Thursday, January 30, 2014

Still too cold, and weasel proofing hutches.

Again I have no new photos for you, but for the most part they would be dull. We aren't having the beautiful sort of winter with over-saturated blues and crisp days as from the photo Right from last year. It's just cold, there isn't much snow. It's so cold the snow we have down that's been compacted isn't even really turning into ice. It's blowing away or just sitting there. The rabbits are getting unfriendly and suspicious because I haven't been spending any time petting them, or socializing the babies, or even really doing more than a weekly health check. As a note, they are all doing quite well. Sunshine's babies are starting to take up as much of the hutch as she is. I'm going to be butchering the kits that are with Halley and Comet at the moment, and swapping Sunshine and her kits into the hutch Halley and Comet are in, and putting the soon to be kitless pair into the smaller hutch for now. But, the cold isn't just an inconvenience for me, and making life difficult and not as pretty as last winter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

No pictures, lots of thinking

So I've been a bit flakey about getting photos lately for which I'm sorry. Right now at least the photos would be too interesting even if we did have them, so at least there is no great loss. The big thing going on in our life at the moment other than day to day work of course, is planning for spring starts. Some of this is obvious enough, we need to bring the shelves we've been using for seed starting up and get them set up first. But before we actually start seeds, we should probably do some garden planning so we have a reasonable expectation of how much we'll be able to plant so we only start 2 - 3 times what we can plant.

The catch of course is that I neglected to get measurements of our garden beds before the snow covered them for the entire winter. Definitely an example of "No really, you can't just wait to do it." We've also never done actual garden planning before. What we're probably going to be doing is doing a fair amount of guestimating on how much space we'll have. This year at least there will be less garden bed digging than there was last year. I am planning on building some new beds this spring though, I just need to not get Too ambitious!

Right now the things we know we want to plant.

Sunchokes otherwise known as Jerusalem Artichokes
Red lumpy squash I can't remember the name of
Cherry Tomatoes of a few varieties
Paste tomatoes of a few varieties
Winter squash
Hot peppers (Limon, Scotch Bonnet, Sweet Habenero among them)
Sweet peppers
Kale (though this may not be going in a bed per se)
Pole beans

I think I may have already over run our reasonable space to grow in just with our basic things we definitely want to grow! At least the new garden bed we put together int he fall will be available to plant in. Of the things above, not all of them need to be started inside.

The ones we need to start inside soon are sunchokes and peppers. Maybe also the eggplant. Others to start inside, but not immediately are tomatoes, and maybe others. For the peppers at least we're going to need to try to keep the soil warm enough that they will germinate and grow. We've been considering a few solutions to that other than keeping the house warmer which isn't efficient. We need to do research on how warm the soil needs to be for how much of the day, and what the low temperature can be. If the soil can tolerate being 50 at the lowest, then we'll only have to provide extra heat for part of the day to help growing. There's so much we don't yet know about gardening, and with how much work has been going on I haven't been getting ahead on research! Hopefully we'll be able to share a lot of information as we learn it.

Expect a lot of research going on in the near future, and we'll still be trying to keep updates on the rabbits and chickens as things go on!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First use of the vacuum packer, and new chickens!

Let's start in reverse order of the title, chickens first! No small part of this being that chickens are more photogenic than vacuum packing rabbits! So, these are our two new girls that are with us thanks to the generous help of friends of a friend in the chicken community. Turns out there was a chicken convention not far from us this past weekend! If we'd known we'd have gone, so maybe next year we'll make our way there.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's an interesting life

Life has been interesting lately, and I have a picture of some of it. Today is going to be picture light because there's been too much going on to properly get pictures, and take care of work, and everything else. So. First and foremost, it's been cold, windy, and wet. The windy has had some interesting consequences including making the fire more difficult to light, and trees wandering around. Not like, Ents wandering, falling over mostly. Fortunately for our blue boy here, his hutch was sturdy enough to take a fairly substantial branch falling on it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quick hit: Rabbit apple experiment

There is more going on than just a recipe, but I haven't been able to get photos, or much free time either, so for now, a quick hit with a recipe I tried out last night. As usual, this isn't so much a recipe as an experiment where I slammed ideas together and saw what came out.

Idea 1: Applesauce
Idea 2: Sweet and spicy rabbit
Idea 3: We've got some Salami in the fridge, not sure how long it's been there but it's still good. Let's use that!

1 rabbit butchered into sections. Ideally it would probably be boned, but I cut the heck out of myself while sectioning it, so I didn't go all the way.
1 lb carrots chopped medium
1 hard salami cubed small
2 lb (ish) cubed apples. I used random seconds from the farmers market for this.
5 limon peppers
2 sticks cinnamon
small handful cloves
cilantro to taste
small handful basil leaves
small handful rosemary
dash chili powder
other spices to taste

Brown the rabbit on medium heat. Remove from the pot.

Put 2/3rds of the apples in and put the rabbit back on top. Put all of the spices in. Simmer over low medium heat stirring from time to time for about 45 minutes. Put the rest of the apples in, and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

Put the salami and the carrots in, and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Let cool a little before eating. Honestly, it's best the day after as with most recipes that involve a lot of spice mixing.

The rabbit is so tender it's falling off the bone, the spice level is good for us but definitely has a good solid kick with enough sweetness to still stand out. The smokiness of the salami was a fortunate and really good addition to it because the day after the smoky flavor has blended the rest of the flavors very well. Over all it isn't so much like apple sauce as it really is a meal when served with some sort of starch.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

All of the chickens killed by a weasel, and forgetting.

One of the things emphasized in martial arts, the military, and driving is that it only takes a moment of inattention, laziness, or carelessness to get someone killed. In this case it was a quartet of chickens, and it only takes a moment applies just as much to homesteading as anything else I think. The short version of the story is on Sunday the Lady of the House shoveled out the chicken run so they'd have a place to have out time, and on Tuesday let them out during the day. By the time dusk fell she hadn't closed the hatch yet, and given how icy it is she decided to wait for me to come home to have me close it. Reasonable given how treacherous it is right now after an all day rain storm which turned into a 0F night within minutes of it getting dark a couple days ago. When I got home from work at about 11:30 PM I was upset because she hadn't re watered the rabbits, and in us taking care of that, we both forgot to close the coop. Wednesday morning she found the dead bodies killed by a weasel most likely.

Below the cut are photos of dead chickens. If this is disturbing to you or your work would not like it, don't click!