Fantastic happenings

A lot of really good things are happening lately.  That is a good thing!  Just waiting for the weather to regulate a bit and for Wally to get the free time to do the tilling.  We had laid good plans for this weekend, but his job threw a wrench in the works.  Now he has to work on Saturday.  Damn!  That means I go to the Farmer’s Market by myself and I had previously arranged for us to pick up our new milk cow on Friday.  A good friend of mine, Tammy, is going to come by Saturday AM to help me with her.  Hopefully she’ll settle in quicker than Cocoa did.  Cocoa was rowdy for a good long time!  She is still rowdy!

Tammy brought her five children over yesterday and they helped me clean out the cow shed.  That was wonderful!  I am not a kid person, but her children were very nice.  Many hands make for light labor.  After it was cleaned out, Wally and I went to pick up two big bags of shavings and spread them in the shed.  Now to keep it manure-free!  We were using straw which made for very difficult cleaning.  I think the shavings will work better.

It is going to be a rainy day today.  Wish I was able to get another bed planted yesterday, but it was a busy day.  Had to go on campus to meet with the head of the business department to speak about my Shark Tank proposal.  He is very excited about it and thinks I have a good chance to do well.  Now I have a lot of work to do to prepare for it: namely, get my proposal into a form that I can present it in five to six minutes and make a Power Point presentation.  I’ve never used Power Point before, I’m sure it won’t be a problem, but it will take time.

In addition to getting ready for Shark Tank, I have to work on my research paper and get my business plan done (for English) and get my final project close to finished for my Business class.  Agh!  Lots to do!  My head is going to start to spin.

On Monday Wally and I picked up three Jersey bottle calves from our Amish friends.  The get fed from a barrel with nipples attached to straws.  So much better than holding bottles!  Here they are:

This will be a good start in establishing a solid herd of Jerseys for beef.  We took our last cow that was big enough to be processed on Monday.  It does not get any easier bringing them to be processed.  I hate it.

The rabbits are doing great.  Starting to get enough weeds in the garden (primarily chickweed and dead nettle) for them to eat.  They are not terribly fond of chickweed, but most of them will eat it.  The chard and peas that I planted several weeks ago are starting to emerge.  I planted 95 beet plants in one bed and several rows of lettuce in another.  I left a good bit of space between those rows and in a week I’ll sow another crop.  The soil in the raised beds is magnificent!  Some of them need more added from our compost pile, but in general, they are in fantastic shape.  Hopefully we can get the tilled rows out in the rabbit area in similar shape.

I have not shared this yet, but I was recently interviewed for an article on Silver Fox rabbits in Organic Gardening.  They are sending a professional photographer out here on April 28 to take photographs and do a video.  This is so exciting!  That means, however, we have a good bit of work to do to get the farm ready for him to come.  I doubt I’ll have the rabbits in the new area by then, but their former grazing area is looking good.  The warmer weather and rain is going to help.  I’d love to get them on pasture now, but I’m going to wait a little bit longer for the grass to establish.  I can start to sow tomatoes and green beans on April 10 and 15 respectively so they’ll need to be evicted by then.  The trick is going to be catching the rabbits out of the tractor before moving them.  We’ll be removing the loft in their tractor when they go in winter quarters this year.  It’s too hard to catch them with the deep bedding.

I was interviewed for another article yesterday for Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.  That will be posted on their web site.  We are getting a lot of attention which is good.

I had a litter of rabbits born in one tractor.  I thought there was only two, but it appears there are at least six.  The problem is, I do not know who the mother is.  This is the first litter that has survived in a tractor.  That is encouraging.  I am looking forward to getting them out on pasture, but I’m really looking forward to getting their new barn with stalls built and having 16 tractors on raised beds come late fall, early winter.  Late winter/early spring is when they breed the best and with more space, I can breed more rabbits more often and then let them rest during the summer and winter months.  There’s only a small window to get them bred in the fall.  They do not breed well October through December; and August and September are sometimes too hot to get them to breed.

I know that I will not be able to do much with growing a cover/pasture crop but come this fall/winter into next spring, it ought to be in really good shape.  It is so much more difficult doing what we do manually.  One day, we’ll have proper equipment and infrastructure.

I’ve said it again and again, I wish I had started this 20 years ago when I had a younger body, but I was not as smart as I am now.  Why does wisdom always come with an old body?  I wish we had unlimited funds so we could buy equipment and build infrastructure, but if we had unlimited money, we’d probably go too fast and make mistakes.  Given how short our funds are, we have to really think about what we want to do.  For example, we almost put several hundred dollars into a small building to put down near my milk shed.  I’d like a small building down there to store my milking equipment, but that several hundred dollars really was not in the budget so we haven’t done it.  I posted a series of photographs on Facebook showing my AM milking routine.  I have a little cart that I put my supplies in to go down to milk.  Going down the hill is not so bad (unless it’s wet and slippery), but coming back up is more difficult.  I must be getting stronger because the past few days pulling up the wagon have not seemed so hard.

The ducklings are doing great and growing like weeds.  They are less than a month old and huge!  Chicks do not grow this fast.  The cool thing is that they are growing on a mixture of whole grains and seeds that I had ground.  The adult ducks are eating the same mixture.  They all go out now and go down to the pond but, to my knowledge, most of them come up at night.  I keep them up until around 8:00 AM and then let them out.  I am not getting a whole lot of eggs, but I think some of them may be laying where I cannot find the eggs.  I just set up the incubator and will be setting what eggs I get today.  Now is the time to do it!  I should be getting a call relatively soon about the Welsh Harlequin ducklings that I ordered from Sandhills Preservation.

It’s time to start getting the milking paraphernalia gathered up and ready.  Hopefully I can beat the raindrops.

Until later …