Tuesday, July 30, 2013

13 Days Until the Fair!

The county fair is coming up fast and the kids and I are busy working with the animals, making sure they know what to do in the show ring. 

The kids are teaching the goats to walk on a lead, and also to stand squarely.  You want the goats (or any animal) to stand squarely so the judge can see the animal's conformation.  The kids will pick up each leg and set it in place, and the goats are supposed to stand still.  They're getting there, little by little. 

13 more days!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yesterday I noticed my ram wasn't acting quite like he usually does. He was just laying down a bit more and that concerned me.  When you have animals, you have to be really vigilant about noticing anything that's off or different than normal.  Especially with sheep...sheep tend to hide pain and illness really well.  My first thought was that he might have a high worm load, which is a common problem during the summer.  I caught him today to check him out, and saw the problem right away. 

My ram has scurs, and about a week ago I noticed he bumped his scur and caused it to bleed.  I wasn't worried about it, because he does that every now and then.  This time it got infected though, so that's why the poor guy wasn't feeling well. 

I'm glad I caught it pretty quickly, because flies in the summer can cause an even worse problem.  Hopefully he'll be right as rain in a few days. 

I'll be selling this guy in the fall after breeding season, because next year his daughter will be ready to breed and I'll need a different ram.  I'm kinda bummed, because he's a nice boy and I'd like to see how he matures.  He's a yearling now, so he still has lots of growing to do. 

If anyone is looking for a registered Southdown ram, let me know!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday-Halter Training Edition

Someone hates halter training...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Soft & Fluffy

This past winter we had our 2 Southdown ram lambs processed.  One went in our freezer, and the other went to a friend. The lambs were born and raised here, living their lives grazing on pasture just like sheep should.  I don't like wasting parts of animals we raise for food, so the lambs' hides went to be tanned.  They're back now, and for sale. 

These sheepskins make perfect rugs.  Imagine getting out of bed on a cold winter morning and sinking your toes into the soft, wooly warmth of a sheepskin rug!

Sheepskins also make great cushions for chairs and car seats.

They're both done in a washable tan, so they're very easy to keep clean.

The leather is supple and soft.

The two hides are shaped similarly, but are not exact. They are approximately 46-48" long and 30" wide at the widest part.  Each hide is marked with the number "235" and has several small, hardly noticeable holes from the tanning process. 

Each hide is $160 plus shipping. Let me know if you are interested or have more questions!  They're listed in the Etsy shop.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ode to Green Beans

If I could plant only one thing in the vegetable garden, it would definitely be green beans.  I love them.  Love everything about them.  They are so easy to grow.  Make a row, drop in seeds, add water. Voila.  A few short weeks later you've got beans.  I think that's part of the appeal.  I'm not the most patient person, so quick turn around is a great thing in my opinion!  I get excited when I see them germinate, excited when I see them start flowering, and really excited when I realize it's time to harvest!

They produce like crazy, and when they really get going you have to harvest every single day. That's pretty convenient, because I could eat green beans every single day!  I've experimented with different varities of green and yellow beans, and I love them all.  Last year I grew a variety of haricot verts (ooh la la!) and they were really good. This year I am growing Tenderettes and a variety of yellow wax beans I have had for a few years (but can't remember the name). 

I even think the plants are so pretty.  They are fairly disease and pest resistant, although some years I get some Mexican bean beetles or stink bugs.  It's hard to prevent stink bugs, and usually the plants are hardy enough to tolerate the pests without any pesticides (which is good, because I really, really try to avoid using any pesticides). 

I just planted a second row last night.  More beans on the way!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mid July Update

Just a couple of updates of things that have been going on here...

Our county fair is coming up in August, so we've been getting ready for it.  The rabbits needed tattoos in their ears, for identification at the fair.  Last year our Extension agent came out to help us tattoo, but this year I knew we could do it on our own.  I have tattooed cattle before, so I figured I'd tattoo the rabbits and Devin could hold them.  I quickly realized the rabbits were pretty squirmy and he'd get scratched up, and there was a chance the rabbits could get loose.  So I held the rabbits and Devin tattooed them.  Not many 10 year olds know how to tattoo rabbits!  Kylee rubbed the ink in the rabbits' ears after Devin tattooed them.  We made a pretty efficient team!  The green in their ears is tattoo ink.  The green bummed rabbits are bucks, and the orange bummed ones are does. 

We've had an incredibly rainy spring/summer so far, and one of my round bales of hay got totally ruined from the rain.  I had been setting the bales on pallets and covering it with a tarp (using a cinder block under the tarp to keep it up off the hay), but with so much rain the tarp was just not working at all.  The bale molded through in record time. 

We knew we needed to come up with a permanent solution because moving the round bales is a pain in in the neck since we don't have a tractor that can pick them up.  We decided to build a simple roofed shelter to keep the bales dry. 

It was such a huge relief knowing the bale will be dry from now on.  And the best part is I don't have to wrestle with a huge tarp!

We've been pretty busy around here but it's hard to remember to take pictures and then hard to find the time to blog about it.  I'll try to keep doing little updates like this now and then, because I really like to be able to look back and see what we were doing. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July Garden

Yesterday I told you about my rogue bunnies.  I managed to get a cute picture of them eating the leftover goat grain.  They sure seem to be enjoying themselves!

Here's the updated garden.  It's doing pretty well, even though I've been neglecting it the past week or so.  It's amazing how quickly the weeds can grow when your head is turned.  The picture below shows the weedy aisles I finally had to spray with Roundup.  Ugh, I hate doing it, but I just could not compete with that bermudagrass.  My cabbage is growing pretty well, but the harlequin beetles are starting to do some damage. 

Here are a couple squash plants close up.  I had to pull a couple plants out because the squash vine borers got them. I've been inspecting the other plants almost every day to see if the borers get the other ones.  The tomatoes are growing well too, but I really need to stake them or control them somehow. 

Almost all of the cukes I planted germinated, so I should have a nice bunch of them  coming on soon. 

I planted two short rows of peanuts this year, but only a handful of plants germinated.  I waited a bit late to plant anyways, so it's definitely too late now to bother with replanting.  Maybe next year!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fluffy Butts

I've seriously neglected blogging about my rabbits.  In fact, I never did a post about processing them last year.  I still need to do that, I just need to find the pictures.  In the mean time, here are some updated pictures.

Here are a few of the rabbits from the crossbred litter born in late April.   They're getting close to processing size, and I'm looking forward to fewer mouths to feed.  It's hard with the rabbits though, because they really do calm down as they get older, and they're very friendly and curious.  I just have to keep telling myself that they're meat for our family...healthy, antibiotic-free, humanely raised meat. 

I've had some interesting things happen with this litter.  Eleven kits were born, but 2 died in the first few hours. The remaining 9 were growing very well, and about a month ago I decided to put some in a dog crate on the grass, so they could graze in the shade.  I started carrying rabbits out there, and quickly realized though they looked too big to fit through the bars, they could really squeeze through some small spaces!!  Three escaped, and I scooped up the fourth before it could get away.  Just like that, three rabbits were gone, hiding in the hedgerow.  They all were black, and I doubted very much I'd see them again.  Two of them are gone, possibly living in the huge corn field next door.  One of them is living in the back yard behind the barn, and I see him (her?) every morning and evening.  He comes out when I call for him, and he eats grain out of the goats' bowl with them.  I've almost caught him numerous times, but he's pretty wily and escapes every time.  I've stopped trying to catch him, and for now I just enjoy seeing him. 

So that left me with 6 rabbits in the hutch, and one in the yard.  Then, one day last week I came out to do chores and found the hutch empty except for the momma doe, and the door was wide open.  At first I thought someone had stolen them, but when I saw a bunny hop by I realized I had not shut the door properly that morning.  I must have been in a rush to get to work.  I wanted to cry, but I was sort of too shocked to even do that.  I got a bowl of pellets, and went and sat down near the hedgerow. The bunnies were pretty curious and friendly still, so I managed to catch 5 of them that same evening.  The 6th bunny is now living with the one that escaped a month ago.  I guess I'll let them be for now, since they seemed to have earned their freedom!

I just looked back through the blog and realized I've never blogged about my first purebred litter of New Zealand White rabbits.  

This is my buck, who is still a fairly young guy.  He's so sweet, I really like him a lot.  He loves being moved to fresh grass every day. 

He sired a litter of 8 kits, born June 8th.  They're all doing very well. 

I'm curious to see what (if any) difference their is in meat quality/quantity between the crossbreds and purebreds. 

Even though the rabbits are eating a lot of food, I'm still so glad I switched to raising rabbits instead of meat chickens.  They're so much cleaner and easier!  Rabbits are a great "gateway" livestock, similar to chickens.  They're probably easier to get started with too, because some towns have rules against chickens, but most allow rabbits because they're seen as pets.  I guarantee one can raise meat rabbits and their neighbors would never even know, unless the rabbits are in plain sight, of course.

Hooray for rabbits!

Monday, July 1, 2013

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