Eyes now officially has the title for ugliest and roughest molt.  Not only does she look miserable, I see her shivering when the wind kicks up as this is the coldest spell we've had so far.
  • The wood burning stove is well-loved right now.
I think that brings everything up to speed for now.

04 February 2016

Sprout rates and damping off

While still waiting for the rain to finally get here, I decided to get a few pics of sprouts and make notes on germination sprout rates.  First up, the happy wild success: the turnip seeds I planted earlier this week have sprouted overnight.  Hooray for me - the bunnies and birds will be quite pleased, as turnip greens are their favorite treat.
new turnip sprouts

Next up, the peppers tray (planted almost a month ago) which has good and bad.  The good news is hubby will have a good amount of jalapeno pepper plants, and I should have a decent amount of pasilla bajo peppers.  The bad news is the sweet peppers didn't do as well.  So far, one Cubanelle pepper plant and four "Tangerine Dream" sweet pepper plants.  No bell peppers sprouted, and no Marconi Red Italian sweet peppers, which I had high hopes for as a substitute for the Carmen sweet peppers I enjoyed so much in 2013.
Pepper plant sprouts
The Swiss chard tray planted two weeks ago is also a bit mixed, but I am seeing some late sprouting seedlings, so it may turn out better than it looked yesterday.  It now looks like all but the Lucullus variety sprouted decently, with the canary yellow being the most vigorous.
Swiss chard sprouts
Broccoli and spinach ... it's a half-and-half situation.  The broccoli popped up immediately, especially the Calabrese variety ... and is suffering the same fate as the tomato seedlings listed below.  The Waltham and de Cicco varieties are slower to sprout, but they may end up being the better plants.Spinach was very hit-or-miss, with no sprouts from the Satin, Bloomsdale Long-Standing, or Round Leaf varieties.  The Giant Noble variety sprouted, so I do have some baby spinach sprouts, and the Tendergreen mustard spinach (looks a lot more like a mustard than a spinach!) is also up.
broccoli, spinach, and mustard spinch sprouts
Now, about those tomato seeds I planted the middle of last month .... They came up alright, although when I first took the clear plastic cover off there were only two Old Germans sprouted.  That is the reason why I will likely have more Old German variety than Mortgage Lifter.  I didn't know what was going on until someone posted about a similar problem with his rhubarb sprouts, and the answers were all, "That is damping off."  No solution given, because apparently most people just replant when they get damping off instead of attempting to save the seedlings.  Uhhh ... y'all will notice the empty seed packets in the tray.  I don't have more, and have not yet located more of either variety.  It seems this year's heirloom variety will be Brandywine/Pink Brandywine.  No sign of Mortgage Lifter or Old German in any of the stores yet, and I've even checked the East Palatka Ace Hardware.  (*Bleep!*)  So, I am letting the tray dry out a bit (hopefully only enough to kill the fungus responsible but not the seedlings) and will just see if any of the Mortgage Lifter plants survive.
tomato sprouts with damping off
The other two trays are pretty much are busts, although the Seven Top turnip (greens mainly) seeds did sprout, they are also  too "leggy" and look damped off as well.   Nothing has sprouted so far in the salad tray.  I'll try it again in a week or so, with different varieties.  On all the seeds that did not have even a single sprout, I will scatter those into the compost heaps, and any volunteers will just be a pleasant surprise.