Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cows, cold, nest building, and thoughts.

Meet a Highland Cow! They're very fluffy and in my opinion good looking cattle originating from Scotland that seem to be very well adapted to the rough terrain and cold winters of our area. This cow is actually from Gordon's Fold farm which is (in theory) walking distance from my house through the woods. The Lady of the House and I went for a wander along a near by road for an artist event that ended at the above cattle farm where we cooed at the cattle for a while.

A couple weeks ago I made a post about getting started building new raised beds for next spring, and promptly ran out of time to continue work on them. You can read about the first part here. Effectively they're a mixed concept bed using paper and wood as a base, then leaves, then compost (in our case rabbit poop), then hay. The reason to put it down before winter is to let it compost as much as possible before spring planting. The wood will take years to break down but provides a lot of nutrients, and the leaves, poop, and hay provide the shorter term soil to grow in and help the wood break down. So I managed to get the time together to get the leaves, poop, and hay on a section of the bed. I only got about a third of it done this time.  As a note, the huge pile of rabbit poop Left is just part of the poop from under one rabbit hutch. It also completely filled the bed of the garden cart. It doesn't take too long to do the actual work of getting the things put on the bed, oddly enough the hardest part was raking up the leaves from the yard with how few leaves actually land in the yard! I'm actually going to be getting the rest of the leaves from the piles in the drainage ditches along the driveway. I'm looking forward to seeing how well it works for growing in the spring.

 As you can tell Right it's firmly in the cold part of the year now, and we're getting beautiful frost on the top of the car every morning. As a note, the vibrant blue of the car apparently confuses the sensor on my poor phone camera. Mix that with some gorgeous golden lighting and you get some fire looking background in the top left. That means we've started moving the water bottle inside during the night. We don't feel like fighting with thawing out the bottles every morning which has cut down our morning time by a good 20 minutes. It also cuts down on our energy usage fairly significantly if you think about it. When we left the bottles out over night we'd have to quick thaw them in the morning which used a lot of hot water. Now they're just inside heating up in warmth we are already using over the whole night. The cutting down morning work thing is honestly the big one for me since we never get enough sleep anyhow!

 Finally about the rabbits, Dawn and Sunshine are making their nests for real this time having eaten most of the hay they made their pre nests out of. The Lady of the House gave them both some straw last week, and this morning I put more in. They are both moving it around and making their nests. Sunshine in particular is very focused on getting her nest built. I really hope that the litters go well for these last litters of the year, even though it's started getting really cold. So we'll see where that goes.

Last thing for today about the homestead is, I realized I don't have the time, energy, or even ability to do all of the moving things around that needs to be done before the snow falls. So, since the Lady of the House isn't going to be around Saturday anyhow, I'm having a "I pick things up and put them down" party and seeing if I can get folks to come up and help move things around. Specifically the wood pile, the rabbit hutches, and so on and so forth. We'll see how that goes, and hopefully next Tuesday we'll have all of the hutches in the woods, and all of the wood near the house.

Not entirely homestead related, we had to euthanize one of our pet cats this weekend. I learned something about how killing the rabbits has affected me. We've had to euthanize pets before, and in the past I've been able to be there for the actual euthanasia to help keep the animal calm and relaxed. This time even before the vet came in to sedate Tesla I just couldn't really handle it. It was like I'd filled up my coping with death meter with killing the rabbits, and I just couldn't cope. Fortunately our vet is great, as is the Lady of the House so good folks who were able to make Tesla comfortable were there. It was just something that really got to me, and I'm not sure, but I suspect has something to do with how we came to having and killing livestock, that being animal rescuers with a focus on animal welfare. I'm not sure where I'm going with this right now, but it was a big part of my weekend, and a huge learning experience for me.

So despite that dark ending, it's been relatively a good week, and I hope you all are well!

Talk to you Thursday.

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