Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter gives me a raspberry

Two eggs. So today it's snowing WITH conviction. That put a stop to any greenhouse tinkering, so we worked on setting up grow lights inside for starting garden seeds. I made S hooks. Annie sniveled. Smokey, the rabbit, is wheezing, so we'll have to get him to the vet tomorrow. It's always something, no?

The egg-laying girls. I'm so proud.

Big fat flakes are coming down, but hope for grain springs eternal in the breast of the polka-dot fowl. (At least spring is here somewhere...) That's the greenhouse there on the left, covered in snow. Note the high-tech straw-bale-and-rebar foundation.

Tricks is friendly for the first time in months. Maybe she's just itchy.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gearing up for gardening

It snowed a little today, but without conviction. Spring is coming.

We got a load of wood today then turned our attention to the garden. The ground is still frozen so we just looked at it and marched around the beds. And measured it so we can draw up garden plans. I know some folks would have laid it out in perfect measured rows from the beginning, but that's not how we roll. We did it by eye, building terraces where they seemed right, making beds to suit what we were planting. That was fine – until time to sketch this year's layout (we have to be sure to rotate crops to cut back on insect pests).

So we measured and fussed, and now we know our garden is 3,750 square feet (50x75). We have 25 feet to the north and to the south we can expand into. That's all fenced, so it's just a matter of digging and terracing and planting and all of that. Doubling the size of the garden sounds great, but what a lot of work. My back hurts already. Still, there are so many things we want to grow – more greens for the animals, more roots that can be stored in in the basement rather than being canned or frozen, berries. I guess we'll see how much digging we can stand to do when the ground can be worked.

We got four eggs today from our three chickens. Not sure how they accomplished that. Roz the Rhode Island red has just started laying nice big brown eggs.

I busted the big animals' water tub. Luckily we had a spare, and I vow to be more careful. Those suckers are expensive.

Tomorrow we'll be working on the greenhouse. C. wants to replace the straw bales with a stud wall. (I'd be happy to just patch it up forever, but she likes to do things right. It can be irritating.) And we'll be putting up hoops on some of the garden beds to make cold frames.

Upcoming projects include diy drip-irrigation hoses from plans by a brilliant guy in Ontario. If we can scrape up the money, I'd like to have a main line down the middle of the garden, with a valve for each bed connected to a drip line. You could custom water everything with with just a few turns of handles. And while the drip lines are made from mostly salvaged materials, the valves are probably five bucks a piece and we'd need 20 or 30.

Oh, yeah,  got to wriggle around in the miserable crawl space and hook up a second hose bib. Not looking forward to that. And we need to buy fruit trees (we could put that off if we were getting younger, but noooooo).

I promised myself I'd spend time every weekend working on the roof. And I need to blog about our adventures with frozen drain pipes last week. And I need to make brownies so I can eat them. That's how the weekend is shaping up.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Learning to love the brush

Just like their hairy parents, the little guys will need to be brushed and plucked. C. is introducing them to the brush in short sessions. She did a little grooming while I petted them and fed them second dinner tonight. They're getting big!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

End of the weekend

Back to work tomorrow (sigh).

We caught and brushed the little cashmere goat brothers today. They didn't much like it, though Pants appreciated the grain bribes. They'll be shedding soon, and we want the fiber to be as clean as possible.

I worked on my studio some, building shelves out of fruit boxes, boards and blocks. I really need to scrounge more shelving. I hung the old wooden ladder from the Ancestral Home (we used it as a bean trellis there for years) from the studio ceiling, then suspended some metal shelves and baskets from it with chain. It's a little funky, but holds a lot of tins and wooden objects. Plus I can store some big weird items along the ladder, like the French horn and the badger mount.

The fruit boxes came from a Hillyard estate sale I hit at lunchtime on Friday. Also got a spud with a busted handle (now I need a froe) and what I thought was a brilliant device for washing root vegetables but C. thinks is a homemade honey extractor. Good score either way.

We ate the second-to-last jar of homemade vegetable soup last night. Must can more this fall! The dogs are having canned green beans and cheese chunks with their rice tonight, and C. has scalloped potatoes in the oven for us.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The ides of Feb

C. takes the best bunny photos. Here are today's. The little guys are five-and-a-half weeks old, and I'm sure Fondu and Plum (now Plumb Bob) are boys. The girls, front left and right in this photo, are Rue and the former Marty (now Shalimar? Myrrh?).

Below, Fondu.

The former Marty has perfected this droll look for the camera. She's funny and my favorite.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

EXTREME close up

We made the nightly snack drop for the bunnies (half a cabbage and a big chunk of broccoli) and got some close ups of some of the little guys.
Here is Fawndu the Magician.

And Plum.

And C. is blowing on Marty's fur to show the crimp and color of the undercoat. Her fur is the silkiest and longest.

We loaded up their bowl with alfalfa pellets and crept off to bed, accompanied by an enormous chewing noise.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

You should have a Subaru

It's 24 degrees and snowing lightly. C. and I just returned from getting a load of wood in the Subie. The truck has crapped out again, but I'm not sure we miss it. It's only two-wheel drive and would not make it to the wood place, much less up and down the snowy tracks (not roads) inside. The saw ran, our piles from last time were still there, and we negotiated the snow just fine. And I can load and unload one batch without walking like John Wayne. (Especially since C. did a lot of the loading.)

Em and Richard's niece, Autumn, were up yesterday to see the bunnies.

They spent hours feeding, watching and holding the little guys.

C. is making pizza again. The onions in storage are getting soft, so we need to use or freeze them quickly. And pizza, the way we like it, is full of those sweet Walla Wallas. It'll go well with the latest applesauce cake, which she made with dried cherries instead of raisins. Really good. (Yes, I think of other things besides food. Sometimes.)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stuffing the pie hole

Boy, can they eat. Here's today's ├╝bercute bunny shot, just taken by C. That's Rue on the left, and the fawn one (Fonda? Fondue? Fondant?) on the right.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's Marty Bigfoot

And she's getting an ear rub. Check out those enormous bunny feet!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Who is a month old?

The bunders, of course. They are getting fluffy, and they eat like long-eared pigs. Little Martin, below, with cauliflower on her head, is getting the most beautiful colors in her coat.

And I tried to capture on (inferior) video the enormous munching sound they make when making cauliflower disappear.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bunny pics

This weekend was kind of a bummer. Didn't get much done. The rabbits are still cute, though. I made a late-night visit with cauliflower and broccoli.

I did manage to hook up the overhead light in my studio. And made a chicken self-feeder (all kinds of plans at backyard from stuff laying around in the gym. It's basically a length of stovepipe that holds half a bag of feed, with an open elbow at the bottom for the birds to eat from. I do need to put some kind of lip on the opening so they stop dragging feed out onto the floor. Brats.

Mushroom and onion pizza

Homemade pizza looms large in my life, so I documented it. C. starts with her whole-wheat crust (mixed by our friend the bread machine). Next comes olive oil, a layer of home-canned maranara sauce, some dried tomatoes, a whole lot of our Walla Walla onions, mushrooms from our outing this summer, chunks of pineapple, and cheddar and asiago cheese (I forgot to buy mozzarella). It was really good.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

First February weekend

Those baby rabbits are deeply, profoundly cute. We sat with them for a while today, feeding them broccoli (mom came and snatched it away and ate it herself) and cabbage. They're just at the best age. Little Plum was practicing hopping over the bricks that separate the big box (just outside their nest box) from the room. She'd sit casually for a minute, then zip off, leap the bricks and land nonchalantly on the other side. Then turn around and bop over the bricks again, and loop the room, putting an extra kick in some of her hops. Then back over the bricks. The formerly black bunny, Martin, got into a tug-of-war over a piece of cabbage with the little white one (Rue).

The weather has turned snowy then cold (down to 16 tonight, and -3 forecast for Tuesday night). C. cut some stove wood from the pile outside and I hauled it inside and put the fan on to dry it out. I drove to Deer Park yesterday for five dozen eggs from Charlene (my egg connection), and today for four sacks of organic chicken feed from an Amish family farm.

Moved a little furniture around in Badeaux's old area (we've kept her separated from the little guys after she bit Jack and he lost his eye a couple of years ago). Not feeling like doing much. C. is making mushroom pizza again tonight. Mmmm.