Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not all livestock and plants are created equal.

As the title says, the world of agriculture is not the world of Animal Farm. Not all are created equal, and that has been showing up all over the place in the last week or so. I'll get to the plants part later, but let's start with the group that has the most more equal individual, the Chickens.

Here is our most equal chicken, and by most equal I mean our head chicken in charge. We haven't really named the chickens yet but she is Definitely our head chicken.  She gets what she wants from the other chickens, and pushes the others around as needed. It's kind of funny because she isn't That much bigger than the others but they don't even really object when she takes something they have for the most part. The one exception to that is our Welsummer girl. In most situations when a bug or something of the like shows up in the yard, the chickens stand around and contemplate it in a clucking mass until the head chicken decides what it to be done with it. The Welsummer girl doesn't care, the rest see it and stare, and she comes streaking through at high speed, eats what ever it is and keeps going before they can even try to take it back. It's an amusing scene.
 We're still in process of figuring out exactly what sort of chickens we have. We know we have a couple Americauanas, we know we have a Welsummer, but the others we won't be sure until they are a bit bigger. We're thinking a couple of them may be Campines, we will see. One development with the chickens is they actively enjoy out time, and have figured out being able to go back in to their coop if they are nervous about our, or the neighbor's dog which is a good thing since we're now letting them roam the run even when we are out of the house.

We are working on how to teach the chickens to go where we want them to go other than picking them up and putting them there. So far we haven't really figured that out other than if we put food in a place most of them will eventually go that way. I want to get them to come running when we have food before we let them out to free range, because catching a chicken loose in the woods would be a real challenge that I'm just not up for.

Stick with me for just a couple more non rabbit minutes before I go back to rabbits! Here's the other really big not equal example. Right and Below Right are a pair of radishes. It's really easy to see that they aren't the same. But they are from the same seed type in the same bed getting the same care, but one of them is little and woody, and the other is large and delicious. There's any number of reasons that one turned out and another turned out large, but it is really an interesting comparison between the two of them given relatively similar conditions. We know that to really avoid this kind of squeezed looking radish in the future that we need to get the soil a bit less clayey. To do that we're going to be mixing in a lot of rabbit poop and hay in before the winter so the beds will be in good shape for the spring, so we will see how that affects our crops next year!

Now, Rabbits!  Let's start with Comet's litter. Yesterday was quite hot for us, with the temperatures hitting the 90F range up on our hill. That's well in to dangerous range for rabbits, so we put frozen water bottles in to keep them from over heating. Everyone seemed to be doing fine when we came home, but this little guy Left now has a floppy ear due to heat stress. This is distinct from the one on the front right of the picture Below Left that simply has the dreaded syndrome "Dorado Ear," and looks much too much like its father. Other than the heat though, their litters are doing just fine and eating freely when given hay, grass, or pellets.

The big thing going on in rabbit land other than the heat is the next breeding cycle which we started on Saturday by breeding Dawn and Twilight, and continued by breeding Halley and Comet yesterday. The breedings yesterday weren't as easy as the ones on Saturday when the weather was ideal. Dorado at least seemed to have trouble mustering enough energy to do his thing which is quite unusual for him. He did get it done in the end, but there were a couple of moments where he sat astride Comet and you could totally see the, "Hang on a sec, I'm winded!" expression on his face. We're hoping that the heat hasn't gotten us a round of heat sterility, and if it has hopefully it at least didn't get both of our bucks.
I made a mistake yesterday, coming back to the heat. I neglected to put an ice bottle in with the teenagers litter, and when I got home and saw that I felt really bad about it. We got lucky, and none of them died of the heat, but it was definitely a reminder to pay attention all the time. I think that they all made it because they are all hearty, well fed, and well watered. If they'd been younger not having something to cool off with could have been a really major problem, so I just need to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

We're going to be killing the blues and the white shortly, leaving the two blacks that we will be trading to a breeder from Florida. At least we know they can handle Florida spring heat!
A last couple of things we are excited and happy about for today. As you can see Left the potatoes are doing really well right now, they seem to have enjoyed the thunder storms. Our biggest concern now is that they're massively over growing the 5 gallon buckets, and it's definitely not a transplant sort of thing. We are just going to let them go, and grow away. I am personally very excited to have potatoes we grew ourselves! Next year I want to try doing mound potatoes because that produces a larger number.

The other thing is, one of the pepper plants we bought when ours got eaten by cut worm is already starting to set some peppers! Between the tomatoes and peppers one of our first priorities will be making our own salsa. I mean, after all, easy, healthy, and fun. How could we resist?

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