Saturday, November 30, 2013

Purl & June and Small Business Saturday!

Did you know today is Small Business Saturday?  It's a great reminder to support small businesses for your holiday shopping.  Purl & June is ready for Small Business Saturday.  I've been working to stock up on soap and other crafts, not only for SBS, but also for a craft show next weekend.  

There are some new items in the shop now, and new things will be added every now and then for the next week or so.  

Here's what I've been busy doing lately.

Each coffee cozy I sell in the shop is knitted, then felted individually. Then after the felted cozy is dry, I needle felt the details (like sheep, or whatever the design is) onto it. 
I've got several cozies drying on the windowsill at the moment. 
Lots of soap is curing, waiting to be sold.  This is just a small part of it all.

The holiday soap sets are back in the shop, along with the needle felted Christmas lights. 

So if you're doing some holiday shopping this weekend, please consider supporting a small business, whether it's local to you or online.  There are lots of other artisans out there working hard to provide quality products, and they all need our support. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

RIP Cogburn

My favorite little chicken died last night.  His name was Cogburn, and he was only 1 of 2 chickens I have named.  Only the special ones get names (or at least ones that stick).  He was one of the first chicks I bought, before we even bought our house.  I bought a handful of chicks a week before we closed on our house, because I was so excited! 

He was always a very spirited little chicken, and he was fun to watch.  He would let me catch him now and then, and I'd let him ride on my shoulder or if it was really cold I'd tuck him into my coat.


He got picked on by the big rooster every now and then, and I think that's what happened to him the other day.  I was out of town for work for a few days, and after I came home Devin told me Cogburn was hiding in a bucket. That's definitely not normal, so I found him and he had been injured, with a fairly big slice in his back...probably from a bigger rooster.  I treated him, and put him in the garage with the woodstove going, so he could stay warm and rest.  The next day he was doing better, and was eating and drinking well.  This morning I found him and he had died during the night some time.  I'm pretty bummed out, because he was sort of our little mascot around here. 
I'll miss his trilling little crow, and how he always used to come find me for treats (he knew I'd give him the good treats). 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


It is cold and blustery out today.  What better to do on the windiest day of the year but put plastic around the rabbit cages?  We had put tarps up temporarily, but today we took those down and really wrapped the whole thing with plastic.  If the rabbits have a wind block, they should be fine outside in the winter.  The only exception may be if there's a new litter or if we're going to get abnormally cold stormy weather.

I think they should be pretty snug now, and I plan on adding a flap over the opening so we can totally block the wind on the colder days. 

The lone baby rabbit is really growing fast.

The goats are not happy at all about this cold weather.  Their coats are all puffed up and they're staying hunkered down. 

The buck should be going back home soon, which will be nice.  He's a perfect gentleman, but fewer mouths to feed is always nice. 

The sheep don't seem to mind the cold weather. I guess if I was covered in wool I wouldn't care either!  The dogs didn't really mind it either. They were too busy playing with their sticks.

And lucky Tucker got to come inside for a while today (he's normally outside since he won't use the litter box reliably) to snuggle and stay warm.  He loves snuggling with the kids.

We've got the pellet stove going and are staying comfy on the couch watching tv! Is it cold where you are?

Monday, November 18, 2013

October-November Update

I haven't been posting much lately, so here's a quick overview of some of the things that have been going on.

The leaves were so pretty this year when they changed!  I caught this picture one day when there were some pretty altocumulus clouds (I learned that from the local weather guy's facebook page). 


It seems like they didn't last long though....before I knew it they were gone.

I love the scenery in the winter though....doing the chores at dusk is nice because the sky is always so pretty.

I caught a pretty sunset one evening a few weeks ago.

I call this "Sunset Over the Goat Pen".

Now that it's cold and getting below freezing, we had to winterize the camper.  We ran RV antifreeze all through the plumbing.

One weekend when David had plans with his uncle, the kids and I went to Fifer Orchards for their open house.  They had free hay rides, free cider, and free s'mores!

David and Elmer watched some tv...

And then Elmer got tired...

I planted some wheat in the pasture to extend the grazing season.  I'll graze it this coming week, then fence the sheep off for the winter.  Come spring, as soon as it warms up a bit the wheat will shoot up and I should get some more good early grazing. (the wheat is the bright green grass below)

A borrowed buck is here to breed Ida and June. His name is Lucky, and he's a yearling Oberhasli.  He's very sweet, and has a teeny little baby voice.  I tried to get a better picture, but this was the only angle I could get.  Of course I am pretty sure he bred the does, but I forgot to write down the date!  I think it's mid-late October, for late March kids. 

And there's a new bunny.  There should have been more, but for some reason both does kindled a day or two apart, and neither one pulled fur for a nest!  Most of the babies died of hypothermia before I found them.  I managed to save one of them, and he's doing just fine.  This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago, so he's twice the size now. 

I tried to re-breed the doe who lost all her kits, but I don't think she settled.  Sometimes rabbit breeding isn't as easy as it should be!

Ok, that update gets me caught up through mid-November.  Maybe I'll get over my blogging slump soon and be able to keep on top of things from now on.  :-)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Processing Rabbits

This post is about butchering rabbits for meat. If that bothers you, please don't read any further.  :-) 

We've had meat rabbits for about 2 years now, and I've yet to post about the butchering part.  Most of that is due to my procrastination.  I finally uploaded the pictures and decided it was time to stop procrastinating and just blog already. 

We've raised meat chickens several times, and though we love the chicken meat, the actual butchering of the chickens was a less than pleasant task.  It's not that it was too hard, it's just that it was time consuming and annoying.  Plucking chickens by hand is not very fun, and we don't have the money to invest in a chicken plucker, especially since we weren't raising a large number of chickens. 

I researched meat rabbits as an alternative, and they sounded great.  The rabbits themselves are less stinky than chickens, they reproduce easily and I don't have to order them like new chicks from a hatchery.  And butchering is WAY easier and less time consuming than butchering chickens. 

Many people use the "broomstick" method of killing the rabbit. That's when they set the rabbit on the ground, with a broomstick over the neck.  They step on each end of the broomstick, and pull up on the rabbit's legs which breaks the neck.  I wasn't crazy about that idea, so instead I use our pellet gun.  We've got a Ruger pellet gun, and it works great. David already had it for target shooting, but buying one would be a good investment since it has lots of uses on a farm. 

The pellet gun holds one little pellet at a time, and it's very safe to use.  Each pellet costs something like $.01, so it's economical. 

To kill the rabbit, I put them on the ground in a bottomless wire crate (I use a dog crate).  I sprinkle rabbit pellets on the ground, but most times they just start eating the grass.  Then, I place the pellet gun right at the back of their head and shoot them. They're dead instantly, and never knew anything was going on except they were eating grass. 

Then I hang the rabbits up from a tree branch, using a rope around each hind foot. 

I watched a video on Youtube on how to process them.  This video was very helpful.  I use a sharp pair of scissors and some meat shears (for cutting feet and the head). 

I've saved all the hides from the rabbits I have processed, but I haven't done anything with them yet..they're waiting in the freezer.  Maybe one day I'll tan them.

Each rabbit takes only minutes to process, and it's very easy for one person to do everything himself/herself.  In a few minutes, you have a completely dressed rabbit, ready to be cooked, frozen, canned, etc.

I rinse mine well and bag them up.  Then they go in the freezer. 

Meat rabbits are definitely my favorite small animal to raise for meat.  In my opinion, they're much cleaner than chickens to both raise and process.  Rabbits are easy to house and feed, and they're quiet enough they could be raised in someone's backyard.  Their manure is perfect for gardens, and it doesn't have to be aged like other animal manures.  They're the perfect homesteading meat animal! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Handsome Boy

How can you resist that face?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pigs in Mud

My friend Lindsay and her husband just moved back to Maryland from Minnesota. She was finishing vet school, and just graduated.  I'm really glad she's back in Maryland now, so we can see each other more often.  She came over this weekend, and we decided to do a little baking.  She sent me a picture of this cake, and we decided to make it when she came over. 

We baked regular 2 layer round cakes and frosted them with chocolate buttercream frosting.  The original cake used chocolate ganache, but we didn't have any heavy cream.

We made marshmallow fondant for the little piggies, and I used this recipe.  It was easy to make, but we had to scale the recipe WAY back. A little red food coloring made the perfect pink color.

The fence is made of Kit Kats, so that's an easy one. 

I love how they turned out!

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