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Killer Rabbits

With the hutch being finished on Friday we were ready to be in the bunny business Saturday morning. Youngest and I woke up, had breakfast and hit the road. Oldest and Rooster had already been in a tree stand for a few hours at that point.

We drove an hour and a half to the rabbitry excited for bunnies. We got to the location that the maps had suggested, and didn’t know which barn to go into. James had messaged and said it’s the barn by the camper… well, all the barns were by the camper. We hung out in the car for a minute since the atmosphere definitely looked like something out of a horror movie. I text James and let him know that we had arrived, and waited.

Eventually a man was hollering at us from the “other barn” with a “Over here!”. We made introductions and chatted for a few minutes. James was a very nice man, and not the serial killer my brain had coaxed me into. He took the time to show Youngest how to handle the rabbits, and explain what to look for in a good show rabbit. It was all very informative and such welcome information.

We toured the 200+ rabbitry and then got to selecting our stock. James was nice enough to line up the three males we had narrowed it down to. One with the perfect coat, one with perfect posture, and the third a large block head that was darn near perfect. Youngest chose the block head, and named him Bugs Bunny.

The females were a little easier to chose. Youngest chose a large female he named Rosie. The second was the smaller of two sisters, he named Gina. We got to experience tattooing the rabbits ear, and learning about bloodlines. These three were of no relation to each other, as was the initial plan.

During our tour James showed us all of the Champagne d’Argent that he had, we saw some Dutch, and Californians. (Here comes the best part)….

The Californians are white rabbits with red eyes. Youngest, serious as all get out, and terrified to boot exclaims “Are those KILLER RABBITS?”.

James was taken aback, “What?”

Youngest went on to explain… “You know, killer rabbits, like on Monty Python!”

James laughed and shocked asked Youngest what he knew about Monty Python.

Youngest, my young Sheldon, went on to explain the brilliant theatrical attributes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail right down to the detail of the coconut horse. If you’ve never seen this cult classic I’ll leave that as fodder. For those of you that HAVE seen it you can understand how proud I was. It was one of those parenting done right moments for me.

So when life puts you in a rabbitry with a nine year old Sheldon… take a second and ask if those are KILLER RABBITS. Laugh, life is meant to be simple.

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Adventures in Rabbit Hutch Making…

So we are getting into the business of rabbits. Beautiful Champagne d’Argents! I’m super excited! The first cold night of the season I had made rabbit stew and I was hooked. I had to have fresh, home grown rabbit rather than the store bought variety that probably came from China.

Yesterday, on a cold, windy Sunday we set to building the hutch. My original plan was to house them outside, facing east, protected by the shed, but after much discussion the rabbits will now be housed in the coop. As Rooster pointed out, there they will be away from the threat of predators and the harsh weather.

The reasons I chose the Champagne d’Argent based on inter web research are they tend to be more docile, they are a heritage breed, and they are pretty. The Champagne d’Argent can be traced to 1635 in France and possibly further back. I figured that along with the meat, the sale of fur might be a little change in the pocket; we shall see. If anything maybe I could add tanning furs to my reputation.

First things first we dug out varying sizes of screws, all the wood scrap along with the last of youngest’s bunk bed, drills, saws, speed square, and a pencil. Not all at once of course because if you know us we realize a little into the project we need something that we forgot. Like the battery for the drill.

I was trying to do the project by myself with Vincent, but thank goodness Rooster can see when I’m lost. I was standing there thinking well, what should I do first? I tried starting, and quickly discovered my original plan was flawed and very rickety. Enter Rooster and we started over.

An hour or two past the time I could no longer feel my toes or fingers, and after youngest emerged from the house for the thousandth trip for another hoodie, coat, gloves, hat, warmer socks and bathroom breaks we called it quits for the night. We did get quite a bit moving along, and the hutch is roughly framed for the most part. Tomorrow will be a trip to the hardware store for some really long screws and staples to tack down the hardware cloth.

I may have to take Friday off from work to finalize the hutch; as a trio will be picked up early Saturday morning. Either way remember that if your plan fails, changes are made, or cold weather numbs you to the bones… live a simple life. The family that works together, cusses together. (That’s an old family adage I thought I’d share)

Well, guitar lessons are over and it’s time to head back to the farm for supper.

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Youngest and I’s adventure day

It’s been a beautiful fall day the sun is out, there is a breeze and it’s low sixties. We started the day with pancakes and a quick trip to town.

We picked up our allergy medicine, milk and a few odds and ends then headed to Papaw’s. Memaw was off garage sale peddling but my nephew was there with Papaw.

After a little family reunion we went into the woods to scope out places for youngest and I to hunt. We found a few lush places that will be ideal come next weekend.

Tromping through the back 40 on a beautiful day has a great start to the weekend.

Once back home youngest helped me move the ducks to the garden side of the runs, and I’d say they’re tickled pink…

It’s off to the showers for me as I’m now covered in everything but mud…. Yes, it’s poop.

Then time to make a nice batch of chili for supper. Tomorrow’s agenda in simplicity is raviolis, bread and noodles.

Rooster and oldest have been out enjoying the Youth Hunting season, and we look forward to them being home too.

In the still quiet of the woods remember to live a simple life. Even when you’re covered in poop it’s a great simple life.

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There’s a chill in the air…

Remember in the movie Mary Poppins the wind changes directions and the chimney sweep starts singing “Winds in the east, mist coming in. / Like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. / Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, / But I feel what’s to happen all happened before.” That song is stuck in my head this morning.

Why you may ask? Because this morning it is windy and chilly here in northern Indiana. To the point that I’m wearing jeans and a hoodie to do the morning chores! It seems a little early for the first of September to be chilly, but I guess what’s to happen all happened before.

So with the change of temperature today my goals have changed a little. I’ll be planting a fall crop of lettuce, picking tomatoes and anything in the garden. This batch of tomatoes I’m going to sun dry for a nice addition to soups. Herbs need taken in as they are looking a little wild lately. So they will go in the dehydrator to be saved for later savored flavor.

A little tip if you can’t spare a canning jar to store your dried herbs in Dollar Tree stores sell airtight jars, wait for it… FOR A DOLLAR!

Today I am also going to inventory what we have stocked up and maybe make some dry soup mixes later this week. Another tip… dry soup mixes make excellent holiday gifts!

This change in the weather has me thinking about what to make for homemade gifts… I’m thinking about quick quilts or blankets, and dry soup mixes maybe a loaf of artisan bread…. Sounds very cozy doesn’t it?

Speaking of cozy check out my pen to paper pal who makes cozy items from natural, undyed, pure sheep wool! http://www.hookinsheep.ca She’s located in Canada and would love some American customers!!!

Well off to the garden, friends! Remember when the wind changes it’s all happened before… and live a simple life.

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A few days off…

I got 10 days off of work in which we dealt with e~learning and finishing some remodeling projects. Between classes youngest has been a big help playing handy manny. (For those of you that know youngest had an obsession with the show Handy Manny and we some times still holler “Come on tools!” whenever we are working).

So… we worked on putting up trim in the house.

Currently have a batch of tomatoes on the stove to turn into spaghetti sauce, and we need to make a run to the grocery store and hardware store. (We ran out of stain).

It’s been raining off and on today so I keep staring out to the garden thinking I need to grab the last of the summer harvest and plan on a big canning weekend. The fall plantings are doing well, and I even spied a few green beans this morning! Hopefully the impending doom of an early frost stays away. Farmers almanac is predicting an early fall this year, and a few of my homestead buddies out west are reporting the same! Noooooooooo I’m not ready!

I’m not ready for fall ESPECIALLY because we need our propane tank filled and when I called to check on the schedule they are delayed because… wait for it… THEY DO NOT HAVE ANYONE TO DELIVER THE PROPANE!!! This possibly made me hit my all time anxiety level panic button!!!! We heat and cook on propane!!

As the summer plantings slowly fade, and wither I can’t believe that it is almost September. Having just realized that Labor Day is fast approaching, and oldest made the VARSITY football team these are all signs of colder weather…

Oddly they are also panic triggers for me. Did I can enough? Freeze enough? Dehydrate enough? I don’t know why I always think that. Probably that fall hoarding anxiety kicking in full swing.

Another odd anxiety is if the kids have enough warm clothes? Do they still fit in their winter jackets? Bets are probably not. They grow like weeds, which reminds me… the mystery itching weed of death and destruction still is unidentified and I’m STILL getting more itchy spots of grossness.

Sigh. When anxiety knocks at your door, make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, and remember to live a simple life.

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Trial and error in pigville

So Friday of Memorial Day weekend we got off of work, headed to TSC for a bale of straw and pine shavings (because we realized the pig would need a bedding material at the last minute), got home let the dogs out, threw a pen in the back of the truck and we were off.

What seemed like many, Many miles of gorgeous winding country roads we arrived at Shady Grove. It was really only a ten minute drive, but the excitement of having our pig finally was making the anticipation unbearable.

It was not what I pictured, although I’ve been to hog farms before, but this was not the hog farm of my youth. This was a sterile building, plain in every way, and a loading shoot on the front. I guess I had envisioned the hog farm of the past a lot of stalls filled with straw and momma’s and piggies in the stall. Back in the day we could see the piggies and pick which one we wanted. I guess this idea is the methods of the past, but at any rate we pulled up and someone came out of the sterile building with a screaming 8 week old piglet.

We headed home excited to begin our new adventure, and what an adventure it has been! We had previously decided on the name Honey like Honey Baked Ham… as you may remember Rooster is the weakest link to this pig making it to the butcher so we had to name it food associated.

So with Honey home and nestled in the pig pen Rooster, of course, spent hours bonding with Honey. It was cold that day as you’ll notice the winter coats. It is Indiana and not three days prior we had had 80 degree weather and wearing shorts!!!

Rooster bonding with Honey

During this time of bonding some questions began to arise… you sure this is a girl pig? She has nipples. I have nipples. Rooster had a valid point. I had no idea if we just picked up a male instead of a female until….. he saw Honey pee. Upon a further google search… we had a male pig. Crap.

Being new to all of this pig business really is humorous at times…

Next failure was not thinking through calling the butcher in advance… we are now on a waiting list for the end of September to October. It’s looking like Honey is going to be a big pet just like Rooster wanted.

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Saturday fishing

This morning we woke at 6 am to get around to go fishing with my dad. Our first plan was Hamilton Lake, but upon arrival we couldn’t even get to the boat launch!

So plan B we went back down the road to Ball Lake. It was a beautiful day and hard to complain about much at all.

The boys crashed on the way home and of course pictures were taken…

Rooster got sunburned. Dad had a good time telling stories of his youth and playing captain for the day. It was a day enjoyed by all especially me… I caught a bass!!!

We stopped for the best burger I’ve ever had in my life at Lakeside Grill in Hamilton!!

So lesson of the day… take a break every now and again. Enjoy the stories of the old folks. And always remember sunscreen.

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A lazy day

After work we went to the big city to stock up on supplies… coffee, soaps for laundry and dishwasher, allergy medicine and other odds and ends.

After unloading said necessities rooster watered the garden and is now spraying the damn dandelions in the yard…

We’ve been sitting in the sun watching the ducks and chickens while sipping adult beverages. The ducks enjoyed a good bath from the hose, and Charlie was stealing the garden water….

Charlie and Rooster

Meanwhile I am thumbing through the latest from GRIT magazine. Considering making apple mead… a back up plan if the damn louffas don’t sprout I guess.

It’s a beautiful night. Warm. Dry, and just humid enough to make your hair frizz. Hashtag perfect night.

The chickens are enjoying the “duck hut” more than the ducks.. They’ve been laying eggs inside the hut and hanging out in the shade.

The birds are chirping, the breeze has slowed, and this lawn chair is pretty comfy.

Today at work I realized that I need to find some mint plants. Why? I’ve been making more Greek food and it seems mint is a staple item in every dish. Why didn’t I think of this before? Not that it’s catastrophic I never saw mint available at the local garden store, but my eyes are wide open and searching now!

The dogs are basking in the sunshine as well, and I’m worried this weekend my alabaster skin will still become lobster red even with sunscreen… it’s supposed to be 86 all weekend which makes a mental note for me to make sure to apply sunscreen to youngest every hour. He’s the ginger of the family I am sure you understand.

Grocery shopping for the week is done and this weekend I just need to make buns, Mayo, and egg bites for the week.

Mental note I need to call the local mom and pop grocery store about getting veggies from them for the pig. I hope to almost completely feed the piggy off of veggies and reduce feed costs considerably.

Today we were property shopping at work…. the shoe doesn’t fit yet if you know what I mean. I think it’s just day dreaming when work is slow. Acreage *sigh* what everyone should dream of rather than the 3000 square foot home on .26 acres. We want/need more land. Can you imaging how much food we could raise then??!!

I think we are a different breed of people…

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Busy bees

We worked today on planting corn, cucumbers, watermelon, pumpkins, sunflowers and nasturtium. Meanwhile Rooster and oldest put in the gate and final post on the pig pen.

The plan of companion planting should provide us enough to feed the chickens, ducks, and supplement the pig. All of this cuts down on the cost of feed. Also it will get us through winter with precious veggies turned into salsa, spaghetti sauce, and so much more. All the extra scrap to the chickens and ducks makes their eggs taste amazing! Which leads to noodles and pierogies!!

I love gardening but this year with my back issues I’ve had to rely on Rooster and the boys to help out. They’ve done a stellar job!!

Tomorrow we are headed to Huntertown Gardens for more garden plants… tomato, jalapeño and herbs. Hopefully some seed potatoes! And in a few weeks sweet potatoes!! Praying for a bumper crop this year.

Planning on selling surplus at a local farmers market to raise more money for farm supplies. Maybe some meat birds…..