A very busy weekend.

Well, we are officially in the rabbit business, at least in a very small way.  Bought three Creme d’Argent rabbits on Saturday: two does and a buck.  I asked the breeder if she’d put the two does in with an unrelated buck that they were keeping with the hopes that they’ll breed and I’ll have some extra unrelated does to breed to the buck I bought.  I don’t know if they took or not.  The rabbits are slowly settling in.  They are scared and haven’t been handled much so I’ve been spending extra time with them trying to win them over.

Both Friday and Saturday were overcast and cool.  In fact, when I came home on Friday, I was so cold in my shorts and short-sleeved shirt that I was shivering.  I had to put a sweatshirt on!  That’s amazing in July.  Saturday was spent running errands and entertaining visitors.  Funny what people the farm has brought into our lives.  A woman came out on Saturday with her husband and baby.  They were researching the possibility of getting dairy goats for their own use.  I knew she had a horse and we had talked about the possibility of getting together to ride at some point, but on Saturday, I noticed a Parelli decal on the back window of their truck.  I didn’t see it the last time she was out because she backed her truck into the parking area.  I asked her if she was into Parelli and she told me that she was heavily into it when she lived in Tennessee, but since coming to North Carolina and of course having a baby, she hadn’t done much.  Parelli is a form of natural horsemanship.  I took a lesson with a lady supposedly certified by Parelli a while back, but it was not a good fit.  There is a group of ladies down in South Carolina that get together periodically for “play days,” but it’s really too far for me to go, at least on a regular basis.  Plus, they are now charging dues for membership.  I asked the woman that visited on Saturday if she’d be willing to help Sudi and me in exchange for farm products.  She readily agreed and we were supposed to get together on Sunday, but her trailer had a flat tire so we had to postpone to Saturday morning.

Sunday started out cool and overcast, but once the sun did come out, it got hot in a hurry.  I started to put covers on the beds behind the house, but got frustrated because I was sweating so much.  That’s a job that is better suited for two people anyway so Wally and I are going to try to get that done this evening.  We did get the goat shelter cleaned out and the goat and chicken pastures mowed and weed-eated.  Keeping the grass down, especially in the poultry pasture, will help keep snakes from stealing chicks, ducklings and guinea keets and of course eggs.  When Wally was getting hay Saturday evening, he came upon a large black snake.  Wally is not fond of snakes; I don’t mind them unless they are poisonous.  Luckily, we don’t see many of those, probably thanks to the black snakes.  Where the hay is stored is getting progressively more and more wet and we are going to need to do something about it soon.  We got the insurance check on Saturday, but it is not going to be enough to buy another ShelterLogic.  I believe Tractor Supply puts them on sale around Labor Day so hopefully we can hold out until then.  We are going to install tarps over the tops of both the new ShelterLogic and the existing one in an attempt to keep the weather from degrading the covers.  A tarp is a lot cheaper than a replacement ShelterLogic cover, even if we have to replace it every year.  We need to replace the tarp across the front part of the goat shelter before winter.

It’s pretty sad that most of our buildings are tarp-covered.  I guess it’s like we are living in a circus.

The plan is to buy a new ShelterLogic (hopefully on sale) and install that cover over the existing frame and then install the new frame in the poultry pasture along side the goat shelter, cover it with a tarp and put the rabbits in there, giving the chickens free access to the building structure.  This photograph has really got me thinking about how we can get the rabbits and chickens to work together to provide both manure and food.  Consuming rabbit manure increases egg production and if we can get the structure to be reasonably sound, we can raise some broiler chickens in it in the spring.  Of course the manure itself is beneficial.

I need to get to the point where I can butcher and clean both chickens and rabbits for our consumption.  That would be a big step towards self-sustainability.  Heck, even if we only eat the breast meat off the chickens and give the rest to the dogs and cats, that would be wonderful.  I hope to butcher most of the roosters from this year’s chick crop.  We’ll retain a couple for breeding next year.  Bringing in hatching eggs from other sources has not been terribly successful.  I think raising chicks off chickens that live here is going to be more productive.

It’s almost 7:00 and I need to get out and milk.  Monday … back to the rat race that is MM.  Oh well, at least it’s only six hours or so of torture.

Until later …