Early Spring Sunrise Snow on the Silo

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day in the garden

It has been much more like summer than spring this past week, the temperatures
have been in the high 80's with plenty of humidity and we are in need of some rain. Seem like just as I think I'll save a bit on electricity by turning off the heat lamps, now I'm running the well pump to water the garden and need the fan in the house. I can't win. We did get a bit of a respite in the guise of a cold front last night. The heat is pushing the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and the mustard greens that seeded from last year are already in flower. The dry spring had allowed early planting, but this heat is screwing it all up. I guess the up side is that some of the tomatoes and peppers are already in flower. We still have 2 apple trees to plant, I finally got the blueberries in this morning and there are still a few seedlings to put in and I'd like to plant more beans and cukes too.

Boogie has been keeping cool in his pool, sometimes he hops in fully dressed!

I'd also like to take a moment, on this Memorial Day, to remember and appreciate the soldiers that have given their lives in service to our country, for our freedom and our rights.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Over the river and through the woods.....

Boogie and I made the long drive to visit Grandpa yesterday! After getting up extra early, piling in the glorified go-cart and a quick fast food breakfast mystery shop (that paid for the days fuel YAY!) we trekked across the state to see Bill at the cabin that has been in my family since the early 1900's. He is up for the summer from his winter place down south. We went for Japanese food for lunch and then the Boogie-Man had a great time playing with Grandpas' old toy trucks, being the center of attention and pretty much running the show. We had to make the big decision between getting a slide or drums, and with it being summer the slide won out so we have this coming in a week or so. I'm sure Boogie will LOVE it! I'm also very happy to have it delivered and not have to struggle to jam it in my bitsy car. We figured the drums can wait until his birthday, buying me another 5 months of relative quiet.

He had so much fun playing with Grandpa!

Boogie even dragged Grandpa out the door for a walk on the road alongside the slough where he got to see a pair of Mallard ducks and a turtle getting ready to lay eggs in her nest.

After such a long busy day with no nap,
Boog was asleep after only 10 miles into the long drive home. He only slept about an hour or so of the 3 hour drive, and as soon as we got home he told Rob "bedtime, 'nite 'nite!" and went right off to sleep!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunny Summer Sunday

We got our first dose of hot summer weather yesterday, a week before Memorial Day weekend. It was sunny and breezy with temps near 90 degrees and high humidity. where as just a week earlier we were shivering through highs in the 40's. I pulled out the wading pool for the Boogie-Man early in morning and got it cleaned and filled so it could warm up a bit, well water can be pretty cold. When Boogie was done for the day the Muscovy drake hopped in and had a great time splashing half the water out. We had a little bit of lunch outside and in the afternoon a lady and her three boys stopped by and purchased one of the bunnies I have for sale (still three left, come 'n get 'em!).

This morning at 8am the thermometer read 80 degrees on the shady side of the house, it's going to be another hot one. I've got chores done, Boogies pool is rinsed and refilled, a gallon of goat milk is in the pasteurizer, 2 gallons are on the stove becoming cheese, dinner is in the crock pot and I've got a load of diapers washed and ready to be hung out on the line and I think I will make some ice cream for dessert! Today will be a good day for a nice long nap!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bunny update - Week 4

They're every where! They're every where!

The ladies are certainly being over achievers, I now have two litters in one nest box up in house and would you believe how big these kits are at just one week old . Yup, that white one is over 5" long! I swear, it looks like a litter of puppies. The two does must be sharing nursing duties, the whole combined litter is huge. I have returned to my previously successful policy of non-interaction with new born litters so I don't know for sure how many there are, and what colors, but we will find out soon enough. They sure do look fat and shiny.

I was also gifted with a `surprise litter and the remaining kits from last weeks disaster have ingratiated themselves in with those kits. Now I am aware of the potential of spreading disease between the litters and I understand the disparity in size may cause issues, but they have been this way for five days now and there have been no issues yet. I rather leave well enough alone and keep stress levels to the minimum.

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, I am beginning to look for homes for some of the kits from the oldest litter. Right now I am planning to sell off the black ones and keep the two white and the gray. Looks like at least one will be heading to a new home on Sunday.

So I am thinking that we are d
one for now (FX), I need to get to work on a few more pens as these kits grow.

Why is it that the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" keeps haunting my dreams?

So many bunnies, so little time.

The older litter is now six weeks old and it's time to start looking for new homes for some of them. It looks like there are 3 black bucks and one doe, but they are still pretty young to be certain, I'm thinking it may be 2 does and 2 bucks. As the photo above shows, they are just starting to get fluffy and are soooo soft. They would make good pets and produce fiber for those who spin.

This is the Angora doe

This is the Jersey Wooly buck

Don't worry Deb, I will still have one for you when we head down to the city in a month or so!
Watch for more in my regular weekly bunny update tomorrow!
Every body needs a bunny!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's always something, really, always something.

I once had a farmer friend tell me "if you have livestock, at some point you're gonna have dead stock". While I accept the obvious truth to this statement, and live it far too often for my tastes, I really do try my best to avoid it as much as possible. A few weeks back I blogged about my doe kids battle with clostrida, which had a happy ending. This week it's been a chicken and a duckling on top of the baby bunny disaster. I noticed an 8 month old Buff Orpington hen was acting odd, not very active and her comb and waddle were faded and pale. Upon closer inspection I found she was limping quite badly. Her left foot and ankle was very swollen and hot. GAH! So up we go to the house where I used a large bore needle to remove as much infection as possible and then I injected it with some long acting penicillin. I fixed up an isolation pen for her with food and water, so the other birds wouldn't pick on her, and crossed my fingers. Fast forward a few days and the swelling is down, her color is back and she's eating well. I think she's ready to return to the coop. Yay! I have no idea what caused the abscess, perhaps a sliver of some sort, but it appears to have been conquered. Moving along to baby ducks, they have been hatching for about 10 days now. In checking the the date on an unhatched egg, I saw that other from that date had already hatched. In holding the egg to my ear, I could hear activity, but there was no sign of a pipped shell. To meddle or not, that is the question. You already know the answer. For those who aren't aware of how an egg develops, the last thing that happens is the yolk is drawn into the abdomen and the body wall closes. The yolk acts as food for the hatchling in it's first days of life. In cracking the shell too soon, that process may not be complete causing death. I cautiously cracked the shell on the end containing the air sac and found that the duckling inside had a deformed beak that was keeping it from breaking the shell with it's 'egg tooth'. Instead of the upper and lower beak overlapping, the lower jaw was twisted at nearly a 90 degree angle. So the next big decision is to chuck the whole thing in the freezer and end it there or come up with a plan. The duckling would not be able to eat or drink in its current condition, but how can it be helped? Considering how malleable a newborn is I grabbed a twist tie and secured the lower jaw to the upper in proper alignment, being careful not to cover the nostrils. I left the bulk of the body in the shell and returned the patient to the incubator. About 6 hours later I removed the tie to see that the jaw had improved! Taking advantage of the built in food supply I re-tied the beak into place and left it in the incubator over night. By morning the duckling had escaped from the remaining shell and I was happy to see that there were no other obvious physical issues and the head and eyes were otherwise in good shape. Upon removing the tie the jaw did slowly displace, but not as much as before. I offered some water and left the jaw untied for a while. Later I put the duckling in with the other hatchlings and have begun the process of tieing the beak for about 4 hours then removing the tie for an hour or two and tieing again for 4 hours during the day and leaving it untied at night. There is still some offset, but even if there is no additional improvement the little guy can still eat and drink comfortably. Isn't this a lot of work for a duck? Maybe, but not much. The babies are on the front porch and I would check them regularly during the day, it only takes a few extra seconds to attach or remove the twist tie. I also have the satisfaction of knowing I gave it the best chance possible for a happy life. I'm strange like that.
I have a rhubarb strawberry pie in the oven and, since I now have plenty of goat milk, home made ice cream in the freezer. YUM!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A new asparagus bed

15 years ago I planted my asparagus near a plum tree sapling. That sapling has grown into a tree that is now shading my asparagus and production is sparse, so time for a new bed in a new location. Boogie helped, of course.

I purchased 15 two year Jersey Giant crowns, an all male variety for better production, and dug a trench in full sun. Then I added a good amount of well rotted chicken manure, placed the roots 18" apart and watered them in. Asparagus is a heavy feeder and likes lots of compost. I covered the crowns with 6" of soil and watered again. Now the planting directions call for 3" to 4" deep plantings, but I have found that here in this climate planting the crowns deeper is more successful.

If all goes well I'll have a small crop to harvest next spring.
I intend to try and transplant the old stock in hopes of salvaging some of those crowns too.
Asparagus also grows wild along the roadsides, you either need to know where it grows or keep a sharp eye out when driving the back roads.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Heeeeeere's Whitney

This morning was spent making the hour drive to DeSoto, Wisconsin to pick up a new
Oberhasli doe. Whitney is 4 years old and currently milking, so I will be able to make more cheese and ice cream. She did well on the ride home in a large crate in the back of the pick up. I took advantage of having the truck and stopped on the way back and picked up two more apple trees and seven blueberry bushes. Boogie was very helpful, as always. He enjoyed the ride up because he got to see lots of choo-choo trains, then he napped on the way back after playing with the dogs, cats and goats at the farm we visited.
See the blueberries on the roof and hood of my poor car?

Here is Whit with the blue collar meeting Iris for the first time. She is going to have to be kept in for a week or so with limited access to grass as she came from a large dairy herd which has no pasture available. A belly full of green grass when a goat is not used to it can mean big trouble, and I've had enough of that lately.

I'm sure Conner will be very happy to have a new lady in his life too!

Boogie says "Have a GREAT weekend, I sure am!"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Some sunshine at last!

After weeks of cold, rain and WIND, finally some sunshine (and WIND). I needed to either run to the feed store or consider feeding Rob to the various animals, so Boogie and I made the trip to Cassville. After loading up the Escort wagon with feed, I took the little guy to the park on the Mississippi River so he could play and I could knit a little. I realize I take for granted how nice the country around the river can be. It occurred to me that this little town, with it's location right along the river, should be doing well as a tourist destination, but it is floundering. The town has a coal fired electric plant and was in the running for the construction of a bio-mass facility and and upgrade of the existing coal plant, but environmentalists from Madison decided to fight that, as they always do, with no concern for the local opinion and the demand for electricity. In the end, the plant was not built and it has been devastating for the local economy. Many rentals sit empty. There is very little in the way of business, they have lost 2 restaurants and 2 taverns in the past few years, at least a dozen properties are for sale and a 3 bedroom house auctioned recently for under $20,000. This is one of the narrowest spots on the river and a car ferry operates all summer to cross back and forth to Iowa, something fun to do even if it's to just to make a round trip on a hot summer day. The water front park is very nice, and boasts a farmers market on Saturdays in the summer, though it does not allow dogs so we don't visit often. There is a good size grocery store, gas station, locally owned bank (not a lot of those left!)bowling alley and the obligatory taverns and churches. Rob worked for the lumber yard for 8 years before being laid off last August. Twin-O-Rama, once a weekend festivity that drew twins from around the country, has dwindled down to a single day event with few participants. The historic rooming house on the river where Governor Dewey died in poverty is in terrible disrepair. It would be really nice if the area could turn itself around, sad to see a place with such potential fade into history.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Some days....Last night there was a power outage. The incubator is FULL of eggs at various stages of development, including some in the process of hatching. After much worry and some help from the wood stove, I believe THAT crisis has been averted. The power is back, the temperature regulated and I have new Light Brahmas and one last duckling.

Now for the bad news.

Last night I had some concerns over the younger litter of rabbit kits. They just didn't seem 'comfortable'. This morning things seemed worse, some of them have diarrhea and are not their normal pudgy selves. So I load up a syringe with Lactated Ringer solution and dissolved some Imodium in another and headed back down to the barn. As I am trying to administer sub-cutaneous fluids, oral Imodium and adjust a heat lamp while inflicting the least amount of stress, the damn barn cat jumped into the pen, grabbed the biggest, healthiest baby of the bunch and ran off with it! :-( I'm so angry with myself for being so absorbed in the task at hand that it never occurred to me that he would do that! I don't blame him one bit, I'm happy that he hunts wild bunnies and minimizes the damage they do to the garden. I'm afraid that this litter may be a total loss. I very worried that Mama will end up so stressed that she abandons them. Is it too early for a glass of wine?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bunny Update - Week 3!

You know you couldn't sleep last night waiting for this. The younger litter has their eyes open and are becoming mobile. Looks like some interesting coat colors are developing, very exciting!

The older litter are already very independent and will be weaned soon. I must dedicate more time to handling them so that harvesting wool will not be a huge ordeal.

Here is Mama bunny with her 2 white kits to give you an idea of how big they have grown. They are starting to show a fluffy coat too.

The (not so big) surprise is the arrival of a 3rd litter, with my white doe as mama. I see movement in the nest box amid a huge pile of white wool. I can't wait to get a closer look.

The bucks are now all segregated from the does, I think I have had enough of babies for a while.