Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sometimes you have to eat the pork chop.

Today we're going to talk about a topic that we aren't necessarily fond of, and that's the reality of food when you leave your home. The quote in the title comes from The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend. To paraphrase a chapter in her book, sometimes you can't eat perfectly, and you just have to eat the (deep fried) pork chop. If you want a good read, that's a book well worth it. It was one of the books that have informed the basis of our philosophy. I want to discuss that a bit today since it became a focus for the Lady of the House and I as we traveled to a convention to sell her art.
At home it's relatively easy for us to talk about eating well. We have a yard full of greens to eat, not all of which we planted or even have to work for. We've built our lives at home around trying to eat well, and while we aren't perfect we do well. When you leave the house though things HAVE to change. Restaurants aren't geared around ethical eating, or even healthy eating most of the time. Some areas are worse than others of course, but even in good areas most food in our price range isn't ethical food, and if we're out with friends at a restaurant, or at their house we aren't going to examine every aspect of our meal, demand ethically raised and cared for food, or not eat.Whether it's because we need to eat, or we want to not be anti-social, or not offend our friends when they want to feed us. Sometimes we just have to eat what's in front of us. That's exacerbated when traveling outside of our "home range" as we did last weekend.
When traveling one can only bring so much food with you on a practical level, and what you bring has to be non perishable. That means preserved most of the time. We brought a fair amount of good food with us, and tried as much as possible to eat it, we even did fairly well. That said we also ended up eating fast food 4 times over the course of 4 days. In all 4 of the cases it came down to we'd either been working, or traveling all day long, and just needed some hot food. I'm going to be honest, I didn't even think about food ethics for 3 of them, I just needed food, and I needed it now so I didn't fall asleep while driving. So where does that leave us, given that we try to live better than that? The big thing in my mind is, making small changes in our every day lives matter more than occasional lapses. It's part of our philosophy of, small changes are better than no change. Obviously, the better we can do, the happier we'll be with ourselves, but if we're going to maintain this dual life, sometimes, we'll just have to eat the pork chop.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A day of recovery, and fox concerns.

Sometimes our homestead is magical, and it seems to often come at times when we really need it. For instance, when we're so tired we can't think clearly, or when we realize that the fox is a bigger problem than we'd thought. Either way, yesterday was a magical day on the homestead with perfect lighting, gorgeous weather, and a cool breeze. It was exactly what we needed to recharge after getting back from a very long weekend that had nothing to do with rest. I'm going to be writing a post about food and travel for tomorrow, today let's look around at other things.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rooster out, rooster in, and good fortune.

Things are moving very quickly right now with the Lady of the House very busy with getting working on her art as she's got a show going this next weekend. With all of that, that doesn't mean things have slowed down around the homestead. I'm going to start with the things that are quick first.

First things first, behind me to my right (the left of the photo) is our sunchokes. We weren't sure when to harvest them, but I think it was probably long before now! they seem to be thriving, and I'm sure next year we'll have plenty of them to work with.

In other news, today I bred Dawn's Daughter with Herbie of all bucks. I was surprised he successfully bred a doe, but we'll see what comes out. I really hope he comes through, and it's a big litter of good looking healthy babies. This is the last chance for him to continue living with us, so here's hoping it's great. I'm going to be trying for a second breeding this evening, and seeing if any other does that refused this morning will go ahead and breed this evening. I'm hoping to get a couple other does bred before we're too busy for the weekend to take care of them. We'll see, as a rabbits mood isn't mine to determine, and I'm not going to force them to breed any more than I do by controlling when does are exposed to bucks. The kits are going to be ready to butcher shortly, so we're going to be back in rabbit meat which is always a good thing after a while without.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Checking in on rabbits and potatoes.

There was some interest in how the rabbits are doing after last post, so I figured, especially since I didn't have anything else planned for today, I'd do a check in on the rabbits. Unfortunately most of the photos just didn't come out, but at least this family photo of Splash, Streak, and their kits came out. They eat together like this every day. When there were more kits in there, I had to position the trough so all of them could sit around it, or they'd try to drag it over so they could do that and spill a lot of pellets. The chickens didn't mind that at all, just to be fair.
The photo of Twilight, her daughter, and Twilight's litter on the other hand came out like a blurred mass of ravening animals. Coincidentally, this is about what it looked like in person too. The thing the photo is missing is grunting, a sound somewhat like a gravel crusher in the distance, and the sound of grinding teeth. This group gets plenty of food, but you couldn't convince them of it. If I didn't control their portions this would be a fat group of rabbits really quickly. I've been giving them more greens than pellets lately which is partially to blame for their obsession with the pellets they do get. Right now the adults aren't bred, but that's because of a heat wave. Now that we suddenly have a cold front coming through I'm going to get as many does bred as I can before we get into the August heat. My goal is Splash, Streak, Dawn, Dawn's Daughter, Twilight, and her daughter. I really want to make sure that we get at least someone bred by Herbie. If he still won't breed we have to figure out what to do with him because a buck that doesn't breed, doesn't breathe. We can't just keep throwing food at a non productive rabbit. We may end up taking one of the rabbits in as a house rabbit later on in life, but it wouldn't be him, it would be Dorado who's super friendly. Either way, we'll see what happens with the next round of breedings. The low number of breedings this season due to our other focuses and the odd weather means we're going to be trying to breed later into the fall and early winter. That mostly means more feed because during that time there isn't green stuff to cut and feed to cut  down pellet costs. It may actually work out just fine though.
The other thing that's notable right now is the potatoes that the Lady of the House got into buckets and planted a little while back. For a good starting time they just sat there, and suddenly they started going nuts. As you can see, some are doing better than others for no reason we can discern. We need to get a lot of soil and rabbit manure in those buckets to increase our production with the potatoes. Particularly in the one on the right! I don't know what's going on with that bucket, but I know it's going well. Plans for this weekend are a little off from normal. I'm going to be working overtime at my day job on Saturday which takes up a lot of the normal work time for homestead stuff. We'll see what I can get done Sunday with that in mind, and knowing that I really do need to give the Lady of the House a break from the Critter. See y'all Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bean trellis, and chickens in the greens.

After an incredibly productive weekend last weekend thanks to much help from friends, this weekend was more focused on family time. It was lovely but meant that as far as the homestead go, it's basically been all about maintenance. The big that that got done was putting in posts (though they could use being driven further in), and dragging over the cattle panel to set up a bean trellis.
The beans had been going a bit crazy, and lacking something more solid to climb, they'd been climbing up the garlic in the front bed. It can be kind of hard to tell in this photo Left but if you look down at the base of the garlic, you can see a darker green wrapped around the base and climbing up. When I put the trellis in, I carefully unwrapped the beans, and re wrapped them around the wire. That should work out well from what I know of beans. The beans growing in that row are scarlet runner beans (I think), and the ones in the bed below are bush beans so they aren't going to need a trellis like this. The Lady of the House picked the beans to plant so I have to admit I'm a little behind the 8 ball on remembering everything that's out there in the garden right now. If they are actually the scarlet runner beans I think they are, every part of the plant can be eaten which is great. I haven't had the greens part of the beans, but at least in theory being able to use everything is good. Even if it isn't very flavorful, or has a bad texture I'm going to be happy to use them at least as something that can be steamed, and mixed in with other things with spices. We'll see when we have a chance to actually use it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Learning to better time manage as life shifts.

It's interesting to me that for most of the history of this blog I think that the pictures have featured rabbits first, and everything else later, and yet lately things have been focusing on the garden, or other things. It's not that we haven't been thinking about the rabbits, and nearly as much as we ever have. It's just that we're doing a lot more as well. The garden has been a particular focus because we'd let it go last year much more than we should have, so the weeding has obviously been a priority. Right now we're also starting to figure out what we have too much of that we do want, and need to control. For instance, bee balm which you see above we have a LOT of. If you want some we can absolutely get you seeds or transplants of bee balm. That said, even with everything we've thinking about with the garden, and the chickens life still moves along with the rabbits.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A productive, and fun July 4th weekend.

July 4th was a very busy weekend for us around the homestead, and full of good people and good company to go with the significant amount of work there was to do. For the 4th, we had a brush clearing party, then a camp fire. When it started raining just before folks showed up I didn't expect to get much done, or have a fire. As you can see the fire happened, and below the cut you'll get to see just how much we got done in the thankfully warm rain.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

First fruit, and ferocious weather.

Again I'm going to start with something I'm excited about just because it's good to see more than it shows anything we've done in particular. The first raspberry I've seen start to ripen on our property. I'm going to be keeping an eye on it to try to get it when it's fully ripe before the birds get it, so I can give it to the Lady of the House. It also means that we're about to be a bit busy paying attention to make sure we get as much of the ripening fruit around the yard as we can. Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are what we have around. If we let them sit not only are they going to get eaten, they're going to attract bears which we don't want for obvious reasons.